Thursday, 25 May 2017

Tailor-made trials

You don't get to choose. You don't get to choose who disappoints you. Or who breaks your heart. Or much else for that matter. When it comes to trials, I mean. You don't get to choose the tests you go through in life.

If we had the choice, many of us wouldn't choose the trials we have to face. We'll probably pick someone else's. I do that sometimes, I'm like, God, why are you letting me go through this? You know I'm not strong; I can't take it. But then He reminds me that I can. You see, His word says that His grace is sufficient for me, His strength made perfect in my weakness. When I am weak, He is strong. Also, I'm not going through those trials on my own; Jesus has been there, done that. So He completely gets what I'm going through. And He walks me through it.

You see, God has a tailor-made plan and purpose for your life. One that He prepared before you were even a twinkle in your parents' eyes. And every experience you've had in life, whether good or bad, is part of the journey of discovering and living that purpose. He works all things together for the good of those that love Him. All things. It doesn't mean that life won't suck at times; of course it will. It just means that life won't break us. Heck, even death can't break us. 'He who believes in me, even though he dies, shall live'. Jesus said that by the way (John 11:25).

So, when you go through one of those moments, seasons, whatever you want to call it, just remember that He has a plan, and it's a darn good one, and it's all working together for your ultimate good. Because He said so.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part four)

I believe that incident changed me. I realised that indeed there was a God out there that wanted to be involved in my life, as much as I would let Him. I always knew there was a purpose for my life, and slowly everything that had happened in my life prior started to make a bit more sense. I didn't have all the answers (I still don't) but I knew that I needed to get to know this God better. What I'd done previously was mostly religion- I had a lot of head knowledge; I needed to go deeper. And I did. But it didn't quite happen how I wanted. As a young-ish Christian, I sometimes had the most amazing answers to prayers. No one could tell me God didn't answer prayers because He answered mine. I remember praying a very specific prayer about my exams when I was a teenager. When I got my results and not only passed but exceeded most people's expectations, I knew it was God. Because I had prayed about it. Of course I studied hard as well, but the details of my prayer request, only God knew. In my quest for going deeper with God, I was soon to realize that God didn't answer every prayer. Even seemingly good ones. It might sound obvious to some; good parents don't give their children everything they ask for. But I've learnt that God is more than just a good parent. He can see a bigger picture and the potential consequences of giving us all that we ask for. The trouble is, we can't. One of the areas I struggled most in was in the area of relationships. There were two main times in my life I prayed and cried for God to make my relationship with the opposite sex work out, for him to be 'the one'. It didn't happen, and I was heart-broken. There was nothing particularly wrong with those relationships; they were Christians, just like I was, learning and growing. But, God not 'answering' those prayers was one of the key, albeit difficult lessons I learnt in my quest of getting to know God better.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part three)

I always found being a Christian much harder in the UK than in Nigeria. For one, as a young adult, I didn't want to be seen as different; I was different enough in a foreign country. I joined a Church in Bath where I believe I saw the true meaning of love and acceptance. I was encouraged that I could do whatever I wanted to do and I didn't need to have any special qualifications. I always wanted to play the guitar, so I learnt. And they let me lead worship on Sundays. But, things were still tough and there were times I felt I wasn't good enough. I messed up a lot of times. My church family accepted me but I didn't know if God did. I mean, I knew it in my head, but not in my heart. I'd always prided myself in being the 'good girl'- at home, school, everywhere. But deep down, I felt like a phoney. I wasn't happy. And I think I made the people around me unhappy. I remember my sister once saying she felt like she was walking on eggshells around me. 

One day I went to church for an evening service and the pastor asked people to come up for prayer. I was desperate for something, but I didn't know what. I went up anyway. The pastor held my hand and said a few words. He didn't pray. Well, not like I expected him to. He just asked the Holy Spirit to come. The next thing I remember, my knees gave way and I was on the floor. I cried. A lot. But it didn't feel weird, or scary. I was a bit embarrassed at crying so much in public but it was a great release. I felt an amazing peace. Afterwards, I knew my life would never be the same.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part two)

The first time I realised that not everyone believed in God was when I came to the UK to study. I guess I had lived a pretty sheltered life. For the first couple of years I lived with a host family that went to Mass every Sunday but I wouldn't call them Christians; that's what they did. I went with them a couple of times but decided it wasn't for me, so I stopped going. I attended a Catholic college and met RE teachers and fellow students who were atheists. I was perplexed. I didn't go to church for about a year; I decided to do church at home instead. I was 17 years old, had been to church all my life, and had what I understood to be a relationship with God. Christianity was all I knew but suddenly I felt like I knew nothing after all. I felt alone. University was a life saver for me in many ways. I met people from all over the world and realized we were all in the same boat; everyone was new and wanted to make friends. People didn't care if you were White, Black, Asian, or Other. I walked into the first Christian Union meeting of the term and almost stopped in my tracks. There were tens, if not hundreds of students- White, Black, Chinese, you name it, all worshipping, at the same time. Some had their hands raised high. I felt like I had come home.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part one)

Recently I did a course on how to effectively share the Christian message with people. Part of the course involved sharing my own story, of how I became a Christian. I'm one of those people that can't really make out a specific time when I became a Christian. It was more of a gradual process for me. The course made me stop and think, reflect on why I believe what I claim to believe. It led me to write down what I discovered, and I decided to write the series, 'Why I believe'. The Bible talks about always being ready to give an account to anyone that asks us for the reason for our faith. It's important that as Christians we're able to share our story. We all have a story, no matter how trivial or unimportant we may think.

