Tag Archives: God

Don’t worry; Pray instead

pray

Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, asking Him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which goes beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7).

Worrying is essentially a waste of time because we worry about things but then it doesn’t all amount to anything important. Once I heard someone ask, “Do you remember what you were worrying about last year at a time like now?

At the time I tried jogging my mind and I just couldn’t remember what it was I had been worrying about, though I was certain there was something that had been stressing me then. In many of my posts I have mentioned I struggle with anxiety; and even though I try to stay calm all the time, sometimes I feel it overpowers me and I find myself worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.

Earlier today, when I walked into church, I asked God to help me learn something that would guide me through this week. After my short prayer, I looked at the pamphlet with today’s readings, and I smiled when I saw the reading above.

See the thing with anxiety, is that it makes you worry even when you don’t want to. Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety will tell you it takes so much willpower to fight the negative thoughts, which creep up on someone when they least expect it. It’s like a dark cloud that won’t scud away no matter how you will it to.

We’re told not to judge others because we’re not always privy to what all the people we meet are going through. That means, everyone has one or two issues bugging them; something that prevents them from smiling or enjoying the good things they have, however few. I believe today’s message is not just for me, but for all of us.

We’re asked to pray for our needs instead of worrying about them. It doesn’t matter how complicated the situation feels; or how gigantic the problem seems. God has a solution to all those situations which distress us. All we need to do is take those problems to Him in prayer.

Remember, don’t worry: pray!

Do have the loveliest of weeks ahead.

 

Blessings hidden in our crosses

Accepting our crosses

A Christian’s life is basically filled with suffering and tribulations. Jesus suffered too, ergo as His followers, our own suffering doesn’t come as a surprise. He set the precedent for us so we wouldn’t find it unusual or even unfair; He personally showed us how to persevere even when the crosses feel unbearably heavy.

Sometimes, it happens that when we can’t deal with those problems we start running away from them. That however, is not the right way to handle difficult situations. Problems are meant to be tackled and as it is, those sufferings are not meant to weaken us. They are meant to strengthen us. In those crosses lie massive blessings. So if we’re to uncover those blessings, we need to work hard, handling those crosses right.

Countless faithful have been known to abandon their faith when the going gets too tough. But a Christian’s life is about perseverance. Life in general is all about perseverance. If one was to take a close look at people who have made it big in life, they didn’t have it easy. Most have gone through so much agony to be successful.

The good thing is, when one perseveres, the victory feels even greater. Instead of running away from those crosses, we should embrace them and take them to God, so He can help us deal with them. He listens to all our problems. One thing I keep reiterating is, God works at His own appointed time.

If He is not granting us our wishes, it is not because He is not listening, but because He knows there is a better time to fulfil those prayers; and the best part is, His timing is always right. Difficult situations could make us sceptical-even I, get sceptical at times-but that is the absolute truth.

When God allows crosses like sicknesses to torment us, He doesn’t allow it because He wants us to suffer; on the contrary, He allows it because He knows we have so much to gain from it. Sometimes when those crosses feel unbearably heavy, we imagine God is punishing us. But again, that is not the case. He is a merciful God, and no matter how many times we wrong, He is ever willing to forgive us.

If you’re going through something difficult right now, it’s not a punishment. What’s more, there are many blessings contained in those crosses. If you trust God enough and remain patient, He will reveal it all to you in due time.

Before Jesus died on the cross He said, “Father, if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, but yours, however, but your will be done.” (Luke 22: 42). He didn’t want to go through what had been prophesied because He knew it would be so painful, but because He knew it was His Father’s will, He accepted it.

Instead of despairing, when in great anguish He prayed more fervently.

That’s the spirit we need to embrace; to accept the crosses which come our way, because like with Jesus’ suffering, there is victory in our own suffering. His death on the cross was not for naught; He saved all of mankind, by paying the ultimate price. If He didn’t accept that cross, He wouldn’t have had anything to triumph over. But because He persevered, we still sing His praises centuries after He resurrected.

