A Psalm to God

Do you have a favorite psalm that is your go-to scripture? Is there a psalm that you most identify with? Is there a psalm that seemed to capture the very essence of what you were feeling at a point in time?

The psalms were a way for the people of the Ancient Near East to offer prayers, praise, or laments to God. In very poetic language, they described the majesty and splendor of God. Many psalms were a lament for whatever the evil of the day was and an opportunity to express righteous indignation for whatever said evil was. You can experience the depth of the relationship the psalmist had with God by how and what they wrote.

Fortunately for us, the psalms and the art of writing psalms was not just for the people of old. We have the privilege to bare our souls before God in praise, supplication, and in lament. A few months ago, our pastor in church gave us the opportunity to explore Psalm 13 as a prototype for writing psalms. I encourage you to read this Psalm when you have the time. The general idea is that this Psalm offers something of a formula to follow when trying to write a psalm:

  1. Express how you feel
  2. Remember the greater story of what God is doing
  3. Recognize God’s salvation
  4. Rejoice in God’s goodness

Based on this formula, the pastor gave us the opportunity to write our own psalms to God (Interestingly enough, my daily journal also encouraged me to do something similar). So after reflecting on how I was feeling and how my 2022 had shaped up to be, I wrote this psalm to God:

I am lost and feeling directionless

But I remember that your purpose was to seek and save that which was lost

You are the way; the one pointing my feet where they need to go

You are my truth, when the world screams what is your truth and encourages multiple truths

And today, I trust you because even though my life feels directionless, it really isn’t because you O God, are my life

Yes I know it does not rhyme and is not poetic but in that moment this was the baring of my soul to God. In fact, I have gone back to this psalm a few times in the past few weeks since writing it and have found strength in the words I wrote to God.

Is there something you would like to tell God today? Do you have a praise report, a burning request, or a lament to take up with God? Well, friend, consider writing a psalm to God.

Yours Truly

The things that I’m afraid of

I walked through the valley of shadows
And it scared me half to death
But You’re with me everywhere I go
So I won’t give up yet
My fears would surely kill me
If I didn’t know the truth
The things that I’m afraid of
Are afraid of You

When you read the title what is the first thing that comes to mind? What are you so afraid of that you do not even want to speak it out loud for fear it may happen? Many people in the world today live in the shadow of something that they fear. Whether it is the loss of a job, miscarriage, disappointment, failure, phobias, terminal illness, death, etc., we have all at one point or another been terrorized by the things we fear.

Fear was never a part of God’s original design of the human psyche. Fear is as old as the day Adam and Eve sinned against God as that was the first time fear entered the world.

“I heard Your voice in the garden,” he replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Genesis 3:4

Fear was a response to Adam realizing the vulnerability of his nakedness and this trait has been passed on to everyone. We have developed in us a fear of the things that make us vulnerable- fear of the things we cannot control. This puts death and illness at the very top of the list of the things people are afraid of.

For the past two weeks, one line from a song by Josh Wilson has been on repeat non-stop in my head. The line goes, “the things that I’m afraid of are afraid of You.” And indeed, these words are very true and should bring great comfort. There is nothing that anyone is afraid of that can withstand the power and presence of God- not even death. In fact, there is nothing that is more terrifying than God and the natural response of our sinful self to a Holy God should be a dreadful fear of Him just like Adam had in the garden.

Fortunately for us, God has given us the antidote for fear: perfect love. Perfect love it is said, casts out ALL fear (1 John 4:18). And what is this perfect love? The only love that is perfect is one that lays down its life for another and it is found in no other than God Himself. God removed the grasp that fear had on humankind when Jesus died on the cross and from that day He declared us free from fear:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Instead of the fear, we have power, love, and sound mind. For the things we cannot control, God is our refuge and strength and our very present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we must no longer allow ourselves to be plagued by the spirit of fear regardless of what it is. God has given us victory over everything that instills fear in us; even death:

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces. “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, ad the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 25:8/ 1 Corinthians 15:55- 57

So what is it that is keeping you up at night? What are you afraid of? Don’t forget the things that you are afraid of are afraid of God. So be rest assured…God has got your back.

