God has built need into life: for our supply is in Him ~ Rev Tom Otieno.
We are in some of the most challenging times we have ever seen in our generation. I saw my parents navigate hard times and always sort it out. However, we are now in the front seat.
I learned early not to ask for help and to make do with what I had. I heard that it is honourable to suffer through things and persevere. We get applauded as strong when we do not ask for help. In fact, the less we need support, the stronger we are thought to be. Eventually, we lose the ability to ask for help and the capacity to respond to requests. In time we create unhealthy independence and pride that is detrimental in the long run.
We are shamed, castigated, or bullied for failing to meet our needs or asking for help. We appear weak if we can not do something or meet society’s standards because asking for help more than once is frowned on. Seeing people shamed or bullied because of asking for help has led to fear that keeps us silent. So, we learn to hold back and find ways to cope in silence and struggle.
God is my source, supply chain and the holder of the access keys to all resources. God allocates how said resources get to me and works through men. When I do not or cannot ask for help, my supply or access to resources is restricted.
I must learn to ask God for direction on the season and supply, be patient to ask how I will access the provision and who is the supply line. For instance, if I need to talk to the head of a large corporation, I need to speak to the office to book the appointment. I would also need favour with the personal or executive assistant to get time in the schedule and finally show up ahead of time and engage well during the meeting.
I am not saying we depend on people and ask them all the time; no! The truth is, I must be conscious that God speaks a word and then works through people. I must listen carefully to what he is saying.
If you have read my blog for a while, you know conversations are the trigger I need to create the right words. To the new readers, welcome to partake in a tasty banquet of honest conversations. This space is about learning and revelation because none knows everything; we learn something new daily.
I have been talking about submission and will likely keep circling back here a lot over the next few months as I continue to learn about it.
Today let us discuss submission to authority. Submission is a conscious choice to live in and under the leadership of another. It is about obedience and commitment, a deep trusting connection directly related to love and a decision.
Recently as I listened to a teaching, a new dimension of submission came to the fore. When God calls us to submit, let us must remember it is to all authority around us, including the spiritual covering us. Our spiritual leader is the person who guides us in our walk with God even though we do most of the work.
An effective spiritual authority does not lord things over us or demand obedience. They know who they are, who God has sent to them and what each one needs. They are prayerful, faithful to and diligent in the Word. They only have a word for those actively seeking God and can discern the truth in each situation. They are not manipulative because they are confident in God’s power and ability to change people without their help.
A friend asked me how well I knew my spiritual authority.
He shared how God had been speaking to him about respecting and submitting to authority and what he learnt shocked him. It was clear to him that we needed to change our dealings with our lead. We needed to connect, submit, honour and work with the appointed servant of God so that our lives work out well. We needed to consult God about the connections and preserve them as instructed.
Think of Elisha and Elijah. Elisha wasn’t the only prophet in the land, yet he was the one called to support Elijah. He quickly answered, connected to the calling to serve, left his home and everything he knew and followed Elijah. It was not an easy decision to follow diligently; Elisha was faithful. In the end, he received a double portion of the anointing. He appropriately extended the work of God and honoured Him with his life.
I have to admit I hadn’t asked God about my lead recently. I knew him but hadn’t even considered that I could be out of line or that I needed to go deeper. I had assumed that since I was serving, all was still well. Alas, it was not so. All was not well. You can imagine the questions that started running through my mind about my lead:
Who is this man in God?
What does he carry that I am assigned to support?
How must I support the work?
How often must I be available?
What about his anointing and ordination that my life extends or multiplies?
Have I honoured him as God would have me do?
Am I genuinely and willingly submitting?
Is my submission half-hearted?
Have I been faithful to the assignment God has given me?
Sadly, in most cases, I had been lacklustre and half-hearted.
I could console myself that though I was out of line, it was mostly ever so slightly. Yet out of line, no matter how little is out of line and I needed to recalibrate and realign. Contrary to my expectations, it was a journey that brought all my pride to the surface and then crumbled it one piece at a time.
As I thought about moving from unbelief to belief, I realised that my early life had shaped my perspectives when I learned how to interact with people and what to expect. The shift happened as people decided to go on with their lives and keep growing. It became clear that I could not count on most of them because they had things to do that made me unimportant in their scheme of things.
I had always assumed that everyone wanted me to see myself grow and become better until I learned that I had to take care of myself and my growth. I was perplexed because this did not look or feel authentic to how I wanted to be loved and appreciated.
My ability to believe stuttered because of what I had experienced.
It took a while to understand that I am the total of my thoughts. My convictions and beliefs show in my words because they are inner work. In my reflections, I remembered Joseph, Esther and others in scripture who went through hard times but did not leave the faith. I also thought of people who went through hard times in this life and walked away from the faith.
