Wednesday, 10 August 2016

For Him…nothing is too hard

The holidays were finally over. For this one time, the holidays seemed far too long. I was about to meet him for the first time; of course we had known each other before, but not like this.  It had felt like eternity. We had done enough of the long phone calls and thrilling text messages (some people were just born to ruin others with punch lines I think). We were two weeks old in our relationship. This happened after months of him convincing me and me convincing myself. I finally gave in. Something seemed off, but I managed sweeping the skeptical thoughts under the carpet. I wanted to enjoy this. It had been a long time coming. 

Then I finally got to Eldoret. In just a few minutes and I would be in the campus. He had gotten there earlier, so I knew I would find him, waiting for me. My heart, it was playing catch up with the speed at which my blood was travelling. I couldn’t wait to meet him. 

The mat seemed a bit slow but we finally got there. It took us into the Student Center, which was just perfect. Nobody loved the journey from stage to the hostel, and with a suitcase. So there he was. The moment was finally here…and…it did not feel as I had anticipated. That spark…it wasn’t there. I tried feigning a smile but it just had no energy. I figured he could tell which made me feel worse. That hug…it was engulfed with disappointment. Some things are hard to hide. However, I chose to still give it a shot. I liked him. He made an awesome friend and confidant. Best of all, he was saved. ‘What else would a girl want?’ I thought, ‘I was doing it for the glory of God anyway. It had to work!’ Consolation Galore! 

The following two weeks felt like a huge burden had been placed on my shoulders; trying to play in love. I had to drag myself to check up on him. His calls sometimes just made me sick. The thrill that was in his texts somehow just disappeared. I had to push myself to do anything that would signify my love for him. I was running out of fuel. I just couldn’t take it anymore. 

Then push came to shove. I decided to go up to him and tell him. This was just too much for me. He was giving so much of himself. It was evident he was into it, while I was struggling, just to match up. I felt I was not being fair to him. So I decided to approach him with the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ perspective. ‘I just don’t feel like I love you as much as you love me. I think we should break this off early before it goes too deep’. I couldn’t help shedding tears, yet he seemed so calm; like he knew I was coming to break up with him. I had to pry, which didn’t yield much. So I asked him to pray. I knew he would be honest with God and maybe say something that would help me know the state of his heart. I loved that he did not play the pity card. I feared so. A portion of me held him with so much esteem for that reason. Nevertheless, I was so sure I could not love him. It was official: he was not my type. 

Afterwards, I felt much lighter. That load on my shoulders was finally off me. Pheux! Fast forward to two years later and God decides to glorify Himself in a way so beautiful. The same guy that I walked away from is the same guy I am now so head over heels in love with. 

When I met Joseph one year, seven months ago in 2015 (one year and three months after our break up), I knew he was just one of those campus guys you cross paths with and then that’s it. Little did I know the awesome plans that God had in store. I had gotten so used to dismissing any attempts of his to ask me to be his girlfriend. I would actually cringe at the thought of being his wife, so I did not even entertain the idea. I knew we were not meant to be. 

Then there was this night, it was mid-August 2015, right after I had done my night devotion and prayer. For some time, I had been praying and waiting. In my heart, I felt I needed to be found by that person I would settle down with. In my head, I scrutinized the caliber of men I already knew and sadly, none of them seemed to be ‘it’. Then suddenly, Joseph drops into my mind; sort of like out of nowhere. At that point, it felt like the jigsaw I was trying to fill in was finally complete. I wondered how blind I had been not to know. 

It suddenly beat me how, in spite of him knowing my shortcomings, he still wanted me in his life. He knew so much about me, some of which is awful, and yet he still pursued me. Tears began flowing down my cheeks right there. ‘This is not happening!’ Without even me realizing it, we had gotten so close at that time. I wondered how I was going to tell him about my new view of things. Some two days before then, he had asked me if there was any chance of us dating and as usual, I dismissed him, without even blinking an eye. ‘Now what to do?’ I presented it to God and asked Him to direct me if this was indeed His will. 

