English class. Nothing says ‘class’ like a 2 hour film split into four different study periods. 21st century curriculum found us at our wits as we swerved every likely opportunity from the old age textbooks and mundane reading tasks. It was one thing to sit and act half interested on a Friday morning. It was another when your English periods constituted of a silver screen delectable plugged into a 40inch cube (no flat screens, just flat walls). The 2002 classic- About a Boy- tugged on our humour switch as boy meets girl played with our pre-teen psyche (watch it for yourself). It was not the heart drenching romance nor the witty edge of Hugh Grant that carved a memory in my young mind. No. It was the words of an old age poet that have since transected the fabric of our time echoing the heart beat of our societal norm: No Man is an Island (John Donne, 1624).

“Our strength finds meaning in the strengthening of another”

Growing up in Africa has strung pieces of this truth through the threads of our budding culture and humanity. In the grand scheme of things, community has offered a plethora of meaning and sanity. Seldom times do we glorify solitude and individualism. Our inclinations gravitate along the rivers of Ubuntu gently stretching across its tributaries along the terrains of our hearts (I am because we are). Their wedding is our wedding. Their funeral is our funeral. Their money is our money (can I get an amen?). Each part of the world has embedded this mantra in various degrees and tones as Sister Sledge stirs our souls with her old age classic “We are Family” whilst the late home grown Everson Matafale infused the unified message along his reggae tapestry: “yang’ana nkhope yako; yang’ana nkhope yanga; timango fanana (look at my face; look at your face; we are the same). Admittedly or not, we need each other. Our delicacy finds refuge in the delicacy of another. Our strength finds meaning in the strengthening of another. Our love finds its culmination as those around us enter into its courts. There is no me without you. There is no you without me. There is no I in team-except with God?

“Catch the foxes for me us”

 

I remember getting a phone call. The words that followed edged a sword through me: “will you share your heart at bible study?” To be honest, my heart was the last thing I wanted to share. I felt the guile and vomit that seemed to latch on mercilessly as my knees buckled at each attempt to run after the one thing I thought I knew: God. If there was ever a time I felt ‘appointed and anointed’ it was definitely not then. I looked at the corner of my bed and picked up the Bible that was neatly packed in the corner. As I attempted to patch up what was left of my spiritual life I stumbled across an old age love story: Song of Solomon. I sat there. Gritting my teeth, I listened. I sighed a few times. Mid-way through the words and pages I came across something I had never quite seen:

 

Groom: ‘…Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance . Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.”

Bride listens…

Groom: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”

Song of Solomon 2

 

It was not the flowery description nor was it the ineffable gushing of love struck emotion. No. It was the words. It was  disposition. It was the sure acknowledgement of “us”: the groom and the bride; God and His people. She was no island. Though held by the fortitude of many like her, she knew, with a sure anchorage of hope, of her groom (and ultimately, of her God); that she was able to catch the foxes for “us”; that she,Htogether with Him, was able to tend to the vineyard that belonged to “them”; that her walk with the groom was not merely her walk, but “theirs.” Before the Lord lifts us from our pits, He comes to sit with us and empathize with our pain and struggle. He knows the eerie pangs of the shadow of death. He knows the merciless fury of the darkness that lingers; He knows the savage cravings that tug at our desires edging us further from the Lord. “Our” walk with the Lord has never been a journey of solitude. Not once does He sit on His thrown as He gambles away on whether we will make it or not. He walks with us. We walk with Him. We walk together. And with Him, we catch the foxes; with Him we conquer all creatures that seek to ruin the vineyard that He is growing for “us”; with Him we bask in His ultimate goodness as clouds bow down to His eternal spring. So I dare you, next time the foxes come out to ‘play’, do not fight them alone. Fight them together.

