Posted in christian

The Inquisition

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Charles drove to the Church, parked by the building, and waited. He sat in the car as he always did three times a week, waiting to pick up his wife from choir practice.
He sent her a message that he had arrived and remained in the car. He never left his vehicle’s protection, too tired to greet the choir group’s numerous members. In truth, Charles didn’t want the leading Church Pastor to see or engage him in any way.
He liked attending Church sometimes, especially when other pastors preached, but whenever it was the leading Pastor’s day, Charles seemed to lose all understanding of the English language.
He leaned back and lowered his car seat as he thought about this dilemma for the first time. What made scripture confusing whenever the leading Pastor stood to preach. In his experience, he would turn off once the Pastor said something that didn’t make sense. Yes, that’s it. The Pastor preached about existence on another planet, not the earth.
“Hello Charles, how are you?”
Charles stiffened and turned slowly to look right at the Pastor. He got out of the car and greeted the man, shaking the hand he proffered.
“It’s good to see you. Walk with me. Are you here to pick Nneka?”
“Yes, sir,” Charles said as he walked beside the Pastor, head bowed in respect.
“So, how is work?”
“Well, we are pushing as best as we can, sir.”
“Hmm, pushing suggests struggle. Is work a struggle for you?”
Charles burped out a short laugh. “Well, it’s a struggle for everybody. I mean to make it, one needs to hustle.”
The Pastor stopped and turned to him. “Let me get this straight. You are struggling to make it?”
Charles looked away and scratched his head as he wondered the bad luck that knocked on his door that day.
“What I mean, sir is that life is a struggle, and we all have to push hard to get to where we want to be,” Charles said, gesticulating with his hands, hoping the matter would end there and that he could excuse himself from the presence of confusion as fast as possible.
“What are you pushing for?”
“Well, we all want to be able to take care of our families and children. To support the Church, and people who need help.”
“You mean you are struggling to make money for your family, the Church, and the people who need your support? Is that an accurate summary of your words?”
“Yes, sir, sure,” Charles said, smiling as he looked down.
He wasn’t sure what was holding up his wife. She should have been out of the church building a while ago. He needed her out of there.
“Look at me, Charles.”
Charles looked at the Pastor with a sober expression.
“There is light, and there is darkness. The life Jesus offers gives light, while the devil offers only darkness and death. Do you understand?”
Charles nodded. “Yes, Pastor.”
“Good. In the light is everything required to live and thrive in God. On the other hand, the darkness distracts you from it and ensures you stay tuned to what is happening here, so all you think about is how to survive on earth. Here, people struggle to live a life of comfort, am I correct?”
Charles nodded.
“And there are different levels of comfort. Comfort might include building houses, buying cars, ensuring your family is taking care of, and the Church is settled, am I right?”
Charles smiled. “Well, I wouldn’t use the word settle.”
“But that’s what it is. You settle your family, the Church or its Pastor, and the Supporters club, and life goes on. That’s what people are doing and living their lives as they please. Charles, what if that’s not what God created you to do?”
“I know we are to do more as Christians. We should always pray and understand the will of God for our lives.” Charles said, at least he knew that much.
“Good, so how far down that path have you gone?”
Charles scratched his head. “Well, we are still getting there?”
“Does that mean that you’ve started a journey with God?”
Charles nodded. “Oh, yes, sir, I pray and talk to God about everything.”
“Very good. So, why are you struggling? Don’t you pray about that?”
“Everybody struggles, sir. My bible says that the apostles had to work hard as well.”
“Yes, in the work God called them to do, and they didn’t struggle. They were enabled by grace to achieve God’s will. That’s why they were able to accomplish supernatural feats. Are you struggling with the work God has given you?”
Charles burst into a nervous laugh. “Pastor, it’s a long story. I have to come and see you some other time for it.”
“Summarise it.”
Charles stopped seeing any humor in the situation, real or fake. The Pastor wasn’t laughing either.
“My job is God’s will, and though I struggle, I know his grace is available,” Charles said with an edge in his voice.
“Forgive me, Charles, for the questions, but I need to know whether the people that fellowship in the Church know and believe God. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you another question?”
Charles shook his head, looking down again.
“How do you know your job is in line with God’s will? Did he give you specific scripture verses, and does he speak to you about it from time to time?”
Charles shook his head again, angry at his wife and the Pastor. He was in the hot soup because of one, and the other was too blind to see that he was coming from work and exhausted.
“I spoke to you earlier about light and darkness. Light provides enablement, grace, ability to live and thrive, while darkness distracts you and keeps you struggling for an illusion.
I have people here in Church who have gained great wealth or been rewarded with it, without a struggle. I have people who own houses they don’t need and cars they can’t drive, and what happens, decay and rust.
My point here, Charles, is don’t get swept away by the illusion of wealth and the struggle for it. It’s never what it seems, even for the rich. Submit to God, and remain under his shade of protection. Let him sustain you because he has promised never to leave or forsake you.
“You are not meant to be struggling, son, no matter the job you are doing. Focus on the grace in Christ. Be intentional about living out every day for God and not for yourself. Take life a day at a time.”
“Good evening, pastor,” Nneka said from behind them.
The Pastor turned to her. Charles didn’t lift his face from the ground; neither did he acknowledge her.
“Nneka, are you done?” The Pastor asked.
“Yes, sir.”
He turned to Charles and gestured to their car.
“Take her home, and think about what we’ve discussed.”
“Yes, sir, God bless you,” Charles said, forcing a smile, as he shook the older man’s hand and turned to his car.
“Charles, good evening,” Nneka said from behind him as they reached the car.
“Next time, take a taxi home. I’m not coming back here during the week for any reason.” He said as he opened the car, slid into the driver’s seat, and shut it with force.

Till next time, be transformed!!

Posted in christian, Faith, The Christ

The Tree

Photo by Rob Mulally on Unsplash

The sun shone with unparalleled brightness while its heat beat on Amara’s bare shoulders and head as she was led on a narrow arid road.

Her guide, Mark, the leader of a group of people who called themselves the Jesus Tribe, was taking her to a place where she would understand why they lived as they did.

They arrived in the desert area, located outside the town, and walked to an undisclosed location. To Amara, who was sweating like the goat they passed in town on their way, it seemed like an eternity. It had only been ten minutes.