During one of the evenings as we texted, a few days later, I gathered courage and asked him. ‘What would you think if I told you I had a different view of things?’ From the context of the conversation we were having, he could easily tell what I was talking about. We were texting but I could tell the manner of shock he was in at my words. We slept on it. ‘Maybe I was having stray thoughts,’ we concluded. However, I became more sure as the days went by. It was unbelievable, even for me. Joseph tells this whole tale in more detail in the three-part series of Our Love Story. You can check it out later if you haven’t. 

How do I know that God worked all this out? I will explain this in four parts.
1.     I came face to face with the love of Christ
Through Joseph, God has taught me how to love like He does. I marveled at how Joseph pursued me even while he was fully aware of my flaws. I had not known such love before. I knew God loved me, as explained in John 3:16. I had however not seen how practical this could get. Joseph knew me beyond my physical and yet he still loved me. He was ready to take me in as I was. Romans 5:8 puts it even better, ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ This portion of scripture had never been this alive in me. How God loved me despite the mess I was in. He still kept pursuing me, as He is doing for you who has not accepted His free gift of salvation yet. Christ calls us to show this kind of love to others; and trust me, it is not the easiest thing to do. It is why God promises us His enabling grace, which is always sufficient. 

This Christ like nature in Joseph moved me to love and respect him a whole lot more. 

2.     The peace
My heart usually has a way of bugging me whenever I am about to make a wrong move. Even in my stubbornness, it would still have a way of ruffling me. I usually trust that to be the nudging of the Holy Spirit who is in me. This time, our coming together with Joseph has indeed brought me that sense of peace and rest. Our relationship is not the most perfect but then that peace of God has just been the settling factor; that peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

3.     I ate the humble pie
All through my conscious life, I have loved to be in control; aware of what I had, needed to do, the future and all its possibilities. For this case, God helped me know that this was pride. He brought me to terms with what surrender really meant. The glory was all supposed to be His and that was why I needed to let go and let God take over. Joseph being in full time ministry was not easy for me to take in, even for Joseph himself. It was not easy coming to terms with the fact that we would not be enjoying the ‘security’ of a paycheck from his side of the budget. God brought us both to that place of solely choosing to rely on Him; allowing Him to truly provide for us through His riches and glory that go far beyond our physical needs. For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:32-33). 

4.     God’s timing
When we parted ways with Joseph back then, that was it for me. Little did I know that a covenant had been made. I believe that if we had gone ahead with the relationship back then, it would have brought on us more sorrow than joy. I am convinced it wasn’t yet time. In the two years we spent apart, God has evidently worked on the both of us. He sorted out each of our weaknesses, still is, even as he prepared each of us for this union. Looking back, I can honestly say that I was not ready to be in any relationship. There is so much more I know now that I believe needed to be learnt as I sought God while on my own. The very same applied to Joseph. The much he did in the two years I doubt he would have been able to do with me in the picture. I can almost see how much of a distraction I would have been. Joseph had made a pact with God and at the right time, which I believe was God’s time, He brought it to pass beautifully. After exactly two years, God softened my heart towards Joseph and poured in me a love I have never felt before. It almost feels like I have never loved before. This could not have been by anything else but God’s hand. 

Now I may not know much of what awaits in the future; I still ask myself many questions sometimes. However, the fact that God has promised to walk with us all the way is what we shall draw our hope from. Even through the hard times, we shall fix our eyes on Jesus, and not on other people or the things of this world. For Him, I know, nothing is too hard. 

Joseph says: 
Isla gave me the honors to comment first on this beautifully written article. I’ll do so with a few lessons I’ve learned through the process. 
-      No kind of presence can replace physical presence. I might have been a great personality on the other end of the phone, but that was it. She had fallen for the Joseph the phone call or text away, not the Joseph the breath away whom she needed to love instead. Initiating a dating relationship through a phone call or social media would be a terrible mistake. At best those mediums can only facilitate a connection, but they can never become the connection. 

-       It was never meant for people to become friends in a relationship, but to grow in friendship. Friendship just has to come first. In my post on breakups, I point out that we don’t relate to know each other, but we relate because we know each other well enough to risk life together. 

