Generally speaking when we hear that someone is wicked what comes to mind? It would be interesting to get feedback on this. However no surprises here when most of it will be descriptions of what people have committed or omitted. If the bible speaks of God being interested in the heart and its state wouldn’t you then think that we should be able to gauge the heart? How can one tell? I have read many times that the bible is a mirror. However I am learning that having said that one needs to learn what to look for in the mirror for the image to make sense. If one cannot see themselves clearly how can they know what needs fixing? We do not know who we are really like regardless how well the bible articulates it. Do you know that the words anxious and wicked are used interchangeably in the bible? Could it be possible there is something we are unable to clearly “see”? From my interaction with the word wicked it has come to my understanding that it could also mean the inability to listen to others. Just think about it, if we know that the world is full of wickedness yet wherever the majority of us live seems to be fairly habitable, where are the wicked? Due to the uncanny ability to compare ourselves we normally conclude that the wicked are not that close. They are on the news and far away. How shocked and disgusted we get when a family member or peer is busted for doing something pretty horrible? Generally speaking people end up doing wicked things when they have chosen not to listen to those around them. What does this have to do with anxiety? I am now aware how much people around me want to bless me. Humans are like that, they want to positively contribute to each other. Sadly we are not naturally equipped to regard the interaction this way. That is why we have many that are convinced this world is for the tough skinned. A tough skinned person generally speaking is also single minded. This essentially means they have no room for other views. This seems alright until you consider that perhaps the person is just wicked. There are few fortunate to be like this without it breeding anxiety. Many of us are not so fortunate. Anxiety is a product of being unable to benefit from the views of others. As earlier indicated there are many around us that are saying and doing the things that should allay most of our concerns. For the simple reason that we are unable to perceive this, our minds spiral out of reality and we begin to imagine that which is far removed from reality. Why would one be constantly anxious when they receive a call from the boss? Or why would one be very anxious as they await the opening of a tender? Why would you be so anxious as you undergo an interview? This anxiety spills into our dreams where we are constantly being chased, falling into unending spaces and so on. Some of us are so anxious that we are completely unable to enjoy our day. I remember many years ago I preferred my time asleep than my time awake. My days seemed like a nightmare as there were so many things to be anxious about. Incidentally it got worse as my responsibilities as an adult increased. Imagine a scenario where one thinks it’s them against the world! That would translate to an extremely uncomfortable daily experience. God created man to enjoy creation, would you believe everything around is meant for us to enjoy. Yes, here and now. We are unable to enjoy it because we are wicked/anxious. I am meant to enjoy working with my boss, regardless of how different bosses are. I am meant to enjoy my neighbor at home regardless how they live out their lives. I am meant to enjoy my circumstances as that is what consists my present reality. As I look at the mirror (bible) and realize how wicked/anxious I am it enables me to consciously listen to those around and to what is happening around me. As that is what my reality requires. If I can listen to man imagine how easy it is to listen to the great and wonderful God! The consequent is true, if you cannot listen to man who you can see then how can you listen to the one we cannot see ?
Most of my time in church I have heard both from the pulpit as well as members the need for big audacious goals. Think about it, you have reached a great height where your influence is regional. It could be economic, artistic, political or even academic. It is just like the movies. People pandering to your every whim. Life going just the way you want. It seems like life can be this way. So wonderful. Rarely does one realise the truth. Most people that get to the top will tell you it’s not easy. They are not being modest. The sacrifices made are numerous and continuous. It never ends. Most are not easy or pleasant. Yet for the goal to be achieved decisions have to be made fast. Time is of the essence. Due to the speed of decision making, some consequences will come to haunt. Think of any successful person you know. There are decisions they have made that left a bad taste in your mouth. Interestingly they are never really bothered by the same. One needs a strong heart to live through success of such a nature. So essentially you are praying for goals which your heart is too weak to live out. Most of us are unable to tell what our hearts are capable of. Why would an old person commit suicide? Why do people quit their jobs when it gets hot? Why do some consistently refuse to make decisions? The heart can be fickle. The Bible is consistent on what it promotes and short on what it does not. Having big and hairy goals is not a reality that the Bible espouses. The Bible is very clear on what our primary goal should be. To know God. If one knows him then God can share His plan. We are here because of him and for him. Can you think up a better plan than him? That’s not possible. That is why seeking God’s face is so important. We however have no time for such nonsense. It is easier to pray for big visible things than for a sovereign but invisible God. When things get out of hand and they will, remember Pharaoh of the Moses story. Sometimes big things can be a curse, and that not in disguise.
