I have learnt that the lofty dreams of my heart will be tackled bit by bit.
My nifty tip – Finished is what matters at first.
It is pertinent to seek and discover God’s will for you – his purpose for your life. But when you then try to plan your own path in light of the insight God showed you about your future, you are trying too hard to help God. Whatever you know about your life is an impartial glimpse and you cannot set off fitting the pieces with that limited view. Actually, you can and I know you’ve tried, but you always end up feeling like someone who has been tasked with fitting the ten thousand pieces of a jigsaw puzzle whose final image is not shown to him or her.
I’ve found that after the glimpse into purpose, God’s notification comes increasingly and daily. Regardless of how much we pray, study and commune with God, the circumstances of our lives are often revealed in installments, the deep details made known only after the fact.
Joseph (in the Bible) must have envisioned a lofty future in sync with his dream but he surely would not have envisaged the alternating triumphs and challenges that would characterize his path to victory. That is what an uncharted terrain feels like – you have an idea of the future end, but it’s okay to not have the whole stretch of the journey mapped out.
Actually, that is where the magic happens, the adventure of a purposeful life where a person has to trust God, gain victuals, build character, resilience, and humility for the glory that is ahead. Thank God we have a comfort in Joseph’s ardent faith in God.
If you feel that God is taking you through a seemingly divergent experience quite unrelated to what you have seen, relax. Do not try to channel the path. Just be still and trust his process. Joseph’s undulating path of slavery, repose, temptation and betrayal culminated to the expected end.
For whatever it is worth, you must remember that the path that eventually leads you to the glory will not always make logical sense. But it takes perpetual faith to overcome!
If it is God’s path, it will lead you to the expected end and when you get there, you will be able to look back and see things openly and clearly.
I have observed that many times, when God inspires people with an idea for a life-defining project, or presents opportunities to gain knowledge and training in peculiar crafts, career or ministry, many people short-change themselves with the questions their minds ask. Even me, 8 out of 10 times, my mind fixates on the price tag, especially when I know I can’t afford it. I ask, “How much does it cost?” That becomes my excuse not to pursue my highest.
When God presents you with similar opportunities, do you embrace it in spite of the cost?
Consider this: how much does a butler earn? Surely not enough to fund a city-wide project. Yes, you got it – Nehemiah couldn’t have funded the budget for the Jerusalem wall. Surely, Moses didn’t have some huge savings to build the tabernacle. In fact, they were never meant to. They simply said yes and watched God do his thing.
Whenever God inspires you with an idea, he never means for you to foot the bill. The one that gives the vision will make provision: what you need for the vision.
Seriously, you can’t foot the bill – because you aren’t meant to! Stop worrying about Gods prerogative.
I’d like to challenge you to ask, “How much is it worth?” rather than “How much does it cost.” Instead of ” Can I afford this?” Ask “Can I afford not to do this?”
Can you afford not to listen to God? Can you afford not to live a purposeful life? Can you afford not to make impact? Do you want to miss out on the joy of divine duty?
Truth is, God has positioned helpers on your path. But they are not in the open. They are hiding and waiting for you to decide to take on the task before they show up. They want you to say, “yes, this training or conference or class is worth much more than it costs. I can’t afford it, but I will get it.”
The long and lonely journey to the cross cost Jesus a lot for a while. It wasn’t easy, but it was wort it. His life shows is that he asked, “how much is it worth?”
I keep receiving calls from youth ministers from Nigeria and abroad requesting copies of Donut, and I wonder – what if I looked at the publishing cost and didn’t go ahead in 2014? I knew I couldn’t afford the N350,000 price tag but (thank God!) I did move ahead and there was my dad who agreed to take installments (there’s someone positioned closer than you think!) and the people who believed (after I did) in the vision (they showed up from the hiding places! LOL!). We did it and produced 2000 copies we distributed free! There’s more coming!
The difference between action (excellence) and excuse (mediocrity) is the question you ask, and here is it- “how much it is worth?”
Like I said some weeks earlier, only the shortsighted celebrate potential. In my opinion, only the ones who invest potential with grit to produce bountiful results ought to be celebrated.
So like Joshua Son of Nun, Get courageous! Change your question. Change your life and our world.
To the Happy New Week,
P.S.: Maybe you think you may trust God and still end up flat on your face. Maybe that’s a valid point. Maybe it’s happened to you before… Well, here’s the thing- try again and do it right this time by making sure God is involved. Moreover, you’ll never know until you try!
A vision is exciting. A well-laid out strategy is exhilarating. A picture of the many lives your work will touch is enough to get you started, but the day to day requirements of purpose is not always as exciting, and surely not as scintillating as the envisioned end point.
