It’s been exactly 3 months since I posted this piece here father.. Today, quarter way through the year, you will not believe what I’m feeling. I don’t even have the right words to explain what has happened in those three months that has moved me, from being tired to the extent of wishing for death, to feeling so grounded and rejuvenated in life. Ni God. Its one of those times that God answers your prayers in the most unexpected and flabbergasting ways.
At the start of 2017, I had two prayer requests for the year. I’ll only share one. I wanted to grow spiritually but in the way God wants me to. As in, previously, my spiritual growth has happened according to what I feel I need. For example, I feel my prayer life needs some steam, I purpose and attend prayer meetings. Yes, God was at the center of it. But I was like a student in a school, but with no specific course I’m doing. So you go to school everyday, and choose which course you want to learn that day and which specific classes you’ll attend. But I was tired of that. I wanted and still want God to be the one to direct which ‘ course’ I should take, how and where. I ceded any control I had of my spiritual life.
And as I was making that prayer, I was tired. Soul tired. As in its like something was dead inside. I saw no joy in life anymore. I didn’t see the need to wake up, go to school, hustle, get a job, go through the ups and downs of life and finally die. It seemed meaningless to me. Like what’s the purpose of life?
But I still made that prayer. And when God says He is faithful, imagine He is. Like God is really faithful. I have gone through the 8-4-4 system which I’m almost done with. Sometimes I used to look back and see how two or four years have made a difference. But this time, we are talking of 3 months only. Yet the transformation that has taken place has been tremendous. A system might need 8yrs to teach you basics, but God can use months to give you a 360° turn. A complete shift. Hadi I am having trouble explaining to people who talked to me in January, what has happened to the Mercy they talked to then.
But I’ll tell you what happened, God happened.
Like God took that prayer I made as a seed and has planted it and watered it in me.
I may not tell you details by details of what happened ( it would take ten thousand words or so) , but I’ll tell you the important things I’ve learnt or experienced through this three months.
Your/my purpose is tightly intertwined with God. If God has no place in you or is not at the center of your life, you’ll be chasing after wind . And you’ll reach to the same point I reached, where your soul is tired. Like, I just wanted rest that earth didn’t seem to offer. But when God slowly by slowly started taking center stage,its like my soul also began to come to life. Why? Because, away from Him, I am nothing. God is the source of life. And I’m specifically talking of the inner life( not the i-am-alive-physically life, the joy-sorrow inner you). We were made to derive our ‘sap’ from the tree that is God. Sincerely speaking, nothing has changed outwardly in my life. I’m still doing the same course and still depending on my parents etc. So what could lead to this change from feeling dead in the same circumstances to feeling alive in the exact same circumstances? God’s position and thus influence in my life is the culprit. He balances things out.
Find a good church around you. I wish I had a way of over emphasizing this. By a good church, I don’t mean one whose services are on fleek. For me, 90% of the impact my church has had on me, has been away from Sunday related activities. Ninety percent. By a good church I mean, one that feeds you spiritually and goes ahead to put ways in which your spirituality can be maintained and progressed. By this I mean, in the church you go to, do you have friends? Do you have people you look forward to seeing on Sunday? Are there programs you are taking in the church? Does the church even have discipleship programs in the first place? If you fell in your spiritual life au you backslide kidogo, is there anyone who will notice and do something about it?
You may be wondering why any of the above questions make sense. But I’ve come to believe this statement is true; show me your friends, and I’ll show you who you are. Have you ever wondered why Jesus had close friends? Now let me bring that closer home, Jesus could have chosen to have his biological brothers or someone outside his ‘ ministry’ as his close friends, right? So why were his close friends people also concerned about God? People who later came to follow in his footsteps?
Another example is the first church. The church in Acts that used to pray till the room shook. Those guys used to sell goods and share the money according to everyone’s needs. Now sincerely speaking, if you are told to sell your possessions ( hata ka ni hiyo smartphone tu) and the money goes to other people in the church you go to, would you happily and cheerfully agree? What if the people in that church that we are talking about include three of your closest friends?Now, that changes the dynamics, doesn’t it? Those people in that Acts church used to fellowship together. The bible even mentions that they used to eat together( not just praying ). The new testament keeps on insisting that we should love everyone, and especially our fellow believers.
I’ll tell you several benefits of church fellowship with other believers.
You get inspired, encouraged, rebuked, corrected and motivated. All at the same time. You also get the chance( albeit unknowingly at times) of being of benefit to others. I remember when I started attending a Tuesday prayer meeting always held in the church, I didn’t have any specific goals in my spiritual life. As in I was just there. I pray in the morning more regularly than not. I listen to sermons which may or may not have long lasting effects on me. I pray when I’m in trouble and at times God delivers me the way I want to be delivered. In simple terms, I was in a comfort zone. I knew I was not in the best place I could be spiritually, but I thought I was trying.