Such will be our victory, if we hold on. If we take those crosses to God and ask Him to help us with them instead of running from them. We need to remember, there are blessings hidden in those crosses. We should think of the problems as a treasure hunt. During the search one encounters many difficulties, but then, finding the treasure makes all the suffering worth it. besides, nothing good comes easy, right?

Lord, You have deceived me

Jesus carrying cross

Lord you have deceived me,
And I was deceived
You are stronger than I am,
And you have overpowered me.
Everyone makes fun of me;
They laugh at me all day long.

Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout,
“Violence! Destruction!”
Lord I am ridiculed and scorned all the time
Because I proclaim your message.

But when I say, “I will forget the Lord
And no longer speak in His name,”
Then your message is like a fire burning deep within me.
I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back.

I hear everybody whispering,
“Terror is everywhere!
So let’s report him to the authorities!”
Even my close friends wait for my downfall.
“Perhaps he can be tricked,” they say,
“then we can catch him and get revenge.”

But you, Lord, are on my side,
Strong and mighty, and those who persecute me will fail.
They will be disgraced forever, because they cannot succeed
Their disgrace will never be forgotten.

But Almighty Lord, You test men justly;
You know what is in their hands and minds.
So let me see you take revenge on my enemies,
For I have placed my cause in your hands.

Sing to the Lord!
Praise to the Lord!
He rescues the oppressed
From the power of evil men
Curse the day I was born!
Forget the day my mother gave me birth!

Curse the man, who made my father glad,
When he brought him the news,
“It’s a boy! You have a son!”
May he be like those cities
That the Lord destroyed without mercy.

May he hear cries of pain in the morning,
And the battle alarm at noon,
Because he didn’t kill me before I was born.
Then my mother’s womb would have been my grave.

Why was I born?
Was it only to have trouble and sorrow,
To end my life in disgrace? (Jeremiah 20:7-18).

Jeremiah was a prophet chosen by God, even though at first he was reluctant to accept the calling, citing youth (Jeremiah 1: 4-18). He lived during the latter part of the seventh century B.C. and the first part of the sixth century. During his long ministry he warned God’s people of the misfortune that was to fall upon the nation because of their idolatry and sin.

He was a sensitive man, who loved his people profoundly and who hated to pronounce judgement upon them. But as he says in the lamentation above, the word of the Lord was like a fire in his heart, which he couldn’t suppress, no matter how much he tried.

At one point in life each believer feels the same way; when they feel like their belief in God is being questioned, especially if something is not going right and others just can’t seem to understand why one would still believe in Him when everything around shows He is manifestly unreliable.

Sometimes remaining faithful to God feels difficult when the people we interact everyday don’t support us; because truth is, it is difficult trying to remain strong in faith when everyone else is a cynic.

“Why do you still believe in God?” A sceptic asks. “He is not real.”

“He is real,” a believer argues.

“Where was he when I lost my job? Or when I got kicked out of my house by the landlord because I couldn’t afford the rent? Where was he?” The sceptic questions.

When confronted with such scepticism, a believer tries to answer all those questions in a way that will help the doubter understand God is real and His intention isn’t for people to just suffer futilely. But what happens when that faith is the sole cause of one’s misery?

What if someone told you, who believes in God strongly, all the problems you have would cease if you did one little thing; if you denounced God? That if you stopped believing in Him, all those who hate you will love you and you will be popular. Would you do it?

That is the kind of life Jeremiah lived. His life was particularly difficult because he continued to believe in God, when those around him were opposed to it.

Suffering is part of a Christian’s life. Jesus suffered in the hands of men before He was eventually nailed on the cross and from His Passion, we’re reminded to persevere when we find ourselves enshrouded in misery.

When He was calling His disciples He told them, “If anyone wants to come with me he must forget himself, take up his cross everyday, and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23) He wanted them to know being His followers wouldn’t be an easy thing. They would be persecuted and killed for believing in Him.

