One of the aspects of women liberation and emancipation seems to be to show that women are like men. In the name of freedom, women are focusing on imitating men rather than on recovering their uniqueness and specialness.
To be human is to be set apart and different from all other forms of life, for human beings have been created as the highest order of life, second only to God. For a human being to imitate an animal to be a vegetable is both unthinkable and ludicrous. We can masquerade as one which is ok for fun or even a play, but to imitate or strive to be one is ridiculous
For a woman to fight to be like a man or to imitate one in order to establish equality or even supremacy borders on lunacy. Being a woman is being different, set apart as being a dissimilar species, acknowledging and avowing with divergence rather than with congruity. A woman is unique and distinctive, just as a man is in his own way, each able to contribute uniquely. Each is special and individual, and therefore, impossible to imitate or copy.
A forgery of an invaluable artwork or an exquisite ornament is undesirable when it is possible to have or possess the original. An imitation has not the honor or respect as the authentic and genuine. A replica does not carry the validity of the bonafide and true. An imitation is just that – a counterfeit – not the same as the real.
Why is it then as singular beings, the best of the best, we seek to be a copy when we already truly are special since we are unalike! The stimulating and invigorating aspect of this earth is its variety and variability. As human beings, man and woman are both distinct and distinguished. To imitate one another is to lose identity and identification. Together they make a wholesome one, unparalleled in complementarity as well as in complexity. To make one as another will cause uniformity because of conformity rather than solidarity through integration.
As women, we do need to claim and demand what is ours by right – equal consideration, equal parity, equal acceptance, equal honor, equal treatment etc. However, we do not need to surrender our uniqueness to gain all of this. It will take away our contrast and make us common.
I, for one, won’t bow down to that pressure, but forever to be who I was created to be – special, quirky and individual!
The women of past who rose up against injustice accorded to their own, from Alice Paul and Maud Wood Park to Malala Yousafazi and Kamla Bhasin, all did without comprising their feminity. To champion the cause of women and women’s rights doesn’t mean we have become masculine or like men.
We need to stand for who we are and what ought to be ours!
To have to be like a man in order to gain for a woman is antiprogressive and antipersonnel.
To surender in order to win is anticlimactic.
Women, on Women’s Day, celebrate your originality and strive to be unique while seeking to be equal!
*Pics courtesy in splash.com, shutterstock and google images
One of my favorite poems is the one entitled Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
I am struck by the irony of the picture his words create – the pompous declaration of the king in the past contrasted with the reality visible in the present; the pathos of the empty vastness and the poignancy of the observation Nothing beside remains; the endless sands marking with finality the futility of perceived grandiosity and assumed greatness, while preserving the true nature of mankind mocking the tyrant in a subtle lasting way!
No other writing well portrays the fickleness of trying to leave a mark. No evidence better describes the vanity of doing something to inspire envy in the hearts of people fortunate enough to view a glory. No amount of power or wealth seems to be able to leave an impact on history inspite of efforts. No way to extend remembrance of existence in time and space even when possessing impressive grandeur.
We all do want to leave our mark in this world, in one way or another. People endow grants and prizes, carve their names and faces on rock and stone, work with tree and wood or paint and brush to create impression. We want to not only be remembered, but also make a dent on the fabric of this life to show our presence. How do we ensure that we do not end up like Ozymandias, with no trace of even in the very monuments he created in order to preserve his place in time.
What we strive to accomplish with the help of ambition, greed and selfishness are all swept away by the passage of time, worn out by the winds of change that are inevitable. What we pay attention to, give preference for, run after, slog for and pour ourselves out for, all become meaningless or redundant in the long run. What we value and pursue, giving our whole being to attaining, soon passes away into oblivion and forgetfulness. Rightly did King Solomon the Wise at the pinnacle of his glory declare: Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
If this is all there is to life, what then is the use of work, toil, labor, striving and forbearance? Don’t we all want to be held in memory, remembered and not forgotten? How can we ensure perpetuity of existence and linger long in the minds of others? What is it that will help us etch our brand firmly on life and people?
As people, we are the best of creation, made to be eternal and everlasting. We have been given the unique trait to transcend from humanness and evanescence to godlikeness and permanence. There is an innate need within us to set in concrete terms that we were once alive and well. What is it therefore that helps us leave a fingerprint or footprint in time and space that cannot be erased or eroded away, giving expression to a need that throbs within us?