-       However important it is to hear God before committing into a relationship, neither myself nor Isla received any Bible verse or heard some voice from heaven saying he/she is the one. Why would we confidently take the next step then? Because hearing God on a relationship is not an event. He works with circumstances and makes everything perfect in its time (Ecc 3:11). It’s also all life encompassing and not just exclusive to singular aspects. You cannot ignore Him on matters career and expect you’ll hear Him on the choice of a partner. There are no specific areas of life to get right and so pursue more obedience than with others, there is only one life to live right and all its aspects to be lived as God leads. So, instead of asking you to hear God, I prefer to say be led of Him. 

-     Finally, simply trust God. He may never explain things, He may never leave a sign, but be assured He will always fulfill His promise. And sometimes, His promise is not as we make it. It may not come with what we asked, but it will come with what He purposed to give; and that’s always what we truly need.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


I am really wishing I could go back to the days of writing compositions about the day I will never forget. That Sunday of June the 5th would fit perfectly. Am normally the questioning and prying type but surprisingly for this case, I was successfully duped. My boyfriend, now Fiance', Liali Joseph and his gang got me unbelievably. (I thought we were tight you guys...mwanzo Teckla na Flo. Woi!) was a sweet surprise. I really appreciate the love. You guys are nothing short of amazing. Those who came all the way from Juja (Shad and crew) a big thank you to all you guys.
And to's official! I no longer have an idea what you are capable of. I thought I had you figured out. were right, when we get to the fifties is when I will hopefully start getting close, by the grace of God. Thank you for being the thoughtful and loving boyfriend you have been; and now as you get to being my fiance', I know things can only get better. I love you so much!
So here goes the 'behind the scenes' of how the proposal went down as told by Liali Joseph. Find more of his wonderfully inspiring articles here

“Hey hun, been feeling like it’s been a long time since I’ve ever been on stage ministering using a spoken word. Kinda been heavy on me to restore this gifting I have kept idle for far too long, and hopefully grow it even to greater heights. Spoke to my pasi about it and he agreed I could use our church for a comeback of sorts. So I’ll be performing Sunday and I want you to be there. What you say?” 

“Hey, that would be awesome. I feel it’s been too long too. It sure is time you used that gift bana. Had plans for Sunday at our church, but anything for you baby (I can’t believe she calls me that with this huge goatie tailing my face at the chin). I’ll arrange and come. I love you.” 

That was how we got it started. About a month back. Sunday at the Interdenominational Church JKUAT, the church I attend didn’t quite work. So I had to push my plans to another time. Meanwhile her pastor had asked to meet me. A great guy; laughs as often as he talks. So busy you feel for him and yet wonder he’d even slot you time in his schedule. Reverend Alfred Apela, God bless his soul. He and his wife had known their lovely daughter from church was planning to get married. So he asked to see the boyfriend, perhaps to confirm he wasn’t the usual fisi type, in it today and out of it tomorrow. Every loving parent fears that, right?

We met with pasi at their church, All Saints Cathedral (despite attending service there a number of times, I still marvel at how Pentecostal their youth church feels. So not the typical Anglican, with old hymns I used to find boring when a child. Used to!) It wasn’t a long one, but the meeting was great. Before leaving, I floated the idea of proposing at their church. He thought it could work, and promised to make arrangements. Boy this place can have busy services. I had to wait for about three weeks while he pushed for me all he could. Isla did great ever reminding him and encouraging me to keep hoping. The kind of supportive girlfriend who won’t just believe in you, but believe for you when she has to.

Sunday, June the 5th of 2016. This would be the day of God’s choosing. The day this ring I had safely kept in some case in my room would find a perfect host. She spent Saturday at my co-conspirator Flo. It had just worked itself that they agreed she would go there for a sleepover. Flo is a sister to me; the type you easily gel with from the day you meet. She’d even taken me to the nice shop in Hurlingham where I got the ring. Helped me figure if it would fit. A ‘traitor’ plotting Isla’s final fall. Of all places, hers would be where she wakes up to her surprise day from. She tells me that Isla passionately prayed for this ministry I’d be launching that morning (you are a tough one Flo to not have burst into laughter). Left me even a text saying how she’d prayed for courage and confidence to minister to God’s people. 

Those two traits, sure I needed them to pull off what I had planned. And thank you so much for praying honey. But ‘people’, sorry my love but you were the people you were praying for. 

