A few conversations this week got me thinking. What is happening to the plans we made at the start of the year? Where are we in the plan for these things? Are they still valid, have some of them been thrown off track or are they all on track? I can say with confidence, that life as we knew it has changed. Nothing is or ever will be the same again.
Many didn’t imagine we would be working in these conditions. Many didn’t think it was possible to be home for three months or out of work in a blink. Many children were happy to close early but are now missing their teachers and friends. Some businesses have closed for a little while others have closed their doors for the last time.
HR professionals have the daunting task of showing people the door when they don’t even know how much longer they have their own jobs. CEOs and Founders are grappling with how to keep the doors open, lights on and staff working despite enormous and unanticipated cash crunches. So what happens now when it all feels like it is falling apart?
Is there a glimmer of hope in such trying times?
What happens when we have a promise or vision we are waiting on and we are not careful to make sure it happens? We can say that life is hard and things aren’t working and we give up along the way but surely there has to be a plan that will work no matter what and we can find a way. In so many ways it feels like we are in a place of confusion and unsure what we are doing and how we will go forth. It is even more intense when we realise we aren’t the first to experience challenges and we will not be the last. That really caught my attention.
Genesis 25 blew my socks off. First off I had never really thought about how many children Abraham had. The focus on Isaac had until now hidden some facets of his life. So I began counting the sons and almost got distracted. I almost spent long hours just looking at those sons and maybe I will do that later.
It all begun to clear up as I read…
Abraham had a promise in Isaac and even with all his other actions, he stood firm on the promise and acted as such. His posture as he got older and more settled into the realities of walking with God became stable and still like a rock set in quick-dry, high strength cement and nothing moved him from his position.
Genesis 56:5-6 really fascinate me…5 And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east. To stand solid on the word of God, Abraham gave his other sons an inheritance and dispatched them to another so he could make room for only the child of promise to inherit what was promised to him. This got me thinking about life.
Do I fully stand for and on the promises my life is built on?
Do I give everything to build the purpose of my life? Do I ensure that all possible distractions are removed even physically if need be to protect the word? Do I move away from places that would be a hindrance? What happens when the promised fruit is slow in coming? What do I do when the promised realities are invisible? Do I believe and work on the promise and assignment no matter what?
Abraham’s whole life was about that reality. His father Terah left Ur of the Chaldeans and led them to Haran where he died. Then God led Abraham out of Haran to the Promised Land and appeared to him several times. He almost sacrificed his son on the Word of God. He went to war against 5 kings for the sake of Lot. He pleaded for Sodom because his nephew was there. He sent his servant to bring a wife for his son with absolute faith that he would come back. The final thing he did to secure the promise was to the boy’s inheritance so that Isaac’s heritage was secured.
Abraham gave it all for the promise.
God called Abraham and he responded in the affirmative. Abraham believed God’s word over him and made a covenant with God then guarded it jealously. He believed it even when nothing seemed possible. He laughed when the promise was discussed but corrected his position when questioned. He believed God so deeply that it was credited to him as righteousness. He was dedicated even to the potential loss of everything to preserve the promise.
Can we do that?
Can we hold onto the promise of God and the plan He has given us no matter what? Are we willing to lose some things, gain others and course-correct daily to remain on the path no matter what? Can we stay set to the task, with a gaze set like flint even in a season like now in faith that God is who He says He is and you are who He says you are therefore your life will indeed manifest his word?
That is what it takes to deliver the promise put in your hands and become everything God sees in you and calls out from you. I know it sounds hard but it is really simple. If He said it is, nothing can change the plan unless you or I step out of the plan. Simple…really simple.
Is it always easy for me? Not at first. Do I go off course? Sometimes, but I have learnt to stop, assess, confess, repent, get back on the road and walk on. Every course correction makes me aware of my weaknesses and build in needed support structures. As we continue to walk together He has become the only one I lean on all the time because He will never fail me.
Know that it is possible.
Know that all things are possible for you and I when we believe and follow instruction to become
Know that you are appointed and will become what you decide to focus on and work towards.
Know that your God is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above all you could ask, think or imagine.
Know that He knew you from before and He is certain you are the best choice for this path.
Know your Father is true and never fails, but He watches over His word to perform.
Know that when you lean into God your path makes sense and will succeed.
Know that you can preserve the promise and attain the assignment.
Know that you are one of a kind with a one of a kind assignment.
Know that you are not alone and will never be alone.
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.
It is never easy to walk a separate path but it is important.
At the end of week I like to spend time looking back at the week, find lessons and places of growth. I know people who don’t like to look back because it shows them where they have failed but in my case, it is the only way I can grow consistently. It hasn’t always been easy to do but as I have gotten older (ha…I never thought I would use that phrase), I have learnt the value of looking back to grow and not to stagnate.
A few years ago, every time I looked back all I saw was the things I didn’t do well, the ones that failed, the places I embarrassed myself and all the other similar stuff. I would beat myself with a big stick and wallow in the mud for months on end even as I walked around with seeming confidence. In this period I learnt the fallacy of ‘fake it till you make it,’ in reference to my life. I faked it, and faked it and faked it but never really made it.
It took a candid self-evaluation to see the challenge.
The pattern of my life doesn’t allow faking or pulling the wool over people’s eyes. As I have learnt that, I have come to see the value to real, personal evaluation to get ahead and keep moving forward. It took collapsing businesses and really challenging situations to stop me in the tracks and begin to do different.
Can you imagine sitting with yourself starting the day with a to do list and at the end of every day, looking back at the list to find what you hit or missed? That was my pattern for a while. It got me on track and kept me moving forward because there were specific things I needed to get done and nine out of ten times I got more than eighty percent done and done well. It was disheartening to have things left on the list but it was encouraging to have things ticked off.
