Casting Stones

Itching hands

sinful hearts,

matching bands

violent feet

troubled consciences

baying for human blood,

seared moralities

eager for a crimson flood.

They cast their stones abroad,

when he stopped their sacrifice

it was all a fraud,

a veil to hide their vice.

On the cross he called once more

that we would cast on him our sin,

the living stone cast on the fore

that we would fall on him.

Be careful that pride does not blind,

He is the stone cast on the path,

if your heart to him will not bind

the fall comes, not of grace but wrath.

(John 8:1-11, 1st Peter 2:4-6)

His Will

I run far and wide

and rout many a tide,

I have scaled heights

and lay claim to sights

 that others only dream of.

The badges on my chest

tell of many a test

that I have won,

to wear this crown

that others only dream of.

There are those who jeer

among the peer,

and those who desire

such accolades to acquire

that others only dream of.

So why the emptiness?

the heaviness?

the knowing of a façade,

that is this charade

that others only dream of.

His will is delightful

And welcomes only his approval,

with no man to appease

His way is peace

that others only dream of.

(Psalm 32:8, 138:8, 139:3, Col 1:9-12)

Rest

Life happens to us everyday

sometimes in big or small ways,

there are times it adds and multiplies joy

at others it hides a ploy,

to make mirth of our sorrow

and prove our faith hollow.

When we came to the cross he pronounced rest

and gave the load that we would carry best,

the load of love is the only debt

that carries with it a sure bet.

There are times we fall

and to Him we do not call,

there are loved ones we lose

and His peace we do not choose,

at times, it is a stormy sea

yet, from the anchor we flee.

It should be our habit daily

to cast our cares upon Him freely,

for He cares about us deeply

and His rest is ours now and eternally.

(Mathew 11:28, 1 Peter 5:7)

Sleek And Slippery

Oh what misery,

the path that is sleek and slippery

that offers no obstruction

to sin and corruption.

I could for hours explore its lanes,

with no thought to its pains

but when my Lord demands my all

the one whose love came to call,

then I do not do what I want to do

but that which I ought not to.

Then, the hour that I was to stay

at your feet to watch and pray,

becomes a tedious duty borne

instead of a love date with the One.

And your ways that are light and life

elicit in my soul an odious strife,

that seeks itself misery

on the path that is sleek and slippery.

(Romans 7:5-25, Galatians 5:17)

Success At Any Cost

Success at any cost

is success only for the lost.

It is tempting when you have been out in the cold,

to put your virtues on hold.

You are convinced it’s only for a moment

to overcome the present torment,

soon there will be bread on the table

and this transient vice, only a fable.

Then you will put away your sins

the end will justify the means.

It turns a downward spiral

and the desire becomes viral,

and when success has come and gone

greed is not yet done.

It must needs take all

satiation only comes with a fall,

families come asunder

when succeeding’s a blunder,

friends turn into foes

and lies become laws,

Men become godless

their spirits heedless.

The drama ends with a crash

at the tempter’s lash,

for success at any cost follows

the swaying call of death’s gallows.

(Inspired by the events of Haman’s life in the book of Esther)

Petite Delights!

Eyes that see the colors bright,

a nose that smells the scents right,

a mouth with teeth all packed tight,

two ears to add to sounds’ delight,

tiny treasured favors.

Two hands to work

two feet to walk,

a moving pair for the clock

Make for no lack,

Tiny treasured favors.

Family and friends wherever

through life’s endeavor,

every moment to savor

and memories made forever

tiny treasured favors.

Sunny bays

and dull days,

winning ways

or no pays

tiny treasured favors.

in waking and sleeping,

coming and going,

in joy and a sorrowing

of everyday living,

tiny treasured favors.

(1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Hop Scorched!

I skip and hope

I won’t catch up with the rot,

I reap and sob

For the damage it has brought,

I saw myself clever

Thought I knew better,

The tune of the tempter

Caught me in fetter.

The flames have torched

My soul is scorched,

My boastings botched

The fall is vouched.

A victor sought

and a battle fought,

A soul is bought

and forgiveness wrought.

(John 3:16, 1 Peter 5:8)

I Do Not, He Does

What I want to do

I do not,

What I do not want,

I do.

It feels like two

Yet I am one,

He has saved

yet I am plagued,

this wretched man

what has he done!

Thanks be to God

For Christ my Lord!

He does rescue

He will not leave me.

(Romans 7:7-25)

A Treaty With the Enemy

Old King Saul thought it fit

to the let the King of Amalek go

and the choicest, fattest flock live.

He had in mind a sacrifice

when God had said, destroy it all!

Ahab called Ben-Hadad ‘my brother’

made a treaty to take back cities,

Thought his bargain a ‘profitable’ venture

while the captive made away,

of whom God had appointed to utter destruction.

Wise king Solomon loved many foreign women,

of whom the Lord had warned

not to intermarry with.

They turned his heart after their gods

and God tore away the kingdom from his hands.

Satan appears as an angel of light

the old deceiver, a marauding lion,

seeking the unwise he may devour

whose unchecked desires conceive sin,

and refuse the path to repentance

leading them to death’s door

(1 Samuel 15, 1 King 20:42, 1 Kings 11, James 1:14-15)

Our Truth, God’s Truth

There are very few things that so clearly define the age we live in like increased self-expression. It is the age of the individual voice. And it is expressed in every avenue available. It has its advantages and disadvantages of course. It also has enormous potential for the work of God’s kingdom and the spread of the gospel. As believers, we can easily be caught up in all the confusion and excitement of self-expression. I’ve witnessed some of it myself. I was part of an online couple’s group that was supposedly made up of believers but soon found out that our views were not necessarily guided by the scriptures. Some comments and opinions read like a horror movie. We even had a discussion going on with some members justifying different sexual orientations. I still do not know if it was just some trying to be seen as risqué or they actually believed in those positions but soon enough, the conversation fizzled out and went mute.

 Jesus declared unequivocally that He is the way, the truth and the life. Now, there are many truths out there, and each of us know and feel and go through very real experiences. The opinions and perspectives we gain from life experiences are as varied as we are, and so our truths keep changing. We need an unchanging God to get meaning out of all it. And He has given us His Word. What if we lent our voices to the one who has our lives? Instead of reacting in the heat of the moment and giving out ‘our truth’ like everyone else does, it would save the lives of our hearers, if our conversations were steeped with God’s truth. God’s truth would bring peace and healing and reconciliation in our lives and the lives of our hearers and readers.

When we embrace Jesus, we embrace not only truth that is unchanging but also grace. He is full of grace and truth. There’s a lot of ‘truth’ that is spewed in online conversations and at dinner tables that just kills. It is truth that is conspicuously veiled with unkindness, negative criticism, condemnation and judgement. It belittles, it is self-exalting, it is loud and obnoxious and it is proud. Many hail it as being ‘authentic’. The truth of God that is covered with grace is gentle but firm and most importantly, redeems. It has often been said that truth without grace is harsh and ugly, and grace without truth is sentimental and cowardly. It must always be our motive to speak the truth in love. May we give our voices to God and desire to speak in His truth with grace.

 (John 1:14, 14:6, Ephesians 4:15,29, Proverbs 18:21)

Forest Fires or Peaceful Vistas

We have certainly come a long way from smoke signals, war cries and ululations to convey messages. Now we can access information at the click of a button. At the same click of a button we can send out information to the world in a matter of seconds. I have been thinking about the enormity of responsibility I carry for whatever I put out to the world. How do I use the social media platform that is available to me? How do I react on other people’s platforms? What words am I using?

You see in this information age, we are emboldened, informed and have had a collective epiphany of sorts termed as ‘speaking our truths’. We will not be muzzled by anyone nor will we be stopped from expressing every thought, unguarded or not, to the world. We think little of what we say and even less of the consequences thereof. And as believers we have not been left behind. We have unconsciously created through our tongues, some miserable conditions in certain areas of our lives. Now I am not saying that every trouble that comes upon us is caused by our words, but we would avoid a huge amount of trouble if we thought about what we say.

God says through His word that the power of life and death is in the tongue. I believe it. And as a personal development trainer and coach, I have found it very telling that we take words very seriously in this field. It is spiritual. I have seen it at work in my life. There was a time in my life I was not doing well in some difficult relationships. I complained and whined and my view of the people involved did not get any better. And sure enough, like a self-fulfilling prophecy the relationships got worse. I have seen it happen in the pursuit of my dream. However, God has been merciful and through His Word is delivering me every day from a careless and a loose tongue. I have observed my perspective shift and these relationships improve. And I have seen my dream growing each day. I am learning to create a different world with my tongue.

As the body of Christ, we are called to live and walk in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead- The Holy Spirit. He is a gentle person though. He does not push His way through. If we don’t give Him our tongues, He can’t transform us. No wonder it is possible to live a powerless life that does not minister to anyone. We can sabotage our very own lives by how we speak to ourselves or how we speak of or to others. We can cause other people harm by how we speak of or to them.

Words are powerful and they are creative, whether written or spoken. The very first ones in scripture were spoken by God and brought the world and everything in it into existence, ‘In the beginning, God said’. Our words can create in our lives and others a positive, hopeful countenance and healthy self-esteem; it can create for us unimagined opportunities, wealth and open closed doors and it can bring reconciliation and peace to our environment wherever we are. The converse is also true-our words can create and perpetuate in our lives, helplessness, hopelessness, bitterness, anger, depression and cycles of sin; they can cause divisions and wars and all things negative. And when we teeter in the middle, we reap confusion. In short, we reap what we sow with our words. And there’s no getting away from it.

