TRUST THE PROCESS 1 – SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

A few years ago, I got heavily into debt. It started out small and before I knew it, it was a lifestyle. Have a Need? I’d pray, then search my mind for someone that “God” might possibly direct me to ask. I enjoyed good relationships with a number of people and I borrowed from almost all of them.  Before I knew it, I was in trouble. One day in church, the pastor pointed at the section where I was sitting and said ” there’s someone on that side, you’re heavily in debt, on the verge of disgrace. God is going to come through for you” I burst into tears of both shame and relief…I knew it was me.

As I made my way home, I could practically see my testimony in church the next week. How I was sitting at home, and I got a sudden mysterious credit alert. Or how all my debtors suddenly all called to forgive my debt. Or how someone just called out of the blue to give me the exact amount I needed. I was relieved and excited.

None of that happened…I spent the next 2 years paying off that debt and yet, God did come through for me. He used that process, the eye opening process of calculating exactly how much I owed, the calls one by one to let my creditors know when they could expect their money, the relief when 2 forgave my debt, the resentment and then unhappiness when one creditor cut me off…it took that entire process to teach me the lessons about finance that now define my life.

Why do we run away from the process? Why do we try to avoid the very lessons that God prepares to teach us the lessons we need? We want it now, the ready made solution, the overnight miracle…and though there are quite a few of us that will wake up one day with an unexpected solution to a problem, guys, for many of us, that will not happen because the very thing we’re running away from is the very thing you need to grow to become what you need.

Every guy since you’ve been 18 has dumped you…you’re 31 and single. You’re resentful and angry. What is your process? You’ve tried 5 million businesses, they all fail, people have stopped picking your calls because they don’t want to hear about another hare brained scheme. You’re confused. What is your process?

Guys I learned. In that period I learned. I realised I had no business eating out and being one of those onigbeses constantly being called out on twitter. I learned that before I took out my expenses money I had to pay off that month’s bill or it would become impossible. I lost a relationship with a mentor who was trying to teach me how to diversify income but whose purpose in my eyes, was as a pocket. I learned responsibility. I learned prudence. I learned all I needed to learn.

I learned that sometimes, what you need is not “a seed”. One of the things I owed was a pledge I had made in church. I couldn’t afford it, I had no income. But I made it and waited for God to supply the money I would use to pay the seed. He didn’t. Sometimes guys, throwing money at the altar won’t cut it.

I realised that, while faith will often defy logic, it is not irresponsible. I learned that God will honour faith, but not foolishness. There are times when you get a clear word from God  – this money you’ve set aside, it’s for Me. And you know it is. But how many of us go up to the altar, not a dime in our pocket, in the full assurance that money we don’t have and have no chance of getting will somehow be given to us to pay a seed we did not receive a word to sow. If God asks you to pay a monetary seed, brethren be assured He will give you the money, but if He has not spoken to you…well…

How many of you have borrowed to sow a seed? How many of us understand what a seed is?

It’s not money. It’s something you invest that yields a return. And while sometimes your seed is cash, many many times, your seed has nothing to do with money.

You’re believing God for a car. They announce car dedication, you go up the aisle, drop a “seed” in the basket. Go outside and lay your hands on the car and ask God to acknowledge your seed. Then your cab guy calls to tell you he has arrived and you hop in and drive off, past the church members waiting fruitlessly for a cab.

You’re trusting God for a promotion, and so you sow a “seed”. But 5pm on the dot your bag is packed and you’re ready to go.

Sometimes your seed is not a seed.

You know what I realised this morning, I have always, no matter where I have worked, had at least one, many times more than one person that has taken the responsibility of teaching and mentoring me. Always. Might it be tied to the fact that everywhere I go, I make it a duty to teach the people who work with me? So that as I am sowing into people’s lives I am also reaping from others?

Evaluate your seed.

You’re out of school and need a job, you walk to church and put in some money, believing for that miracle job that will elevate you to family rockstar. Past the office where you can volunteer to work to build work experience and where God has placed someone who will one day offer you a higher position that will lead to another position that will lead you to rockstar status.