This worked until the list became a tether.
The reality that a good thing can become a hindrance really blew my mind open. Are lists good? Absolutely! Can they become bondage? You had better believe it! This realisation pushed me to find a way to have trackers in life that are supportive and not hindrances. It wasn’t easy but in time sense came.
Track life: I began to look for patterns in my life. What factors came together to indicate change was afoot? What mental postures happened in the middle of change? What indicators showed progress? Are there recognisable patterns in my life related to years, places, people, work etc? Can I see patterns that have repeated themselves? If there are repetitions, what is the time frame and extenuating circumstances? Wow!! The realisations blew my mind because I realised my life was built around patterns of four, seven and twelve (story for another day).
Think: For decades I heard the call to meditate and I thought it was a thing I couldn’t do. I was raised to do avoid things I didn’t understand and meditation meant some really weird things for me. In 2018 I begun to understand that meaning of meditation in the bible is tied to reading scripture and thinking deeply about it. taking the concepts of scripture and turning them every which way to gain clarity. Joshua 1:8-9 means to spend so much time in scripture that your mind is shifted and changed so you are able to see more and understand deeper.
Time out: The need to take time to get away from regular patterns to recharge, regroup and reposition stood out like an elephant in the desert. I always said that I could not afford to go away and it bothered me until I realised I could get away right in the confinement of my home. Time out is getting away from the routine so if I left my phone in another room and just take time to chill, read, pray, meditate or just be…it would really help
Life’s reality is that nothing remains static permanently.
Understanding that my life is bound to change and preparing for it as mentioned above, changed the trajectory of my life. I no longer throw sissy fits when people shift goalposts but I no longer stay if I am no longer needed. I have learnt to walk away from places I am no longer needed or where our values are no longer in sync. It has been hard sometimes because that meant I walked away from income but in the end the peace of mind and provision from my Father has resolved all the questions.
I have also learnt to hold my peace when arguing to defend my position won’t make a difference. It is more important to live a life that changes minds and creates possibilities than to talk about things that haven’t been seen before. So I check my walk constantly to ensure continuation and consistency. I also allow my people to take me to task about my behaviour and patterns because I know they are looking out for the Word God spoke over me.
Steady does it, so that is how I live my life going forth. Join me!!
Who would have known that a shaking was around the corner?
Last Sunday 26.4.2020 started on a high. It was dull outside but my heart was light and joyful in me. I woke up later than usual but was still the first in the house to get up and about so I focused on breakfast. It was odd that I was cooking so early because my people and I eat after ten but I did it all the same. The young king called to say I had a missed call but I decided to finish before I dealt with the call.
Returning that call changed my life for good…
My other brother Paul, gone…
There are few people I know who are full of love and concern with such purity of heart and he is one of them.
There are few people who the world knows to be steadfast and committed to their faith in every sphere of life…he is one of them
There are few people; whose arrival or presence changed the atmosphere in the room…he is one of them
His dedication to the call of God in his life was undeniable
His commitment to showcase and be all God called him to be was evident
His love for his family, friends and the world, was clear
He was one of those special ones
Don’t think for a minute he was an angel ha!!
He was all man, with successes, failings and faults
He made mistakes in life and crossed paths
Yet the softness of his heart and the depth of his wisdom made him stand out
Very few men (here I mean male gender) are like this brother
Unafraid to try and fail, unbeaten in tenacity, setting out to accomplish every task assigned
Unafraid to walk paths uncharted, unmoved that he is alone on the way as long as God has sent him
He was an anchor in stormy seas, a great captain with eyes fixed on God
He kept his word and spoke his truth, keeping his destination in sight
He led teams through stormy seas, thick forests, dry deserts, calm seas, lush gardens and stillness
He understood that each one has a set assignment, destination, connection and output for God and he kept his eyes on his prize
He spoke of things with certainty because he knew his God and his path was set in Him
He navigated life at work in the banking sector, on ministry assignment, in his fitness pursuits, with friends and family with a cheeky smile, laughing eyes, warm heart, firm tone, steadfast belief that God has a plan that can be trusted
He raised the standards of every team he worked with and taught many to seek God and walk with Him in faith, life, work and passion
This week has changed me because once again I have been reminded that Jehovah my maker, gave me X number of days to become a certain person and complete and set task, reach a certain set of people and bring Him honour and glory
It reminded me that only the Maker knows the actual number of days He set, how many I have lived and how many are left.
It reminded me that no matter how hard I try, if I leave the path He has set for me, I will fail
So I set my gaze again as flint, on He who hovered over the waters of the deep, who created a pleasant place for me to live, who moulded me as the soil and breathed into me the breath of life, who set me on this earth in a community and allowed life and its challenges to shape and shift me.
I set my gaze on Him who knows the end from the beginning and is determined that I become that His word may be revealed and lived out. I set my gaze as flint on He who begun the good work in me and will be faithful to complete it in me.
I choose trust that though I miss my big brother Paul, he has run and finished his race therefore he has rested. I know that since I am still here I have a ways to go, more to become and still more to accomplish with and in God. So I raise my eyes to the heavens even as I allow the tears to fall and say,
“Indeed my Father, You know what is best for us. You know the times and seasons. You know how long we each have. You know that we can become if we decide to hold onto you.
I ask for grace to stand on your WORD every moment of every day. I pray for your healing in our inner man. I pray for your peace that passes all understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I pray that Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth, in my life, in this nation and the world at large as it is in heaven.
Papa, you are the balm that heals our hearts; the love that casts out all fear; the joy that strengthens; the peace that passes all understanding; the all sufficient grace; the everlasting covenant keeper; the one true God, the friend who sticks closer than a brother; the healer; the redeemer; the ever present help in times of plenty and trouble. I choose to be ever ready, waiting for your WORD.”
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.