(Proverbs 18:21, James 3:1-12, Matthew 12:36)

Change Of Mind?

I’m a firm and passionate believer in personal development, mainly because it has taken me a good portion of my life to see progress in certain areas concerning work and relationships. I have had to grow in these areas in order to realize my dreams and fulfill my purpose. The growth was not always enjoyable but it has been worth it, even as I continue to pursue and reap the benefits of such growth.

This area was a keen interest of mine even before I could articulate what it was all about. When I look back, a lot of the mentorship programs I have done with young men and women involved content on personal growth. However I was teaching from what I’d call a ‘head’ knowledge perspective. I knew my stuff and therefore could recite it, in front of an audience at a moment’s notice. Some of what I was teaching did not apply to me because I did not really ‘live it’.

Years later, at a point that I felt stuck in my relationships and career, I joined a personal development class. It was then that I began to connect the ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’. Honestly, the information that I was getting was not new but I had not just lived it. It was in my head and not in my heart. There was no transformation that had taken place in my mind to enable me sustain the needed change and act in the direction of my intentions. However, during that class, my mind changed and since then I have experienced phenomenal progress in my life. And even now, when I teach, it comes from a place of not just knowing my stuff but living it!

One of the things that has also come out of the program was the realization of just how most these concepts are actually biblical! In fact as a believer, I am convinced that we have the most complete and up to date manual on personal growth, inspired by an eternal author-God Himself. It comes with His power, His promises and His assurances that His Word does not change. It also makes me realize that a lot of us who are followers of Christ are living far below our potential because we know what’s written but we are just not convicted to live it. No wonder Jesus admonished his listener to be careful to remove the log from their eye first before they reached out to remove a little speck from their brother’s eye. It is a lifetime’s work of yielding to the Holy Spirit in order to live like our savior. We have really no time to judge and condemn others when we are on the same journey.

To conquer sin and fulfill all our God ordained destiny requires a change of mind and a conviction that can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit. To believe in and realize the promises in His Word requires a conviction that only the Holy Spirit can bring about through a change of mind. To be the kind of neighbor to the world in the way Jesus called us to needs a change of mind that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Word of God is living and active and the Holy Spirit is here to help us with the transformation that can enable us prove the Word true in our lives. He begins it in the mind.

An unregenerate mind can’t live the great life that God calls us to, in all its breadth and depth and length. The old state of mind will only keep us wavering between a passionate wish to see change and the old familiar cycle of sin and guilt, fear and failure. Maybe that was the difference between Saul and David. When the prophet Samuel met Saul the future king, his view of himself was quite crooked. He compared himself to a dog. Though the Spirit of God came upon him and he prophesied like the other men there, perhaps his warped view of himself and God did not quite change much. Probably that’s why even when confronted with his disobedience, he took the matter lightly. David is quite often viewed as having committed very grievous sins. His personal experience with God though, convicted him of God’s mercy and love, and drove him to Godly sorrow and repentance and great exploits!

It’s a new season, full of possibilities in God that we can’t even begin to imagine! We can believe and take advantage of this time and do great exploits; or we can continue living as we always have.  May the Holy Spirit renew our minds in Christ Jesus.

(Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 4:12, Romans 8)

Loving Unmasked

I would sooner speak

in the eloquent tongues of men,

to ponder upon all mysteries and ken

than prod upon the wonders of love.

I would sooner delve

into prophecies unknown,

see the bounds of faith undone,

than peer into the power of love.

I would sooner give

all I possess to the poor,

and of myself as martyr,

than follow in the doing of love.

Love has sought the highest hilltop

and laid His claim, my sin forgiving,

that my heart the gift receiving

may be with Him to everlasting

( 1 Corinthians 13)

Dreams And Turns

Sometimes I dream

it burns so bright!

That little beam

That God gave light.

It burns desire

and craves a path,

I stoke the fire

to give it birth.

Sometimes I scream

the labor’s hard!

days are grim

the fall’s a thud.

I build a pyre

to end its path

or go for hire

on another’s hearth.

Sometimes I scheme

to let it go,

why wait to glean

when it won’t grow.

Then He says

wait for it

it tarries,

stay with it

it comes to pass.

(Habakkuk 2:2-3)

I Take Delight!

Random thoughts

Anxious cares

Timid hopes

Runaway dreams,

Empty stares

Mocking fears,

Daily grind

Sweat and toil

Goals and spoils

Business

Busyness

Dizzying mess

Pray stop!

Stop, rest

Speak, listen

Laugh, cry

Love, learn

Delight, desire

Pray go!

Live, love

Give, forgive

(Psalms 37:4)

Painted Eyes

Death darkens her doors

Sin come to collect its wages

A horse and its rider

Hollow, hungry, unforgiving.

She paints her eyes

Arranges her hair

And looks out of a window

Defiant, seductive, unflinching!

The messenger of God

The instrument in His hand

Asks for who does his bidding!

Ominous, brooding, final.

The mask of arrogance flees

The veneer of pride peels

As she falls to the depths below her sill

Spent, wasted, lost.

Be wary the lure of sin

Comfort in the arms of wickedness

dizzying heights of power and pride

It is death, destruction, darkness.

(2nd kings 9:30-37, James 1:13-15)

He’s in My Ship

My faith is shipwrecked

On shallow and treacherous waters beached

My body and spirit cling together hopelessly

 In my ship, tossed by the wind, deliriously

Oh God! Will you not come?

Before my soul falls to harm?

Arise Lord!

Else I go overboard!

Peace! Be still!

What does your soul reveal?

A mind stayed on Him?

A heart not trusting on whim?

But the storm!

Look! It’s form!

Quiet child

Do not turn wild!

Away with the fuss

For more will pass

And none will rip

He is in your ship!

(Isaiah 26:3)

A Passover Testimony

God gave me an early Easter treat this year. The wonderful surprise came ten days early. It was part of an answer to a prayer I had made at the beginning of this year. I asked God to give me souls. I asked God to enable me intentionally fish men for Him this year. I have been sharing God’s Word, but it has been quite a minute since I’d guided someone in praying for their salvation. I longed to do that this year and so I made a prayer. God heard me and sent people to me to begin to minister to and pray for. I wondered who among these, God would move first. He had a different idea.

On the fifth of April, my husband took me to hospital for a short doctor’s visit, and who should I chance upon? None other than one of my nephews who God had given me a chance to raise for some three amazing years before he went back to his family. He was there with his mom to see the doctor. As soon as he saw us, he was on full play mode with my husband’s arm serving as his favorite swing accessory. Fortunately the visit did not end with the all-feared jab and he was in high spirits as we all left together. A proper doctor’s visit for an eight year old can’t end without eating ‘out’! And he promptly suggested that we should all have chips and soda!

And so at a little café’ not far from the hospital, we had chips and soda! We also had question after question thrown at us to go with the chips and soda. His mom sat back and watched, quietly amused at the rigorous interrogation we were undergoing. He asked about school, planes (his favorite subject), friends, spaceships and then somehow we veered off to bible stories. And then he asked about heaven and hell and how they would be. We just about covered all the bible stories we had been through during our years together. Then he asked once again about heaven and what it would be like when we got there and how one got there. It took me back to my childhood. I remembered how my brother and I had always been fascinated by the scriptures on the visions of a new heaven and a new earth. We always planned that when we got there, the first thing we would do would be to take a ride on a lion!

Here we were again many years later and a description of the same visions held my young nephew in thrall, as we narrated them. We shared with him what it would take to have eternal life and he listened raptly. He stayed quiet for a few minutes after that. I got to take a bite of the sausage I’d been holding in my hand for some time. It was then that I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit, to ask him if he wanted to accept Jesus as his Lord and savior. I hesitated a bit; was he ready? Did he really understand? But wasn’t I about the same age as he when God called me to Himself? Had he not preserved my faith and led me on the path of growth at a time when no one around me professed salvation? And now there were many more!

I asked the little man if he would consider giving his life to Jesus, and he said yes! Right there, we all held hands in the little café and helped him pray. Then my husband prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide and protect him on his new journey. He fell into a deep sleep in the car. It was as if something had lifted off his spirit. Jesus’ invitation had been taken this evening, and He had lifted the first burden from this young soul. I know he will be alright, because God has promised to faithfully complete the good work He has begun in him. And we will all be there to pray and walk with him. God is good, and this is my first testimony.

(John 3:16, Matthew 11:28-30, 1 Peter 5:7, Phil 1:6)

God Of All Seasons

God of all time

God of all Seasons

God of winter, spring, summer and fall,

good in the winter, spring, summer and fall.

God of the morning, noon and evening,

good in the morning, noon and evening.

God of the midnight and life’s bleak hour

good in the affliction, the furnace fed seven times hot.

God of the beginning, He has seen the ending

good all through it, His plan remains.

God in the waiting and praying and crying

good in these spaces and all in betweens.

God in the making and molding of my destiny

good in the founding and perfecting my faith.

God is our all in all!