Yours Truly.

I choose Joy

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24 NLT

For many years I have thought joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit that cannot be present in our lives apart from the Holy Spirit. And for many years I have ascribed my lack of finding joy and pleasure in things to the fact that perhaps it is how it is supposed to be. I have opened myself up to the Holy Spirit and asked Him to fill my life with His joy and so if I am not joyful then it is not my fault.

This evening I was reading a book titled the ‘Habits of a Godly Woman’ and came across one of the topics, ‘the habit of joy’. As the author suggests joy is a habit that can be cultivated. You can be joyful on purpose and you can incorporate a habit of joy in your life! I read through the chapter with a lot of skepticism until I came to the verse I have quoted in my opening. This is a verse I repeat very often whenever I am in the gathering of believers. In fact, once or twice per month I serve in church as the service director and I always start my production meetings with the catch phrase “this is the day the LORD has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Up until this moment this verse has been a cliché for me. Something I always say to bring people’s attention to the fact that we are about to start the meeting. Today, what caught my attention was the phrase “we will rejoice.” This phrase suggests that joy (and rejoicing) is a choice. God has made the day- He has once again given us breath in our lungs and has blessed us with a day that He calls Today. He has made provisions for the day by giving us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) so that we can seize all the opportunities in the day but it is up to us to a large extent how we show up and posture through out the day. God has already filled our hearts with joy as a result of our salvation (1 Peter 1:8-9) but it is up to us to allow this joy to be expressed in full measure in our lives.

Joy is a habit that can be developed. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can decide to focus on everything that is good about your situation and choose to rejoice. As you do that often, you will develop the habit of joy. There are so many expressions of joy. The more obvious one is through laughter, but that is not the only way to express joy. The author suggests joy produces a range of emotions from extreme hilarity to calm delight. However we choose to express joy (depending on the situation and circumstance) the end goal is that it gives us strength and strengthens those around us.

The joy of the LORD is our strength

Nehemiah 8:10

I am an introvert by nature and would not be described by those who know me as the life of the party but on many occasions I put myself out there and have charmed many an audience with my quick wit and sense of humor. I am hilarious when I want to be and so there is nothing that prevents me from choosing to be joyful always. Choosing to be joyful does not mean I need to change who I am and become an extrovert. For my introvert friends, the joy of the LORD can be a quiet confidence (Isaiah 30: 15). The bottom line is that the joy of the LORD has nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with who He is. It comes from knowing whom we have believed in and reveling in all that He has done and is continuing to do in our lives.

In 2023, let us choose to be joyful on purpose. Let’s be intentional about choosing joy and enjoying the benefits of everyday called Today. This is the year the LORD has made we will rejoice and be glad in the remaining 358 days left.

Yours Truly

P.S. Wow! 2022 was quite the year! I rejoice for the grace of a new year 2023!

This is the way

Have you ever found yourself pinning over making a decision? Are you caught in-between two major decisions where either of those decisions seem very polarized? Do you feel torn between two good things? Do you feel like you are in this space where you are not where you want to be but cannot back to where you were?

Recently, I got offered two very different jobs and I could not decide which one to accept. One was in my field, something I was passionate about, but it was out of town. The other was not in my field but offered me the luxury of staying connected with my family and loved ones and I was torn. Which one do I accept? As I pinned over that decision, God led me to a book titled “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. In this book, I learned that when it comes to choosing between two (or more) good things, there is no right or wrong decision, just different ones. What? Let me explain:

Each experience has valuable lessons to be learned. If you choose Path A you will learn one set of lessons and if you choose path B you’ll learn a different set of lessons. Each path has goodies to offer such as the opportunity to experience life in a new way, the opportunity to learn and grow, and the opportunity to come out of your comfort zone to try something new. There is no right or wrong path just different paths (remember I am talking about choosing between two good things- not between right and morally depraved). The author calls this the No-Lose model in her book.

