THE CHRISTIAN WALK

To Love Him; To Love Me; To Love Others


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Jean, you said and I quote, “He knew me before He knit me in my mother’s womb and so He knew I would be a great part of His plan and bring Him extreme glory. How then can I want to be like someone else?”

Yes Papa!

Does that position and thought still stand?

Yes!

Let’s take that thought further.

Ok!

How did you move from that spoken word to living its reality?

It was hard at first because I had to accept who I am and learn to love me as me.

Didn’t you love yourself?

I thought I did but as I looked inward and saw all the things I didn’t like or wanted to change I realised that some of it was based on self-hate and the influence of listening to others say this thing or look is better than that one and so on.

Self-hate is a strong word…are you sure that is what you want to use?

I actually can’t be any clearer than that. The things I hated about me were more than the ones I loved and so in this case self-hate is the ideal word.

Explain!

You know we never had much growing up but we never went hungry either.

I know that.

You also know that I never lacked friends.

Yes I do!

You also know how we had to juggle so many things with so little that it was a miracle that we even had the kind of life did.

The miracle is that God always provided and extended what you had.

True! While on the outside I seemed fine with how my life was, on the inside I always wondered what was wrong me with that I was born on this side of the track. I didn’t like that we had so little that every move was planned and I wished my life was different. So I learnt to look bigger and better than I actually was and for a long season that worked. Kind of like ‘fake it till you make it’ but way off target because I wasn’t making it anywhere.

Mmmmhhh!

wilson 3I wanted to be prettier, richer, more popular, have deeper insights, be wiser, more confident, just more of everything and God was not complying. One day, I was listening to my friends discuss being authentic. The gist of the discussion was that we all had to find who were really are at the centre and then live true to that. Most of them agreed that our centre is based on what we believe and what faith we live out. When I looked at my internal state of affairs I had to admit I wasn’t sure who I was under all the things I didn’t like and it led me to look even deeper within. I needed to find what I didn’t like and find a way to deal with it. I then realised that I had to deal with my whole life, one part at a time. I had to get to the root me and why I was created or I would be faking for the rest of my life and that was something I wasn’t ready to do.

Was it easy?

Nope!

Explain.

The hardest part of the process was facing myself! I had to look in the mirror of life and truly see me; all stripped down with no makeup and barriers; just see it all as it was. I liked some things but as I dug deeper I found that under the outer layers of perceived balance there were things I didn’t like or want to deal with at all. I walked away several times but over and over again these areas would come to the surface and finally I had to deal with them.

What did you find under the surface?

Oh Papa…I found I was proud, I was self-serving, I wanted the easy and simple life, I didn’t want to share, I wanted everything to myself but most scary was that I was angry with you.

Wait, wait, wait…why were you angry with me?

Papa, you live your faith so easily! You often said that following God is simple yet it was absolute rocket science for me. You would say things like ‘Just trust God,’ as if it was ever that simple. You would ask…’What is God saying?’ as if I even knew.

But you never said this to me…

How could I? I wanted to be the perfect child and not the one who rocks the boat with all the mad questions. Not the one who falls flat on their face…I didn’t want to be the idiot child. I just wanted to be perfect.

You know I would love you even if you are the idiot child?

I know papa, but I wanted to make you proud. I just didn’t want to be judged as having a slower mental process.

Baby girl, you know I am not the one you should want to make proud.

I know that now! However, back then it was a different story!

Do you think I would judge you?

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Image Courtesy of Wilson Mrema Kyalo

Wouldn’t everyone? Everyone around you seemed to get and apply things immediately and produce results shortly thereafter; but here I was quaking on the inside because I didn’t understand most things and I wasn’t bearing the same fruit as others. Here I was, trying so hard, listening so desperately and walking in such struggle when everyone around was saying that God was at work and He was doing this and that and the other.

What had you learnt to do?

I had learnt to talk the talk and seemingly walk in it but on the inside I knew it was empty… hollow…dry like the valley of dry bones.

How can you be dry bones yet you are in the middle of the community of faith?

I was just operating in the way I always had. I was used to being a Christian; I was used to putting on a front. I was used to being good and exhibiting behaviour but I didn’t realise that my faith was low. I did what I was raised to do. When things got hard, I simply declared and decreed, fasted and prayed and somehow things would work themselves out albeit for a short while. I did things because they were expected of me but not out of love for my king.

Ok!

I lived without understanding that it was the love of God and my subsequent love for Him that would make that it possible for me to truly believe Him and then allow Him to work in, on and through me. I couldn’t produce results in any way or form if I didn’t love God first for who He is; then love myself as He created me and finally love others as He created them. I couldn’t do it any other way, no matter how hard I tried.

