Arise

Maggie was running late. It might have been a better decision to have requested a home visit but she needed to get away from the house. This particular event needed to happen away from the house. She somehow knew what it would be and she didn’t dread it but she knew what was coming was back with a truckload. And definitely, that was not the best place for it, not their house.

She and Dave had bought the property from a retiring couple thirty years ago and they had turned it into a nest for themselves and two of their children. Of course, some remodeling here and there had been done but the house was always a dear, sweet abode. The house held too many sweet memories. Even though Dave had left her quite earlier in life, she found it fulfilling to enjoy the rest of her own life with the memories she had created with him. They had fought for each other, survived many falls and health breakdowns, celebrated marriages and victories, cradled grandbabies and eventually bid each other adieu.

At his deathbed, Dave had introduced her to an experience he had and she had found it to be an answer to a lingering longing she too had always born. And because of that, she’d remarkably smiled through the loss of her dearest. He’d really rocked her world. Well, almost.

Perhaps it would have also been a better choice to let Yuri drive her. He had tried to convince her to allow him but she’d prevailed over the gentleman, she’d determined to drive herself.

The Lagos traffic jam, go slow as it is popularly called, caught her right in the middle. She was trying frantically to meet her appointment but all she could do was to move a few meters per time.

She tried to calm down.

After some thirty five-minutes, she gratefully parked her car and made out to her friend’s office.

Dr. Jide Fabayode confirmed her earlier predictions. “It’s back, Maggie, and advancing rapidly.” He went a step further by putting a number on the time frame. “We might not have more than six months together. If we do, we might need to keep you at home for proper care.”

Six months.

She was seventy-six and was glad for a wonderful life but it really set her knees wobbling to think that all she had left was a matter of months. Her mind immediately began its lifelong task of analysing the situation and proposing a suitable way of handling it; the most suitable, you might say.

Gather your family together and dote on them for the remainder of your life. Let the six months be spent with the sounds of little ones laughing, screaming and crying. Allow your children to share meals and stories and experiences as you listen. Hold hands with each dear one, tell them how much you loved them and tell them you were leaving soon. Let your demise be met with a concerted joy woven by your lifetime while enjoying the precious gifts your life had bred.

As the thoughts barged in subtly, her eyes lit up and she began tapping her feet to the swish-swoosh movement of the air condition unit in Jide’s office.

“I’ll give you a few minutes alone, Maggie,” he said, releasing her hand and stepping out of the room.

As her friend stepped out, she sighed deeply. Even expected news shook you up if it was bad. And as she began to take the thought from where she had left off, she caught herself.

Take no thought…

The feeling that accompanied that phrase felt familiar. It was actually well known. It became stronger as it grew wider in width and spectrum. It took over her right from her mind all through to her body.

Take no thought…for your life.

Yes, that was the whole quote. And it seemed to stare at her right in the face as if it was written before her even though it was just a quote she’d read somewhere.

She remembered where she’d read it and everything began to fall into place.

As she received the news of her ending life, she had immediately sprung to action, planning how she could live the rest of her life with the part of her existence dearest to her. A small idea was lurking somewhere suggesting that it was not bad to enjoy the rest of what is left with your own. But as Maggie sat, remembering the rest of that scripture, she knew she had not totally been spiritually minded.

So what do I do now, Lord?

Sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow me…, came the reply.

Not wanting to yield to her carnality again, she asked, How?

Miss… The word was forming but was not as forthcoming as she expected. Was it a name? Who was missing? What had she missed?

Mission…arise

Was that another missionary body? What does that have to do with me? She didn’t stop asking the questions as they came.

She sat up, picked her purse and dug out the car keys. She was about to leave when Dr. Jide came in.

“Thank you, Jide. I’ll like to get back home.”

“Of course, Maggie, please feel free to call if you need me.”

“That’s alright,” she made for the door.