PS: “We” have caught a few

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”- God (Hebrews 13:5)

At His Feet…

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They say silence is golden. They say the words unspoken speak the loudest. As I picked myself from sleeps tender seduction, I found myself shelving the one thing I knew I ought to do. ‘I’m back’ seemed to be a cheap entrée to a badly cooked Christmas dinner. It was like trying to explain why the chicken tastes like it died. A ‘spiritual sabbatical’ would be far too pretentious of an excuse (though that would be impressive). ‘Writers block’ would pave way for head nodding and hearty agreement for those who understand the trade (safe scapegoat yes?). Yet, in the crux of my being, I knew. In the core of me I knew all too well. The depths of me echoed the shallowness that lingered in my souls treasury box beckoning whether the sparkling diamonds are mere fragmented pieces of broken glass covered in fading glitter. God did not feel distant. In fact, He never quite did. He stood there (where He said He would be). And I stood there (where He said I should be). Choosing to stand on my feet, I steadily stood up from His, wondering why I felt far, dejected and disinterested. Writing of the deep pursuit felt nothing more than an empty rhetoric squealing pitchy crescendos, attempting to deafen the music that was glaring in my face. So I did the logically illogical. Nothing.

I’m in a place of [insert vague metaphor]

We often times (more often than not) find ourselves in this space. We often find ourselves gravitating towards this vacuum that calls us for momentary ‘safe keeping.’ Overtime we purchase a bed, a few Netflix episodes and unwholesome edibles to keep us awake through the torrential night. Soon this space becomes home. Talking to a few of Gods kids, the blatancy of our shared season pondered questions that beckoned more questions. The normalcy of ‘getting by’ tethered a unified ‘perhaps this is it’ mantra. Days turned into weeks as weeks turned into months. I soon feared that this may perhaps be life. Each moment summoned a new explanation of the same thing- take your pick: valley; desert; storm (and my personal favourite: ‘I’m in a place of [insert vague metaphor]). I randomly ambled through the room dispelling the usual days musings. It was in then that I bumped into Him again- unintentionally. I felt heavens truth stream in violently gently watering the desert of my soul: ‘It is all good.’

It is all good…

As the year dawns on us again, we long for many things; better relationships; better diets; more peace of mind. Yet, the singular thing that we all unanimously look for is hope; hope for a better tomorrow; hope for a better family; hope for a better life. Our journey with God is no different. The drudgery and muck that latches onto our spiritual roots, pins us flat on our face wondering when and if things will get better; wondering when and if the storm will end; wondering when and if we will see His face. Yet God Himself each day continues to breathe hope into our souls. “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day [1].” Though the clouds rain heavy above our heads, forecasting a shadow of despair, the sun still remains, shining ever so brightly [2]. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed [3].” “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us [4].” We are never without hope. Each struggle, each hardship and each trial is a daily reminder that we have One who lives in us; that we have One who gives us strength beyond the seen realm; that we have One who shines behind and beyond the thicket of our clouds: Jesus.

We step into the New Year with all our frailties and all our strength knowing that it is all good because He says so. We step into the New Year because He has already written the script. We step into the New Year because He says ‘Go to the other side.’ We step into the New Year knowing we have a sure hope.

Remember God. Remember hope.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every namethat is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

At His Feet…

References

  1. Proverbs 4:18 (New Living Translation)
  2. Unconditional Love (Movie)
  3. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (New International Version)
  4. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (New International Version)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all seemed like a terrible joke. Each waking moment dawned on the hearts of people that perhaps it may be true; that perhaps the news that streamed down their ears was true; that perhaps the singular constant apart from birth had come earlier than anyone would have guessed let alone desired. To some he was a friend. To some he was a son and a brother. To some he was the spontaneous flame that burnt frantically, occasionally breaking off into dance, moving to the beat of his own drum. Yet to his Father, his Heavenly Father, He was a child; not just a child- but His child.

The people sat in the auditorium. Flooded from the back to the front, hearts and minds recollected memories shared and moments lived with one who many considered a friend. Tales of his charm and spunk echoed the room as each bore testament of the life that was lived; a life that stretched down to the depths of love sparking grace and more grace to all who needed it (everyone); a life that was daring to try and explore, ceasing opportunity at its horns as life and purpose leaked from his core; a life that resurrected from the pits of the world as his heart collided with the reckless unadulterated love of God. Nobody quite expected that we would be listening to his eulogies (not now, and perhaps not ever). Yet what echoed true from those who knew him was this: he lived each day as if it were his last.