Before you abandon that path of purpose, that calling, or that project because it doesn’t feel as exhilarating as when you first envisioned it, it involves too many days of back breaking work or terribly slow wait times, remember that the beauty of gold is appreciated and enjoyed only when it has been extracted from its ore and refined. I do not need to tell you how undesired the process is.
A beautiful vision is pleasant to behold, but a few moments later, when your expectations fail to come through, it can easily be buried under a thick dark cloud. This surely doesn’t mean that the vision is purely your conjecture. It only means that you’re started on the real process of birthing – the bittersweet labor.
There will be lag days, there will be incredibly slow and boring phases. You will feel like you’re pushing against a wall. Promised funding will roll in sluggishly or not at all. People will not always be willing. Your first prototype might fail. Expectations might be dashed and the mediocre on the other side will scorn.
You will be demotivated and feel very useless at those times when the process becomes a monotonous routine. When this happens, know that you are under the fire that is meant to refine you and your work, not graze you into ashes.
At this time, you need to put in writing the big picture and the reason why you are doing this, since it’s likely the thick cloud will block the horizon. Then put in the work because this is what you have to do. Do not seek repose in alternatives.
As you keep working, Pray and Don’t lose heart.
The cloud will clear and you will see yourself rise to the rank of the accomplished.
To a purpose fulfilled,
Inspired by Colossians 4:2, Luke 18:1 (surprisingly).
I remember when I was younger and would sit with friends to discuss several issues from cartoons and video games to cars, school work and movies, then we would touch on problems in my country and some politics which for my country has always been a popular tension point. We would argue and try to proffer solutions to the problems of economic instability, inadequate social amenities ( no thanks, Social Studies for etching those words into my mind – every essay had to have those words! LOL!) and poor leadership in my country.
Of the ideas we generated, one that usually came up was to have someone gather all the unsuspecting corrupt leaders in a mock conference and blow them up. I favored the idea because I thought if all the bad eggs were dealt with, good people will remain then we would have some peace and development. But we would struggle with the moral implications of murder until we “sight” one of our friends toss in a football.
Now I know better!
As I grew older, I realized one thing – Anhilation of evil does not come by destruction of a group or generation perceived to be wicked. I feel one of the reasons why God might have inserted Noah’s story in the Bible was to get that across. The society Noah lived in was terrible – the people’s imaginations were evil and godless and they did whatever they felt like – which resulted in evil. So God decided to wipe out the world save Noah’s family, who found favor in God’s eyes because He walked with God and was a just man. After God through a flood rid the earth of the bad eggs, we would have thought that everything would go right onward.
We all know that it didn’t. Death does not take away evil from our world.
Sadly, I know a feel people who still buy the annihilation idea, and many others who figuratively extend the idea to their daily lives – who wish their clearly wicked boss or coworker would call in sick so there would be peace in the office for a few days… get the idea?
As I mused on Noah’s story the last time I read it, I remembered the story of Jonah. For similar reasons, God was set to destroy the people of Nineveh for their extreme wickedness but gave them a warning by sending Jonah, who reluctantly shared God’s message after a failed flight attempt.
It turned out God’s word rent their heart and they did an about turn.
No one died! Epic!
Now, I rather say change happens when the word of God meets with faith in broken-hearted people, regardless of how evil they have been.
I no longer wish for an desperado to blow up corrupt leaders because it wouldn’t work – in fact, a new crop of scoundrels will rise up from their ashes. And though, sometimes I still wish some mean person will not cross my path today, I know that with faith, prayer, and the spirit-inspired message of God’s love, positive change can happen.
People can change for better – by the words that go up to God and those that will loving go to others.
Now, I can only pray that your thoughts will be renewed, your words divinely empowered and your life, an example to the evil world around us.
Cos, truth is, we all need God!
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” VirginaWoolf
If you close your soul to your readers – if you leave out your personal stories from your compositions, your excellent literary prowess and mastery of the craft will at best produce grandiose but impersonal works that will maybe, garner you some royalty, but will not touch any life in lasting ways. I know that is what you really desire – that your words reach out to touch your readers in transformative ways.
So, expect you’re an academic essayist with a limited theme and constrained concept bank, bare your soul before your readers.
Yes. Your Muse’s incubation of the crests and troughs in your soul is the crucible of true creativity and transformation. And if you are like me, that blessed soul of yours is the ground of all skirmishes, human and divine, past and present, and the center stage for all the dark and bright interactions of the seen and unseen forces dictating your path in life.
Your deepest fears, your goriest experiences, your loftiest desires, your biggest triumphs, and your greatest personal discoveries in life banks up in your soul, and anticipates every moment you put pen to paper and bleed. Let your readers see that drop of blood that is known to redeem – from your wholesome compositions. You will not be the first to bleed for many, and certainly not the last. And you may well find that you are enlightened and healed in the process.
