Moses and Scrabble; lessons learnt along the way

I have a couple of fond memories as a kid but I think one of my fondest was playing Scrabble with my dad and sister. He was obviously better than the two of us but he would always give us an additional fifty (50) points at the beginning of the game to place us ahead of him. But I guess you know who always won… yes you were right – My Dad. Regardless of the numerous losses as a kid, he increased my capacity to know lots of word. I would often and still do it now, try to form words from a word I see from bill boards, to car stickers (the thought just makes me smile). I can say some sort of confidence was built over time in playing Scrabble. I took that confidence to the National Youth Service Corps  (NYSC) orientation camp. Initially I was really humble watching the guys play the game and boy! they were so good. The first time I played with them, I won after the elimination stage, they were all shocked.

And that was how our little group of Scrabble players started to increase. I went on to win more games and soon represented my platoon in the camp games competition. I did well at the elimination stage, my all male squad was there to cheer me on. Oh it felt really cool but there was another player in the female category who was also very good. My platoon and her platoon made it to the final stage but something happened. The day of the finals she wasn’t available and it was a game of two (2) people each for a team. The coordinators had insisted we play 2 against 1 which would have been unfair so we decided to have a level playing ground for the two teams. But the other lady was scared of playing with me and insisted on us waiting for her partner, time was running out, I was feeling myself as “she who is the greatest champion”. She eventually agreed to play against me, in a turn of events we were at a tie midway into the game and then she started to have some more points ahead of mine. Men and brethren she won, one of my cheerleaders whispered to me later “you know you were better than her” and in retrospect I think I was too confident and that for me was a life’s lesson.

Incidentally many of us have passed through such scenarios, which may have had dire consequences, thankfully mine was just a game. I’m currently studying the life of Moses in the Bible and I’m amazed at how a regular child turned out to do extra-ordinary things cos’ God chose him. He probably wasn’t the best child at that time, but he sure had the best as a child. From been listed by Pharaoh to be killed to moving into Pharaoh’s palace as a royal child and then getting his mother to nurse him while she was been paid. Let’s applaud God’s huge sense of humor.  His’ was surely a fairy tale but the story doesn’t end there. God started working with Moses with his rod to save the Israelite, from the rod changing into a python, to using that same rod to divide the Red Sea. In most cases he didn’t speak, the rod did the speaking but you know, you can never fully understand God’s ways. We can never get used to His way of doing things neither can we let familiarity creep in on us.

The Israelite had complained again against God and Moses that they had no water, God instructed Moses and Aaron “Take the rod, and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock in front of them…Moses said to them listen now, you rebels must we bring water out of this rock? Then he raised his hand in anger and with his rod he struck the rock twice… and the water poured out abundantly” Numbers 20 : 8 – 11. Did you notice any similarity with Moses’ previous works – the rod was always in his hand. But while in other cases God asked him to stretch forth the rod in this case he was instructed by God to speak even while holding the rod. Is it convenient to say Moses assumed it was business as usual, he had applied the same principle in the past and it always worked therefore this particular one wasn’t any different. Can we also assume I had always won previous Scrabble games and didn’t pay attention to really see how my opponent played to predict the best moves?

How often have we missed out opportunities cos’ of assumption or familiarity, for the Bible scholars you remember this singular act of Moses prevented him from entering the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. God is a good God but His methods of expressing His goodness changes. At some point He’s mixing spit and clay to open blind eyes, at another point He’s speaking. Imagine if Abraham’s ears were closed to God, he would have sacrificed his son Isaac and still tell his wife that was God’s instruction but God said something after the first instruction. The issue isn’t if God is speaking rather are we listening or do we go to God with our already pre-conceived familiar idea and act upon it. I pray our ears and hearts are really open to hear that still small voice direct us.