My sister teased me once, she said that my answer to everything was “How much is it?” And so it was. I had gotten so used to throwing money at stuff that I had stopped working on things. Let me paint us a picture. You have one junior friend who you know isn’t in great circumstances. One day, junior comes to you and says “Senior, I need school fees for this year. Please, let me wash your clothes for a week and then you’ll help me” So you agree. Next, Junior needs books and so cleans your house for a week. By Junior’s 4th or 5th visit, you’re thinking as you watch Junior come up your driveway “What does he want this time?”

We kinda treat God like those old pumps where you had to pour a little water in first before water would come out. Don’t we? Because giving money for something we need frees us from working on it, frees us from learning, from stretching, from the painful processes associated with growth.

Guys, our lives should be a constant process of sowing – everything we have and we are should be a seed. A daily taking up of the cross and following, a daily death to self in order to awake to Him. When we are asked to be a living sacrifice, we become a daily seed – living our lives for the sole process of giving to Him. And as we do, He takes our seeds and provides us a harvest, sometimes totally without our knowledge.

Remember that piece in the Bible where Jesus is telling some guy “You fed me when hungry, clothed me when naked, visited me in prison” And dude is like “Huh, Lord, when was that? Cos I don’t remember”. When your life becomes a seed, giving to Christ through the people that you serve becomes a way of life so much a part of you that it stops being about what you need, and starts becoming about what you can give.

So when you wake up one day and some random person out of the blue has called you for a job you didn’t apply for, you have no clue that it was the harvest from the woman who came to apply for cleaner in your office, who was looking for a 25,000 a month job, but who you recommended for 35,000 Office Assistant because you took the time to evaluate her and realised that she had the skills and temperament for the job.

Or the harvest for working night after night, after everyone else had gone, doing your bit and then extra, treating the company like your own.

Or the harvest for that lady who lost her husband and whose children you offered to pay school fees for, despite your lack, because you knew she didn’t have a job.

Or the harvest for that friend of yours who you happened to refer to that other friend of yours who was looking for someone for his office.

And when you give the testimony in church, you have no seed to tie it to, because your life, day by day, is a seed, a gift to the one who sowed His life for you.

And then Person B ties into the testimony with a hefty sum of money, and when God shows that job paying below minimum wage to start off with, Person B has no clue that God is showing them the farm into which they must sow. And so they turn the job down.

Let me issue a disclaimer again – I have nothing against giving money in church. Sometimes that indeed is what is asked. My point is this, we need to go beyond the giving of money to the real sowing, the surrendering of ourselves to be vessels here on earth. We need to understand that even when we give money, many times the seed is not the money itself, but the sacrifice. The yielding. We need to open our minds to the understanding that a seed is not something you give God for Himself, but something you give Him to work with so that He can give back to you, and always, beyond a doubt, the best seed that you can give God, is you. We need to stop trying to escape the process of growth, the painful, stretching process of investing into something that pays off into a harvest that lasts a lifetime.

Some years ago, I had a bad breakup, I dedicated one year of my life to being single. I would not have called it a seed, except in that year, God opened my eyes to all the mistakes I had been making in my relationships. I ended that year a different person than I started it, the lessons will stay with me all my life.

I struggled with a lack of victory in many areas. And God led me to invest 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night to praying in tongues. Just 10. And it started a process of metamorphosis that still amazes me till today with how much is changing within me.

I learned that God will not give me shortcuts simply because I want to avoid the complications of the mess I left on the road. I learned that the process itself is a seed in itself, reaping a harvest far beyond my imaginations. I learnt that the best seed I can sow is the giving of my life to Him, yielding to His learning, pouring myself out as He did – it’s a sharing of my time, my money, my work, my sweat…it’s a complete surrender. I am learning to die daily like Paul – to give mine for His, trusting that He is able to take my mortal seed and give me an immortal harvest.

I’m not there yet, but it’s a process, and I’m growing

And sometimes guys, the harvest takes forever to show, and you wait, and wonder, and worry. You don’t know what else to do. Sometimes dear friend, the waiting itself is the process. But as sure as there is a God in Heaven, your harvest will come.

