A Miracle in the Valley

IT WAS FIRST SILENCE. Deadly silence.

He could almost hear a pin drop.
From the cliff where he stood, he saw that the valley stretched before him was a white carpet. With brown patches. As he descended the hill on the wings of the Spirit, he saw the carpet take a three-dimensional form. With contours.

White carpet? Hardly.

White carpet – bones, thousands of them. Brown patches – sand.

He didn’t believe his eyes! Shapes like skulls, breast bones, fists and — what the…

He stepped down into the valley and was at eye level with the bones. Frowning skulls, clenched fists, flexed thigh bones across broken hip sockets. They all seemed poised to action, but without a flesh. They were disjointed.

Dry. And. Very dead.

He went round them and thought he was seeing faces. Depressed, downcast ones. Wishing they had won the battle that brought them down in this valley. He was probably unborn when the war was fought and ten years old when the bald vultures got tired of meat.

His face squeezed in a grimace as desperation rushed through his veins. The gory sight made him queasy.

Dry bones in the valley of death.

But before he got overwhelmed with sadness, the master GOD tapped his shoulder and said, “Son of Man, can these bones live?”

Live? Dry bones. How long does it take a human being to decompose to dry bones – ten years, twenty? He could have looked it up on Google.

If souls do travel by foot after death, theirs would have reached their destination long ago. Now to call them back?

I don’t know, he thought. But he knew better than to voice his doubts. So he said, “Master GOD, only you know that.”

Yes. This was the Master GOD, not mere man. This was the One who made a walled highway on the Red sea by the wand of a cane walking stick. This was One who made dresses that grew through the years so His people did not need to swap dresses. It was Him who rained manna from heaven for food. Same God who scolded His people and drew them back to Himself.

Only You know that. Only You can know that.

What is death?

Hopes lost. Dreams dashed. Heightened expectations crushed.
Being dead is like being in sin, being alienated from God and condemned to the harsh consequences of iniquity.

Death is what happens to a substance addict who isn’t himself when there is no fix. His sanity and sobriety are dead. His joy is late. He ravages mummy’s drawers, steals her trinkets or dad’s suit pocket for cash so he can fix himself up. Or else –

A dead guy is like a victim of a bad habit like a furious temper. No one knows when he will let rip so everyone plays safe around him. Don’t annoy him or he becomes a big red machine -energetic on the outside but he feels dead within. Self-control, love is dead.

When you set out to execute the bright ideas that pop up in your consciousness, you always meet a dead-end. No matter how hard you try to study for a test, you still flunk it. When you manage to keep your head above the water in school, but you know you won’t stay afloat for long, that’s dead-ness.

Or those bright ideas are limited by a debilitating physical illness. You can’t help but feel dead and wimpy.

Do you see yourself like the colt tied to the stakes? It has never been used. It has potentials, but still tied. Maybe his owners felt he’s still too small, or has a weakness they do not want to risk exposing.

Like dad and mum does to you – you’re still too small. You stammer or can’t speak your bright ideas in front of a crowd. Potentiated but restricted –more or less dead.

Or you have a fear of failure that makes you fail the test in your mind before even writing it. You’re already dead before you start living.

Dead. Dead. Dead.

If it takes years for human bones to decay, it means you’ve had this problem for long.

So Master GOD spoke again: Speak my words to these bones.

Ezekiel did speak and there was a rustling sound. The bones began to shake and come together. At first it was bone to bone, then muscles, subcutaneous tissue, ligaments, tendons, skin and hair began to form on the bones. Before He knew it, complete humans were fashioned.

Then He prophesied to the wind – which promptly responded and gave them the breath of life. They lived and became an exceeding great army. The dry bones became an exceeding great army. Once again. And for the rest of the day, he walked around dazed because he had seen a miracle.

Yes, what you need is His Word, the very one that created the beautiful universe. The very One that came down, lived among us and saved us – you need Jesus Christ. The very one that is ready to make you alive again.

Ezekiel saw a miracle. Do you want to see one?

Then come to the source of the God kind of life. Jesus awaits you at the well. His words are spirit-words; it gives Life to dead things.