“If your soul isn’t ready to he bared, then your words aren’t ready to be shared.”
Writers, I know you are scared – how can you do this? Maybe you can start by baring your soul to your Muse.
My epidemiology professor includes this quote in a number of his class slides… and has succeeded in getting this wedged in my mind. Good thing though, because I have fallen into the “I’ll try” rut, time and again.
On introspection, I realize that words/phrases like “I’ll try..” “Someday, I’ll do it..” or “hopefully” are comfortable ways of expressing complacency, non-commitment, fear or outright laziness/lassitude.
Someday, I’ll start saving.
I’ll try coming earlier to work.
Hopefully in the future, I will enroll for that class/start the business.
Maybe I’ll try to speak to him.
It’s easy for our timid minds to form various humble-sounding phrases to deflect the reality of duty and responsibility for greatness in life. An epic combination is – hopefully someday, I’ll try to write everyday and maybe publish a book – or something like that.
C’mon, you know that will never happen!
This applies to every aspect of life, relationships, business, day job or passion.
These non-committal expressions puts you and other party in a limbo that never recedes until you grow weary and forget. Reflect and compare the words you have said that includes “try, someday or hopefully” with those you said with an emphatic yes, I will/know/believe or set a definite date and got to work on it. The difference in the results are strikingly significant.
“Say Yes or No. Every other thing is nonsense.” Jesus said (well, at least, my idea of what he said in Matthew 5:37)
When I wanted to publish Donut(when I really got serious about it), I believed it, set a definite time frame, got to work despite challenges and achieved it by God’s grace. What you must know is that there are also many other things I have “tried” to do that haven’t left the “I’ll try someday” phase. Hopefully, someday, I’ll get to it! LOL!
Why do we do this?
Laziness? Lassitude? Discouragement? Procrastination? Non-commitment? I don’t know, really but I do know that thoughts and words are indicators of the state of the heart.
Ah, Yes, there will be challenges (if you are planning to do anything meaningful with your life, expect resistance already!), but the difference between mediocrity and excellence will always be between DO or Do NOT, there is no try.
Today’s teenagers are lonely, and they’re looking for connection in the wrong places. Today’s parents feel helpless, and many parents in this situation are too embarrassed to reach out for help from others. Especially if their kids are rebelling against the way they were raised.
So the gap between parents and teenagers only widens. Teens think, “My parents are stupid. They don’t understand.” Parents think, “This narcissistic little brat. I’d like to take that phone away and throw it off a cliff!”
While It is clear that wholesome growth of a child rests upon the connection between the youth and an adult, there is a growing divide between teen and adult culture. It would be silly to point fingers at one cause, because it’s a mixed bag of nuts, including extended adolescence, enabling, helicopter parenting, the influence of entertainment media, etc.
The more adult mentors who seek out young people and help them apply faith to daily life, the better.
What if teenagers had more people like coaches they could talk with about stuff? Or an uncle? A youth pastor? A best friend’s dad or mum?
What if teenagers had ALL of these mentors active in their lives?
We need to bridge this gap if we’re going to do any important work in guiding young people to meaning in life.
Sit tight, this is a long one, but it’s worth the shot.
The noise of the riot in the city receded as the soldiers dragged him across the city. His mind was tired but His mind resolute to gain freedom for the people of Jerusalem. Or at least avenge the death of his father. The Jews couldn’t understand that!
The company paused to refreshed along the way as he was being matched out of the city towards the gallows. One of the soldiers bent over him and placed a water skin near his mouth.
As he took a sip of the cold water, a hard slap against his temples jostled the water out of his mouth.
Oh! He opened his eyes and stared at hard concrete above. Instead of being refreshed by the water from the young soldier’s cistern, he was lying flat against his back in a prison cell, thirsty and famished.
He had been dreaming.
He motioned to rub the sweat from his forehead, but was restrained buy the big iron fetters that bound his muscular blood stained arms.
As he struggled in vain to wrench his hands from the chains, blood trickled from wounds reopened by abrasion. He didn’t mind the loss of blood. He didn’t mind the pain. He was already in pain, since the day his father died.
The stamp of the hilt of a spear stopped him. A guard had come near.
He stopped struggling but muttered some curse words to him.
“Awake, bro?” the guard tossed through the slit below the door, breakfast. It landed near his temples.
“That’s your food,” He smirked.
Click of chain showed that the guard had released the tightness of the chain, so he managed to sit up, as much as the length of the chain on both arms could allow him.
The smell of the food was as disgusting as its sight. But he took a bite of the stale bread and watery mushroom soup… (to be continued)
Behind the Scenes
And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. – Mark 15:7
Barabbas [Bar-abba] – literary translates in Aramaic as “son of the father.
