“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!!
Ekene walked into the school with his head bent slightly to the right. A shy 10-year-old boy, who couldn’t look down like he wanted, or he would hit something or someone head-on. He needed to focus on the path to the assembly hall for registration. He stopped and turned back, hoping his mother was done parking her car and would be behind him. She wasn’t.
He turned back to continue on his path and bumped into somebody. Ekene fell to the ground on his hands as he heard laughter. He checked his hands, which stung where they contacted the harsh concrete floor, and turned to look at the boy in front of him. The boy stepped forward and bent towards him.
“Watch where you are going, stupid, or next time, more than your hands will hurt.” He said and walked over Ekene and away.
Ekene’s mother hurried towards him and helped him up, upset at his clumsiness. Ekene didn’t tell her the truth. He agreed he had been clumsy and blamed himself. However, the accidents with the boy, Emem, didn’t stop there. Emem happened to be his classmate and continued picking on Ekene until their teacher stepped into the matter that year.
“Ekene, what happened to your face?” His mother asked one afternoon after he returned home from school.
“Nothing, Mama, I fell,” Ekene said.
“What a fall that must have been. Come here, let me take a closer look.”
Ekene shuffled to where she stood and stopped, waiting for her to speak. She didn’t for a while but turned around and reached for the First Aid box in the kitchen drawer.
“Do you want me to speak to your teacher about this?” She asked.
“No, Mummy, please don’t. They will call me a Mummy’s boy, which would be worse. You said when we are weak, God shows up, I waited, and God didn’t show up today. I promise to tell my teacher myself if it gets worse, and don’t tell Daddy too, please, God may show up another day.”
His mother nodded. Her inner struggle angry, almost unforgiving. She decided on a course of action and visited the school to see the boy’s teacher the next day, without Ekene’s knowledge. The following week, Emem called him Mummy’s boy and made his friends laugh at Ekene for a while.
Ekene watched his mother rush into the Principal’s office. The pain that gripped him at the look on her face far exceeded the suffering he experienced from the injuries he suffered. He bent his head and refused to look at her any further.
“Welcome, Mrs. Okoro. I am sorry we are meeting again on this note, but we need to deal with this issue.” The Principal said, gesturing to the seat before him.
“Hello sir, what’s the problem? Who beat my son this way, what’s happening here? Ekene’s mother asked, flustered and upset, unable to sit.
“Ekene fought a student in his class; however, the boy invited his friends to join him and the beat Ekene together. I have sanctioned the boy and his friends, and I must do the same to Ekene, to be fair.”
The mother looked at her son. “Ekene, is it the same boy who bullied you last year?”
Ekene remained quiet.
“I asked you a question, young man?” His mother said, in a tone, Ekene knew well.
She turned to the Principal. “How is a gang of boys beating my son, fair? This boy has been bullying Ekene since last year, and the school did nothing. Now, you want to sanction my son? How is that fair?”
“I know you are upset, but please believe that we cannot punish one without punishing the other. I am also unaware of any bullying, and I will get to the root of that matter later.”
Ekene’s mother walked out of the Principal’s office, holding her son’s hand.
“I trusted God for years, but He didn’t lift a finger to help me, so I tried to fight for myself last year, and that didn’t turn out well either,” Ekene said to his friends.
“So, because they beat you up, it means God didn’t help you?” Chiazo asked.
“Chiazo, if God helped him, would he have been beaten up?” Donald, another friend, asked, shaking his head.
“So, God didn’t help Joseph, Moses, and His son, Jesus?” Chiazo asked again.
“Those people are different, and that was another time. We are talking about help for now.” Donald said.
Chiazo looked at Ekene, who was looking at him. The look said all Chiazo wanted to know, Ekene had caught on. So he turned to Donald.
“Sometimes, God allows things for a reason. It’s left to us to ask, understand, and believe, that regardless of what we go through, He is working all things out for our good. Our Sunday school teacher taught this last Sunday. You should join us there.”
