Tuesday, 22 December 2015

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS: NOTES OF A STORYTELLER

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#LatePost
 

Time: Before the cock crowed twice.
Location: Somewhere in Nigeria.


I finally rise, with an alarming wealth of feeling.
I had been falling in and out of sleep as different thoughts ran through my mind.
My phone had started ringing some minutes before.
Breathe. Yes, I’m actually breathing.
Okay.
Let’s go…


Today is my birthday.


And today, however, it is with a sense of gratitude I mark this year. Songs rise in my heart in gratefulness to God. Not that you care or anything, but He has been super good and faithful to me, as is His character. I have not been an exception.


A songwriter once said, “Count your blessings, name them one by one”. And I began to wonder how realistic this was. His blessings are innumerable…how could I name them all? Well, thank God for another songwriter who also said, “What the Lord has done for me, I cannot tell it all.”

One of the songs that rocked my vocal playlist this morning was “Storyteller” by Morgan Harper Nichols feat. Jamie Grace. And for the record, that song is PHENOMENAL. She sang my heart EXACTLY. You can figure what the melons she was singing here.


Your constant love reaches above the heavens; your faithfulness touches the skies. (Psalm 108:4 - GNB).

Then there was the poem I wrote (a while back) in a feeble attempt to express God’s love in verses. I thought it was only fitting:

LOVE SONG
The cadence builds in soft rhythms
Undulating melodies gently stirring
Curl round my weary stone
Crimson is she who had been battered
Torn and scraped till she bled crimson
This stone, my bleeding heart
So, the tunes continue to rise
Building into a sweet song

The first verse is a soft whisper
It’s sonority gushing over polished pews
Flowing to dark, lonely hours
Resonating in the corners of my heart
Calling in an rousingly sweet sing-song
“Come, my love!”
I sway in almost hypnotic dances
Until I find myself at your feet
Kneeling and weeping, “Here I am.”
How I love this verse!
The one where you found me [or I, You?]
Beating drums on a resonant cross
Cooing to this infantile lass
Drawing me with your piper’s tune
To that place where only you can heal
And wrap me in your arms.

The second verse is a soft voice
Breezing gently like mild wind on a summer day
Lifting my heart to planes of passion
Awakening a hunger for more of you
“Arise, my love!”
I rise, staggering as though in a stupor
Struggling to steady feeble knees
But you remind me of your love still
How I love this verse!
The one where you find me [or I, you?]
Side by side you on a resonant cross
Pleasured by your presence on a solitary hill
Romance and intimacy that intoxicates
A place where music lacks not a voice
And you call me beautiful.

The third verse is a loud call
Yet one I oft miss for it is quiet
Stirring my feet to move in rhythm to you
A bitter-sweet melody to my heart
“Go, my love!”
I hesitantly move my heavy feet
Will I leave this hill to the crowded square?
I fear for myself yet go still
How I love this verse
The one where you find me [or I, you?]
Cut with whips of pain and love
Beaten to pulp on your resonant cross
Like fluttering birds in a hedged nest
My heart struggles to break free
As your song stirs and draws me
To that place where you are sufficient
And I am enough to be used.

The chorus is a simple, unending melody
Weaving itself through every verse
Lacing intricately in soft and loud tunes
“Your banner over me is love!”
How I love this chorus
The one where you find me [or I, you?]
It spills resonantly for all to hear
This very perfect love song.


*************************************

Side Note:
I kid you not when I tell you I literally breathed a sigh of relief this morning when I thought: I AM 20 YEARS OLD. FINALLY! 


Y’all, be not deceived, 19 is such an AWKWARD age. You are legally an adult but not really an adult when people don’t hesitate to remind you that you are after all, still a teenager. That look!


I am just reaallyy grateful I finally pulled it through the teen phase and with a story too. A colourful one, if you will. This past year was actually one of my best, and chief among the numerous things God blessed me with this year was CLARITY; at least to a considerable degree. 


I have laughed. Cried. Stood. Fallen. Won. Failed. Grown. There were times of silence. There were times of sorrow and unbelievable joy. There were times of aloneness (and maybe loneliness). And there was always Love. He was ALWAYS there. This may sound trite but I literally did NOTHING to deserve Him. I did nothing but suck and generally be an idiot. He is be-awesome (beyond awesome).


Then there were the people. Those super beautiful souls, my personal angels who God deliberately surrounded me with. Y’all are awesome. Don’t give me that look; you know yourself!


And I am sooo looking forward to this new year. I am looking forward to another year to prepare for my glorious eternity. Another year to add more stars to my crown. Another year to pant to behold His face. Another year to dream.


Hope.


Cry.


Laugh.
 

Die.
 

Live.
 

Fail.
 

Win.
 

Love.
 

See.
 

Believe.
 

Grow.
 

Be.




P.S: My birthday was yesterday.


P.P.S: A big shout-out to all who made it memorable. God bless y'all.

Monday, 7 December 2015

I HAD A DREAM

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I had a dream two days ago. It was very vivid and chillingly real. I can still remember if I try.

The smell.


The sounds.


The palpable fear eating into my heart.


It sucked the very air out of my lungs and left me thoroughly deflated.

It was about the Rapture.


It had started with some flash occurrences I cannot quite place now. But after some of those events, I remember someone telling me the rapture had taken place. And all of a sudden its implication dawned on me.


I had been left behind.


I remember feeling so deflated. So incredibly sad. It was as though no ocean could carry the depth of my fear mixed with sadness and a great level of disappointment. Nothing else mattered anymore. Nothing else made sense. After all, I had missed the one event my life revolved around.


The pain was so awful. I thrashed in hysterics but could not find tears. Surprisingly, I saw some other people I did not expect still left behind. This did little to comfort me as I rolled on the floor asking God just one simple, agonized question.


Why?


Not why He come so soon but why I had not gone with him. 


