A reflection on the book El Camino de Santiago
By Joy Aguila, CFC FFL Fulltime Worker
When I was younger, I dreamt of being a medical doctor. Along with this dream was the desire to have a secure future. During that time security meant being able to buy the things I want, being able to have a house of my own, being able to buy my own car, being able to send my future children to exclusive schools, and the list went on. In my mind, the only possible way to reach my dreams was to pursue Medical School and to inherit the private clinic of my mother. But the Lord had a different plan for me. When I was in college, the Lord pursued me and I had my own life-changing encounter with Him. At first I disregarded Him, but He continued to pursue me until I found myself falling so in love with Him. I heard him call my name and He told me that He had a different dream for me. He desired for me to be a missionary. I felt Him love me in the most intimate ways and all that my heart wanted to do was to say yes to Him. And so I let go of my personal dreams and I let Him and His plan take over. Year 2009, I said yes to be a full time missionary.
It has been almost 8 years of being a full time missionary and these past years has been the most amazing years of my life. In my missionary journey, the Lord has allowed me to experience Him in the most unexpected ways – through a lot of missions, through the different places He brought me to, through different kinds of services – from those I am comfortable with to those which I thought were beyond my capacities, through the many new things He taught me, through a lot of relationships, through the countless people I have encountered, through the many things I’ve discovered about myself, and even through my failure and life difficulties – in all these He had changed my heart and my life for good. To say yes to missionary life is the best decision I ever made in my life, for through this decision I said yes to growing in deeper love with the Lord. No regrets. Just pure gratitude for all He has done. This is definitely the best job ever.
Missionary life has been beautiful but it was never easy. For the past years, a lot of doubts have set in. I have been eaten by my insecurities. I have been haunted by the brokenness of my past. I have been pained by unmet expectations. I have experienced a lot of rejections and persecutions – sometimes from people I love the most. I have been defeated by a lot of frustrations. I have been deeply hurt when my father passed away. I have been hindered by my fears. I had my own share of difficulties and I have considered quitting at times. The missionary journey was not at all easy.
But through it all, the Lord constantly spoke to me. He was always there to fill me with hope and to make me realize that all these trials are part of His purification. All these are His ways of building me up. He is preparing me for something greater that He has in store for me ahead. I thank the Lord for His grace that has allowed me to embrace my missionary life for the past 8 years. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for His grace. He has sustained me. He has inspired me to just keep doing what He is calling me to do. He has comforted me. He has empowered me to say yes to new missions. I have learned that His love is truly worth fighting for. He is the reason why I continue to say yes to Him up until today. He is the reason why I see myself saying yes to Him for the rest of my life – whether in full time work or wherever else He would call me and lead me in the future.
Reading El Camino De Santiago at this time of my life has affirmed me in so many ways. This book is so personal and instrumental that it has given me a sense of security and strength as I face a new chapter in my life. This coming May 6, I will be marrying the love of my life. I will be saying yes to God calling me to enter into a life of marriage with Julius, who is also a full time missionary. We are very excited to start this new chapter of our lives, as we are certain that this is God’s beautiful and special gift to the both of us.
Honestly, the reality of how uncertain the future is bothers me at times. I have questions that remain unanswered. Sometimes, my fears and worries take over. Sometimes, my doubts overwhelm me. At times, the evil would tempt me – planting lies in my head – lies that I am unworthy and that I am not ready. I would be distracted by the noises of this world and I would find myself considering choosing the more comfortable path. But every time this happens, I come down before the Lord and rest in Him. In my heart, I would always hear Him say over and over, “Remain in Me. I have brought you where you are and I will keep you and Julius in my love.” And then I would start to look back at God’s faithfulness in my life and realize that through it all, He never ever left me. He is ever present in my life.
There may be a lot of uncertainties and challenges ahead but then I look at Julius and I am reminded of God’s certain love in my life. My fears start to fade away and I am reminded that the Lord is the certainty and security that my heart is longing for. And so we look forward to this new calling, carrying our identities as missionaries by heart. Wherever God leads us, we will follow. Where His will is, there will our hearts be. Wherever He wants us to bring His cause, we shall go. May He give us the courage to do so.
Inspired by what Tito Frank Padilla has highlighted in El Camino De Santiago, I am reminded that we just have to do what the Lord is calling us to do and He will abundantly bless us – and now as a couple and our future life together. We must keep our focus on Him. We must never give up. We must press on towards the goal of seeing Him face to face. We must embrace our crosses. We must endure and persevere. We must do all of these trusting in His grace that will keep on strengthening us and sustaining us in this journey. With the Lord at the center of our relationship, I am assured that all things will perfectly work for good for the both of us.
I praise God for the gift of community that has taught me to embrace the way of the cross – that this way is the way to God’s glory. This life lesson has brought out the best in me and it has helped me in my striving to be the woman that the Lord wants me to be. May the Lord give me the grace to find joy in sharing in His sufferings so I may rejoice with Him in His resurrection. May I continue to say yes to God’s call as I enter a new chapter of my life. May I become better everyday in His love and mercy. May I strive to become the missionary He has intended me to be. May I have the courage to accept His will. May I continue to fight for Him and His cause no matter what difficulties life may bring. May I continue to align my life to His plans. This life in the Lord is the best life ever. It might get tougher and harder but and it will definitely keep getting better as long as I allow Him to take over. He has fought for me through it all and after all, His love is more than worth fighting for.