But by his grace go I

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

3:30 in the morning and there is no going back to sleep for me.

Through the years, I have become aware that when this happens, it is best for me to meditate, reflect or just lay down or sit still and let GOD. From experience, I can attest to the phrase “God chooses the most inconvenient of times to speak.” Biblically speaking, he has done so with people who were minding their own business (Abraham), trying to stay down and low (Gideon) or those on the run from the authorities or angry relatives (Moses-Jacob-David).

In my case, it has often been when I really want to sleep and yes, his favorite time seems to between three and four in the morning when I have to fight with myself in spite of knowing only too well that he will have his way. In the past, these “conversations” were on the tail of a vivid dream, a recurring thought of someone and ultimately realizing I had a message to bring to a specific person or one intended for me.

Fortunately, I have never had to be the bearer of ill tidings but I have had to carry one such message that was challenging, even disturbing, for the recipient who was a powerful and influential individual in the process of making a decision that would have affected the lives of so many people and maybe the nation. I confess that I did not have the nerve to see him and give him the message in person, so I sent him a birthday gift: a Bible with a book marker.

I highlighted chapters 36 and 37 of the book of Psalms (which we should all read) that essentially said “you don’t fear God, you fool yourself, you are deceitful in your talk and even in your own bed you plot evil because your enemies surround you and have their way.” In my mind, I was expecting to be laughed out of town or become persona non grata in society. Fortunately, I had enough street smarts to consult my dad, Louie Beltran, and he agreed that it was a message that needed to be given to the addressee.

The great thing about GOD’s disturbing wake up calls is that there is always a promise, a positive message or at the very least an advance warning for the recipient. That’s where reading Psalm 37 convinced the powerful gentleman that he had to change course, take time out from the politics and intrigues of Imperial Manila, pursue his love of the farm life and totally “Let GOD.” He packed up and devoted the next few years to farming.

Everyone wrote the man off as “retired” and out of the game. But while minding his own business farming, his enemies began to appreciate his leadership and vision in the past and slowly turned to him for guidance or alliances; he eventually became even more powerful, more influential, richer and happier. No, he did not become religious but he got his reward for obedience and the country did not have to go through added political or social turmoil.

While the 3:30 wake up calls are few and far between, I have personally benefitted from them by way of guidance or reminders from the Lord. Call me crazy but in one such instance, I was half awake and half asleep and the very strong message was “Have your water tested.” It took me a while to figure it out but I realized that GOD must have heard my heart’s cry for a solution to a problem I could not figure out.

This was in the wake of four years of disappointing outcomes where I would produce free range chickens and gamefowls, only to lose them to various diseases by three months old. We would vaccinate, medicate, boost the chickens with vitamins, even build special pens, etc. and yet they would eventually start dying off, leaving only the hardiest to live.

Hours after getting that message, I had arranged for water samples to be drawn from our deep well and sent out to a laboratory in Lipa City. A week later, I was horrified to learn that the water from the deep well had elevated levels of E-Coli bacteria that was responsible for the slow deterioration of guts and organs of animals. We were clueless because we drank bottled water all the time.

Sometimes it’s not a word or a message, it can be a reminder and an encouragement. Recently, again at 3:30 a.m., GOD did a “replay” in my mind of past struggles we’ve had in our mini farm where I recalled the near obliteration of all our coconut trees because of the dreaded “cocolisap” that wiped out hundreds if not thousands of coconut trees all over the country. Against all odds, I sprayed the few trees we had with water mixed with salt, I worked with a pest control executive to test his solutions, all the while our neighbors were chopping down tree after tree to sell as coco lumber. God meets you at the level of your faith and then came a typhoon that essentially wiped out the cocolisap.

Then there was our ASF episode that wiped out our domesticated pigs and baboy damo but after four months we were able to start all over, but limited to only two as a hobby. Then there was the curse of quarantine during which I was praying about how to be able to enjoy the farm more but still get to do my job writing this column and doing the daily TV show AGENDA on Cignal TV. The answered prayer was to build an 8x8 box for a studio in the farm, get the help of PLDT for Home Fiber Internet and “broadcast” online. The message was, “I was there and I saw you through it. Keep going.”

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