The Four way test

We live in very delicate times.

Daily, our minds are bombarded with one incident after the other.

The things we read of now were probably happening in the past decades but social media now brings the news to our doorsteps. Most times uninvited. Our newsfeed, our timelines get flooded with titbits of information that we are better off without.

Domestic violence, spouses committing heinous crimes against each other, injustices by governments, suicides, depression, paedophilia, school shootings, kidnappings….. All sorts!

When these things happen, sometimes people are susceptible to ask, who or what next?

Silently, and perhaps fearfully, sometimes people wonder if they are truly free from the onslaught of evil going on in the world. It seems like a cliché, but in reality most people you meet are fighting private battles; children needing affirmation, colleagues tired of the struggle, wondering when things will ever actually make sense to them, friends who need desperately to share issues with someone but not sure who to trust…

Before, people kept it private. But now some openly announce on social media that they are suicidal and are about to end it all. They make these announcements not for self-pity, but because they are among the privileged few lucky enough to try to claw at the last straw, hoping that someone, anyone somewhere would come to their rescue. Other not-so-lucky ones just end it, without notice. A friend shared the other day how a teen in her son’s school ended his life, unannounced. Just yesterday I saw a headline; a cardiologist, a rare gift to this world, ended his life after battling depression.

We live in very delicate times.

The times we are in call for deliberate lifestyles on our parts. Very deliberate.

Sometimes, I read posts on social media and I am saddened, saddened by how harsh we are to each other. People hide behind the screens and ruthlessly insult others. Old insult young, young insult old. No holds barred. No inhibitions. After all, on social media the 92 year old tech savvy grandma is the same age as the 16 year old who got a smart phone for her coming of age gift.

So, brazenly, anyone can say anything to anyone. Without caring about the effect.

Hmm, I have seen insults on social media. I have cringed and wondered at the people writing these things. Sometimes, I have gone on their profiles, hoping they were gang members who just came online to spew hate speech. I have been shocked to see display pictures of very normal looking people – men who have family pictures as their DPs, women with pictures of the most adorable babies, young boys and girls whose main care in the world should be passing the SAT or WAEC tests. In shock I have wondered what sort of role models these people are to their progeny on one hand, and what sort of young people we are raising, children who fearlessly cross out the demarcation between youth and the elderly and insult all they come across whose views differ from theirs. After all, it is a free world and we are equally free to air our views.

I said it before, and I say it again, behind the facades of social media images, behind the glam of vacation pictures many people are fighting real battles. And in this dog-eat-dog world we live in, can I ask you, you reading this today, to determine in your heart to be different?

In these sensitive times, people scarred by their past experiences and their perceived and/or actual hurts are skeptical, bitter, and hateful. Most have built walls around themselves.

Some spew hate against all of the male genre; and it’s easy to judge them till you hear what a man did to them, how they were cheated or abused in a relationship.

I am not deluded, and I acknowledge that so much is going on.

People need answers. Real, life changing answers, not a reminder of the myriads of problems and issues surrounding them, not a reminder of the things that have gone wrong with the systems they trust. I am sure the cardiologist who killed himself had his opinions of how horrible a place the world was. He knew. What he probably didn’t know was that he didn’t have to end it that way, what he probably needed was someone to help him and guide him through the maze. Not someone else to remind him of the good old days, or someone to remind him of the rot in the system, or someone to tell him ‘’preachers are counterfeit, don’t go to them’’. Maybe if someone, anyone had pointed him to the one real Person who could help him, he would still be alive today.

Someone I know, on a Saturday night posted how she was lonely, going through so much and was about to kill herself. Another person I know, went to her aid. This other lady loved her back to loving life. I bet she didn’t love her back by telling her, ‘’you are so right, the world is crazy, ain’t nothing worth living for’’ rather she showed her the ray of light at the end of the tunnel, made her hopeful about life.

So, I implore you. You reading this, can you be deliberate about shining the light in your own corner.

I remember as a child watching my dad and mum attend Rotary and Inner wheel meetings.

Reading through their brochures, as I did to the multiplications table, I committed the four way test to my memory:

 

Think about all the things you share on your statuses, your broadcast messages, on your timelines and everywhere. Before you share them, ask yourself:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build good will and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

 

 

And if I may I add, will it instill hope, courage and confidence to the person reading it?