We met outside the church and she gladly ushered us in. Showed the girls to their sits. She couldn’t suspect a thing despite the many friends there with us. All she knew was I had invited them to come watch me minister, excited for me just as much as she was. The worship was great, such a gifted worship team they have. The visiting preacher’s moment came, but before he would climb up the pulpit, Rev Apela called me up. Our relationship had grown and he was right to introduce me as his son. He said I had a spoken word. I grabbed the mic, did a little introduction and then got on it. It was a very missional one, like from beginning to the end. Two lines away from finish, I jumped down the pulpit. I had maintained a relative ease since beginning with a chorus of that Chris Tomlin song I Will Rise. The crowd had been silent; I suppose absorbing the piercing truth that God was calling them to join Him on His mission to the lost.

My move downward would perhaps be interpreted for a genius attempt to connect with the crowd better. The mood was solemn, and maybe moving closer to them would make the message sink deeper.

Will you follow me as I follow Christ, and believe in this one thing that I believe in? (walking towards the congregation, my eyes staring at no one in particular)
Will you join me to the ends of the earth, and make famous the God who made it? (closer, eyes stuck to one section of the crowd now)

A slight pause with a telling smile: 

Will you, ISLA AMBIYO marry me, so we can perfect each other for when our real bridegroom (Jesus) someday breaks in like a thief? Yes, will you marry me? (walking towards her row, and eyes – not just mine but all in the room, on her. Some wowed and some quietly staring in utter disbelief) 

She couldn’t believe it. How her eyes popped I’m just thanking God now I won’t be marrying a blind Isla. I honestly feared they would chuck out her sockets. That brief look on her face; if she ever threatens me with that face, I will surely give her anything she demands. You know you’ve shocked the life out of a pretty girl when for her lone time in life she doesn’t look picturesque. Thank God chances of that happening again are slimmer than finding life in the sun. Suddenly she shot up from her sit and walked towards me. Don’t think she was excited and couldn’t wait for the ring in my hand to get to her. It was all adrenaline and impulse, walking towards me without realizing she was. I feared she would knock herself on a sit or trip on her heels and so took her by the hand fast. 

Then at the spot where all could see, I went on my knee. I was surprised seeing the photos later that I actually did it right and knelt on the left one; and yes, that I didn’t care if my cream khaki pants would pick dust from the floor confirms I love this girl. If you are surprised at that then you have no idea what washing a bright, stained, heavy material cloth is to a man. Isla wasn’t back to earth yet. She couldn’t tell which hand was the right one, so she stretched both to me. I was like, “easy girl, it’s me Jose. Not some Alejandro or Hollywood icon.” Then I realized am the most special man in her eyes. Far better to her than anyone else she’s ever met or seen. Asking her to marry me before so many people was by far her best (though a bit scary) experience in life so far.

I knew it was the left hand. I just didn’t know which finger. Yeah, I was losing it too out of the excitement. I asked Rev on the mic and he offered no help, he only gave a laugh. Of course the watching crowd laughed too. But I figured and placed the ring where it belonged. I rose, and she impulsively pulled me to herself and hugged me. Not that she couldn’t wait for me to hug her. She just wasn’t back to herself yet. We climbed up the stage and Rev prayed for us. Every believer in there said a prayer for us, and it felt beautiful. It was glorious in our eyes what the Lord had done for us. 

I doubt she got much from the sermon. The friends who had come flanked us after the service and we went out together. (So thankful to you guys for coming. You’ve been faithful and true every step of the way). The wait finally paid off. It was worth the hustle of forfeiting a thing or two and affording her a beautiful ring from my little monthly support for ministry. It was worth the weeks’ long labor of playing with her fingers on dates trying to figure the size of the ring to buy and hoping she never sees the surprise coming. It was worth keeping the secret so long and baiting her into her love trap. I can’t imagine how Teckla, her longtime best friend with whom she shares so much and neighbor, who always itches with news survived with the secret these many weeks. Girl you are a perfect example of grace and we will always be grateful for having you in our lives.

