Unanswered Questions

By Fern Horst

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I am analytical by nature. When it comes to figuring out how something works so that I can use or fix it, or to getting to the root of a problem so that I can move forward (and to helping a friend do the same), that characteristic serves me well. But when trying to figure out the “whys” of life that have no humanly-known answer, or have answers I’m not yet supposed to know, it has caused me much wasted time and energy.

A number of years ago the Lord showed me the futility of trying to figure it all out – why some who live upright lives suffer in unthinkable ways; why some faithful Christians struggle financially; why some marriageable people never find a mate; why some with big hearts are never blessed with children; why some parents of young children are taken away by death or divorce; why some who delight themselves in the Lord seem not to be granted the desires of their hearts; the list can go on and on.

After experiencing an excruciating disappointment in my life and trying to figure out why it had all happened, a wise person told me, “I’ve found that these things never have only one reason; they happen as a result of many reasons, some which we can figure out, and others that we never will.” I’ve thought of those wise words often. Realizing that some things can never be understood has helped me to let go of many of the questions that have no answers and relieved me of the angst of over analyzing.

But our inner peace regarding unanswered questions can go far beyond this simple embrace of the unknowns. Recently a friend shared this nugget of truth from Proverbs 20:24, expressed in the paraphrase of the Living Bible: “Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?”

Indeed, why should we? Even more than the fact that there are questions that can’t be answered, is the fact that God is directing our steps. As the One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we have every reason to trust that He knows what He’s doing, that He knows the answers to all of our whys, that He knows us better than we know ourselves, that He knows the purpose He has for our lives, and that He will faithfully direct our steps accordingly. Our job is to trust Him, to follow Him, to lean on Him, and to let Him carry us when the way gets rough.

I think of Job and his friends and their attempts to reconcile his godliness with his suffering. Unknown to all of them something was happening in the spiritual realm that would have answered all their questions. If nothing else, the story of Job reveals that as mere mortals there are many things we don’t know about, let alone understand, but that God has under control.

We learn to trust God as we encounter situation after situation that we don’t understand and choose to embrace the unknowns as part of life, trusting that He is directing our steps and will reveal what we need to know in His timing, and to keep concealed what we don’t.

© 2010 Fern Horst

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SUNDAY FICTION: False Weights and Unequal Measures

Sure the reverend preached on adultery, hollered about pride and screamed over the ladies and their short dresses but he ain’t never preached on personality cos personality’s something everybody got to work on – whether they Christian or not. Every Sunday, he’d dance around the church, weaving and heaving like he couldn’t give up either and Deelon would nod dutifully at the good Lord’s message.

As far as Deelon was concerned, he did all that was right in the sight of the Lord. Take for example Mrs Robinson who always sat right at the front soaking up reverend’s spit like it was the Holy Spirit he’self. After each service, she’d waddle up to his mama asking about his daddy in that irritating voice, ‘‘Lawd ha’ mercy! Sheriff Bill still aint released him yet? How you doing Wilma?’’ But she aint care about his daddy; all she care about was knowing more than her gossip buddy Mrs Turner.

‘‘Mama?’

‘’Hmm?’’

‘‘I suppose God hate Mrs Robinson.’’ His mama have that look on her face like she itching to slap some sense into him but she just ask what he mean.

‘‘Well, reverend say God don’t take too kindly to gossip but Mrs Robinson, she just be running her mouth . . .’’ Before he know to duck, Deelon staggered from his mama’s punch.

‘‘Don’t you let me hear you speak ill of the elderly boy! She old and you not so it ain’t matter what she do, you gon’ show some respect! Your daddy and I aint raise you without sense boy so don’t act like it!’’

Source: http://media.jinni.com - Lena Baker Story

Mama walk in front of him now cos she mad but she always mad even though he know the Bible say somewhere how angry people be fools. He don’t want to accept it but his mama act like a fool sometimes. When Sheriff Bill come for his dad, she shout the sheriff down fixing to fight him herself when she know sheriff got the right. But Deloon, he just continue his dinner cos he know God aint like angry people: people who curse and pray with the same mouth like his mama. He reckon that’s why God aint answer her prayer and his daddy still locked up. Or maybe cos his daddy be a criminal cos he KNOW for sure the good Lord aint like criminals.