As a believing Christian (no longer a practicing one, thank God) one cannot run away from certain facts. Before getting hooked to the Jesus group, I honestly believe the awareness of the filth inside my heart was dull. When I was exposed to the light in the word of God I could not believe what I saw. It is amazing the lust of both the flesh and eyes as well as the pride of life that was lodged in there. How did it get there? Apparently that is the consequence of being born with a broken life evaluation device, better known as a deceitful and wicked heart. Imagine attending church while being surrounded by others that imagine since you have made a certain confession then you are alright. The people that point at those going to church like this as hypocrites do not know how right they are. The problem is the individual is more aware of this more than anyone else. When put against the light filth is evident. Does it ever get cleaned ? One of the reasons the Bible is as big is so that the complex issues can be well articulated. In it God takes responsibility for us, in every way. We are taught by the world to take responsibility but the Bible introduces us to one that wants to be that for us. That sounds too good to be true ? Of course it does. Cleaning the heart sounds like an impossible affair, the older one is the better you will appreciate this sentiment. However, what is impossible with God? He takes time to clean our hearts as we continue to confess our faults. One of the reasons we confess is so that once it is addressed we can relate the change to Gods work. For a long time I thought I was better than those around me. In Christ reality dawned and I see clearly now. Today I cannot dream of attaining to the level of many around me. That has happened miraculously, to me anyway. The cleaning process most times causes the vessel to get dirty. Meaning the process does make one feel worse before it is over. Then there is another possibility. There could have been an issue that really bothered and God dealt with it at a certain level. If it seems to reoccur there is a high likelihood that it is cleaning taking place at another level. Imagine you really hate someone and God cleans your heart of it. Feels so good not to hate. Then a year later the hate seems to creep back in. The reality is if God cleans does he do a good job? Of course he does. So why did the filth remain? It did not. It was just layered. There is so much to clean in the heart that sometimes one can get discouraged when another layer undergoes the process. The good news that one needs to firmly grip during such a time is once cleaned there are levels of filth one cannot fall into anymore. Imagine if you could not forgive, when he cleans the unforgiveness one can forgive from the heart and being locked in unforgiveness becomes history. Hence if the unforgiveness recurrs high chances it will be fleeting unlike in the beginning when it stuck. This process is continuous such that inside we need to become more like the one doing the cleaning. Yes we become cleaner when we open our hearts to his hands.
Something struck me again during the months topic at teens. We usually prefer to structure a lesson around words and concepts that make one sound knowledgeable. Sadly the audience may not quite grasp the topic if one does this. The months topic was potential. We were just coming from the topic of purpose. Simply put purpose is what you are able to do. Consequently potential is ability. It’s that simple. Jesus is the expert at breaking down a lesson to it’s most basic. When he said he who has ears let him hear….it was because it just could not get simpler than that. We are able to do many things as humans. So our potential is great, whichever way you look at it. There are those things we are aware of. There are those things others are aware we can do. If we combine what we know and what others know we may discover our limitations. In Philippians 4:13 Paul confesses that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. All things, really ? Hmmmm. As a teen most things are made possible by parents. From access to food, clothing, housing and so on. Whatever the teen wants to do is made possible by the parent. So it would be accurate for a teen to say they can do most things through their parents that strengthen them. Believe it or not most teens are unaware the extent to which they owe their life’s to their parents. Parents do not really need to go the lengths they do for their children. Yet they do. It was amazing to see them realize how ungrateful they are most times. For us to become like Paul something needs to give. Our full potential is in the supernatural (aka being like Christ). We are more comfortable with the natural. A seed in the natural is limited with regard to what it can do if on its own. It’s until planting that the magic happens. Multiplication is the height of one’s potential. Jesus multiplied himself when many became like him. Imagine they needed Judas to betray Jesus for they could not tell the difference between him and the others. Yet he had been with them more than 3 years. We know a seed has to die to become a plant. What protects the seed is it’s coat. Unless the coat gets damaged it cannot die. Similarly creatures that are born twice face a similar