We hope to have our wedding on the 19th of November, and you reading this are invited officially. A simple evening wedding, still at All Saints Cathedral, where we will snack and not necessarily eat (sorry y’all pilau lovers). Our hope has always been that our wedding will be excellent yet simple; to model something replicable to young couples out there hoping to someday walk into marriage in honor of God without having to break a bank. You can read this link to see how simple we hope to have it and why. We invite you to support us as we plan for our big day through whichever way, with however much; that you will cheerfully be a blessing to us. Though we may or may never be able to repay you, I only pray that God rewards you in a most remarkable way.

Every good gift is welcome. You can do a car (laughs); by the way it’s not like I haven’t been dying to self, I do every day. But I think the ujaluo in me will be the last to die. More seriously anyway, whatever you bring we will appreciate. Even if you can’t afford a thing, we would still love to be honored by your presence. I’m not promising the best wedding you’ll ever witness, but am praying that God’s glory shines on that day. That like He did with our engagement, He will lift Himself again to be seen by all who come to our wedding. If He doesn’t mind, may some water be turned into wine even (smiles).

Thank you so much everyone who sent in felicitations. It felt like we were under a spotlight for a moment. It actually still does. Couldn’t respond personally to every single message, but we read them all. We are so grateful to have felt your love and warmth. May every prayer you made for us come true according to God’s will. I anticipate that life will soon get back to normal, both for you and us. That there will be days when it will be just us two. No cheers from the crowd that now celebrates us, maybe not even the slightest show of concern. Those days will feel lonely no doubt, and we’ll wish we could snap out of them. Then I will remember, and Isla will too, that there is only One being with whom it all ends. The One with whom it all began. God! We will seek Him and with Him remain. Not the ring, nor the world, nor even the love we feel for each other will keep us together. He will. It is my prayer for you, for your relationship, for your marriage, for your anything, that He shall be the center of it all.

To whoever wishes to send in a gift of any kind to us, either for the wedding or more importantly for our marriage ahead, kindly reach me on my email

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Freedom in the truth: It’s not about me

Being a first born, I had always naturally wanted to be the best in all I do; setting the pace for the ones behind me. I loved being praised. I remember a time in nursery school when I cried insisting that my teacher calls me a good girl (yep…it was that serious). She refused and I was frustrated. I had to go home and tell mom. She calmed me down and somehow, I knew I was good even though my teacher refused to say it. So, I grew up with that kind of notion and before long, I began to feel the weight of it. 

The downsides of this mindset started showing when I began living independently. My parents who I would run to were now so far away. It was time to face the bull by its horns. Many were the times I would quickly resolve to mediocre when I saw that being good wouldn’t pay off as much. This mostly happened when I knew no one was watching and hence there would be no acknowledgement or a pat on the back for my good actions. This kept happening until recently when I slowly began learning the truth, and it transformed me. Completely.

Largely, my life began taking a U-turn in the year 2012. I began seeing how I had been doing it all wrong. For those who have known me from way back, I trust they would consider me anything but bad. I have come to learn that creating a façade of being altogether lovely is so easy. This has helped me refrain from judging the people around me; you can never truly see the whole picture. Displaying this façade is bondage of its own kind; it equates living a lie. The approval of human beings brings a pleasant tinge to the heart; but how quickly it fades into worthlessness is just utterly heartbreaking. It leaves you yearning for more of it and every time, it leaves the same empty space. The feeling just keeps getting worse with time. It then develops into a neediness which can easily lead one into extremes, trying to satisfy the unquenchable.

It was not an easy truth to take in. Four years down the line is when I would say I am beginning to scratch the surface of this liberating concept. It is not about me

Chaotic self-love
Everything about the world we live in today will most certainly encourage love for self. Is loving yourself wrong? Absolutely not! It is actually good to love yourself. Jesus tells us in the book of Mark 12:31 to ‘…love your neighbor as yourself.’ However, today the self has been exalted far much higher than all else. The question ‘What is in it for me?’ has become far too common, even in the body of Christ. 

Competition is another manifestation of self-love whose consequences are evident even in the church; and I am not talking about the positive competition of outdoing another in doing them good. Competition can never have positive outcome when your desire is being known as the most powerful worship leader in church, the most charismatic, crowd-drawing preacher in town or the best go-to-person on matters spiritual. There is nothing wrong when it is people giving you these labels (though you need to be extremely careful not to allow them get into your head). A problem comes in when you are actually striving to have people place these labels on no one else but you. It is such selfish ambitions that will lead to feelings of jealousy and envy when we see other people gaining more accolades than we are. When you begin to get frustrated just because so and so seems to be doing better than you are, then you need to sit back and evaluate your motives. Why are you serving in that ministry? Are you doing it for God or just to create a name for YOURSELF? 