I understood the dangerous notion that if we walk with God our Father, life should be stress-free and struggle-free but is that true? No, it is not. Show me anyone who did great things for and with God without some hard times in their lives. I have looked around but cannot find a single person whose life spoke to the enormity and goodness of God without going through something difficult.
But guess what; God never leaves us alone, especially in trying seasons.
God always steps in for His people and gives us a way out. We see this when he rescued Israel from Egypt using Moses and his crew and sorted Abraham by making it possible to have a child in his old age. God strengthened Mordecai to support Esther so she could go before the king and sent four unshakable Hebrew boys into captivity together so they would stand and keep each other accountable. He sent Ananias to anoint Paul after the Damascus experience and sent Phillip to interpret scripture for the Ethiopian eunuch.
God never promised us a good and simple life. He promised to be with us and manage things as we lean on him. God declared that he would stand with us and walk the journey no matter what happens, how long, how far or who walks with us. He promised to provide a way out in times of trouble like he did when Paul and Silas were in prison when the people prayed.
Faith is the certainty that God is on the throne and in control.
Belief now means a few different things to me:
I will stand on the word of God because it is reliable.
Nothing will change or shift my position or faith in God.
I will align with people who encourage me and hold me to account for the journey.
I will speak the words of life to my heart and over my life.
I will remind myself of His goodness every day.
I will write a memorial of how He has come through for me.
I will align myself with His purposes for my life.
I will surround myself with people with a deeper understanding of divine principles.
I will remember that God is aware the state of affairs and all is well.
I will stand on the plan for my life as designed in heaven.
Shifting to belief has meant that I must re-wire my mind to our new state and position.
Scripture has become my foundation and strength. It encourages me daily to remain truthful and on course despite the situation.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Matthew 12:34,
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrew 11:1).
Do not despair in your situation, God has a plan for your ultimate good. Shalom.
Recently in a conversation with God, he asked me, “Do you actually believe?”
What??? How could that be the question? There is a back story here. It was on the back of a question about a promise that seemed late. As a family, we received a clear word from God more than a decade ago, but we are yet to see its fullness. I was in a tizzy because I couldn’t understand why we were so stuck and were not arriving at our destination. So, imagine my surprise at God questioning my belief.
Let me laugh at myself. Of course, God knows all and sees all so the gap in my beliefs is evident to him. The shock was that I had never seen it. I could not imagine that I could have such a gap. When did my faith get this low? What happened to me; how did it happen? What should I be looking at in my life? Like all divine encounters, all one needs is the desire to see, and He will open your eyes.
I saw it! Where? I confessed the promise but always had a niggling doubt in my mind or heart of its fulfilment. I spoke the promise but questioned the process and timeline. I confessed the word, but whenever trouble hits, I look for a way, a plan B an option.
Sadly, I honestly didn’t believe unequivocally.
Belief is much stronger than anything I know. It is beyond decreeing and declaring the word. It goes deeper than stamping my foot in confidence as I talk to others. It is much more than anything I knew about myself and my life. It is about a depth I was unaware of and unwilling to admit until that end.
Belief turned into something so much bigger than me. It showed up as trust, faith, and confidence that started deep within me. It is certainty in God even about things that seem impossible to me. The word that holds my attention is a certainty. Certainty is a firm conviction, meaning that no matter what happens, my mind will not change, and I will not doubt or wonder if things will happen as said.
Belief is an undying commitment to a word so strongly that I will remain steadfast in the face of all things, including adversity, like the three Hebrew boys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, aka Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Certainty is the only way out of unbelief.
How did I stop believing?
My life path had been treacherous for so long that the depth of my faith shifted. I had allowed the things that weren’t working or seemed delayed to destabilise my position. The shift had been so gradual that I did not see it happening. I did not see my faith waning, my heart moving or my mind changing. I didn’t perceive the pain was slowly chipping at the pillars of my faith until it was almost all gone.
On the surface, I said I believed, and it appeared so, however on the inside, there were lots of doubts. I denied the questions and fear. I rejected the notion that I possibly had no foundation or base anymore. I couldn’t admit that I had moved out of my place of rest into a situation of works and machinations in the name of remaining true to the path to bring the will of God to pass. My words and inner actions were totally out of sync.
The solution is that I return to the place of rest.
It became clear that unless I return to rest and trust God truly, nothing will work. Nothing is possible without a complete recalibration. I can now see why the questions I asked my mentors didn’t make sense to them or seemed shallow. I now understand how some comments I made got me strange looks from others. I acknowledge the sag in my shoulders is because I lost confidence in my walk but camouflaged it well.
The beauty is that God doesn’t leave us in unbelief.