In the Bible, the Lord say not to hate but Deelon sure hate his papa. All the coloured folks in town proud of him like their personal Doctor King but to the white folks, he just a no good criminal like the rest of them Negroes.

‘‘Everybody proud of me Wilma?’’ he ask his wife when Sheriff Bill let them in and Deelon know he did it for the wrong reasons. He become a criminal just so the coloured folks can praise him; not because he want change. His papa don’t look like a man sad to see jail instead, he happy and proud – it’s all he talk about.

‘‘Boy! You should have seen yo papa! Went right into the cracker’s house and shat in his toilet. Sheriff Bill tell me the old man built a new toilet. Had to go in his garden for a while – even for number two!’’ His papa laugh and laugh and refuse to ask his mama how she doing. His papa like King Saul so God gon’ hate him like he hate King Saul.

‘‘False weights and unequal measures, the Lord detests double standards of every kind.’’ Proverbs 20:10

http://lolachuckles.wordpress.com/

Let Go of the PAIN

I open this solemn post with a huge **SIGH**.

If I were to draft an FAQ page (frequently asked questions) for God’s website, a top question would be “God, how do I deal with the pain?”

A lot of people are going through pains – of betrayal, defeat, heartbreak, failure, loss of a loved one, sickness and more. Just because they don’t wear it on their faces doesn’t mean it’s not there. Someone once said to me, “no one can see what is going on in your mind, they can only see your face, so put up your best front.” Then I realised that we may have perfected the act of bottling up the pain inside while we maintain an ever-smiling mask. It is dangerous.

Pain breeds sickness and it kills. You don’t believe me? – let’s check out Proverbs 15:13 & Proverbs 17:22.

15:13 – A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones

*clears throat* When the bone is dry, I doubt if we’ll still be talking about a living being. My point is, it is not healthy to hold on to pain however bitter-sweet it may seem. If you agree, let’s move on, if you don’t…gimme a second to skabash* 

The answer to every life-issue is in the Bible. The Bible itself has told us that there is nothing new under the sun. See this simple exercise:

ISSUE1: Romantic Relationship heartbreaks/divorce: Ask Queen Vashti how she felt when King Xerxes ordered her to come parade her beauty before his drunk officials for them to swoon over. Even worse, how she felt when out of his anger for her disobedience he took the throne away from her and gave it to a non-indegne girl, Esther (one of my favourite Bible characters by the way). I’m a woman, I know that was raw pain in action!

ISSUE2: Friendships & Betrayals: Our dear Lord Jesus and the infamous Judas Iscariot is an epic example. Just because he is Jesus does not mean he was immune to the human feeling of betrayal. He felt pain just like we do because he became flesh to be able to bear our sins.

ISSUE3: Unwanted/Unloved by your family: Ask Joseph who was hated by his brothers, sold off to slavery yet became Prime Minister in a foreign land.

I can go on and on with examples, but I am sure you catch the picture already. Yes, there is pain n life, but Jesus paid the price to take that pain away a long time ago if you would key into his modus operandi (aahh finally I use this word,lol). By modus operandi, I mean his mode of operation.

HOW TO LET GO OF THE PAIN:

STEP 1: Forgive the source of the pain, including yourself, if you are the culprit in this case.

Let’s have a little philosophy class in here. I’m sure you’ve come across the popular saying that, “good things don’t come easy” right? If it isn’t easy to FORGIVE, don’t you think there must be something incredibly good about FORGIVING. Jesus implores us to forgive our brothers in Matt 5:44 & 45. He says, “…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” In Matt 18:21-35, Jesus talks about forgiving our brother 70×7 times if he hurts us and so on. Lack of forgivness not only keeps the pain and makes it multiply, it renders your worship and service to God utterly useless. Therefore, if you are looking for a selfish reason to motivate you into letting go of the pain – I just gave you one.

STEP 2: Surrender the pain to Jesus

This is easier to do once you’ve forgiven the source of the pain. In fact, it is almost simultaneous.  as you let forgiveness wash over you, Jesus instantly steps in to take the pain away – because only then would he have the legal right to do so.

