Thursday, January 31, 2013

He Will Get You There

The sky was clear and blue. The sun was high though it was still early in the morning. Our family of four was packed and set for our summer vacation, a road trip to UK to visit family and friends. This was the first time we were going to UK by road.

We had the address. We had a navigator. We entered our destination into the navigator. It planned our trip and gave us the shortest route. From then on, we simply followed its instructions. We were confident we would get to our destination.

It was a scenic drive over mountains, through villages and even on red asphalt road as we traveled on roads we had never gone before.

We went from Geneva, through Dijon, until we got to Calais—our first destination. We got on the ferry and the navigator kept quiet as we sailed across the channel to Dover. Off the ferry, it continued to guide us in the way to go until we arrived at our destination in Birmingham.

A few days later, we went out of town to a park, on our way back, we drove into a ditch, the navigator fell of its hook and hit the edge of a machine I had beside me. When I picked it up, the screen was broken. We were seven minutes away from our destination. We thought we could find our way there on our own:

"Let's turn left here."

"No, I think we should go straight."

It only took a few minutes of driving around without the navigator and we knew we were lost. I called my cousin. After much effort at finding a known landmark, he guided back to the house. It took us almost one hour to complete the seven-minute trip.

We knew it would be a challenge to continue our vacation without our companion, the navigator. We had to invest in a new navigator — an unplanned but much-needed expenditure.

Better than a GPS:

A few days ago, during our family bible study time, my son shared from the Once-a-day At the Table Family Devotional. The topic for meditation was Global Positioning System (GPS) and the verse was Ps. 32:8 — my all-time favorite verse.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
 I will counsel you with My eyes upon you."

It is a promise of divine guidance. Infinitely better than a GPS, God gives us direction through the Bible. He leads us in a subtle way, by speaking into our hearts through His Holy Spirit indwelling us.

The GPS only considers where we want to go and the shortest way to get there. God considers an infinite eternity that includes where He wants us to go and what we need to learn along the way. God’s leading may not always make sense to us and His choice of route may not be a straight line. He not only considers the destination, but He determines the best time for us to arrive at the destination and how we need to be prepared to fulfill His purpose for us there.

He instructs us. He teaches us. He counsels us.

He teaches us the right way to go and the best way to do what He has called us to do.

The commentary reminded me of our experience during our summer vacation in 2009. It was interesting to note how we depended absolutely on the navigator to get us to our destination. When we made the decision to do the road trip, it was simply because we knew that we had a navigator and once we entered the address of our destination into the navigator, it will guide us there. We trusted it and committed the entire trip to the device. When we lost the device, we lost the guidance provided by the GPS and we subsequently lost our way.

What if we would depend and rely on God totally and completely to guide and direct us day by day on our life's journey just as we depended on the device?

Being assured that He knows the destination and He knows the best way for us to get there, then we should not have to worry but simply listen to His voice as He tells which way to go.

God’s best way to the destination He has planned for us is not necessarily the shortest way. The navigator may take us through the shortest route but God’s route for us may take us through the valley, through the wilderness, through the furnace or through the storm. The blessed assurance we have is that His eyes are intent on us whichever way He leads us through.

And His eyes are upon us:

I like the fact that His eyes are upon us all the time. His eyes are on us watching and directing our ways. That means, He has a special and active regard for us. His eyes are directed on us so that He may tell us the way to take in order for us to reach our destination.

He does not leave us to grope around in darkness but He lights our path. David prayed and asked that God’s face should shine upon him to give him light - Ps 4:6. He shines His light upon our path so that it is illuminated and we are not groping in darkness.

Imagine for a moment that you have a police helicopter flying overhead and beaming its light on your path as you walk through a forest on a pitch-dark night. You will see clearly and will not trip over roots or fall into ditches. That is how God lights our path with His guidance as with the beams of the sun.

You can use His higher power and inside knowledge every day and at any hour. His instructions and counsel are constantly available for you to tap in.

If we trust God to lead and guide us each day in the way to go, one day we will look back on our life and see what an incredible journey it was. Joseph looked back on his life and the route God had led him, and he affirmed it was God Who planned that route for him in accordance to His purpose for his life.