The words from this book sank down into my spirit and really helped to focus me as I picked one of those job offers. Even though over the past weeks of making the decision, I have been trying to convince myself that there was no right or wrong choice, I have had a nagging in the back of my mind if I chose right. As I pondered over my choice, a scripture got illuminated in my heart:

And whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it”

Isaiah 30: 21 NIV

Even though the author of this book did not offer any Christian perspective to her No-Lose model, I think she was on to something. Many times in the throes of decision- making, I forget God directs my path towards an expected end. I agree with the author that are no wrong paths: God orders our steps whether it is to the left or the right and He goes ahead of us and lines the path for us with goodies. His goodness and mercies follow us as we walk the down the paths of our decisions. And if we continue to trust in Him, everything along that path will work together for our good and for His glory. In my limited mind, I see one path with one set of possibilities and another path with another set of possibilities. However, God sees the outcomes of my decisions (even as far as the end of my days) and He is able to bring me to that outcome regardless of whatever path I take. The key is to hear His voice saying, “this is the way, walk in it.” As long as I stay tuned to His voice, it does not matter whether I take Path A or Path B. I will come to God’s expected end. His hand will guide me and His eye will watch over me till I get where I need to be.

As I stay connected to Him, I will begin to recognize His voice when it directs me. As I lean more into God, I will stop second guessing His voice because I will recognize it right away. I am reminded of using my GPS in my car particularly when I do not know where I am going. I am usually more focused on the GPS lady’s voice than even the route I am taking. As long as I follow the GPS’ promptings I trust I will get where I need to be and that’s exactly what this scripture looks like for me. As I start to listen more for God’s voice saying, “this is the way”, I would get less concerned with the actual route I am taking. The bottom line is that God has got your back.

Yours Truly.

Settling Down in God’s Time and Season

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

Wow! It has been over a month since I have been able to sit down to compose a post and this hiatus is because I have been going though a season in my life. This season has been one that has brought with it many life lessons, particularly, learning to trust in God when things are not going the way I plan. Yesterday, I picked up my bible to read after a few weeks of not doing so and my readings led me to this nugget of inspiration from Jeremiah 29.

For context: The Israelites were in captivity and they were hoping for God’s deliverance. In fact, many false prophets had assured them that God’s deliverance was around the corner and that their exile would last for only a maximum of two years. Because of this false hope, the Israelites lived in this state of flux, of uncertainty; and in many ways, they were stuck and could not move forward. But God sent his prophet with this message:

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Jeremiah 29: 5-7 NIV

God was telling them to get comfortable in the season He was taking them through. This sounds antithetical to everything I have come to believe when going through things in my life that I deem unpleasant. In fact, many Christian teachings and admonishing would urge me to pray and fast myself out of that situation. However, as I read through this scripture, I felt God’s encouragement to get comfortable in the seasons of my life. More often than not, I am in a hurry to move on to the next phase, to the next chapter of my life that I do not stop to take in the lessons and the blessings of each season of my life. Just like the Israelites, I sometimes refuse to accept the “realities” of what my situations are and rather look to future state as God’s promise for me. While this is not bad, there are many things that I miss out on in God’s season of my life: I miss out on planting and harvesting and on building during those seasons because I am waiting for better things to come. God told the Israelites to get comfortable, settle down, and build and in essence take advantage of everything the season of exile had to offer while they waited for His appointed time of deliverance. His promise to them was that at the end of the season, their deliverance would come but it was important that they did not waste the lessons and blessings of the season while waiting.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

Jeremiah 29: 10-11 NIV

You see many of us quote the latter part of that scripture about God’s plans to give us a future and a hope with abandon but if you read this scripture in context, you will see it was part of an assurance to the Israelites during their season of exile. God was encouraging them to use the season of exile wisely because the plans that He had for them was to prosper them in the season of captivity and exile and bring them to the future state of deliverance they imagined better off than they currently were.