When we ask, He sends us help. I attest that assistance has shown up for me. I realised that He is a Father who never lets His children die. He is gracious enough to reach out or send us people to support. He will never leave a child who is calling Him stranded. He responds to a responsive and committed child.
The journey back to a strong belief is still going on and has taken several things:
Acknowledging what I had seen in myself.
Repenting for getting distracted by the troubles of this world.
Creating a new pathway with Papa.
Speaking the new path out loud so my whole being can hear.
Repeating the new pathway to myself when I feel my faith is waning.
A while back, I showed up to see a friend with a sad face. A long conversation ensued about where I was on the journey. We spoke until I could see what he meant by sadness should never take root and I should never get used to it. Funny how I hadn’t seen it before.
How could I, a child of God, have so many sad days? How can the weight of sadness be so settled and not lifted? Did I miss something in my journey? Did all the people feeling down miss something too? How could such sadness take hold of the people and never seem to let go? Some days we smile to cover it, while on other days walk away and hide. How could such pain coexist with faith?
A lot of the sadness we carry is often from relationships.
Life can be challenging because of how we interact with people and then how we expect them to deal with us. We hold onto those feelings and even project them onto others unrelated to that pain. It is possible to be so used to sadness that it becomes our cloak and identity. Other times, sadness is a tool in the hands of God to teach us to press into him and earn of him. It could be the place to create compassion for others.
As I write, I see how I choose the cloak I live in; I am astounded. Everything works together in God for my good and His will. I must understand the importance of how I feel and turn it to Him. God is in control because nothing is impossible with Him. Everything happens according to his purposes and plans.
It then struck me that JOY is critical to life, but a choice.
It is not the absence of sadness or a feeling but rather the reality of God as the driver of everything. Joy is understanding His purpose with this season and then walking with confidence. Joy is grounded in God and only understood through Him. Therefore, I must choose to connect to the Father and remain hidden under his wings. No matter how hard the things around me have been, I make a definite choice. I choose to listen; I choose to follow; I choose to become.
I find strength in several scriptures that I will share here today:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Ps 91:4
The joy of the Lord is my strength, Nehemiah 8:10
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Cor 1:20
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower the righteous run to it and are safe. Prov 18:10
…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises… 2 Peter 1:3-4
…Weeping may endure for a night, but [a]joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5b
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Prov 17:22
My journey in God is founded on and grounded in the realities of His word and His work. The promises of God will never fail.
I have listened to many people talk about love over the years. Only recently has love begun making sense. As we grew up, we bought into the notion that love is a feeling of warmth in the heart and a perfect mutual relationship with equal input from both parties. We thought that with love for one another, we would never disagree or be at odds with people we loved. We assumed that love magically removed discord, hurt and pain by inputting softness and sweetness. So imagine our surprise when we fought the most with people we loved. How could that be?
Through my journey, I have listened and talked about love. Now I clearly see that I have missed many things. I discovered depths of truth I did not expect and great sadness in myself and others. I found many broken hearts like mine that needed healing hidden behind thick walls for protection. I realised that:
I cannot force someone to love me; people have a choice to reciprocate or not.
Love is not a feeling because feelings fade over time.
Love has to be modelled and taught because it is so complex.
Love is not limited; there is room for many people: family, friends, and community.
Love is different things to different people
Love never keeps silent
Today I can confidently say that love is a choice because everything about love is a CHOICE.
A choice to stay
A choice to leave
A choice to give
A choice to receive
A choice to share
A choice to care
A choice to rest
A choice to awaken
A choice to rise
A choice to sit
A choice to learn
A choice to grow
A choice to check-in
A choice to check on
A choice to hold
A choice to let go
A choice to speak up
A choice to keep quiet
A choice to follow
A choice to lead
A choice to protect
A choice to provide
A choice to submit
A choice to obey
A choice to follow in the footsteps of Christ
I still grapple with elements of love because I see new complexities daily. There are now shadows I had refused to deal with that I must now face. There are realities of life that demand confronting so I can share real depth with my generations. There are questions I face every day that need the honesty to overcome. I now know that if we do not talk about the things that confound us about love, we leave the next generation with a false view of life that can severely hamper their lives.
I can only say one thing, And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13
I CHOOSE love daily, even though I don’t understand it fully.
We are in the days of deliberate choices. True dedication. Clear focus and commitment. We can no longer be complacent in our pursuit of Him who created the heavens and earth. We must do the work, walk the talk, live lives that speak of Him alone all our remaining days.
I know that is heavy, but it is true.