Living for God
So here comes the bombshell of all times. My life is not my own. As a Christian, I need to surrender my ways to God and hold nothing back. I thank God for William McDowell. His popular song ‘Withholding nothing’ has ministered to me in a big way. It is hard to believe that for many years, I have sang the song ‘I surrender all’ and yet my mind never quite registered what the lyrics really meant. Galatians 2:19-20a says ‘For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…’ It is Christ who lives in me now. Accepting this truth and praying that I truly die to self has indeed changed my life.

My focus has shifted, my priorities have been rearranged and my life seems to have more substance right now, at least more than before. I no longer do good things to be seen or praised by people. I no longer live for me, myself and I. ‘…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20b). I would say that this is the most liberating truth I have ever heard (John 8:32). It puts me at a place of striving to be a genuine and authentic human being just to please Him. Whether applauds from my fellow humans come or not has ceased to matter. He alone is to be glorified through it all.

This may seem a little hard to chew for those new in the faith. Like I said, it took me quite some time before grasping this; and this is just a tip of the iceberg. Everything in our flesh will lead us away from this truth. This is because we are naturally born selfish. However, we thank God for His amazing grace. As you slowly yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, spending time reading the word of God and in prayer, you will eventually find walking in the spirit more fulfilling than walking in the flesh. You will learn how to surrender your will to God, trusting Him to lead you right. It takes deliberate effort to allow Christ to live in us, and only then can He set us free (John 8:36).

I will close with this wonderfully profound quote by Ian Thomas from his book ‘The Mystery of Godliness’:

The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Why he had to be saved

There was a time in my life when I used to be really turned off by nice guys. Guys who were so kind and gentle to me would obviously have no place in my ‘heart’. I would think to myself, “Huyu nitamkalia tu. Acha ata tusisumbuane. (I am just going to defraud this one. I better leave him alone).” I would then get very cold and the poor guy would just walk away. I preferred the so called ‘bad boys’. A compliment or just a glance from a guy who was labelled bad would cause my knees to wobble; my heart would beat faster than the pneumatic drill (literally). I would actually go past cloud nine. Unknowingly, I had been carried by this deceptive wave of bad being ‘dope’ and nice being boring.

Even after I got born again, this mindset crossed over with me. I wondered if I was ready to obey God’s command on 2 Corinthians 6:14 with the way guys who were born again were seeming unattractive. Thankfully, I managed breaking up with the then boyfriend I had before receiving Christ; and was he bad! My friends would warn me of the many other girls he had out there (I totally feel for Teckla and Catherine each time I recall this phase of my life. You girls tried.). Apparently, I had fallen so head over heels that all these allegations they made did not make sense to me at all. Amidst so many tears and sleepless nights, I did it. I let him go. 

After a year of being single and saved, the Lord brought along a man who would turn out to be very significant in my life. All through this while; I had learnt much about relationships and why Paul had to be very forthright about 2 Corinthians 6:14. It says:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

It took me time to actually accept what the Lord was saying to me in this verse and just take it as it was. So, I will expound on why I chose to obey and only allowed myself to relate with a guy who was saved.

A course
The one major thing I learnt about any healthy relationship is that it must be founded on something. In this case, a gentleman and a lady relating must be aware of the direction in which their relationship is heading. For this case, marriage must be the focus. With how the world is today, the meaning of marriage has been greatly trampled on. It is rare to find people, even in the church, speaking positively about it. Marriage is not an institution you want to commit to with someone not too sure about it; in other words, having one leg in and one leg out.

Christ at the center
In the book of John 15:5, Christ said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing…” with time, I have come to appreciate the fact that indeed Christ meant every word He said here. The vine signifies Christ being our source. Us separating ourselves from Him means disobeying His commands and looking elsewhere for refuge. He then says “…apart from Me you can do nothing…” This may sound a bit too harsh but again, He meant it. It may not look so on the surface each time we disobey. However, this will mostly explain the emptiness and disappointment that come with relationships not founded on Christ. We end up making idols of our partners, putting them at the place of God; a responsibility only God Himself can handle. 