She didn’t dare complain though, Mark led the community as its leader, and people held him in high regard. Why? Amara had no idea.

He didn’t appear rich, tall, or handsome. His face and hands showed signs of toughness and a life that was accustomed to it. Whatever the community respected must be inside of the man. His intelligence and skills, perhaps?

Amara wiped her forehead with the sleeves of her t-shirt as she started praying for redemption from the long walk and a tall glass of iced water. She smiled; her mates were praying for better things.

Up ahead, she saw a massive tree in the arid landscape. The tree stood tall and alone, and shock of shocks, it had a full crown of green leaves and branches sprouting everywhere.

“How is that possible?” She asked herself out loud.

Mark turned and smiled at her. “That’s where we are going.”

They walked the short distance to the tree and found relief under its shade. Mark opened his little backpack and removed two bottles of cold water, which they shared. 

They finished their water, and Mark stashed the bottles in his bag as he turned to the tree.

“Amara, you asked me how people can choose to live for God? This tree will help me explain the reason for it. When you look at the tree, what do you see?” He asked, looking at her.

“Well, I noticed that it’s rooted in a dry place, and it has a lot of green leaves. Does it bear fruit?”

“It’s an apple tree. Everything you noticed is correct. The tree is standing tall and strong and deeply rooted in the desert. How is that possible for an apple tree?

“To produce good-quality fruits, trees need lots of feeder roots in the surface soil so they can take up plenty of water and nutrients. The surface soil should be deep, soft, stable, well-structured, well-drained, fertile, and cool in hot weather. The pH level should be between 5.8 and 6.5.

“However, desert soil is mostly loamy sand, derived from granitic rocks and other related rocks. The soil here is deficient in organic matter. It’s high in potassium and has pH’s around 7.5 to 8.0.

“If all that is so, how is it possible for this tree to stand? How is it getting its water and essential nutrients? The soil surface is not soft, nor is it fertile for the tree.”

Amara looked from Mark to the tree as she absorbed all the information he shared and asked herself the same questions he did.

“It is supernatural. The tree is a symbol of truth, proving that the supernatural occurs in this natural plain we all dwell.

“What’s the use of the symbol, you might ask? It helps us remember that in Christ, the Jesus Tribe can live the supernatural life every day of our lives. 

“The most important use of the tree, in my opinion, is that it reminds us that we are all branches in the vine that is Christ.

“Look at this tree, looking healthy in a place where it shouldn’t. It reminds us that in Christ, because He lives, we live, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. The branches living off the tree remind us to draw all we need from God, strength, sustenance, wisdom, etc. Under its shade, we are covered from the elements, just as both of us are now. If you know psalm 91, the first two verses apply. When you hear, in Christ, we stand, this tree paints the picture. 

“Imagine being a branch under this tree. Do you think you would lack anything? But once you are broken off, your sustenance is cut off. You would no longer be protected under its shade, and the most important, you will not be able to bear fruit and fulfill God’s purposes in your life.” 

Mark stopped and waited for questions, and when none came decided to ask one of his own.

“Why were you standing under the bridge at night?”

Amara looked away. Her first instinct was to lie to the man of God, as she now thought of him in her mind, but she hesitated, uncaring of judgment.

“I am a prostitute. I was waiting for a customer before Gbenga picked me up and invited me to your fellowship.” She said, looking at him as she spoke.

Mark smiled. “We all have our histories—fraudsters, liars, murderers, adulterers, thieves, etc. I helped a gang scam rich Germans out of their hard-earned money about ten years ago. You would have called me a 419 fraudster.” He said, smiling at the upward movement of her eyebrows.

“We are all standing before God now, and so can you. Gbenga asked me to speak with you before you leave us today. I know what you are going back to, but we invite you to come and join us. Come and live out God’s purpose for your life with our tribe. There is no need to remain in the same situation when help is available. I want you to think about it, please.”

Amara looked down at her shoes. What he asked wasn’t possible.

“What will I be doing for your tribe? I can’t be eating and sleeping forever?”

Mark smiled. “Gbenga was coming back from work when he saw you, and the Holy Spirit asked him to pick you up. You will be taught to seek and to know God for yourself. God will direct you on the life He planned for you. On the side, you can help out in the community once in a while.”

Amara nodded. Mark’s request seemed possible with every word he uttered; however, something else bothered her.

“Will God forgive me?” She asked, looking at him again. Her need for confirmation came from a place of desperation. A change had been presented as a gift, and she wanted it with all her heart. She needed to know that she wouldn’t be turned away in the end.

Mark turned and held her by the shoulders, looking into her eyes. “God sent Gbenga to you because He loves and cares for you, and Gbenga brought you to me. All of it was in God’s plan for you. He makes a way where there are none and rivers in the desert. Let this tree be a reminder when you doubt his love. He will not leave you nor forsake you as long as you live and believe.” 

Amara nodded as possibilities flashed before her: freedom, life, family, a future. 

She smiled at Mark and nodded again. “I want to be part of the tribe.”

Mark nodded, smiling. “Praise God.”

Till next time, be transformed!!