Until one day, the pastor in charge was talking to us about praying using God’s word. That was new to me. But it made a lot of sense. Some of my prayer items instantly disappeared. Why? Because I realized they were not in line with God’s word. But something more important also happened. You see, to pray using God’s word or in line with it, you have to actually know that word, right? Now, I used to think I know the bible. I mean, I’ve been raised in church. Or so I thought. To demonstrate what she meant( the pastor preaching that day), she said for every prayer request we had, people to give verses that go hand in hand with that issue. We were about 7 of us plus the pastor. And I’m telling you people knew the Word! Word perfect. A prayer request comes on ,let’s say sickness, and instantly there are over 5 verses concerning that. And we are not talking about the pastor. She was quiet. The kawaida church members. People who may or may not even have served in church. As in that lady or man you see in the office. Verses were being said word perfect and they knew where exactly they are found in. I thought I knew the bible but that experience made me realise that I actually did not know the Word. At all. Had there been a test, I might have gotten a negative something. Yet thirty minutes before that, had you asked me if I know the bible, I would have said a confident and resounding yes. Tuseme tu the next time I went to town, I bought a bible( yes. I didn’t have one before then, I thought the bible apps in my phone were equivalent to the bible. Foolish I know!). I sincerely think I would still have bought a bible if I didn’t get that experience, but I know, I would never take my intake of God’s word as seriously if that fellowship with fellow believers did not take place.
A good church grounds you in God. We are not of this world but we live in this world and God expects us to live for Him while still here. Imagine being a Christian surrounded by non Christians. I’ll tell you what will happen. The exact same thing that happened to the Israelites over and over. They kept on conforming to the nations around them. Hadi God had to give them Kings to make them look like other nations. In simple terms, we conform to the extent our prayer items start becoming similar to the lifestyle of non Christians around us. It’s like transplanting your tree into the desert. It will either become a desert plant (adapt itself to desert conditions) or die. Either of the two. For your faith to be alive and growing, you need to surround yourself with like minded people. I’m not saying non Christians or un serious Christians ( the ones who go to church for years but no transformation takes place), are bad or are not supposed to be your friends. But be like Christ. His inner circle was of people on the same journey, yet he dined and spent a lot of time with sinners. If your inner circle as a Christian does not have fellow minded Christians( people working towards being more Christ like), then your faith is in danger. Serious danger.
There a lot of benefits of church fellowship. A lot. More than i’ve covered. No wonder, for me to have a clear ‘glimpse’ of your spiritual life, I simply ask about the state of the relationship between you and the church you attend(if any). A church plays a very crucial role in your personal journey with God. Show me people who regularly and willingly tithe, and you’ll have found people most probably active in the body parts that the bible talks of. Some of these responsibilities you have as a Christian, such as faithfully using your talents and abilities to serve God, tithing, ensuring justice takes place in the society, etc, you can only do them when you are a member of a Christ’s body alongside others. God desires us to take care of the communities around us. To be an example of Him on earth as a family of believers. To take care of each other. And you can’t do that alone. And those responsibilities are not choices or options to be taken when you feel like it.
In simple terms, its not always about me/you. Its not even about me at all. And when you look at it that way, you realise that by not growing spiritually, by not belonging to a body of Christ, by not having Christian friends, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, but also to other believers who also needed a friend, to the church that would greatly benefit from your service and also to the community around you.
Those 3 months would not have made such a tremendous transformation in me if the I was on this spiritual journey alone. God has used the church to change my mindset on a lot of things. As in, when you let God take control, He will amaze you by the end if the day.
As usual or cliché as it may sound, its not been easy. I have never had as many ups and downs with God as I have had in the last 3 months. I have experienced His awesome presence. I have also been a victim of creeping sin that easily entangles without your ‘knowledge’. Unajipata tu in a hole you don’t remember digging. The last thing you remember is actually thinking that you are now standing or in a stable place with God. Next thing you know you are in darkness. No wonder Paul insists that you stand firm all the time. Its been the most emotionally charged spiritual journey with God. We have laughed together. I have gotten mad at Him. I have felt ashamed. I have been mesmerized. I have understood new things. I have cried. I have stopped in the middle of prayers for lack of words. But all that has led to the transformation you are now reading about.
I was tired, He has given me rest. I was dead inside, He has brought my inner self back into life. And not just life, but life in its fullness. I didn’t see the purpose of being alive, now I have found my purpose in Him. And I sure want to be alive for the next couple hundred of years. I was weary and faint, He has strengthened me.
God is faithful. Like more than Mercy can explain.
Just make that prayer of Faith. And the results might and will most probably not be delivered the way you wanted, but most importantly, your prayers will be answered.
Now, find a good church around you to grown in and grow with, won’t you?