A life poured out: A daughter from the pool of the blessed working diligently to live according to her Father's plan. Mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, mentor, example... leaving a lasting legacy of love, kindness and warmth.
I don’t know about you but when we were growing up, salvation was painted as the one size fits all perfect solution. The clarion call was… “get save and ALL will be well with you and smooth sailing, free of trouble and hard times.” It sounded like take this ‘pill’ and you will never suffer again. I still hear that said but is it true? Does salvation instantly take every struggle away? If it does, why are so many believers still so poor? Why are people duped? Why are people still hateful and hurtful?
It has turned out that many people have ended up disappointed with God, upset that things haven’t gone their way. It has led to people walking away from the faith because they have been let down in one way or the other by God’s ‘inability’ to provide. I have seen young people opt not to follow their parent’s faith because their God is weak.
I know those seem simplistic but isn’t it true? Isn’t faith about the daily walk and knowing God? Isn’t it about a personal relationship and commitment? Isn’t it about walking in such a way that leads others to the faith? Too many of us give up easily, walk away easily, take the easier road out when things get tight…but faith is not a magic wand.
It won’t take away the hard times because they are important. It will not stop the rain because the ground needs water. It won’t stop the fire but it will protect from the burn. Faith is the foundation of our walk but it is not magic…it is a work in progress, an active choice.
The simple way to grow in the faith other than to do the work and to get to know God. The thing that defines the depth of our faith is the amount of time we spend growing it. There is value in being grounded because it is the secret sauce.
The thing I grapple the most with is that so many of us are so discouraged because we have a warped view of God. Oh that our hearts would connect to the real power of faith. The power to love, accept, connect, transform. The power to believe and be strong. The power to stand no matter what. The power of hope. The power of divine access and enabling.
Faith is not a magic wand, it is a covering, a strengthening, a guide through life, a foundation…faith is an experience that changes your life for good. Faith is so much more than a magic wand…it is life everlasting.
This is what I sense as I listen to the Holy Spirit.
The promises may have tarried, and the battle may be raging but this is the hour for those who have faithfully waited on the lord to see manifestations of what was promised.
Hold on to what the Lord spoke to you and what He promised to do and not to what the enemy is doing now. The WORD and the VISION God gave you is coming to pass!’
Although all hell seems to have broken loose and all devils appear to have risen against you, it is not so… the devil is not winning, God has won already!
What feels like a demonic conspiracy against you is actually a DIVINE SET UP for the manifestation of the promise!
All things are working out for your good – they are a setup from God!
God is using all that the enemy schemed against you to bring you into His plan. He is at work through what feels like a heavy battle. It is through the current opposition that he will relocate you into position. He wants you to enter into rest and so all the dark paths are leading you to the fulfilment of the promise.
Not by might or by power but by His spirit.
‘For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not’ (Habakkuk 2:3)
Sometimes it seems too much then you make it through.
About eleven years ago, my niece came home and told my mother she was pregnant: our world imploded. She was our hope of success, and this broke our dream of promise and we couldn’t see how things could work out different. Why? Life had stories of girls whose lives stopped dead once they had children out of wedlock. Our hearts stopped.
One of the most difficult conversations she had was when a senior family member told her that she would never amount to more than her grandmother who didn’t go far because she too had a children young and alone. First off, that was based on a personal position. Second, there was no proof that the same mistake would be repeated or the outcome would be the same. Third, there was no proof that this would be her journey.
The look on her face as she told me the story and the break on her voices is etched in my mind. When she said that only thing that kept her from throwing herself in front of a moving bus was the knowledge that God would never fail her almost stopped my heart.
I have watched her navigate a difficult pregnancy, an emergency birth, and the journey to raise her daughter into a lovely young woman today. I marvel at the consistent goodness of God. This young lady has become a powerhouse of faith and life, breaking and rebuilding, heartache, and healing, hope and transformation. Yet it could have easily gone another way.
Why are we so hard on those who already know they are in the wrong and are hurting?