Why?


I woke with a jolt and a tangible fear that made me second guess my current reality washed over me. Was it actually a dream? It was as though I had crossed the bridge between reality and illusion and was struggling to find a safe landing port back.


After that morning, I became really sober. This type of dream wasn’t the first this year and I realized that maybe I was on to something. Maybe I should not keep it in anymore.


I’m not usually one to go around spouting dramatic prophesies, but I just had to let this one out. After considering also what is going on around right now, I felt it was expedient. And in my waking moments, one thing became obvious to me;


Jesus is coming SOON.


Of course, most of us know this, we even sing it in melodic and offhanded tunes but I wonder how much of this we REALLY believe. I wonder how many of us really give this a serious thought as we go about our daily activities. 


I kept wondering why I had been left behind. Of course it was a dream but I knew i my heart it was no ordinary dream. That morning, in my QT, I kept asking. Kept praying and I got this:


"Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."(Colossians 3:1-4. AMP).

Somehow, we seem to have gotten so carried away with what is going on around us.We hardly ever talk about Christ's coming again. Even if we do, it would be in stilted words, and with hands fumbling over invisible threads as we try to surmount this awkward topic. And all of a sudden the initiator of such conversations get more stigma than an HIV patient. You seem like a 'kill-joy' for spouting such things.

But should this be so?

Should the thought of having our Saviour and Lord coming back for us not cause an outrageous delight in our hearts? Should we not view the things of this world with contempt in light of his inexplicable glory? Are we scared to believe? Are we scared to hope?

But hope shields.

Hope purifies.

"My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure." (1 John 3:2-3. GNB)

I realized in that dream that although I did not get an answer to my "why", I knew I had failed the 'hope test'. The truth is that you cannot expect to just disappear into the sky when you are being carried away by something else. You cannot be raptured by Christ when you are enraptured by the world. It doesn't work that way. You have to believe. You have to live with a consciousness of His coming. You have to hope.

 

Hope shields.

Hope purifies. 

Side Note:
As part of getting ready for His coming, we need to tell every ear that cares to hear and even those who don't that Jesus is coming soon. 

Call the sinner, wake the saint, Jesus is coming soon. 

Photo credit: Lightstock





Friday, 20 November 2015

WHAT I HAVE BEEN LEARNING II

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…continued...



So, in the last post, I made a 15 point list of what I have been learning lately as a challenge to myself and you to begin to take conscious and serious note of what God and life have been teaching us. They are numerous but one-step-at-a-time is my motto. Here is another list of some of my lessons.

Let’s go…

1.    God WILL do His work. Stop worrying. It is not my job to tell God how to do His. Just let go and let God be God.


2.    Oyindamola, there is a thin line between HATE and INDIFFERENCE. There is a HUGE difference between love and lust. Love is selfless, but lust is SELFISH. Love is about ‘them’ but lust is about ‘me’. Love IS God. Lust is well…SIN


3.    My acceptance before God is not based on what I do. It is based on His love and mercy. Thinking otherwise is an awful case of pride.

 
4.    Most of the things I call ‘personal stuff’ are actually rotten stuff about me that I don’t want people to see, so I go “…It’s personal.” (*yinmu -__-).


5.    Learn to place your priorities right. Whatever adds no value to you is just unnecessary baggage. Get rid of it.


6.    Learn to know God for yourself. To seek Him for Him and for me. Not for ANYBODY.  Hypocrisy never got anyone a medal. At least nothing eternal.


7.    Most times, I demand of people what I do not demand of myself. I place a GINORMOUS fence for them to climb while I neatly stack a couple of stones for myself to jump. This is just terrible.


8.    You don’t always have to talk. There is a thing called SILENCE. Learn it. 


9.    Marriage is not as easy as it sounds. There are starry-eyed moments alright, but boy is it serious business.


10.    Write because you have to breathe. Write because it is an obligation of the divine on you. Write because you need it more than they do. Write NOT for the accolades. Write NOT just for the self-expression. Write for the God-expression. Write when you feel like it. Write when you don’t. Write in all sorts of weird places. Write until God’s truth dawns on you like the first lights of day. Write till your limbs grow tired. Read. Read. Write. Write. LIVE and write. BE.


11.    You’re a weirdo. Maybe you should just accept it already. Own it.


12.    Stop obsessing over that girl in the mirror, she is not the real you. There is only one true mirror and that is God’s Word and what He thinks of you. Okay?


13.    Contrary to popular opinion (mine), time is not something to be trifled with. It is impatient and thoroughly stealthy. You must do what you must do like NOW.


14.    Take off your mirrored lenses. Look at people and when you do look, SEE them. Not yourself. In fact, as much as possible, eliminate the words, “I”, “me”, “my”, “myself” from your vocabulary, Oyindamola. Seriously!


15.    She who would have friends must prove herself friendly.


16.    No matter how hard you try, no matter what you eat, you will forever look lean in your mother’s eyes. So, whatever you do, DON’T LISTEN TO HER (in this case) because you’ll get extra fat and she’ll still go, "You are soo lean.”

 
17.    Ask questions till everyone concludes you are dumb.


18.    Doubt does not always mean you are faithless (?). Sometimes, it means you are still thinking and maybe that is not so bad.


19.    It is not enough to write a fancy list of stuff you have been learning. Be very deliberate. Be practical. Everyone knows these things but what makes us different is what we do with what we know.


20.    Keep learning. Keep walking. You’ll be fine.

Sigh. I hope by now you realize this transcends the lately time frame. I probably dug up some forgotten lessons from over the years. It’s cool though. It made me think and ponder what the melons I have been doing with my life.


"Anything you say to the wise will make them wiser. Whatever you tell the righteous will add to their knowledge." (Proverbs 9:9 - GNB).