Just like the Martins sang, He didn’t promise we wouldn’t suffer; but He promised to always be there; to see us through the storm. Believing in God doesn’t mean one has it easy; it only means one goes through each day fighting, hoping God will make it all fine. So don’t feel deceived if you pray every day and life still feels unbearable.

In the world we live in today, people are guided by the ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ mantra. So if Jeremiah lived in this century, he would have denounced God-hypothetically- just so he could be happy. That mantra however, as seen from Jeremiah’s life experiences, is not the attitude a Christian should adopt. If you can’t beat them, keep trying until you finally succeed.

It’s only by being persistent that we pass tests, and from that triumph we get testimonies. So whatever your situation in life, don’t give up; and don’t give in to pressure. Do what’s right, and God, the faithful Lord He is, will grant you that victory.

Dry bones

Valley of dry bones

The first time I read about the proverbial valley of dry bones I was thirteen years old, and I remember finding it fascinating. To date I still find Ezekiel 37: 1-14, where Ezekiel gives an account of his encounter with God, a very interesting read. :

I felt the powerful presence of the Lord, and His Spirit took me and set me down in a valley where the ground was covered with bones. He led me all around the valley, and I could see that there were very many bones and that they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?”

I replied, “Sovereign Lord, only You can answer that!”

He said, “Prophesy to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of the Lord. Tell them that I the Sovereign Lord I’m saying to them: I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life. I will give you sinews and muscles, and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you and bring you back to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been told. While I was speaking, I heard a rattling noise, and the bones began to join together. While I watched, the bones were covered with sinews and muscles, and then with skin. But there was no breath in their bodies.

God said to me, “Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the sovereign Lord commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life.”

So I prophesied as I had been told. Breathe entered these bodies and they came to life and stood up. There were enough of them to form an army.

God said to me, “Mortal man, the people of Israel are like these bones. They say that they are dried up, without any hope and with no future. So prophesy to my people Israel and tell them that I, the Sovereign Lord, am going to open their graves. I am going to take them out and bring them back to the land of Israel.

When I open the graves where my people are buried and bring them out, they will know that I am the Lord. I will put my breath in them and bring them back to life, and let them live in their own land. Then they will know that I am the Lord. I have promised that I would do this and I will. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

As compared to the time before Jesus was born; the period referred to in the Old Testament when God used to talk to people a lot, nowadays I feel He is more discreet. I’ve read about many instances where He communicated to people through prophets. I can’t say that happens a lot these days.

It’s true, some people claim God sent them; nonetheless, it becomes very difficult to believe them because the infamous false prophets are on the rise. Conmen masquerading as prophets are roaming the streets freely, scamming people off their money claiming to have been sent by God.

One may wonder who falls for those cheap lies, but truth is when life brings us down to our knees we become so gullible. We readily believe anything that sounds like a solution to our problems. Sometimes we call on God, and when He takes too long to answer we despair; we feel He has abandoned us.

God is faithful. Even though nowadays He doesn’t appear openly like He used to in the olden days, He is with us and He listens to all our problems. If we look closely, we will see Him everywhere: in the air we breathe; in those little sorrows which make our lives feel impossible… He never leaves our side, even when we feel we’re alone.

I believe when we accept God; to live abiding by His laws, He in turn fills us with His Holy Spirit. He gives us the power to prophesy victory into our lives. Like Ezekiel did; with God’s divine help, he brought dry bones back to life.

The dry bones in our lives might be those situations, which feel hopeless: It could be one is sinking in debt and there seems to be no way out; or maybe one is battling an illness, which even doctors have given up on; or it could be an on-going war, where loved ones have lost their lives and there’s no end in sight…

But if Ezekiel’s story is anything to go by, we shouldn’t despair. If we keep our faith intact, God will grant us those miracles we so desperately crave. He will breathe life into those situations that feel dead, and they will come to life. He will breathe life into our hopes and dreams, and they will no longer be mere dreams but sweet realities.