He says:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Will you come to the valley?

God raised Jesus from the dead, and if God’s Spirit is living in you, he will also give life to your bodies that die. God is the One who raised Christ from the dead, and he will give life through his Spirit that lives in you.
Romans 8:11 NCV

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A Miracle in the Valley is a tiny part of the first draft of an upcoming anthology set to release in 2021. Watch out for more details soon.

This article was written in 2012. References: Ezekiel 37, Matthew 11:28-30, John 6:63. Article initially inspired by “Spirit Wind,” a song by Casting Crowns

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USEFUL LINKS

StoryVox Podcast
The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy

Barabbas: son of the Father

Sit tight, this is a long one, but it’s worth the shot.

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The Story

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.

Barabbas.

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

In a bit…

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It’s 3:59 am.

As I sit at my desk, I’m finding it difficult to sit still. I am about to release a second work, Volume One of Snippets – which talks about the phenomenal event that has wedged itself at history’s core and shaped it forever. It’s the Easter edition – Behind the scenes. Though many decades have gone since its events, the effect is still as fresh as ever.

Many hours have gone into this work. And without Editors and beta readers, a writer’s best work is like uncut stones. Oluwaseun Adepoju,Adewumi Aladejare Jr, Oluyomi Oloruntoba, Adeyemo Adetayo Adeoti,Osho Samuel Adetunji, Lois Oyetunji, Adegbesan Oluwakayode Michael,Ajilore Oluwatoyin, Dokedensi Uya– you cut, cut, shaped, and cut again, so that the world can enjoy this refined work. Thank you.

This is how it works: Snippets will be available on www.heirwalk.com for free download soon (0.9 MB is nothing, right?). Otherwise, I can send the book to your email inbox once it comes out (just let me have your email addresses). Then you can read (it’s about 40 pages) and share.

It’s that simple.

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

Watch Out this Easter

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While it’s struggle enough to help young people retain God in their knowledge, the anti-God world system fights hard to kick against opportunities we have in seasons like Easter to share God with them… But we must not give up. Truth always outlasts its pallbearers.

Watch out for snippets!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

Easter egg

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Hello!

Since childhood, I had grown fascinated by foreign books and heard a lot about “Easter eggs.” Parents hiding easter eggs under thickets and flower shrubs and kids looking for them on Easter morning. I think I even wrote a story or two about it. But I didn’t know what it meant.

But with Google, I was able to do some research this morning, on the significance of the “Easter eggs” some people of non-African cultures decorate and give to others.

Here, my findings:

Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, are decorated eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans.

Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth. In Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus: though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life.

This made a lot of sense.

Well… with that, I reflected on this scripture in Romans 8:11 this morning…

If the spirit that RAISED Christ from the dead DWeLLS in you, he shall also QUICKEN your mortal
bodies. (My paraphrase)

I felt lighter this morning. Christ rose from the dead. True. Christ dwells in me. That’s a given. So I have an automatic access to exhularating life in all its aspects. I need not worry. Not fear. Just trust and obey.

I wish you can reflect on this and answer the questions too.

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Cheers,
Joshua Babarinde

What about me?

A nameless woman.

She had been afflicted with an inexplicable bleeding for twelve years. No doctor had been able to help. Her condition worsened daily. She was a rich widow, whose sickness had stripped her of her wealth. Maybe she was not a widow –maybe her husband deserted her – we would never know.

She was nameless now, her only appellation a daily reminder of her condition: the woman with the issue of blood. No one knew her real name – she wasn’t relevant to the society. Everywhere she went, people let her know she was a third class citizen, if not less.

The nature of her disease was still under study – no results yet. The scientists and doctors of her day had not come up with a cure or treatment. They could do little to help. In fact, they could do nothing. They had inspected, palpated, percussed and auscultated. No definite diagnosis. Even if they knew, there was no plan of management. Her blood, urine and stool samples did not lead them anywhere. If there was an imaging device, it picked nothing.

There was no treatment available. She had to die. She had lost hope.

Or maybe not, because when she heard that Jesus was in town, she got up, her mind making up a plan. She had to meet the man who claimed to be the Son of God – if he could help.