Life in general and all living things in particular get perpetuated by the proliferation and multiplication of their kind. The Creator has bestowed the ability to procreate within the body of every living kind, be it plant, animal or human. Each species on earth embodies a seed, which when planted in the right ground, brings forth fruit after its kind. Thus do all living things leave behind a generation that preserves its kind and type on earth.
Reproduction is the greatest blessing endowed on all living beings on earth, ensuring their kind has existential continuity!
Monuments may decay and die; Memories fade and flee;
Moths and insects erode and destroy;
Thieves steal and vandalize;
But a generation cannot be erased,
Nor a people totally annihilated.
That’s the mark we can create or help establish. That’s the impression we can leave behind.
A progeny that will replicate and remember us;
A posterity that will carry on our name;
A people who will be living miniatures of ourselves,
Establishing and marking our past in their making of the present,
And impacting the future through their own
King Ozymandias would have done well to leave behind a host of people or his own sons and daughters to continue the good work he had done in his lifetime.
DEAR ESTHER Congratulations on the appointment, the honour and dignity conferred on you. You were recruited in the right place at the right time and now you have been given the right authority. It gladdens my heart to see the position you have been raised to, by the mercy and grace of God. You have asked me questions regarding your station and in the light of where you are right now, I will try to answer your pertinent queries to the best of my ability, based both on my experience and expertise in the field, trusting in the wisdom and ways of God, as a forerunner!
CALL The first thing to know, realise and understand, is that you have been called to such a place and position, not by any man but by God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Thus, you must always be aware that you are accountable to Him and must one day stand before His Majesty to give count to Him. Without this clear call from God and assurance from His Spirit, you can never function as a leader over His people. They are His people and He has the right to ordain whom He wants as shepherd over His inheritance, even when socio-cultural norms may dictate otherwise. This is the bedrock of your function, the stable grounding of your service and the impetus for every decision you will take. Remember that No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down; he exalts another (Ps 75:6–7). This is your strength and the hope that will anchor your being to your post, in spite of whatever opposition and vagaries of opinion that may confront you. Like a soldier who doesn’t move until he is commanded to do so, discharge the duties of your position well. This call on your life then is what will make you stand tall on that firm foundation, often needing to encourage yourself, like David in his moment of crisis when all turned against him, for The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thess 5:23–24).
CHARACTER Leadership is not a position of authority and power, but an endowment of responsibility and trust. Nobody can assume or presume to be one, unless it is a grace and a gift, given and bestowed by God. Scripture notes there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God (Rom 13:1–2). Therefore, leadership over the flock entrusted to you is not positional but functional; an opportunity to do the best you can for those entrusted to you with the resources available to you. It is a call to serve others for their benefit using your power to benefit and bless others, not you or your own. Leadership over His people is a matter of service to God and man, not for self-promotion or domination over others or for your own ambitions. Therefore, it is a matter of maturity, holiness, wisdom and power as evidenced by the fact that His leaders instruct their apprentices to set those of impeccable character and integrity in positions of overseeing. Being young, you need to not only let anyone not default you in anything, but also be an example of love, faith and purity for all to follow. In addition, because I was an older woman, I had to pay attention to being serious, dependable and trustworthy. So you are better off than me!
CONDUCT It is very important for you to maintain good conduct for it is the exhibition of your unseen character. So be careful to be groomed inwardly, adorned with the attitude and mind of Christ, paying attention to how you behave before others, for many will be watching you to see if you will fall or fail. Learning to be humble, without selfish ambition and vain conceit must be core of your growth, besides praying, reading the word, tithing, etc. Your inner beauty must enhance and augment your outer trim and swathe, so that your bejeweled appearance is haloed by an inner radiance that attracts with its own charisma. You must not stoop to petty jealousies or quarrels or gossip, but hold your post with poise; be willing to listen and receive input from your team, lead any discussion without being argumentative or aggressive or manipulative and willing worker to those in authority over you. If you were an older woman, you would have the additional task, as I had and have, of teaching younger women how to be homebodies minding their business and not busybodies in others’ affairs!