Here's the first part in the series:

My earliest memory of going to church was when I was about 6 or 7 years old in Nigeria. The church wasn't very far from the house, but it probably took me about 20 minutes to walk there by myself. If my parents weren't awake yet (first service started at 7am) or my neighbors weren't ready, I went by myself. I enjoyed Sunday school; got to hear fascinating stories from the Bible. My favorite Bible story was the one about Solomon and the two prostitutes. These two women had a baby each and one night, one woman's baby died. When she woke up and saw that her baby was dead, she switched her baby with the living baby and pretended the living baby was hers. The mother of the living baby woke up and realized she had a dead baby sleeping with her, and she knew it wasn't hers. As both women claimed the living baby was theirs, they went to King Solomon to help resolve the issue. His solution has always fascinated me. As the women argued back and forth, he asked for a sword and said he was going to cut the baby in two and give half to each woman. The first woman was pretty much cool with it. The second woman begged for the baby's life and asked for it to be given to the first woman instead. Solomon decided the second woman was the mother and gave the baby to her. I was bowled over by the story and the wisdom of Solomon. I wanted to be as wise as him, knowing what to do in every situation. At Sunday school we got to ask questions. I'll never forget the time a little kid asked the teacher who created God. The teacher's response was 'we don't ask questions like that'. As a kid myself, I was confused. I didn't understand why the teacher said we couldn't ask the question. I thought it was pretty simple; no one created God. If someone did, then that person would be God, and we could just go on and on forever. Anyway, that was the beginning of my journey of faith.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Is God asking me to wait?

Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. But sometimes it's so difficult to wait, especially when what you're waiting for is good and you feel like you could do with it 'right now'! But, sometimes, God asks us to wait. We don't always get what we want when we ask for it, not because God doesn't want to give it to us, but because it may not be the right time; He may be preparing it for us, or preparing us for it.

As Christians, we're called to trust God with every aspect of our lives, including our work, relationships, goals and aspirations. But what do you do when it seems like you've been trusting God for a very long time and it’s just not happening? We must remember that delay is not denial. The fact that something is taking a long time to come to fruition doesn't mean that it will never happen. Think of it like this; you wouldn't give your child food that wasn't cooked thoroughly, no matter how much they screamed and begged for it. You would only give it to them when it was ready, in its best state. It's the same principle with God; He gives us what is good for us, but only when it is ready and will not cause us pain or grief.

We must also be ready. I'll give you an example from my own experience. I wanted to get married at 22. I felt like it was a good age to be married and I wanted to have all my kids by the time I was 30. Now God had other plans for me and it didn't quite happen how I wanted but when I look back now, I'm so glad I didn't get married then; I had very little idea who I was or what I wanted in life! Marriage is not something that you go into lightly and I just wasn’t ready. God knew that, even though I didn’t. Marriage is just one example, but if that is what you desire, bear in mind that God may be preparing you in the different situations you find yourself, so that when you finally get married, it is not stressful or burdensome for you or your spouse.

For you, it may not be marriage, it may be something else, like starting a family, getting a new job, or buying a new house. Don't give up hope. Don’t think ‘it’ll never happen for me’. God may be preparing something very special for you, and He does make all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He will reward your faithfulness. Use the season you're in to prepare, to develop yourself and to plan.  

If God is asking you to wait, trust that He is faithful and will grant your heart's desire at the right time.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My thoughts on Brexit...from a non-EU migrant.

Image copyright here
So, I've been looking for words to express exactly how I feel about the UK leaving the EU, and to be honest, I can't seem to find them. Obvious words like sad, disappointed, shocked and angry, don't seem to do it justice. I wanted the UK to remain part of the EU; I felt that it was in the best interests of all countries concerned. The 'Leave' campaign didn't seem to have a plan, and I wasn't going to fall for the whole 'immigration' propaganda.

Actually, the only reason for me to vote 'Leave' would've been because of immigration. EU migrants 'have cost me jobs'. As a non-EU migrant, getting a job in the UK is incredibly difficult. I pretty much got a 'dream' job offer once, only to get turned down later as the company HR realized they had to offer the position to an EU citizen / migrant first. I was disappointed and hurt. But then, I came to the conclusion that that job was not for me. I don't believe that anyone can take something that God has destined for me to have. So, I stopped being bitter towards EU citizens or other migrants. I started believing that what was mine, was mine and no one could stand in the way of my blessing.

I currently work for a company that has a good proportion of EU migrants. They are some of the most hardworking people I have ever met, and I don't say that lightly. On Friday morning, I went into work and the atmosphere was just...different. People were smiling but you could see worry behind the smiles and the light-hearted jokes they tried to make about the referendum results. I asked one colleague how his wife was doing (they just had a baby) and he jokingly said she was packing (to go back home). I smiled and joked back that he wasn't going anywhere. But, I don't know that, and he knows I can't promise him that.

My bosses were fuming; the results are going to cost the company.

I don't know what's best for the UK. I can't say that I know what the right outcome is. I know that many others such as myself prayed that God's will be done in the EU referendum results.

So, for the second time that week I knelt down and said 'Lord, you know best.'

I hope this is the right outcome. I pray this is the right outcome. 

But, every news bulletin at the moment seems to suggest otherwise.

The disgusting racist outbursts spreading across the country seem to confirm that something is seriously wrong. 

I don't want a second referendum. We can't turn back time. And even if a second referendum was called and people voted to stay, I sense that something seriously unpleasant has been unleashed and it's going to be difficult to control or contain it.

But, in all of this, I have hope. I choose to trust in Him that holds the whole universe as well as my future in His hands. God works all things together for the good of them that love Him. So, 'even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, I will not fear' (Psalm 46).