“Has the Lord not taken the lead?” (Judges 4:14, NET). Do you sometimes experience an unsettled feeling when you are wondering what to do next? Like …The Pressure Is Off
“Use your god-given sense, my friend, and stop being a fool,” Ola said, swatting off the fly perched on his leg.
Femi laughed and shook his head. Ola might sound harsh, but he spoke from a place of worry and care. They sat on wooden benches under the shade of the Taxi Park where they worked. They were done with lunch after a work-filled morning and were awaiting their turn. Customers seemed to avoid the heat of the sun as they appeared to be trickling in.
“What did I say that sounds like foolishness, Ola?”
“You know yourself,” Ola said, gesturing with his hand. “One day, that church mind of yours will cause you trouble. Are you the only one going to Church? We are all Christians here, even our Chairman. Don’t you see him sort himself out from the Association’s funds? Do you know how they laugh behind your back when you come up with your religious schemes? Grow up.”
Nothing Ola said was new. Femi knew how the park management regarded him, his Christian beliefs, and recommendations. They couldn’t stop him, though; he would continue as the Spirit-led.
“All I said was that instead of getting political and sharing in the loot, we should start to seek God for direction. What’s wrong with that?”
Ola snorted. “Seek God ourselves? What will the Pastors and men of God be doing? Don’t you know that God divided the work? He gave everybody different abilities. Some have to work in the Church, some, like us, will work outside the Church, but for God. We are working hard and paying tithe, and that’s enough. Don’t go and carry the burden God didn’t give you.”
Femi laughed. “Is that how the Bible records that verse you misquoted?”
“Well, you know better. I’m saying God gave us brains to sort ourselves out. Use yours.”
“So why does Habakkuk 2:4, say the soul of the proud is not upright, but the just shall live by faith?”
Ola bent his head for a while, and Femi waited, thinking his friend was meditating on the scripture verse.
“Femi, so you are still sputtering this nonsense. Which one is Habakkuk? Does he feed me? I am telling you the Local Government Chairman wants to change the Park’s management, which is our chance to make it big. If you don’t understand, let me spell it out for you. I want to run for Chairman of this Taxi Park, and I want you by my side, are you in or out?”
Femi understood from the start where Ola was going and had hoped to impress on him the need to let God go first in everything.
“Thank you for thinking about me. I believe one day, God will bring down the proud and raise the humble, people who seek His face first in all things. I ask for grace daily to live by this principle and not to go faster than God. I wish you the best, but I don’t think I will be of any use to you when you become Chairman. We will not agree on issues because my advice would always be to seek God first.”
“How do you know God is not opening doors for us with this change? Do you believe God does not want better for His children?” Femi asked, sitting up. His stare was intense.
An imaginary line cut through the heart of their friendship, as each man hoped the other would cross over to their way of thinking.
“God’s gifts are not underhanded or made to be used for selfish purposes. He says he will instruct and teach us how to go; he will guide us Himself. Answer this question, what will you do differently from our present Chairman?”
“Since you don’t believe my upcoming promotion is of God, there is no need to answer your question. I want you to remember today and how I groveled to make you a high standing member of my team. I hope you don’t regret your decision later.” Ola said as he stood up and walked away.
A month later, the Taxi Park’s management changed, and Ola became the new park Chairman. He created his inner circle, excluding Femi, and adjusted to money makers and spenders’ high life. Ola and his team did not execute any new project for the park’s benefit or the drivers throughout his tenure.
Till next time, be transformed!!!
Ako couldn’t see anything. His eyes didn’t adjust to the darkness. Fear, thick and black, gripped his heart. He didn’t know where he was and how he would move forward from there. He tried to use his other senses and closed his eyes. He had read that closing one’s eyes helped elevate different sensual abilities.
He tried to smell the area and couldn’t perceive any odor. He listened for sounds, trying not to breathe, nothing. He focused on his skin, and nothing out of the ordinary touched him or gave him the goosebumps he craved.
“Jesus, I need your help, please.” He said, hoping against hope.
“I’m here.” A voice said, sounding near and in his ear, but far, and from a distance at the same time.
“Who are you?” Ako said
“The one you seek.”
“Lord?” He asked, surprised. He sought the Lord but had a hard time believing he found Him.
“I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.” The Lord said
“Walk straight ahead, until I tell you otherwise.”
“Do I get any light?”
“My word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path.”