Posted in christian

Submit and Resist

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

“They told me you asked that I wear everything. Aren’t we practicing today?” Joel asked as he stood before his coach.
Emmanuel continued cleaning his gloves, not bothering to turn around.
“Yes, I wanted you to wear the whole armor today and every day after that for practice.”
“Excuse me, sir, but what’s the use? Wouldn’t it be better for me to continue training without the extra load?”
Emmanuel smiled and turned to face his fighter, who looked ready for war in the get-up he was wearing.
“You are fighting against an enemy you don’t understand, my boy, and until you do, let’s do things my way. Is that clear?”
Joel looked nonplussed but nodded anyway.
“Get in the ring. Let’s start.”
Joel had been training to fight for six months, and due to all the encouragement his coach kept heaping on him, he knew he wasn’t bad at the sport. He entered the ring checking his breathing, working on his nerves, and keeping his head up as he warmed up as best as possible with the armor he was carrying.
“Today, you will be fighting a new enemy. There are no rules in this fight, so no fouls. This enemy will come at you from all sides and will do anything to bring you down, so stay alert!” Emmanuel said as he called out his instructions.
A fight without rules?
“But coach, where do they fight like that?”
Emmanuel climbed into the ring and stood, looking at Joel. “I’m preparing you for the fight of your life. If you win this, a crown awaits.”
“Wow, a crown, not a belt?”
Emmanuel shook his head, turned, and exited the ring. Once he touched the ground, he looked at his fighter and up at the hanging banana punching bags he had secured with ropes by the walls.
“Ready?” He asked Joel, looking back at him.
Joel nodded and assumed a fighting stance. Emmanuel walked to the walls and cut the rope holding the six punching bags in place, and all at once, they fell and flew towards Joel on the ring.
Joel heard them before he saw them, but by that time, it was too late. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t dodge the blows from the bags that hit his mid-section, his left, or his back. A few seconds after the fight began, he was lying on the ground.
He lay there, breathing hard and unmoving, watching the bags swinging on top of him.
“Stand up, fighter, and assume your position,” Emmanuel said, calling to him from outside the ring.
Joel stood, checking his body for any aches. He started to control his breathing again, closing his eyes.
“Do you know why you lost the fight?”
“Of course, coach. I wasn’t prepared for my enemy. I was taken by surprise, and it won’t happen again.” Joel said, with his eyes still closed.
Emmanuel held a ring rope as he jumped up into the ring’s side and slid in through the ropes. He strolled to stand in front of the fighter and waited for him to open his eyes.
“If this had been the fight of your life, you would have lost, and contrary to what you believe, you don’t know why you lost. I told you there were no rules. I explained how ruthless your enemy was and advised you to stay alert.
“This fight is not like the others; it’s different. This enemy will try banana bags today and iron rings flying at you tomorrow. He doesn’t do fair, and he doesn’t care. All he wants is to bring you down.”
“He sounds too strong, sir.”
“He is not, but sounds and seems strong. To fight him, you need to look within. You cannot depend on your skills, expertise, or strength. He’ll knock you out as the bags did.”
“How do I fight from within?”
“You have to submit to the one who can fight this battle for you and stand in His strength. Your senses will not help, so no matter how many times you try to listen or calm your breathing to pay attention to your externals, he’ll still knock you out.
“When you submit, you stand in the power of a greater being. You quiet yourself and listen to the Master’s instructions: to move, crouch, jab, slip, block, pull away, etc. Only in His strength can you find victory.
“In this fight, you lose, you die, and you don’t stop fighting until the end. It would be best if you were vigilant all the time because the enemy will come at you at will. He will come at you with all sorts: fear, anger, hurt, disease, loss, lack, anything he can get his hands on to beat you down and kill your spirit. Never crouch, stand up and oppose him at every turn, and keep doing so until the end.”
Joel shook his head at his coach and scratched his beard. “Wait, Coach, are we talking about the devil here? What does he have to do with professional fighting?”
Emmanuel smiled at Joel. “If you learn to battle the enemy and to win, you win every other battle you engage in because your source of strength would be the same, son. David defeated Goliath because of that truth. No matter your career and chosen path, once you learn to fight the battle of life, and to stand in God’s strength, then you can take on any enemy.”
Joel nodded. “So if all I need to do it is to learn to submit to God, when do I start my training?”
Emmanuel nodded in approval. “We can start right now.”