SIDE NOTE:
Which of the lessons above can you relate to? What have you been learning lately? Are you taking note? What do you plan to with them? What are they?


I’d love to hear them…



GLOSSARY
*yinmu - the upward tilting of ones nose, meant to be a smirk but infinitely more loaded with an, "it's a lie" or "be deceiving yourself" intent. Something like this.


Photo credit: Pixel Creative via Lightstock

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

WHAT I HAVE BEEN LEARNING

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Lesson learned

I have realized something about myself. It is annoying and very unflattering. I have found that I am what I call ‘an unconscious learner’. I know a lot of things but have learned few of them. I do not apply my heart to the lessons I am taught.

Life is filled with teachers and God has graciously blessed me with them. They are people, situations that teach me, sometimes gently and quietly and other times loudly and obnoxiously. 

Mostly however, they are the storytellers who tell a tale and forget to deliberately enunciate the lessons, leaving them for me to figure out. It is my duty as a good student of life to take each of those lessons, read between the lines and ensure I apply them.

But the truth is, I AM NOT. I am a terrible student and have probably had more grace than most to have made it this far in the school. I am in fact not a willing learner. I am stiff and bent on my ways, my folly. 

A wise man once said, “Only a fool does the same things over again and expects different results.” I guess I am a classic example of that fool. A fool never learns until they’ve been burned. They never grow until they’ve been beaten. They never laugh until they have cried. 

I don’t want to be that fool anymore. I want to be wise. I want to take note of the road signs so I don’t fall into a ditch ahead. I want to consciously learn the lessons God and life have been teaching me.

So, I’m starting now, diligently copying my lessons and giving them deliberate consideration and determination to follow them through. I thought I should share them with you:

Here goes…

1. God loves me unconditionally. He loves me because He is Love and not because I am lovely.

2. Loving God is so beautiful. It is my duty and I have to decide to do it, consciously.

3. A multitude of activities doth not a success make.

4. Sin is not angering an easily enraged or indifferent God. It is spitting on the face of a loving Father and bruised Saviour.

5. I still suck even at the things I used to think I was pretty good at.

6. It is okay to say ‘no’ sometimes. In fact it is recommended I learn to do so.

7. “No, I’m not alright” is not on the list of unpardonable sins.

8. Over half the things I am taught in school have no relevance to real life. I should build my life outside the school walls now.

9. Successes in life are not unconscious learners, they deliberately take note and take notes.

10. My life will be summed up in just a few lines when I die. It is my duty to ensure I make those summarized words into heavy punch lines.

11. I cannot do everything. I cannot be all.

12. I am not the centre of the universe. God is.

13. I will not always get it right and that is okay as long as long as I am determined to get it right.

14. Learn to love beans early in life (in case I have a next life).

15. I can survive without Dodo*.

This is not all though, there is more. I will add them as they come up.

“Are you immature? Learn to be mature. Are you foolish? Learn to have sense.” (Proverbs 8:5 – GNB)


Side Note:
Are you an unconscious learner too? Do stop to take note of the lessons God and life have been trying to teach you. Which one of the lessons on my list resounded with you? What would you like to add? What have you been learning?

Glossary:
*Dodo – Fried plantain.

Photocredit: Via: Lightstock


To be continued...

Monday, 21 September 2015

GOD’S STORY

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So the other day I watched a bus conductor. He hung by the door of the bus, angled slightly outward as he bellowed on the top of his voice for passengers. His crescendo undulated, rising and falling intermittently in the traffic. He looked so tired, so worn. And I wondered what his story was. Did he have dreams? Did a smile ever crack that now expressionless face? How often did it happen? What were his hopes as a child? Did he ever plan to be where he was?

Life on the whole can be pretty crappy and some things happen that make us wonder if it is even worth it. We wake, eat, work, go through routine, sleep and wake again to continue the vicious cycle. I am not about to write another book of Ecclesiastes, but my point is, life can seem meaningless. Why do we live? What do we live for? We sometimes get so caught in the middle that we feel like amateur actors in the center stage of a movie with no script or cues.

Why do we live? We laugh and the next second we cry from the very things that caused us joy. We live in a world where nobody seems to care anymore. Nobody wants to hear anybody. We are lost. Obscure even as we are in everyone’s faces. Sometimes you feel like maybe we all lost our way. Maybe we all should have been somewhere else. Then the question would be…as opposed to what? Space?

There has to be more. Routine is not what we were born for. This picture just doesn’t seem right.

As I go through the book of Genesis, particularly chapter 5, I see names, people…lives. But something struck me; I realized that each of them had a story but somehow, their stories looked so…small that it could be summarized in a verse or a few verses. The writer seemed to breeze over, a procession of names and few-line stories. Whoever they were, their whole book appeared to be sufficient for only a few lines. And even those few verses would go along the lines of:

“When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalel. And after he became the father of Mahalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.” (Genesis 5:12-14)

What a biography! For nine-hundred and ten good years! We don’t even know what he did. All we know is he spent 910 years breathing, making children and…dying. And he wasn’t the only one. Obviously, I know the writer of Genesis couldn’t possibly tell us all they did with their lives. But there should be more.

“And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters, altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God, then he was no more because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:22-24).


I am amazed at this. Why? Because Enoch seemed to have accomplished more in his 365 years than the other people did in over 900 years. Even in the probability that the writer was struggling with space, he could not pass over this significant detail of Enoch’s life.

I have one major fear. I fear that I would be ordinary. I fear that I would not be that person whose story is ridden in so much awesomeness. Who doesn’t? But the truth is, we all have a story, every one of us. But your story or how it is told is defined by who holds the pen. If you choose to hand it over to a writer with an absolute lack of imagination (like yourself), what right has your story to be anything less than boring? A one-line diatribe?