It is easy to think that when God is walking with us, we should have everything on a silver platter, but have you really looked at scripture? Who had an easy life in the Bible? Who did not have anything to give up or deal with? Who walked in easy and comfort? Do you see anyone? Is there any life that accomplished anything for God that sat on the beach all day or in the shade all their lives doing nothing? No!! Not even one!!! Not even Christ the one who was indeed God sent to the earth to lead men back to God. So who do we think we are that life should be easy?
This weekend this reality hit me in the face and wow, I was floored. I looked back at the life of people around me and no one who had attained even a semblance of the path God has assigned to them has received it free or on a platter. Each one has lost something, given up something, walked away from something, chosen something, lived for something, loved God more than themselves, those around them and things of love.
One of my long-time friends loves saying, ‘Forgiveness is for you.’
As I was thinking tears filled my eyes when God reminded me about how forgiveness had changed my life. My friend and I had a big fight many years ago that kept us away from each other for more than ten years. It was the kind of separation that tears the two parties apart because you assumed that life would always be good, and you would always be close. It was the kind of tear that destroys the balance in life because you were pillars to one another then suddenly a bomb explodes and brings down the whole house. Oh, the pain…no words!!!
For a long time, I would catch feelings and anger would simmer every time I heard his name, saw him or he reached out. Couldn’t he see how much pain he had caused me? Did he just expect me to forgive him and continue talking? Did he think he had the right to disrupt my life and appear at will expecting happy smiles? Who the heck did he think he was? Why did he think he deserved this kind of attention and freedom to be around me without apology?
Didn’t I deserve a heartfelt apology? Of course, I did!!! Or maybe not.
In time I realised he did not carry grudges even when hurt. He did not hold it against me and neither did he give space to things he could not understand. He simply parked them at the foot of the cross for Father to let him know when to deal. I on the other hand, was fuming and assuming he knew how much pain I had suffered. But alas!! I had shut down, hidden the tears and brokenness and I held onto that pain as the identity of this lost friendship, stability and decade.
Imagine my shock when God began to deal with me about holding grudges and projecting my pain onto others. After all, I was party to the split because at the time it was good for all parties, so how could I blame it on the other? How could I determine in my heart he would bear all the blame, yet I too caused him pain, I too said, thought and projected mean things? To blame him was to declare that I was innocent and we both knew that was not true.
Then Papa said…’You need to forgive your brother.’
Did you just say brother? There is no way he could still be my brother. There is no way I would be around him. That was just impossible!!! And I stomped my foot and stalked off, angry with a stiff spine. Oh, how God does not relent. How He makes His point clear and His judgement true. Over the next few months, God and I dealt with every part of that piece of the past. He showed me my part, the pain, the break, the anger and resentment and the barrier it was creating to my successful progression.
How every time a new opportunity came, I judged His sons and daughters with the same harsh position I had taken against one. How every time someone looked like they could hurt me I walked away in advance to protect myself. How I used this broken friendship as the reason not get close to people since people hurt people right? It was shocking to realise how bound I was. Stuck in solitary confinement and I did not even know it. Lost in the middle of the crowd with no hope or way out.
What? You mean being angry was holding me back? Absolutely!!!
So, we begun the path to healing and my oh my, it was ghastly painful. I had to let go of all the pain I was holding in and using as a shield. I had to cry and let the pain out one tear at a time (my gals used to say that to me cry was a matter of national importance). I had to let go of and burn every memory that had become a hindrance to my healing and restoration.
One day, I realised I as different…less angry, more joyful, more hopeful, and eager about life. I found release in the separation from the hurt and pain. I found healing in forgiveness first of myself and then of my brother. Finally, one day we had the big conversation. We talked about life, the destruction of our friendship, the reasons behind it, the years of pain and tears, the weight of sadness we both carried for a long while, the sense of imbalance until God stepped in and the healing we had to walk into. I realised he didn’t understand things the way I did, and I didn’t know exactly how he had felt. There were so many assumptions around everything that caused us more pain and so few words for so long. We couldn’t heal fully until we both forgave each other.
The difference was…he dealt with things faster than me.
It became clear that forgiving my brother was the route back to wholeness and peace. It was the pathway to an easier yoke and lighter burden. It was the pathway to a new move of God in my life. It was the pathway peace and harmony.
Over time, I have learnt a lot from my brother especially unconditional love. The kind of love has no bounds and standards other than God’s. The kind that will see me falling flat on my face in the mud and come to sit with me in the mud so we can figure out why I keep losing my footing. The one that sees me walking into the dark and will light a floodlight and call me out. The kind that sees me in the middle of pain and seeks God diligently for me then walks as close as possible cheering me on to deal or holds me as I cry on the other side.
I have found true brotherly love on the other side of forgiveness.
Indeed…Forgiveness is for me!!!
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. Romans 2:1