( Col 3:11, Acts 17:28)

My Hair and Answered Prayer

It is a tale that I have mulled over for long, mostly because it sounds frivolous (to me) talking about my hair; and then I remember that I am to give thanks in ALL things. My hair is one of the features that I love most about me. Its journey began very many years back; on a train ride to Nairobi when I was about seven or eight years old. It was a warm and humid December evening on our way to Nairobi from Mombasa enroute to the country side, because it was inexplicable to spend Christmas anywhere else! Those were the days when the great train took 12 hours to the city and you got treated to a three course meal and the lulling rhythm of cabins moving against the rails.

 On this occasion, mom and I were sharing our compartment with a strikingly beautiful young woman. However what held my attention was her lovely hair! She’d released it from the tight bun it was in to give it a light brush just before we were to go in for dinner. It was a luxurious mane! Black, long, strong and thick! It hung down past her shoulders in thick curls. I was completely enamored of the sight! She was the first black woman I’d seen with such hair in my short little life and I simply fell in love with it! I watched her as if in trance, as she moved her comb through the shiny tresses. I watched again as she combed them through, after dinner, just before we went to bed. As I fell asleep, I said a little prayer to God-that he would bless me with such lovely hair one day.

I thought nothing further of this exquisite vignette till just recently. I believe God reminded me of it just to show me that He was still taking care of the minutest details of my life. I had been dealing with a health condition for so long that I had despaired. It only seemed to get worse with time. One time in desperation I had told my Father that I had come to accept it and would no longer bother praying for it! Then He brought this old scene to mind. He had not only answered a little sleepy girl’s prayer but He had done more over the years. I am not very fussy with my hair, partly because of its length and partly because I don’t fancy spending time in a salon. If there was a way that it was possible to leave my head with the hairdresser and come back for it, I would do it in a heartbeat! Somehow my Father has always led me to people who have lovingly and patiently cared for it; and they are not bothered by my apparently very ‘boring’ attitude when it comes to sprucing it up.

Hair aside, Our Father does answer prayer. It does not matter how long it takes. If it is within His will and He has not given any clear indication that He has said NO, then keep asking and knocking and seeking. There are days when it will obviously feel tiring and draining to wait, it will look useless to keep hoping and praying; those times it will feel as if the devil is mocking you relentlessly. You may want to rest and cry a few tears in those times or maybe even ask God the one question we all ask when our humanity meets with circumstances that are beyond our ability to comprehend-why? The answer seldom comes immediately, in some instances even, not at all on this side of eternity. The important thing is that you have addressed your soul’s anguish to the one who can give you true comfort! He is meanwhile doing a great work in you; that character which can only be borne through perseverance! And one day, just one, you will look back and marvel at the exactitude with which He has met the desires of your heart! And not only met them, but because He is a good Father, the way He has done it far above anything you could have asked, thought or imagined!

(Matthew 7:7-8, Hebrews 10:23, 1 Peter 5:7, Romans 5:3-5, Ephesians 3:20)

First Response

We have experienced a time of prolonged distress since the pandemic started. Apart from the threat of a new disease that has caused havoc everywhere, we have had to deal with the economic issues that came with long periods of lock downs. Some of us experienced job losses, salaries were scaled back and some businesses shut down completely. All of a sudden, the bottom of what we had come to know as ‘normal’ came apart from under us. It did not make it any easier that everyone in the world was dealing with the same situation; because added to that, individuals and families were also privately dealing with unique situations that had emerged out of the whole. Loved ones had passed on, some were caught up in huge medical debts, breaking families, depression and even long held unanswered prayers.

Times of distress are very unsettling. When it feels like the whole world is caving in and one bad thing follows another without any respite, it is alarming! There was also a king who experienced an unsettling period in his leadership. A nation, which God had not allowed them to destroy on their journey to the promised land, conspired with two other foreign nations to destroy them! There were reports coming in thick and fast about the enemy’s advancement and it seemed like they were sitting ducks. They were besieged on every side! The king was so alarmed that he resolved to inquire of the Lord and proclaimed a fast. This was king Jehoshaphat of Judah.

Whenever I read that part of scripture, I always find myself musing. It’s captivating for me because that is not the natural order of response that I would expect. It is more likely that I would expect a king of his stature to pray and ask for God’s protection as he armed his men and marched to battle. Maybe even concoct a hurried alliance with a friendly ruler to help him face his foe. However, he decided to call thousands of men, women and children to prayer. That is not a natural response! And many times, when we face troubles, we do not respond in that way. Typically, by the time we get to God, we have gone roundabout and complained, murmured, shared our woes with whoever cares to listen or tried to resolve the circumstances in our strength. It is only when we completely fail at our attempts that we now go back to inquire of God. He becomes our last resort.

God gave King Jehoshaphat victory in the most unusual way. However, in his humanity, he also later forgot and made a decision without God that almost cost him his life. There is another king though, who responded to a time of distress by seeking God first in the same way Jehoshaphat did. This one stuck to his guns all the way. He sweat drops of blood as he contemplated and prayed to God for guidance on the sacrifice he was about to make. He could have rallied his apostles to protect him, he could have fired up his numerous followers to cause chaos. In fact, there was a general underlying mood of anticipation because some thought that if push came to shove, he would take up arms and free his people from the Roman tyranny. He would himself reveal that he had the armies of heaven at his disposal, should he need any help! This powerful king, resolved to first inquire and submit to God’s will.

If Jesus, the son of God, did not think it odd to call on his Father first, we can be sure that our first response in these times of prolonged distress should be the same. It is the only way, we can be sure of sustained victory over the circumstances we are dealing with every day!

(2 Chronicles 20, 1 Kings 22, Matthew 26:53, Luke 22:39-46)

Of Anniversaries and Cupfuls of Waiting

A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. We thank God because He has truly been gracious to us. As we reflected on the journey, it was obvious to us that He has held us through all these past seasons.

I love having little keepsakes that remind me of where I have come from. Sometimes it’s a sweet card or a household item or an item of clothing that will send me down memory lane. This time I found my treasure on the top corner shelf in the kitchen. Lying quietly and untouched, was a set of unopened white tea cups! I broke out in laughter. It took me back to the day we opened our wedding gifts after we had come back from our honeymoon! As we had sat on the floor opening our big and little gifts, I was struck by the prodigious amounts of sets of mugs and cups before us! Beautiful sets of cups and mugs in all colors formed a quiet army in our tiny living room. At some point I told my husband to stop removing them out of the boxes they were packed in; we’d eventually remove them from time to time as we fancied.

The whole scene was very amusing to me because it was like our guests had instinctively known my love for tea! Had they discovered my secret? I love tea! Black tea, tea with milk, plain tea, tea with a bit of cardamom or ginger; the aroma of freshly brewed tea gets me any time and every time! Those cups were an affirmation and a license to continue to enjoy tea for the rest of my life! And I can proudly say that I have lived up to the expectation; I’ve enjoyed tea by myself, with my husband and with our friends on any occasion that has presented itself as an excuse to fellowship!

Looking at that last unopened set of cups though, I wondered what they would have to say if they somehow were able to talk. Perhaps they would voice their frustrations at being neglected in that little corner for six whole years! Maybe they would tell me angrily that they did not like how I gave them little attention while I had gradually opened the boxes of the other cups and put them to use. One thing that I was definitely sure that they would ask, was why I had left them specifically and not any other cups or mugs; to languish in obscurity. As I took them off the shelf for the first time in a long time and cut through the thick plastic wrap to wash them, it dawned on me that those were actually my unexpressed concerns to my Father.

Of a truth, I am aware of how blessed I am; but like those cups, there are spaces where I have thought that my Father had either completely forgotten or decided He was not going to fill. There are prayers and desires, that I have felt forgotten by God. And like those cups, I have felt that there are spaces in my life that will never be productive or meaningful. Some of our prayers with my husband have gone unanswered for the longest time. Those cups brought into sharp focus my unspoken agony and unfulfilled longing.

As the years of dust washed away in the sink, I also thanked God that I was not a cup or a mug. For you see, a cup or a mug goes largely unchanged when it is not used. It stays in the corner, gathering dust or may even chip a little or fade in color. In the end, it may not be even be used. However, I knew that there was no chance of that happening to us. My Father has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He still has a plan for our lives, for good and not for evil; to prosper us and not to harm us. Furthermore, these past six years had not left us the same. God had drawn us into Himself, to trust Him more, to pray more, to delve deeper into His Word and to learn to wait patiently for His timing. There are fruits that the Holy Spirit has produced in us through this process. We have not been left untouched. And I know that it is for our good and for the glory of God.

The cups gleamed new as they dried on the dish rack. It is as if they also knew that their time had come! Hope and new life glimmered in their future! And I thought to myself, ‘for me too! For us!’ A time will definitely come, and soon, when our Father will repay us for all the years that the locusts have eaten! And when He takes us out of that place of waiting He will announce to us as He announced through Isaiah on the restoration of His beloved Israel, ‘Arise shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you!’ It is not in vain to wait on Him.

(Deut 31:6, Jer 29:11, Romans 5:3-5, 2 Cor 4, Eccle 3:11, Isaiah 60:1)

These Almost Hours

They are good, these hours

these lonely hours, these quiet hours

when dawn beckons

but is not yet,

When prayers are about to be answered

when faith is almost visible

when hopes approach fulfillment

when purpose knocks on achievement’s door

when dreams tread on reality’s path

when struggle is on the brink of victory.

