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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A spiritual rant

Life was much simpler when I was a child.

I knew exactly what I wanted to be, who I wanted to be and I made sure that I was unashamed about telling people where I was going and what I was going to do. These days, I am less sure of myself. For most of the part, it is almost as if some alien has inhabited my body and is taking over parts of me that were important to me when I was growing up. Ironically, it is as if I am suffering some sort of identity crises. You would think that being in God would make that a rarity but I have found out that the more I know God, the less of myself I seem to know or even like.

Sometimes I comfort myself with the thought that it is the harsh glare of the word that is causing this. That in the bright light of God’s truth, who I truly am comes to bear and the truth of that is ugly in itself. Yes I am a sinner but I have accepted that my sins have been paid for by Christ Jesus and I am the righteousness of God in Christ. Yes, I am filled with the most obscene thoughts; the kind that would make people run in the opposite direction if they caught a glimpse of them, but I have accepted the truth that I am transformed in my mind with the reading and washing of the word. Yes, I have the most horrible of habits; a temper that used to make me think I was schizophrenic. But I have accepted that in Christ, the old me is gone and the new me is on display.

It seems that the fight of being a Christian is a never ending one. For nearly 3 years I have been filled with a restlessness so deep that falling into it seems like a death that I will not be resurrected from. I have been consumed by the feeling that I am not living up to my full potential and that I am not where I should be. While some form of discontentment might be considered godly, I am unsure that this sort is from God. It borders on torment and one thing I am sure about is that the Spirit of God given does not produced torment.

I remind myself constantly that I am a work in progress. I may not be where I want to be and that thought, terrifying for me as it is, is truth as much as I want to reject it. The greatest hindrance to being whom God has called us to be is ourselves. Sometimes we fight him because we have our own ideas of whom we should be and how we should get there. Maybe this is where I am? The fighting stage; I want to surrender but I am afraid that I will not like me when he is done. I already do not like me in so many regards since my intimate walk with him began.

There are many things I am yet to understand, things that I want to understand. I just want to know that I am walking the path chosen for me and not for someone else. I am consumed with the need to know that I am doing the right thing at this point in my life. This need for divine validation is not one that I am familiar with and I am at a loss. I have asked and prayed and all I get is a nudge to trust as far as my eyes can see. Maybe that is my problem. I want the whole blueprint laid out and broken down to me in my language. But when did God ever do that? His blueprints are always made known in the fullness of time. My greatest challenge at this point is to rest in him and just trust him as far as the light ahead of me shines.  God grant me grace…amen.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Letting the past go

The hardest thing for any person to do is to share a part of themselves that they have kept hidden away for a long time. There are skeletons that we keep in the closet because we are afraid of being judged, terrified of being demoted in their minds.

There are many Christians who live in the constant fear that their past wrongs will catch up with them, that they are not really forgiven for their past misdeeds. Our churches are filled with them; Christians trying to wipe out their past by filling their lives with religious activities. They talk right and act right but they tend to be the most bitter of persons. For people like this, the feeling that the world is moving around them while they are stuck in one place is one that they continually grapple with. To an outsider looking in on their lives, everything might look just peachy. Their lives always have something that can be tagged as successful. It might be the great work places they are employed in or that fantastic relationship that is the envy of their friends around them. It might even be something as superficial as the fact that they are physically appealing or have some gift that is highly coveted. But this group of people are the most unsatisfied. The constant feeling of failing at something dogs their footsteps at every turn. With each pinnacle of “success” comes a new wave of doubt and despair that they are not living at all.

These are the people who have been around church long enough to be changed, to have been changed, but who are the most unwilling to forgive wrongs. They take it to heart when things do not go their way and can be described as petty in their actions.

For many of them, it is not the absence of the desire to love and forgive and live, it is the absence of the life of God instead them. The bible describes them aptly In 2 Timothy 3:5 when it says that they are  holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. (Amp)

When we bring the fruit of our efforts to God and try to wipe the slate of our past clean with them, we are merely stalling our spiritual growth. How many of us truly believe that our past is forgiven? That our sins are truly wiped away? How many of us are still living as though we are trying to make up for the things we did and are failing miserably at it?  How many of us pray and fast and tithe and give and literally tick of the list of self-prescribed steps towards being a super Christian but still feel like we are getting it wrong? How many of us leave the tangible presence of God, go back into o the world and fall flat down on our faces at the first blow thrown at us in spite of the fact that we should know better?