God knows where we need to be to fulfill His ultimate purpose for our lives. We can’t make it there in our own strength. We need His divine guidance and direction to make it to our destination. We need also to learn lessons along the way which will shape and fit us for the position we are to occupy at our destination. We can only make it to our God-defined destinations if we depend on God to lead us there.

He is always ready to lead us in the way to go.

Are you ready to trust Him to guide you?

Are you willing to depend absolutely on His leading?

Be assured that God is more than able to get you to your destination if you trust and depend on Him.

We can depend on Him absolutely to guide us as we intentionally and creatively pursue the journey to fulfill our mission in life and His calling upon our lives.

He will get you to your destination in His own time and His timing is always the best.

He will take you through the best route but He will not avoid the challenges that will prepare you for your destination.

God wants us to commit our plans, our dreams and our goals to Him. I encourage you to commit every work of your hands, all your plans, purposes and pursuits to the Lord. Trust confidently in Him for guidance.

He will get you to your destination.

I share with you When God shines His light by Van Morrison and Cliff Richard, 1989

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pressing On The Upward Way

I'd like to share some thoughts with you in today's post to ponder on as we approach the end of January.  

The first one took its leap from the Opening Remarks made by the Master of Ceremonies at the second inauguration of President Obama held last Monday.

Revisit old dreams — Half-finished domes.

The second thought was inspired by a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis, which seems not to be documented in any of his books, but thought to have the sound of a lecture comment.

Dream a new dream — Attaining new heights.

Half-finished domes:

As Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861, the United States was in crisis, and it seemed that Civil War was unavoidable. The US Capitol was undergoing expansion, and the new cast iron dome was still being assembled atop the building. Lincoln's inauguration was thus held before the half-finished dome.

Senator Charles Schumer, in his Opening Remarks at the second inauguration of President Obama, remarked that Abraham Lincoln considered the half-finished dome as an eye-saw. To him, half-finished dome symbolized a half divided nation. Conventional wisdom then was that it should be left half-finished until the war was ended given the financial constraints at that time. "But despite the conflict which surrounded the country and the city, the dome continued to rise" and was completed in 1866. 

He concluded that this is the perfect moment for us to determine to complete our personal half-finished domes.

What are your half-finished domes? 

Those projects that you have initiated which remained unfinished and are looming like eye-saws around you. Or the ideas conceived but are yet to be translated into actions because you are afraid to step out; because someone rejected your idea / proposal; or because you think the environment is not conducive to launch out.

Do you doubt your ability to complete your half-finished domes?

Abraham Lincoln ensured that the construction of the Capitol’s Dome continued in the midst of the crisis the country faced. They remained undaunted and determined to finish the task despite the challenges.

Completing our half-finished domes may require us to swim against the current, and to go against what is conventional. It will call for us to put anxiety, fear and despair out of the way and take on the spirit of boldness.

Consider in 2013 to identify your half-finished domes. Take a step of faith forward, pick one up and take it through to completion—finish it.

“With malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in,…”
- Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address - 1865

Dream a New Dream:

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream”
(attributed to C.S. Lewis but undocumented as an original CSL quote)

Tim Thurman believes we must work hard as we age to continue to dream and continue to set goals -  "Dreams are what gives the soul life."

“Dreaming can become difficult the older we get because we are afraid of disappointment. Past failures cause us to be afraid to trust… to trust ourselves or to trust that God will not disappoint.  We must learn to dream big, but to hold such dreams loosely. We need to trust God that He will always fulfill our wildest fantasies…as long as they are good for us. In the same way that a parent must temper a child’s desires, God will not always fulfill every fantasy of ours. But just like a parent who loves her child, God will fulfill every healthy wish. In fact, He generally will fulfill far beyond what we could have hoped and dreamed (cf. Ephesians 3:20).”

It is not too late to afresh. It is not too late for you to start something new. It is not too late to set new goals. And this has application in every sphere of our lives. One area is of particular interest—and that is in our walk with the Lord.

Is it possible that you have settled down into a comfort zone in your relationship with God that you feel you know everything there is to know?