They are good, these hours

these lonely hours, these laboring hours

when daybreak beckons

but is not yet,

When the body is weak and the spirit frail

when helpless cries replace valiant struggle

when raucous shouts become muted screams

when faithful friends turn hired foes

when fear and doubt are unwanted companions

when the end is near and yet not so.

They are good, these hours

these lonely hours, these trusting hours

when morning beckons

but is not yet

when the pain and toiling is known only to me and Father

when I have done all I can on my feet

when I can only wait on my knees

when His joy is all my strength

when my knowing is in His promise

when my looking is to Him only.

They are good, these hours

these lonely hours, these almost hours

when God is in the making of all things beautiful

when I am in the waiting for His time.

(Hebrews 10:23, Ecclesiastes 3:11)

My All In All

He is my Father

He is the Son

And the Holy Spirit

He is God.

He is the beginning and the end

The present and the future

And the moments in between

He is eternal.

He is the truth in my sin

The grace in my redemption

My faith in faithlessness

He is love.

On sunny days

In winter storms

In all of life’s seasonal offerings

He is hope.

His spirit hovers over the universe

In grandeur and majesty

And yet enthroned in the courts of my heart too

I am His.

( Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, 1 Corinthians 3:16)

Grey Skies and Love!

I can see but then I can’t

I know but then I don’t.

My feelings are crazy

my vision is hazy,

My feet are stuck

my heart is struck.

Shall I weep?

Or shall I sleep?

Helplessness and darkness

sameness and nakedness,

concrete walls

shattering falls

worrying tolls

on weary souls.

Friends prod

strangers scold

Allies run

enemies burn!

O God why have you forsaken me?

When will you let me be?

Anguish, questions

Silence, lessons.

Solid truth

enduring proof,

the cross of Calvary

unsurpassed chivalry!

My Child, I will never leave you nor forsake you

I love you, I do.

(Deuteronomy 31:6-8)

Space For Redemption

As this second half of the year starts, it brings with it the opportunity and promise of new beginnings, new blank pages to write a different script of our lives, if we choose to. If we choose not to dwell on the past, linger on the mistakes or write and rewrite past glories. As I think about this second chapter of the year and my family, I am drawn to reflect on forgiveness.

Our society seems to be cross all the time, and there is fault to be found everywhere and with everyone. There is very little tolerance for mistakes and we seem to have altogether forgotten that to err is human. And since society is a reflection on the family unit, then there must be a lot of unforgiveness going around at many a family table; a lot of hang-ups, hurting relationships between parents and their children, between siblings or between couples themselves.

I watch with interest, sometimes as some high profile celebrity couples’ unions go sour after the discovery of extra marital affairs or other ills. Apart from the desertion they may face from companies with which they have huge signed huge endorsement deals, my attention is usually arrested by the comments that freely go round. These icons fall prey to sound criticism from everyone who is able to get their say and mostly from not so long ago ‘die-hard fans’.  As we point accusing fingers at these public figures and revile their names, I wonder how many of us who have oft times done this can really claim to be clean! In real fact, the only reason we don’t have fingers pointing at us, is because our lives are not as exposed as theirs- we haven’t been caught, yet! Even Jesus challenged the men who were eager to do away with the adulteress to stone her if they really had no sin in their lives. They slowly walked away as they came to the glaring acknowledgement that they weren’t perfect either.

And we do the same thing to the ones we love most.  A child with bad grades in school or a rebellious nature is quickly written off with unseemly words that ought not to be used on a human being. An offense committed by a loved one will be made fodder for future disagreements and family meetings or used as an excuse not to give them another chance. Siblings may stop talking to each other until sadly, maybe a tragedy forces them back together. A parent will bull-headedly cease all form of communication with their child and become estranged until it is unfortunately too late to do anything but regret. And we take this attitude outside the family circle too, treating our colleagues and employees in the same intolerable way.

Crossing over into a new phase is usually an occasion for much fanfare. I believe it is so because it carries with it hope: a promise, a hint, a possibility, a wish and a prayer that things will be better. We should also carry this hope with us with regard to our family members-especially those we think or know to have hurt us. Inside every human being, there is some good. And it is that good that we should reflect on and that starts with forgiveness. Forgiveness creates the space for redemption, an opportunity that the offending party is able to change for the better. You don’t need to go beyond the cross to see this-Jesus knew what kind of people he died for. If I was him, knowing me, knowing the kind of people I was dying for, I probably would not have willingly gone through with it!

Forgiveness also helps prevent the seed of bitterness from taking root. The truth is that even you and I will most definitely need that chance at some point in our lifetime; and most likely more than once. And at that point we will need someone who believes that we are not so hopelessly evil that we don’t deserve to be forgiven.  Sometimes the offending party may not change and may not acknowledge the hurt they caused. When we carry them in our hearts, it becomes a poison. And if we do not realize it in time, the poison also denies us our space for redemption.

Justice and punishment do have their place in the family and society, which are no less important, but love embraces more ground in the multitude of sins it is able to cover.

(John 8:1-11, Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 4:8)

Forecast:Stormy Weather!

There’s a petition that I have been making to God for some time now. I have prayed and fasted. I have wept and waited. I have also done the usual round of cajoling, promising, negotiating and getting upset with Him. Then I have become quiet and decided that maybe that is not in His cards to answer; maybe it is better to forget so that it doesn’t hurt so much. Expectation is a brewery that can sometimes produce froths of very little if any hope and huge barrels of finely matured disappointment.

There are people close to my life; I have hoped that our relationship would become more intentional and meaningful. I have prayed that we would grow deeper. We have grown apart, traded accusations and kept silent with each other. There are times we have forgiven each other, tried to make it work, committed for a while and then things fell apart again. There are times I wonder if it is even worth it! The heartache, the pain, the resentment and the regret! It seems to me that it would be better to just not try. Then there would be no scars left in the heart and no caution replacing the void left by shattered innocence.

It seems that perhaps, I do not hear the voice of God. My ears perhaps, are cluttered with worry, doubt or my will getting in His way. The lesson repeats itself ad infinitum and each time I fail. I do not even want to try because I think there’s no use. I will never get over this one and God will never answer that one. Why should I pray and why should I ask? Why would I cling on to a hope whose embers do not glow even when I furiously fan them? My ears are open but I hear no still small voice say, ‘This is the way, go ye in it.’ Silence and darkness are my companions. They do not sit still like Job’s friends did for seven days and seven nights, when they saw how greatly he suffered. These companions of mine are more than eager to mock me at the first opportunity.

What if I gave up? What if I stopped hoping for an answered prayer? Perhaps it would not be so difficult! If I stopped trying, there would be no motion; if there was no motion, there would be no friction. Perhaps it would not hurt, maybe there would be no pain. Maybe I would get many nights of uninterrupted deep sleep and days free of heartaches and disappointments. I would not have to deal with myself and I would not have to put up with anyone. I would not have to look forward to anyone or anything and that way kill the nagging excitement of expectation. I feel so hopeless that the situation will not change, I do not want to ask Father for anything.

Perhaps it would be less painful. It would also be very dull and colorless. It would just be gray lifeless skies in my life. The storm and black clouds are better. The flashes of lightning gives me a glimpse of what could be at the end of the long dark night. There’s a promise of clear blue skies and mellow sunshine; there’s the hope of life and color. I love life and color! I don’t see much of that right now but I still love it! And my heart won’t stop betraying me with a yearning for better days.

Father has said that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I do not see Him in this dark night. If I was not aware of my enemy, I would gladly hand myself over to him to steal, kill and destroy, if only for a fleeting moment of rest and escape. I’ll take the chance with my Father even though I do not understand what is happening right now. I will put my hope in Him still, even though He slay me. Then morning will surely come!

(Job 13:15, Isaiah 48:10, 1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4, Psalm 30:5, John 10:10)

Crumbling Cookies

Recently I have been overly ecstatic at watching God begin to answer a prayer that has been my heart’s cry for as long as I can remember.  There’s nothing to describe the feeling! And of course I can’t wait for Him to just complete this period so that I can delight in my answered prayer-so much so that, when I think He has slowed down a bit, I want to take over the reins and just go ahead and be done with it! On one of these occasions, He reminded me of exactly who was doing the baking!

Yes, I said baking; because that is the picture He brought to my mind on this occasion when I was engaging in one of my ‘take over’ bids! He reminded me of the time I had prayed fervently over the issue and when He showed me in a dream, I had rejected His version of the answer I had been expecting. However with time, I had accepted His will and even learnt to delight in it and anticipate it. Then when He started working to make it happen, all of a sudden He was saddled with this impatient child who hadn’t even wanted His will in the first place! And so He watched me vainly try to hurry up His blessing through my own efforts and ‘strategies’ which needless to say, fell flat on my face! Hot and harried, I went back to Him and allowed Him to continue working His perfect will. I am almost sure I heard Him say, ‘Yes thank you! I will have that and you continue to sit there and wait until I am ready to serve!’ So I went back and perched myself on the counter, watching Him bake, giddy with waiting!

Many times we are like that as children-watching mama baking our favorite cookies is a special kind of torture! Though we know that if we wait, the cookies will be heavenly, it does not stop us from wishing that we could eat them already! And that is how our little fingers sometimes end up in the raw dough as we try to get a pinch of the sweet and tasty mix. And yet the raw baking powder gives us all kinds of stomach upsets! Or when mama is not looking and she has left them on a plate to cool down before serving, we reach for them from the high counter top. And sometimes the plate of cookies comes all crumbling down! And mama is furious and we are sad and very very sorry-but all the amount of sorry in the world does not bring back the cookies, which we now stare at so sadly, laying in a heap of broken plate and cookie crumbs. And we know from mama’s unyielding look that we will not be having cookies for a while. If only we had waited!

