Every time I thought about the haves and have nots, I would think about extremely rich people sipping champagne in their homes overlooking pristine green lawns just beyond their swimming pool. Or people living in leafy suburbs, who ever created that phrase, with two or more expensive cars in the drive, children in high end schools with trips abroad and holidays at exotic destinations. People living lives I envied.
It had always been clear that I did not belong to the haves and I needed to aspire to become one. We were taught to pursue possession and position with the intention of getting away from our roots of struggle and make a better life. This gave rise to clusters of things that would divide us into haves and have nots including education, place of origin, residence, type of home, tribe, languages spoken, place of work, position to name a few.
So imagine my surprise when my eyes begun to see another dimension.
In reality there will always be people who have more than me and those with less. There will always be something to aspire to, something to let go of, something to dream about and something to intentionally grow into. Unless I adjust my realities and perceptions I will always feel like a have not even when I have abundance with and within me.
We were raised to pursue recognition for power and influence but what if I already have so much more than I could ever dream? What if the things that cloud my vision is my world view? What if I need a different set of eyes and ears? It is quite simple…I must look at life from a place of gratitude and appreciation of what I already have. I must adopt a focus on tracking the good in my life will shift my focus and make me a better person to live with and be around.
I never thought I was a have until I realised I was.
It became apparent that I have many blessings that others don’t. Let me explain. If I have a roof over my head and a warm bed, I am a have. If my child can go to school every term with minimal stress, I am a have. If I can smile and celebrate life with people I love and appreciate, I am a have. If I still have a guaranteed job in this season, I am have. If I have peace of mind right now, I am most definitely a have.
If I have food on the table and water in my taps, I am a have. If I have hope for tomorrow and faith it will all work, I am a have. If I have a place to keep learning and growing, I am a have. If can take a holiday every once in a while, I am a have. If I have access to higher education when I need it, I am a have. If I have money to travel to and from work and other places I am a have. If I am loved deeply and truly, I am a have.
I am a have because I can get into a vehicle and travel to another county to work of visit friends, I don’t have to worry about my child being bored and hopeless because he is still able to access school and e-learning, my family is still together and adjusting well to spending so much time around each other.
Reality check: having isn’t about possessions, money or power.
Too often we are preoccupied with what we don’t have and spend our lives complaining about it yet we are in a good place. It is all about perspective and understanding. In Genesis the children of Israel were invited to live in Goshen and escape from the great famine God had predicted through Joseph. They came to fulfil the prophesy God gave in Gen 15:13 that they would be in captivity for four hundred and thirty years.
In Exodus we find them leaving Egypt in victory but later wandering the desert. They spent so much time complaining when Moses asked for their freedom and Pharaoh became obstinate. They spent even more time complaining about food and water in the dessert yet they were loaded with jewellery and fine linen. They were led by a pillar of light and cloud, they had manna provided every day and had the greatest signs and wonders of God provided for a whole people. They were in the sweet spot with God’s plan yet they complained and whined a lot.
They didn’t realise they are true haves…the one’s in God’s heart.
I must realise that I am a have because God loves me, created me for a reason and has given me a lot. I must understand that to him who much is given much is required so God has a big plan for me that I must rise into. There are places of growth in all of us to be fullness of the plan of God and I can only attain them if I stay close to him no matter what. I am a have because I have options and not because I have famous people around me.
As I look around and realise that I am a have because I cannot walk away from the plan of God. I am a have because the patterns of my life are building to a climax that must attain the will of God. I am a have because God has richly blessed me with life and love beyond measure.
Things come to a head when I must accept that I am a have then make my life count.
To think of myself as a have not changes my balance and sense of life and leads to complaining like the Israelites and we all know where that landed them. I must choose to be different and change my life and help others do the same. There are a few things that will make a lasting change to the state of my heart:
Acceptance: Appreciate what I have and have had in the past
Joy: Choose to be content with what I have and grateful what whatever else God is about to bring my way.
Speak out: Notice and stand up for those who have less and need an advocate.
Give: Find someone to share the bounty of my life with.
So many things have fallen apart for some of us and it is scary. I have had countless conversations recently and they all lead back to anger, frustration, fear, worry and doubt. There have been job losses, pay cuts, loss of business, relationship conflict and so much more. The very things we have held close and viewed as proof of God at work in us have been ‘taken’ away and most of us don’t know what to do.
For so long we have sought simple, comfortable lives as evidence that we are in the right place with God. We have been content to learn habits and ways of life that have the appearance of good but don’t get us anywhere. We judge one another against standards that do us no good because they are external but we don’t even know they aren’t adding value.
We have been stripped of our ability to plan our lives.
We have lost the ability to see beyond tomorrow because we have nothing to hold onto. Think about how you started 2020. It was full of hope and peace but as we have gotten deeper into the year, it has become more challenging by the day. Remember the fireworks? Remember the celebration? I remember it so clearly.