What season of life are you currently in? What are you waiting on God to do for you? Are you in between jobs? Waiting for your healing? Expecting a breakthrough in a particular area of your life? Grieving a loss? Disappointed at the outcomes of your life’s circumstances? Or are you celebrating great wins and successes in your life? Whatever, your season, there is a lesson and a blessing. And while I pray that the difficult seasons do not last long and that light breaks forth like the dawn over every gloomy circumstance, my greatest prayer is that you do not miss the opportunities God has in store for you during whatever season of your life. And particularly for those going through untoward circumstances, I pray that you do not miss out on what God is doing because you are only looking for respite and if it is God’s plan to prosper you in that particular season, may He give you the grace to get comfortable in that season. His plan for your life does not bring you harm and disaster but are for your well- being to bring you to the future you hope for.

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for…[for it is the LORD who changes the times and seasons]

Jeremiah 29: 11GNB/ Daniel 2:21 NIV

Yours Truly

For better or for worse

For better or for worse…almost every time I hear this statement it is in the context marriage and so if you cringed a little when you read the title, be rest assured, I am not going to talk about marriage at all. This week my bible reading led me to Jeremiah 18 and the story of Jeremiah in the potter’s house. Here is the scripture in context:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 NIV

This is a scripture I was inspired to post about this year, but from a very different perspective based on my disposition at the time (you can catch that post here if you missed it). But as I read the verses again, a few days ago, the bolded part of the scripture came alive for me, like a light had been shone to that section. In time past I have dwelled on the clay getting marred in God’s hands and likened this to an unsurrendered will but this time the emphasis for me in the scripture was on God’s hands.

When wonderful things happen for us in life and prayers are answered, we feel loved and feel like God is near and usually the opposite is true as well. When life is not going our way or things do not turn out the way we want, we are quick to feel abandoned by God. I have used phrases such as “it seems like God is far away from me”, “it feels like my prayers are bouncing off the walls” etc. to describe these times in my life. And to reconcile with scripture that describe God as always being present, it is easier to feel unworthy of God’s love in those moments than it is to accept that God is present but silent.

The visual of the clay being in the potter’s hand while it was marred is not only a reminder of God’s sovereignty over our lives but also an assurance that for better or for worse we are in God’s hands. Whether we are going through the storms of life or enjoying life’s brightest day we are in God’s hands and He’s got us. Just like the potter reshaped the clay because he did not like how the pot turned out, so is God shaping things in our lives on a constant to make sure that the outcome is for His pleasure. Not our pleasure but His.

 …for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Rev 4:11 KJV

Think about your hands for a second. How often do you use your hand in a day? I’d say many many times and for many different tasks and if you have full function of your hands, you probably rarely think of them- you just use them. Now imagine you had to hold a pebble in one of your hands for a few hours. Would your attention be drawn to your hand more often? I’d like to think so! What if you have to hold on for a few days? Of course you’d be hyper aware of the pebble in your hand. Well, scripture says:

See, I [God] have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:16 NIV

You are always on God’s mind, after all you are only a palm away. Walls in the ancient near east were built around cities to fortify them. They were a symbol of safety, comfort, and strength. When enemies attacked, they tried to lay siege to the walls of a city and if they broke down the walls, they had access to conquer the city. Are your walls crumbling? Are the things that give you safety, comfort, and strength seeming to be break away? Or are your walls intact? Are you enjoying stability in your relationship with God and others? Are you enjoying times of peace and contentment? Because you are right there engraved in His palm, your walls whether intact and robust or in ruins and shambles are always before God. He sees it all, He knows it all and He’s got you!

Today hear the word of the Lord: “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does? Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, [insert your name].

For better or for worse; through the good times and the bad; you are in God’s hands.

Yours truly.

Caption this…

How many times this week have you prayed for things you need? Did you have a list of things in mind that you presented to God or one specific thing? Have you already imagined when and how the answer to that prayer should come? Well… this week It has become very obvious to me that this is how I pray. I either come to God presenting a list of things that I need or sometimes it is for one specific major thing. And a lot of times I already envision how and when that need is to be met.