“…he lived each day as if it were his last”

Birth and death are certain entities of which we must all taste to perform our human duty. Each life, each breath and each being resounds a melody that beams across the universes frontier echoing the deep sentiments of what lies within. We author our own words. We author our own notes. We author our own lives (and so we think). Yet, when God grabs a grip of our hearts He sets into pace a different tune, a different melody, a new song; a song that declares and decrees the wonders of God; a song that declares and decrees the counsel of God; a song that bears testament to eternity. Each second and each moment is our last. Yet it feels like the melody will never end. “He lives each day as if it were his last.” The transformational power of Jesus Christ found a young man in college: Evans Banda. The earthly met the heavenly as his trajectory spun around as he found his being, his intended being, in God. It was unanimously clear that beyond the charm, charisma and “ma looks” lived a God that lay resident in his heart, piecing together the brokenness and depravity that plagues mankind. He said yes to His call. He said yes to His eternal beckoning. He said yes to dance to the beat of His drum. Jesus daily calls us to live beyond ourselves; to live beyond the castles, fortitudes and glories of this world; to live for Christ Jesus our Lord (for even in dying we gain). Who will you live for?

As someone said, “we will miss his body but we shall meet again.” Our hope in Jesus Christ far supersedes all earthly surety and security. We have a definite hope- a sure anchorage for our souls. For even in the here and now, we know there is eternity.

14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.[b] 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died[c] will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18

At His Feet

For the last couple of weeks I have been waking up to a powerless home. I have often had to grudgingly get up from my bed- holding on to every thread of pessimistic “hope”- as I waddle across to the light switch. Each click floods a torrent of expected disappointment. If you are one of the lucky chosen few, whose devices are still charged, then perhaps you have noticed the colossal aggravation and tireless rants on the social media frontier. Each tweet and hashtag has thrown an even darker shade on the current darkness that seems to be blanketing our nation (every pun intended). Adjusting to this “norm” has been anything but normal. Our time schedules have morphed around the darkness as our technological world finds ways to navigate itself through this looming inconvenience (thank God for power-banks!). Our struggling adjustment has shown itself in the kicks and screams as our minds frustration voices complaint after complaint. Irrespective of our background and upbringing, something in our core agrees with the societal overview that something is wrong; that something is wrong with our inefficient power; that something is wrong with the long extended periods of blackouts; that something ought to be done.

“…something ought to be done”

“Something ought to be done.” We often hear this heavy mantra when faced with that which threatens our normality; when all that seems to stand along our trajectory serves as a tool for adversary. Often times, with sheer conviction and uncompromising determination, we seek to do something about the wrong that rudely invades our sphere. It is inexplicably easy, without a “shadow” of a doubt, that our electricity problems have placed a dent on our daily musings. It is not something we wish to simply adjust to or accept as our fate. No. Something ought to be done. This darkness is obvious. This darkness is problematic. This darkness is painfully annoying. Yet another darkness exists; one which is not so obvious; one which seeps in as a trickle through a hole; one which is hardly ever felt.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

It is easy to spot “something wrong” when the grid of normality takes a sudden left turn (key word being sudden). It is easy to spot the problem of darkness when hours of electricity boil down to an instant of darkness. It is easy to spot the spot on a perfectly white canvass. Yet, ironic as it may be, it has never been easy to spot the devil in a perfectly dark world. He often comes as an angel of light seducing our senses to his normality. He often brings his darkness in little sizable nuggets leaving us full of emptiness. He often makes his darkness appear as light before our eyes. A man once said that “it is not the turbulent current we should fear for it is easy to spot. What we ought to fear is the calm river.” Each day brings new rationales and explanations behind the evils that plague us. Each day brings a new defense as to why a day old embryo does not embody life. Each day brings a different shade of darkness counterfeiting itself as light. Yet, in a world of blindness were racial conflict, sexual distortion and hate are at its peak is the Father of Lights in whom there is no shifting of shadows (He changes not). Gods grid of normality challenges our grid of thinking beaming His ultimate light on what we deem as good and acceptable. His truth shatters the concrete hardness of our hearts as we surrender to His paradigm shift where His shadow shifts not.  What if we passionately called out the budding darkness as we do the few hours of load shedding?  What if we identified the pillars that cradle the lies that present themselves as light? What if we discerned the real darkness with such assuredness and zeal?