STEP3: Fill the vacant hole with Jesus through the Holy Spirit

There is a bitter-sweet feeling in holding on to past wrongs that have caused us pain. It feels good and painful at the same time to recount those experiences in your mind, shake your head and then drown yourself in a pool of pity. When you surrender it all to Jesus, it then gets tempting to call them back because you suddenly realise you have nothing to mull over anymore. This is where you should invite the Holy Spirit of God to take over. If you lost your father, tell Jesus to take his place. If it’s pain caused by heartbreak of a boyfriend or girlfriend, this is the point where Jesus becomes your most cherished lover. Make Jesus your best friend where friends have betrayed you.

On a endnote, it is not God’s wish that we should be experience pain. It is only a part of life that is so difficult to dodge. However, God himself has said in Isaiah 43:2 that “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

When next you are faced with a situation, tell it to its face, that “THERE IS NO PAIN MY GOD CANNOT HANDLE”.

 

This is Gospel Metropolitan!

*skabash – a nigerian lingo for speaking in tongues| photo credit google images

Tales by Wedding Light

It is good to be a Christian!

It is good to be a Christian especially when certain human characters and drivers on the streets of Lagos (a busy city in Nigeria) constantly tempt you to lose your salvation with their driving style.

“Foolish man”, “mad man” and other similar phrases have escaped my mouth several times (even when I’m not the one at the wheel) before I realized I had ‘kinda’ sinned. No, not ‘kinda’, I did sin. Anything non-edifying that comes from your lips is a sin, and I hope you do repent on the spot like I try to do.

Okay, let’s try the WWJD style in this matter. Imagine Jesus going about his mission, driving on the streets of Lagos. If an Okada-man (commercial motorcyclist) unexpectedly cut a sharp corner right in front of him, in a blatant breach of the Highway Code, what do you think he would do?

In fact, what is your definition of Christian driving? (I really want to know)

That is not the gist for the day though.

I attended this wedding on a not-too-far-away-Saturday, and my friend, Josephine* (not real name) did the driving. Luckily for the busy commuters, my friend was a gentle driver who allowed rats, ants and even worms get in front of her on her lane. I am glad she may not read this post, and if she does, urm you guys would defend me right, as payment for enjoying the read?

The first time she closed a gap when another motorist tried to take advantage of the spot, I remember turning to her in shock and saying, “so you can do that?” She just smiled. Apparently, my friend, Josephine, had acquired a massive dose of patience in life during the time we’ve been apart since our undergraduate days. Another incident confirmed this new character to me and I will tell you why very soon.

We arrived the wedding reception, and tried to find a place to sit. The first space I found, I indicated with a point of my finger to my friend. Amidst our struggle to squeeze through the tables and chairs to get to our destination, another girl hurried over there from an advantaged angle and quickly dropped her bag on one of the chairs. She then planted a huge scowl on her face, as if daring us to ask her to take her bag off. I shook my head – “you cannot lead me to sin, because if I open my mouth…hmm, if not for the God in me” I muttered inwardly.

Josephine stood calmly, smiling as usual, while she joined me in scanning the hall for any other available space that would grant us a vantage view of the high table, where the bride and groom would finally sit. I quickly spotted another zone, only that this time I didn’t point (wisdom is profitable to direct). I simply described the location into Josephine’s ear and we began our Israelite’s journey to the other end of the hall, where we joined a man and a lady at a table.

This is where the story begins.

Credit: Google Images

Before I proceed, let me mention that I am amazed at some people’s reaction to food at weddings. The drama always has me in fits of laughter, especially when I am not involved at all. I eat well before I leave my house for any event (my mother taught me), such that, if I am not served refreshments, I just shrug – at worst, I’ll go to an eatery and gobble down my heart’s content with my hard-earned cash.

This time though, the drama happened at our table. A woman brought a tray  full of plates of rice to our table. She began serving from the extreme left and this man was located at the extreme right. Therefore, between the plates of rice and this man, were 4 ladies; another friend of mine, Elohor (who joined us later), me, Josephine, the lady he came with and then, The Man.

Just as courtesy demands, Elohor gets the plate of food, passes it to me, I pass it to Josephine who decides to by-pass the girl and give the man instead. You need to see the way the man elbowed the plate in disgust saying “I want semo”. No amount of flowery writing can adequately capture that scene for you. Josephine was so irritated that she refused to eat the food herself, so Elohor did the honours out of a good heart. Suffice to say, my insides were already boiling gradually like an electric kettle that was about to snap “done!!”