“Stephen is in town.” Jide was saying as he walked her out. “He’s around with his wife and daughters. They’re taking a short break from work”

“Oh,” Maggie turned “how are they?” She was facing Jide now and remembered Stephen was his last son. He’d taken up a job as a missionary in Uro Akoko after becoming a consultant in general surgery. He’d barely waited to marry before announcing that he was leaving his budding career in LUTH to start a medical mission station in Uro Akoko. Maggie was one of his partners and remembered from the last report sent to her that the mission just acquired an ambulance. Apart from consulting for the whole community and a large part of the Akoko district, all treatments were given for free by the mission.

And the whole thing fell into place!

Missionaries!

Maggie spoke before she knew it, “I’d really like to have Steve over for lunch. Would you please ask if he’d join me with his family?”

“Oh, he’d already said he was coming over to your house for a week on Saturday,” Jide enthused. “You two seem to be on the same wavelength. I’ll inform him.”

“Thank you, Jide.” Perhaps the rest of her life was going to be the best, Maggie thought as the two of them chatted casually as they made their way to her car, momentarily forgetting that one of them was dying. They just enjoyed the sweet moments friendship availed them.

 

Practical Lesson with God: the Lesson.

So, from the story of how I learnt to drive, I practically discovered that a skill or behaviour is learnt by performing it over time. This is how we have all learnt so many behaviours like walking, talking, reading, playing the guitar and any other one you can think of with consistent and diligent practice of the said skill.

The Bible says in John 5:19 that Jesus did all He saw the Father do and He did nothing except He saw the Father do it. So, relating that with the story I just told, it was a habit of Jesus to do everything God did.

Jenn and Brian Johnson’s song Where you go I go is a personal statement probably sung by Jesus, if that were possible, about His decision to do EVERYTHING God did. So, His life on earth was the life God lived in heaven. The Bible shows that he grew up in the spirit (Luke 1:80; Luke 2:40) till God publicly expressed pleasure in Him (Matt 3:17; Matt 17: 5 and 2Pet 1:17). It might amaze you to discover that just as it took me two long weeks to pass the learner’s test,  Jesus’ growing into maturity did not happen as fast as we thought. He grew up into maturity over a period of thirty years! 

This life process (of growth) Jesus went through was also an effort of God to make sure there was a man that walked this earth and for the first thirty years of His life, doing the same thing: He continually did God’s will (John 5:19). And all that was done to get ready for a ministry of three years!

He had learnt to do what God wants, not for a month but a month of years! In pleasing God, Jesus did the same thing till He became the one thing: He became the Father’s will!

I said this to draw attention to the fact that getting the best of God is something given to us when we are willing, ready and diligent. It is a principle God not only put in the scriptures but also in the human body and reasoning as a token. We should be willing to pay attention to the way we stay with Him, be ready to listen to Him and diligently see the way He does His doings. Faith is said to come and come again (Rom 10:17) because He makes sure there is a repetition of actions so that we can observe Him and learn from Him. Once does He speak, twice are we expected to hear (Ps 62:11) because he expects us to stay on with Him. And God honours His Word (Matt 5:18). 

So, because a Man was given to do these things and served as a testimony that it was possible to please God and be in His will, always, to do otherwise or less is in itself a robbery and judgment.  It is also saying that Christ’s work was not enough, which is a lie. So, what is asked of us to do now is to awake and rise up to doing “God” diligently. By so doing, consistently following and obeying Him becomes our mainstay as we steadily look upon Him to bask in the beauty and drink of the sweetness that come from there. 

I will, we will! 

From Me to You: The Father’s Heart. 

Omo mi,

You have set aside today to appreciate Fathers and so I am taking this opportunity to reach and share a few things with you to remind you of some more.

I love you, Son. You should know that but I have always known that I have to keep saying that to you. And I will. Not because I stopped but because you need the reminder. Love is who I am and it’s from this reality that I have you. So, don’t stop basking in this reality.

At your birth, I gave you My Blood, My Name,  My Home and every other thing I have. You don’t have to struggle to have or keep these. They are all yours. I see many of your brothers and sisters asking me earnestly to make them worthy of them but, come on, Child, all these things have been yours (and every child of mine) since I had you and that does not change because I do not change!

You’re on earth, I know. And I also know that sometimes you wonder why I kept you there. Well, I did that on purpose to preserve and protect the earth. You see, I do not want those on earth to live blindly, foolishly and eventually perish. So, you’re there, dear child, to be salt and light. Remember that when you get tempted to come over. When your work is done, you will leave. But for now, just keep up the wonderful work.