We know him as the criminal chosen in preference to Jesus, at the instigation of the priests, for Pilate to release on customary pardon during the Jewish Passover Feast. He had been in prison for murder during a Jewish revolt against the Roman forces.
Other than that, the scriptures do not give more information about this man. But I’d like to spike your mind with my overactive imagination. Indulge me – it would be quick.
I’m going into Barabbas’ head!
What if Barabbas was a sweet little Jewish lad who grew up through the Roman oppression but unlike some of his peers, was psychologically pained because he watched a lousy Roman soldier kill his father and got away with it?
As he grew, the hurt festered by the daily injustice he had become too familiar with. It eventually became too much and led him to think he could get freedom for his people by agitating. But he had a second motive – to get even with his father’s murderer in the process.
So he either led or signed up to join a revolt and in the process, got an opportunity to murder the soldier, who had become a high ranking officer at that time.
Phenomenal story line, isn’t it?
Maybe we all are like Barabbas.
We have always voted for the energetic. The Israelites probably thought that Barabbas was more of a savior figure than Jesus – they were expecting an aggressive king or warrior to save and lead them to freedom from the Romans, and end their suffering. They might have felt Barabbas would try again.
Little did they know that the real problem was an internal bondage that no insurrection could cure. Jesus came to deal with the heart of the matter – which is the matter of the heart. He came not to palliate, but to heal and restore to brand new. His inside-out influence involves and transcends the physical.
It’s exciting though, to parallel Jesus and Barabbas.
Two prisoners (with similar names) exchanged position – while the innocent One was about to be crucified, the guilty one was about to be set free. One sought physical liberation, the other brought spiritual (and holistic) liberation. Having similar passions to save, one did so by rebelling and killing, the other, by dying.
My imagination is very wild! But you see it makes sense, and it means something to your life.
The Barabbas in you is hurt, sick and tired of the oppression going on around. You are tired of the weight of sin, as it reigns in present day – and in your heart – and you want to close the gap it has created, so you try to do all you can to get out of the rut –hard work, ambition, morality, religion, science – the list is endless. We love to agitate – race against race, class against class. Without struggle, there is no progress, we say.
But it doesn’t work because the mechanism of human oppression and death is much deeper than you can fathom. The price of freedom is too high you cannot pay it.
I was in Barabbas’ agitating shoes until I realized Jesus was exchanged for me. He died a substitutionary death for me. I relaxed and believed his sacrifice was enough to bring me freedom.
The blood-stained freedom became precious to me. Of course, he was buried in a borrowed tomb because he wasn’t going to stay there for too long. He brought me to Peace and the grace I received empowers me daily to live the kind of Life God desires – and why He sent Jesus at Easter – the one above sin and unto righteousness in this present world and joy beyond this life. Titus 2:11.
Now, I simply follow the Father’s lead as a son and disciple according to His good will. I live the guided adventure of learning, growing and shining in life.
Maybe Barabbas heard about one “begotten son of the Father,” the king of the Jews who was killed when he was released. Maybe he repented, we may never know.
But today, if you will quit struggling and come to Jesus, you will experience a 360-degree.
Consider the divine exchange today.
Come to Jesus.
References: Matthew 27:20-21, Mark 15:7-15, Luke 23:18-19, and John 18:40
“A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.” -Proverbs 18:16 NIV
I know a group of people called the time-clock punchers. When I interact with them, I see a glow locked behind the small translucent window of their heart. They are so diligent at their jobs and they seem happy but when they talk about their interests and life passions, they say nothing about that which brings the paycheck.
Wow, they are on autopilot! They hate their jobs but can’t leave because they must pay bills. The ubiquitous age-old stereotypes of career, financial security and vocation has constrained them into mediocrity and robbed them of the innocence of adventure!
When they tell me about their dreams, and show me their journals, I see the passionate young version of themselves disenfranchised by what you call the “reality” of life. The insincere ones disagree with me, but I think they forgot that their buried gift ought to buy the attention of eminence.
Yet, I see a light…
I am encouraged by the few who have set foot off the track and walked away from the rat race they were inadvertently enrolled in. I hear their stories; and read the novelizations or movie adaptations of their lives.
Creativity is not meant to be contained.Your talents are way-makers, not meant to be buried. Your passions are seeds of influence that must be cultivated into fruition.
If you choose to give the world your gift from God, you will only experience untold joy and fulfillment. But if you stifle your passions and remain in the safe zone, the world will miss out but won’t share your impalpable, yet unbearable pain.
If you spur, it will be a light to the world and joy to you. If you stifle, it will be like fire shut in your bones. Either way, the creative flame in you never dies.