Posted in christian

The Process of Waiting

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

“We cannot continue to live by the ideals of an aging generation, Papa. Decisions have to be made, and they have to be made now.” Austin said, looking at his grandfather, who seemed to be checking his phone.
There was no response from the older man.
“Well, I cannot continue to wait, sir,” Austin said as he turned and stomped to the door.
“I know you dream about calling an emergency board meeting and having me kicked out of the board. You have the power, I know, but is that the best decision to make?” His grandfather said as Austin opened the door of the office, about to leave.
Austin stood still, breathing hard. He had a mind to ignore his grandfather and call the meeting just as the older man had predicted. He turned and glared, waiting.
“I stood in those shoes you have on twenty years ago. I, too, was hot-headed and wanted to rule the world. To make great decisions that would make the family wealthier than Croesus himself, but thank God for your grandmother.” His grandfather said and turned back to his phone.
Austin knew what to expect from such story beginnings. He didn’t know how, but his Papa had been the only one to talk him out of doing wrong from childhood. When his parents tried and failed, they called in Papa, and his grandfather would tell Austin a story in the form of a lesson.
Things were different now, though.
“Papa, what is the problem with the brand. They bring good tidings, and it’s a fantastic deal. We do nothing except stand behind their product, which is good, by the way, and they give us a piece of their action. I say it’s good to go. Why wait?” Austin asked, still standing by the door, his two hands raised in question, his tone high.
“Son, sit,” Grandfather said, still looking at his phone.
Austin made his way to the chair in front of the man. He wondered what he was thinking about getting an old widower a phone. It had taken the place of his dead wife and had become a menace to the family. He planned to steal the phone and to throw it as far away as possible.
His grandfather looked up some seconds after Austin had taken a seat and smiled at him.
“You look just like me sometimes. I can’t get angry with you.” He said, and then his face turned stern. “However, watch your tone and words, young man. I am still your grandfather.”
Austin looked down. “Forgive me, Sir.”
His grandfather nodded. “Twenty years ago, I started this company with your grandmother. We were both Christians, but she was hot after Jesus, while I was hot after building our wealth. Five years into the business, we got a contract from the government to supply chemicals for the Ministry of Health. It was a huge deal, so big my hands were shaking with the document.
“There was, however, a challenge. The Health Minister had a son-in-law he wanted to give the contract to, and his assistant had sent it to us by mistake. The Minister found out a week later and raised hell, asking the assistant to retrieve the contract and exchange it for other worth peanuts.
“Your grandmother didn’t believe in such mistakes, and though I was set to fight the Minister with my connections in the government, she advised I stay my hand. I waited for a week with the Minister’s assistant breathing fire down my neck and your grandmother seeking the face of God.
“On the seventh day, I couldn’t wait any longer and picked up the phone to call my Minister friend, when a fax came through. My secretary walked into my office like she always did, delivered some papers and left. I didn’t bother to check, not expecting much.
“However, as I was greeting my friend, the Minister, whom I’d called on the phone, he asked me if I had received notice of the contract. I was shocked about how he had known about it and responded in the negative. He asked me to call him when I did. I hung up and went to ask the secretary if she had received any parcel or envelope. She said no, only the fax she had brought to my office.
“I picked the fax and checked it, and there it was, the government’s approval for the company to supply the chemicals at the initial amount stated. I called my friend, sounding dumbstruck. I didn’t understand how it had happened.
“He told me that the President had called in his executive council and had gone over all major contracts over a certain amount of money with them. Our contract had our name on it, and though the Health Minister objected to it, he was asked to provide the name of another contractor before the council. He couldn’t because he knew everyone would know of his intentions.
“That was how my friend found out about the contract and ensured it was signed and approved on time. My boy, this company was built on the strength of your grandmother’s prayers and humility before God. Not my hustle or strength, nor on any connections. Like Mordecai, God brought our matter before the President.
“I learned a lot from that experience. To build my relationship with a God bigger than anything or anyone and to wait on Him for everything. When this new deal was presented to me, I didn’t get permission from God’s Spirit to sign off on the document. I have asked God for His will to be done, and I will wait for it as I have done for almost fifteen years.
“You call this living by ideals of the old and aged. I call it living by the grace of God. I don’t pretend to know or understand why I have a stay in my spirit over this one, but I do, and all I ask is that you trust God this once.”
His grandfather went back to checking his phone, and Austin looked out the window on his left confused. He had promised the brand’s CEO that their support was a done deal. He didn’t know how to explain the situation, especially with the threat of time hanging over them.
With his eyes on the traffic outside the windows of his grandfather’s office, Austin blurted out his worries.
“We may lose a lot of clout if we don’t get this deal, Papa. A lot of people are fighting over it, and we got it on a platter. We have less than one week to sign or lose it.” He said as he turned to the older man.
His grandfather looked up, smiled at him, and nodded. “Then let it go.”
Austin stood in shock. “Is that your final answer?”
“Yes, it is, son.”
Austin nodded and strode out of his grandfather’s office, seething. He didn’t do anything after that, resigned to the fact that he had to wait for his grandfather to move on to the next world before he could make decisions for the business.
They lost the deal to the competition. Austin watched in regret as the brand was advertised all over the state. The winning company made a killing in sales. He hoped his Papa was watching to see all they had lost and never missed an opportunity to tell the older man of the brand’s progress in the business world.
It took a month for the result. A woman died from the product’s side effects, and the Health authorities confirmed her death could have been averted if thorough research had been carried out in the initial stages, before production.
The company’s assets and properties were confiscated, and the supporting company who won the contract lost more than their name and face in public.
His grandfather walked into Austin’s office with the same newspaper Austin was reading the news from, to sit and smile.
“I can’t believe this,” Austin said.
“I can. I am here to tell you something vital. The only requirement you need to run this company is a relationship with God. One in which you can talk to and hear Him with clarity. You will learn to humble yourself overtime as you suffer the consequences of your disobedience, but all that is part of the training.
“You have been introduced to the process of waiting. In it, there is the struggle to do or sort things out by yourself, which you would do well to yield to God. You have suffered the pain of losing out on your desire for the will of God to come to pass. You have endured the waiting period where you were powerless to do anything but hope in God. I hope all these experiences will guide you to God as you realize that you have no power of your own to affect any change whatsoever. I have said all I came to say.” The grandfather said and turned to walk out of the office.
He stopped at the door and turned back to Austin with narrowed eyes.
“By the way, did you see my phone?”
“No, Papa, but I’ll get you a new one today,” Austin said, as he hurried to call his dealer.

Posted in christian

The Journey Of Faith

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

“Bode, I’ve done everything in the book. I pray all the time, study my bible, and attend all the services. I also followed the doctors’ instructions to a ‘T’. How long do I have to wait? Are seven years not enough?” Nnenna asked, gesticulating with her hands in desperation.

Pastor Bode had a hand covering his mouth, and the other wrapped around his midsection while he listened to her. He was praying.

He had known Nnenna since Secondary school. They attended the same one. Now, God had them meet today, a day after her last IVF treatment failed. The woman in front of him was not the easy-going, life-loving Nnenna he’d known in school. This person looked like life had been sucked out of her with a suction pump until nothing remained. With all the money her appearance displayed, her gaunt look described another existence.

“Nnenna, I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much, but it is well. Our God is a solution provider. Do you have time? Can we find somewhere to sit and chat?” He asked, looking around the bank’s exterior where they had met and still stood.

“I know a place around here. Follow me.”

“A taxi dropped me in front of the bank.”

“Oh, then join me. I hope this isn’t an inconvenience?”

“No, thank God I have the time today. I’m leaving town tomorrow, back to my parish.” He said as they walked to the Toyota Prado jeep, parked behind the bank’s gate.

“I thought you lived in town,” Nnenna said as they both got into the car, and she started it.

“No, I live in the East with my family. I came here for the quarterly convention.”

“Thank God I met you. I need a friend who understands.”

They were both quiet as she drove, and five minutes later, they arrived at their destination. They sat, ordered lunch, and turned to each other.

“How is your husband dealing with the situation?” He asked.

“He tries, but he’s tired as well. He runs an off-shore company in the East, so he travels a lot.”

Bode nodded. He understood the implications of that statement.

“Bode, Pastor, I have confessed past sins. I have gone to people I hurt in the past to apologize. I have checked the histories of both families, my husband’s and mine, and no horrible curse is following the children. Why is mine different?”

“Nnenna, you can call me Bode. Please answer my question as honestly as you can. What is your relationship with God like?”

Nnenna sat back in her chair, bending her long neck. “Well, I read the bible and pray. Like I said before, I go for special services and the weekly ones. I pay my tithe with faithfulness. I try.” She said all that as she looked down, and that alone told the Pastor what he wanted to know.

“How is your faith in God?” He asked, sitting forward to look at her.

“I don’t know, Bode.” She paused, then looked up at him with resolve. “Right now, it’s in shreds. When the doctor gave me the pregnancy result yesterday, and I called Ikenna, my husband, he sounded so distant. I feel like I’m losing him.” She said.

Bode nodded. “Let me tell you about God in my life. After college, I drifted away from Him and my calling, which I knew before leaving school. The pull of the material was strong, so I decided to do business. I had a knack for buying shoes and accessories people liked. I decided to sell them and not wear them.” He said, smiling.