So often we assume that because people have “intentionally” committed sin, they should bear the brunt of the judgement and just deal with the drama. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they deal with the consequences or if they haven’t yet, the consequences will come but they shouldn’t have to deal with these things alone. My niece taught me to be compassionate, to listen and support even when I didn’t agree with her actions. She taught me to reserve judgment and listen to the person in trouble, to reserve my advise and allow the person own their situation then help them work it out.
So, I asked myself, how would I like to be treated if I had fallen flat on my face in public? Would I want to be shunned or would I want to be guided back to the path? Would I want to be in an accountability community or left to navigate my way out? I would love to have support and accountability, so I decided to be that. It wasn’t easy because I needed to get over my own prejudices and be open. I had to really put my opinions aside and LISTEN. What I heard and saw made tears fill my years.
Hurt: Everyone was talking about and at them, yet no one was listening or talking to them. There is a demand to change or prove they are innocent. I saw many people shunned and thrown out of fellowship never return to their walk with God. I saw others tip over the edge into depression and mental health challenges or even substance abuse.
Hopelessness: Many now think that God has judged them and won’t forgive them. Several look okay on the outside but they are so lost and have nothing to hope for in the future, how to provide for their children, that they would never find love and companionship.
Heightened defensiveness: They are on edge all the time that every conversation meets with a hard stance or hard-line. They come across as unmovable because the pain and judgement in the past and as a way to protect themselves.
I keep asking myself, if there is another way we can deal with those who have fallen that does not segregate them from life but leads them down a different path. There must be standards in life or like an acquaintance said, rules of engagement but there must also be grace. I realised that after every fall, the fallen one knows they have lost their footing and they are already broken so it does not help them when we go shouting at them or shunning them. One thing I have always grappled with is the fact that the girl bears the brunt of the shunning and side-lining yet the young man also had a part to play.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Prov 22:6
How can we be more compassionate?
How can we provide places of true conviction, repentance and healing?
How can we secure the future of others by supporting them for lasting change?
Every time I think I can judge someone’s actions I am reminded that the measure I use to judge others will be used against me. I also remember the call to be compassionate and be known by love. This doesn’t mean that I accept everything or not call out others. It just means that I temper myself with kindness and compassion for others even as I share the word of God with them.
I remember Jesus and woman accused of adultery. They forget that there was a man in the picture but were ready to stone her to death. All they wanted was Jesus’ approval of their intended action but alas. “So when they continued asking Him, He [a]raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” John 8:7
He didn’t leave it there, when they had all left, Jesus turned his attention to the woman and said, “Woman, where are those accusers [j]of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go [k]and sin no more.” The instruction was clear and she was now accountable.
Couldn’t we be the same? I think we could and I am on the way to making that my mark by extending love not judgement but dealing with every situation in a manner that causes each of us to know God deeper and be transformed by that depth.
I am a little off today because there has been a measure of difficulty the last few weeks. When sickness lands at your doorstep, it challenges your existing paradigms and tests the things you say. This round found me rather unprepared to stand strong and I was shaken.
How could it be that I cannot pray for us?
It is easy to assume that you are strong and stable but is that true? I struggled with hospital visits and giving medicine. I struggled with not knowing what to do? I struggled with interrupted nights and long days. How could it be that I could struggle so hard? Something had to give.
Strength is more than an individual pursuit but is born in community. Each one must have their strength learnt on the pathways of life because each one has a personal journey. Each one must bear their own cross on this journey of life. Each one must be diligent on the path assigned yet, we need to be grounded in family.
Strength is galvanised in community
When I could not keep it together, I reached out to my tribe, sisters, brothers and the eunuchs who watch over my journey. I called in those who understand who I am in this journey and keep me to account. I called for help because “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
One conversation shook me
Hey, please pray with us, I’m asking for prayer cover because I believe this is spiritual.
Ok. It will get well. No worries.
Right now…my heart is so heavy…I don’t know how but my blood pressure is also elevated. You have to relax ok? All will be fine and well.
How could this one be so calm when I felt like I was losing my mind?
It is quite simple, this brother never wavers from the word of God. He never doubts the work of God or his timing. He never loses sight of the WORD and never lets go of the PROMISE. Every day he checked on us with simple pointed questions and gentle reminders to remain strong. Once we were on the mend, he spoke of alternative remedies.