While this approach makes me very specific in my supplications, it also leaves very little room for allowing for God’s sovereignty in my life- particularly when the answers do not come when and how I was expecting. In the past weeks I have been thinking about the story of Jairus and his request of healing for his daughter. So for context, there was a Synagogue Leader circa Jesus’ times who once approached Jesus to come home with him and heal his daughter who was sick. That was a very specific request Jairus had and perhaps he had imagined how this was going to go- Jesus would follow him home with a large crowd of onlookers following, then Jesus would publicly say a few word like ” take your mat and walk” or spit in some sand which he would rub on her, or maybe would command a demon out of her or better still place his hands on her and instantly she will be healed. Whatever Jesus’ methods, Jairus was positive that if Jesus came to his house, his daughter would be healed. So he set about carrying his plan into action. Step 1. Earnestly plead with Jesus to come home with him…CHECK. Step 2. Jesus would agree to do so… CHECK. Step 3. His daughter would be healed… ERRRM….. Hello Jesus! Why have you stopped to ask who touched you? There is a crowd around you and the focus is to get to my house and heal my daughter. Why have you stopped? Excuse me! Who is this woman with the issue of blood who is throwing a monkey wrench into my plans?

We can speculate about how Jairus felt about this interruption to his plans. I do not know what was going on his mind when Jesus stopped to deal with something else but I know how I would have felt and reacted. Even if I did not show it, I would have been seething inside. I would have been furious! I know because I have been here many times where it seems like the answer to my prayers have stalled and how I envisioned my prayers would be be answered is not panning out like I imagined. I might stay in this story for a few posts because there is a lot I have learned in the past few weeks but today I will just dwell on two lessons.

Lesson One: What you think you need may not be what God knows you need

Jairus came to Jesus with a need for healing. His daughter was sick and what he thought his daughter needed was healing and so he asked for healing. He aligned himself to receive healing. But somewhere between his request and his answered prayer, something went awry. Jesus stopped to attend to someone else and while he was doing so, Jairus’ daughter died:

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Mark 5:35-36 NIV

Every hope of having his need met had just evaporated. He asked for healing and now the sick person was dead and so if you ask me, he had every reason to despair. But the truth of the matter was that Jairus’ daughter and family did not need to experience healing, their need was for more than just healing. What they needed was resurrection. Everything that was dead in their lives and in the lives of the people around them needed to have an encounter with the one who was LIFE himself. And so Jesus encouraged him: JUST BELIEVE.

Lesson Two: Jairus had to let go of his assumptions and expectations and simply trust Jesus in that moment of fear, doubt, disappointment, and maybe anger. And more often than not his is all we need to do- Just Believe. We do not need to speculate on or envision the how, where, when and who of our answered prayers. Just present our needs and believe that God who knows what is best for us, knows exactly what we need and will give us just that in due season.

For your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 

Matthew 6:8

Remember, just like we do not hear God when we have already decided what He should be saying, so do we not see His hand at work when we decide how our needs should be met. So this week, I had a hard time putting a title to this post. Now that you have read through the post, what is your takeaway? How would you caption this post based on what God is saying to you?

Yours Truly

Crossroads

When I was much younger, I used to keep dairies where I journaled activities of my everyday and I recently came across one such journal from 2007 and the early part of 2008. I picked it up last week and I was so humbled to read what my state of mind was in 2007 and 2008. My journal revealed that I trusted God for every single thing: I prayed about everything and it seemed like God was so present in my life. I would pray for something and a day or so later I would be writing a praise report in my journal about how God answered that prayer. My journal contained the most mundane things that I shared with God while counting and recounting all God’s big and small blessings in my life on a daily basis.