The solution is to keep believing in God; because when the time’s right He will reveal Himself to us, and our patience and unwavering faith will be rewarded.

To be great you must be servant of the rest

good leadrship

The wife of Zebedee came to Jesus with her two sons, bowed before Him and asked Him for a favour.

“What do you want?” Jesus asked her.

She answered, “Promise me that these two sons of mine will sit at your right and your left when you are king.”

“You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

“You will indeed drink from my cup,” Jesus told them, “but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those whom my father has prepared them.”

When the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with the two brothers. So Jesus called them all together and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority.

This however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, he must be your slave-like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.” (Matthew 20: 20-28).

Ninety per cent of the leaders I’ve met or heard of believe leadership entails sitting on the high chair (think throne), barking orders. “Do this, do that…” But Jesus talks of a different kind of leadership. One where the leader doesn’t sit back and watch his subjects work tirelessly, but goes out and does whatever needs to be done himself.

He even gives an example of Himself. He says a leader, like the Son of Man, must be a servant of the rest. One who serves, as opposed to being served. Many people have it all twisted. The modern day leadership is characterized by greed, tyranny, misuse of power, where the underprivileged are brutally oppressed.

In the spirit of fairness, I have seen some leaders who take part in charity works and all, but in most cases there is always a catch. They do it to gain more popularity. This means any humanitarian work they do is driven by personal interests. So I’m always left wondering, if there was nothing to gain from helping people, would this leaders do it in the first place?

It’s good to help, but I believe it is hypocritical to always show up in a place where people are suffering, accompanied by photographers and reporters so they can spread the news. How about helping secretly? There’s really no need telling everyone who one helped if the intentions are pure.

I know not everyone who reads my posts is a Christian, but wouldn’t it be a great thing if we had leaders who didn’t discriminate? Leaders who didn’t trample on the weak? Leaders who served people with one heart, without focusing on personal gains? Imagine if we had leaders who desired to serve than to be served?

Anyone can be that leader, if we let love be our guide; if we stopped discriminating; if we focused on the greater good. Feeding the hungry without expecting anything in return; rehabilitating the homeless…there’s so much leaders could do. But as it turns out, most are blinded by their desire to better their own lives; amassing their personal wealth, living lavish lives…etc.

If everyone who desired to be elected/appointed a leader was guaranteed their lives would be no less difficult than Jesus’, would they take those posts? Leadership isn’t just about personal gains, but about serving one’s subjects. That is the precedent set by Jesus, the king of kings. He taught us to suffer for others, and that is what leadership is about.

Walking on water

Jesus walks on water

After feeding the five thousand men (not counting the men and women) Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake, while he went up a hill by himself to pray. When evening came, Jesus was there alone; and by this time the boat was far out in the lake, tossed about by the waves, because the waves were blowing against it.

Between three and six o’clock in the morning Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the water. When they saw him walking on the water they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” They said, and screamed with fear.

Jesus spoke to them at once. “Courage!” He said. “It is I. Don’t be afraid!”
Then Peter spoke up. “Lord, if it really is you, order me to come to you.”
“Come!” Answered Jesus.
So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he was afraid and started to sink down in the water. “Save me, Lord!” He cried.

At once Jesus reached out and grabbed hold of him and said, “What little faith you have! Why did you doubt?”

They both got into the boat, and the wind died down. Then the disciples in the boat worshipped Jesus. “Truly You are the Son of God!” They exclaimed. (Matthew 14: 22-32).

I believe in God with all that I have in me, but I can’t help wondering; if I was in Peter’s shoes, would I have gotten out of the boat to walk on water? As in water, with no visible bridge; just plain water? With gravity, ever a present factor and all? That was a mighty leap of faith.

For starters, I have a phobia for big water bodies. Flowing rivers especially, make up part of my scariest nightmares. And the thought of finding myself in the middle of a lake, which could be hundreds of feet deep, crawling with God-knows what? I love swimming pools though, but I feel it’s mainly because one can actually see the bottom.