dilemma. A bird is first born as an egg. During this time what protects it is it’s shell. For it to be born again it has to damage the shell to get out. If being born again requires damaging the thing that protects, what protects a man ? Somethings are not obvious until pointed out. Even little children display a protective aspect. What protects a man is called self. The more rigid the self the more evident it is to others. Hence why words like self preservation, selfish and so on are common. When Christ was asked what one needs to follow him he said, one must deny himself, pick up his cross and follow him. Denying self is the same as doing away with it. If one does this it’s the same as death. What would you do without self ? It seems like one has committed hearticide. However if one has done it for Christ then they get a new self. This new self is actually Christ according to the Bible. Hence why Paul says confidently in the Bible that he no longer lives but it’s Christ that lives in him. One has to purpose to destroy self. I do not think there is anything as difficult or painful as this. The reward however is beyond measure. I stumbled upon the greatest enemy of potential. I had earlier thought it is things like fear, being shy, unbelief and so on. I know people that do lots of things despite their fears, unbelief etc Abilities greatest enemy is being double minded. Which is the same as being luke warm or half hearted. One cannot do something this way and achieve much. In fact God insists if one is to do something do it whole heartedly. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. It is written a double minded man is unstable in all His Ways. An unstable person cannot accomplish much. It is written one should either be hot or cold, because if they are lukewarm God would spit them out. Ever had a half hearted friend? They are annoying to be around. So you want to go somewhere to have fun, they are neither for or against the idea. When you finally push for their consent they say, you just go I’ll come if I come. So upsetting. Doing things single heartedly helps one to quickly know what they are good at or otherwise. It helps others know how to relate with you. Most importantly it contributes significantly in the process of self destruction. As life progresses it does not matter how whole hearted you are, even this will disappoint. Ever seen a successful person disappointed? It’s a very strange spectacle. God hopes we will realise that failure is how self gets destroyed. Our limitations should cause us to abandon the self ship for the unlimited persona that’s in Christ. Deception however causes us to think we can do all things if we just try harder. The harder we try the harder we fail. If only we could tell what the truth is, then we could easily be set free from the shell called self.
All my life has been one long wait. Waiting to grow bigger, older, more educated, get promoted, richer, wiser etc The dialogue was emphasised by those that said we look forward to heaven. Another thing to wait for ! Sadly while waiting we do not enjoy what is already available. When I look back I feel like an idiot. So many friends I did not make time for, so many events I ignored, so many meetings I did not participate in. All because I was waiting for the perfect thing to present itself. Perfect, according to me anyway. When expectation is high nothing looks like it. So I stumbled upon a certain truth that shook me. Our expectations are based on what we think we deserve. The church circles are essentially misleading by not teaching the truth. According to the Bible we deserve death. This does not change even after we surrender to Christ. We get what is Christ’s but do not deserve it. That is why if someone is slapped they can turn the other cheek. Being slapped is much better than getting what one really deserves. Being given a tongue lashing is better than death. That made me start looking at what is around me with more appreciation. There is nothing around me that I deserve. It is all by God’s grace that I am part of it. I do not deserve such a committed wife, a loving daughter, a passionate boss, wonderful neighbours, friendly colleagues, the list is endless. When I see all this I am moved to realise my life is heavenly. As if this is not enough God himself is present and making possible that which I would never have imagined. Like I no longer depend on my salary for he provides more than what I earn. Every month. This does not happen because of any reason you can think of. It is not because I tithe, pray or do not sin. It is because I have learnt to receive from him often. He is always giving and he wants us to experience him in all sorts of ways. One cannot help but feel overwhelmed by His goodness. For this reason I do not wait for heaven, after all when Jesus prayed let it be on earth as it is in heaven when was that prayer meant to be answered? It was answered for those that accessed the Kingdom of heaven which had always been near. Unless you become like a little child you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven, so Jesus said. We do not enter it on death, that is why Paul and other disciples were living a heavenly life on earth. If some of us were treated like them we would abandon the faith fast. Why did they not ?