CULTURE It is very important for you to breed and foster the right culture, for culture is nothing but a way of life and a way of doing things. Plant and incubate a culture of oneness, camaraderie, goodwill, cooperation and helpfulness, not competition or conspiracy. Do not lower the standards ordained in order to gain favour or please someone or curry favour with those above you, but be willing and ready to state the truth without compromise. Maintain your stance with decency and dignity, not looking down or ill-treating those placed under you, while at the same time able to apologise when you are wrong or when you make a mistake. Don’t claim others’ work as your own or take credit for their solutions, but always seek to promote your team and advertise their contributions. Give reward and credit where it is due and do not elevate yourself or your status by climbing on another’s shoulders, for promotion comes from God. Take care to walk in the fear of God, not man, so that all you do will pass the fiery flames of His testing. When this is your way of life, your team and those below you will follow suit, and thus civilized attitude and behaviour will spread as ripples in a pond or yeast in dough!
CROWN Now I have come to what should be the core of your being, the context of your authority, the content of your position and the crown of your person. It has been my sorrow to watch gifted women, born to be leaders and called to be overseers, lose it all because of lacking this Kohinoor diamond of womanhood and queenliness—submission. According to that Chinese saint and stalwart Watchman Nee, submission is not so much an aspect of conduct as much it is a facet of the attitude of the heart, and many women confuse subservient obedience with submission. The former is born of fear of aggression and abuse, while the latter is a willing choice done in the fear of God and trust in Him!
A woman must learn submission if she is a leader who walks and works with authority. The demeanour of a woman leader’s heart is more important than the deportment of her manner and manners. Many well camouflage the raging of their heart and storminess in their mind by an outward show of quietness and calmness, without understanding the outcome of their wrong attitude. God, who sees in secret and who is privy to all secrets of our being, for our substance is not hidden to Him, judges us by our attitudes rather than by our behaviour. I have watched many an apparently soft-spoken woman dig her feet in stubborn sullenness, quietly refusing to comply with instructions of the authority over them. Authority is the umbrella of protection and preservation that God has placed over us and the woman who knows how to walk in it will thrive and flourish with aplomb in her role as a leader. Refusing to walk under it or rejecting its dictates will cause a women become a puppet and a toy of the devil, tossed here and there by him, be overtaken by deception and end up losing the very call that was meant to make them a blessing and a boon to many.
Beware Esther, and never rebel against those placed over you as your boss, even when he or she may not be accurate. God you trust will help you and uphold your integrity, fighting on your behalf and defending you before all by a favour.
I think I have given you enough to think through, wrestle with, long for and pray about for a long time.
May you be a shining star in the beauty of His firmament, guiding many with your pure radiance and shedding your light in a dark and perverse world!
When I hear about people being in grave illness, especially cancer or other sicknesses for which there seem to be no cure, I feel helpless and hapless.
When I receive requests to pray for people who are wasting away with specific maladies, I often feel clueless and powerless, especially when there seems to be no change.
I wonder, what is the use of praying when you know there is no remedy for such dire diseases. I am puzzled by what is accomplished when I am called to intercede and petition for any one as it is obvious there is no cure yet for such ailment nor too much history of healing, compared to the numbers affected!
I wonder why I should pray and what is the use of my intercession!
When I faced a similar situation with a family member being hospitalized for a sickness, I was swamped with a feeling of despair and inadequacy to deal with it. In a state of numbness, I informed my family members and then sat back overwhelmed by the many thoughts of changes that would be needed in the event of such a sickness. I couldn’t pray, couldn’t comprehend what to pray for, why I should do so and how to go about doing it.
That’s when my dad, a true man of God and faith, wrote to me, first encouraging me by reminding me of a past incident when God healed his mother, my paternal grandmother, in answer to prayer. Then he sent me a quotation from Job 33 and therein I found my comfort and the answer to all my questions.
I read there that ‘God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.‘ According this passage, God does this in order to ‘rescue them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life.’ This about people who are going through the dealings of God.
What about those of us who are observers and bystanders, as well as loved ones and family members? What are we to do? Stand shocked or throw words of judgment and criticism against them, pointing our fingers at their misdemeanor? Not at all! Then what can we do? The answer to this is given in the same chapter.
Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them – let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth – then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
I see that all we can do is to stand in the gap and intercede for the person who is suffering. We have to be gracious towards the one who is in trouble and be an angel or a messenger of mercy to present their cause before God. We need to uphold the ransom paid for them on the cross by His Son Jesus and ask God to spare them. We need to be advocates of their case before God and petition for their restoration.