We usually go to Carnivore to watch fireworks and it is usually a long heart stopping drive to get in and find the right parking spot then walk to the place with a perfect view if there are trees overhead where you are parked. This time we didn’t go in rather we settled on Langata road just around the exit from the bypass. I had known as we drove into Nairobi, I knew we wouldn’t be at the usual joint but I didn’t know why.
The atmosphere was different that day but I didn’t understand that.
I remember the clarity that we do something there was something different that day and nothing would be ordinary then and would be in 2020. I didn’t know what the actual mechanics would be but I knew in my heart something was different. There was a kind of charge in the atmosphere as if we had the opportunity to connect to something much bigger than us if only we understood it.
It was also different because unlike other years, we came straight back home and settled down to sleep. What do we usually do? We go out for tea with friends and stay up all night hanging out. 2020 started with deep reflection and conversation filled with calmness.
The thing that comes to my mind today is how deliberate God is.
Even as everywhere I look, I see despair and sadness because of the uncertainty around me, I know that is not the whole story. I don’t have to understand the whole story, because I know the writer. I don’t have to know the whole path, because I know my leader. I don’t have to have the full picture because His eyes are on the end game.
I know 2020 will be the best year yet. I know the goodness of God is available to me. I know God’s love abounds and covers me. I know I can trust Him who put the world together. I know that nothing can separate me from His love so I am safe. I know my Redeemer lives and I can lean on Him. He is my strong tower, shield and buckler, the strength of my life and my eternal portion.
I am strong and secure because my Father is the One.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to [a]be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your [b]keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
Do you know that the heaviness & sadness you are feeling could be grief?
We often don’t associate grief with anything other than the loss of life but there is a lot of grief related to other things. We grieve the loss of a job, work, lifestyle, faith, hope, love, friends, networks, communities, weather etc. in different ways. Many times it isn’t large or noticeable enough for us to name it as grief, but it is just that.
Let me clarify. The deep longing for that joint in your old neighbourhood that stops you from settling in well in your new hood…that is grief. The inability to move on from the broken relationship or friendship that makes you compare, judge harshly or remain frozen with fear…that is grief. The terror that everyone who comes your way will leave you like your parents did when they died…that is grief. The anger at anyone doing better than you since you didn’t get that promotion or lost that job…that is grief. The laughter and bravado even when everything is falling apart…that is grief. There are so many causes of grief but the current containment measures have brought a rare kind of grief to light.
Many are grieving the loss of Choice.
There is a new set of rules in place. The chips won’t fall in the places we know. The cards are all down and we cannot see a way out. Nothing is the same as before and there is no road map to the future. There is fear at every turn, uncertainty at all other stops, hopelessness under ever cover and tight smiles behind every door. The truth is…many have just realised how limited their choices are and have always been.
Was it always this way? Likely! Did we ever see it as so? Never! Why? There was an illusion of a thousand choices but in reality there were very few. Think about it; educated or uneducated, employed or unemployed, unliked or liked, unfair or fair, safe or insecure, sweet or sour, bad or nice, dark or light and the list goes on. We rarely looked at those doing different as really having an option to succeed.
Did you ever think that you would be at home but someone with a lower income than you would be out and about? Did you ever think your weren’t an essential worker in your company, now you are home and the cleaner is there? Did you ever realise that you would be put into jail for being outside after 7 pm yet the nurse next door can come and go at will?
Life as we knew it has changed and so must we.
People in the credit arms of many banks are stranded because their work meant they were on the road meeting clients but unless they innovate quickly they will be out of jobs. There are no clients to visit, no loans to give, no payments to collect and no growth for their departments. Small businesses selling imported goods from China have no stock, dead stock or no sales because people are saving for food and other essentials. Cab drivers have fewer customers at lower fares and work shorter periods but must still make ends meet. Yet some of the young people around are tired and bored because they cannot party.
When will they realise that life has changed? When will they understand that they cannot go on the same way? Who will tell them no? Who will stop their extravagance? When will they understand that we get exactly what we put into life back so unless they focus on good inputs their outcomes will be a big mess? Will they ever understand the correlation between their mindset, their current station and the future possibilities? They must if they are to survive.
Things must change if we are to find hope.
When the Israelites went into captivity in Daniel 1, the king ordered that the educated and teachable young men of noble birth to be raised as the leaders for the next generation. Many qualified but only four have stories told about them, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, later called Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.
The thing that stood out for me is Daniel 1:8, ‘But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…’ He made a conscious decision to remain true to who he knew he was no matter what. He went to pray even when he knew people were plotting against him to catch him at it so they could get him killed. He kept to his pattern regardless of which king was in place or whichever edict was declared.