That said, I respect Peter. He trusted Jesus enough to believe he could actually walk on water without sinking. You know what makes the thought even scarier? Knowing there could be live creatures in that water, say fish. That’s just petrifying.

But then again, Peter was a fisherman. He had already gotten used to handling them; nevertheless, that doesn’t make sinking in a ‘fish-infested’ lake okay though. It’s still scary. Peter’s story is one of deep faith, and a very encouraging one at that.

If you were in a boat, in the wee hours of the morning, and saw someone walking on water, how would you react? And if that person went ahead to tell you he was Jesus, would you still have enough courage to get out of the boat?

One thing I love about Peter was that he was just a normal guy who didn’t care to appear perfect in God’s eyes. He just tried to be a better man. He denied Jesus three times, doubted Him, thus sinking in the water, but he ended up being made the rock on whose God’s church would be founded.

Peter was a man full of faith, but like any other normal human being, his faith was put to test and sometimes he failed; nonetheless, Jesus accepted him with all his flaws. His story reminds us not to seek perfection but holiness.

Like Peter, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our faith is tested and based on the magnitude of whatever difficulty we’re going through, we give up. Personally, what I’ve learned is that faith and worrying/fear don’t blend. Those two fight for superiority and the one that wins takes full charge.

Looking at Peter’s experience, at first he believed he could walk on water, but when the strong wind blew his faith exited, leaving him sinking; luckily Jesus came to his rescue. Looking at it from a real life scenario, the wind could signify an adversity that shakes our faith. But like Peter, if we hold on to Jesus, we will find our balance.

You might be going through something difficult right now. And if you are feeling like your faith is waning, don’t beat yourself up for it. It is normal. Instead, reach out for God’s hand; call out His name and unfailingly He will pull you up, like He did with Peter.

Young and heavily laden

Life ain't always beautiful

This past Sunday after mass, instead of going back home I passed by the salon to get my hair done. I found my hairdresser fixing another lady’s hair so I even had time to go to a fast food restaurant for a quick lunch. By the time she started doing my hair it was already getting late. Mom called to ask where I was and later she came so we could go home together. She showed up with a neighbour’s baby, who is only nine months old.

Minutes later, a lady, who I assumed was the hairdresser’s acquaintance-based on how free they seemed with each other-passed by to wish her a good evening. When she saw the baby, she gleefully said she had twins of the same age.

Mom asked her how old her babies were and she said they were slightly over a year. Mom then told her the little girl was only nine months old. The lady nodded understandingly. “She’s younger than mine,” she said.

“It’s not so hard raising twins especially if one has someone to help,” mom said comfortingly. Again, I believe she said this because the lady seemed so young.

“I don’t have a nanny,” she said, seeming completely unperturbed.

“So who did you leave them with?” Mom asked, sounding a bit surprised.

“One is asleep and their older sister is taking care of the other.” The lady looked so young; it was hard to imagine her with an older kid. I’m assuming it’s because of her physical appearance that mom asked her how old her eldest child was and she said she was seven. The lady went on to say she had gone to buy food and needed to get back home soon. “I didn’t feel like going out today, but I had to because if I didn’t my children would suffer as I’m the sole breadwinner.”

“Don’t feel discouraged, babies are a blessing,” mom told her reassuringly.

“I consider them a blessing. It was hard after their dad got locked up but I still think of them as a blessing.”

“Why was he locked up?”

“He wasn’t even guilty of the offense they accused him off,” she explained nonchalantly. “He was arrested for illegal logging and since he could not afford the bail, he was sentenced to six months behind bars. When I went to see him some officer told me to sleep with him in exchange for his release but I refused. I wasn’t going to compromise my dignity for his freedom.”

“Couldn’t his boss bail him out?” Mom asked.

“The licence is too expensive. Since his boss knew that he just hid, letting him take the fall.”