Well, that is the way I behave my Father sometimes! The book of 2nd Peter 3:9 reminds us that ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ The portion of scripture is focused on the second return of our Lord Jesus, but like all scripture, it is still relevant and applicable in my daily living. There are many times that my impatience can and sometimes, will lead to the delay or thwarting of God’s will in my life. It is not easy to be patient and that is in our nature but with our helper the Holy Spirit, we can wait till God is ready to serve. And when he serves, we will not want for anything ‘for the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him’ according to Lamentations 3:25!

( 2 Peter 3:9, Lamentations 3:25, Psalm 27:13-14)

Abundance!

Out of the abundance of the heart

the mouth speaks,

I speak in full and not in part

of the joy my heart reaps

when in your presence I have spent,

and your love fills.

Not for gold and silver cents

nor pretty or petty frills,

neither do I ask for retreat from trouble,

or entreat your favor

for blessings more than double,

for me and mine to savor.

My heart is full of love,

you first loved me.

My spirit soars above,

you set me free.

Who am I

that you would be mindful of me?

you would die

for me to be.

It is a thought most uncontainable.

My spirit and my heart sing,

it is joy irrepressible,

a light through my whole being.

God is my shepherd, I have plenty.

(Psalm 8, 23:1)

Blind! Deaf!

Fleeting pleasures

earthly treasures,

eating, drinking, courting, marrying

buying, selling, planting, building.

It was Noah’s ark for refuge

before the great deluge,

an escape to the hills for Lot

away from the fire and sulfur pot.

He cries, come out of them!

We cling on to sin’s hem,

He pleads, it will devour! It’s not tame!

We cast our eyes back, a moth drawn to flame.

On the cross, His arms stretched wide

love calls us to His side,

we mock, we laugh, we walk away

we live and trump on forgiveness’ gift.

Yet soon He comes His own to lift.

The unrepentant sinner cries, ‘woe is me!’

Too late, too late! He begins to see.

(Luke 17:26-30, Mark 4)

Rain Away

The clear skies have given way

to the brooding group of clouds,

my feelings sway

the past crowds

I pray.

The rain pounds

He washes my trespasses away.

A break in the clouds

a rainbow’s ray,

freedom sounds

no longer caught in sin’s fray

or the enemy’s hounds.

It is today

His salvation abounds

(John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:2)

My Redeemer Is Strong!

Isn’t it wonderful to have such an unequivocal reassurance? My redeemer is strong! That is so certain, strong and dependable; it is a statement of an assuredness that brooks no arguments. I have personalized it! I chanced upon it recently in Jeremiah 50:34 while going through a particularly trying moment. This was actually God’s word to Jeremiah, when Israel and Judah were experiencing oppression and captivity in the hands of their enemies. It was bleak and dark for them, pain and anguish etched their hearts and probably doubts assailed their every thought.

 In the middle of this, the Lord speaks to Jeremiah thus, ‘…..Their redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.’ One version of the scripture puts it even more animatedly and vividly; that the Lord God will ‘vigorously defend their cause’! I love the picture that it brings to mind! I would imagine that the words spoken by God above would be the testimony coming from the lips of the enemies once He was done with them!

 Even now I can picture the solitary figure of a Chaldean soldier in the battlefield, raking his hands through his hair, and shaking his head remorsefully as he takes in the destruction around him. He probably says to himself, ‘Oh man! We had it coming this time. We’ve been messing with the wrong guys and now their God is mad!’ As he looks at all the carnage and weeps for his fallen comrades, a young dusty child appears out of nowhere and spies on him crying. Suddenly the little guy breaks out in hoots of laughter and points to heaven as he shouts, ‘Oh yeah! Our papa is strong! Stronger than yours!’

 The very same Father is here for me and you too. He is the one who still vigorously pleads my cause, to give me rest even when I am filled with doubts and trepidation; even when I falter and many times fall. I love that He is strong enough for both of us, when I do not feel that I have any strength left; so much so that He reminds me in a few chapters before in Jeremiah 31:3 that He has loved me with an everlasting love and therefore continued His faithfulness to me. His everlasting love drove His only son to the cross for my sin-that in my place He may die, nailed to a tree. It really doesn’t matter what the situation is; my redeemer is strong! I may break out in hoots of laughter or give a shout of praise because He has done it for me! And He has done it for you too!

(Jeremiah 50:34, 31:3, Romans 8:37)

Loving God, Loving Self

Awhile back I heard a new song from a musician who had been around for quite a while. Her stellar musical career and private life had been colorful in equal measure. Now, this is one lady whose music I really liked when growing up and thought she was the epitome of all that music composition should be. She was black, strong and with an equally powerful voice to match. Back then when I did not know the implications of words, I liked one particular song she sung. Some of the words in that song went something like this, ‘…..I have found the greatest love of all/ it’s easy to achieve/ learning to love the self/ it is the greatest love of all…..’ I repeated those lyrics over and over and thought to myself that one day I would be just like her- a strong, confident, proud black woman!

 It’s been years since and a lot happened in her life; and in mine too. In the midst of all these happenings, Jesus found me and made me His. And still in Jesus, a lot has still gone by but He has remained my rock and my salvation. This lady experienced a traumatic marriage, problems with drugs and a waning career. She kept singing though one could see that she was a pale shadow of her former self. Some of the words to her new song then, went something like this, ‘………I have crushed and tumbled/ but I have not crumbled/…..I have found a light inside my heart…….’

As I heard those words, I was awash with sadness; a sadness that came from the fact that I knew without a doubt that if she did not meet with Jesus then, things would definitely come a crumbling! I believe that she genuinely thought that some positive talk and a little tender loving care to her being would do the trick. It may have, for some time, for a moment but not the everlasting kind of balm that every soul yearns for. Sadly, she passed away in a bathtub at a hotel in which she was due to perform at an awards show. It was not long before her daughter and a young man she had been guardian to also passed away due to an apparent drug overdose. I loved and missed her deeply. She was one of the first celebrities I prayed for earnestly.

 I am convinced that loving self is important, else we would not have any measure by which to love our neighbors as ourselves. However it has to be in the proper perspective. Jesus gave the order by which this loving must be realized. It has first to go to the Lord God, with all our heart, soul and strength. For you see our creator has the blueprint on how we should love, He made us and therefore He should know! He knows that when we first love Him then we discover that in loving ourselves we should remember that we are created in no less an image and likeness than His. Awesome! He knows that in loving Him we discover that, He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world- and we marvel at what the Lord could have seen in such a frail vessel that He would choose us as His abode. He also knows that when we love Him first then His joy becomes our strength, He gives us beauty for ashes, dancing for mourning and we soar like eagles-and we wonder why when we look in the mirror we have a beauty that belies all that we are going through! Then when we look at the cross of Calvary and how God would choose to become man just for me; and for you- and we now get the exact picture of how we should love ourselves.

 Loving self without loving God first is a road that is fraught with disappointment and frustration, because the self without God is desperately wicked and unruly. The corrupted self is naturally bent on destruction. Satan loves it that way because it becomes very easy for him to accomplish his mission; to steal, kill and destroy our destinies in this life and eternally. Loving God ensures that we get just the right amount of loving of ourselves as the old selfish nature dies; not overmuch so that we forget God and not too little that we despise Him by despising and harming ourselves. He gives us the right perspective so that we enjoy an abundant life in Him. That does not come from an ‘inner light’; it comes from the light of the Son.

(Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Mathew 22:37-40, John 10:10, Colossians 1:13)

The Righteous Ones

 I often wondered who the righteous ones were; these ones who were able to boldly run into the house of God and receive salvation. I thought to myself how privileged they were; that they were able to run into the house of God and into His presence and trouble Him with their cares and that He would even listen. And I looked upon my troubles and considered them vain and trivial and slight. And those that I thought that were real thorns in my flesh I was embarrassed about, how could I go to the great I am, time and again with the same tale and trial? Would He not think of me as insolent and slow of understanding? So I kept them to myself and whenever I reached the house of God I stayed outside on the porch, holding back; and I waited for the righteous ones to come by. I waited for those who were able to go in and hold audience with the Father; those whose robs were not soiled with the stain of repeated sin and garments of frailty. I imagined that they would walk in with their heads held high and their shoulders not slanted by the burden of guilt. And equally they would walk out in the same way.

 Lo and behold, there was a man approaching the house of God. ‘No doubt, a righteous one come to seek God’ I said to myself. And as he drew nigh I retreated behind the rose bushes lest he saw me and sneered at my obvious state of despair. I was surprised at what I saw-he was tired and worn out, he looked defeated and kept peering back after every few minutes as if there were people after him, ready to pounce on him. He did not notice my presence as he hurried into the temple of God, his eyes now firmly fixed on some point in the inner sanctum. As he passed by I observed his face and was shocked by the recognition! Of all the people I had imagined, he was the last one I thought would come into the temple in such discomposure. Usually he came dancing; and so gladly that on one occasion his clothes fell off. I could not help it, I decided to follow and hear his missive to the Lord God.