In a conversation with my husband recently, we noted that it is possible we can study the Bible or read books not for what we can get from the Lord for ourselves — to enrich our communion with Him, but for what we can glean to give to others. And there are times, when we listen to a message and we are thinking of someone else who should be listening to that message.

My prayer this year is that we will desire to dwell in the place where we can learn to know God's voice more and to respond to His leading. And as we do so, that we may become fueled and energized to know more of God for ourselves. The more we know Him, the more we ought to want to know Him more.

It is at such a place as this — the place of solitude and communion with God — that we can conceive new dreams and set new goals inspired by the Holy Spirit.

New Heights Attaining:

One key lesson I learnt from pondering on these thoughts is that we must not be satisfied with the status quo; we must keep pressing on to what lies ahead.

I am pressing on the upward way. There are new heights to attain everyday. Still praying as I am onward bound: “Lord, plant my feet on a higher ground.” These words from an old hymn, "Higher Ground" — composed by Johnson Oatman Jr. in 1898, speak in volumes to my heart and form my prayer.
© Pancaketom |

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Whether I am revisiting old dreams or I am dreaming up a new one, my heart's greatest desire is to move beyond where I am now. I refuse to be limited by doubts. I overcome fear with faith.

I can do this one more thing, take this one more step forward, and complete one half-finished dome through Jesus Christ Who strengthens me.

The Opportune Time:

There is no better time than now to dust those ideas you have stored up in the closet, put doubts in the back seat, step on the fears from past failure and disappointments, and push forward.

The world around you is eagerly waiting to see you manifest the gifts and talents God bestowed in you. Do not let past disappointments or failures hold you back.

Seek new heights to attain in every sphere of your life. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Above all your seeking, seek a closer and more intimate walk with God, desire to scale the utmost height and catch a glimpse of His glory.

Do you have half-finished domes to complete? What new heights are you seeking to attain this year? Share your story in the comments box below. We will join you to pray about them and to cheer you on in the race.

I share with you - "Higher Ground" sung by the Smucker Family.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Be Bold. Be Strong. Step Out.

Today's post takes a leap from I'm Going All The Way posted last week. It is a rewrite of the message shared by email - Enriching Lives in January 2012.

Are there promises founded on the God's Word, which you want fulfilled in your life?

Do you have divinely inspired dreams?

Dreams conceived at those moments when you allow your inner eyes to look beyond what your physical eyes can perceive and you see yourself apprehending what God has promised you. Dreams borne and nurtured in the place of prayer.

The beginning of a new year offers an opportunity to revisit these dreams.

Be Bold.
There is an old song derived from Joshua 1:6, which I have personalized to buttress my outlook for 2013.

I am bold. I am strong.
I am not discouraged.
I am not afraid.
Because I am walking in faith and victory.
The Lord, my God is with me.

At the time God commanded Joshua saying, “Arise, go over Jordan”, River Jordan was overflowing its bank; there were no bridges on which to walk over and cross the swollen river.  There were no boats that could carry the multitude across. Yet God said to him, “Go over Jordan.”

Does this sound familiar to you? Has God given you a dream, a promise or a word that sounds ridiculous when you consider your circumstance? It may not make sense in human terms. There may be no logic to it.

If we want to possess the promise and go all the way to the finish line, we may be required us to do something that defies logic, something bold and daring but by faith in God.

When God gives a promise and a command, He makes a way for it to be carried out if we trust Him and take the step of faith. We need to trust God to open a way for us this year. We need boldness to take the step of faith forward.

Here are some steps to consider as we prepare to take the step of faith forward.

Make it plain:
When you have a vision or a dream, it floats in your head for weeks or months. We ruminate on it, and carry it around. There comes a time we must articulate the dream or vision, and make it plain—put it in two or perhaps three dimension. When it becomes visible to us then we can begin to take steps towards achieving it.

Now is the time to define clear and specific goals we desire to accomplish in key areas of our lives as the Holy Spirit gives inspiration and direction. This is not a shopping list of resolutions but goals borne out of prayers and a desire to walk in the purpose and will of God.