But there was a problem. Her condition had caused her immense shame so much that she could no longer go out. But somehow, she managed to follow the trail of footmarks, thanks to the crowd that bustled, jostled and shoved each other just to catch a glimpse of the man who said He is the Son of God – the King of Glory. They barely noticed her, save few people who quickly flinched away on seeing her, and muttered expletives at her, but she didn’t care.

She went on, taking the risk to trust Jesus. It’s worth a try, I could hear her say. She resigned like the three Hebrew children: Even if I get mocked, I will get my healing. And if I don’t, it will be worth a try.

The people bumped against each other, struggling to keep His face in their view, wanting to hear His words and to receive the miracles and healing.

She couldn’t struggle. But her determined mind thought, “if only I can touch Him.” Then she slipped through the slits between by touching bodies. Her movement might have been slow, nevertheless, progressive, and focused on the aim: to touch the hem of His robe.

Her body may be sick and weak, but her mind was strong as ever. While everyone seemed to want to see Jesus and hold His hand, she was satisfied with and believed she would receive her healing by touching the edge of Jesus’ robe.

So while others reached up, elbow to elbow with others, butting anyone that stands in the way, she stooped down and sought the hem of that seamless garment.

“Who touched me?” The Master stopped dead in His tracks.

What a ridiculous question. The disciples could not believe what they heard.

“But master, you’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.” Peter responded.

But Jesus identified a seeker’s touch, not a mistake or the touch of the vast crowd who were pressing against Him, most of whom were lost in the frenzy. It was the touch of a human, desperate to contact the divine – the touch that always made a difference.

Many people are caught up in the religious rat race. We jostle and shove and fight our way to attention, pulling others down in the process. We struggle to catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom with our activities and service in Church, but we know it’s just for the records. For the accolades men will rain on us and the reputation we would get.

The true Midas’ touch is not one motivated by excitement, not from sycophants or spectators. But it comes from the faith of the heart and the will of the mind. It is the touch of someone that seeks the King above all things.

“Someone touched me; I felt power discharging from me.” Jesus spotted a power attracting touch – the touch that alerts Heaven and gets God’s attention.

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When you touch Jesus, he calls you.
She realized she could not remain hidden. You can’t remain hidden when you touch Jesus. He will want to meet with you, because He’s excited on spotting a true worshipper.

She came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

She got her physical healing, and as you would expect, the spiritual one too. Jesus wouldn’t leave her without leading her into eternal life. He would give her the full package.

The touch of only a few persons makes a difference these days. Only a purposeful touch gets Jesus’ attention. A touch from the heart and mind prepared to meet Him. Not a show off but of a humble and believing heart. Isaiah 66:2

Many would still remember the Greek mythology of King Midas, who, as a gift for his hospitality, was given the ability to turn everything he touched to gold. But this touch got Him into trouble.
But there is a touch greater than that of Midas’. It is the touch that makes an eternal difference. It is when men touch God.

Why do you seek Jesus? What makes you happy? Is it when you stand as a spectator of signs and wonders? Is it to be known as ‘he saw Jesus’ or to really know Him as a person?

Seeking God’s visitation and habitation? All you need to do is to touch God.

In our daily application of this truth, humility is a touch that draws God’s attention. An obedient spirit is a Midas’ touch. A sincere prayer is a touch that calls heaven’s attention. A diligent study of God’s Word with a mind to know God and obey Him with all you have will bring down God’s power over your life. A heart ready to live for Christ is one that touches God too.

The woman with the issue of blood came humbly. When you touch God with a humble and sincere heart, he comes after you. He looks for you and meets your greatness need with His great goodness.

Have you touched God?

Toluwanimi

Speak peek

Hello friends,

Over the last weekend,  I’ve been working on a blog series for Easter composed of articles from my archives.

I’m almost through!!!

“Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”
-Matthew  13:52

Finally,  the Easter package from HeirWalk (www.heirwalk.wordpress.com) is almost ready…

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#Sneakpeek

Blessings,
Toluwanimi

Speak peek

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew  13:52

Finally,  the Easter package from HeirWalk (www.heirwalk.wordpress.com) is almost ready…

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#Sneakpeek

Blessings,
Toluwanimi

Quiet Saturday (reblog)

Saturday is the least eventful of the 3 Easter days. Or is it the most eventful?
We really don’t do much on this day. Silence is more often than not subconsciously alluded to this day, while everyone looks forward to tomorrow.
Back then in the days, the same happened.
A sorrowful air could be felt everywhere, as those who managed to have the courage to go out carefully avoided the major streets. The soldiers by the streets corners, temple yard and market places were idle. They had no work on their hands – no one really wanted to cause another stir today. Even the mockers and dust raisers of yesterday’s crucifixion were sober now. Only the Chief Priests and Pharisees, those that seemed above the law were able to walk around, feeling like stars. They went to seek for military reinforcement to guard the tomb, so that “His disciples will not come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people. He is raised from the dead.”What absurdity.
The remarkable teacher, who taught as one with authority, had been done away with. He performed many miracles: opened blind eyes, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He even turned destinies around by turning the owners back to God. But all were now turned hazy in the minds of people, pushed to one corner by the memory of the harrowing experience of yesterday.
As they chose the nails and put it through his hands, people flinched in horror. Faces squeezed, heads wagged. This was heart wrenching – not the type of death you would wish even your enemy, not to talk of this good man. People had been crucified in the past, many, but there has not been one that attracted much viewership and mixed emotions as this man’s. Or this King’s.
What really turned heads that day? Was it His life, or His death? Was it the earthquake that accompanied His crucifixion?  Or the renting rocks? No one had had the forces of nature announce his or her death before. Was it the graves that were opened, the dead saints who came back to life or the ripping effect of His last breath? Those that were in the temple said the curtain rent, and with quick calculation, the time it did tallied with that when He breathed His last.
The effects of these events were unsettling but there was no one to explain what was happening. The faithful men that followed this phenomenal figure had fled the night before the last. The multitude had dispersed, returned to their normal lives, even if it wasn’t going to be as normal again, for the shock of the last few days’ events was too overwhelming.
This man had reached beyond the restrictions of social status and racial discrimination, and touched the heart of people. His touch was no ordinary one-it was like Midas’, the touch of Gold that changes lives. He raised brows as He toured round the country, declaring the good news of the Kingdom of the One He called His Father – God. Many had accepted it, and some had thrown it back to His face, spitting at Him in the process and mouthing the words, “No, Thanks.”
His life was short, but impactful. But now, even then, it seemed as if all was gone. The impact seemed absorbed by sorrow. And it was as if the dust settled when the man who called Himself the Son of God was killed.
But, deep down the core of this eventful day, beyond the view of mortal eyes, there was no such thing as silence. In the place where no man could watch and come to give us report, there was activity at its peak. The dead man up there had arrived down here.
The other day, they mocked him and told him to descend from the cross so they could see and believe that He is true. Now, not only did he descend from the cross, He descended to the lower parts of the earth, to finalize the victory that the cross brings. And everyone knew he meant business. He had come to collect the key. He had the sole right to, for He had been obedient even to the point of death on a cross.
He paid the price with His blood. And He reconciled us to God.
Tomorrow, Sunday, the world will come to the full knowledge and significance of the life and death of Christ.
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. He’s gone to be with the father, not without sending us a comforter, the Holy Spirit, who brings the divine conference into our lives every day. He prepares a place for as many that believe, and He will come to take them there, when it’s time.
Many Easter Sundays have come and gone but the value of Christ’s death and resurrection remains ever significant.
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It is finished. He has paved the way of reconciliation to God. And we all can have the life of God. We all can have peace, if we come to Him. God came down to earth so we can all go to heaven. He’s coming back for as many that believe.
Yes, when we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, we are made right with God. And when we openly say that we believe in him, we are saved.
Yes, the Scriptures say, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.”
It says this because there is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is the Lord of all people. And he richly blesses everyone who looks to him for help.
Yes, “everyone who trusts in the Lord will be saved.”
Will you trust in the Lord today?
References: John 20:17, Eph 4:8-10, Rom 10:10-13, others.