Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Failure is not an option

For a project that took off remarkably well and maintained its course with no major bump, we were unprepared for the crisis which developed in the last phase of the work. The crisis strained my skills in advocacy and diplomacy beyond its limits. This project was the center-piece of the 18-month job I was contracted to do a few years ago. Whatever else that I had done well will pale in significance if I was unable to stir the project to its logical conclusion.
The interim report produced by the external facilitator—an esteemed senior colleague was rejected outright by all the partners. From this point on, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Everyday presented with new problems and more difficulties to the extent that some people opined the project was jinxed as those immediately associated with it suffered one personal calamity after the other, which further hindered them from fulfilling their assigned roles.
Frustrated, desperate and feeling like my back was against the wall, I went to church on that Friday and one of the worship songs was Graham Kendrick's "To You, O Lord" The few lines I could remember resounded in my heart all the way back home — as if that was all I heard in church that day. It tugged at my heart and I knew I had to find the full lyrics. I searched the internet, found it and the scripture it was based on—Psalm 25. I meditated on the entire passage and the song. The first 3 verses became the rock upon which I anchored my prayers as I entreated God concerning the project.
“O Lord, in You do I put my hope, let me not be put to shame. My eyes are on You.”
I set up my computer at work to play the song continuously to remind me throughout the day to persist in prayers and that it is only God Who could make a way for me. There were moments when I panicked and allowed myself to picture what it might look like if we could not complete the project—the picture frightened me. I knew we could not afford to fail—it was not an option, and I could not afford to give up on the hope of finding a solution to the problems.

“Oh Lord I need You. Remember me according to Your mercy and love. To You I lift up my soul.”
I needed divinely inspired wisdom and insight to get the lead team to work together, to have the entire report rewritten and ensure ownership by the primary stakeholders without compromising the already fragile and tense relationship with the external team. I cried to the Lord for help and in His mercy, He harkened to my cry.
Against the odds, we constituted a smaller team, and we worked day and night to rewrite the entire report. At the presentation of the results to the scientific community, my co-presenter and one of the lead facilitator of the project openly declared that the project came to a successful conclusion simply because of perseverance and patience. To these I added—persistent prayer anchored on hope that does not disappoint.
Two weeks ago, I was again faced with what appeared to be an impossible situation. One of my siblings had received an interim report that connoted failure in a project  which was pivotal to the fulfillment of a dream that had taken all of us years of praying, waiting on God and lots of resources to bring this far. We had to declare by the authority of the Word of God that failure is not an option at this point.
The song - "To You, O Lord" came back to my mind and I shared it with him.
“Put your hope in the Lord, no one whose hope is in Him will ever be put to shame.” I said to him over the phone.
We entreated God on his behalf. We asked for God’s divine intervention on the merit of His limitless and infinite mercy. The light of hope seemed far away but mercy pleaded for us and said, no to failure.
“Do not let us be put to shame O Lord, to You we lift up our soul. In Your mercy arise and defend us”
In response, God raised up a Gamaliel to speak on his behalf, the interim report was reviewed, revised, and the result reversed. Our joy was boundless as we gave praise and thanks to God Who did not allow us to be put to shame.
Faced with the possibility of failure, we needed a relentless determination not to give up hope in the miraculous ability of God to turn a seemly hopeless situation around—indeed when the Lord turned again our captivity, we were like those who dreamed.

No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame
– Ps 25:3a

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Unexpected

Deadlines to meet
Unfinished tasks to complete
List of things to do as long as my arm
Can't run in circles
Don't dissipate energy
“Get organized, stay focused,” I heard
Like a broken record
playing over and over again

With care I planned,
no loose ends untied
Then the phone rang
The Unexpected paid me a visit
Roaring like a twisting tornado
It touched down at my doorstep
In a twinkling of an eye
my plans spiraled out of control
But not only mine
All around me were touched

The swift twist left me giddy
Like one on a run-away carousel
It threw me off balance
“What do you do?”
“How does one plan for the Unexpected?”
“How do you prepare for the Unanticipated?”
If anyone knows, please tell me.
I wish I had the foresight to see it coming
But that is why it is called,
the Unexpected

Not a moment to spare
There is a mess to clear
The Unplanned
The Unscheduled
Is now the priority
demanding urgent attention!