“In five years, the business seemed to prosper. I was married with a child on the way when disaster struck. I ordered my goods online, but this time through a different wholesaler, my friend introduced me to, who was supposed to be cheaper. I never saw the man, my money or goods, and my friend again. I invested so much in that order thinking I’d hit the big bucks. I hit the ocean depths from there.

“I lost a lot, money, friends, my confidence, and my family almost until God showed up. He sent a friend from school to tell me He was still waiting. Now that doesn’t happen all the time, and that’s when I knew it was time for the prodigal to return home. The build-up of our relationship wasn’t only about the external. It was founded and built in my heart.

“Today, I call Him Father because He has become my Dad. I have learned to sit at his feet, to know and understand His ways. I humble myself before His Holy Spirit, who leads me in all things. Faith, Nnenna, insists that you abandon your life in His hands and start to wait on him, every second of every minute. It means you don’t depend on what you see on the external; you depend only on what He tells you. His presence becomes your hiding place, classroom, resting place, and from there, you obtain joy, peace, and life.”

“Wow, Bode, how does one start, and how long will it take to get there?” She asked, chuckling, not relieved at the mountainous task Bode seemed to load on her.

“Nnenna, is your dad still alive?”

“Yes, he lives, the old bugger.” She said with a smile. “I’m thinking of traveling home to spend time with him.”

“Your relationship with him was a source of envy for me. You seemed to be the apple of your father’s eyes.”

“We were close. We did most things together.”

“That’s what God wants. He wants to be the Father that does everything with you. I want you to go to Him as a Father and to start to talk in the place of prayer. I believe He is sending me to you today to say He is waiting. He loves dearly, Nnenna. You cannot imagine what we miss by being away from His presence. The peace, joy, endless grace, all of that is available.”

“But what of children, Bode? That’s what I desire.”

“When you get to know the Father of lights, then you will understand that he withholds no good thing from those who walk in His righteousness. The problem here, Nnenna, is that you are looking with short-sighted eyes. Go to the one who has seen your end from your beginning and knows all your whys. Don’t seek the miracle; chase after the miracle giver.”

Their food arrived, and they ate in silence for a while.

“What if I lose everything as I wait?” She asked, chasing her food around the plate with her fork.

“What you lose in God’s presence may not have been yours from the beginning, and if it is His will, you will gain it back. Take time out and seek the Father for yourself. I will be praying with you, and I will send you some scripture verses to meditate and pray. Start this journey, Nnenna; it’s the best thing to happen to you in this life. Once you begin to see life with fresh eyes, then you will begin to live.”

She nodded in acceptance and gratitude. She believed God was waiting.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian, The Christ

His Strength in Our Weakness

Photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

Martha walked into the compound solemn. She held her bag tight, still wondering what to say to Antonia, her friend, family, and former boss.
Antonia lived in an old red brick bungalow. Those houses that are old, but never out of style.

Martha looked up and around the house, still wishing that she owned such a beautiful home after so many years. The cleaner must have just swept the compound clean of leaves from the mango and orange trees. The broom marks were still visible. The whole place was empty and quiet as if no one was home.

“Martha, is that you?” Antonia’s sing-song voice sounded from the living room window, in the center of the house.

Martha smiled. “Yes, but I can’t see you.”

“I’m coming, dear.”

Martha’s smile remained. Antonia opened the front door on the house’s left side, and Martha heard her walk to the front before seeing her. Antonia had a big smile and outstretched arms.

“Hello dear, come here.” She said.

Martha went to her feeling like a daughter who had come home. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay. It’s only money.”

Martha raised her head and looked at Antonia with wide eyes. “Only money? Ten years of work and your retirement funds? You call that only money?”

Antonia smiled at the younger woman. “Come, let’s have cold drinks and talk. The heat is excessive this time of the year.”

They walked back into the house, the older leading. That was how they had always been—one the boss, and later the mentor. Antonia had taken the once rebellious orphan, Martha, under her wings and taught her everything she knew about the job and God.

Martha looked around the once boisterous house, now quiet, with warmth. The draped windows, the rugged centers, and their pieces, the cushioned seats in different colors. Entering Antonia’s home reminded one of the Arabian Nights stories.

Martha followed her mentor to the living room where she sat, as Antonia opened the drapes to allow the light filter through. She must have been reading in the dark with the lampstand by her side. Martha noted the heavy volume on the next chair.

Antonia turned to her with a smile. “What can I get you?”

Martha shook her head. “Nothing, please sit. How is uncle Dave?”

Antonia’s smile remained. “He is fine. Don’t look so serious. I didn’t die.”

“Yes, but…” Martha knew the source of Antonia’s strength. He was her source as well, but how could this happen? “How did it happen?”She asked.

Antonia sat. “Well, Tony, you remember him, the manager I hired, called me on Monday that he was at the shop, and it was on fire.”

“Like that? How did it start?”

“I don’t know. It’s been three days, and the Police are still investigating. It is well, Martha.”

“What’s the Insurance company saying?”

“Well, they are also investigating and will conclude soon, I suppose.”

“Thank God for the way you are taking this. I don’t know what I would have done if such a thing happened to me.”

Antonia rubbed her hands together the way she did when lost in deep thought. Martha waited, knowing the action was for her.

“Martha, what do you think happened to me?” Antonia asked, not smiling.

“Well, you lost a heavy investment.”

“Yes, that’s true. I lost money and a lot of the products that I sell, but what happened to me?”

Martha sat forward with narrowed eyes. “I don’t understand.”

Antonia smiled. “On the morning of the incident, I was reading Hebrews 11. I believe the Holy Spirit led me there because out of the blues, the chapter dropped into my heart as I woke up. I opened it and read, and a small line stayed in my mind. It said that out of weakness, they were made strong. I meditated on it and discussed it with Dave, and thirty minutes later, Tony called. At the end of that call, I asked myself, what is faith? Is it a belief in me, my abilities, and possessions, or in God and His manifold wisdom?

“You see, dear, He saw all sides of what happened before it did. He saw the end from the beginning and prepared me for it. He is preparing us, not just for good, but His strength manifests in our weakness for times like this. Martha, I’d rather rejoice in my weak state for God’s strength to show up. Can you hold onto money? It comes, and it goes, and I will not fall prey to fear of a temporary necessity.”