 He was so enthralled in his sorrow he did not see me. For a long moment he stood there silently with tears running down his face. Then when it seemed that the weight was too heavy for his legs to bear, he crumbled to the floor. Then I heard him speak to the Lord. A long sorrowful tale- of how he had let his eyes lead him to sin with a woman who was someone else’s wife, of how he had added to this great sin when he killed her husband and how the child that had been conceived had died. I was distraught; he was sad and very sorry. He asked the Lord for forgiveness. And God lifted the veil of sorrow from his countenance. I was terrified, I was in disbelief, I wanted to run out but I could not! I was rooted to the same spot when he spied on me as he was leaving. I waited for an eternity for his wrath to descend on my frame- for having listened in on his conversation with God. He just passed by, then as if he had forgotten something, he came back to where I was standing and quietly he said to me, ‘Go to Him’.

I looked up into his face; it shone with the radiance of the morning sun. He was forgiven, he was free and he was beloved of the Lord; this righteous one was. He left, and I made my way to the front of the temple.

(2 Samuel 11-12, psalm 32, 51, Romans 3:23-24, John 3:16, Mathew 11:28-30)

I Love You Father

I love you Father

today more than always,

I did not think it possible

that every breathe I take

and every cell in my being,

would shout for joy

and worship you.

It is not a feeling

it is not transient,

nor is it found

 in the blessings you bestow.

It is stamped deep inside,

a sealing of the Holy spirit,

so that if I am blue today

or the storms come in,

the skies sunny tomorrow

and the birds sing,

I worship you.

It is a knowing,

not in my heart only

or in my head,

it is in my seeing

in my hearing

and in my tasting,

it is in my touching

and walking and doing,

it is in my being

to worship you.

I love you.

(Mathew 22:37, Psalm 42:1-2)

Dark Appetites

Little critters run amok

when the kitchen lights go off,

they pinch this and bite that

a nibble here, a morsel there,

a whole mess everywhere.

New rays of a dawning day

back to holes, away from sight,

a day of reckoning calls

the stench of poison chokes,

and though they seek the day

and gasp for breathe,

the grip of death holds tight

dark appetites to quell.

Legs and minds

hands and souls,

busy bodies, works of night

unbridled desires,

fettered slaves feeding sin

loathing light from the Son

taking lies from the con.

Sin, when it’s grown

seeks a reward for its toil,

each life, a toll.

And though they seek the day

and gasp for breathe,

the grip of death holds tight

dark appetites to quell.

(John 3:19-20, Romans 6:23)

The Savior I Need

I thought I needed a savior

to slay the dragons on the path of my life,

to foil the plans of wicked men,               

and destroy the obstacles sown

to hinder my growth.

I thought I needed a saviour

to heal my weak body

and rid it of all frailty,

to open the door of fortune

and grant me untold wealth,

to endue me with power

that I may conquer the lands,

and do great exploits.

I thought I needed a savior

whose entrance into my life,

would shake the heavens

and shatter the earth,

riding on a mighty steed

flying on the wings of the wind.

My savior was not to be found

in the mighty wind,

nor did I see His likeness in the earthquake

or the flaming fire.

My savior made His triumphal entry

riding on a colt,

the King of Kings

meek and lowly

a gentle servant.

And when He spoke,

it was not the sound of many waters,

but a gentle whisper.

Love bid me come

weary and burdened to rest.

The Lord of Lords,

gentle and humble

bore it all on the cross.

Then I saw that I needed a savior,

to take my place

and forgive my sin,

a wretched man unable to pay his debt,

convicted and destined for death,

rescued by mercy and grace.

I saw that I needed a savior

who died and rose again,

so that I too would rise from my death

to new life in him.

And when I saw that I needed a savior

whose new life pulsed in mine,

marked in him with a seal,

the promised Holy Spirit,

I sought a closer walk

that I may endure.

And now that the savior came,

the enemy comes oft

to steal and kill and destroy,

And he finds the one in me

greater than he.

With life abundant,

I prosper in Spirit, mind and body

for I have a savior

who is more than I thought I needed

more than I imagined He would be

more than I dared to ask for.

(1 Kings 19:11-12, Luke 19:28-44, Matthew 11:28-30, 1 John 4:4,8, John 3:16, 10:10, Philippians 2:6-11, Romans 6, Ephesians 1:3-14, 3:20)

The Gift Of Pain-Walking With Him

My gait in the spirit is upright now, there’s a lightness in my step and a song in my heart. The colors of life are vibrant and the future offers promising gleanings. He is still here with me. I am learning to welcome Him every day into my life. Yes, every day I let Him know that I want Him to hold my hand and lead me. Now that I am well, it can be very tempting to want to move ahead with my ‘projects’ and ‘schedules’. My feet are yearning to run free but I remember where that led me these last few years. It makes me cling to His hold even more firmly. I am determined to learn to walk with Him at His pace. To learn His pace is to learn His voice. And He does speak.

To walk with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis is something that I took for granted for a long time. I assumed that since I had accepted Christ as my savior and I had been sealed with Him, that was the end of the matter. I expected that He would magically do the work of transformation in my life in spite of me. However, He does not force any work of transformation without our complete yielding. And even then, He will only go as far as we want Him to go in our growth as followers of Christ. In retrospect, I can now see the many times that He has tried to get my attention in the past and I couldn’t hear Him or I chose not to. And as time went by, His voice in my spirit grew fainter as I decided to ‘do things my way’.

Christ specifically told us that the Holy Spirit would come after he left this physical plain. He is our helper, teacher and confidant . He is the one to guide us into all truth. The things that He speaks to us come from Jesus. Yet how often have I scurried around like a headless chicken, leaning on my own understanding and trying to live this life without Him. To live life as a follower of Christ, to love and forgive as He did is impossible without the Holy Spirit. And yet how I have, and many of us have relegated Him to some feel-good goosebumps experience during a particularly powerful praise session or sermon.

One young minister who was growing in his walk with the Holy Spirit, approached an older minister and asked him how he could truly please God. The older gentleman turned to him and warned, not without a little exasperation in his voice, ‘Don’t try!’. The young minister, undeterred, inquired further on what the man meant. This time the older gentleman calmly turned around and said, ‘Young man, it’s not your ability. It’s His ability in you’. The young man contemplated these words for some time after and concluded that the only way to please God was by yielding and letting the Holy Spirit do the work. Otherwise, we would only boast of our own accomplishments. If you are like me, you probably have a long list of things you have tried to do on your own strength and have realized that they are either misdirected effort or not aligned to God’s purposes for your unique life.

 The Holy Spirit is God. He is God unlimited, unlike Christ on earth who was limited to a particular physical location. He is the one who is with us till the end of the ages. He is the one who, if we will let Him, will faithfully do the work in us until the day of Christ Jesus. Why do we waste so much time walking this journey as if we are alone? Why are we so powerless when God the son, gave us the power and authority to trample over snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and not be harmed? Why are many of us walking in defeat, and wounded and heads hung low, as if our Father, the almighty God is not the all-powerful one? I suspect as you do, correctly, that it is part of the enemy’s plan. What better strategy than to make us forget that we who are called the sons of God, have God the Holy Spirit living inside our temples and ready to vanquish all the arrows of the enemy! And when we forget, we rely on our strength, which is at best, laughable. And when the enemy knows we are walking on our own, he has a field day stealing, killing and destroying our destinies.

I find that I go back to the words of the then young minister who was grappling with the sincere desire to please God. He said- When you see Jesus face to face, you won’t say, ‘Lord, look what I did.’ You’ll say, ‘Lord, look what you did with this wretched man.’ Start practicing it. Open your arms wide and say, ‘Spirit of the living God, I want to live for Jesus today. I give you my mind, my emotion, my will, my intellect, my lips, my mouth, my ears, and my eyes-use them for the glory of God. I am practicing this; will you join me? It’s the only way we are assured a victorious life this side of heaven!

( Ephesians 13, John 14:15-17,26, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, 3:16-17, 6:19, Romans 8, 15:30, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Galatians 5:16-26, Philippians 1:6, Psalm 139:7-10, Luke 10:19, Excerpts from Good Morning Holy Spirit By Benny Hinn)

The Gift Of Pain-Leaning On Him

My first inclination after throwing away the crutches was to take them right back again! The enemy was right there to remind me that I had failed many times before; that I would be right back to my old self. I was wobbly for a while but God reminded me that it is He who had called me. He is the one who would teach me; all I had to do was lean on Him.

I have always thought that I am vulnerable before my maker. I realized that I was not. I took it for granted that because He was privy to every facet of my life, then He would automatically work on the areas I needed to be worked on. I forgot that I had to surrender them to Him; He would not just intrude and His Spirit is gentle. Sometime before the new year I decided that I did want things to change completely. I went to Him and exposed all my spots and scars slowly. He has taken His time with them too. These are wounds that have been formed over time. Some have been healed immediately and others will take a bit of work.

He checked me into His hospital room of prayer and fasting as soon as I was well enough to get out of bed. He granted me a huge dose of grace for this period. I showed Him my hurts and He let me see how I had let them fester into hopelessness, doubt and unbelief. He let me see how I had let that affect how I saw myself; how I forgot that I was made in His image and likeness. I forgot that I was now part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. I forgot that I was the temple of the Holy Spirit and that in and through me, there was a great work that He had specifically chosen for me to do when He called me to salvation. I forgot about my great inheritance in Christ Jesus. He was patient, he reminded of it all. And I repented.