He lost his ability to choose where to live, how to be educated, when to rise. He lost his freedom of movement. He lost his connection to the homeland. He lost access to his spiritual leaders, the scripture and community to fellowship with. He lost family and friends. He lost more than he ever thought possible but he never lost hope.
His hope for stability was in knowing whose he is and where he is going.
The hope for all of us is in knowing the things that anchor us. Am I harping on the need to know why you are here and what season it is? Absolutely! Why? There is no other way forward. If a man is only here to make money and be able to travel, he has nothing to lean on now. If a pastor only has tithe and offering as his support, he is baseless right now. If a mother has only her children and they are separated right now, she is restless and fearful. If a child only had the coming transition to the next level of education, he or she is lost for sure.
It is ok to feel the sense of loss and there’s no need to pretend all is well when there’s grief. Just don’t get stuck there. Rail, scream, cry and let it out. Lean on a friend and pour it out. Call on your Father in heaven and have it out with him. Then get back up and walk on dealing step by step. Take a step every day to deal with it, take a bite of the grief and digest it bit by bit. Make a pact with yourself to process the realities and feelings leaving nothing to chance therefore growing into true faith.
You can deal and stand strong through any season.
You don’t need the whole world on your side when you have a clear word from and stand in God. He will lead and guide you to the right people at the right time in the right combination to help you stand. He will also make you the right person, at the right time, in the right place and combination to help another stand. Like Daniel, when you have faced the challenge and connected to the reality of God, nothing will ever be impossible again.
You are assigned to this season to become an example of walking with God and changing your corner of the world. Make the choice to acknowledge where you are, deal with the situation and remain standing on His word for it sanctifies and strengthens because it is truth.
You know the saying that we give birth to ourselves? I encountered its fullness yesterday.
The young king is a master planner like me and boy oh boy, he is better than I was at his age. He is so good and has been quietly scheming about my birthday for two weeks. On Tuesday he says, ‘Don’t worry about dinner today and I will also take care of the kitchen tomorrow.’ Now who wouldn’t want a break from the kitchen?
We got up for an early morning class that didn’t work, so I went back to sleep. I now know he was glad I slept because he had time to put the rest of his plan to work. Aki, these young ones watch and learn more from that than conversations. I had a call at noon so I got up after 11, caught up with my sister and prepped for the call. That call…wow…it was absolutely brilliant, maybe one day I will tell the full story.
After the call was done, the king says, ‘Your lunch is in the sitting room,’ and I find my favourite meal ready and waiting…for those who have never tasted matoke and groundnut sauce; I have no words. As I settle down, and take the first bite, a birthday message begins to play on the TV. This young man sent a request to specific people asking them to send me a birthday video and he even gave them a timeline of submission.
Honestly, I thought something was afoot but decided not to think about it.
The seamless nature of the day including sending his grandmother to do his shopping for my gift ahead of time, the right beverages at the right time, participating in a call with family, the arrival of a chocolate fudge cake and dinner, got me thinking. If a soon to be thirteen year old can do things with such precision, what of my Father in heaven?
Before He knit me in my mother’s womb He knew that in 2020, there would be a time of sheltering and containment during my birthday season and I would need a creative young king around to pull off some serious magic. He knew that I would be so consumed with seeking direction for the year to come that there would be enough space and covering for the young king to manoeuvre and accomplish his assignment. He knew what would be needed and ensured I’d trained the young king with firmness and diligence, refusing to back down when things got hard.
Surely God has a plan for everything.
The current situation of containment was carefully planned by God and he’d been preparing me. The story my life has to tell is tied to me being at peace in God no matter the situation. The course of my life and all the challenges therein has begun to make sense yet I know there is still more to understand. So I have to be in school with God for the rest of my days.
I sit on this side of the New Year certain of a few things:
The only thing that will get me through this phase of life and every phase to come is the WORD of God. The written word of scripture and the spoken word from revelation and meditation.
There are people destined to walk with and hold me to account therefore I must, yes must, seek to know them by The Spirit, connect with them and walk in truth and honesty. FAMILY.
There is no room for double mindedness only discipline, devotion and commitment. I must set my heart and mind to accomplish all that God has set out for me regardless of the things that will come. FOCUS and FIDELITY.
There is path that only I can follow to attain and become. There is a way my life will to become that is guided, girded and founded in God. PROCESS
Nothing is random, nothing is a mistake, it is all carefully planned and orchestrated by the Master of all things, Adonai. I must depend on him in totality because all things are working together for my good. TRUST.
There are things I haven’t done before and places I haven’t been that now must be conquered for Him. Therefore I must step out on every instruction no matter who or what in the knowledge that though it is a new path, it is ordained by God to bring Him glory. BOLDNESS
I am sure where you are in your walk or if you are encouraged or discouraged. All I know is that there is a way our lives have changed and there is no normal to go back to. Find time in this season of sheltering and containment to clarify who you are and how you must be from now onward, then walk in it.