For example, I have specific goals which I desire fulfilled in the following spheres of my life:
  • Spiritual: A closer walk with God and to consciously dwell in His presence.
  • Emotional: Maintain a vibrant relationship with my husband, children and significant others.
  • Physical: My health and strength fully restored.
  • My Writing: Completion of three writing projects.

Small Concrete Steps:
The next step is to break the goals down to doable small chunks.

What can I do each day to take me towards my dream and goals? This will involve defining concrete and consistent actions I can take each day.

For example:
  • Spend time in the presence of God in praise and prayer every morning before I get out of bed. Study my Bible after completing my morning routines. End each day in thanksgiving.  
  • Devote 3 - 4 hours in the afternoon on my writing projects.

Be organized and focussed:
It is important for me to get organized right from the beginning. Running around in circles and hopping from task to task dissipates energy and other useful but often limited resources like time. I have done my fair share of that. I want to start this year right by ensuring that I get myself organized quite early in the year.

When there is much to do, then it is time to prioritize. Making a list of things to do each day is helpful in visualizing what needs to be done and to focus on the things that are important and urgent.

Look out for tools that can help you to accomplish your goal and for opportunities to enhance the skills you need. I found using Bible Study Plans useful. There are a number of these available on YouVersion.

I found a software that got my writing projects organized. It was amazing how much work I got done on two of my work-in-progress within 48 hours of installing Scrivener. Even more amazing about this experience is that these are projects I have had in the cooler for over six months. I am so elated at the rekindled zeal to get the work going—I am fired up and so grateful to God for that.

Be Relentless:
Get rid of the doubt, cowardice, vacillation, shyness, timidity, and fear. These will hinder you from going forward. Refuse to be deterred, refuse to be put off and refuse to give up. Do not let your circumstances say "No" to you or set a limit to what God can do in your life.

Though the giants may be on our way to hinder, God has surely given us victory.

It is the will of God for us to possess the things He has promised us according to His Word. But you have to be relentless, adamant and determined to go all the way.

Be Expectant:
There is a reason why a pregnant woman is referred to as an expectant mother. She has an expectation of seeing the child she is carrying come forth. Let there be an earnest expectation in your heart to see your dreams and goals brought forth.

Have an expectation that God will act on your behalf far beyond what you are able to imagine—beyond what your human mind can conceive. It will require looking beyond our trials and afflictions to see God do those things that will put His glory on display in our lives.

No one can question God's willingness to put His glory on display in my life by doing a jaw-dropping, awe striking act of wonder in my life. In His sovereign right, He can make is glory manifest in my life to the extent that all will see and marvel, and declare that this is surely the hand of God at work in my life—this is my expectation!

Stay Tuned:
My part is to align my desires with His will, be submitted to Him and be guided by His word. I will not set limits for God and I will not let my circumstance set limit for what God can do in my life.

We will only be able to possess our promise if we stay right with God by obeying His Word. God’s power is made manifest through His Word. God charged Joshua to talk about it, think about it, and act by it so that he can obey it fully (Josh. 1:8). That charge is relevant for us today. It takes a greater strength of character to obey God’s word faithfully than to fight battles.

Commit your plans to God:
Beyond all the preparations, commit each step to God. Pray about it. Start everything you do with prayer, nurture and sustain it with prayer (Prov. 16:3).

There is something God want to do in you and through you. There is a promised land for you to possess. God has a purpose for your life. He wants your life to reflect His goodness and unfailing love. He wants to touch lives with your life.   

Step Out In Faith.
Be bold. Be strong. Step out in faith. Take a chance. Begin the race towards the finish line.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm Going All The Way

The New Year is an opportunity to celebrate new beginnings. It also provides the opportunity to renew commitments. Although the year is over a week old already but it is not too late to wish you a happy and prosperous 2013.

I apologize for not posting a blog last Thursday as usual. You will find out why as you read on.

I watched on the TV a challenging racing event through the country side a while ago.

 © Denyskuvaiev|
They ran…
…They jumped over huge hurdles.
     …They splashed through muddy puddles.
In wet shoes, adding to the discomfort,
they kept running,
overcoming the obstacles,
going all the way to the finish line.