It has taken learning this gentle person again. He is called the Holy Spirit. He is my friend, my guide, my confidant, my help. He is God. The one Jesus promised when He went back to the Father. The ‘problem’ is that He is not forceful. Though I have always known that He abides in me since I gave my life to Jesus, the truth is that it has been a long time since I let Him work in and through me. I have wished that He was more like the Father, with great and awesome works that would jolt me into seeking Him more intentionally; or like the son when He was physically present with the first disciples and they got to follow Him wherever He went and He minced no words in teaching them. The Holy Spirit is gentle. He will only guide me into all the truth to the extent that I want to go. When I grasped this, it shook me quite a bit. What time I have wasted, how often I have languished in worry, which resources and effort I have spent in trying to walk this journey alone, trying to ‘make things happen’! All along He has been waiting for me to ask and let Him lead!

To be led by Him means to be submitted to Him. After all He is the one who knows and intercedes for me according to the will of the Father. He has the blueprint of my life. I have discovered again the precious treasures to be unearthed in prayer and fasting. It has unclogged my inner ears and eyes. The rigors of a life lived on the physical plane only and a stomach indulged without self-denial had drowned His voice out. However, life is spiritual. I hear and see Him, more and more clearly now. And now I lean on Him more confidently. I realize He knows the way and He is here to go the whole way with me. His work in and through me is for the long haul, until the day of Christ Jesus.

(Genesis 1:26-28, Romans 8, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6)

The Gift Of Pain-I See My Crutch

Crutches are great aids when you can’t fully support your body and you need to move. You may not get to do everything or do it at the pace that you want to, but at least you get some things done. There are some however that are absolutely not recommended for use, though we still do use them often. Mostly we develop their use unconsciously and before we know it, they have become an integral part of our lives. These kinds are dangerous because they can stop us from actively seeking healing, and in some cases even when we are healed we refuse to throw them off and instead use them to hinder our own progress. We live an unfulfilled life with unrealized potential and carry our treasures to the grave. These crutches are borne in the storms of pain, fear, defeat and hopelessness. I am talking about mental, emotional and spiritual crutches.

I had my own crutch. I used it for a long time. It was borne out of pain. I had dealt with a reproductive health condition for a long time; about twenty five years. This condition had me in pain every few days of the month. I could not go anywhere but lie in bed. After that I would stay at home a few more days just to regain strength to go back to work. I sought medical help and homeopathic alternatives, I prayed and fasted that God would heal me. There was no relief. I learnt to grudgingly live with the pain.

This past year when COVID-19 began ravaging the globe, I was grateful to God that my life had not been adversely affected. Apart from the usual drama of this condition, I was fit, still going to work and earning a salary. I couldn’t fathom anything stopping me from ending the year on a high note. Well, I realized I spoke too soon! The resident drama in my life accosted me relentlessly for two months. I was in bed for many many days disappointed in God and depressed. It was sometime before I got a nudging from the Holy Spirit to seek God. There was something He was telling me and I was not listening. I stilled my heart and decided to listen. And speak he did!

God showed me my very big crutch; this condition. I had allowed it to take over my whole life. I had accommodated it and arranged my whole life around it. On the surface it seemed like I was managing as best as I could, but God was telling me that I was letting parts of my life die and using this condition as an excuse. In fact I had learnt how to wield this crutch so effectively that the sympathy I often received only served to solidify my excuses. The mirror that He turned towards me revealed a sad person. I looked at a person who had slipped into doubt and unbelief. She had quietly run away from her friends. Though she worked and served in ministry, she knew that she was not giving her all. She frequently passed up opportunities and sabotaged herself. She was almost resigned to her situation. However, God showed her another mirror of the same person. The one who still had a flickering hope that things could change; a nagging feeling that there was more and she was more than a health condition.

It was time to decide whether I wanted to cling on to my crutches and continue to put my life on hold or throw them away; so that I could think, hope and believe again. God reminded me that, the fact that I was still alive meant that He was not finished with me. He still had a purpose to accomplish in and through my life. If I would trust Him and throw away these mental crutches I had used for so long, He would teach me to walk again. In those days I spent contemplating these things, I realized this was the half-time God had called me to reflect on my life and how it would progress from then on. He brought me to a place where I had plenty of time to do that. Now, I am glad He did. I threw away the crutches. (2 Corinthians 4:9-10, Philippians 1:6, Isaiah 54:4)

There is still time!

The first nine months of the year have flown by in their usual fashion and we can say that we are almost done with the year. If you are like me probably you had a little book somewhere, you had written your resolutions for this year. I retrieve mine from where it has lain, clear the dust it has gathered and take a look at it. Needless to say, when I compare where I am and where I should be, I am overwhelmed by what still needs to be done- and there is a nagging doubt at the back of my head as I wonder if I will manage it at all, if I will ever get anything done. And as I go through the motion I slowly feel a cloud of helplessness and paralysis take over from the sunshine that has kept me going these nine months. And I begin the woe is me routine that has marked the end of every year and every chance that God has given me even before it ever got to see the daylight; strangled in the murky sea of worry.

 However as I am in the middle of my premature pity party, I am shaken out of the reverie by an even stronger resolve to make it. For you see, this year I have promised myself that I am going to make it, come rain, sunshine, hail and thunder. I will give myself the chance to make it; I will seize every opportunity that is availed for me and learn from every mistake that I will doubtless make in my endeavor to see my dreams come true. And I am going to stay on the course and give it my all, so that it will not be said that I did not try. If, again you are like me, you will understand why I speak so emotively. You have probably watched the years go by, you know that the trail of broken dreams, promises and desires owe their death, largely to none else but you. You have not given yourself a fighting chance and the lethargy that has taken over is a welcome respite from the ‘disappointment’ you may face if you try. But that is not living, that is death. And I want to live!

 So I go back to my little book and peruse through it and think about what I have achieved so far; a little slow on the uptake for sure, but it is something. And I also think about what I have not done right and what I have done right- then how I can make it better. My diary reads three months to go and my calculation tells me it is roughly over ninety days to make magic. There is still time, to make it one day at a time. And so I scribble down again my new plans to make it happen. And with a new zeal I shout to the universe that indeed I will make it! I fell down seven times, I am getting back up for the eighth! God is for me!

 And I promise to be kind with me, whenever I feel l have not achieved what I wanted to; not to grind myself to a screeching halt and throw away all the bad even with the good that I have gleaned from my experience of life. And if I should not get the mark in the time I have desired, I shall not despair- I have already aimed and I know it will be a hit one of these fine days. Even the one about having coffee and cake in a rustic café on the cobbled streets of old Paris- yes even that one is there!

 I have read some beautiful words somewhere today, that ‘the hard work of twenty years has become an overnight success’; so I know there is still time- even for you.

(Proverbs 24:16)

Word Play, Soul Slay

Healing balm or battering ram.

Beautiful not perfect

coached in human frailty

led by the Spirit’s purity

sanctified by His present entity,

flow from wellsprings that give life

and in their midst, there is no strife

from their seeds sprout hope and faith and love,

and to all who hear them

grace is their fame.

Pain is their purpose

and death their circus,

when left to reign free in my native passions

flowing, from an untamed spirit full of poison,

they maim

make lame

and a bitter spirit, inflame

and their end is in fear and hatred and death.

(Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29-32)

Bloom

Love on a spring day

Earth freshly watered by rain,

My feet playing with the sand on the seashore

Dancing in the rain.

Rivulets running down my window on a rainy day,

A warm hug on a blue day,

My favorite cup of hot chocolate

Hands and hearts intertwined in love

Glances exchanged across the room.

Petals open to the sunshine

life and hope bloom in different hues.

Yielding

 I am determined that at the marriage supper of the lamb, I shall be among those dining at the feet of the Lord Jesus; clothed with a robe of righteousness, so resplendent that there is no likeness of it in all the wedding gowns that I have had the opportunity to see. I am also keenly aware that as I shall be decked out in his robe to be his bride, it shall have come at a cost- his blood. And that to wear it I shall have had to have submitted to him, yielded to His Lordship over me.

 Two cannot walk together unless they agree; and I have realized that I have not agreed with my Lord over many things lately. Instead I have walked away stiff necked to do a pilgrimage round the mountain of frustration, fear and distrust. I have at once proclaimed fervently that I will follow him with all my heart and in the same breathe rebelled and made a golden calf of all that my flesh desires. It is a sad state of affairs, and though I know exactly what ails me, I seem to do the same thing over and over again. I do not know if I will remember it then, but I know now that when I wear that robe, it will be a gift that I can never repay- for it will come with a love that has covered a multitude of sin, disappointed loved ones and friends, broken trust and promises and lost opportunity for witness; all because I refused to yield to his Lordship over me at one point or another.

 Yielding is hard and it is foreign; to a body used to having its own way- it is strange to a mind that wants to reign unbridled and unacceptable to a spirit that is not tempered to the will of God. So the heart answers to the call of love but like an unbroken horse, the person keeps coming close only to withdraw from the hand of its master and refuse his instruction. It has to be broken before it can be of any use to the master. And I have had to break, a lot of times, because the master finds that I still have places harbored in me that remain stubborn and defiant to his instruction, to his urging, to his demand that I believe in him even though I cannot see him, even when things look horribly wrong. Sometimes, and they are many, I have despaired so much that I have become a runaway bride; not willing to endure any more of it. And I find that I earn a new hardness in the places that he had worked on.