Enoch understood this and so he wisely handed God not just his pen but his hand as they walked into the sunset, littering the pages of Enoch’s life with beauty, a grand work of art. Yours doesn’t have to be a story the whole world knows, but it should be one that fulfils God’s purpose for your life. It should be a life where you die EMPTY, knowing:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”(2 Timothy 4:7).


A life that disappoints the grave because it has nothing give it. A life that has given all there could possibly be. A life that fought to the last irrespective of its length.

It is true we all have struggles, true it can never be easy. It is also true that a manufacturer alone understands why and how he made a car. Life doesn’t have to be a routine or a list of meaningless pain or pure purposelessness.  It is more, irrespective of our hurt and wars.

But no matter who we are, where we have been or what demons we fight, we owe it to not just ourselves but to God and indeed our world to tell a story. It is one thing we all have but the extent to which we are able to draw people to it and not bore them or make them shake their heads in pity when our stories are told, is the extent to which we really live.

Open the book.

And hand God the pen.

It would be hard. It would be tough. It would take the very essence of who we are. But in the end it would be God’s story told in us. And it would be worth it.



Side Note
There is more to life than the routine we tend to fall into. Life can be abundant and overflowing and it can only be found in Jesus. Give Him your pen. He alone can write that best seller with your life. 

Much love!


Thursday, 10 September 2015

ODE TO THE KING

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Ode to the King


Fiery is He that walks on cloud
Storming in strong winds loud
Open the gates for the King
Swing the lyre and let praises ring
   
Mighty is He that steps in the battle
Wielding nothing and burning fettle
The Sun he holds in His fist
Burning its flames into a mist

Awesome is He who made all things
Never lacking in creative capacities
Creation will bow at His feet in worship
Dancing around and around at His feet

Gracious is he who made the air
Releasing torrents to all; wicked and fair
Never giving a dime of what we deserve
Gently he leads, tenderly He carves.

Loving is He who hung upon a tree
Releasing all bond slaves free
Curled like a serpent on a prophet’s pole
Stretched taut, a sinless soul.

Ode to the King, Ode to He
Ode to the Father who made me
Pour your scented oil at His beautiful feet
There you’ll find me, there we’ll meet.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

OBSESSING BLESSING

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My generation is obsessed with blessings and it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. All you have to do is take a not-so-critical observation of how we pray and think. It’s in our every proclamation. Pouring out from every pulpit and sucked in with desperation from every pew.

Whoever you are, no matter how terribly blasƩ, villainous or tightly conservative you may be, you just laave blessings.

Admit it.

I do. A lot. But, at a point in my life, along with figuring out life isn’t a fairy tale after all, I also discovered something else; blessing is a vague thing. I mean I know it’s a good thing but what exactly is it? And the dictionary made this even worse for me by providing not less than four definitions for blessing.

But I also saw how people defined it;



“Look at that fine, young man, he just got a high-paying job, an expensive car and a big house on the island.” Sigh. “He is soo blessed.”

“My cousin is seventy and retired. All her kids are educated, married and have kids of their own. She and her husband recently celebrated their anniversary at the Bahamas.” Insert nod. “God has really blessed her.”

“You know Sarah? Yeah, she graduated with a first class. Such a smart, beautiful girl. Now, she’s getting married to Bill Gates’ son. That girl is so blessed.”

“I just got a scholarship to Harvard. Gosh, I am soo blessed!”


You get the picture? When a person is somehow fortunate to have things that bring physical comfort, we nod our heads and call them blessed. Favored. Happy. 


Prosperous.

Probably, but then it gets more confusing with the whole prosperity gospel going on in our churches today. Immediately the Pastor pronounces a blessing on you, he quickly proceeds with a succession of money, favor, health, connections, marriage, kids, yadda yadda pronunciations to accompany it. You can only make one conclusion.

But, the other day I was studying the Bible and I was shocked.

The people Jesus described were the poor (in spirit), the bereaved, the docile, those who were hungry and thirsty, the generally “too nice” guys who knew nothing, had nothing and sought nothing but God. They were the ones who were constantly spat on, degraded, lied about and generally hated to an unbearable point.

Jesus, after making a very thorough and sincere analysis of these guys, could only nod his head and say, “Blessed!”

Honestly, these people do not seem so blessed to me. They seem…miserable. Wretched. In fact, if they were from my part of the world, my people will call them accursed. “Dem don dey follow am for him village,”(a) they would say while they nod their heads sagely and pretend to throw spittle on the ground.

It just doesn’t make any kind of sense to me. Like:

“I am such a horrible mess. I can’t do anything right. I’m at the end of my rope. All I need is God” Sigh. “I’m so blessed!”

“I’ve lost a lot. I am so grieved right now.” Sniff. “How blessed I am!”

“My boss just laid me off for singing Don Moen. What a blessing!”

“Did you see the new ISIS video with those Syrian Christians getting their heads chopped off?” Sigh. “Such blessed people!”

“My class mates hate me. They keep calling me a witch with a fish brain. In fact, Leah slapped me yesterday for trying to preach to her.” Smile. “I’m crazy blessed!”

 
Am I the only one who thinks this is weird? It makes no sense. At least no common sense. But that is what God tells us. So, what exactly is blessing? I’m not sure I know yet, but going back to the Attitude guys, we find out that there was something about them. During the process of their general misery (from the world’s assessment), they get a huge deal in return. And this makes me think that maybe the blessing is in this.

And it wasn’t just about the fact that they were heaven-bound and had a reward from God. No. there was so much more.

They all got God.

In their moments of woe and desolation; whether as a Missionary in a far out rural area with little money. Or as a young orphan struggling to get by in a hell-hole. A young Christian trying so hard not to fit in…there was that uttermost and high state of bliss, rapture and beatitude. That unfurling peace and joy, that beautiful embrace and joyful assuredness of knowing;

He is here.

I am not alone.

I am His!

He is mine.