You would think that would be the end of the matter. By the time the food tray returned and I passed Josephine her well-deserved plate of rice for her patience, this man snatched it from her. He inaudibly muttered something about finally deciding to eat rice. Are you in shock yet? I was dumbfounded.

In a nutshell, we all ate and tried to have a good time. To my horror, Josephine started chatting heartily with this man and his mate as if nothing had happened, and I instantly caught a big Christian lesson there. That is what Jesus would have done really – I imagined when He dined with the tax collectors and all. One can’t expect everyone to act like a Christian and put others first – and where they don’t, don’t judge them. They are simply acting within the ambit of the knowledge they posses. You should show love.

I never mentioned this to Josephine, but I saw Christian living in action. My flesh wanted to shun this man (and even his innocent mate), just to make my displeasure obvious. But of course, when my friend was having laughs with them, why would I be the spoilt brat. This man (with the same aggressive attitude) secured Malt drinks for my friends and I (and an extra bottle). I saw the ‘butler’ strolling away in contempt and I laughed.

Morale of my story:

Christianity is not only when you go to church and worship. Your lifestyle is actually the best form of worship to God. You don’t always have to be a fool, but if you have to be a fool to depict the Jesus in you, do not hesitate. After all, our Master told us that we would be persecuted for his namesake. Jesus could have saved himself from the cross when he was crucified, but he chose to play the fool for the eternal gain – which was to save our souls.

People will always tempt you. They will say things to taunt you and do things to hurt you. But remember to be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove. With the way my friend, Josephine handled the matter, I am very sure she would have had no qualms leading that guy to Christ. Her character had already done the bulk of the work, which was to minister to him in love.

God bless!

This is Gospel Metropolitan

SUNDAY FICTION: Fruitful Seed

After the third slap, he took charge. Upon entering, he felt desire’s gravity pull on him as he took in the surroundings. Hers was a soul not lacking in warmth or water and best of all, it was empty. He worked like a lion desperate for a kill digging to the centre of her heart and planting that fruitful seed Hate.

With her hands raised and her eyes glazed, Jaeger tasted power, her intoxication ascending wave after wave as if riding on the sorrow in the boy’s tears. She sat floating on the climax of her ecstasy and thought to the beginning of her problems. Afterall, who doesn’t need excuses for their hatred?

A twenty-nine year old ex-model basking in the achievement that is a marriage based on love, she was the envy of women everywhere married or otherwise. She would saunter into dinner parties predicting the envious stares from men as they pondered the almighty question, ‘‘How does a man like that get a woman like THAT?’’ Jaeger was beautiful, Jaeger knew she was beautiful and Jaeger loved that she was beautiful.

On that day, she was happy. Candle lit dinner, all alone with her husband and the electricity in the air at the promise in his words, ‘‘I need to tell you something.’’ After dawdling, after kissing and finally promising that he loved her and only her, he had looked her dead in the eyes and revealed his promise. ‘‘Amasa is my son.’’

‘‘No. He’s your nephew.’’ He shook his head and her heart broke. ‘‘But . . . But he’s your nephew. I’ve known him since he was born. I’ve known him since he was born!’’ Eager to banish the despair soaking her she took to working it out herself because there was no way her husband would do that to her.

At the truth, she wept. ‘‘He’s four Carl. We’ve been married five years!’’ She couldn’t move, only cry and she wondered why she didn’t hit him or curse him or simply leave like she’d seen in films.

‘‘Baby,’’ she saw his tears and she screamed. He had no right to cry – to look as heartbroken as she did.

‘‘We can be a family Jaege.’’ Just like that and she became a woman to be pitied. A woman who was mocked and judged at every dinner party as guests pondered the question, ‘‘Why did she stay with him?’’

She loved her husband. She liked Amasa so she stayed. But now? She still loved her husband or she would if not for this bastard: a constant reminder of Carl’s capital offense.

The bastard looked at her and even though he said nothing, she heard his desperate plea for mercy. She folded her hand and punched him and the seed in her soul nourished.