That’s just so unfair. I thought. His boss let him take the blame when he was perfectly aware he was innocent. “You know, women are so bad,” she continued, a far off look in her eyes, as if in retrospect.

“Why do you say that?” Mom asked.

“They keep asking me how I can go for this long without getting laid… if I don’t miss it. But I tell them I’m too busy fending for my kids to even think about it. When my husband comes out I’ll be here waiting.”

“You are a strong woman,” mom applauded her.

“Life has been so difficult, especially after he got arrested. When I was giving birth I temporarily lost my mind.”

“Did you check into a mental facility?” Mom asked, a concerned look on her face.

“No, by the time I left the hospital with my new-borns I had already recovered.”

I was only looking at her through the mirror, but I could clearly see she didn’t seem bogged down by all the misery she had been through. I even thought she was too calm for someone who had three kids, a partner in prison and struggling financially, and with some mental illness.

“How old are you?” Mom asked smiling. I think talking to that lady and listening to her poignant story had her awed, like I was.

“I’m twenty seven.”

“You’re so young,” mom said, completely taken aback. I was shocked too. “And you’ve gone through so much.” The smile on her face faded away, and in its place was a forlorn look. “But don’t worry, life is like that sometimes. We only need to persist. Problems were not meant to last, right?”

“Yeah, it could be overwhelming. But I have my God with me. So I know things will be ok.”

The lady’s attitude really impressed me. She had gone through so many difficulties, yet she still remained optimistic; managing to laugh, even when I thought life had dealt her tremendous blows.”

Her attitude inspired me. When we go through traumatizing situations we become so negative, but this lady wouldn’t let tough moments drag her down. She was resilient, willing to overcome whatever challenges that sprung up in her life, including a mental illness, which I deduced had been triggered by too much stress.

Levels of spiritual growth

Jesus feeds 5000 men

Most of us have read the biblical story, where Jesus fed five thousand men with only two fish and five loaves of bread: A large crowd of people followed Him, because they had seen His miracles of healing the sick. Jesus went up a hill and sat down with his disciples. He looked around and saw that a large crowd was coming to Him, so He asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?

He already knew what He was going to do but He asked that just to test Philip.

Philip answered, “For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread.” (A silver coin was the daily wage of a rural worker).

Another one of His disciples, Andrew, who was Simon Peter’s brother said, “There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But they will certainly not be enough for all these people.”

Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and distributed it to the people. He did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted. When they were all full He asked the disciples to gather all the leftovers. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets. (John 6: 1-14).

The disciples, as seen in the story, were quick to say they didn’t have enough to feed the people; but unlike them, the kid offered the little food he had, knowing it wouldn’t be enough. Most of us are like the disciples; we’re usually too quick to dismiss those who come to us for help, saying we don’t have what they need.

We feel like if we shared the little we had we would be left without; however, from the story above, we see that Jesus multiplies the little we have when we take it to Him. He fed five thousand men with only two fish and five loaves of bread and still managed to have twelve baskets of leftovers.

In life, what we confess with our mouths; what we say becomes, the reality. Say two people are feeling so needy. One miserably says they are poor but the other, refusing to be defeated by the difficult situation says they are only going through a rough patch and will overcome it soon.

After some time, the one who said they’re poor will mostly likely be in the same situation but the one who refused to admit defeat will have managed to find a way out of the difficulty. So while the former is sad, the latter will be feeling joyful and triumphant.

So what determines how we view the situations in our lives; that is, whether we view the proverbial glass as half full or half empty?

We confess the situations in our lives based on the level of spiritual growth, which can be grouped in four stages, according to Scott Peck:

1st stage- Infancy, chaotic, antisocial:
They are governed by their own will and since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being. They therefore find themselves in constant social difficulties.

2nd stage- Formal, institutional:
People in this stage begin the work of submitting themselves to principle-the law, even though they don’t understand the spirit of the law. Consequently, they are legalistic, parochial, and dogmatic and are threatened by people who think differently from them, as they have the ‘truth’ and so regard it as their responsibility to convert or save the rest of humanity, who are not ‘true believers’.