However, somewhere between 2008 and 2022 something changed. I stopped relying on God for everything and became self-reliant, cynical, a complainer, ungrateful, and a know-it-all. For the past few years, I have lived my life as if the things I have attained-my successes in life- are because of my own merit or because I am entitled to them from God. I have slowly drifted away from developing true friendship and a meaningful personal relationship with God and have used God as a genie-in-a-bottle who exists to meet my needs when I cannot do things for myself. Somewhere along the line, I stopped talking to God about everything and instead either complained bitterly to whomever would listen or took a cynical stance. Other times, I just took charge to problem-solve on my own, after all that’s why God gave me a brain, right? As I reflect, I realize that my sense of entitlement, ingratitude, cynicism, and self-reliance have severely hindered my ability to be fully in relationship with God. On the outside, people see someone who is well put together, can pray, can quote the right scriptures, provide the right encouragement, and speak the right words when needed. But recent situations in my life have exposed how far I have drifted from how I related to God in 2007 and early 2008. This week I realized a very haunting truth: I am at a crossroad and my next move will have ramifications for my life that would be as far-reaching as eternity. As I reflected on this, wondering what my next move should be, I picked up my bible two nights ago and my Good Father (who has stayed close by while I work through my life’s issues) encouraged me with this scripture:

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…(deliberate pause)”

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

Goosebumps right! Well… there is more. This scripture was not only an encouragement about what I need to do get back on track with God especially now that His return is much more closer. This scripture is about choice and is also a warning. You’d think the people of Israel welcomed this invitation of God to return to Him ( just as He has invited me) with open arms. But No. See that scripture in its entirety:

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

And Jeremiah 6: 17-30 tells us more about what comes next for the Israelites because of their choice. I encourage you to read to find out more if you are curious. Today, I find myself at the same cross road with the same choice thousands of years later and God’s invitation is the same. I have a choice to ask for the ancient path, ask where the good road is, and walk in it or I can choose my own path. If you are at some cross roads in your life today, what will you choose? Rest or turmoil? I know I want rest. I am tired… I am weary… and I am worn… so Precious Lord hold my hand and lead me in the ancient and good path and lead me towards rest and lead me home. In Jesus’ name I pray for myself and for every one else who needs this prayer.

Yours truly.

Religion vs Relationship

So two weeks ago, I had a conversation with my pastor that started with the statement “I am very angry with God”. And after about a 15- 20 minute rant about why I was angry, she prayed with me and I went on my rather morose way! And for the past two weeks I have been thinking, “well I put that out there, God and so now its your move” and for the past two weeks I have been wondering how both God and I will get past my confession and back into relationship. Yesterday as I was getting ready for church, I heard a sermon playing on the TV from a preacher I had never heard before and he started by saying, “people are the angriest they have ever been” and that piqued my interest and then God in his special way managed to speak to me through all my anger. So here is what I learned:

  • Lesson #1- Look underneath the anger
    • The preacher in a very dramatic reenactment described Naaman’s journey to healing from leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-8:15) . When Elisha had asked Naaman to get cleansed in the Jordan river his immediate reaction was anger. One would think that for someone who had travelled all the way for healing, he would have been more excited that he did not have to do something so arduous but no…Naaman turned away in anger. Now Naaman was a highly regarded and valiant soldier, a man’s man and his current state was a far cry from the success he had achieved in life. There was a great chasm between what Naaman’s expectations of the life of valiant soldier should look like and his current experience. And this chasm was filled with anger and rage. As the preacher said, success has a way of sedating us to think that we do not deserve any form of suffering and perhaps this was the state of mind of Naaman who expressed anger at the instructions to go and wash in the Jordan river. Two weeks ago, in unburdening about why I was so angry with God, I had shared with my pastor how I felt God could not be trusted. I was angry because I have spent a greater part of my life in service to God in one way or another and did not feel that God was treating me fairly with the adversity and unanswered prayers I have recently encountered. And guess what? I am not alone! Many Christians are asking God questions like, “why did I lose my loved one?” “why did I get Covid?” “why did you not prevent my marriage from falling apart?” “why didn’t the healing come when I prayed?”… and so on and so forth. As the preacher said so astutely, our everyday success has a way of sedating us into thinking that we do not deserve our suffering and the truth of that statement hit me hard. I have asked myself if my whole relationship with God had been built on the notion of reciprocity – that because of the things I have done in service of God that somehow I deserve God to give me everything I ask for. Two weeks ago, my pastor suggested that I reflect on what I have anchored my faith to- whether my faith and trust in God was tethered to the fact that my whole family has been serving Him faithfully and so felt like God owed us something for our service. I have spent the past few weeks thinking about this and have uncovered something really valuable which I share in lesson #2.
  • Lesson #2- What is your faith anchored to?
    • In exploring why I have been so angry, I have ruminated on what my trust is anchored in and came to the conclusion that my pastor was on to something. Over the years, I have built my faith and trust in Jesus based on the things He has done for me. The answered prayers for provision and providence, the many times of deliverance from accidents and ill health, the times I have experienced God’s grace have served to increase and grow my faith in God and in His abilities. However, my faith has not been anchored to more than that. For example, instead of building my faith around the fact that God is a healer which is His character, His essence, I have built faith around his acts of healing- so not on who He is, but what He does. And while God’s many acts helps to build faith, anchoring my faith on His actions alone is not a sustainable way to develop trust in a relationship. So in keeping with this example, during those times when God chooses not to heal me or my loved ones, my faith gets shaken because there is a gap between my expectations and my experience. In reality, whether or not God chooses to heal in a particular instance does not, and should not change the fact that He is a healer. In many ways, I have become like the Israelites of old who sought God for his mighty acts and so that was all God was to them. However, this was not the case with Moses. Even though Moses got introduced to God through his acts (the burning bush), he grew in relationship to the point where he knew God and communed with Him as friend with friend not because of what God could do, but because of who he is. Think about this:

