At around ten years old, life seemed easy, really easy and beautiful, i had less to worry about, after all i was never even worried about what i eat, where i sleep or even how i get to sleep(i can count countless times my dad had to carry me and my sister to bed because we slept on the couch, of cos we would not dare behave that way when we were only left with mom because the only way you will find yourself in bed is a few smacks). I think the only thing that worried us was our grades in school, as much as at that point i felt that reading was some kind of torture,with the nature of my father i knew i needed to get the grades if at all i would have to enjoy my holiday, holiday for us meant something as small as sleeping and not being woken up to read or just plaiting a doll the whole day(at this age now the most shocking gift you would give me is a doll, i would even wonder which part of my house i am supposed to hide it in the first place, hehe). You see that easy approach i viewed life from, i also viewed my salvation from the same angle, salvation for me meant singing and dancing in the kid’s teams, spending Saturdays preparing for skits, poems and so on, i enjoyed being in church as i enjoyed sleeping(I still do,hehe)… Back then following Christ was a party! We would cram bible verses and compete,go to sunday school and sing, get gifts and eat: honestly i thank God for parents who brought me up in such kind of an environment.
Well, i went to high school, i was still vibrant in faith, though at some point not as much as when i was younger. But i would still accrue my start of a personal relationship with Jesus in this stages of life. I started reading my bible with an understanding that i had to know Christ on my own, I actually started noticing that the christian life was not as easy, peer pressure sometimes overwhelmed me, i slipped a number of times but the foundations that had been laid in me at that point held be up still.
High school done, i set my foot in adulthood!
The threats against the vibrancy of my faith now became far more subtle. The threats could come in different shapes,life changed! My parents released me, and my teachers did, i moved places and my parents blessed me and encouraged me to go out now and mold my life diligently, i was excited, after all-who hates freedom? the natural self hates control, so here i am in my own room and i started noticing that now i had to worry on how i spend, lest i sleep hungry, i had to worry on what i watch lest i fall, i had to worry on where i sleep because no one would actually direct me to bed, i had to worry about if i should go to class or not because nobody actually cared now. So decision making was literally my new way of life.
My journey of Faith took another turn, you know when i was very excited when i was young? At this point it was not this way anymore, i would now question God’s goodness when i found myself in a mess, or even when i made a wrong decision i’d still blame God for it.I found myself now grappling with the effects of using my phone and spending time jut scrolling, instead of talking to God. I even felt i could receive a faster comfort from people, i felt God was too slow if at all He had decided to move. Wrong decisions, too many tasks, difficult friends, love that turns sour, stressful landlords, misunderstandings, lack of money, ‘hustling’, quarrels… Huh!! The party had come to an end.Life was hard and following Christ was becoming harder than i had thought before.
This is a journey am on, in this stage of Life it is easy to get lost in it and forget the Person, Jesus, who invited me to let myself be held by Him. I was a child, i took life like a child and so was faith, when i am now grown, it is time i know i am no longer an infant, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind. At ten, i was so much excited about Jesus, at 20 i still am! in my 60’s i’d want to be more in love with God even better-to attain this i need to be deliberately growing. The waves will keep coming but i have to identify my place in the hands of God.
This was what i had thought that Growth in my faith just … happens.I thought i don’t need to put any input in it.
However, I’m learning that growth in God doesn’t come so naturally.
It requires a reach. I have to work out my salvation amidst the challenges i am facing, i must guard my faith with all diligence, it is all i have that is permanent, the other things that can easily make me wander away are so fleeting! You know there is nothing I have found as Fleeting as some of the grounds we want to permanently stand on- name all the pursuits we have make in life- vanity. But one thing i know is that we should keep reaching out to grow in our faith:
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
At the moment, in my reach towards being one who is deeply alive in God when I’m sixty, vibrant and hopeful and expectant:
1. I let myself stay hungry for God. This craving- ache is uncomfortable and it’s vulnerable — but it’s often followed by the kind of brushes with God that make me want to keep pursuing Him. I don’t just allow the hunger (you know, the kind that feels like “I don’t have an answer, all I know is that I need Him”), I invite it. I find myself praying as I approach His Word: “I barely know You, God” and instead of running from that sense of neediness towards some sort of strong solution, I lean into it. My insides would love to prove to you and anyone around me how much I know. But this sophisticated strand of pride is the very thing that will keep me from discovering the angles of God that I don’t know but which I need.