“…walk as children of Light… do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead  even expose them.”- Ephesians 5:7b,11

At His Feet…

 

 

 

I recently set up a Twitter poll begging the question “Do you want to be poor?” Within a few hours it was unanimously clear that the overarching social opinion gravitated towards a hearty resounding no (not one said ‘yes’). I will be honest. One internet polling does not and will not bear the muscle of solidified social opinion. Yet, we cannot escape the gnawing thought that edges at our envelopes challenging our needful wants and unwanted needs. To be more politically “gentle”, perhaps the lack of “financial blessing” may not be a portion we are willing to generously ‘receive.’

Beneath the undertones and hues (and sometimes at the frontiers!) lies a banner which we have coined as the prosperity gospel. It was interesting to note the mosaic of viewpoints and opinions held amongst fellow professing Christians regarding money and our birthright of it. Many ‘for’ and ‘against’ the popular opinion raised an even greater banner of mixed thought painted across a multiplicity of rationales.

I know He cares for my spiritual welfare, but what about my bank account?

Over the years I have found my mental faculties fall prey to this spiritual tug of war (and I soon realized that I was not alone). We sat across the table and grappled with thoughts of the here and now. Our ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ took many forms and shapes yet we were all after the same thing: money! Admittedly or not, we needed it (and might I add, still do!). Yet what clawed at the skin of our mind were questions and doubts on how the current ‘name it and claim it’ wave plays into biblical thought as we wrestle with genuine needs and wants. To put it plainly: I know He cares for my spiritual welfare, but what about my bank account?

If we are not focusing on how God wants to bless me with a nice house, car and iPhone X (nice defined by my terms and conditions) then we slide towards the other extreme for fear of identifying ourselves with those who only prize themselves with material blessings. Our message therefore tends to gravitate towards a more ‘this is not our home’ sermon-where our greatest investment (and might I add ‘our only encouraged investment’) becomes that for my soul and eternal security (if this has pulled the threads beneath your skin then I have achieved my purpose). What do we do when our genuine need for the Lords provision and all things nice falls prey to the guilt of “am I too being swept by the ‘name it and claim it” wave? What do we do when the message of provision tends to only relate to that which is spiritual, negating our current physical reality? What do we do we when our view of God subliminally begins to suggest that perhaps our earthly fortitude is one He simply does not care about? I do not claim to have all the answers (nor do I want to). What I have known, however, is the misappropriation and reactional emphasis placed on the two positions. We are either advocating for material blessings- negating the reality of their temporary state-  or are reveling in our spiritual banks as we let His promises of genuine provision ‘skip our portion.’ Where is the pivot of the scale?

I have learned the secret

Dichotomies confuse us. Paradoxical theories leave us stretched beyond our mental faculties begging questions of “which.”  Yet the dichotomies of God serve as complimentary tools that serve to reveal more of who He is: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hungry, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me [1].” Paul bears witness to the dynamic world he lives. Yet his testament of his then human experience falls to the only solidarity and constant that cradles every human tranjectory even before the beginning of time: GOD. His earthly (and might I add temporal) prosperity and poverty played as opportunities for the Lord to reveal His sufficient strength to Him. In times of poverty he learnt the sheer art of contentment as promises of His provision lay abundant before His throne. In times of prosperity he learnt of the Lords faithfulness as scriptures of old proved to be nothing but true (“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His children begging for bread”). We can trust in the God who boldly says “are we not more precious than these” having the sure anchorage and hope that He cares for us. We can trust in the God who promises to bless the work of our hands, rewarding those who are diligent and honest with their work (He blesses ‘the hustle’). We can trust in the God whose grace far supersedes our efforts and toils even as the economy plummets before our very eyes. Is there anything too hard for God? Did He not provide for dying children in the wilderness as mothers sought the Lord for their young ones? Did He not prevent the clothing of the Israelite from wearing out as they journeyed through the dangerous terrain for 40 years? Did inflation, bankruptcy or sin ever surprise God? Are you not more precious than any one of these?