What is the effect of such a stance on the one who is suffering? The ones going through the dealing of the Lord are given special ability to pray in the midst of their trouble and find favor with God. They are given grace to ask for pardon and they will also find mercy in His sight. They will turn back and turn towards God, like the sunflower faces the sun! They will then turn witnesses of His benevolence and beneficence, rather be remain rebels of it! That is why intercession is important, because it enables them to turn to their Maker.
The impact of intercession and petition on behalf of a delinquent moves the already compassionate heart of God, making it possible for Him to extend His mercy rather than judgment. God is both the God of justice and God of mercy, keeping both these parts of His nature in perfect balance. Yet, according to James 2:13, mercy always triumphs over judgment, a fact illustrated and stated by Portia in the Merchant of Venice.
We see this same sentiment echoed by Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians when he writes that the prayer of many delivered his team and team from
God’s heart towards us is the heart of a Father and a mother, seeking to exhibit mercy rather than execute judgement, for He loves us dearly. Rare is the parent who, even in the height of anger, will not yield to persuasion by someone else who will petition on behalf of the erring child they are forced to discipline. A parent yearns over their child even when they have to punish and nothing makes them stay their hand as a grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister or friend pleading on behalf of their own guilty child. They love the one who steps into the gap to rest the hand of harsh retribution.
So, also God, as the eternal lover of His creation, seeks for someone to stand up in defense of the one who is facing the rod of correction that His majestic justice requires of Him. When such a messenger is found or is present, God will gladly stay His hand of justice in favor of extending His Hand of mercy. If, in addition a ransom is also found, God gladly restores and rejoices in life rather than in execution. God cannot hold back His judgements, but He can be persuaded to deal favorably when an advocate of mercy is found.
That is why God loves intercessors and prayer warriors who stand in the gap and plead for His mercy on His humanity rather than those who demand reteibution.
God seeks to be merciful more than being harsh or judgemental. His Name that was proclaimed before Moses is “The Lord , the Lord , the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”Exo 34:6-7. When His very name and nature are compassion, how can He not respond to interceding petitions and prayers!
To my question of why intercession and of what use it is when all seems hopeless, I found that intercession and prayer birth repentance and rejuvenation in the one who is suffering and makes way for God to be merciful and restoring towards His people rather than judgmental.
The call is to be intercessors rather than accusers.
There is an old Tamil film song that used to touch my heart when I was a young child that goes like this: If Lord Jesus speaks, what will He speak? What will He speak in order to quieten a poor aching heart? These words were very dear to me because it brought God close to me, as One Who speaks to me.
Often we are in a quandary as to whether God speaks and if at all He is speaking, what is He speaking to us, especially in times of trouble.
Job, a man of great wealth and great integrity who lived in times past, also had the same question in a time of extreme suffering, when all that he believed in seemed swept away. His friend Elihu’s answer provides us a clue to this dilemma that seems universal and for all times. You can find it in the 33rd chapter of the book of Job in the Bible.
According to Elihu, God is not silent but does speak, one way or another. God does answer always, in one or two ways, even when people don’t acknowledge His presence. Elihu points out that God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.
God speaks to us ‘in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.’
God also ‘might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, So they can’t stand the sight of food, have no appetite for their favorite treats. They lose weight, wasting away to nothing, reduced to a bag of bones. They hang on the cliff-edge of death, knowing the next breath may be their last.’
In reading this we see that God’s intention is to capture our attention so as to warn us away from evil and keep us from death. God speaks to is in visions and dreams of the night with the intention of terrifying us away from wrongdoing. Since we do not hear or notice Him, He has to reach out by other means to make us listen and take notice when we are finally in bed, resting.
God does not scare us in order to make us tremble before Him, but horrifies us so that we would refrain from felony or crime, since these would lead to death. That’s God’s agenda – to scare the hell out of us so as to keep us out of hell!
We also see that God uses pain to capture our attention and not to torture or destroy us. God’s purpose is never to punish or penalize us in a vindicative or vicious manner, but to prevent us from destroying ourselves.
C.S Lewis writes in his book, The problem of pain, that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’’. God has His own ways of waking the conscience of us when we are absolutely heedless. Of all His many tools, pain is the loudest, for it makes us take note of His word. The psalmist, King David, declares that before he was afflicted he went astray, but now he keeps His word.
To the question as to why would God deal with us so, we can only bow low and answer that it because we our insensitivity to Him. We are so stupefied and insensible to His voice of love and reason that He has to use other means to capture our attention. We have become so incapacitated by cares, riches and pleasures that we are incapable of deciphering His words. So, God has to resort to other ways of making us hear and heed Him and give Him our attention so that we can inherit life and not destruction.