I can confidently testify that there is nothing as fulfilling as a relationship with Christ at the center. This comes not only from my own personal experience, but also from older couples in the faith I know. It is hard to have Christ at the center of your relationship with a partner who does not share your faith. In fact, it is utterly impossible. The relationship may seem to blossom at the beginning. However, it will only be a matter of time and the cracks will begin to show. In following Christ, the trust-and-obey policy is what works. Apart from Him you can do nothing. 

The selfish agenda
I know some may be going like ‘How about I lead him/her to Christ while we relate?’ This may shock you but there is actually nothing Christ-like in that. You are seeking to convert another into your faith for your own selfish gain: so that you can relate with them. Two negative results are possible here. The partner in question may actually agree and get saved for your sake; to impress you. This now means that Christ is out of this equation. It is not Christ that saved them; it is you that ‘saved’ them. This is not Christ-glorifying at all. 

The other result would be resentment. The partner may end up resenting you due to the pressure they feel you are placing on them to have your faith. This then becomes a hindrance to the working of the Holy Spirit; who is the only one able to truly convict anyone in to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The partner then ends up moving farther away from ever discovering the love of Christ for what it is. This is therefore not an option for anyone who genuinely loves another who is not in the faith. Being found in God’s will is more important than missing out on a supposed love story. 

Growing is always good; something I constantly desire concerning my faith. Being in a relationship with a partner with whom you can share values that are of benefit to both of you is an awesome thing. This means that your views of life are not too different and you are both driven by similar values. My faith is important to me. I therefore needed to walk into marriage with someone who would lead me in a godly way. 

I realise how critical the position of a husband is; both in society and spiritually speaking. That is a major reason why I did not want to accept just anyone on to that spot. I do not mean that it had to be someone perfect. I know Joseph is not the most perfect guy in the world for me, just as I am not the most perfect girl for him; but it is through our imperfections that we are both learning to love perfectly. The Lord is using our weaknesses and strengths to mold each one of us into His likeness. I am convinced that the marriage relationship was designed by God more for our eternal benefit, than just for our enjoyment in this world. It is more about God’s glory, than my happiness and satisfaction.

So the bad-boy-syndrome is dead in me. I am more thrilled by Christ-like charm nowadays; which is exactly what God has blessed me with. The man in my life is one I would comfortably describe as my best friend. He is one person I love to look up to. We may not be too sure what is coming in the future we are both looking forward to, but with Christ being the Rock of us, I know those storms will come and pass. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Crazy in Faith

I know. The title is weird. Read through the Bible and if you are keen enough, trust me, you will meet them; the crazy in faith. Those who would hear God call and just go. Drop everything and just go. Quite adorable I think. 

I will not use too many examples. Some few months ago, I did this unforgettable devotional on YouVersion called A tale of Ridiculous Faith. It was talking about Elisha. His story is found in the book of 2 Kings. Honestly, the things Elisha did were ridiculous. The kind of faith he manifested was on another level. Totally sold out he was. You can easily tell that he knew, even if he lost everything, he had everything to gain in the Lord. He was so confident in the God he served. No doubt about that.

Then those three guys in Babylon; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I would never want to grow accustomed to their story (it is found in Daniel 3). The king, Nebuchadnezzar, had made an image which he required everyone to bow down to. So when the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music were sounded, everyone else bowed down; except those three guys. The king is informed of the divergent three. He summons them and threatens to throw them into the furnace if they do not conform. So here goes why I put them in the ‘Crazy in Faith’ category: how they responded to the king in verse 16-18.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They were saying this to the king, and not just any king; the great king Nebuchadnezzar. He was so furious that he ordered the furnace to be pumped seven more times. The soldiers who took the three to the furnace apparently died; the flame was that intense. Then guess what? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego get in and out of the megasuperblazing furnace not even smelling of smoke. Yes. The Lord came through for them.