Oh that I would always keep my eyes on God and never waiver.
Oh that I would never doubt the truth of the WORD.
Oh that I would never lack people to walk with me.
A recent run got me thinking about how easy it is to get offended.
It all started when a friend’s response to my absence caught me off guard. We don’t talk everyday but quite recently and suddenly she was gone…poof. I was so confused. What had I said or done? Where did I go wrong? Did she misunderstand me? Did I misunderstand her? Work and other commitments had kept me busy, and I hadn’t heard from her so why was she caught up by the silence? Why was it ok for her to be silent but not for me? I was so confused, and I caught myself getting mad and miffed. It took a moment to calm down.
Like a bull horn, I heard in my spirit, ”Guard your heart!!” Why? When I take offence, there is a deeper issue at hand. Sometimes our personal state of heart and mind make us susceptible to being offended and that is why we have to keep our hearts guarded.
Keep your heart with all diligence (guard your heart), For out of it spring the issues of life. Prov 4:23
I remembered Jimmy. He loved teasing people and it often overboard. He thought it was all good fun except, one person in the office, we’ll call her Purity, was hyper-sensitive so she all jokes to heart. It was obvious to everyone that he didn’t mean anything by them but to her…it was true and real.
Purity and Jimmy used to sit near each other but one day it all came to head and she got so mad at him. She wasn’t one for open confrontation and when she reached her limit, she asked a colleague who sat clear across the room if they could switch desks. Once they agreed, she waited until most people had left on Friday then moved all her ready for Monday.
Over the weekend, Jimmy had done some introspection of the situation and realised that he had overstepped the bounds. He came in on Monday morning ready to apologise and move on but it wouldn’t be as simple as he thought. Purity was the master avoider so he couldn’t get her to have the conversation as easily as he had thought.
She was so offended that she put every barrier she could think of in place. Not only had she changed her sitting position, she had taken up a desk just outside the boss’s door so it was hard for anyone to go there and discuss things. She had also signed up for a new project and the spent the next two weeks in strategy and planning.
Was Jimmy the cause of her pain? Yes and no. Was there anything he could do to avoid the hurt? Yes. Was she responsible for her response? Absolutely. Did they find a way to resolve it? Eventually they talked but the damage was done and they were never able to be friends or even friendly colleagues. They simply opted to work together respectfully.
It is important to understand ourselves and those we associate closely to avoid offence.
We all respond differently to offense yet we must all be careful to deal with it as quickly as possible. Ephesians 4:26-31 speaks to me very clearly about letting go of anger, bitterness, wrath and evil in some really actionable steps.
Be angry but do not sin: Christ himself had instances of anger. Remember the time he whipped guys in the temple? Remember when he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers? He was angry but he did not let it fester rather he let it out and stood firm on the word of God. This must be our pattern. Yes you or I will get angry. However, the solution lies in digging up the root cause and dealing with that. I like to ask myself, why did X trigger that anger in me? Am I really mad at X or are other things in my life causing my emotions to be unsteady hence my eruption? What is my part in this situation? Is there another way out? I remember I blew up at someone recently over a very small thing and when I tracked it, the anger was from a very different place but it came to the surface because of a response from another. Uncover the real source or cause of the anger.
Do not let the sun go down on your wrath: This means you have to deal with the offence rapidly and not let it fester. Do not hold onto it or turn it over and over in your mind. Remember the instance where I blew up at someone but the cause was something else? I had to go back to the real matter and deal with it. Why? If I don’t, it will continue to fester and I will continue to explode on and hurt people who aren’t the cause and don’t know the real reason. It is like having a painless boil that looks like pimple on the surface but under the skin…it is different. One day, the pain will come to the surface and unless you have it proper cut and drained, the insides will always remain infected and will pass the infection to other parts of the body. Deal with the root cause of the anger until it is done.
Do not give place to the devil: Unresolved anger, frustration, negativity etc. gives darkness a through pass into your life and my life. It gives him a place to hang his jacket and the opportunity to invite his counterparts to join him (Matt 12:43-45). It opens us up to trouble we cannot see right then. I believe that his moves are so subtle that when he tries to take up residence, unless you are vigilant and dealing with offence actively, you will miss the attack and by the time you realise it, you are under oppression, prone to many forms of corruption and the road out of there will be longer and harder. Be vigilant to guard your space and place.