Ako walked as instructed, making sure to be quiet so that he could hear. He continued for a while on the route, before the challenges came. Was he sure he had heard right or did his mind speak to him? How could he tell the voice was the Lord’s? How did he know if the Lord would talk to him again?
“Do not be afraid; I am with you.” The Lord said.
Ako breathed out a sigh and walked on, confident.
He kept walking for days. The Lord would speak his word into his heart, encouraging him to stay the course. Ako came to depend on God’s words, not the challenging taunts of the enemy, he did not want to miss God’s direction. God’s words also brought encouragement and peace, and after a while, Ako learned grace.
“Take a left, and walk straight until I give you more instructions.”
Ako knew God’s voice, and though he hesitated because he could feel the heat coming from the direction the Lord instructed, he followed God’s leading. He came to understand by experience, that when God said walk straight, he would benefit from obeying because of the things he suffered. Any time his feet slipped to the left or right, he would feel a harsh burning sensation. He walked a straight line, keeping one foot in front of the other, hoping he neared the end of the path.
“Lord, when will this road end?” Ako asked, after enduring for a while.
“When you’ve perfected your walk.”
Ako continued in understanding, but wondering how much farther.
“My grace is sufficient for you.” The Lord said.
He meditated on God’s grace for the remainder of the journey, not realizing he had forgotten the hardship along the way. He moved forward by faith in the word of God, not thinking of the difficulties presented. He learned that though the roads God took him through seemed hard, he walked through them with ease when he obeyed God’s word.
“You need to put on my armor. The enemy will not come as you think, and may not be who you assume.” The Lord said.
Ako wore the armor God had given him and got ready as taught.
“Watch your mind and your heart. Protect your body, understand what holds you together, and never forget the words I have spoken. Move forward with purpose.”
“Yes, Father,” Ako said.
Once he took the turn, an arrow flew past his right ear. He ducked and bent down.
“I am your Salvation. Draw all you need to triumph from my wells.”
Ako stood up, closed his eyes, and drew wisdom and knowledge. He opened his eyes and moved forward, drawing all he needed to fight from his Father’s wells. He withstood the fiery darts the enemy shot at him. He parried the enemy’s attacks with his sword, and though he did get wounded, he walked through that path victorious in the Lord.
“Take another right turn, son.”
Ako did and felt the difference at once. The air he breathed in seemed to be doing repair work inside him.
“Lie down here and rest for a while. A river flows beside you, drink, let the waters replenish you for your journey.”
Ako lay down on soft grass and slept, grateful for rest. Once he drank from the sweet waters, he felt his soul restored, and his strength returned. He stood knowing he was ready to continue.
“I have brought you a helper for the journey. You will go together and walk the path according to the abilities I have bestowed on you. Remember, by my word.”
Ako felt a hand take his hand, soft and warm. Female, he knew. She grasped his hand tight, offering comfort and encouragement. He smiled and held on, knowing that every gift God bestowed was a requirement for the journey.
“Move forward, yield to me at every turn, and do not be afraid.” The Father said.
Till next time, be transformed.
I watched the 2016 Korean movie series, The Royal Gambler, and decided to write this post based on insights drawn from it.
He is a master strategist who plots to dethrone the king and enthrone himself. A man without a name, position, or fame, driven by revenge for losses, suffered at the king’s hand. He takes his time, a long one, and builds on his plan. He goes from arranging a new concubine for the king to choosing the son born from the union as the king’s heir, though the ruler has other sons born to him.
Always one step ahead, he amasses extreme wealth to bribe corrupt politicians, law enforcement officers, and people in every level of government. All of a sudden, this nameless man is a force to reckon with among the country’s stakeholders. Everything is working in his favor, or so it seems.
Christians face a master villain who has taken the time to build systems and set up the world against us. Faceless, he prowls around like a roaring lion and people bow. He knows he is going down and has planned to make sure he doesn’t go alone. He has people, governments, corporations, and laws set up for his purposes. He appears to be a force to reckon with, and all the cards seem stacked in his favor.
The son of the new concubine is the villain’s play card to the throne. However, the boy comes to know the villain’s heart of evil and fights, but how can a boy fight a system on his own? He loses. Left for dead after being shot, he rises again and realizes he needs help. Tutored by his mentor, he secures the people’s support, and in wisdom, takes time to understand how the villain’s mind works. He becomes the only person who can anticipate the moves of the villain and can thwart them.