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FOR GOD HAS NOT GIVEN US…

But God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of  power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Now I know that I, like many other people, quote that verse probably on a daily basis. However, today, something today forced me to look at it again critically and I noticed something new…

Let me break it down like this:

First, God has not given us the spirit of fear

Well, first this means that fear in you is an alien; it doesn’t belong to you and wasn’t given by God. Second, it tells me that fear is a spirit, so if it is a spirit, it can be dealt with by the Spirit of God at work in me. I am learning to recognize fear as a spirit on a mission from the devil and to cast it out by the Spirit of God. It is not of God, so fear in my spirit is never something I should entertain.

Second…and this was the one that made me excited…what He has given us – power, love and a sound mind…

Why does power come first? Because that is our default standing as a child of God…our default position in Christ is one of power. Now, imagine walking into a shop as President Goodluck’s daughter…you would walk in with the full confidence of your father’s position in leadership. So why are we so timid in our approach to life? Why don’t we carry this authority with us wherever we go?

In my opinion, and this might be true for you as well, our biggest fears come from a feeling of powerlessness, an inkling that things are happening/might happen that we will be unable to deal with/influence/change/control.

The devil literally lies to us, he hides our truth and feeds us a lie…and we believe and accept it

This morning, God reminded me of the power I have in Him, and even more, His power that is at work in and for me.

Then love…because power without love becomes a dictatorship. We would wield authority without caring for others. So God gives us love to act as the channel through which we exercise this power, thus ensuring that as we exercise our power, we do so as He would, with a heart full of love for the various people we encounter.

And then, a sound mind…or as I thought of it this morning – mental and emotional balance. Knowing the right thing to do, possessing a clear view of the world and the actions thereafter, possessing the skills to effectively and correctly assess what needs to be done as it needs to be done.

I saw this verse through new eyes today, and it just gave me a boost in my spirit. Many of the things we face come from ignorance of our rights, possibilities and privileges in Christ.

Today, God opened my eyes to just one of many…I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

DAY 30 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I went to church this evening, and in the middle of worship, I felt such a moment of gratitude for all the things that God has used my church to give me:

1. I learnt worship there. Now I grew up singing soul stirring hymns that moved my soul to Heaven, and NCCF showed me that it was possible to get lost in music, but it was in church that I learnt to fully let go. Just raise my hands and forget everyone and everything and just focus on the Lover of my Soul, Olowo ori mi. Today as I worshipped, a smile came from deep within me and just burst out on my face…I smiled as I told Him that in my life, I see what He’s doing…I gave Him my worship…offered it to Him and enjoyed His delight. BTW, That song – I have confidence in You…to me is one of the simplest yet most powerful songs ever; a statement of pure affirmation, no grammar, just trust.

2. I learnt to apply the Word there. Again I grew up with a strong doctrine background, but as much as I knew that I had to obey the Word, I never learned to apply it to my life. I never learnt to apply a verse till it came to life in my spirit and worked miracles in my life. I love the fact that now, whenever I have a situation, the verses that I grew up memorizing bubble up in my spirit and burst forth out my mouth. I love speaking God’s truth into a situation. It’s awesome.

3. I learned active faith. I learned that faith is not a passive wait for things, but a living, breathing investment. Faith is Heaven’s currency and is accepted in every place that we could ever find ourselves. I learned to put my faith to work, and then I gained boldness, and peace, I let God’s grace soak into me and stopped struggling to grow, I learned to allow myself to be carried by those everlasting arms, to operate in His rest.

God led me to the right place for me and daily, He has continued to add to what I know, I’m grateful.

And in addition…

Love has truly been good to me...I woke up singing that song today, and it slipped into my mouth several times in the course of the day. I’m not singing about a person though, I’m just so in love with Jesus today (I know I should be in love with Him all the time; I’m getting there). So I have been singing this song to Him, and feeling His smile in my heart, which makes my own smile even wider…it’s so amazing to be loved, I’d follow Him to the moon and the sky above…yes I would. Jesus loves me guys…He does. You know what I call Him? My Hosea…Hosea went looking for Gomer time after time; every time she ran away He went looking for her. God did the same for me, went after me so many times, brought me home, back to the safety and security that only He can bring, back to His unconditional love…naw, I love Jesus.