Most everywhere these days, you read people say, ‘people need to hear the truth.’

Truth is a relative term, but again even if what you share is perceived as truth by you, ask yourself, ‘What will it foster in the heart of the readers? Will it further enhance their pain, confusion, bitterness and anger towards a thing or a system or will it give them hope?’

Can I ask you to be kind on purpose, to share hope, light, peace, comfort on purpose?

Determine to share life only, determine to disseminate good news only. We have an ample number of people sharing their opinions, beliefs, views and mindsets. Don’t be the one going to tell David that Saul is dead. He already knew.

 

”Shine the light, the darkness will go. Don’t come in wondering how dark the room is, just flip the switch on. Flip it on.”

 

 

 

It is so easy to hit the forward button and say people need to know what’s going on.

Do they really? Even if they do, does it have to be you, do you have to be the harbinger of all the wrong types of information?

What does that awareness build in their hearts?

What does it build in your heart? Does it make you feel good? Does it help you? Will it help them? How? By making them ‘bitter-er’ or by filling them with love? Will it make them more compassionate or will it fill them with rancor?

Finally, I urge you to guard your heart. Don’t expose yourself to just anything or anyone. Declutter your space. And that is no cliché; there are some alliances you are better off without. Some people you need to say hello and bye to.

There are some statuses you should deliberately mute, if you need to have those numbers on your phone for example, mute them. There are some videos you should never accept to open…

Will you let your neighbour bring their dirty diapers and rotten vegetables from their garbage can to yours?!

So why let people dump their garbage on you? Uncensored. Without consideration to your preferences. Dump. Dump. Dump.

Don’t you know there are some images that would take eons to leave you? Some stories that would make you go home and be so bitter and sad lashing out at those who truly love you because you fear they would do the same to you.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8, The Msg)

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Posted in Comfort, God's grace, Gratitude, His Presence, Purpose, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , | 10 Comments

The private world of labour

The pain, the anguish, the travail, the sheer determination… of a woman in labour.

9 months, you nurtured the new life in you.

9 months plus you maintained a healthy regimen to ensure everything was right for the growth and development of the baby – you ate the right blend of fruits and vegetables, you took the vitamins, your clothing even changed! Then, the moment came.

One thing that strikes me about labour is the fact that no body, not even your best friend in the whole universe can go through it for you.

I remember the night I sat on my bedroom floor, my face contorted as I waited for the last contraction to subside. In between deep breaths I looked up at my husband’s face. Beside him sat my mum. Watching. Waiting for it to pass. As my husband’s eyes and mine locked I could almost hear him saying, ‘’I wish I could carry this for you’’. I wish this was a suitcase I could help you carry up a flight of stairs, or a dirty dish, or dirty laundry, or even a 3 hour drive to a favourite spot.

But no, this was me. In my private world. About to give birth to something only I had the ability to. I was born for that moment. The 9 months had prepared me for them.

You see, I didn’t just wake up and go ‘into labour’

For about 40 weeks my body had prepared for that moment. The baby had changed position gradually. My cervix had prepared for this. For the birthing of the baby I carried, for labour…

All around us today so many are desperately searching. Searching for answers, searching for peace, searching for healing. The pain of the loss of loved ones leaves them numb at night, the lack of daily sustenance, the fear of losing another loved one, the terror from the doctor’s diagnosis. Many lie numb at night, staring in the dark. Panicking, unsure of what tomorrow holds. Wondering if they’ll survive the pain, the pain of the dark symptoms in their bodies, the pain of divorce, or separation from a loved one, afraid for their children, saddened by the piling bills and their inability to meet their rising daily obligations. All sorts of craziness, then they log on to social media and read about the death of a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance; they read about another disaster, domestic violence, shooting in another school…

It all seems just too much. Overwhelming. There seem to be no assurances of anything. The whole world seems to be sinking deeper and deeper into this dark chasm. The devil seems to be gaining the upper hand. Everything seems to be spiralling out of control.