To go back to our question of whether God speaks, we can safely reply, Yes, God does speak. To the question, if so, what does He speak, we can confidently say that He speaks in order to turn us from death to life. He doesn’t speak to put fear of Himself in us, but fear of doing wrong and going to hell.
The crowning glory of the fact that God speaks is found in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Bible: ‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;’
If God speaks warnings through dreams, captures our attention through pain, what does He want to convey to us through His only Son, Jesus? What else but that our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death of the cross and the way to Him has been made open by the blood of Christ!
God, through His Son, is speaking to us of reconciliation and peace with Him. He is telling us that we have access to Him through Christ. He is inviting the world to a relationship with Him and a communion with one another, made possible by the sacrifice of His Son. He is not just terrifying us to keep us from wrongdoing and hell, but also showing us the ways and means to read h Him and heaven!
Would we heed His call, the gentle still small voice of our Creator through His Son or are we going to force Him to use other means of persuasion?
The choice is ours, as He waits in the sidelines for us to hear and obey, out of our own freewill!
I remember my father, a police officer, while in service,mentioning a time when action taken by his department proved wrong due to misinformation. Those directly involved were to face very serious discipline that would destroy their career and put a black mark on their confidential report. The then police chief stepped up and took responsibility for the action, deflecting the punishment away from his men and bearing the ignominy. As their leader, he took on the penalty to be visited in his team and silently paid the price to shield his men. He willingly bore the pressure and stigma of failure and punishment, causing his men to admire, respect and be commited to him all the time he was in service. My father taught us that loyalty is the true hallmark of a great leader of caliber.
Loyalty is the quality of being loyal and the strong feeling of support and allegiance. It is staying steadfast, not vacillating with opportunity, opinion or opposition. It is standing by and sticking your team whatever the circumstance and irrespective the cost. Loyalty bestows integrity and causes you not to be like the foam or froth that doesn’t stick to anything but is quickly blown away. Loyalty is the one attribute most prized and appreciated by kings. Disloyalty earns distrust and rejection from authority.
Loyalty is priceless commodity in and with a leader for it is invaluable for team building and team progress. One traitor to the team is enough to sow distrust and dissension, destroying camaraderie and bonhomie in the team. The members of the team will end up working against each other rather than of co-working and it will all be only a matter of survival instead of attaining a common goal. Infighting, backbiting and stone-throwing will become the norm poisoning team dynamics and life will be hell for all. Oneness and unity can never be achieved in such a group as members will act counter to one another, rather than for the welfare of one and all.
A disloyal leader will not be able to promote fearless transparency and openness, but only stealth and self-preservation. It is erroneous to think that to divide is to conquer, for a better way would be to inspire to follow and seek to work with goodwill. A wise leader will model the spirit of loyalty, not just to himself, but to one another and to the team as a whole. Loyalty is the golden cord that will bind a team together, fusing diverse people into a unified whole.
No wonder the armed forces and all uniformed personnel are inculcated and inoculated with loyalty, for otherwise those entrusted with guarding the nation and normal life would end up selling it!
No other person embodied and showcased loyalty as much as Jesus Christ, the hero of the gospels and the savior of humanity. Whenever the Pharisees and Sadducees or anyone else nitpicked on his disciples, he defended them (Matt 9:14). He Himself would rebuke and correct His disciples, but would often protect them before others. The Bible, from cover to cover, demonstrates God’s faithfulness and commitment to His people, even when they chose to abandon Him. Psalms extol His faithfulness as being constant for generations and reaching to the heavens.
We as His people, the ones He chose, must imitate and display this character of His on which we so much depend. This is what distinguishes us as His own, set apart as those who follow Him.
We must exhibit loyalty as our core value and structure, proving that we His disciples.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (I Cor 4:2).
Do we value loyalty that inspires commitment or are we this who rule by fear and division, be it at home or in work?
Loyalty shouldn’t be a program to earn brownie points, but a hallmark of true character and persuasion of real leadership!
The example and picture of loyalty shouldn’t be a dog, but a human being, someone who is actually higher than an animal!
Betrayal breeds Judases and renegades, while loyalty births Christlikeness and patriots.