Donald hissed. “Church talk. Our guy needs serious help. If we hadn’t arrived on time, Emem and his friends would have beaten him brown and black.”
“Exactly,” Ekene said, smiling, “God showed up on time.”
Ekene shook with fear as he faced Emem. The hateful look on the boy’s face disturbed him more than the rope they tied around his body. This time, he didn’t know how far Emem would go.
Emem turned and walked to the only table in the abandoned building they brought Ekene to, to teach him a lesson. He chose a long and sturdy whip with thistles, and turned back to their captive with a smile.
“I have hated you since day one. You used your weak demeanor to gain favor with teachers. I am tired of tolerating your nonsense. I warned you that if you passed into Year 6 with us, I would deal with you. Not only did you pass, but you did in rainbow colors, to taunt me. You will never raise your head again when I walk past after this lesson.”
They stuffed Ekene’s mouth with dirty socks so that he couldn’t shout and once he saw Emem raise the stick, hot liquid passed out of his body.
“Stop there!” Someone shouted from outside the room.
All the boys ran, and some jumped out of the windowless holes in the wall.
“Emem, I know you are the one with the stick. If you run, your punishment will be worse.”
Emem still ran and jumped. Whoever it was couldn’t prove he was the culprit, and if the school made too much noise, his parents knew how to silence them.
The Principal walked into the building and saved the day, or did he? He helped Ekene to the dispensary and asked the boy to lie down until his parents came.
The next day, the school authorities expelled Emem and all the boys in his group. The Principal had proof to substantiate all the stories he heard about the gang. Ekene sailed into his sixth year as Head Boy, unharmed.
Till next time, be transformed!!
The piece of paper stuck to his hand, held in place by shock. The tears flowed, blotting the paper and forming pools of transparent material, unnoticed by the mourner. Ronald couldn’t perceive the stench of urine, which littered the toilet cubicle’s floor or hear people’s movement in and out of the men’s toilet. His gaze fixed on the paper, by now unseeing, his mind far, far away.
His baby girl gained admission into a primary school, and his wife needed money to resume business after the pandemic. After three months of remote work and half-pay, he started working again, firing to go, ready to put in his all, and grateful for an opportunity most lost. Ronald didn’t see it coming.
His manager, Lola, called him into her office, and it surprised him to find the H.R. Manager there as well, seated. When she asked him to sit, Lola’s tone made him look at her again, forgetting the invitation offered.
“Ronald, sit.” The H.R. manager, Paul said.
Ronald did, looking at Lola, what he expected to find on her face, he didn’t know. Lola looked at Paul, a pleading look on her face. Paul delivered the blow, efficient in his strategy, mastered over time. He sounded professional and empathetic, but firm in his wish for Ronald’s best in his future endeavors, elsewhere.
Ronald turned back to Lola, and she turned away to check her computer, not before he saw the tears swimming at the back of her eyes.
“But Lola, we discussed this. You said Management stopped the staff reductions, and you told me we were safe.” Ronald said, his voice louder than usual.
Lola turned back to him, the love of a sister in her eyes. Paul kept quiet, knowing Lola had to deal from that point onward.
“The decision was made this morning, Ronald. I wasn’t at the Management meeting and didn’t know. I am so sorry. It is well, though. The company will give you excellent recommendation, and I will send your C.V. to all my friends. It is well, please believe it.” She said, holding his hand.
Paul moved two sheets of paper on the table to Ronald. “Please sign these. You can read them, and ask me questions. I am here for you.”
Ronald moved them closer and picked the pen lying on Lola’s table. He signed both documents, and handed one back to Paul, silent, the weight of his circumstances crashing on him in stages. He hit stage two at that point.
“I am sorry, Ronald, but you have 20 minutes to pack your personal belongings, drop the company assets in your care, and leave the building,” Paul said, standing to leave. He took Ronald’s hand from where it hung limp and shook him with strength.
“You are not alone, my friend. We are with you and will do our best to see you established in another place. Lola, please collect the items from him. I will send someone for them later.” Paul said, looking at Ronald’s bent head before he walked out.