Even in all of these,
I must have a thankful heart
And a joyful spirit.
Yes, in all things
I have learnt to give thanks
But a part of me is still groaning
That I must put under.

Still reeling from the giddy swirl
I found a while later
The Unexpected left me a package
Unraveled it revealed
a cocktail of potent potions
A blessing in mysterious guise
it must be
Like a triple barrel cannon,
if it were possible,
bombarding an enemy’s camp with fury
The potent potion dealt deadly blows
on the termites devouring my fields
The Unexpected visited them.

I should have known,
He will always work it together for my good.
They say the potion may take me on a spin
But this time I am prepared
It will not catch me unaware

The Unexpected brought a change
A change led to a detour
The detour added a new layer
The plot thickens like a rich cake
And the story is richer for it
At the end of it
I will be vibrant

The next time life brings you
the Unexpected
And you wonder what to do
Embrace it, within it lies a blessing
Ultimately, He will work it together for your good.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

Pleased to share with you

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sitting on a Gold Mine

I read a story last week on NeverTheLess—my friend’s blog—which sparked a series of flashbacks as vivid as the explosive cocktail of gold fireworks which lit the dark sky over Lake Leman at the end of the Fête de Genève—Geneva National Celebrations.
The story was about women who ran small businesses out of their homes in the townships in South Africa. The one of interest was about a woman who lost her job and was worried about how to make a living and contribute to her family. She felt God asked her, “What is in your hands?” She had learnt how to make quilts from her mother. That was what she had in her hands. She had no money, no business plan but she had an ability to create something beautiful and she had not looked back since then.

In my flashback, I saw visions of the many hours I spent sitting on my hands at the edge of my bed. The many hours I spent staring out of the window, through 10 meters-high trees lining the outer perimeter of the garden into the open farming field across the road to my house, lost in my thoughts.

I saw that time when I was faced with a snow-white agenda. I had no-where I needed to be on any day. No where I would be missed if I did not show up except at home. Even if I had somewhere to go, my circumstances made it difficult for me to leave my house.

Sitting on my hands was something I did unconsciously for a long time. I always had my hands tucked under my laps. It was a position that enabled me to prop myself up and keep my back straight during the many hours I spent each day nebulizing, doing breathing exercises while lost in my reverie. In that position, I saw the trees changing as the seasons changed—one day green and luscious and the next, twiggy and dry.

I recalled it was at one of such times so desperate I cried to God, “What next? I can not be retired at this age. Even retirees have something gainful to do to keep them occupied.”

I felt Him asked me that same question, “What is in your hands?”
That question resonated in my spirit. I had read the story of the widow who gave her small oil and handful flour to Prophet Elijah and there was food for her family everyday. Her jar of oil and barrel of flour did not cease to flow until God gave rains to the land – 1Kings 17: 10 - 16. I had studied the story of the small boy who offered his five loaves of bread and two fishes, and 5000 men ate and were satisfied. There were leftovers too – Luke 9: 11 – 17.
I remembered I cried in response, “My skills and my hands, Lord, this is what I have. This is all I have to offer, take them and use them.”
In a flash I saw the day I woke up recalling a dream I had overnight. It was about a woman so desperate to save her daughter from the snare of a curse that she was willing to sacrifice her freedom and enter into a place where she would devote the rest of her life to praying. I did not know what to make of the dream, yet it would not leave me.
So while I was in my usual position—sitting on my hands and gazing into the field—I pondered on the dream. The more I pondered on the dream, the more I found myself outlining a plot and building a story from it. Suddenly, I had a strong urge to write it down. I looked around for a notebook but found an old diary on my bedside table, my hands came out in a flash and I started scribbling. It became my first fiction work-in-progress. I have been writing since that day.
Today, though I still spend considerable amount of time nebulizing and doing breathing exercises, I multitask. I have no time any more to sit on my hands. They are too busy writing, turning pages as I research a topic or typing. Sometimes it is a story—fiction, non fiction. Sometimes it is a message. At times, it is a poem. The words are flowing and are crafted into something beautiful like molten gold in the hands of a goldsmith. I am awe-struck at the seemly insignificant things that ignite an inspiration. It can only be by the help and grace abounding from God.
The gold coming from the mine is not quantifiable in monetary terms—that will be added to it in due season. I believe above all it is enriching and adding value to lives—touching lives for good. The joy, that brings, is as exhilarating as the triumphant finale of the symphony accompanying the magical display of lights brightening the sky.
What is in your hands? What gold mine are you sitting on and you don’t even realize it? What can you do with the little you have to offer? You have something in your hand God can use to enrich your life and the lives of others around you.
I invite you to partake of the joy of discovering the amazing things God can do with what you offer back to Him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essentials of Hot Pursuit