When you have the Master of all creation, the God of the Universe, the Love Himself, the Supreme commander of all as your Lord and Saviour, how can you want more?

And this, is the real blessing!

Are you blessed?

Side Note:
Have I disputed the place of material blessings? Nope. It will in fact result from the real blessing...but for a purpose.  It's important we know that it is not the real definition of blessedness from God's perspective. Never forget that.

Stay blessed!


Glossary:
a - "Dem don dey follow am for him village."
Literal meaning: He is being followed by his kindred.
Translation: He is under a spell. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN

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 #LatePost

I shouldn’t feel this way. I know. I am a Christian for Christ’s sake. Or at least I like to think I am. I close my eyes, open my mouth and try to express what I feel, or don’t feel. But Nada. Zilch.

Nothing.

I should pray. I know I should, because I am a Christian. I am supposed to pray! Prayer is what we do. But I just don’t feel like it. I’m serious.

I don’t feel like praying.

And that is the problem. Has been for a while. Of course this should not be expected of me. I should be able to roll off my bed with the first thing on my mind being God and talking with him. But now I wake with a certain kind of…trepidation. Like, “Here we go…”

I say ‘trepidation’ because I hate routine. I like doing the right thing but I hate doing it dutifully. It makes me hate myself because I feel…passionless. Then I start feeling sad for hating myself. And then guilt sets in, going on in a vicious cycle.

So, yes, trepidation. Days have gone when I felt that way.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still love God. Very much. But it’s more like me saying, “I really, really do love my Mum but I just don’t feel like talking to her. I just prefer we sit side by side in silence.”

It happens in relationships right? You just want to enjoy the person’s presence.

But you see, it doesn’t work that way with God. Because for starters, I can’t even feel his presence, how then can I enjoy it? Secondly, I really need to pray…especially now, with all that’s going on.

Sigh.

The silence is unbearable. I don’t say anything and neither does He and somehow this makes me mad. Why won’t you say something? Why do I have to be the one to initiate the conversation?

 
I’ve always been one of those Christians who believe in prayer and it became really alarming when this went on for a few days. So, after a lot of pep talk, from me (and God?), I finally decided to pray.

“Our Father who art…” I say but slowly drift off. I gave it another shot and this time tried not to pay attention to how dry and frigid my voice sounded even to my own ears. It felt…forced.

I mentally threw my hands up in defeat.

“Lord, this isn’t working and we both know it,” I say.

But what has to be done has to be done, so after several minutes of rambling and carrying on with my routine, I decided I had satisfied my conscience. Or maybe not. And this went on for days.

It’s not like I don’t know I should pray. Like I said, I believe so much in prayer not just because people say so but because, I’m telling you, I have tasted its power and beauty.

I have had times when God showed forth for me at the nick of time or even before time because of prayers. I have received strength and refreshing waters in the place of prayer. I have seen it at work. So, why can’t I just pray?

It’s like every time I close my eyes to pray, my brain starts bustling with things to do yet I know every bustling outside God is just busy nothing. I tried. I promise, I really tried. But it was not a discipline issue this time. No. there was something more, keeping me from reaching that beautiful place of fellowship with God. And I didn’t know what, I just was not feeling it.

And then it hit me.

“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 _ NIV)


I realized then that I was basing my connection with God on how I felt at that moment instead of allowing faith shape my perception of God. And a lot of this goes on in our generation. We are so in touch with the physical, basing everything on what we can see, smell, taste, hear or feel. But that is the problem because God does not dwell in the physical.

We worship and communicate with God in the Spirit because He is Spirit. He is our Father in Heaven who we don’t see and want to communicate with. Our emotions have no place in this.

Pay attention: Prayer is NOT about how you feel. Got it?

Of course it would sometimes come to a point where God rubs on us so much that it overflows to our emotions. But, it does not begin there.

Get this straight. Passion and feeling in prayer does not begin with the emotions. It begins with following God in blind-eyed faith before the manifestation of anything physical. Go and check, those who encountered God in such awesome ways in the Bible began with a step in faith.

So it means that at that point you don’t feel like praying, that is the best time to pray because you pray in the Spirit and not by feeling (sight, emotion, flesh).

Immediately I had this understanding, I ran straight for God. At first it seemed like a repetition of the same ol’, but I pressed for more. I pressed, bearing in my heart that I have a Father in Heaven who is just waiting for me to speak. I pressed till I was so completely immersed I didn’t even realize it.

It was a wonderful feeling. But it didn’t begin with the feeling.



Another tip: When you just don’t feel like praying, go to God’s word. Allow his voice soak you through His word. It spurs you to pray.

Pray God’s word to him.

And yes, you’ll need lots of discipline too.

So, are you ready? Now close your eyes, take a deep breath and say,
“My Father, who art in Heaven…”


Side Note:
I'm sure by now you've noticed this is a favorite topic of mine; prayer. And in all my goodness, I have decided to spare you the pain of having to point out the obvious. So, yeah, it is a topic of particular fascination to me...the ability to communicate with the divine.

And I've read a few books on this. Will probably do a book review on my top 5 books on prayer sometime.

Friday, 10 July 2015

THE RACE II

,

 

…get set…go!

Clarence wobbled a bit as his weak limbs hit the dusty road. He was tired. He was hungry. He wasn’t even sure why he was running anymore. They were about fifty kilometers out on the trail but he felt like his lungs were going to burst open, spilling his innards on the dusty road.

He winced a little at the thought.

He should stop to eat something. Some of the other runners did. Every few hours they stopped to eat some of the food Papi – for that was what they called the organizer of the race – kept on the track. But, he couldn’t do that. He was too busy.

He had to win this race.

The Papi also helped the runners a lot. Sometimes, he’d just jump in and take some of the weary ones on his shoulder while he ran. Or offer them glucose. Or help them read the map. Or bellow advice from a chopper hovering above them constantly. But Clarence had graciously rejected his offer several times.

