Thursday, April 11, 2013

At The Precipice Of Despair

Do you by your words put your listeners or readers at the precipice of despair?

Does the complexity of your life's situation put you at the brink of hopelessness?

The first time I met this man, who I will hereafter refer to as the Old Prophet,  if my hope was not anchored on the  solid rock of ages, he would have dashed it into a million pieces. His words heaved heavy loads of hopelessness and discouragement, which fell like bricks on my heart. I went home and wept bitterly before the Lord. I wrote about this experience in Praise That Breaks The Yoke.

Two year and two months later, I met him again. He was relentless in his quest to create a picture of a hopeless situation. He thought it was my right to be fully informed. He described the complexity of the situation and called them a constellation of risks. He was so explicit and graphic in presenting the picture that if it were not for the peace of God guarding my heart, it would have melted in fear. In the audacity of arrogance he displayed, he wanted my approval for his position.

He saw no hope. He offered no hope. He stripped all hope away.

I wondered what he wanted of me, to jump off the cliff or resign myself to fate?

A Yoruba adage says, one death cannot kill the same person twice! 

I was not going to let it happen again. Something welled up in my heart against him and there was a strong nudging in my spirit to resist him. I knew I had to take charge of the situation. The tone of my voice changed. I felt like I grew taller in my spirit and he was no longer looming over me. I refused to cower before him. God gave me the grace and the strength to challenge him.

I knew at that instant that we were not wrestling against flesh and blood in this matter but against spiritual wickedness in high places. I refused to be pushed over the edge into the pit of despair and fear. "Raise a clarion call" rang aloud and clear in my spirit and I knew what we had to do.

My Heart Is Fixed

After the Old Prophet left us, my husband thanked God for the peace with which He garrisoned our hearts against agitating fears. Our hearts were at peace trusting in the Lord and we were not moved. It was pure joy to stumble on Ps. 108: 1-6 later that night as I flipped through the Bible in search of something to read.

O God, my heart is fixed - steadfast in the confidence of faith. Therefore, I will praise and make melody. I am God's beloved. He will answer  and deliver me. 
(Ps. 57:7, 108:1,6 paraphrased)

I was glad that I knew experientially and beforehand that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. It was great to have this awesome promise.

Perchance, you are in a deep and complex situation where the problems are multidimensional and there seems to be no solution in sight. You are overwhelmed by many afflictions and pressed down by loads of care. Your heart is aching. You pine and long for a resolution, for a change in the situation. "When, O Lord?" has become your fervent and ardent cry.

When hopelessness rear its ugly head. Don't give up on hope. Don't give up on God. He will not abandon you. He will never leave you alone in the midst of your trials.

At such times, at the precipice of despair, we need a Friend. We must be very sure our anchor holds on a solid rock and our hearts are fixed on confident assurance that we have a Saviour Who can move the mountain.

Mountains may shake, earth may quake, and storms may swirl furiously, cling to hope. Let your heart be fixed. Let your heart be steadfast and confident. When your faith is established in the Lord and your heart is stayed on God, only then will you be able to sing and praise God in anticipation of what God will do irrespective of the situation. This brings hope. But if only in this world we have a hope, we will be of all men most miserable.

If by the abounding grace of God we are able to maintain a composed frame of mind in the midst of the crisis, we have an even greater reason to be full of praise and thanks. Though the change we long for may seem long in coming but if we pay attention, we will see His mighty hand holding us up. For this again, we can be thankful.

For we know that our God is awesome. He can move the mountain. He is worthy of praise.

While preparing this post, I remembered the card I wrote and pasted on my wardrobe door five years ago. I placed it in the line of my vision when I used to sit at the edge of the bed on my hands. It was Ps. 108:1. I placed it there to remind myself that my heart must remain fixed, steadfast and confident in the Lord despite the billows roaring around me.

The Power of Words

The following day, I met some other members of the Old Prophet's team. When they came in, they sat down. They did not stand over me. They presented the same information, even as graphic as the Old Prophet did. But with each challenge, they offered a possible solution. They offered no guarantee, but they gave hope. They were committed to finding a way around each obstacle facing us to the best of their ability.

Same information. Different presentation. Different attitude. Different result. When they left, they did not leave me in despair. They left me with assurance.

How is your word affecting the lives of people around you? Are your words full of life, hope and encouragement? Or are you manipulating, sowing seeds of discouragement and stripping away hope with your words?

If you cannot give a glimmer of hope, you should not extinguish whatever hope the person had left. Our words should not leave people in despair and without a hope.

I re-committed myself from that day to be an encourager at every instance as the Lord gives me the grace. I will be careful never to allow my words strip anyone of hope. Even when I have to present hard truths or facts, I will do my best to find a way to present it with an assurance of a way out. There will be times when we will be duty-bound to present a grim picture but we must not do so in a way that will put the receiver of that information at the precipice of despair.