Son, as you started to grow up, you went through a few hard times. Especially when I saw that you were approaching maturity. All those experiences were to prepare you for maturity and fatherhood. You see, it’s inevitable for you to be like me. That’s your lot and inheritance. I am prepared to help you get in shape for this responsibility. Just go through it all constantly remembering that I am there with you. Focus on what I am to you and what I am making you into.

You, your brothers and sisters all around are bound by a common denominator -My love. I “shared it within” you by the Spirit in Me which you all inherited. Keep that bond. See everyone as they are: your family. Some of you are ignorant and some have strayed but you all, everyone, are within my heart. The love I have for you all is not different, it’s the same! So, treat everyone accordingly and endeavor to pay all you perpetually owe everyone: Love.

As you move through life, I have provided for your journey. And every need has been supplied. So, don’t worry. Also, take no thought for your life because it is Mine already. Let Me live it through you.

Child, as I said earlier, you should hear this more than once: you are loved!

This is just an abridged letter. My Love Note is with you. Read it.

 

Much love,

I am, your Father.

A Practical Lesson with God-The Story

Do you really understand how the human brain works?

Well, that makes two of us if your answer was either “not really” or “no”.

But, to start with, the human body is controlled by a mass of grey matter called the brain and it is located in the head, I’m sure you know that. The brain is a complex structure and as I implied earlier, I know very little about it. However, as I took a reverie of my knowledge of the human body, what little it was, and I found myself stumbling on the obvious realisation that the human brain really is the world’s most complex “computer”. In fact, to perform any action, impulses are said to be transferred over nerve fibres as electricity is transferred over electric cables in a computer.

What’s more is that for any action to become a  behaviour, the impulses carrying these pieces of information for action must have travelled these nerve fibres severally, say about thirty times. It is like having a delivery van ply the same route, back and forth, more than a few times. The driver of the van would by that time, know the route by heart and even inhabitants would unconsciously expect to hear or see the van daily. This is to say, in English, that a behaviour is learnt when the act is repeated approximately thirty times.

I remember what it took me to learn to drive. I learnt with a manual car and that means I had to steer the wheel, work all three feet pedals, manage the gear and keep my eyes on the road; all at the same time! It was an uphill task especially if I was to start moving the car from a depressed landing up a hill. I would rev the engine, in an attempt to move the car, for what seemed like minutes and the car remained where it was. If it moved, the engine abruptly stopped!

Well, that happened over and over for a couple of days till finally I was able to drive up a hill without stopping severally. How this happened was that gradually, I learnt which of the best gear levels were best suited for my speed, terrain or topography and direction. In two weeks, I had passed the learner’s test!

Those two weeks were not easy ones. They seemed like forever! But because I really wanted to be able to drive, I went through it gladly. After driving around town with my learner’s permit for about thirty days, I could drive really well. I got a most profound validation when I could drive my dad around without his constant corrections and reprimands. It was all I needed to know that driving had become a skill I’d acquired!

I’ll continue this story in my next post. Watch out.

​Rooster in the Shadows

Here’s  a poem from a while back when despair dealt me some. Anytime I read this, I’m reminded that just as the night seemed darkest, dawn is announced! 

Enjoy! 

About the time I took a peek

At the pitch dark wonder; so bleak

Of the mystery shielding the morning after

And what lurked behind in the greyish scatter

Just as a prelude to the Sun’s shine

The feeling of despair was mine.

Yes, mine it was, I’ll tell you.

I was to be in a state of ‘so fly’

Dreaming and recuperating

Totally oblivious to what was happening

But here I was, breaking nature’s code

And taking up this unfamiliar nature; the nocturnal mode.

It’s true; I had so much to do

I’d set my watch to suit me too

And right there in the deeply shadowed darkness

A mixture of cold foggy despair and starkness

Hit me like a bumpless beam

Happening without the slightest seam

And I recognised the frailty written into my body’s program, all miry bloody.