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All images Courtesy of Wilson Mrema Kyalo
THE CHRISTIAN WALK

A Slap in God’s Face


 

2013-04-14 18.07.36It is unreal that we could have a sense of superiority over others. The conversations I keep hearing about how the world is lost and going to hell bother me because they aren’t punctuated with broken hearts or cries to God for the souls of His creation. I also realise that over the years I contributed to many such conversations and my unaffected behaviour didn’t help anyone. I must also admit that I never really thought about it until recently because I was comfortable being born again and destined for heaven. Talking with D was good but I raised too many other questions. I need to clarify my thoughts.

Shalom Papa!

Shalom baby girl. How are you?

Great.

Sure?

Yes I am.

What’s going on?

I’ve been thinking!

My little thinker!

I’m not little you know?

I know, but you’re my baby girl so well… That aside, what were you thinking about?

The love of God

What about the love of God?

How we receive and spread the love of God.

Is this because of your conversation with your brother the other day?

You know about it?

Of course I do.

How?

I asked him why you had a long face and were so silent and he shared your thoughts with me.

And….

And what?

What do you think?

I’m more interested in what you think.

You know what I think from what D said.

I want to hear it from you.

What I think is simple! I think it’s important for us all to love everyone as God loves us.

Don’t we all love God?

I don’t know!

What makes you have doubts?

The way we behave.

Who is the ‘we’ you are talking about?

Believers.

And how do believers behave?

Seemingly with a sense of superiority!

All of them?

Maybe not.

Then can you qualify your statement?

Many believers live and behave as though we are more superior and special than others.

Why do you say that?

It’s evident in how many live!

Explain!

2013-04-14 18.07.01We have all made the choice to follow Christ. This choice was made possible because someone took the time to tell us about Him in love. They saw our need for God and shared the gospel with us. We listened, evaluated, and made the choice to follow him.

What are the most common reasons people choose to follow Christ?

I don’t know.

Fire and brimstone! An easy life!

What do you mean?

How is the gospel often presented?

As a way out!

Way out of what?

The hardships in life.

It is also presented as a way into heaven. It’s the way to avoid burning in hell for eternity. It is the way to ensure that your afterlife is set and in a good place.

Isn’t that what salvation is about?

If salvation is ONLY about eternal security then that is too lame a reason to believe.

What do you mean?

If God’s plan was only to save you and get you to heaven, wouldn’t you have died the moment after you got saved? Wouldn’t you have been in heaven because this earth is too contaminated for you to remain lest you lose your way? This would ensure that the reason for salvation is met and never fails.

Wow! I had never thought about it that way. So why do we get saved?

Why did you get saved?

Well, initially it was about…how did you put it… hell and brimstone.

Initially….did that change?

Well the reason I got saved remained but I am still saved, aren’t I?

Why are you still saved?

I want share the life changing love of God with others.

How do you do that?

Living like God would have me do.

That’s too general; Break it down.

I was young when I came to Christ and I understood walking with God to mean that life would be smooth. I thought there would be no challenges and as long as I didn’t sin I was good. There was a long list of things I didn’t do because they were sin and a list of things that would show the world I am a good Christian. I understood that as long as I did not do any of the bad things I was walking in righteousness.

Did that help you grow in your faith?

I grew in a way I think.

Explain!

It helped me grow in a sense of being better than the next person.

What do you mean?

I didn’t drink alcohol, party, do drugs, lie, covet, read bad books, watch certain kinds of movies, have sex, so I was righteous. I was walking tall with my nose in the air because I was in control of all my faculties.

Was your life really that pure?

Not really!

Why?

I was judging people as evil and less than me. I was deciding who to talk to and ignore. I was more concerned about looking right and being seen as good than about the state of my heart.

What was wrong with the state of your heart?

I had become judgmental as well as entitled.

Explain.

I had come to believe that since I was doing all these good things, God owed me. I was walking aright, serving in church, living for him so surely He would bless my life and give me all the things I wanted.

At that point did you know you were judgmental and entitled?

No! I was certain I was walking in the way of the Lord.

Did you get everything you ‘deserved’?

You know the answer to that Papa!

I want you to tell me though.

Ok…no I didn’t get the things I thought I deserved. In fact, my life was one big struggle?

Why?

I don’t know!

So, what did you do?

I prayed and fasted longer and more frequently. I increased my giving. I took on more responsibility at church. I walked away from all my non-Christian friends and sought to only interact with them as need be but not all the time.

Did anything change?

Not really!

What next?

2013-04-14 18.07.57I was heartbroken because those who weren’t living according to God’s way were doing better than me, climbing the corporate, business and wealth ladder at a rate I couldn’t understand.

Were there other believers doing the same things you did who were growing in leaps and bounds?

Yes! in fact there were many.

So what was wrong with your walk and your life?

That is the thing I couldn’t crack! How could we be doing the same things and achieving different results? What did they know that I didn’t? I spent lots of time thinking about what was going on in my life and came up empty.

So what did you do?

I continued doing the things I was doing hoping that things would change.

You know doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is madness?

I know that now! At that time I was applying faith.

Did the application of faith work ;-)?

No it didn’t.

Then what?