It was my desire in January to encourage you to get set for a move, to dream big dreams and to prepare to pursue your dreams in 2012. You may have started the year with good intentions. You may have taken time to envision the fulfillment of your heart’s desire, and you made plain your vision and your goals. Now as the year is getting busy, you are finding it difficult to follow through on your intentions. You are not alone.
I often watch a British TV documentary series – “Police Interceptor” which profiles the work of Police Intercept Team in Essex, UK. These Policemen with dogged determination pursue and hunt down perpetrators presenting dangers to the public. It involves high-speed car chases with the aid of a high-tech helicopter referred to as the “ever-ready Eurocopter” flying overhead and relaying essential information about the movement of the perpetrator. The high-speed pursuit is sometimes so hot that it requires skills and caution to preserve lives. One thing is usually certain, once they are in hot pursuit, they do not relent until the perpetrator is apprehended.
I find the determination of these policemen and the coordination between the air and ground units very intriguing. The air unit relays vital information that keeps the ground unit on track in their pursuit. The air unit acts as the all-seeing eye for the ground unit who trust the ever-reliable Eurocopter to guide them. Thus their unrelenting determination combined with guidance provided by the air unit become essential for success in the hot pursuit.
As you start this new month, it is important to track the progress of your pursuit of your dreams and the goals you set at the beginning of this year. How are you tracking your pursuit? What milestones have you established to enable you keep track of your progress towards living your dreams and accomplishing your goals. To whom are you connected for guidance, whose eyes can see above yours and who can relay vital information that will help you to stay on course?
In the hot pursuit of a dream and fulfillment of life’s goal we need not only relentless determination; we also need to depend on a reliable source of help, guidance and encouragement which is ever-present, all-seeing and never-failing. God is an ever-present Help in the time of need. He is constant. He is the All-seeing God who knows the beginning from the end, who knows all things and from whom nothing is hidden. His eyes are upon us to guide us. “The steps of the righteous man are ordered by the Lord” – Ps 37:23. When we are attentive to Him, He directs us in the way to go. Being connected to God is vital to the success of your hot pursuit. Remember, you are the object of God’s favor and you are under His watchful care.
His help comes in various ways – through friends who encourage us to stay on course and cheer us when the going gets rough, or sometimes it may be through mentors who use their experience and expertise to provide needed guidance to keep us on track. I am blessed with friends who consistently ask me about the book I am writing and a mentor who has eyes like eagles. At all  times, it is the cue provided by the Holy Spirit at crossroads of decision-making and the wisdom He inspires that makes the difference. I can truly testify of the inspiration given by the Holy Spirit.
Are you connected to this vital source of help and guidance in the pursuit of your dream? Are you open to the opportunities provided by mentors and friends to help and encourage you?
Above all, we want to apprehend the purpose for which God has called us – this should be our ultimate desire. Three phrases jumped at me as I read the statement made by Paul in his pursuit to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of him – Phil 3: 12- 14. These are: press on (to take hold off), reaching forth (straining forward) and press towards—the goal. These are action phrases, they denote purposive and intentional moves to apprehend – take hold of – a goal or the prize of a higher calling.
Despite the mileage Paul had made in his spiritual growth, he was still actively and persistently pressing on to attain perfection and conformity to Christ. This has application not only in the pursuit of a higher calling in Christ but also in the day to day pursuit of our goals and dreams. It definitely gives no room to laziness, lethargy, or giving up.
Are you still in hot pursuit or is your enthusiasm is waning? I encourage you not to relent until you apprehend the prize.
I started blogging 3 months ago. This is a good time to evaluate—is the blog on track and is it fulfilling its purpose? I do appreciate your feedback. How is this blog helping to inspire hope in you? What improvements would you like to see in the blog?
Thank you for stopping by. Each time you do, you make it worthwhile for me to continue to be here for you. I wish you a fruitful and rewarding month in hot pursuit of your dreams and goals.