All his friends were in the race. He had a lot to prove. He did his exercises well and was a natural at this. He didn’t need the food. But, he felt really doozy. His initial energy and fervor that was present when he began the race was gone. His breaths came in wispy, shallow puffs now. But he kept going.

He would make it.

He didn’t need food.

Or anyone’s help.

                                                  *    *    *    *

The bag was weighing her down. Tina had wondered at a time what it would feel like to carry a thousand ton rock on ones back. Now, she knew. She couldn’t remember where the strange thought had come from at that time. Maybe something she had read somewhere about placing a millstone around someone’s neck and dropping them in the ocean.

She felt so strangled. All her energy and concentration focused fully on carrying the weight hanging on her stooping back. Her steps were slow and labored. But this was hers. She would carry it. So she hopped on with the bag flopping heavily on her back as she did so, her breath shallow and labored.

Several times Papi had hovered in a chopper above her like he usually did, bellowing on a megaphone for her to drop the load. But all the time she would shake her head and ignore him. There was no way she was dropping it.

She had left home with it. It contained all her personal stuff. Things she loved and was comfortable with. Things she wasn’t ready to let go of for any reason.
For any one.

Besides, she was sure she was doing great in the race…for someone with all that load. Never mind most of the energy from her food always went to carrying the bag rather than running the race. But she wasn’t complaining.

She would be fine.

She stopped a bit to catch her breath and watch the other runners and tried not to envy some of them. They were so agile and fast. If only she could be that way. Some who breezed past however, were so pathetic she wanted to laugh. But then she remembered the weight chocking her and changed her mind about expressing her scorn. Their steps were so feeble and Papi had to carry them most of the time or offer them some kind of help.

They were so helpless.

At least she was better than them. Now, if only she could find a way to carry this load without it chocking or hindering her steps too much, she would be fine.
She would be just fine.

                                                  *    *    *    *

Ladi had always loved beautiful things. She remembered as a child, she had had such a keen eye for art that her parents had thought she would end up as an artist. She would usually point excitedly at a daisy or a rose and hop excitedly screeching, “Look! So, so pretty!” Her friends thought she was weird, in a kind of way that was somehow acceptable for only artists.

But she hadn’t grown to be an artist. She was a photographer.

Now, as she ran on the trail, she couldn’t help but notice how the surrounding hills towered and tilted towards each other like they were having a private conversation. She sighed.

It was really beautiful.

Then there were the luscious berries that hung alluringly and beckoned silently by the side of the road. Her mouth watered, never mind the food Papi provided for them. They were not like these ones. These ones were different. She could just take…

She shook her head vigorously and blinked. “Focus, Ladi. Focus!” she chided herself and picked up her slowing steps.

She must have run for about a kilometer when she saw it. It wasn’t different from the others she had been seeing along the way but somehow this one caught her fancy. She halted in her tracks for a bit and watched.

There was a party at some distance to the west. The people were dancing and laughing like they had no care in the world. They looked like they were really having fun. She found herself smiling longingly.

She wanted to go.

All she had to do was stay awhile. Maybe take a few of those berries she had seen on the trees along the way. They had them there, in platters. Ladi squinted and tried to make out the other things lying on the table. She couldn’t really see them from where she was but they seemed really delicious. She would not stay long, she told herself. She would be able to get back on track later, after all she was a fast runner. Very lithe.

She should go.

What harm could there be?

                                                      *    *    *    *

“Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 _ NIV

                                                       The End?


Side Note: 

No, my question mark is not out of place. I’m not sure that story ever really ends. It’s our story. All of us.

What is the lesson in it, you ask? Well, it should be there somewhere. But here’s a tip: They are all Christians. On a race.

Go figure…



Friday, 29 May 2015

THE RACE

,
On your marks…

Jade breathed deeply, sucked in her stomach and slowly let out air from her open mouth. Annie had insisted this was wrong aerobics, “Breathe in air to your lungs,” her know-it-all friend had said but Jade was too occupied at the moment to worry about the technicalities of breathing.

She squinted, scanning around briefly for any sign of them. But even after roving the curved sidelines as far as her eyes could see, she still couldn’t spot them. Though the sidelines were brimming with humans, she didn’t bother filtering the bodies around critically. She knew.

They were not here.

And all of a sudden, all her cool confidence was shattered. She could feel her heart sink like an anchor thrown into the sea and this made her feel weak. Weak from the exhaustion of the pain and disappointment. Weak from the strain of making excuses for her family and friends. They just did not care.

“Live with it,” she mumbled to herself and spat ungracefully. She did the breathing again to steady her heart. She didn’t need this now. If there was ever a time she needed all her mind in one place, it was now.

Jade had entered for the “Run for life” marathon a month ago. A friend, Ben, had introduced it to her and she had gotten the ticket; which was weird. The ticket, that is.

They had told them the ticket was free and the only thing they had to do was show an interest. They said the prize was N50 million and a mansion. Seriously, who gives you a chance to enter for a contest with such a huge prize attached to it without expecting anything? Jade thought. And it wasn’t even a company event. It was a one-man organized thing.

Another strange thing. No one saw a picture of the mansion. In all the fliers and banners, they had never shown anyone the prize they were running for nor the man – the organizer. But she gave up understanding it. Her friends had laughed at her. They thought it was a sham and teased her mercilessly when she got up early every morning to train. But all that didn’t matter.

She was running.

Of course her family had disapproved. It was foolishness, they said. But she had hoped that somehow they and her friends would still come to cheer her on.

Apparently not.

She got on her mark. The race was about to begin.


                                                                *    *    *    *

Dave couldn’t get what the man was hollering about. He stood at the sidelines and yelled at him to get himself fixed up. What did that mean anyways? He had entered for the race about a week ago after getting the handbill from some guy on his way to the office and it had said nothing about getting himself “fixed up”. It just sounded like a great deal to him.