3rd stage- Individual, sceptic:
This comprises atheists, agnostics, scientists… They’re usually independent thinkers and truth seekers. They are mainly non-believers. People in this stage are generally more spiritually developed than many who are content to remain in stage 2.

4th stage- Mystical:
They are religious, not looking for clear cut, prototype answers, but desiring to enter into the mystery of uncertainty, living in the unknown.

Very few people have reached this stage. Abraham was one of those who managed to attain this level of spiritual growth. When God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, he acquiesced without any questions asked. His faith made him understand that God had the best intentions for him.

Jesus also had gotten to this level of spiritual growth. He accepted to die on the cross even though He knew it would be so painful, because He understood that was His Father’s will.

The church’s dilemma is to get people to stage 4 without them going through stage 3.

The levels of spiritual growth are not cast in stone. Someone from the fourth stage can slip back to the first stage, for instance after undergoing an awfully traumatizing experience that might leave one very disoriented, making them vulnerable.

Our life experiences affect our spiritual growth and on the other hand, our faith determines how we translate things. It is imperative we keep assessing our spiritual growth. This will help us know what we need to do differently to get to the fourth stage, which is the crest of spiritual growth.

Leap of faith

Faith is a gift; that much I’ve emphasized on previous posts. I was telling my small sister the other day, that to believe in God is like to stand on the steepest cliff, stretch arms out wide and take that deep plunge, believing He will catch you.

leap of faith
That is what faith is; putting one’s life in God’s hands. And you know what the best part is? Once you take that plunge, life gets better. Not because there won’t be problems, but because there’s that comforting thought at the back of one’s head that there’s someone greater than us looking out for you.

It’s like sleeping soundly at night because one is assured the security guards manning the compound will keep all danger at bay. That’s how it feels to believe in God. One doesn’t sleep soundly because there is no danger, but because they know there’s someone protecting them.

About two years ago I was watching this series, MIOBI (make it or break it), where Emily Kmetko (Chelsea Hobbs) wasn’t performing as good as expected. She was a talented gymnast, but each time she had to do some stunt, she just couldn’t deliver.

Her family, unlike her team mates’ was struggling financially. Their situation made it particularly difficult for her to become an elite gymnast. The problems she and her family had gone through made her so guarded, so much so that her coach, Sasha Belov (Neil Jackson) had difficulties getting through to her because she had trust issues.

One night while she was in the gym practising, her coach walked in and asked her to trust him. He understood her inability to trust him wasn’t a deliberate act of defiance, but a rampart she had erected over time to protect herself from getting hurt; because when one has been disappointed too many times before, they get to a point where they find it necessary to shield themselves from more pain.

Sasha asked Emily to let herself fall from the beam because he would catch her. He promised to catch her. As I watched her battling with her inner demons-to let go or not-I felt one required to have so much trust in someone to actually let themselves fall. She was supposed to move from not trusting him to believing he was going to catch her.

Sasha knew Emily had difficulties trusting him, but he knew if they were to continue working together successfully, she needed to trust him. He needed her to take a leap of faith. Personally, I have some trust issues too… no, not some; I have major trust issues. I have been hurt and deceived by people I really trusted and eventually, that left me too sceptical.

I understood Emily; the conflicting emotions she was going through, because I knew one has to have so much faith in someone to be able to get to a point where they just let themselves fall believing that person will catch them.

What if he wasn’t careful enough and she slipped off his hands and hit the ground hard, back first? I wondered; or what if the instant he had her in his arms, he felt she was heavier than he had anticipated and reflexively dropped her? It wouldn’t be like he dropped her willingly; it would be because of unforeseen incidents.

It was Emily trying to fight past her fear, yet there I was, questioning Sasha’s ability too. Eventually, she let go, letting herself fall from the beam and into his arms. He caught her. Following that mighty leap of faith, their relationship became stronger and she did what he asked her to, even when she wasn’t sure she wanted to do it.