“Ronald, be strong. Remember the verses of scripture we discussed this morning?” Lola asked, looking at him, hoping to find light in her friend’s eyes.
Ronald nodded, unable to look at her. “Give me ten minutes, and I will be back with all you need.” He said, his voice shaking.
Ten minutes later, he was still in the toilet cubicle, and the tears had not stopped. He didn’t know who to talk to, so he spoke to the only one who knew and understood everything he felt.
“Father, I can’t believe it. I thought I was safe, my future secure. Everything has crumbled before me, and I am assailed by worry for Tina and Ebiere. What do I tell them? Will I have enough money for Ebiere’s school fees before she resumes? How will we survive this, and for how long? I lay my life before you, father. Help me overcome. I need your strength now.”
He lay before God in His heart and worshipped when something he said hit him. Had his job become his security? Did he agree with that false statement? Didn’t the word of God say that the word of God formed worlds? Would he stay down in depression, allowing the devil to build strongholds in his mind?
Ronald shook himself awake, then stood up straight. The odor of the toilet penetrated his consciousness, and he unlocked the door fast and fled. He walked to his table, not noticing the stares from his colleagues, and packed as people patted him on the back and wished him well. Ronald smiled at them while meditating on the word God had given from the beginning of the week. The more he thought about them, piecing them together, he could see a map in his mind leading him from start to finish, showing him how God prepared him for the event of that day.
God’s peace settled in his mind. God’s wisdom and understanding ushered light into his darkness. He picked his things and walked to Lola’s office, and hugged her with a smile.
“I cried o; it was such a shock.” He said with a short burst of laughter. “God has been preparing me for this, but I didn’t know. I am alright, Lola. He is my strength, now more than ever. Shouldn’t we rejoice in times such as this when his strength can be manifest in our weakness? Thank you for everything, greet Tunde, and kiss the kids for me. We will talk soon; my twenty minutes are up.” He said, smiling as Lola’s head continued to bob up and down at his words, the tears shimmering in her eyes, and her smile wide. He turned and left, but she called his name at the door.
“God bless you, my brother, and friend. God’s strength is showing in your weakness. I bless God for your life.” She said.
He nodded, with a smile and walked out, head held high.
Till next time, be transformed!!!
The Pastor stopped speaking mid-sentence again, a frown on his face as he looked up at the door to his office. He turned back to the man seating before him, a smile in place.
“Forgive me; I need to call my assistant.”
“Please do, Pastor.”
The Pastor picked up the intercom and pressed three buttons and waited.
“Sandra, what’s the commotion outside my office about?” He asked and listened for a bit. “Let her come in next. Apologize to the next in line, and I’ll take care of it.” He said and hung up.
The Pastor continued his counseling session, and in five minutes, the man was out of his office. Someone knocked twice.
A smart young woman dressed in a business suit walked in with a smile and went straight to sit. The Pastor noted all that, smiling as well.
“Good afternoon, Pastor.”
“Hello, what’s your name?”
“Kate Gilbert, Pastor.”
“Tell me about yourself. May I call you Kate?”
She nodded. “I’m single, and I work in an Oil company as their Legal representative. I’m supposed to be at work in two hours, so I had to hurry through the queue.”
The Pastor smiled. “Did my assistant inform you that you can schedule another time for this meeting since you are in a hurry?”
“She did, but I decided it’s best to get it over with fast. I don’t know when next I will be in Church for a service, with all the workload I have piled up. However, it doesn’t mean my tithes and offerings won’t hit the account on time.” She said, smiling at him.
The Pastor smiled again at her response, and looked downward, rubbing his forehead with three fingers. He looked up again, and this time the smile was gone.
“Kate, here, we work on building the internal, the spirit-man. We are not after your tithes and offerings. They are just bonuses from God. We are aiming at letting the person of the spirit live and thrive.” He said, nodding as he spoke. “Do you understand?”
“I understand. Man has a spirit, and we communicate with God as spirits.”