Without announcing, my soul began to sink

Stealthily into the reality rising slowly to the brink

That this uncanny night would last forever

And my forlorn state will never ebb, ever

It’s what and how my eyes saw, really

All my senses bore witness to the loud silence, ever so eerie.

As I could begin to taste bitter surrender to irrelevance

My eyes, in perhaps the final attempt to seek deliverance

Caught a movement beneath my calf

Fear initially sought to tear me in half

But Reason made me wait and seek to know

What assailed my perpetual misery flow

With a fluster and a disruption of my self-acclaimed final blows

A rooster leapt from its keep, the shadows

And proceeded in its life-long task of keeping time

And making a loud proclamation bereft of a mime.

So, I chided my faithless self, in this forsaken place

Which I created for myself in my face

Lay a little thing, maybe minute

That could come and excise my self-imposed pity right to the root

Though the night seemed so dreary

And nothing seemed to make me cheery

Just as darkness seemed to deal the last of its blows

Leapt a rooster from the shadows

Ready to proclaim a new dawn

And yes, misery’s sordid-tie lies undone!

‘But at midnight, there was a cry … ‘ (Matt 25:6 ASV)

​Some things I wish I knew when I was younger.

Sometimes this week, God added another year to my life and for this I am so grateful. I am not just happy that I am getting closer to being a senior citizen but I am happy that with every breaking dawn, another opportunity is given me by God to become more like Him and further represent him. I look back over the years, how short it has been and I see so many mistakes I had made and pitfalls I’d fallen into. But I am so blessed to see more than that. I see the victories and the triumphs. And for this, my heart is exultant and joyous. I am so blessed!
However, there are a few things I wished my younger-self knew and paid attention to as I grew up. I am coming to know with each passing moment that the slip-ups and blunders are not to my destruction but to my rising. As Chingtok Ishaku once said “Every other day before the Day is in preparation for the Day and thus, not in vain. The time spent in waiting is a worthy time adding up to our accuracy. In little mistakes, we might learn that solid food is for the mature that by the reason of use have their senses made accurate.  God doesn’t discard our mistakes but uses them to teach us maturity. At the day of the Lord, ONLY mature men will stand with Him.” But if I had the opportunity to engage my younger-self and share a few life lessons with him, here are a few things I’d have loved Will Remi to know when he was younger. I have found out that these lessons are vital for everyone.

1. As much as your earthly father loves and adores you, he is an earthly representation of the real Father: God. So, trust God; He is your Father. Chris Tomlin’s song Good Good Father is a song that describes this relationship. He is perfect and just. And He deeply loves you. Jesus said earthly fathers attempt not to default in performing their duties in providing for their children and so, God, who is much more the heavenly Father makes good of His Fatherhood and looks out for His own (Matt. 7:9). So, surrender without caution to Him. Chris Delvan’s song, Guiding Me Safely paints a vivid picture of how God sees his children and guides them in the Way.

2. Salvation (of the spirit) is where our walk with God attains a significant start in the life-long process of salvation (of the soul). The words of Jesus Christ in Luke 21:19 say “by patience, possess ye your souls. (KJV) So, be patient. It is the only way that wants can be sufficiently met. “But let the patience have its perfect work and make you perfect that you may be perfect and complete wanting nothing.” James 1:4 (KJV). The Bible further says that it is only by patience that God’s promises can be inherited (Heb. 2:12). And, trust me, if you know the promises, you will do everything to get them: they are always good! (Jer. 29:11)

3. Have you ever wondered why God did not take us up to heaven immediately we got born again? I have. In fact, I have attempted to “rapture” myself from this sinful world severally by closing my eyes and jumping up! But I remained here, in the world. Why? Because the world is the game turf; the arena on which I compete as an athlete (1Cor.9:24). It is also the battle ground on which I am not concerned with civilian affairs but with pleasing my commanding officer (2Tim.2:4). And all the people we meet and interact with are actually what make up the world. Jesus prayed in the Garden that we should not be taken from the world but be kept from the evil in the world (John 17:15). So, as God has His own people in the world too, take advantage of godly relationships around you. God places solitaries in families (Ps 68:6). The families are not just the physical ones but also the spiritual ones: people that share the same Blood with you, so, take advantage of the good relationships around you. God placed them there to keep you safe. As my pastor Busuyi Olabode of Eternal Life Embassy  says, “The essence of the light is to guide our walk. Don’t hedge corruption… expose it, let light shine on it.” Do not run from the light, run towards it.