God expects us to grow from children who feed on milk to sons who eat meat. He did not leave us alone to face the wiles of the enemy. He left us a helper. No one can fight the system the enemy set up on earth without God, because the battle is not carnal, but mighty through God.
- To stop us from facing situations by ourselves.
- To ensure we don’t go through life on our own.
- To lift burdens that God did not create us to bear.
- To stand in our positions in Christ.
Our enemy expects us to fall in line or die, and out of fear, we race to the queues. However, Daniel and his kinsman may know a thing or two about ‘death.’ Jesus wrote the playbook; we can ask Him for guidance. It takes faith to strip off the flesh and live for God, be tutored and led by the Spirit of God, and live by godly wisdom and knowledge, not common sense. We need one another, powered by our gifts and abilities, as we come together as one unit in Christ, to face our common enemy. When we get there, the lion’s roar becomes just that, hot air.
In such stories, anyone can predict the end, but these Koreans have shown me they can turn a story upside down and present something else.
How will our stories end? Not the end men see, where one dies and is celebrated or criticized by others regardless of his/her life before God. God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has guaranteed us grace, mercy, and His presence. What else do we need to turn over our entire lives to Him and stay ahead of our stories’ real villain?
Don’t fall in line or fall behind due to strategic pot-holes placed in the way, but rise and move forward, by God’s grace, mercy and might. Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Till next time, be transformed!!!
“Living costs are increasing daily. I wonder if they intend to hit the sky and blow up like an atomic bomb, killing all humanity.” Christina said and smiled at her husband as she dropped her grocery bags on the dining table. He was relaxing in his beloved armchair, watching a documentary in the living room.
Ray looked at her, smiling. “Welcome home. How was it at the market?”
She took the seat next to him. “Ray, we need to talk. The cost of living has doubled, and we have to do something about our expenses. I’ve kept a lot from you because I didn’t want to worry you, and I’ve managed for a while, but things are getting worse daily. From the Water rates to Electricity, everything is double the amount we used to spend for the same quantity. We have our rent and the children’s school fees to cater for on our meager salaries. We cannot continue like this.”
When she started listing off the problems he was aware of, he entered into the place of worry. It was his private office, which had a chair and a table. On the table was a long list of issues he needed to sort out as usual. He shook his head at the enormity of the burden.
“My grace is sufficient for you.” The visitor he called Hope said, entering the office. Ray looked up at him.
“How is that possible? We are looking for fast solutions, or soon the burden this man is carrying may kill him. Instead of telling him how to get money, you are talking grace? Who has grace ever helped?” The one called Sense asked, entering and stealing the show.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand.” Hope said, calm and in position as if Sense had not spoken.
“How can you hold him up when he cannot see your hand, strength, or might? Please, leave the man to find a way out of the predicament that is his present life.” Sense said, his voice growing louder with each word. His face, a mask of rage.
“For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” Hope said, still looking at Ray. He stood poised against the onslaught from Sense, who had once again gone off on him for not making any.
Ray noted everything. The agitation with which Sense delivered his arguments and the calmness of Hope. He wondered at Hope, and His power amidst the storms of life that plagued. He realized that Sense epitomized the flesh, fearful, uncertain, and willing to find solutions on his own, but they never lasted. They were short-lived and came with more worries.
Hope stood like a mountain, God’s mountain. The place of Salvation and, like his name, the home of Hope. All Ray needed to do was look to God for help and to drop all his worries. He decided to trust the God he could not see, who always left him triumphant than depend on himself or others for physical solutions that didn’t last. Therefore, Ray surrendered the list.
“Ray, wake up!” Christina said, her voice loud and in his face.
Ray blinked. “Sorry, I was thinking about something.”
“Are you okay, honey? If it’s about the hike in costs, don’t worry, God is in control.” Christina said, looking at him with a frown.
Ray smiled at her. “We will take each day as it comes and be grateful. God knows how to care for His own. Don’t worry about how tomorrow will be or what it will bring. We have today, thank God.”
“I wanted to talk about cutting costs. Don’t you think we should start?” Christina asked, shaking her head.
Ray held her hand. “The cost of things has increased, yes, but don’t take matters into your own hands. We will leave this matter in God’s laps, and His divine wisdom will guide us on what next to do. Don’t be afraid, trust God.”
He spoke, looking into her eyes, and she saw his stand. He moved her into believing that with God, things would work out for good.
Till next time, be transformed!!