Loads of Love

JMAD

 

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It will hurt, but you will feel better after

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A few weeks back I had a Spa session; the days preceding the session had me really excited. For some funny reason I had some body aches culminated in carrying my laptop in my handbag back to back to work. I finally got to the venue, and the routine started, occasionally falling in and out of sleep but midway I felt some ache on my back and I let out a scream. The masseuse touched some areas to get the exact spot causing the pain, and she found it as a result of my body movement. She found some stress lumps and went on to massage the area, Oh!!! It hurt real bad but she said something remarkable, “It will hurt but you will feel better after” and it happened that way. I do feel better.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with a spa session. Just stay with me a little longer. If you’ve recently made a life decision or about to make one, you may possibly have heard the following statement from well meaning people. Once you experience peace on the inside, it’s an indication you are making the right decision, an absence of peace means you’re on the wrong path. You see, while this statement may hold an element of truth it’s not applicable in every decision making venture. Two years ago I was at cross-roads in making a major decision in my life. A little history, I studied Metallurgical Engineering, I loved my Sciences with the exception of Biology. I was the student who had the funny combination of Further Math, Technical Drawing and History in high school. I graduated and worked in both a Telecommunication and Engineering firm. Everything seemed pretty normal, a paycheck at the end of the month, amazing colleagues but there was a desire for more and that more was an unknown territory.

I started the journey of going back to school for a Post-graduate degree and chose Peace and Conflict studies. It was insane, entirely off my Engineering trajectory, my dad, colleagues and friends asked why. Someone even asked me if I’ll ever get a job with that degree and did I mention I recently got promoted in the office with a raise in pay. While all these questions were going on on the outside, I had a major battle on the inside. It led to the post on Striking Out. I was scared, I stayed up nights thinking of the possible scenarios that could play out during and after my course, I spoke to people I respected, prayed, some days I thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Oh, and every form of peace disappeared in the months before my start date.

But I took the bulls by the horn, and went back to school and had the time of my life. Met amazing course mates, experienced what it meant to really take a stand for Jesus in an environment with people from various beliefs, went ahead to win the Nobel Peace Prize (not yet) Most likely to take over the world. But this is beyond the good stuff that happened. I’ve graduated and all glory to God, got a job in the same field. In the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of retrospection and I can’t help but marvel at how my life has turned out. Exactly two years ago I took the plunge into the unknown, the only lead I had was total dependence on God.

I’m not sure where you are in life, neither do I know if you are at cross-roads in making a life-changing-threatening-frightening decision. Please hear this from me, you’ll have the jitters, your heart beats can play the national anthem and you’ll be faced with lots of questions that you may begin to doubt yourself. But listen, even Moses who saw God’s awesomeness in the burning bush still needed a sign from God, even Gideon requested a sign from God twice “Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken. And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.“… Judges 6:36-39.

You are not alone, these men although they had heard from God were still freaked out at their assignments. Beyond what everyone says, you’ll be solely responsible for your decision. A few questions to guide you, what is your reason, what is your motive, what inspired you and above all commit it into God’s hands. I can’t say what will happen to me tomorrow but I choose to believe my steps are ordered, I may not see the entire road map for my life, I may not even know where to place my feet next but I’m learning to listen to the promptings of that Still-small voice. So like my spa session your decision-making may not be immediately gratifying but keep the big picture in mind, you’ll feel better and more fulfilled at the end.

Loads of Love

JMAD.

Keep your hands raised

We are currently living in times where the division is so glaring; and that division has brought about differing opinions leading to crisis. But in the midst of all this division, football has remained a unifying factor. It remains one sport where every player on the field regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation have one thing in common which is to score a goal for their club or country. It’s really a sight to see the huge turnout of spectators in the stadium but what is more interesting is the reaction they give when their team scores a goal. From those shouting it’s a goal, to those with priceless expressions on their faces to thousands of hands lifted up; thinking about it now leaves a smile on my face.

There’s something about a lifted hand, it is not just peculiar to football or other sports. As a rule while swimming if you’re experiencing any form of drowning keep your hands up to float. Moses one of the greatest leaders in the Bible isn’t left out; Exodus 17 : 8-13 tells an amazing story. Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, although Moses instructed Joshua to select some men to go into battle, the victory they needed wasn’t found in the strength of the warriors rather something that seemed foolish in the sight of men. But hasn’t God told us He has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the wise, that’s exactly what Moses did. “It turned out that whenever Moses raise his hands, Israel was winning but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning…” Exodus 17:11-13 MSG.

Who would have imagined such an act to produce victory, but then again we serve a Living God whose ways are past finding out, the earth is His and all that is in it. One thing that still baffles non-believers is the concept of salvation, they can’t still wrap their mind around the fact that One Man, Jesus Christ paid the price of death by crucifixion and was resurrected and all we have to do is believe in His death and resurrection and we’ll be saved. They are wondering isn’t their supposed to be some hard labour to make it to heaven but thank God we are not saved by works. This is seen in the battle of the Israelites, to the natural eyes the battle was taking place on the field with arrows and swords but an over-riding force done by just one man was influencing hundreds of people.