4. O’Tunmise Ajani’s song, Jolly (Safe in His Hands) always reminds me that I am safe in His hands. So, do not fear; He’s got you. He sings over you songs of love and deliverance and holds you within the hollows of His hands, cradling you to his chest. Fear, as I said in Conversations with Jeff, most times is the default reaction we have to life. But He has rather given us the spirit of power, love and sound mind (2Tim 1:7). God’s word severally states in simple terms “do not fear”.

5. Live every day with a decision to live with and for God. As Hillsong Y&F’s This is Living always suggests to me, God is colorful, spontaneous, deliberate and a lot of fun. Be ready for adventure with God; He is not boring. The Psalmist says He owns cattle on a thousand hills(Psalm 50:10). Most people use that verse to describe God’s riches but I also from this see Him as a rancher. And doesn’t that thought greatly suggest adventure!

6. LivelyMusic sang in their 2013 album, I Believe “Truth has taken its turn over evil…we now sing ‘salvation to our God’.” Jesus came to set the work of truth in motion and by that He abolished the Law that had hitherto ruled tyrannically and its default condemnation (John 1:17).So, no matter what happens, truth prevails always! This is not just about a disagreement or an argument. But also about how and what you think and intend to do. Truth has a way of coming out as the standard of reasoning and of life.

These points have come to be cardinal points in my life processes and I wish I had knew them when I was younger. It is better late than never, they say, and as much as I would recommend this to the younger me, in the same breath, I commend it to me presently and those who believe God did all He did in Christ thinking particularly about them.

​”Mo gbó; mo yà -the party is paid for!”

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Tolulope Moody of Sycamore Community Church, Ibadan used a common Yoruba saying to illustrate grace and redemption. The talk got me thinking (and writing) and I wanna share my musings from that talk with you. It was a blessing to me and I hope this is to you too. 

It’s a common knowledge in Nigeria that Yoruba people are big about parties. As a Yoruba national, I have realised that we even spend what we don’t have to buy what we cannot actually afford to impress people that don’t care! Funny but true. And that is why on Saturday afternoons, mostly, people don’t go hungry except you do not know how to do “Mo gbó, mo yà”. 
“Mo gbó, mo yà” literally means “I heard, I branched”. 

Picture this: a party is going on somewhere and I happen to catch a whiff of it (music or increased human activities around a particular area easily sends the signals).  So I duck in and have a good time. I don’t care about how the party was put together, so far what and all I need are available. It’s not about me or my money. It’s about the person who’s party it is. So, I get in the party and order every thing I don’t normally get to eat in my house. All because someone already paid for everything. All I need to do is attend the wedding party and order what I want. 

C’est fini! 

This is the story of grace and redemption! Grace is not about me, you or anyone else but about Jesus; who’s party it is. Psalm 36:6-10 describes the feast made by God and the fact that of its delight. The stories of our lives don’t even matter. In fact, what we did to get to the party does not matter; it’s just about the fact that the man who threw the party has made it available and so, made it available for us to  dig in. (See also Psalm 5:11)

Redemption is about His grace and provision. His grace forgives our sin; breaks its power and raises us to live righteously. (1Pet2:24)

This  grace teaches us how to really live. He doesn’t just say : ‘don’t worry about the penalty’ but He teaches how to live above what can make you worry about the penalty. “That grace instructs us to give up ungodly  living and worldly passions  and to live self controlled upright and godly lives in this world” (Titus 2:12 GNB) It’s really a complete package. 

Tolulope Moody said “freedom is actually a bondage to the right authority”. And I have come to see that submitting to Jesus is my bondage to Him. Grace places a responsibility and once it is recieved it should stir up something within to be a channel of His grace to others too. We do not live anyhow under grace because a higher responsibility is required to live a better life. We should not live stupidly and nonchalantly. Even if ‘everyone is doing it’ every one is not! 