Btw, as a totally random point, I am not one of those Christians who only sings gospel. I am fully convinced that at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Heavenly Choir will be singing Etta James “At Last” as we proceed up the aisle or however it is we’re going to be doing it…

Anyway, so today I am again grateful for God’s love, this love that refuses to leave me, this love that chooses me above all else, this love that focuses on me to the point where nothing, not even life itself matters.

I’m grateful for His smile in the warm sunlight, His hug in the breeze, His laugh in rainfall. I’m grateful for His presence, His beauty suffuses every inch of my life and leaves me with a glow in my spirit that is just a little touch of Heaven…

Goodnight guys

 

DAY 22 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

SO! Today has been an awesome awesome day. Although I’m a little bummed that I missed the first session of the HBS resource governance workshop, today was such a rewarding day that I didn’t feel so bad about it.

First ehn…only God can keep a human being going the whole day on 2 hours of sleep and no food. Honestly…it’s been a while since I ran that unholy combo but today was such that I couldn’t take the time til dinner time. But I was fine, I got to do what I needed to do and I am grateful for that.

Next, I’m grateful that all the studying I did paid off…I got to do the task that I was reading up from and even though I am pointing out to myself all the places where I could have done better, I am grateful because I could also have done worse.

I am grateful that I got to enjoy a whirlwind visit to Lagos…I love Lagos…something about it makes me want to write and take pictures. There’s so much vibrancy that it seems that one must chronicle every second so that it is not lost. Add that to the fact that I am just excited about getting to take another trip so soon after the last one. I’m just a happy bunny.

I am grateful for the opportunity to do what I did today..I can’t wait to share the details with you, and I thank God for the opportunity. I thank God for the lovely salads I had for dinner…lovely stuff. I am grateful for my beautiful hotel room, I like hotels and this one is especially nice. I am grateful that God came through for me so many times and in so many different ways today. Doors opening that I didn’t knock on and answers to prayers that I hadn’t even prayed; ease all around. I am grateful for the means to do all l the stuff I did, for the beautiful beautiful dress I got to wear today…for the funds to get stuff that I needed…today was insane…it was busy but it was a truly wonderful day;I feel very fulfilled.

I’m off to bed. If I yawn any harder I might swallow the laptop and then there would be no more gratitude notes.

Have an awesome night (or day)  guys. God bless

 

 

DAY 21 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I have an early flight and a packed day tomorrow, but guess who is sitting down, eyes glued to the computer, trying to cram an 2 weeks worth of information into one brain…yup… moi.

Anyway, I took a break to update this quickly before I forget again…hmmm…so what am I grateful for today….

Well, I am grateful for friends in need. I had a situation today, called up a few friends and meyne…they started pulling strings, making calls, organizing stuff…it was a relief to have everything sorted out without me needing to even leave my house. I am grateful first for friends that can be called in a crisis, I am also grateful that God eased my situation so easily and smoothly…it was awesome.

Secondly…I am grateful for the brain God has given me. I love to study and love to learn and it seems that I am constantly absorbing new information. On day like this when I need to learn many things really quickly, it is a blessing to be so quick to grasp, and God has oiled my brain, it is ticking along, grabbing information, digesting, arranging…I am grateful.

God taught me something today, I was reading 2nd Kings. It is the story of Elisha and when his house was surrounded by the Syrian armies. He asked God to open his servant’s eyes so he could see the armies of heaven surrounding their valley. You know, I feel that many of our issues as Christians are because we don’t see…we don’t see the resources available to us, we don’t see the future open to us, we don’t see God’s protection, God’s favour..when we see beyond what is visible, there is a peace that descends on our souls, we receive renewed vigour, we know that everything will be fine. I was very grateful for this thought, because sometimes I get worried, or I start to panic, or I get distracted and lose my focus…I have asked God to keep this in my consciousness, that He should open my eyes to the things beyond the things that I see, and that they will continue to act as my motivation and assurance.

I am grateful for my awesome baby brother who ironed my clothes for me to make sure I studied. I am grateful for pounded yam and white soup, made the way my mom makes it…I promise you that I ate my meal and just like Elisha’s servant I saw stuff…I saw angels and heard the heavenly choir singing…it was that awesome. I’m grateful for this time of refreshing…taking time out to write this has helped to recharge my batteries…okay then, back to studying…wishing you all a blessed and fulfilled week!