Okay, fine it was indeed a race and like his friend had told him, he needed to train hard. But seriously, he didn’t think it was that big a deal. He was very athletic and after doing a sweeping survey of his fellow runners, he decided he was probably the most fit. With or without exercises.

And running shoes.

Agreed, dress shoes were not exactly “track-friendly”. That and his beige slacks together with a clean white shirt and tie. But that was beside the point. Heck, there was no way he was wearing any of those ugly running boots he saw the others sporting. He huffed. 


Some people had style.

All that did not matter. The point was at least he had come. Dave could almost see the dazzling mansion in his mind’s eye. He didn’t know what it looked like but he enjoyed imagining it. He had even told some of his friends to come along. Some had agreed and others laughed at him out rightly. They thought he had lost his mind, running for something he knew almost nothing about.


He would show them.

The sun was coming on them really hard and he thanked God for the strong antiperspirant his wife had made him buy before coming. Although she hadn’t entered for the race yet, she had agreed to join them later. That was possible. The flier had said so. So long as the race was still on, others could join them.

Weird rule, he thought.

He waved off the man – hollering man on the sidetrack – and gently rocked on his feet while placing his hands in his pockets. The old trooper just shook his head and walked off.

Dave briefly surveyed the sidelines again but couldn’t see any familiar face, which was great. He didn’t care one way or the other. He was a one-man team and didn’t need any cheerleader mussing up his focus. 

He rolled up his sleeves and picked the rumpled sheet from his back pocket. It was a map they had been given when they signed up for the race. He stared blankly at the curves and lines that ran over the sheet. He had no idea how to read it.

But once again, it didn’t matter. He didn’t even need the thing. It was a terrain he knew so well. He stuffed it back in his pocket and whistled.

He was waiting for the shot. The race was about to begin.


                                                                                                   ...to be continued



On your marks




Side note:

What next? Honestly, I'm not sure I know but stay with me on this okay? This might take a while though, but then something to look forward to, right?

And of my absence...that's another piece, trust me. A serious marathon, guaranteed to bore you to tears. Get your shoes and we'll talk. But no, I haven't backslidden.

Thanks for asking ;)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL...OH REALLY?

,
Jesus take the wheel


“…In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

You remember "Jesus take the wheel" by Carrie Underwood? Yeah. It's a really pretty song. But then I started to wonder if I could rewrite it. If I did, it would go along the lines of

"Jesus take the wheeeel!

Take it from my hands
While I give you instructions
I'm not really letting go
Give me hundred more chances
Save me from this road I'm on...
Jesus take the wheel... "

Okay so I admit it will not be a very pretty song. But it'll be pretty accurate. At least for me. I would sing it at the top of my lungs, unmindful of musical murder. Why? Because that is my confession.

Alright, so you were finally able to convince your Mum, after several months of shameless persistence to allow you drive. She gives that exasperated sigh of one who is left with no more choice while she haltingly hands you the keys. So, off you go, taking possession of the wheels with your Mum sitting beside you while she allows you drive.

Yayy!

But you've barely gone several meters before she's twisting in her seat, barking instructions at you:

"Watch that pothole!”

“Swerve to the right"
"Not so fast!"

And naturally you want to remind her you’re not blind. Because, you see, you are at the wheels, but you’re not really driving. She is.

Reminds me of me.

I have been at the wheel of my life for so long that I almost forgot how to relinquish control, but it doesn’t take me too long to realize that I suck as a driver and here is Jesus, offering to take control of the wheels. After a lot of hesitation, I decided that maybe surrender isn’t so bad. It’s even a command. So, I hand him the keys and scoot to the passenger seat.

He is at the wheels and I would like to say I have fully surrendered all. Maybe I have.

Or not.

"Lord, do you think you could umm...hit the gas? You are going a little too slow"

"Lord, this is not the road. It's too rough. We should've followed the highway. "
"Lord, watch that pothole.”
“Lord, I’m not sure I could do that.”

We say we have surrendered. Yet there are still parts of our lives we would like to protect and explain away on grounds of temperament, background and so on. Parts of our lives we would like to own. Control is a human thing. It’s something we never want to lose. We all want to feel some level of control in our lives. We hate being helpless. Yet, God demands this of us. He demands full consecration. He demands full surrender.

He demands ALL of you.

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.” (Jesus, Luke 14:33_The Message).

God doesn’t demand much of us but that we give Him our all. He deserves it because he gave us his all. He desires that we rest back in our seats and allow him drive. Simply put, follow him.

But how can you surrender to someone you do not trust? How can you fully surrender when your surrender stops short of the “I suck as a driver” realization? How can total surrender come when our motives are not fully aimed at God alone? How can we surrender to a God we feel will whip us the minute our hands are up?

How can we surrender when we are not aching to see His glory but ours?

The truth is, we cannot. Total surrender is born, not of a mere realization that God can do it better. But is born of wanting all of God as much as he wants all of us. Trusting. Letting go. Aching for him so much that we let the reins slip easily off our fingers because we realize we cannot hold all of Him – his might, love, power – and still hold on to our control.

It just doesn’t work.

It is harder than it sounds. But why not start where you are? Begin by not giving him instructions then work your way, with every step of grace, to that place of full surrender.

So, I would again have to rewrite the song…then I’ll have something like this;

"Jesus take the wheeeel!

Take it from my hands
And put a tape duct on my mouth
I'm now letting
I’ll give you full control
Save me from this road I'm on...
Jesus take the wheel... "

Sigh. Okay, yes. It will still suck as a song. But it’ll be pretty accurate.


And it will be my confession.

Side note:

I'm recruiting back up singers for my own version of "Jesus take the wheel" (The latter one now).
So, what do you say? You in?