The race is called the steeplechase. It is easily one of the hardest events in athletics. It is a test of endurance.

Pathway to change:
Life is a series of processes. Raw materials are processed to produce usable products. Students undergo training to become professionals. There is a process to go through for  dreams to be translated into reality and a desired goal to be reached.

Process is the pathway to change. Sometimes there are many steps in the pathway. We find obstacles along the pathway to change—hurdles to leap over and puddles to wade through—these make the process more challenging.

"We are all on a journey to somewhere,
and the twists and turns are what makes it interesting"
- Jeff Goins.

Implicit in this, is the time required for the process to be completed—time required for change to take place. When time is required, it calls for waiting, and waiting calls for patience and endurance.

Those who would go the long haul and all the way to the finish line have need of patient endurance. Waiting for a miracle, for a dream to come true, and for a goal to be accomplished can be a test of endurance and patience—just like the steeplechase race and the process to change.

These are the virtues waiting taught me—patience, endurance and perseverance.

Perseverance is the tenacity to endure to the end and not give up along the way—the patience to wait well. There is a difference between waiting and waiting well. If we are encumbered with anxiety and agitation during the waiting season, it makes the period more stressful and seemingly more prolonged.

Waiting well with patience is resting on the grace of God which is abundantly available. It takes the sting out of the waiting. Ultimately those who learn to endure the long haul with patience will have much to be glad for at the end of the race or process.

Lessons in endurance:
In the school of discipleship, there is no limit to the number of times you will be required to take lessons in endurance and patience. But each lesson and test you take and pass takes you to a higher level.

So it was for me last Thursday as I underwent a surgical procedure, which was indeed a test of endurance—how much pain, distress and discomfort I could gracefully endure. I asked the Lord to hold my right hand and surround me with His presence. He did.

Hours later, the doctors said, "Madame Olumese, you were brave and courageous." I mustered the strength to smile and give thanks to God Who held me in His Hands.

That night was one of the longest in my life, I wanted to scream, "I can't take any more," yet what came out was a whisper, "Give me the grace to endure this night, Lord."

And night did pass because the covenant-keeping faithfulness of God endures forever. With the dawn of the new day came the assurance of hope and confirmation of the victory God wrought for me.

Outlook for 2013:
These and more have set the tone for this year for me. That is, the readiness to go through the process that is required for me to reach my desired goal with endurance and patience.

Each of us have dreams or goals we desire to have fulfilled this year. It is profitable to begin the year with a strong determination founded on faith in God to go through the process or run the race, with endurance and with patience, irrespective of the obstacles along the way.

Going through the process may push our ability to endure to the limit. If we respond with unbelief, bitterness and discouragement, we will rob ourselves of the treasure God is refining in us and others who could benefit from it will also miss out.

You can't pick up endurance, perseverance or patience from the shelves. They can't be imparted on you by the laying on of hands. They have to be worked out in us through the testing of our faith. We learn to wait with patience when we don’t know the end date for the resolution of the situation but we only know there is an end to it simply because God says so!

It is in experiencing the challenges, overcoming the obstacles and going through the process that perseverance is squeezed out of us. And perseverance must have its full course so that we can become mature and complete. The sterling quality of our character becomes prominent and more obvious when it has gone through the process of refinement.

Every trial becomes an opportunity to see God's beautiful hands working in the finest detail in our lives.

Patiently enduring tests and trials puts the faithfulness of God in fulfilling His promise and His power to sustain us on display. It also shows our trust and dependence on God's ability to keep us.

It is when we endure to the end that we can testify that it is God Who brought us through to the finish line.

This is my outlook for 2013—I'm going all the way to the finish line in every sphere of my life. And in all God has called me to do. I will not give up. I will not give in. I will endure the process until I get to the finish line. Not in my strength but by faith in God.

What about you? What goals have you set for this year? Will you trust in God for the grace to endure the process and remain resilient until you get to the finish line? You can rely on God's covenant-keeping faithfulness to see you through.

"Whatever it will take…to help you reach that goal!
Don’t give up HOPE!…I KNOW YOU CAN COPE!"