Here is a truth that I faced recently and I pray that we all face in order for us to understand who we are. Many of us are involved in make overs that leave God out of the picture. We are so ashamed of who we were that we try to rewrite who we are into a more acceptable skin. But the truth is that each time we look into the mirror, we barely recognize the person we see.

When we deny who we were, we deny God’s gift of salvation. We deny God’s desire to love us whole. You see, God loves ALL of you. The miracle of his salvation lies in his ability to transform us from who we were to who we are truly meant to be in him.

God cannot transform you if you do not see the need to be transformed. Until you see the need for God, you will continue to work in your “self” and it will be a fruitless walk down the road. Transformation is one of the key features of Christianity that distinguishes it from other religions. I tend not to agree with people who say that your past has no place in your future. While I understand the context, I sincerely wish that more preachers would stress the fact that while your past does not determine your future, it does provide God with the much needed raw material he uses to make masterpieces out of us. That is if you let him and simply embrace his desire to love and use ALL of you and not just the parts that you might deem worthy. Selah.

John 8: 36- So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Picture source: truthforlife.org

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Breaking down safe walls

The New Year came with a keen knowing on my inside that we are in the final lap of the earthly race and as it is with a physical race, the unexpected can happen at any time. The good news is that as believers, we already know what to expect and are meant to prepare for it. One of the things I am certain we can expect in this season is a more vociferous attack of the enemy against the church.

In one of those rare moments when the world around me is silent and my mind is tuned to things of the Spirit, an analogy that was startlingly apt dropped in my mind. Now for you to understand what I am going to describe next, you might need to go looking for the television anime series titled, “Attack on Titan”. The series is a cleverly written manga production that has spurned a commercial line up of a movie and a series of comics and light books.

Attack on Titan tells of a tale of giant humanoids who invade earth and for reasons unknown to its inhabitants, delight in eating human beings. To protect themselves, the humans build three sturdy walls over 80 meters high and for the next hundred years focus all their energies on living inside the wall. In the course of time, the memory of the outside world becomes a distant ding and they all settle down to a monotonous existence. Interesting, there are few who question the wisdom of living within the walls as they grow up. One of them, the main character, Eren, constantly talks about life outside the walls and is viscerally upset at the thought that people are contented with living and dying within the walls.

One of the most astounding parts of the series for me is the team put in place to ensure the safety of the citizens. The team is meant to have been undergoing training drills in the event that the titans do breach the walls. These drills have been ongoing for 100 years with generations of men living and dying without actually getting to execute their military prowess. The years that pass make the tale of the titans appear as a myth and things such as the training drills are done with as much heart as a robot learning to love. When the titans do attack eventually, the military is so unprepared it is ridiculous. An entire village is literally trampled underfoot and the streets flow with blood.

Now, like I often say, blood and gore is not my typical scene. In fact, most of the time, I shut my eyes in horror each time a titan tore the head off someone or tossed a limb away. It was that horrific. But, in thinking about it I realized that those people could very well be our modern day church.

We more than anyone else, know that there is an enemy lurking outside the walls of the church that seeks to take us apart limb by limb. An enemy that will stop at nothing to make sure that we fall down and stay down. Yet what do we do?

We get comfortable within the walls of religious activity and religious language and hope that if we are quiet enough and busy enough, the enemy will forget that we exist. We forget that the four walls of the church are meant to mark out training ground where we hone our skills for defeating the enemy and instead make the entire training process look like some routine that needs to be done for the sake of appearances. We attend weekly and Sunday services so that we are religiously correct, we underline passages from scripture in church in our bibles or notepads to show that we are following the teaching from the pulpit, and yet hardly read the word when we are alone. We give to have our names registered and we are members of several groups so that we are not tagged bench warmers.

We live in a way that makes us die, separated from the true essence of the life that the blood of Jesus purchased for us. Meanwhile, the enemy is outside the walls of the church, wreaking havoc, looking for weak spots in the walls so that he can come stampeding and when he does, we sit down in the midst of the desolation asking God, “why”? “Why me Lord? We forget that God did not call us to stay in the walls of the church in the first place, that his first call to us as believers is to go and make disciples in his name. We forget that though we might forget that we have an enemy, he has not forgotten us, and that his very breath is a promise to see us suffer.
Just like the series, the knowledge of the enemy and active preparation for his invasion will help us stand in the trying times that will come. Paul speaking about the Devil boldly states, “We are not unaware of Satan’s schemes”.

It’s time we stopped hiding behind the walls of religion and come out into the dark. For light to have any impact, darkness must be present. We have not been called to be safe, we have been called to save. 

11/01/2016

*Picture source: www.blog.ourcrowd.com