 It is a beautiful thing to yield to the Lord- to know that he knows all my cares and that he is there no matter what. It is a beautiful thing to go to the potter’s house and behold the new vessel he makes of me when my spirit becomes malleable in his hands. And when I remember this I go back into his fold, to be made for what he desires, to submit to his will, to yield to him. And when he is done with the breaking, I shall stop longing for the freedom of the ranges and listening to the neighing of temptation; instead I will yearn for his love only and completely, when I am yielded.

( Jeremiah 18:1-11, Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 4:1-2)

I do not know!

Whether to go forth or back

Or stay exactly where I am,

And bide my time, till I hear.

I have asked of you,

that you may direct my path

undo my plan and write your will,

with many words and an anxious spirit

in silence and wordless pleas,

waiting, whining, willing, wanting.

I do not know, still.

Time flies and days pass by,

my spirit yearns to be up and about

my hands to do and my feet to go.

Still, I keep by this place,

Seeking, searching, sifting, sorting.

I do not know, still.

Father, speak.

Speak that I may know

Which way to go

with a step, free and firm.

GROOMING

 Fashion trends come and go, but they are always guaranteed to cause excitement and create faithful followers. A label item of either clothing or fragrance will be found in many of our closets. It is easily recognizable as it will bear the label signature of the designer whether it is in the cut of the seam or the images that the fragrance evokes. More often than not you will hear someone ask ‘Is that Tommy hill?’ or ‘are you wearing Dior?’ And we often feel quite proud of the fact that someone can associate us with a designer label.

 I think about my own relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. I wonder whether it is easily recognizable in my life that I put on Christ, or if the fragrance that comes from my life is his. It is easy to want to be associated with someone famous; however I find that when it comes to the one that who loves me and laid down his life for me, I am a bit reluctant. Sometimes I will hesitate because of fear; I have been used to wearing the world so much that putting on Jesus is destined to make me stand out and cause uproar, anger, ridicule and even attack. Any designer knows that a completely radical design that does not fall in step with what is regarded as conventional will face skepticism, criticism and discouragement. No one knows this better than the master designer himself; he experienced it on Calvary even as he died for those who would not accept him. And he tells me in no uncertain terms, that if the world hates me, it hated him before it hated me. He knows and he is with me.

 I find that other times I will not put him on because of sin. I find that though I had left the old life behind, I still cling to the vestiges of the old clothe that is covered with fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like.

 Jesus has appointed me as an ambassador in his physical absence here on earth. Therefore it is and should always be my desire that what I put on in my walk and talk is identifiable to him. He does not want my life to give mixed signals and conflicting fragrances. Instead he wants me to trade my filthy robes for his robe of righteousness. He desires that I emit a fragrance that is a rare collection of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He wants me to put on the new nature which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator, its designer.

 There are times and we all have them, when I might not be the aroma of Christ to God, because I fail and falter. However, this should not discourage me and send me scurrying for the old clothe; instead I should run to the designer to clothe me again. It is only in him and through him I can emit a fragrance of life. Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads is in triumph and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

(2 Corinthians 2:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

I Wish For You My Friend

Though my heart is little

And my love is fickle

You know I love you my friend

I wish for you the love that I have found

That I would carry you in my bosom

And feed you with honey from his sweet love

As he has done for me

Till you are beside yourself

With a craving you will not beset

And a thirst you will not quench

Apart from that which flows forth

From the wellspring of eternal life

Though my heart is little

And my love is fickle

I wish for you the love that I have found

That makes my soul sing

Hymns of forgiveness

And psalms of an eternal love

But alas! It cannot be

He will not have me be him for you

It must be you alone

He will have no other besides you

He gave no other for you besides himself

He bids you come

(John 3:16, 1 John 3:16)

My Enemy, My Champion, Myself

 It is the beginning of February today. The newness and wonder of another beginning is gone. It is lost in the daily toil and care that we go through, the burdens and the responsibility that is ours to bear. I thank God, I still feel reborn with every rising of the sun; this time I have held on to the newness of the Son. He is risen. And there is someone else I see with him, and together they cheer me on. I am glad.

 For you see it was not so long ago that she was not there, beside him, together with him. I can tell you that she knew him and he knew her, but she was just not there. Like life often does at some point, it threw all manner of challenges, disappointments, distractions and destructions on her path. And the arrows kept coming, never ending. At some point she stopped moving forward, looking to the hope that was beyond the scorching sun and the painful blows. She stopped and stood still and she was beaten to the ground. And whenever she tried to rouse herself, her dreams, her hope, her life, fear gripped her and told her not to even bother trying, she could not do it. So she lay there hurt, confused and hopeless. And when she lay there on the ground she did see others like herself, her misery found company; and together they blamed this and that and the other. They laughed together when I tried. And I heard them laugh at me. I never saw the sling that was in my hand, the one that was directed at me with contempt and disgust, discouragement and damaging self-reproach and negative talk. I did not look at it even as I beat myself and help the enemy beat me. It has been long and there have been many days when I woke up and tried to crawl, even walk. Then the arrows flew overhead and I just got back down, even though I was not hurt. I was afraid, I was used to laying there on the ground, it was familiar, it was wretched, it was ‘safe’. In the distance I heard the faint hint of laughter, she was there with the enemy, she had my voice. They laughed together; they must have watched my attempts. I was bitter.

 One morning I called on the Son. I did not want to live like this. I cried to him to take this cup or take my life. He came, he took my hand, he was there. And all of a sudden, I was aware of quiet; that the laughing stopped, her laughing stopped. She came near and saw that the Lord was with me and she walked with us. It is beautiful now. She is with me and we speak as one, and the Son is with us. Nothing separates us now. The arrows do not harm any more, though they are still there. They are weapons formed against me and I used them on myself at one point, but no more shall they prosper.

 I join in song with David, when he came home from the battlefield weary and sore. And the sight that met him was awful. And the men that were with him were not in the least pleased with him. And when it was all bleak, he did the only thing he knew how. He did what he must have done those many hours he spent away in the fields looking after his father’s sheep; those hours when he was away and no one reckoned to remember that he was Jesse’s son when Samuel came a knocking. He encouraged himself in the Lord. At once I am in the bleachers with the Son, shouting, encouraging, clapping and nudging forward, and in the same breadth I am in the field with him, in the race of my life running, falling, getting up, running toward the finish line.

 It is still the beginning of February, the cares of January come and gone. It is easy to lie down and let the year go by like the last. This year I will not be weary, I shall dare to dream and see my dreams fulfilled, because she will be right there cheering me on, my champion, myself.

( 1 Samuel 30: 1-6)

My suitor, my groom by Mrs Javan

 Heartfelt sighs

 Wistful smiles

 An unsure clasping of his hands

 The music of a thousand bands

 And angels singing

 A banquet is laid for me

 Because Love has paid for me

 He knocked at my door

 Deep in my heart, my soul, my core

 I opened the door and he came in

 Now robed in his righteousness I come to him

 My suitor, my groom

 My Lord divine

 LOVELY VALENTINES!

( Revelations 21:2)

El Shaddai by Mrs Javan

When a mother gives birth to her baby she forgets all the pain that she goes through during the hard hours of labor. The sight of that living breathing miracle makes it all worthwhile. And she knows, intimately, that there is nothing in the world that she would not do for this baby. She knows that she would not think twice about protecting the little bundle of joy with her very own life.

 The mother will do everything that is required to keep the baby secure and healthy. And while the baby has to take the right food to keep them nourished, sometimes they might not necessarily appreciate what they are being fed. The baby will occasionally throw up its food, refuse to swallow, yell or perform any other antic that will ensure that the food does not get through. And because mother knows best, she will patiently coax, and then at other times raise a stern voice to make sure the baby eats. That is the only way it will grow healthy and strong.

 As the baby grows into a young child and then a teenager it may develop other ways of going against the mother’s advice; and though she has walked the path long before and is able to help, the young person may not want it. And she will not lock her door to her child just because they are being rebellious. She never gives up; she keeps giving her sound wisdom and sometimes stern action knowing that someday it will count.

 The young person may reach an instant in life when he decides that he no longer wants to be under the guidance of someone else. And so he takes off to ‘discover the world’ and all that it has to offer. Yet the loving mother will not close her door. She knows that some day her child will return to her and whatever the hour, she will open her door. She also knows that whatever manner of person her child will be, thief, murderer, cheat, drunk, doctor, lawyer, surgeon, whether a failure or a success in the eyes of the world, she will open her door. She will not open her door for all those other names he comes with, she will open her door for her child. Her love for her child is boundless.

 And yet our Father loves us even more. The bible tells us that even this loving, selfless wonderful being called a mother may forget her suckling babe, she is still human after all. Her heart may grow weary and tired with all the waiting and worrying, and her hope may wane as the years pass by, her legs may not allow her to stay at the gate for too long. Our Father does not forget us, ever. He longs after me, so much so that he gave his only son that I might be saved. And he waits at the gate every moment for his lost children to come home, he neither sleeps nor slumbers. And when he spots a prodigal afar off trudging wearily back to Him, He runs to meet His child. He embraces His child-mud, rot, pig food and all. Then he forgives, and forgets as far as the east is from the west! And he will not have any more talk about working for him as a slave, for all the shame and pain caused by rebellion. He ushers his child into joyous celebration in eternity!

(Isaiah 49:15)