Martha nodded, looking down, as understanding flowed through her. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of how she had worried about this woman whom she loved. She stood in gratitude and raised her hand in worship to the Father, the keeper of all men. Antonia joined her, smiling as she noted the other woman’s tears.

When they finished worshipping, Antonia went to her side and sat.

“Why worry, Martha?”

Martha was still dabbing at the sides of her eyes with tissues. “I didn’t know if you would be okay. I didn’t know how you would take it, with none of your children in the country and with your strong independent spirit, stubborn more like.” She said and smiled as Antonia laughed.

“But you know there is God, right?”

“Yes, but how do you survive?” Martha asked holding Antonia’s hand.

Antonia sat forward and looked into her eyes. “That’s where you allow God to be God. I have become weak that the excellence of His glory may be made known in and through my life. I am waiting on Him for instructions on my next steps and looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of the race I’m on. I have humbled myself before my Father as I wait for Him to save as He sees fit. I am happy you came; I believe you needed to hear this.”

“Yes, I am so relieved that you are fine and your faith intact.”

“No, not that. My problem is the reason for your worry and the words you spoke some minutes ago. What if it had been you? What would have happened, Martha?”

Martha looked down. “I would have been devastated, not as strong as you.”

“Because you have started depending on the temporary and not the eternal, my daughter.” She turned Martha to her and tilted her head up so she could look into her eyes again. “Retrace your steps. Nothing is worth losing the joy set before us, nothing.”

Antonia held onto Martha’s face and kept looking until the other woman managed a nod. Antonia nodded as well, as she knelt in prayer, and Martha joined.

Both prayed to the same Father. The one who had suffered the physical loss for the one who seemed to have lost her spiritual way. When they stood, the peace in the older passed to the younger.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian, The Christ

The Good Part

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

‘And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”‘ Luke 10:41-42

I hear Him calling my name twice as well.

How many can you count? Global problems, good news, to-do’s, to become’s, the Christmas season’s call, etc. Every day has its own.

Martha was going about life the way every hardworking person should. She was cooking, serving, hosting, and taking care of the household. Mary sat and watched. She sat at the feet of Jesus, looking up at him in awe, listening to every word from his mouth. Mary was entranced by wisdom, forsaking the call of duty.

Martha’s frustrations are understandable. I’d feel like that as well until Jesus spoke and broke in pieces the old mold.

“Amongst all the hustle and bustle, Martha, all the well-mannered attempts to be the good hostess, to do well before others, nothing is as important as what Mary is doing.”

Like smoke, everything changes and goes away. One day, you will retire; the kids will grow up and leave; the spouse will no longer be there; the guests will stop coming; someone may take over the side-hustle taking up all your time, etc.

The focus must be on the eternal, the presence of God, from where life flows. A cousin of mine says the peace in that place drowns the noise of many waters. It fazes out the threat of the storms of life.

Martha didn’t feel threatened. She was going about everyday life the same as before. Jesus asked, what is taking your attention? He asked her if she was listening to earthly life when eternal life was in her house? He gave her the answer to a multiple-options question. Only one thing was needed, and her sister had chosen it. Mary had chosen the prepared food for the soul, not minding the earthly preparations meant for the body.

If the bread of life feeds your soul, it overflows to your body and life. When you sit at the feet of the peace giver, you have His peace. In God’s presence is joy, and fear is obliterated like dark clouds when the sun rises.

To chose the good part is to have the light of God shine in and through you, no matter how dark the night. May we all continue to listen, and to hear, that we may live and thrive.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian

The Time for Change

Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash

Who am I?

Where do I come from?

Who do I represent?

What do I represent?

The questions plagued Felicia. They nagged and prodded, and she let them. She knew the Father was trying to get her attention, to shift her perspective. The questions made sense now. They challenged her beliefs and points of view in this time of global confusion and disarray. Was she living as God created her to live? Was this her best life?

She shrugged into her jacket and walked out of the house on her way to the office. Whose work was she doing? The questions kept coming. She didn’t answer, only meditated on the change they would force her to make.

The new normal had started in the physical but continued within her when things stopped making sense. Humans did not know everything, after all. World superpowers were powerless and confused in the face of a pandemic. Businesses could change their modus operandi, even if it were by force. So, she listened to the questions. She allowed the probing queries that would have been trashed in the past, assigning them a priority place. Things had changed.

What was she to do with the questions? It wasn’t the first time such thoughts had assailed her. All through her life, there had been junctions where she had asked herself if there was more? Points in time, when she had looked up and asked if He had created her for a more excellent existence?

Now, she supposed the time had come for answers. She knew within her that she needed to find answers or forever live in the mediocre state in which she existed. Felicia smiled as she drove, mediocre? No one would think of her life as average. She finished in the top five in her class, from the best business school in the country. She married a man who seemed to be on the up and up. They were building a comfortable life, one filled not necessarily with top luxury but a place of ease. Now, all that wasn’t enough.

While in the office, she wondered if the attendees in her first meeting of the day also dealt with the questions? Had some people figured out answers? How?

“I am a work of art of God in Christ Jesus.” She said to herself as she left the meeting and made for her office, but what did it mean? Work of art, for what? Was her life meant to bring change, or would people stop, look into the portrait of her life and move on, unaffected?

It was at that point that she made the call.

“Hello Felicia, God bless you.” Her Pastor said.

She smiled. “Hello sir, I hope this is not a bad time?”

“No, not at all. How is Frank, and the children?”

“They are fine. Thank you.”

He remained quiet after that, and she was at a loss.

“Is there something bothering you, Felicia?”

“I don’t know where to begin.”

“Start from where you are comfortable.”

She nodded in agreement. “I have never challenged the way I live, nor my choices, but for some time, they have seemed like less. I don’t know how to put this, but I feel there is more to life than the everyday struggle to attain something or some level.”

He remained quiet.

“Questions about my identity keep harassing me, and I can’t answer them. No, I don’t want to answer them because I fear the change I will make. I also know that not answering means living a life on the surface with no depth. Do I need to make a change to live this life that calls to me?”

She stopped talking, not knowing what else to say. She hoped her Pastor would piece her rantings together and make a picture.