Grace is a supply to do what God expects in us. And He keeps supplying more. God gives more grace. The party is paid “So,  let’s walk up to Him and get what He is so ready to give” -Hebrew 4:16(MSG) And in doing this, let us remember that grace is given to the humble. God, by default stands against the proud. “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble”-1Pet 5:5(NIV)

I personally have further discovered after that time at Sycamore that asking for more allows you have more. So, don’t stop asking because the party is paid for! 

Good Friday, all for Me! 

I like to think sometimes that all that happened that fateful day was all for me!

Jesus was born and we celebrate Christmas. But he didn’t stop there, He went the extra mile and He died for me. 

He stayed on the cross not just because he was nailed to it. He stayed because He loved me, and sometimes I want to believe, he did that for me alone. 

And so,  when I know this, that someone gave all,  even his life for me, I know He will not withhold anything from me,  even his very Life: Eternal Life. 

And so,  sometimes I just want to think it was just done,  all for me!

Conversations with Jeff

My visit to Ketu had met with several postponements but I succeeded in driving over last Friday. Oyin, my college buddy, and her husband, Sola had not failed to mention that I was sorely missed and Jeff, their little boy would love to have some time with me.

Jeff!
Since we met a few days after he was born, Jeff soundly commanded a great deal of my love. As I held him in my hands and hummed Newsboys’ Something Beautiful to him, it felt as a great part of me was laid there in my arms licking his small lips momentarily and just succeeding at being beautiful!

As I walked into their house and saw Jeff in his walker, punching the keys that played the various pre-recorded songs, I could not but smile.

“He’s grown so much since I saw him,” I told his mum as I picked him up. We, Jeff and I, started to talk. He mumbled and cooed. I smiled and arched my brows, replied and … we just talked! He showed me all the cool things he could do with his hands and his mouth. I could not help the burst of emotions that overtook me. He was so perfect. So, I told him “You’re so beautiful.”

I have come to believe that the knowledge of the scripture and the Word of God about anyone anywhere is what affects, charts and makes a way for any individual. And as the Psalmist says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), the reality of this should be drilled into anyone, even from birth, subtly and deliberately too so that that will form a foundation for how he sees himself from God’s point of view in His word. So, telling my child, as I told Jeff, he was beautiful was the first step in that.

As I mused over this, he grabbed my chin, pulled at my beard and I understood further that even though the kid was born to a family, he was the Lord’s. Children are the heritage of the Lord. He owns them even though they will bear our names and live with us; they are actually the Lord’s. The earlier I know this the better and the best for the child to know that he was in the hands of the Lord even if he will be considered my child.

I would definitely tell my child that he is the Lord’s. He is not mine, his mother’s or anyone’s. He is for God.  (Psalm 127:3-5) He would be in my care but the person who actually has him was God. God says all my children are his reward. So, all he will need will be provided for at the time they will be needed. I would tell him not to look up to me to provide everything (even though I would do my best to) but look up to God even from his very tender age. God is his Father much more than I am!

That night as I drove home, I kept going over the things I would love to tell my future children and the list had grown longer. But apart from the two I already said, I would also love to tell him to take an obvious step against the archenemy of faith: fear. Even though that seems to be the default reaction to life, God has not given us that spirit (Rom 8:15). He has rather given him the spirit of power, love and sound mind (2Tim 1:7). God’s word states in simple terms “do not fear”. This instruction is repeated severally throughout the scripture and this just proves the fact that fear will always come and he would have to always decide not to.

It is amazing how God deals with us. He has so many forms of relationships with us and a very salient form is that of a father and a child. I’m home and as I listen to O’Tunmise Ajani’s  Jolly (Safe in His hands), I realize that the safest place to be is in the hands of the capable Father!

Waiting

Rays of the rising sun had entered the room caressing my body into consciousness. The gown I wore clung to me as I struggled to rise; it was morning.

“I’ll pick you up by seven,” he’d said, his lips thick and eyes bright. But as I stared at the opera tickets on the nightstand, a lump caught in my throat; a perfidious punch hitting me. He had not, come and I had fallen asleep waiting for him.

The day dragged on but was soon over and I just sat watching as rays of the setting sun bathed the dark room.