I stopped and cried, I riled at God, I dared him to make things work for me. I demanded that He show up and explain himself to me.

Hahaha! You demanded that God show up and explain Himself?

Yes!

Did He show up?

Eventually, but not the way I expected.

What do you mean?

I expected that doors would suddenly open and I would see the hand of God that way.

I take it that didn’t happen.

Nope!

What happened instead?

2013-04-20 12.34.47One day you and I were chatting and you said it is important for each of us to be sure of who we are in God and His plan for us. You said that each of us has an assignment on this earth and that assignment comes with its provision so we need to find our place with God and he will do the rest.

Why was that important?

Well, I had been gauging my life based on the lives of others around me. I wanted to have as much money as so and so, be popular like so and so, be secure and confident like so and so….etc.

Is that a bad thing?

Well, in God’s scheme of things it is bad?

Why?

Well, it was as though I was saying that He didn’t know what He was doing when He created me. It struck me that wanting to be like someone else is a direct slap in God’s face.

Why?

Simply because He knew me before He knit me in my mother’s womb and so He knew I would be a great part of His plan and bring Him extreme glory. How then can I want to be like someone else?

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Delving Deep


Hey,

What’s up D?

You’ve been rather quiet you know?

Really? We hang out last week.

Sure, but you were sitting in the corner watching.

Hahahaha…there isn’t much to say.

You only say that when you are processing something…confess.

Confess what?

What you are thinking about.

And why would you say I am thinking about something?

Aren’t you?

I don’t know…you are the judge of that!

Come on Jean, stop being difficult…what’s on your mind?

Answer my question first?

Ok!

Sharing the Load

Do you think we are losing the plot of faith?

Explain before I answer.

I was sitting in a restaurant this week and the table next to me was occupied by Christian men old enough to be my father. Their conversation was interesting.

Ok…

They were discussing how the world is going to the dogs and God has passed judgment on different nations because of the behaviour of their citizens. They talked about all the ways that people are living and how lost this generation is. There was underlying judgment and arrogance that I had never really realised. They spoke with pride about how these people will be judged and will go straight to hell. How they needed to realise that they were wrong and needed to change.

What caught you about that conversation?

For starters, their extreme arrogance that they were better than the people of the world was real. Second was the seeming lack of interest of engaging with ‘these’ people. Third, the realities that they had already decided these people were not going to change and were destined for hell. Fourth, there was no sadness in their tone or call to prayer or wondering how to reach out and share the gospel…it was just gloating and condemnation.

What do you mean extreme arrogance?

Well, they are saved and delivered and they believe they are better than those who don’t know Christ, yet they don’t seem to feel compassion for the lost.

The Challenge

Why do you say that?

What?

You said they had no compassion for the lost. What do you mean?

They were so dismissive of the lost way people were living their lives and when they talked about the judgement of God on these people there was no compassion towards these lost people.

How do you determine that?

Simple…The tone of their voice and the looks on their faces.

Why do you think it should have been different?

Aren’t we the heart and hands of the Lord? John 13:35 says, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.’ Jesus loved the sinners and was often found among them without judgement, how is it that we judge and discard people so easily? Why do we sit apart from people and say they are less than us? What is so good about us that we refuse to connect with them?

Who do you want to associate with?

I would hope we would all love everyone as God loves us all. When you made the choice to follow Christ, it was because someone took the time to tell you about him in love. They saw your need for God and shared the gospel with you. You can’t say that you were walking right and well when they met you, yet we stay away from people as if they are contagious. When did we change in our relations to the world? Why would anyone stand in judgement over others yet we are no better?

Personal Responsibility

Aren’t you also judging them?

How?

You’ve said they had no compassion based on how they were looking and speaking yet you didn’t have time to chat with them and ascertain that.

So what should I have done?

What you wanted them to do…pray for their conviction and connection to the voice of God; ask God to give you the compassion to pray for the same people they were talking about; find out why God allowed you to hear that conversation and stir your spirit; spend time with God and receive the directions for the next phase for you. The bottom line is: become more like Christ.

What is your definition of becoming more like Christ?

I know that when I spend time with someone I get to know and understand them well; I can figure what will affect them and what won’t; I will know how to trigger certain responses and how to calm them down. The same applies to God; when I spend time with him in the word, prayer, fellowship and service, I learn his voice, I understand how he speaks to me and I follow him to his honour and glory. When I know his voice I am able to walk in purpose and minister as he has created me to. When I know him nearly and dearly I know what I am here to do and I am able to do it and do it well to his honour and glory. When I am walking closely with him, I learn to make my will subject to his and believe that no matter what he is in control and his plan for me is good.

So what are you saying?

Stop; take your heartache to the Lord and let him guide your responses. Say nothing; do nothing; conclude nothing unless you are sure it is God’s voice guiding you. Remain connected to Him all the way and He will lead you all the way.

What about the others who aren’t doing something about things?

That isn’t up to you; it’s up to God to deal with them. Walk your walk and pray for everyone else. God hears and answers.