You know, that’s how darkly painful and unending labour seems. The minutes seem longer than 60 seconds. You sit back and start considering all the promising options. It seems easier to just give in, to walk away from it all. I mean if the marriage isn’t satisfying you on all fronts walking seems easier right, or staying back and cheating? 45 and unmarried, it won’t hurt to have a sexual partner. After all, everyone seems to be having free, cheap sex these days, friends with benefits is simpler than the hassles of a committed marriage. God has probably changed the rules. Right living doesn’t seem to pay. Jamie was the epitome of right living, she had been on this Jesus thing from the crib yet she just passed on last week of, yep you guessed right, cancer.

Are we really safe? Is there really any way to predict tomorrow?

Can I just put a pause on those thoughts for a minute?

Can I remind you that God isn’t looking at these events unfolding around you appalled, wondering how to fix the mess. The same way, while I was writhing from the agony of being in labour, my mum calmly looked at her watch and moved her count from 20 minutes apart, to 8 minutes apart, to 3 minutes apart, to ‘go have a warm bath, it’s time to drive to the hospital…’ God is looking at you confident that you were prepared for these times. You have all it takes, all…

born-for-such

There is NOTHING you are facing today that is beyond you.

‘’But, Ulu you have no idea, I have prayed, fasted, confessed scriptures, given and nothing has changed. Things only seem to have gotten worse.’’ You may say.

Yes, I don’t. I must confess I may not really grasp the depth of your pain. You prayed so hard, still she died. You loved so much, still he walked out on you. Your marriage is just a façade, 8 weeks, no sex and you know he’s cheating… I may not understand these things.

Each labour experience is different, each birth experience is different. Whether with an epidural, whether via a section, or whether while tasting the raw pain, each birth experience is unique and sacred. But at the end, a new life comes… then, you forget….

The other day my husband reminded me how the devil is trying so hard to creep into peoples’ hearts through fear in these times. Even if you hide away, the news comes to you. All sorts of terribleness.

Guard your heart! You mustn’t click on every link, you mustn’t share everything you read, you mustn’t assimilate every gory detail. GUARD YOUR HEART, you’re about to give birth, focus on the time you need to push…! F.O.C.U.S!

I didn’t say it, He did:

”… But I want you to be wise about what is good and INNOCENT ABOUT WHAT IS EVIL. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…”

(Romans 16:19)

These are times to make the Word of God your best friend. These are times to wait on Him more than ever, in prayer, solitude and quietness.

Guard your heart – as you trust Him for your healing, don’t feed on how many people died from what you trust Him for; stop meditating on the wrong things.

Guard your heart –  as you fight for your marriage, for your children, for your future. Guard the information you let in. Yes, all these things are happening around us, but they will pass. He guaranteed that. So, I believe Him. And so must you.

He already told us,

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”

and

‘’I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage–I have conquered the world.”

I told you He knew all these things will happen. But, you were born for such a time as this….

He put you here because you can handle it. You can.

That sickness, the debt and all the hurt you feel, He conquered them for YOU.

Don’t be afraid. The pain of labour won’t kill you. It’s indescribable,yes, but if you could just hold on a little longer, 3 minutes will move to 2 and 1 minute and then you would be fully dilated and ready to push! Then when you push out that baby and hold her to your chest, nothing else will matter, you won’t remember the night you poured out your heart to Him in prayer; you won’t remember the symptoms that ravaged your body while you muttered, ‘by His stripes I am healed’

You won’t remember it at all.

We’re in it together, surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses together, and we rejoice in those three words from scripture, ‘God is faithful…’

Today, put a smile on your face knowing your baby is about to be born, knowing that the God of heaven and earth is with and for you. Knowing that the ones with you are greater than those against you. Knowing that the greater One lives inside you. Haha!

He’s asked me to cheer you on today. To remind you that He sees your faithfulness, He sees you holding on when quitting seems easiest and He wants you to know that He chose you, He called you and He is holding on to you tightly. You are so precious to Him. More precious than you can imagine. Let go of the pain of the death of the one you held dear, he feels your hurt and He has carried you all these months but now it’s time to move forward, to let go of the pain that has immobilised you. Let go of the disillusionment and decide to make your life count. You were born for such a time as this. Your family needs you, your neighbours need you, the world needs you, PUSH!

‘’…And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’’ (Romans 8:38-39)

Posted in Comfort, Destiny, Fulfillment, God's grace, Gratitude, His Presence, Waiting on God, Words of Encouragement, Worship | 19 Comments