In one of the stories in the Chronicles of Narnia, specifically in Prince Caspian, the four children enter a passage through a tree to leave Narnia and as they walk along the dark passage, behind them they still can look back and see Narnia. Then comes a time in their walk when Narnia is no longer visible and they just have to keep steadily moving forward, even though they see nothing ahead. As they continue walking, they soon see the glimmer of their world at the other end, getting closer and brighter, until they finally they emerge into the light and their world again.
The transition itself is very unsettling, and transiting through it is indeed quite unnerving. Going through or negotiating the passage between seasons and places is often alarming because, for one, you are neither there nor here. For another, you can see what you left behind, but not what is ahead. The time of your past, where you were and what you have been, is still visible, clear and fresh in your memory, but you aren’t yet able to see the future, what you will be or how it will be. You look back with nostalgia at what has been and draw strength from it. You draw inspiration from it and even talk about it a lot, because it acts as a reference point, a solid anchor for your present. You hold on it and try to prevent it from disappearing from your purview, but you soon lose sight of it.
It is similar to journey from one place to another, but in the case of travelling the fact that you get to see places or things passing by through your window and watch where you are going, makes it pleasant and thrilling. Also, with travel, you do know the duration of the journey, even when there is a delay. It is only when the waiting gets prolonged that you become restless, but still not troubled too much since you are in touch with your surroundings and there are people with you who are also in the same predicament.
During the transition, you just have to go on even when you can’t see anything and you feel like you are groping in the dark, like a person with a blindfold. When you begin you do see and know where you are going, but once you enter in, just as in a tunnel, there will come a point and time where there seems to be only darkness all around. You can neither see where you are going nor what you have left behind. You just have to trust the way you know and the vision you have seen do exist on the other side!
This is the most tricky part and point in traversing through transition – reaching the place where you can no longer see what you have left behind nor have the comfort of seeing the promise of something ahead. There is only darkness and dimness all around, nothing concrete visible. There is no datum point to help you fix your bearings or your surrounding or anything to pin your hope on. The only surety you have is that the path you are on will surely lead to where you need to go and the guarantee of the dawn that you’ve already had a glimpse of is just ahead of you. It is time to walk by faith and not by sight, since you have no sight to see at all!
When the world around seems dark and dim and the present is the only all-consuming reality which leaves you in a bind because you feel lost, what should you do? How do you handle such time of uncertainty and the unknown?
Here are some ways to help transit through transition time:
1. Don’t panic People become very jittery and unsettled when familiar landmarks, practices, events and even people disappear from their sight or life. They keep trying to go back to what they know or do what they did before, but will find these failing to help them or give them the results they desire. Many often go back to what they are used and turn back rather than pursuing the way of the Lord. The disciples went back to fishing after Jesus death and resurrection. He had to come to their work and place of refuge, their fishing boats and fishing, to point them to what He had already chosen them to be and do – fishers of men.
2. Take one day at a time Just live for the day fulfil the duties at hand. Be content to do what you have to do daily and be satisfied with living the day to the fullest. Find joy in the small things of life and what you can accomplish with what you have.
3. Don’t plan too much ahead If you think too much of what might happen or what might be, you will lose your peace and become agitated. This frame of mind will cause you to feel even more depressed and lost. You may tend to make hasty or wrong decisions and so wait for the darkness to lighten. Live with what you know to do and what you have in hand, rather than aimlessly trying to plan for months ahead.
4. Remember the darkness is temporary but necessary Just as a caterpillar goes through a stage of being confined in a dark cocoon, you will have to pass through this time to reach the next level. This period between seasons is temporary and not permanent, something even an insect knows and hence doesn’t struggle to escape it.
5. Keep in mind the goal and vision you have seen Don’t forget what you saw or comprehended before you entered this tunnel of darkness or time of confinement. That is the goal you need to reach and for which you need this time of limitation. The passage had an entry and will surely, therefore, have an exit. God didn’t make you enter this phase without being able to help you out of it. So, encourage yourself with what you know to be true rather than being discouraged by what you see.
6. Be in and at rest rather in agitation Enjoy the season of rest that has been given to you rather wasting it by worrying. A bear hibernate’s in winter to conserve energy and strength, coming out of its cave rejuvenated in spring. Take this time to relax, catch up on things you missed, sleep well and in general recuperate yourself to face the new season.
7. Recognize the times and seasons Develop your senses to know the change that will begin all around you. Quieten yourself to watch for the signs of the season ahead, just as the lightening of the darkness signals the tunnel’s end. Begin to note the signs of dawn that portend the new day.