She trusted him; and therefore believed he wouldn’t ask her to do anything that would hurt her, even when what he asked to do felt like a herculean task. She understood he only had her best interests at heart.

Emily’s leap of faith is a vital step someone has to take to be able to have a personal relationship with God. Sometimes what He requires us to do feels so challenging, but we need to trust He only wishes us well. He wouldn’t want us to suffer for naught.

God might require us to undertake a very challenging thing, but it is all for our good. He wants each and every one of us to have a close relation with Him; and just like Sasha, He would love it if we could take that mighty leap of faith, without any fear; believing He will catch us.

It takes so much strength to let go, but once we do it, we enjoy unlimited benefits. Even when we find ourselves going through difficult challenges, the comforting thought that He is with us makes those burdens feel lighter.

What would you ask for?

ask and you shall receive

If God appeared to you today and told you He would grant you your heart’s desires; whatever you wished for, what would you ask for?

Would you ask Him to punish your foes, or would you ask Him to grant you power and wealth? Would your wish serve only you or others?

The following story from the Bible tells us of a great man, who had an encounter with God and no; he didn’t ask God to grant him some personal desires; he asked for something greater; something that had the Lord so impressed that instead of granting him what he asked for, He rewarded him with more.

“What would you like me to give you?” The Lord asked him.

Solomon answered, “You always showed great love for my father David, your servant, and he was good, loyal and honest in his relations with you. And you have continued to show him your great and constant love by giving him a son, who today rules in his place.

O Lord God, you have let me succeed my father as king, even though I am very young and don’t know how to rule. Here I am among the people you have chosen to be your own, a people who are so many that they cannot be counted.

So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this, and so He said to him, “Because you asked for the wisdom to rule justly, instead of a long life for yourself or riches or the death of your enemies, I will do what you have asked.

I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again. I will also give you what you have not asked for; all your life you will have wealth and honour, more than that of any other king.

And if you obey me and keep my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.” (1 kings3:5-14).

King Solomon asked God for wisdom. What would you ask for? When we ask God for something, sometimes He denies us that which we ask for, when He feels our desires are selfish. This story made me reflect on the things I pray for; most of my prayers are about my success; my well-being; and I believe it is so with most of us.

Currently there are so many wrong things happening globally: the war between Israel and Gaza, the Ebola outbreak that has claimed so many lives in some African nations; the Malaysian airlines flight MH370 that is still missing (I hate to imagine what families and loved ones of that plane’s passengers and crew are going through)… The list is endless. One needn’t look far to find something that needs God’s intervention.

How many of us would remember to ask God to intervene in these situations? Sometimes when I pray, especially when I have some really pressing matters, I get this weird feeling that if I prayed for so many people/things, my personal needs might get overshadowed so God might overlook them and answer the others.

That’s a wrong mentality.

If Solomon’s story is anything to go by, God loves it when one can put aside their personal petitions and pray for others. In doing so, one doesn’t just help others, but also wins God’s favour. I’m imagining how happy He would be if one replied, “I would love to know you more Lord; to see things the way you want me to,” or “help me love my enemies.”

How pleased, He would be.

God, as I said in a previous post, doesn’t make dramatic appearances like He used to in the past. That, however, doesn’t mean He doesn’t visit us. He is an omnipresent God, so He is ever present with us. When we pray, let’s remember the homeless; those going through various forms of abuse and haven’t found a way out.

kidnapped nigerian school girls

Let’s also remember the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by the insurgent group Boko Haram; and for their families, who must be going through hell; and for the two hundred and ninety eight members aboard the Malaysian jetliner MH17 who all perished when the plane was shot down; and those on the Algerian plane who also died. It must be really hard on their families.

There are so many people who need our intercession. Even in the midst of our personal tribulations, we should remember others, and in return, God will bless us abundantly.