Enjoying the blessings from our freedom to choose

by Joe Aliling
June 30, 2003

As we end our month-long commemoration of the June 12th Philippine Independence, and begin our celebration of July 4th U.S. Independence Day, let us ponder and count the blessings that we presently enjoy.

Individually here in America, we have been endowed with the ďfreedom to choose.Ē While bigotry and discrimination still prevail (in varying forms and degrees) in our schools, our workplace and/or business environment, and within our own neighborhoods, we have the choice to pursue many opportunities that will develop our good character and talents.

Regardless of our birthright or the naturalization process, Filipinos in the USA has yet to hurdle many obstructions along the way in their quest for liberty and justice for all. But likened to an overcast sky, we know that behind those dark clouds is a brilliant sun with its glistening rays trying to pierce through. This is symbolic of the Light of Christ that gives brilliance and hope to everyone concerned.

Life is beautiful. Everyday here in America, we can individually discover how beautiful our life can be. We can enjoy watching the sun hide behind the trees above the skyline at dusk, and/or the moonlight kiss goodnight the hills, the lakes and the forests. We are fascinated with the vastness of the universe, magnificently sprinkled with twinkling stars at night.

Truly, life is beautiful! Here in America we delight in watching a seed germinate in fertile soil, nourished with rain and sunlight by Mother Nature, and forms into a tiny, seemingly insignificant sprout. Gradually the seed begins to grow and develop its own character, accordingly to its genetic code that guides its growth and development. If nurtured carefully, it will grow into its full potential, whether it is a lily crowned with grace and beauty; a fragrant spearmint plant; a peach; an avocado; or a beautiful blossom with a unique daintiness, color, and fragrance.

When did you pause from your daily routine to watch a tiny rosebud grow? Everyday it develops into a new and impressive character, more beautiful each passing day until it becomes a marvelous rose.

Life, however, has its share of sorrows and failures. Be reminded, though, that these are sad occurrences in life, not life itself. Some are excruciatingly challenging, if not life threatening. Others may even extend over a long period of time. But these should not uniquely constrict our lives.
While strolling on a beach along the Pacific Ocean, I was fascinated by the rhythm of the breaking waves as they hit the shoreline. It reminded me of our trials and tribulations in life. I observed that each wave would crest at one particular moment in time and pave its own unique path to reach shore. Some cascaded over rocks, leaving rivulets of foaming, white water. Others burst on shore in individual patterns. They slid up the moistened sand with playful frothy edges, then bubbled and swirled as they receded back to the ocean floor. At the end of the day, all these individual patterns reminded me only of the constancy of Godís plan of happiness.

Under the plan, a personís joy in life depends upon his faith in God and his own conviction that Godís plan of happiness can truly bring joy to his personal and family life. Pondering on this doctrine will lead us to the comforting and life-sustaining experiences that flow from our prayer to God and his appropriate answer.

Contrary to a prevailing humanist philosophy, we are here on earth under a divine purpose. Here, we are being prepared to receive eternal blessings from God. The tempering effect of patience is required. Some blessings are given to us during our mortal life. Other blessings are stored for us to enjoy during our life beyond the grave.

Our free agency (or our right to make choices) is not given so that we can abuse it. We have been endowed with this divine gift so that we can choose the option that God wishes for us to select. That is how we may reach our full potential, just as God intended us to be. The path he has shown will lead us to celestial joy and happiness.

How can we properly learn to exercise our freedom to choose? 

We may learn it from inspiring individuals who have lived with joy amidst adversity. One good example for our children and me is my belated wife, Rachel, who was inflicted with a lingering terminal cancer for about 7 years. She consistently found joy in her life. Her trials and tribulations drew her closer to God. She really understood Godís plan of happiness, and she did her best while in her earthly probation to qualify for the eternal blessings as promised by God.

As we begin to celebrate July 4th, let us ponder and count the blessings that we presently enjoy. Let them be subtle reminders of the priceless treasure that God has stored for us, if we are persistent and unwavering in our efforts in facing adversity. Let July 4th become an enduring icon of hope that is bonded in pure love and willing sacrifice.