2. I have a steady stream of older women in my life (my mom included) who are five/ten/fifty/hundred steps ahead of me and to whom I’m saying “teach me what you know.” Sure, it feels awkward and even sometimes childish to reach out and say “I need help. I need input” but, as the Proverbs say: “where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). My natural tendency is to keep things to myself especially when am in a crisis, but i have made a deliberate choice to shed off this part of pride in me. I often keep reaching out for help, sometimes my heart is too bare and bruised, before i let that cloud out my view of God, i deliberately reach out for help.
In addition to older women i reach out to my spiritual leaders and friends.
3. I am learning to let go of my own Control and Just let God.
Most of my difficult moments in life are caused by my unwillingness to surrender, my prideful self that always never loved control has sometimes tried to convince me that i can handle the situation at hand, but it i have always hit a rock, but whenever i have given the matter completely to the shepherd of my soul, He faithfully guides. Imagine even when am this old, God still wants me to trust Him like a baby, you see how i would just let myself to sleep and i somehow knew my dad would take care of me and the next morning i’d wake up in bed, the same way God wants me to let Him handle my life.
You see God even in my 20’s, He is inviting me to be a Child!
4. I make time to wonder. (Yes, like a little girl who has spotted a picture of a giant.) To inhale and marvel at the life happening around me(to be still). Recently i have had too much on my hands, there was so much undone yet I knew that what my heart needed most was to get a break. My task list suffered at some point, but my heart grew towards God. I took time to watch all that was happening and ask God to refresh me again, a time to remember the valleys that i have walked in before and the Lord has held me through, remembering His constant faithfulness. Time to forgive myself and learn about my own imperfections.
The time might have started with complains and doubts, because i have learned to be honest with God and talk to Him as a friend, but as the period ends, it comes with peace even when i have not received all the answers i wanted.
I also celebrate myself and rebuke myself in equal measure, i take new decisions and reconstruct existing ones.
Sometimes the wonder of what is happening is too funny to laugh at, sometimes it’s too frustrating to let tears flow, Other times too mixed up to dance at it but the most important thing is to hear God in it.
5. I am learning to embrace the unseen moments of my day as the places where I can find God’s eyes on me … the most. This is the most difficult one that i have to keep learning. I have learnt that in this Christian walk i must learn to change my human worldview of life to a Faith worldview, View myself through the eyes of God and not from my feelings and emotions, they are so deceptive and fleeting! They drift us away from the promises of God. Just like Norman Hutchins sang, at this point i always need to remind my soul that even when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the Living Word of God I shall prevail because i am standing on the promises of God!
6. I take my service to God a serious Vocation. It is easy at this age to feel that i need to deal with some issues first before i become very ‘serious’ in the service, our generation does not feel very comfortable to always hang around church or things that will make them look like very serious Christians. Well, with the thought crossing my mind several times when i look at my peers or even feeling like am Short-changing some of my youthful activities at the expense of ministry, i will deliberately commit to remain actively participating in Church. It is easy to think that when we serve we are doing a favour to Pastors and elders but i have learned that the more i am in the fellowship(serving), the more i am growing. I will not do it thinking that i am doing God a favour but its a tool to enhance my growth in Faith, i still think i do not deserve many ministry opportunities God has trusted me, with all my limitations and in-capabilities, i think i am just there for growth nothing more. As i write this i feel like Pulling a psalmist 69:9 in this season in my life and say, ‘My devotion in your temple burns in me like a fire!’ So help me God.
For me things fall apart on many instances, i cannot keep count of the many times life has fallen apart, because it is that fleeting, but I am committed to remain on a solid ground- in THE FAITH, and it is a process of reaching out daily.
So help me God.
(On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.)