Someone who came around when Moses’ hands were dropped would probably have left thinking the Amalekites won but that’s a lesson for us all, don’t be too hasty in drawing conclusions for the end of a thing is better than the beginning, neither is the race to the swift. Moses was wise enough to take two people with him, in our walk here on earth we need each other, and no one is an island. Ecc 4:9 sums it up “two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed”.  Imagine for a second the outcome of the battle if Moses went up the hill alone? We need more relationships that enable us keep our hands up when we are tired because those days will surely come. And when I say raised hands it’s beyond the physical hands but rather a sign of total surrender to God and belief in His already won victory. Our hands are raised up even when we are sick, when we at cross-roads, when we are hard-pressed on every side, when it looks like the world is caving in on us. Yes!!! Through all of that our hands are still raised because we believe He who started the good work in us never abandons it half-way.

As long as you believe in Jesus Christ, you’re in the winning team, we stay winning all through. The journey to victory may not be a bump-free ride but we know we can never loose in our Christian walk. The ultimate question is, what is your definition of victory and whose definition are you living by? May we not get distracted with what is happening around us but keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Prayerfully align yourself with those who can “raise your hands” for you and equally be a hand-raiser for someone else. See you on the winning lane.

Loads of Love

JMAD

It’s time to hear Him

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I am more careful in my interaction with people these days, I don’t assume to know them, their culture or religion. I wanted to invite a course-mate to a Christmas party in Church and somehow I ended up asking if she was a Christian, she said yes but said everything about it is complicated. She’s not the only one in that line of thought; I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and he said he gets a bit confused when he goes to different churches and sees the different modes of operation/worship. Some churches choose to kill their enemies by calling down fire from heaven while others may just say a simple prayer of forgiveness over them which some may think, it’s not enough. Question is – is there any right method or doctrine?

A time came when the people of a certain village didn’t come out to acknowledge or receive Jesus, His disciples; James and John after observing it, got angry and asked Jesus if they could command fire from heaven to consume them just like Elijah did but Jesus rebuked them and said you don’t know the kind of Spirit you are, the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives but to save them Luke 9 vs 54 – 56. In Matthew 17, Jesus took 3 disciples – Peter, James and John to a high mountain and they witnessed the Transfiguration but something note-worthy happened. In vs 4 ‘Peter after witnessing the appearance of Moses and Elijah, asked Jesus if he could build 3 tents for the 3 of them (Jesus, Moses and Elijah) but while he was still speaking vs 5 said ‘A shining cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM’.

I’m sure you are wondering what this is all about, just stay with me. Moses and Elijah were powerful prophets in the Old Testament, the law and all the commandments came through Moses and he spoke to God like a friend while Elijah challenged 400 prophets of Baal and God showed Himself by letting down fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice and let’s not forget he didn’t see death but was caught up in heaven. Peter had forgotten who Jesus was and wanted to place Him on the same level as Moses (law-giver) and Elijah but God had to remind him of something very important; Hear what Jesus has to say and in Luke Jesus said He came not to condemn but to save.

Somehow Christianity is divided on the lines of doctrines hence the difference in worship and operation. It gets really difficult to tell what’s right and acceptable these days. There’s a lot of confusion and it hampers the Christians from reaching out cos some of them are not too sure of what they believe and may get scared if they are confronted with questions about their belief. I am one of them but I am constantly reminded to take up the message of Jesus Christ. Moses gave the law and it proved how incapable we are to keep all of it but Jesus came and through His death we have victory over the law, does it mean we have the liberty to abuse the law. NO, rather we even go above the law to live a life that is considerate for our next-door neighbour, in essence we love them and think good thoughts towards them.

In this era of bloodshed in Paris, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and the rest of the world, what will Jesus say? In this era of gay rights and the justice system, what will Jesus say? In this era of man’s inhumanity to man, killing of school children, incessant rape, what will Jesus say? After Jesus had gone through excruciating pain and humiliation on the cross, He asked God to forgive them. As Christians can we take a step further from our individual church doctrines and listen to what Jesus has to say. The message of Jesus is centred on love and that’s who we are; anything short of that, is contrary to His message. You want to make disciples of nations, that’s a good project but people will listen more to your actions than what you say. May we step out and become CHRIST-like.

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD

N/B : – Photo Credit : – www.leadershipethicsonline.com