“God is calling you. He is making you think your life, the life He created you to live. The challenge is in your flesh. The bible says, when we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. He is drawing you to Him. I know you know all this, so the question is, will you answer?”

“How? I have given my life to God. What else do I need to do?” She said, expecting a list of things to change.

“Go to Him, and ask. Tell Him you are willing to listen. Go in faith and stay there until He answers. Remember, our heavenly Father is willing to give good things to those who ask Him.”

“What if I can’t hear?”

“He promises in Isaiah 29 that the deaf shall hear and the blind shall see. Ask Him to open your ears and the eyes of your understanding.”

She laughed. “I expected more.”

“More of what, rules? God is available to teach each person by His Spirit. Go to Him and obey when He speaks.”

“Thank you, sir. I am grateful.”

Felicia rang off, knowing she had started on a journey that would change her life. She breathed in and out and welcomed that change, yielding to the Father’s care.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian

The Overshadowing

“Do you think what God asks of us is easy?” The man asked as he walked around in the tent, weaving through chairs and tables.

Different scents assailed his nostrils. The aroma of luxury thick in the air, but he refused to be distracted as he listened to the one who gave him utterance.

The people listened, the silence thick. For some, it was a time for a change. For others, just another message.

“It cannot be. Who can stop worrying about life just like that?” He said, continuing as he stared at people, praying their ears would hear. “Who can stop thinking about what they’ll eat, and if not for them, for their families? No, it’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible.”

He walked to the front of the tent, where a table lay with his iPad and reading glasses. He heaved up and sat on the table, next to his things, ignoring the chair set for him, and smiled at the group.

“The eye.” He said, looking around at the well-dressed people who had gathered to listen. “What do you see? What informs the way you live? If you see only this world and what is happening in it, then your eyes are bad.”

“Man of God, what else are we supposed to see?” Someone from the back asked, triggering nervous laughter from around him.

The man smiled as well. “I’m glad you asked.” He said, jumped down, and made his way to the area from where the question had arisen. “God’s word is the lamp for your feet and light for your path; focus on the word.”

He turned back and headed to his table. “The Holy Spirit.”

He sat on the table again and looked at the crowd seated before him. “The overshadowing force is available. He is here right now for whosoever believes. What do I mean by that? When He opens your eyes to the truth in the word of God, it becomes life. You are enabled to live above life here on earth.”

“Is it magic?” The same person asked. More laughter ensued, and this time, they didn’t try to subdue it.

The man shook his head, amidst the noise. “No, that’s the truth. We will never stop worrying or trying to address life on our own until God opens our eyes to the possibilities abundant in His grace. Grace, in my humble definition, is enablement. Our ability to see the truth and live it by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“How many people can live like that? Didn’t God make it available for certain people?” An older man seated in the middle asked.

“Seek first; make priority; focus first, on God’s kingdom. If that is so, He must have made provision, which would enable us to seek Him and not go crazy. The search for our own needs is enough to make anyone go mad. If you add searching for the kingdom of God as well, we would all bottom out. God had a plan. He gave us His Word and the power that gave it life from the beginning to allow us to soar.”

“What’s it like, this enabled life you speak of?” A well-dressed woman asked from the front row, a half-smile on her lips.

The man smiled back. “I wake up not worrying about tomorrow. I take everything God makes available for me today as part of His grace, in gratitude. Not just the good, but those we humans define as bad as well, because I understand all things are working together for good. You see, if it means focusing on today alone, I do it. God created today, and it is a day for rejoicing. Why rejoice? Jesus died for me and set me free from the power of darkness. I have the light of life and the power to live the God-life here. The overshadowing power of God is available every day to enable me to live above the issues of life.”

“How do you know?” A man asked, standing up. “How are you sure these things are so? When I wake up every day, life remains the same. Same life, same people, same problems. What makes it different?”

The man stood as well. “I believe it. For a long time, the verses in the scriptures remained as head knowledge for me, but now the Holy Spirit illuminates them daily as I hear Him speak. Once enlightened, I choose to live in the truth of the kingdom I cannot see and not wallow in the darkness of the world that I can, my choice. Sir, it is your choice as well.” He said, looking at the man intently, then he looked around the room.

“We can all decide how we live. Filled with the light of life and enabled by God’s Spirit or to continue in the lie painted by the enemy, the God of this world. He can paint various pictures that would seem real but are lies. God allowed it in the life of Job. The pictures were vivid and filled with life, almost to the point where most of us would be consumed by them, but not Job. How many can withstand all that and live?”

Murmurs from the group erupted like a choir singing, and the man smiled and returned to his table-seat.

“Now that you are thinking about it, know this, God is ready and can use anybody here. As a Christian, your life is pointless if all you can see and live for is here on earth. Your priority is the kingdom and your part in it. Don’t be deceived; you cannot mock God. Whatever a man sows that he will also reap.”

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian

The Mug

Photo by Amy Parkes on Unsplash

Theo invited me to his shed! I screamed in my mind.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d been waiting for an invitation since our church members told me about Theodores Creations.

I’d just moved to Aniocha County, and the people were warm and welcoming. Once I stepped into the local Church, I’d been overwhelmed with love and care. My husband, Onyema, had died in a recent accident in the warehouse where he worked, and city living had seemed too complicated. Onyema, an Aniocha man, didn’t have time to travel home often, so this was my first visit after the wedding ceremony.

His family tried their best to accommodate my son and me, but being barely able to fend for themselves, how could they help? Onyema took care of his parents until his death.

The Church members helped me secure a position in the town’s only secondary school once I asked for help with work. The Principal attended fellowship with me, and we built a relationship over time and discussions on verses drawn from the scriptures. He told me about Theo.

I remember the day he showed me a picture of the mug Theo made him. It was the day his daughter turned sixteen. He’d been scrolling through the images on his phone when I saw a multicolored item and asked him to stop. He smiled as he did and allowed me to examine the mug.

“This is so beautiful, sir. Where did you get such a picture?”

“The mug is in my house.”

I turned to him, eyes wide. “You mean this is not just a picture?”

He smiled as he shook his head. “No, a brother in Christ, Theo, makes these mugs as instructed by God.”

“He must make a lot of money from them.”