I am not advocating for prosperity nor am I advocating for poverty. I am advocating for God (as if He needed me to). When our inner person finds its fortitude in the Personhood of God (His faithfulness and Fatherhood over our lives) we will know, with utter conviction, that He cares for us. His promises are a yes and amen in Christ Jesus. His care stretches across the here and now, reaching far and wide to the gates of heaven. Let’s work. Let’s hustle. Let’s trust!

8 Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God. – Proverbs 30 (Solomon)

At His Feet…

References

1. Philippians 4:11-13

 

 

 

A few days ago, I managed to hitch along a ride to the distant terrains of Blantyre town (perhaps it was not that distant). We clumsily entered the hall as the body of believers welcomed us in as we all half attempted to hold our composure of seriousness as streams of silliness spilt through the cracks. We sat. We prayed. We listened. The buzz of excitement that jolted through the room echoed our inner ‘twang’ that threaded the bond of our connection. As the night drew to an end (and so we thought), a ‘stray’ comment stirred up an “unforeseen” gum gabbing that paved way to a second sermon. If one were to sheepishly walk by the room they would perhaps mistaken the bible gathering for a political rally grappling issues of race, gender roles and colonialism. Our differing yet complimentary views sounded a millennial melody of young adults contending the issues that plague their generation. Though some may appear asleep, a rising generation has picked up their mantle proclaiming the mantra of awareness and realization: Woke!

“When we have fallen asleep to the reality of our Maker, the only thing that remains ‘woke’ is the beastly condition of our heart.”

How woke are you? “Woke” made its debut as a byword in 2008 with the release of Erykah Badu’s song ‘Master Teacher.’ In recent years (and more so, in the last few months), social media frontiers and activists have echoed their deep felt sentiments towards social injustices and prejudices that dehumanize our rights and privileges (#StayWoke). Many have defined this byword within frameworks of their paradigm and grid of understanding. Yet what has cocooned as the prevailing characterization of those who are ‘woke’ is awareness: aware of the oppression that lays bare beyond their walls of privilege; aware of the injustices that claim normality yet appeal to sheer hatred and spite; aware of the need to be aware. The norm of van terrorism, racial tug of wars, and gender tension has portrayed our beastly hearts covered in bone and skin embodying the shape and form of human beings. Oppression and suffering tugs at the epicenter of our humanity begging questions of dignity and value equality. At what point did we become better than the other? At what point did the “love” for who we are morph into the hate for those who are not? At what point did marginalization become okay enough to sleep upon? Each waking moment, the fiber of our being claws at our conscious feeling for answers that will perhaps fish out the crux of our world predicament. What is the problem? Does it lie in racial wars as skin color paints canvasses of hierarchical worth, vanquishing all thought and reason behind the obvious (that the color of our skin is simply that: the color of our skin)? Does it lie in chauvinistic philosophies wrapped in misogyny that have tsunami across the cultural frontier as waves of feministic ideologies war in equal combat in the never ending battle of the sexes ? Does it lie in the fact that perhaps for so long we have been asking the wrong questions missing the fundamental answer to our human condition? When we have fallen asleep to the reality of our Maker, the only thing that remains ‘woke’ is the beastly condition of our heart. What are we to do? Better yet, what has He done?
Injustice and social oppression is not new to our millennial era. Infact, each time period serves as a reflection of the cyclical history that plays around itself, repeating only what history has taught and what our hearts have refused to learn. As we read the Scriptures we see wars against minorities and cries from those who have been enslaved by their masters; we see heroes emerge and heroes die as each plays his and her role in the sovereign plan of God to rescue humanity from humanity. Yet God ‘interjects’ the scenes of maliciousness and presents to mankind a new level of awareness- and dare I say, a new level of Woke. The death of Jesus Christ signified the death of all things that plagued us into a state of sleep. Our human condition of sin choked at His last breath as the mantra of His finished work put to death our greatest enemy: death. Yet, it did not stop there. On the third day, the Father ‘woke’ Him up. The great grace that stands beckoning at our hearts finds its footing in the fact that in Him, we too can be woke: empowered by the Spirit of God who rose Christ from the dead that we too may be ‘woke’ to the greatest reality- namely, God! For when our awareness becomes conscious of God, our hearts collide with this spell binding truth: that we were all made in the image of God; image bearers made with the intent to worship and live for our Maker. Gods heart for the oppressed has been to free hearts from the pangs of human evil that they may come into the freedom of worshipping God (the true realization of our humanity). The freedom that we receive in Jesus grants us liberty to freely love for in Him we understand the grace that God has for all of humanity.
So let us be a woke generation. A generation aware and conscious of God. A generation aware of what the gospel has done for us. A generation aware of Gods gospel plan throughout humanity. A generation aware of the social injustices that claw at our doors beckoning hate. Let us boldly pick our rod and stare oppression in the face, boldly declaring by the power of God ‘Let my people go that they may worship Him.’ For the end of all humanity has and always will be God. Stay Woke.