DAY 18 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

So I’m chilling, rolling around, going on Facebook and generally just being a lazy bum when I realise that I haven’t written my post for today. You know though, I know that God did it that way because He wanted to give me another reason to be grateful.

I just finished a long talk with a dear friend of mine and wow! I am fired up, excited, motivated, challenged…gimme a word and I’m it! Can I say how  grateful I am for a God who knows what you need when you need it? My friend Switch is on fire for God…she’s a militant (not literally o!) she lives life with all of her heart and she has carried that fire and passion into her relationship with God. Listening to her today talking about how favoured, how blessed, how grateful she is…well, my own iron started to sharpen and before you know it, we were both just rejoicing and exclaiming over how good God has been to us.

Then, can I also say how grateful again I am for friends that can celebrate you? I spoke to 2 friends today and both of them were probably more excited than I was over the news that I was sharing with them. Isn’t it awesome to have people like that? May God help me to continue to be as passionate and excited for my friends’ successes as these dear friends were for mine.

Another reason this phone call excited me, when God brings someone into your present that knows how you were in the past and who can share with you all the different wonderful things that God has done in your life. As we talked about our growth and journeys, it was wonderful to be able to chart my progress with someone who knew me before and who would know exactly what I am talking about when I talk about the different changes that have happened and are happening.

Final reason this call was a big deal. Just before she called, I was feeling a bit down. I thought about some mistakes I had made and was beating myself up for them. I tend to do that a lot – God is working on my tendency to self-judge and is teaching me how to develop the same amnesia He has about my sins but I am occasionally a slow learner with some of this stuff. So anyway, I was grieving a bit, worrying a bit and generally not being productive with these emotions i.e. handing them over to God, trusting His grace and asking for an opportunity to make things right if necessary. Then my friend called and she mentioned a mistake she made, and how she prayed a simple prayer and left it, and how God fixed it. And a light bulb went on in my head; it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

I am grateful for that call and for all the things that God used it to teach me. I am grateful for a God that always provides opportunities to help me to be better. I am grateful for the opportunity to be excited about my relationship with Him – not logical or reasoned or rational, but unapologetically, wholeheartedly and overwhelmingly crazy about Him; the way He is about me.

 

DAY 17 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I’m not feeling too great today, so I spent most of the day in bed. I am quite tempted to feel sorry for myself, but then I  remember that a beautiful little girl – Talia, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. If you haven’t read her story, you must. Google Talia Castellano to learn more about this incredible girl. You know, we get the sniffles or a cough and we tend to get cranky and ungrateful and frustrated, but people live with conditions that keep them at death’s door day after day…and reading about this girl’s beautiful spirit, the way she turned her life into a ministry of love and light…well, it forces me to be grateful, for life, for health and for the many other things I take for granted.

I’m especially grateful for my little sister, who made me a batch of peppered gizzards and honey glazed chicken wings. So I’m sitting here, munching away happily and feeling the excitement that comes only from eating stuff you truly enjoy.

Finally, I’m grateful for the message I got today from a wonderful person called Ify. When I started this blog, I struggled a little with how much of my Christianity I wanted to talk about. I didn’t want to come across as someone impossible to relate with, I didn’t want to paint a picture of a Christian life that was more fiction than fact and (I’m going out on a limb here) I was a bit concerned about coming across as a fanatical, nothing but my truth kind of person. I am grateful that God has shown me how to discuss my relationship with Him as it is, my mistakes, my blessings, my lessons and much more. I am learning how to celebrate my God connection, to share His goodness, His faithfulness and His unfailing love. I’m not the best Christian in the world, but I am learning to be an honest one, and I grow daily in Christ . So Ify’s very kind comment made me grateful – to her for sharing and encouraging me, and to my patient Teacher and Friend who is teaching me daily just how our relationship should be.

Ok guys, I’m done for today. I only just realised that its past 11 and so I shouldn’t be eating at this time anyway. I’m off to make a hot cup of tea and then read a bit of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – the 3rd book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo set. Amazing books.

Thank you as always for reading my thoughts. God bless you