He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel (Psalm 103:7 NLT).

Psalm 103:7 NLT

So through all my anger, God managed to reach at the crux of what was bothering me and not only that, He has brought me into a place of deeper relationship with Him- just like He did for Naaman. When God got through to Naaman past all his anger, He not only brought healing to the leprosy but also healed his heart. This year I have experienced new dimensions of God and I find that the more I lean into it, the more it feels like my life is falling apart. And the more my life falls apart, the more it falls into place. So before I sign off, I leave you with this thought: Religion says God I did this so now it is your turn to do that but Relationship says God I trust you. so which one do you have? Religion or Relationship?

Yours Truly

P.s. here is the sermon I listened to: https://elevationchurch.org/sermons/the-cost-of-going-off/

When God is Silent

Today we celebrate Good Friday and we remember all the activities of that fateful day many years ago, when Jesus was crucified. And then we will wait for Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection. But what about Saturday? For many of us the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday passes uneventfully. Can you imagine what that day must have been like for Jesus’ disciples and followers? After everything he had said and done, the reality of his death probably sunk in on Saturday as the city returned to normalcy post-burial of Jesus. Their leader was gone; His voice and power and influence silenced in death.

Have you ever felt like you are living in the in-between of life, just like the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday when God seems silent? When prayers seem to be bouncing off the wall? Where your Saviour is no where to be found? I have felt God’s silence for a few months now. I have shared in multiple posts how I have prayed for things that are really important to me and God seems silent; I have prayed for health and seen the opposite in my life; I have prayed for strength and instead have experienced weakness; I have prayed for soundness of mind and instead have been unsettled and terrified by my thoughts. I am living in the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

But friends, we know from scripture that on the Saturday in-between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, God was NOT silent. His Spirit was actively making Jesus alive in the spirit! While to the world Jesus was dead and silent, He was very much alive in the spirit and fighting a victorious battle over death and captivity. Jesus was securing the keys to hell and death so that no one would ever have to separated eternally from God (unless by choice); He was ensuring that death lost its sting and power forever for any one who believes in Him. While the world experienced his silence in death, Jesus was in fact busy working the miracle of the salvation and His Spirit was preparing for the miracle of the Resurrection the next day:

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit,  in whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison… 1 Peter 3: 18- 19 BSB

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:11 BSB

God was very much present on Saturday as He was on Friday and on Sunday. So today, I pray for you even as I pray for myself that you will be encouraged in the in-between times when God seems silent. I pray that your Saturday (your period of silence) will not be too long so as to leave you discouraged but instead may this prophecy of old be fulfilled in your very lives during this Easter season:

“See, your Savior comes! Look, His reward is with Him, and His recompense goes before Him”

Isaiah 62:11

Amen! and Happy Easter to you all.

Yours Truly