Over the years I have made an observation that has made me to think beyond the obvious and realise things are not what they seem. I was of the opinion wherever I was became my sphere of influence. When I showed up things begun to change. It was because of me. For this reason I would ensure I am there in good time to make my valued contribution. Have you noticed when you are not around things will continue to happen. In fact I begun to observe a trend. There were certain things I thought would be important to address and I would make this known. However credit would go to someone else. I could not understand this because it should have been me that was credited. So I decided to keep my ideas to myself. Would you believe even with the idea well hidden, somebody else would articulate it for action. Surprising how we think alike. In other words the more observant I become the more redundant I become. This is because it’s not us doing it but God through us. When you think you will sabotage your boss by not handing in a crucial report then he goes on leave and your friend who is his cover takes the heat. Or you post the best results for your region only to see the dashboard green with other region highs that surpass yours. Things do not happen in isolation. They are all brought by the one above. In line with this is thinking a perfect family is the one with a dad, mum and children. Writing off those with only a mum and feeling sorry for their children for lack of a father. How does one explain the children of such that turn out well ? We attribute it to all sorts of things around effort and luck. We are aware of normal families that churn out horrible children. Or some that have a black sheep. How do you explain that ? What seems to be what will work is not usually the case. Being a father is not easy. Quite the contrary. Imagine having a child to bring up through ones influence. I am a lousy father. The more I tried to transfer my ideas to my daughter the worse it became. When I gave up and started going with the flow my daughter loosened up and begun to be herself. She is very different from me and she has her own way of getting things done. It is the same with marriage. Even employment. The more I assert myself the harder things get. The more I go with the flow the better the day is. Going with the flow is rendering yourself redundant. The more redundant I get the more enjoyable my days. I have longed for that elusive glory of making others see my perspective in vain. So I have painfully abandoned mine for God’s with the most amazing results. For as long as my day is rewarding that is all that matters. I have learnt more and seen more achieved in the process. Yes I often relapse but reality is harsh and I realise my enemy afresh. Myself.
As I grow older drawing pleasure from life has become more challenging. Some things that were so pleasurable no longer have that appeal. It is so easy to believe that heaven will address this issue. Hence looking forward to going there is part of everyday living. The question is whether it should be that way. At teens we are currently looking at ‘purpose’ with the hope that it will clarify what we are here for. Surprised though to see what is coming out of it as we squeeze it. I really never considered knowing God as related to one’s purpose. Is it really possible to know Him ? What is the point of knowing Him ? In the Bible there are many passages that show off people that knew him well. It also gives us a consistent impression of His longing for us to get to know Him. Knowing Him enables us to have an understanding of reality that is representative of the status quo. This opens our eyes to seeing things from a better light. Understanding why things work the way they do, for or against. Imagine you were able to see how something will end before you start, that would give one assurance to decide with reason. Most times life is one big gamble. It seems that the lucky get ahead while the others gnash. The other reason we are here is to get to know each other. We are all created with a flavor that one can access to enjoy life. We just don’t realise how enjoyable people are. The focus most likely is on visible things. Misery is a function of having no one to enjoy them with. Is it really possible to know someone ? Great biographies capture the essence of the person fairly well and by reading, one can have a very good idea of what the person was like. We do not need to wait for a biography to know one. We all long (c/overtly) to be known. When you know someone you are able to benefit the most from that information. The getting to know someone is a process whose time is dependent on many different things. The key one though is interest. If one wants to know someone they will if they have interest. The other one is spending time with the person under various circumstances. It seems obvious until one realises they have known their parents a long time yet get surprised when they do something unimaginable. This also shows there is only so much we can know about one. However we can know someone well enough to know how to relate with them meaningfully. Like knowing what they would love as a gift. Knowing where they would be at any given time. Who their best friends are and so on. That is not the reason of knowing them as in enjoying who they are. Ever known someone you look for so that they lift your spirits just by being with them ? One cannot put their finger on it, but it’s not the words they use or their mannerisms or their laughter. There is just something about this person that warms your heart. They do not even have to be good but you long for their company when you are down in the dumps. There are others we look forward to for different reasons. They too exude a flavor unique only to them. The thing is if we can get to know people to this extent then it is possible to get to know God. If we are interested and willing to spend time searching for Him we shall find Him and know His flavor. There is nothing I know quite like him, he’s something unlike anything I have ever experienced and better. Jesus said unless one becomes like a little child they will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The King of heaven is present everywhere, believing he exists takes child like faith. That is the first step to really enjoying heaven on earth. Remember when Jesus in his prayer lesson taught let it be on earth as it is in heaven ? This is because where the King is, heaven is present. I do not intend to wait for death to go to heaven when I can enjoy the things of heaven right now. Is this really possible one wonders ? Ask God.