He smiled again. “The mugs are not for sale. God instructs Theo with a message for people, which he draws on the mugs and gives the owners. He doesn’t take a penny. Can you see the intricate drawings on the body? It tells a story which he explains to the owner of the mug. No two mugs are the same as God makes no two people the same.”

“That’s such a blessing. It’s as if God is showing everybody who gets a mug that they are special.”

He nodded. “He is. Almost everybody has gotten a mug in Church.”

I snapped to attention. “Which Church? Our Church? You mean he goes to our Church?”

He laughed. “Yes, he does. He is a loner and doesn’t come often, but when he does, he comes bearing gifts.”

“Wow. I’ve never seen him before,” I said, looking out of the window, lost in thought.

I needed a word from God, a message for me. I wasn’t sure about the move or its effects on my son, my little five-year-old. I wasn’t confident if I was working in the will of God or not. There were many questions in my heart.

The Principal touched my hand, and I jerked away.

“I’m sorry,” I said, embarrassed at how lost I must have seemed.

He smiled. “You will meet him one day.” He said.

Six months later, Theo came to Church, and he indeed bore gifts. After the service, we could hear women squealing from outside the building when he presented them with theirs. He didn’t notice me that day, to my utmost disappointment, but I saw the mugs he made. The two cups were as different as day and night, in color and pattern. The way he drew on them was distinct, as well.

Six months later, the Principal called me into his office during break time.

“There has been an odd request from Theo.” He said.

I nodded, sitting upright and forward. Any news about Theo was worth listening to, I thought.

“He called me about five minutes ago and asked for your number. May I forward it to him?”

I sat back in shock. Why would Theo want my number?

“Why does he want my number, sir?”

“I have no idea. As I said, it’s a rather odd request, but be rest assured, he is a good man.”

I nodded. “Please send it to him,” I said.

I sat and watched as the Principal typed my number and sent, and then remembered I’d left my phone in the Teachers’ Hall. I excused myself and rushed to it, and five minutes later, it rang.

“Hello,” I said, a little breathless.

“Hello, my name is Theodore Nwankwo. Am I speaking with Mrs. Umunna?”

“Yes, yes, you are.”

“Are you alright? I hope I didn’t call at a bad time?”

“No, not at all.”

“You may not know me…”

“I know you from Church.”

“Oh, okay.” He said and laughed. A gentle laugh meant for a friend. “Would you consider coming to my Pottery shed tomorrow? I need to show you something.”

“Ah, it’s Saturday, and I can’t go out without my son.”

“Please bring him. I’d be delighted to have you both. How old is he?”

I smiled. “Jay is five years old. What time would be alright?”

“10 am. I hope that’s not too early?”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Good. I will send my address now. My house is on the outskirts of town.”

“Okay. We’ll be there tomorrow.”

I was stunned at the invitation. I’d never heard that Theo invited anybody to his workplace. Why me? Was I getting something else?

I informed the Principal of the call, feeling it was the right and safe thing to do, and couldn’t think about anything else until I got to his house.

The taxi driver dropped us off in front of the house and drove away. Jay, my son, and I walked to the gate and rang the bell. Theo came to open it with a big smile. The shock of shocks, shy Jay, went to him without any prodding. Theo was huge, not fat, tall, and broad like he worked with a lot of strength. It seemed like he picked my son up with a finger and threw him in the air. Jay’s squeals of laughter got us to a good start.

He took us around the compound, showing us all the pots he’d made over time, stocked in sheds. Jay ran helter-skelter like a little puppy looking for a bone, and Theo didn’t mind. He took us to his working shed and presented us with snacks and drinks.

“You didn’t have to go through all this trouble,” I said, amazed at his presentation.

He smiled. “My housekeeper did all this.” He said whispering.

I smiled back. Theo took Jay’s hand, led the boy to a table with brown sheets and colored pencils, and asked him to draw anything he wanted. The happy little boy set to work changing pencils and drawing everything his heart desired.

Theo turned to me and led me to his work table. He pulled out a chair, gestured that I sit, and went to sit in his.

“How has life been since you moved?” He asked.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t expect the question. “Fine.”

He smiled. “I saw you in a dream. You were looking for help. Help in the dream was a person, and you kept looking for him. For one reason or the other, he kept dodging your efforts. You tried so hard and waited so long until you gave up. I saw you sitting on a chair, slumped into it, more like, with a faraway look. It seemed like you were willing to take anything life presented you with at that point.”

I didn’t know what to say. After one year of living the rural life, I’d acclimatized.

He stood and went to the cupboard behind my chair, opened and closed it. He returned to his seat, and I saw two items in his hands, a big mug and a small one. The cups were beautiful and designed with care. One could see how smooth the finishing was, how trim the bodies, and the glazing came out looking exotic. The drawing on the big mug went from one side and finished on the other.

He lifted it as I looked. I couldn’t get my eyes off it.

“This is your mug. God chose the glaze mixture that made the red and brown color you see. See how the red flows into the patterns, telling a story of their own. What I drew also adds to the story. God asked me to tell you that you are not alone. He is the potter, and you, the clay. He made you, and He will continue to carry you. Jesus shed his blood for you, and it flows through everything that concerns you, cleansing and preparing you. Don’t look for help in anyone or anything else but in Him. May this mug continue to remind you of this message.”

He handed it to me, and I took it with shaking hands, unable to see through my tears. He stood and walked to my side and patted me on the shoulder, like a big brother.

“He has always been by your side. Learn to relate and trust Him, for He is all you need.”

“God bless you,” I said, my voice shaking. “I needed this so much. Not the mug exactly, but a word from God.”

“Now, you must begin to hear Him for yourself. He is near to us all. In Him, we live, move, and have our being. He needs you to seek Him, and you will find Him.”

“Jay,” He said as he turned and called to my son. “Come and see what I made you.”

Jay got down from his chair and rushed over. Theo handed him his mug, and he smiled at me before turning back to Theo. Theo let us watch him molding clay as he got ready to make another mug, and then it was time to go.

My mug is in our room, on top of my work table. It reminds me always of God’s presence in my life.

The potter made the pot himself. He understands its nature, and regardless of the little defects it might have and all it might pass through, it remains a work of art prepared for His glory.

Till next time, be transformed!!!