Photo credit: via Lightstock

Monday, 30 March 2015

...WHEN GOD DIED

,


 "...Nature trembled at this great alteration..."

 
He is the word made flesh
The Son of God of virgin birth
Like a lamb to a slaughter he was led
Not a protest, not a word said
A guiltless man persecuted and trialed
For your wrong and crime that was mine
On him our punishment was laid
Paying a debt we were too desolate to pay
Dragged to Pilate on that fateful day
He was handed over by the ones he came to save
Crucify him! Crucify him! The people roared
Rejected by his own, they had him flogged
Entering the hearts of men who gave him room
Lucifer unwittingly plotted his doom
They stripped and adorned him a scarlet garment
Setting on his head a crown of thorns they taunted
They spat on the king, struck him and hurled insults
While some gathered his clothes and cast lots
They scribbled an ode on his cross for fun
The written charge a veritable one
“This is Jesus, King of the Jews”
They said to scorn but it rang true
Because of my sins he was ill-fated
For cursed is he hung upon a tree
The soldier pierced him with no sensitivities
His pain stretching tautly to the extremities
And when on the Son laid our sins
The Father had to turn away from him
Seeing all had been accomplished
He breathed his last words, “It is finished”
The sun retreated then into its tent
Refusing to show the abomination of men
Nature trembled at this great alteration
A sinless blood, the atrocities of nations
The earth shook and trembled in fear
Throwing up bodies of men long dead
The curtain of the temple ripped apart
A sign of what should have been from the start
Now all who believe can walk in
Through the advocate, our High Priest
Ushering in an epoch of grace
One which welcomed all people, all race
To those captured by death he was the ransom
He paid the price in ways one cannot fathom
With foolishness, He confounded the wise
It was the unthinkable when God died.


Courtesy: lightstock

Side Note
You remember "Passion of the Christ?" Yeah. This is my own tired version. But, I'm telling you, this story is by no means finished. He died and guess what? He rose again. The only "Valentine" who lives to tell the story.

HE IS RISEN

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

CONFESSIONS OF A SHEEP

,
I am a sheep. My slightly drooped eyes and lazy trot tell the story. I am wandering, vulnerable. Dumb. Completely stupid and undiscerning. Even as I type these words, my mind screams, “NO”. I’m not any of those. I’m smart. Strong. Independent.

He laughs.

Not that raucous sneer a villain throws out when he has pinned down a victim. No. It’s the mildly amused, long suffering soft laugh a Father would give a child who thinks he can drive at age three. That kind.

I am undependable. Fickle. A prey to wolves. If I were left on my own, I would make fast acquaintance with one of them. He says I shouldn’t play with them but I stubbornly jut out my chin, stamp my foot and insist I know better.

Yet I laugh at Adam and Eve.

I am a sheep. Yes. And you know what more?

The Lord IS MY Shepherd.

I mean really. He is. Not me, no matter how foolishly I insist I know. He constantly is. No one else but Him. Mine. My very own Shepherd. And I'm not even paying.

sheep
Yes, I'm a Sheep.
I have all I ever need.

He relentlessly gives me fodder so I lack nothing. Not even a hair on my fur is amiss. Not even a parched throat or dehydration hits me. He gives me. All the time.

He MAKES me lie in lush pastures.

I pretend I know everything but I can’t even string two steps together enough to lay myself down. He has to do that for me. If I were left alone, I would struggle, bleat and grunt until I’m finally able to lie in soggy, stinking puddle. But HE MAKES me lie in GREEN PASTURES. He lays me down. Gently. Lovingly. In green, fresh, lush pasture. In abundance.

Sigh.

He leads me beside serene waters.

Not the turbulent, wild storms. But peaceful, restful waters. The ones I can even walk on.

He renovates my soul.

I fall. I stumble. I’m weak. He stocks me up. Refreshes me. Restores me. Strengthens me. No wonder he laughs when I think or dare say I am strong. HE is the strong one. Stupid sheep.

He leads me in righteous paths. For Him.

I am a very good person.Seriously. I promise. I don’t steal or cheat. I don’t even kill people. But then, I realized all that was raggedy. I DO NOT have to try SO HARD. He LEADS me in blameless paths. For His namesake. He will do it because, I’m telling you, His name is at stake here! If only I’ll let Him lead me.

Yes, even if I walk through the deep, sunless, shadow of death valley, I’m not scared because you are present with me.

Sometimes I will wander from your side and find myself in that deep, dreaded dark valley of death. Where all that surrounds me is empty, thick darkness and the sound of my own strained breath. But still you are there with me. Shame on fear. I’m not scared.

Yay!

You have a walking stick, with which you guide and help me. They bring me comfort.

I can hear your steady taps as I follow the sounds in the dark. I find you right here. In the pages of my worn out hard-back, labelled “Bible”. I find comfort here. Even in the dark.

You prepare a delicacy for me in front of my haters.

They are wolves. But there’s a meal for me. Before them. They salivate. Want to gobble my food and me up in one bite but God, you shame them.

You pour sweet scenting oil on my head until I have an overflow.

You have filled me thoroughly and truly with your oil. Your Spirit. You’ve dabbed me with all that you are. In excess. Which is why I wonder how I would decide to throw all that away in my moments of stupidity. Dumb, undeserving sheep. No wonder the devil hates me.

Most assuredly, goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall FOLLOW me, ALL my life and I’ll forever bask in Your presence.

All your goodness, all your love and grace will follow me. Not on twitter. But ALL the pages that you stuff into this wonderfully beautiful book that is my life.

Because I am a sheep. And He is my Shepherd.


Adapted from David’s Psalm – Psalm 23.

Side Note 
I’ve been musing on this Psalm lately and just couldn’t help it. I had to write it. It amazed me how many times I have recited this Psalm without even thinking about it.

Are you a Sheep?





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