At His Feet…

You may remember the awkward years as ‘subliminal suggestions’ came crashing down your ears, dictating the course of your newly found teenage years. ‘Stay away from (insert danger)’ was the novelty of our age. We often shuddered in submission at the thought of getting caught beyond the walls and constructs which those before us had erected. Anarchy, with the occasional ‘you don’t know what I’m going through’, painted the perfect picture of desired adulthood trapped in the awkward growing body of an adolescent. Seldom did we appreciate the unwanted advice of how low our pants can go and how ‘short is too short’ (and lest we forget, the secret rendezvous with the hims and hers). But lo and behold, we graduate from high school and secondary school and then enroll in college or start up our business and noble ventures. Sooner or later, we find ourselves standing on our own two feet (or atleast attempting to), figuring out why every time we open the refrigerator we only seem to find ice.

“We are uncertain whether we are certain about what needs to be certain”

A few days ago a friend said something that grappled with my mind. It seemed that those around them were placing demands and deadlines along the trajectory of their life (the pressure proved real). “They warned us about our teenage years. But what about our twenties?” ‘Adulting’ seems to be the politically correct term for ‘your life is about to land on its head but try not to have a concussion.’ There were times I would mess up (really mess up), yet deep down I knew the cushions that lay before me, lovingly waiting to catch me when I fall. I remember hearing the do’s and don’ts as my eyes rolled away any sort of instruction that seemed to block ‘my prerogative.’ I remember thinking to myself of how I cannot wait to spread my own wings and fly from the nest I had known. Eventually, and assuredly, I (and we) find ourselves stepping beyond the borders of our niche as we take our first flaps attempting to catch the wind and fly. Yet, admittedly or not, we discover the painful reality that perhaps the world we had hoped for embodies not the dreams we imagined. Though we meme and tweet about adulting, seldom do we freely and openly talk about the fears that harbor within us (we are supposed to have it all together right?). A blank canvass has the potential of being filled with anything. The brushes and water paint splash constructing illustrious melodies of eye dazzling art. Yet, when the canvass of our life appears blank (we often coin this term as ‘uncertainty’), we are quick to fill it with the greys and blacks, painting a dim graveyard where dreams die and fears resurrect. We are uncertain of how we will pay the bills and bring food to the table (or floor). We are uncertain of when and if we will find our significant other as wedding invitations and copious ‘save the date’ fonts chant before us. We are uncertain whether our life will be a constant rat-race of chasing the carrot at the end of the stick, never affording the chance to take a single bite. We are uncertain whether we are certain about what needs to be certain. But what if we collectively realized that it is okay? That it is okay to not have it all figured out? That it is okay to not know the steps of all our trajectories? That it is okay to feel like a child again?