“Yes, we want to work with you to help you grow to the point where you can stand before God for yourself, anytime and anywhere. We want people to miss service, not because of their workload, but because they have cleared it with God first. I want you to give your tithes and offerings, not according to laws you have known but on God’s instructions. Our prayers are for members to grow in Christ and become joints that provide straight from the throne of grace.”
“Pastor, is this what you say to every new member?”
“Everyone without fail. I want to ask you a question, how long ago did you give your life to God?”
“Well, it’s been about four or five years.”
“When you gave your life to God, you became a new man, correct?”
“Have you tried to find out about the new person you have become in Christ? What this person looks like and should be?”
Kate laughed, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this. My friend told me you pray, and it works, and things happen here. I don’t know why you are asking all these questions? Do I seem like a pagan because I work?” She got up and picked her bag, turning to leave.
“Before you go, I have a question. What picture comes to mind when you think about life in Christ?”
She turned back to him. “God is our father and loves us. So I think about a loving and merciful father, who wants me to be happy.”
“Yes, but what were you created in Christ to become for God’s kingdom? God couldn’t have created everybody on the earth to soak in love and happiness forever. There is a reason for your creation, and joy comes in that state of enlightenment. Tell me, are you happy all the time?”
“That’s why you are here, Pastor. I work and bring in the money, while you pray and ensure I keep my job, which benefits the Church, making me happy.”
The Pastor laughed; he couldn’t help himself.
“Kate, that’s not what Christ died to achieve. We are all to stand before God, as parts of Christ’s body. You have a gift, I have mine, and we are all supposed to tend them and bear fruit for the kingdom. All you have to talk about is what God has seen fit to add to your life. Please don’t get me wrong, the additions are good, but that’s all they are. If one dies today, someone else will provide as God leads. However, your identity in God is of utmost importance, not your status here on earth or what it provides. Seek first, Kate, seek first.”
Kate looked down and clutched her bag tight. “Can we talk again, I’m running late?”
The Pastor smiled at her bent head. “Of course, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here. Please schedule another meeting with my assistant. I want to talk to you again.
Kate looked up at him and nodded, then turned and left the office.
Till next time, be transformed!!
What if there is a place
Beyond this space
Where a feast of courses awaits
The Father invites us by grace
Our eyes are veiled,
The enemy holds us down in straits
Though the Father beckons,
We cannot look up and partake
Here the pall of doom hangs over us
The shadow of darkness intimidates us
The place is higher than eyes can see
Where he conquered death, all voices raised in glee
Our Father has wiped our tears
He removed our disgrace and eased our fears
How can we find it and be saved?
The Son died and saved us rooms in God’s enclave
Till next time, be transformed!!
She strode to the exit; the doorman knew his job. He saw her coming, and at her expression, ran to open her car door once she made it past the automatic doors. Natalie slid into the back of her S560 without a word, her red Louboutins, the last thing the man saw before closing the door. The engine purred to life, and her driver maneuvered the machine away from the building.
The car rolled away, moving without bumps on the roads made for the wealthy, in their part of the city. Natalie had attended an introductory meeting to meet the hotel owner, the Chairman of the estate, where she wanted to live. When such an invitation was issued, you would be required to explain yourself, and Natalie prepared for the meeting like she was going to meet with God.
Over time, she learned what she needed to stay in the limelight. The right clothes, bags, shoes, other accessories in their season, and the right events. The right neighborhood, neighbors, and friends. It got her some attention, but not the one she wanted, and sought. Anyone could be affluent, but not every rich person could join the MVPs.
She sat up, unable to relax in the car’s plush leather seat, scowling as she remembered the Chairman’s office. Nothing unexpected there. The light husky scent, the high-backed leather chairs and the rug that looked torn from the back of an animal. She also noticed the view from the glass walls and the wooden table and chair set, covered with stretched leather. It was all the same, the look of incomparable wealth, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
The man did not smile an iota, unimpressed by her as she had been by him. Nothing differentiated him from others, except the wealth he inherited from his forebears. What gave him the right to look down at her with his bull-dog nose, hunched over fleshy lips?
