Sometimes it takes one incident to change the rest of your life. And this was true in Robert’s case. I think God wanted me to learn something from this kind gentleman. So he sat him right next to me on our flight to Singapore.
Robert towers at about 6 feet, but because he has these kind downward slanting eyes, he reminds me of a gentle giant. He seemed really prepared for our 4-hour long flight. Armed with a tablet, chips and a boxful of cookies, he sat quietly watching a movie. He barely moved except to help me pull out a magazine in front of him.
I’m not really the kind of person who can chat up a total stranger, so I have my husband to thank for learning about his story.
I was quietly listening to my husband and Robert talk about business until he said something about family. That was when I started listening more intently. Family stories always interest me because of what we went through, and I found out that he and his wife waited 9 long years before they were able to start theirs.
Robert said they explored many options in order to have a child. And on their 6th or 7th year of waiting, they were offered the opportunity to adopt an abandoned child in a Chinese hospital. Some of their relatives urged them to pursue it, believing the universe would conspire to give them their own child if they did. But they prayed about it and they felt that it wasn’t part of God’s plan. They didn’t want to adopt for the wrong reason.
In their 9th year, Robert and his wife were led to a specialist at the Pacific Fertility Clinic in the US. They were given hope, and as fate would have it, Robert’s wife became pregnant and gave birth to twins. He said the most important lesson was to know “if it was God’s will”. He said “if it’s in his will, then it will be done”.
The world we live in where things happen instantly has given most of us the inability to wait. I believe that God can use time to teach us, prepare us and grow us. God also uses different people to bless us, and it is for His purpose that He allows things to happen.
God intended for Robert and his wife to become parents. After having their twins, a boy and a girl. God blessed them even more by giving them 2 more daughters. “I prayed for one, and we ended up with four kids. All in God’s time” Robert said.
God is the author of our lives, and through Robert, God reminded me that He can use bad things, even tragedies to accomplish great plans. That we may not always understand the reason why things happen, and we may struggle with His methods, but all we have to understand is that He is, and is always in control.
Without too many details, Robert recalls one of the most important events that changed his life. “My uncle was a very good man.” Robert said. “He happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.“ Caught in a crossfire between robbers and the police, his uncle lost his life.
That unfortunate incident became a wake up call for Robert. He realized that life could be taken away just like that. He began asking himself 12 of the most important words that became his mantra. “If this was your last day on earth, what would you do?” It urged him to live a life of purpose and press forward despite the challenges he needed to face in order to support his family.
Fast forward 12 years from his Uncle’s passing, Robertson Tan is now the established owner and CEO of Blade Asia, a highly successful chain of stores that distributes car accessories in popular malls nationwide.
According to Robert, when he and his wife Frances first started their business, he felt like the ill-equipped Filipino revolutionary who fought with a mere blade against the more powerful pistol-wielding Spaniards, thus the brand.
He faced a lot of uncertainties and challenges, but when you live life thinking everyday is your last, your behavior towards life changes. With enough determination and ability, he was able to take more risks knowing he was fighting for something that mattered, his family. His mantra helped him take action on what he was set out to do.
Hearing Robert’s success story affirms me of God’s control. We may not understand why he allows suffering, but we know that suffering purifies our faith and our part is simply to remain faithful. To live one day at a time without really having all the answers to life’s questions and to trust that God will supply all your needs. He doesn’t promise to eliminate our challenges, but He gives us enough strength to face them.
Beyond Robert’s success in business, what inspires me the most about this man is how he remains giving and humble. God’s presence and grace is evident in his life. God continues to use Robert to reach out and help others grow and become better.
Dare to dream big. When you are faithful with little, God can reward you with more. Like in the parable of the talents, he expects us to multiply our gifts. God is capable of rescuing us, but he allows suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand. Sometimes, suffering helps shape us to become of special service to others ultimately fulfilling a greater purpose. If we knew why we were suffering, our faith would have no room to grow.
Would you do things differently if you knew that this day was your last? Let me end with this quote from Make me a legend by Chuck Balsamo.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. “