Give the Holy Spirit space: One thing I know about the Holy Spirit is that He is gentle and does not clamour or fight for space. He is never aggressive but speaks the word of God to us and calls us to respond. He is deeply grieved when we do not hear or respond to His prompting because our lack of response limits His ability to move in our lives and it also impacts our ability to be the effective servants of God and game changers in our generation for Him. Let us learn to be still and hear the voice of the Spirit of God, for He guides us into all truth.
Very often, we take offence and justify ourselves because the other person hurt us or took something from us. We even call people close to us, tell them the story and they agree that our hurt feelings are justified and we hold our ground. However, could it be that God wants you learn to forgive and share love? Could it be there is something in you He is highlighting through this instance? Could it be that this is the cusp or ledge or gateway to new revelation and we are holding offence? Let’s stop hiding and move on through life at God’s pace
Acknowledge the hurt and uncover the root cause.
Take it to the Father for review.
Identify you part in the situation and the lesson to learn.
Extend forgiveness for the sake of your own soul.
Bless the person and invite the Father to watch over them.
Get back to living your life to fullness God has designed for you.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give [a]place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary [b]edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [c]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Eph 4:26-31 NKJV
One morning I sensed to add a jog to my workout. I used to be a cross country runner until my chest and knees begun to trouble me. I remembered the pain that stopped me in my tracks and now I was to add it to the weekly workout. How? Why would I do that? Yet this urgency to add running to the plan grew every day. It became clear that I had to add it urgently.
I had to conquer my fear…once and for all
The first few days I almost cried. I really struggled the first day but it became clear that I had to believe it that I could do it and then walk by faith. It was so hard to keep going. I focused on 100 steps running and 100 steps walking then when there was a semblance of rhythm, it grew to 3 minutes jogging and 5 minutes walking to 500 meters and so on. The thing I had to get past every time was the invisible barrier of my personal limits and every time I crossed the strain barrier something within me broke and changed.
A few days later, as I reached that invisible barrier at 6000 steps, my body screamed to stop but my mind refused. I acknowledged that I was tired but I understood I could and indeed must overcome this barrier. I had to face the strain in my body then make the choice to do different, go further, keep moving. I spoke to my mind and said, “you can do this chica…you can do this. Just take another step.” As I spoke to myself, the barrier broke and my feet moved, I spoke again, and I moved and so I kept speaking until my whole body moved with greater ease. Suddenly, the revelation of pushing through hit me.
All things are possible for those who believe.
Then my Father asked, “Do you realise this is how you must live from now on?”
“Pushing past the barriers in your heart and mind to connect with the WORD I have spoken over you and to you then work to keep rising and walking in absolute faith that all things are possible when you believe.”
Finally I saw it…my new pattern. I would focus on acknowledging where I am, pushing through, refusing to be cowed, acknowledging that things won’t always be easy, but they will always be possible. I realised that the pain in my system was a way to recognise what stopped me before or could stop me now. I must choose to unpack it and chart a course of action for growth and success. Oh, don’t think that I would allow my body to be injured aimlessly, No!!! Rather, I would assess the pain and if it is strain and growth pains, I will push past. If medical pain, I would get the needed attention. However, nothing would stand in the way of my growth anymore because I have no shame of who I am or of my path.
I remind myself daily that no matter the route or the temperature, I will go out daily and train my body first then come in and train my mind. I will be vigilant about my habits so that I only retain those that create room for deep thinking, mediation, questions, connections and growth. I will evaluate my connections and retain those that allow me to grow and let go of those that drain life from me. I can select who comes with me on my way to an outstanding life.
I am no longer tied to places and people who want me to stagnate because that is the onset of death. When my two fitness friends challenged me to up the ante and add running, my mind said no and many people in my circle believed my stories that it is a lost opportunity since I was injured. These two brothers refused to accept my limitations and that opened me up to revelation that has changed my path completely.
Watch who you talk to, spend time with and consult because you become a sum total of them. Choose the right option and thrive