Saturday, July 11, 2015

Choices At The Point Of Change

The temperature in Geneva reached a high of over 40 degrees this week. The highest temperature recorded since 2003. The unbearable furnace-like heat reminded me of my days in Tamale, Ghana and Cairo, Egypt. It was during my sojourn in these places that I experienced such high temperatures. We talked much about those times during the past week.

I paused and pondered.

So much change has taken place in my life since I left Tamale in 2003 and Cairo in 2007.

Change I did not expect
Change I did not engineer
Change I did endure

Change came. It altered the course of my life. It took me to a different altitude.

Since we took off from Geneva, I watched the altitude rising on the monitor, waiting to see when the plane would get to its cruising altitude. It did. 35 minutes into the flight over Luxembourg at 12,195 meters (40,000 feet).

If we hit a storm, the pilot will have to make a choice of possible actions, which may alter the flight path. And we may not arrive at our planned destination, at least not at the scheduled time.

I love flying. That was one of the things I enjoyed working with UNICEF for 15 years—I did a lot of traveling. I love visiting new places. I loved the thrill. I loved adventure.

Change came. It took that from me for a season. But God is turning it around for my good and in my favor.

At the beginning of 2015, I set my watchword for the year—be consistent, complete and stay focussed. Six months gone already, we are in the second half of the year. It is time to take stock and do a midterm review. There's no better place for me to do that than at this altitude—12,000meters above sea level floating on soft white clouds. That's where I am writing this post on my way to Lagos via Amsterdam.

As I pondered on the first half of 2015, I was overwhelmed by how much God has used the change that altered the course of my life to impact lives. It is simply beyond words. This has been a very busy year but who would have thought two years ago that it will turn out this way. I had several opportunities to share my story. The story of God's grace that sustained me through the storm.

Grace kept through the stormy change. Grace is giving purpose to the change. I could not give up on hope during the storm because I have experienced God as a faithful and loving Father. In the face of unexpected change, I learnt that the choices I make will determine whether or not I will fulfil God's purpose for me in the situation and beyond.

I chose never to give up on hope, come what may.

Change is a constant. It is inevitable. It is unavoidable. It is will come to each of us at one point in time or the other and in one form or the other. Some change is for good. Some, not so good.

What do we do when change comes on us unannounced?

The choices you make when you are faced with change will determine your destination—where you end up.

The month of June was profound in many ways. I spent three weeks with my Sista and fellow dream-chaser, Bidemi Mark-Mordi. We encouraged and built each other up as iron sharpens iron. More importantly, from London to Zurich to Geneva, we saw God moving beyond our wildest imagination during the Sistapower Gathering and Women Conferences we attended. He used the stories He has written of our lives to inspire and encourage women from diverse backgrounds to be who God created and called them to be, irrespective of the change that has visited their lives.

We saw God using a willing vessel in London. We saw the dividend of time invested in prayers in Zurich. We saw how God burdened our hearts with the revelation to bring about redemption and heal the broken in Geneva. And plenty tears did flow.

I had many lightbulb moments during the Geneva meeting. God confirmed again that He is too wonderful for comprehension. If you ever think you know God's word so much that you can take it for granted, you need a rethink. The stories of the change that came upon the two Tamars in the Bible came alive for me in a brand new way as Bidemi Mark-Mordi expounded "The Tales Of Two Tamars."

Change came upon these women in the Bible.
It was unexpected.
They did not ask for it.
They did nothing to bring it on themselves.
In fact, they did not deserve it.
Yet change came. And it was cruel.

The two women were broken by those who should have done right by them. They were broken in pieces inside. They suffered the pain they did not solicit.

Does that sound familiar to you?

One was condemned to the broken life of childless widowhood in her father's house. The other was condemned to the broken life of a shamed, defiled and undefended woman.

But that was as far as the similarities went.
Their responses to the change were different.
The choices they made in the face of unspeakable change were different.
The outcome was also different.

What was the difference?
One Tamar stayed in the place of brokenness—the place where she was broken by man, life, and circumstances. She remained desolate in her brother's house for the rest of her life (2Samuel 13).

The other Tamar opted to get up from the place she was broken by three different men. She seized the opportunity and did something about her brokenness. She turned it around. She became the mother of Perez, the great great grandfather of Boaz. Boaz was the grandfather of David (Genesis 38, Ruth 4:16-22).

Life can be unfair. Bringing cruel, painful and often irreparable change. But at what point do you get up and step on the pain? At what point do you jump on the springboard of change and let it catapult you to your next level.

When life visits us and change come upon us, we need to know what does not change; God does not change. His undying love for you does not change. His plan and purpose for your life does not change. Let me assure you that God is working through the change to bring His purpose for your life into full manifestation.

1. What would you do you do when no one can put you together?
Quite honestly no one can put you together when you have been broken. But if you draw strength from above and look up to God, He can put the smithereens back together again.

2. What would you allow to break you that you will refuse to stand again?

When Bidemi asked these two questions, I understood again that God has given us the will to choose. He also made His grace abundantly available if we choose to get up from the places where we have been broken.

My dear friends, what would you do?

Would you choose to stand firm in faith and hope, come what may?
Would you choose not to give up on hope?
The choices you make in the face of change can make or mar your destiny.

You need that the remedy for the bitter pools in your life has been prepared in advance before you get to Marah (Exodus 15: 22-26).

The change your life experiences bring can become assets for your ministry or launching pad to fulfilling purpose. Yes, your pain, your physical/emotional trauma, etc., are assets that can allow you to reach other people who may be going through the similar experience.

I would never have appreciated the depth of pain that goes with losing a child if I have never felt it.
I would never have understood the agony and anxiety of waiting for a child if I didn't suffer a waiting, howbeit short.
I would definitely not have known the challenges, distress and frustrations of living with chronic, long-term diseases but for the twenty years I spent in the valley of affliction.
I would not have given an amputee more than a cursory look until I experienced first-hand the challenges of being an amputee. Now I understand how handicap unfriendly many of our facilities. Many times, I go into the shops, I can't find a place to sit, rest and take the weight off my limbs.

My painful changes and life experiences are taking me to a higher altitude in my walk with God, and in fulfilling God's kingdom agenda.

Yours can too!

What are your painful change experiences? How can it help you become a solution to those around you? Ponder on these questions and do feel free to share. Let's encourage one another.

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