“As our view of God increases we realize that He is the sole painter of the canvass”

I always find it amazing when Jesus referred to His disciples (grown up men and women who were in the business of adulating) as His ‘little ones.’ Often times He shifted their focus from their adult perspectives to be that of little children. As we grow older and ‘fend for ourselves’ we often forget that we are children in the hands of our Father who daily fends for us. The ‘struggle’ is real. The ‘fear’ that lurks within us is real. Yet His rod and staff which daily guides us has proven to transcend the shadows that beckon fear from us. Seldom times do we see the candid acknowledgment of the fears that lingered amid the disciples hearts and all those who followed Him. Yet Jesus knew. He knew the genuine needs and worries that plagued the hearts of His people as they daily followed Him. He knew the qualms that toiled with their minds as Peter and the adult crew thought about how their families would be fed the next day (remember what Peter said, ‘we have left our own homes and followed You [1]’). Yet each time, whether asked or not, He spoke of His sheer grace and care towards His little ones. He spoke of His constant provision towards those who would trust Him. He spoke of His sheer power which calmed the raging seas and cataclysmic storms. He spoke of Himself. Through every bad decision, unpaid bill and lonely heart, He sovereignly weaves His will and good intention bringing certainty (namely Himself) were doubt and fear once lingered. As our view of God increases, so too does our hope for a better today. As our view of God increases we realize that He is the sole painter of the canvass, carefully brushing each stroke as the greys and yellows intertwine creating a canvass of His unfathomable grace.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus (Matthew 6:34)

At His Feet…

Reference

  1. Luke 18:28 (New American Standard Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

I slammed my back against the corner of the wall as my mind took an unforeseen left. I stood there confused sifting experience and reason as I grappled with the ideas that once seemed precious to me. You see, a few months prior to that moment, something happened. It was my “God moment”; a God “moment” that would eternally leave a mark on me. Simply put, He found me in the corner of my room knees bent to the ground as I finally gave in to His pursuit (He seems to have a way with corners and four edged surfaces- but that is a story for another day). I had ‘known’ God to be a distant mystical figure, ruling deep in the cosmos, making guest appearances whenever I felt need of Him (which was few). Yet, as He showed up on that night, I realized, even more so, that perhaps the ‘God’ I thought I knew was simply a convenient entity that I had created in my mind. This One was real. And He was yet to shock me again.

You see, something had been happening all along

I was like a kid in a candy store (or a grown man next to a street food vendor). Eager to absorb everything I had missed along the small trajectory of my seventeen years, I dove deep. I read every book, marked every experience and sat under every voice that seemed to fan my newfound flame: God! If it looked, felt and tasted like Jesus, it had to be Him. I was sold! It seemed all too surreal for me. The sensation, goosebumps and heartfelt zeal had me pressing deeper (no longer did He seem far). And then something happened. It started as an insignificant little drop which escalated to a trickle which soon became a stream. I could not shake off the feeling. I slammed my back against the corner of the wall as my mind took an unforeseen left. You see, something had been happening all along. My starry-eyed wonder into all things ‘Jesus’ soon took a back seater. In all my wild pursuits God had graciously channeled my passion into the simple library room of His sixty-six books: the Bible. The more I read, the more I felt this gut wrenching feeling that perhaps some of what I had held onto was perhaps not Him; was perhaps not the truth. I felt confused. I felt lost. I felt wrecked.

He chooses to remove falsehood so that we may have a better glimpse of who He is…

Every so often God has a way of wrecking our theology. Studying God and knowing Him paints the crux of the Christian faith (‘this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent [1]”). Every single one of us, admittedly or not, has predetermined notion of who God is (and dare I say, who we would like Him to be). Culture, human experience and even religion have contributed to our ideologies of who He is. We marvel at the ‘God’ who exists for our comfort. We marvel at the ‘God’ who desires our happiness and not our holiness. We marvel at the ‘God’ who propels our agenda instead of us propelling His. Yet, somewhere along our trajectory, He stops us in our tracks revealing bits of our perceptions that do not resonate with who He actually is. The first time He wrecked me, I felt the tears of sadness and embarrassment roll down my face. ‘I thought I knew You.’ It was in that moment that I knew Him more than I had ever known Him. God takes great pleasure in revealing Himself when we have come to our ends-when all that we have known comes shattering before His throne. It is then that His great radiance beams before our eyes and we see Yahweh for who He truly is: that He is the all-knowing, all present and all powerful God! He is not like me and I am most certainly not like Him. He is God. He is far beyond my league; far beyond all human comprehension and wisdom. Yet He chooses to reveal Himself to us. He chooses to remove falsehood so that we may have a better glimpse of who He is. He chooses to daily sanctify us, wrecking our theology and our idols so that one day we may see Him for who He truly is: God!