I am always marveling at those three. I keep thinking about those words they said to the king (not sure who among them said it but they most certainly were together in it all). The part that strikes me most is verse 18(a), “But even if he does not...” This phrase tells me something profound. I learn that all Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wanted to do was to fulfill the will of God. The consequences did not shake their stand. What the king would do, what the other people were saying and more gross, the blazing furnace; all these did not cause them to denounce their God. Now this is what I call being totally sold out. It is my prayer every day; to just do the will of God and leave the rest to Him.

In order to be sure that we are fulfilling the will of God, we need to be sensitive to His voice. How do we even get to that place of hearing His voice? Intimacy. We need to be so intimate with God that nothing He wills for us to do passes us by. God can speak to us through various avenues: His word, our situations, our convictions, quiet time in prayer, a lack or presence of peace in us, the people around us and we cannot even limit Him to these. He can use anything. After all, He is all powerful. Isn’t He?

Another thing that we always need to remember is that we are a royal priesthood. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” With such a powerful and honourable title on us, how do we stoop so low? So low that we find it okay to just do things (especially the obviously sinful things) because everyone else around us is doing them? Standing out of the crowd when everyone else was bowing down was not an easy thing. Allowing my imagination to be active, am almost sure Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had some chills of fear running down their spines; but they did not give in. Guys in the crowd must have called out to them asking what foolishness they were doing (or something like that). Others maybe even tried to drag them down to bow but they still stood. Firm. How did they hack? Simple. They knew who they were. They knew the God they served.

It becomes easy to trust someone when you know him or her; when you are sure about the state of his or her heart towards you. There is this powerful quote that my beloved Joseph loves to remind me of every so often, “God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken. So when you don’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His Heart.” His way of doing things is far more powerful and of more significance than your mind could ever perceive. So trust Him.

People talk of being crazy in love, right? How about we all strive to be Crazy in Faith and trust this Mighty God we serve? 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A Hunger for Eternity

I am yet to get over the wonder of the human mind. It is amazing. Science even claims that human beings begin to perceive things right from when they are infants. I think this is so fascinating. It gets me wondering why God would give us this kind of intelligence. Totally unmatched to any other creature. 

I doubt it would just be for getting good grades at school, get a degree and even a PhD, work in a good firm and die. That sounds so vain, it’s frustrating. Or could such awesome minds lead one into discovering the cure for AIDS and save humanity from the grave disaster. Hhmmm! Not so bad that one. But then what? Even after the AIDS is cured, death will still find its way to those people who were cured. They may end up succumbing to something else. Probably worse. I know how bad this sounds, but then we all know it is the truth. I get to thinking there has to be something more. Something that caters for our souls, and not just our bodies alone.

In 1669, Blaise Pascal (a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher) wrote the following in his book Pensées
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” 

I thought this was profound. It explains why we keep having this thirst, we hunger for something deep. It gets even hard to explain. However, due to lack of knowledge, some of us find ourselves feeding this hunger with inappropriate things. These may include money, fame, a husband, a wife, a hobby, pursuing a career or a business and even a child. This we may do even without our knowledge which makes it all the more sad. However, these things will prove to be as vain as they come. You yearn for them so much, and on acquiring them, they don’t give the satisfaction that was anticipated. This is what comes with idolising the things of this world. Immense disappointment. I know most of us have been there. 

Ecclesiastes 3:11(b) talks of God having placed eternity in our hearts. Therefore with this, I am convinced that the things that can fully satisfy us are found in God. He is eternal. That is why Matthew 6:33 exhorts us to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to us as well. How bare could this get? I believe seeking God and His righteousness places Him where He wants to be in our lives. At the throne of our hearts. This will then enable us to see things as He does; to be in His likeness. With this kind of transformed mindset, the Holy Spirit of God will then guide us. The way we speak, our thoughts, how we perform our duties, the way we interact with others; it will not just be about us. It will be for Him. 

Having the Holy Spirit as our driving force guarantees that eternity will be our only focus. Whatever we do will be aimed at having eternal impact. Colossians 3:2 puts it clearly that we set our minds on things above and not on earthly things (read the whole chapter to better understand the context later). This is what draws the line between those living in vanity and those living for eternity. By no means does this verse advise us to ignore the things of this very world we live in. It appeals to the motive. What mostly occupies your mind? What is your driving force? Have you thought about your fate after your life in this world? 

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)