This can be as subtle as the comments we make on issues concerning our nations, our families, our workplace (bosses), our churches, etc. The degree of hopelessness that is sometimes transmitted by comments made on the social media can be heartbreaking. Let us be mindful not to extinguish hope with our words but to ignite hope.

Dear friend, if today you find yourself at the brink of despair, hold on, cling to hope, don't give up. God will surely come through for you. Let your heart be fixed trusting in His unfailing love for you.

Have you been at the precipice of despair? How did you come away from there? Share your story in the comment box below and encourage someone today.

I share with you Awesome by Pastor Charles Jenkins.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Need Of Nothing

He put a new song in my mouth to sing.

That was what happened to me a few days ago. During my time of praise and worship, I found myself singing a new song - the words were forming and I had music to go with it. I paused in my worship and recorded the song as I have learnt from experience that I may not be able to recall the song again.

You are God all alone
You are God on Your own
You are all sufficient in Yourself
You did not need me to praise You
Yet You created me for Your pleasure
I am honoured Lord,
that You chose to share Yourself with me

You were not hungry for company
You are complete in Yourself
You are perfect in Your glory
But You chose to confer Your glory on me
I am honoured Lord
That You chose to share Yourself with me

I was overwhelmed the previous night when I read The Solitariness of God in the book -  The Attributes of God written by A.W. Pink. It was profound to note that "God is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but Himself independent of all. He gives to all but is enriched by none."

"God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His mere good pleasure" - A.W. Pink.

As golden beams of sunlight piercing the dark blue twilight sky announces the arrival of a new day, the brilliance of this truth illuminated my heart, and it dawned on me— God is not in need of anything I can bring. He is all sufficient in Himself.

"God is sufficient unto Himself.
He requires nothing outside Himself to exist or to be happy"
- Michael J. Cummings.

The more I meditated on this truth, the more I was awed at the magnanimity of God. He chose to create me simply to manifest His nature of love. He chose to bestow manifold gifts and blessings on me simply to display His exceedingly generous and liberal nature.

We were chosen in advance before the foundation of the world, according to the plan of Him Who works everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. We were created according to the good pleasure of His will. God chose us for His praise and glory out of His free will (Eph. 1: 5, 11).

He stooped down to share Himself with us. He condescended to confer His glory on us.

Meditating on the self-sufficiency of God has to lead to shift in our attitude—we are not doing God a favour serving Him or giving towards His work. God is the One Who gave us gifts, so giving them back to Him would be like bringing sand to the beach. Therefore, it should be an act of worship to serve Him with the gifts and talents He has graciously bestowed on us. It should be considered a honour and a privilege to bring back to God out of the overflowing blessings He richly and daily pour into our lives. His mercies are new every morning.

I can not but give to God cheerfully.
I can not but serve Him to the best of my ability

What does this mean for us?

Knowing that God in His infinite wisdom and love stoop down to share Himself with us is humbling. It is overwhelming. It calls for a worshipful response. I can say with David, "what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" (Ps 8:4). And with Job, "what is people, that You should make so much of us, that You should think of us so often?" (Job 7:17).

We are not serving a needy God or a God Who lacks something He needs us to fulfil. He is perfect and complete all by Himself. We are serving a God Who has chosen to put His glory on display in our lives. This revelation took my worship and adoration of God to another level.

An excellent spirit has to be seen in us as we use our talents and gifts to serve God and the people around us. We can not be lazy servants or shoddy workers or people who hide our talents in the ground. We represent God Who is vast and glorious yet He chose to confer such honour on us as to call us His own. This must be reflected in the way we discharge our duties and in the way we use the gifts and talents He blessed us with.

"God doth not need, either man's work or his own gift…"
- John Milton

God judges a man on whether they labour for Him to the best of their ability. John Milton expressed this in his Sonnet XIV - On His Blindness. He declared that not one talent will lodge with him useless in his grave, he was becoming blind when he wrote this poem. His greatest works were written after he became blind.

It is my earnest desire and prayer that we find, develop and use every talent and gift that God has graciously endowed us with, for His glory and for His honour. So that not one talent will lodge with us useless when our work here on earth is done.

Now, I have a better appreciation and a deeper understanding of the message expressed in William McDowell's song - You are God Alone.

It is uplifting for me to know that the God I serve is in need of nothing. But He is sufficient for all my needs. Without Him, I am imperfect, always lacking in something. In Him, I am made complete.

What does it mean to you to know that God is all-sufficient in Himself? Share with us in the comment box below.

I share with you the song - You are God Alone