My prayer is that the truth we have sought be refined,

My prayer is that our knowledge be daily sanctified,

As truth gets revealed, no more hidden nor disguised,

My prayer is that He wrecks your theology as He wrecks mine…

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”- Jesus (John 10:27)

At His Feet…

Reference

  1. John 17:3

I remember sitting myself down as I braced my cognitive facets for what media had trailed before me: Udani (song written by Edward ‘TNO” Chikhwenda). Cultural, vernacular and profoundly simple. The title had me semi-wondering as I grappled with ideas and concepts, attempting to construct the pillars of what this song might be. The ambiance was set, the network showed anything but ‘Udani’ and my ears were glued: “Tazunzika kwa nthawi yayitali ndi udani.” Gripped by the acapella prowess, sifted through the indigenous soundings of whistles and flutes, I was confronted by more than a melodious mantra. ‘We have suffered hate for a long time.’

“Wagulitsa m’bale wako ngati kapolo ndi cholinga choti uzitukule pang’ono? Wakaniza udindo nzako ndi ophunzira? Wafuna ntundu wako wokha utapindula?

Whether you understand the above words or not, the crux of the message remains the same; hate. Hate for those who are differently different; hate for those whose blood and yours is one and the same; hate for those who are not you. Our nation is embedded with culture. The ethnic mosaic paints a wild portrait beaming styles from the north, fusing passion in the central as the swirls of the south piece an ethnic masterpiece. Yet our eyes behold something different. We do not see people. We see ‘the others.’ We see the outcasts and frailties, exponentially magnifying our current divisions as we add ‘udani’ subtracting “chikondi” (love) as each day we multiply disciples of hate. I recently afforded the chance to be in a room with those who did not conventionally mirror what some may coin as “similar.” Our skin, vernacular and experiences embodied the very truth of our “differently different” differences. We started talking about our passions and what makes us ‘us.’ To pretend that we were the same would be brutally naïve. Yet, what stemmed from the multiplicity of worldviews was “the something” that bonded the hearts of mankind; something that glued the skin of humanity together; something that threaded through the seams of our human fortitude- and at the risk of sounding painfully cliché, ‘something that was bigger than us.’

When I look into your face I see mine

You see, whether black or white, ngoni or tumbuka, our humanity finds its roots in the same seed. A famous singer once said ‘when I look into your face I see mine.’ When I look into your face I see more than a tribe; I see more than a race; I see more than a world view. I see a human being. Our call to love one another spreads beyond the borders of our natural paradigms. The thread that we share, the knot that ties us together, is the bond that holds stronger than the walls we have erected in our hearts. For when I see you, I not only see me; I see an image bearer- I see God. I see His creativity being woven as our differences meet at the pivot of humanity. I see His holiness as I am daily reminded that we are all different (just as He is undeniably different from us all). I see His mystery as each encounter with His image bearers reveals my not so wanted tunnel vision. Our oneness finds its true meaning when our hearts perfectly collide with the heart of God. “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us [1].” Perhaps what we ought to see more in each other’s faces is this: a God who is wildly pursuing us in and through our differences. Our differences ought not to raise questions of ‘our superiority’ but rather of the Superior One for He intended (and still intends) for humanity to come back to Him- that He may be our God and we His people; a holy people; a differently different people.

Uniformity was never the plan. A sense of evenness in the tones, dialects and accents never made the cut. Each sunset is different. Each footprint in the dirt renders a dissimilar pattern echoing our innate diversity. Yet God remains to be the very thread of our existence; the very bond that holds all things together. Let us love. Let us dispel Udani.

At His Feet…

References

  1. Acts 17:26-28

 

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