She smiled in disbelief at herself, settling into the seat’s cold embrace as the car sped past the junction, which marked the end of the estate, and immediately ran a gallop. The smile turned into a hiss.
“Sorry, madam.” The driver said, trying his best not to look at the rear-view mirror.
“If my mind is not on the road, does that permit your mind to wander, Ben? Don’t stop there, drive off the bridge when you get there. I know how busy you are in your dream world.” She said, with another hiss.
The meeting left a sour note in her mind, and she would have cleaned the event off the annals of history if she could. How could people sit and judge others by their pedigree and the schools they attended? Who judged them? When she remembered how Otunba glanced with absolute boredom at her credentials and had the nerve to look at her and ask, “anything else?” she wanted to die.
She built those credentials over time. In pain, in sickness, sacrificing everything to be one of them. He made it look like nothing because her father wasn’t rich enough, and she attended local schools. Natalie clenched her teeth and swore never to put herself out there like that again. To be humiliated by another human being, one so blind, he couldn’t see her power in her struggle, was an insult. Not from him, she insulted herself.
“Never again.” She said.
Once at the office, she took the back elevator, not wanting to see anyone. Chioma, her business partner, and a close friend sat cross-legged on the settee in her office when she got there.
Natalie smiled, grateful.”Have you been waiting?”
Chioma sat up with a smile as she looked at Natalie’s face. “No, there was a problem with the financier in Switzerland, I stayed back to deal with it. You have to do something about that guy; his rates keep hiking. Anyway, how did it go?”
Natalie sat behind her table, quiet for a while. Everything she achieved seemed insignificant to someone else.
“One man’s meat.” She said, looking at Chioma, her half-smile sad.
Chioma rose from the chair and took a seat before her friend at the table. “I’m sorry, babe. Is there anything I can do?”
“Chioma, I can’t believe he didn’t even look at my work. The man glossed over the proposal I put forward for the estate. Imagine the insult, because I want to live there? I can never be enough for these people, and they will never accept me for who I have become.”
“I’m sorry he made you feel that way.”
“Why can’t I be like you, huh, why?” Natalie said, in a mock-cry of frustration.
Chioma laughed. “To be honest, babe, that’s the problem.”
Natalie drew her chair forward, wanting to hear more.
“All your life, you’ve been set on becoming the picture of success the world presents. You wanted to look like the people you saw in pictures, movies, high-powered meetings, and even our high-powered clients. When will we see Natalie, the real you?”
Natalie’s eyes narrowed, and she sat back in her chair. “If you’ve not seen her, those glasses of yours are fake.”
Chioma smiled. “What are you going to do now?”
“Nothing, I’m staying in my house. I don’t need anybody else to insult me.”
Chioma rose and went around the table to hug her friend from behind. “You know God loves you just the way you are, right? I love you second.” She said as she gave Natalie a peck.
“Lies, politician. You love your guy and twins more than life itself. Go home and take care of them.”
Chioma smiled, knowing when to excuse herself. “I’m off.” She said, and left.
Natalie turned her chair round to the view of the city behind her. The truth of Chioma’s words sinking past skin, and bones. The need to appear bourgie left her feeling tired, old age perhaps. Today, the meeting taught her a lesson about wanting to be in another person’s crowd when she could create her own. All her life, she tried to fit into a mold that kept spitting her out, and for what?
“Why not? Why can’t I have my people? The ones who love and accept me the way I am?” She asked.
Natalie imagined wearing jeans and a tee-shirt to work and laughed. She didn’t think she could be like Chioma. However, being herself wasn’t a physical thing; it was more internal. She started thinking about who God created her to be. How would that person look? How would she think, dress, talk, and behave?
The relief she felt about leaning away from the obsession to be like, and better than others, staggered her. Natalie knew she would still stick her head up at the new deals her stylist presented, but knowing she was much more, made her smile. She was more than her clothes, accessories, and toned body. She was a spirit, and the time had come to let that person live.
Till next time, be transformed!!