8. Prepare yourself for the new season Instead of moaning or grumbling or panicking, begin to acquire new skills and new competencies. Have the attitude and demeanour of a student to learn new things. Use the time profitably to develop new habits and hobbies, if possible, new experience. Realign and restore things you have lost or been unable to concentrate on in the previous season. Assess what you may need in the new season and get yourself prepped up to handle it. Don’t waste the transition time, but use it profitably.
9. Confide in a few faithful ones Have a few confidants and confide in them when the darkness becomes overwhelming or uncertainty is pressing you down. Don’t isolate yourself, but seek the help of a small number of faithful people who can and will support you in every way. Don’t try to show yourself strong, but lean on their wisdom and strength for they will be able to encourage you. Be accountable to them so that you don’t slip back or away from doing the right thing in a dark time.
10. Live by faith and not by sight Stop trying to live by what your senses tell you, but each day trust in Him. The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness, great. He Who made the day to appear after the night, making it an eternal ordinance, will cause the light to appear in your darkness and cause you to enter the new day. He will never let you go nor will He abandon you. So, take heart and trust in Him implicitly.
In Jermiah 48, we come across a significant passage in v11: “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another— she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.
Being poured from one vessel to another, being moved from one season or place or phase to another is not easy, but if you are not, then you remain the same, without undergoing metamorphosis. There won’t be growth or cleansing or going higher. You won’t lose your impurities and become transformed.
Don’t resist transition, but bear with it and walk through it as being mandatory and necessary for progress.
You may not like it, but don’t retract or retreat from it!
During transition, stay calm and transit through it in quietmess, emerging stronger and better for having gone through it!
A few years ago I had to step back from active work because for one, the Lord impressed upon me to be at rest and to sit at His feet; two, my youngest reached school finals and I needed to be at home; and three, I found myself getting exhausted easily and realized I was worn out by multitasking, balancing home, work and ministry. Knowing I might become sick , I gave in my notice and stepped back into the home, even though I hadn’t yet reached superannuation.
There is a general opinion that it is a good thing to be able to retire early, but let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to to do so, even though I knew I nWhen we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don\’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comeeded it. I had been running at such speed and working so hard that it took me a year to decelerate, unwind, slow down, quieten, pull back and come to rest. I felt guilty for not working and would often get triggered to do something, again and again. Thankfully I had a few faithful people who held me to my post and saw to it that did the Lord’s bidding, to rest.
Over a period of time I learnt to rest, accept it as God’s gift, relish it and even begin to enjoy the season. I relaxed totally, eating and sleeping well, letting my body get its make over and rejuvenation, using the time to catch up on my reading, deal with submerged hurts, gain emotional freedom and renew my spiritual insight.
I began to grasp that I was being recharged and refurbished for a new season of life. At a time when people of my age were getting ready to wind down, slow down, take it easy, I found myself ready and restored for a new lease of life. I began planning and doing a host of things, setting in motion what I would like to accomplish this phase of my life, before my call home, whenever that is. As I began to evaluate what would be the things my strength and energy would allow me to do, choose wisely what I can do and sustain for next 20 years, I noted something.
Even though we are the people of God and call ourselves His disciples who follow Him and live by the precepts of His Word, we have inadvertently adopted the world’s job profile of working till the 60s and then relaxing in what we call our retirement period. We have calibrated ourselves to the mode of such working till 60 and then doing nothing concrete after that age. We have programmed ourselves to concentrate on building up a portfolio of life, health, finances, family, travel etc to live a comfortable ‘retired life’ after working very hard. We have made and set our horizon which we strive to reach and then after attaining it, wander around lost in a mist of uncertainty, not knowing what to do and end up wasting our days.
The years beyond 60 are considered old age when, because we have decided it is time to sit back and lead a sedentary life, we become a burden to ourselves and our families. We seem to lose sight of life itself and view it as a burden, dragging ourselves along till our death. We fear the age beyond 60 and think either too little of it or too much of it. We are so terrified of it that we run ourselves ragged trying to provide for those years. We have set a false target, much before the time allotted, and therefore, end up becoming inflexible and insipid.
In sticking to such a schedule, we have committed the major mistake of trying to run a race that was meant to last 80 years in less time. We try to complete by 60 what was meant to be stretched over a lifetime of 80 years. The result of such an attitude and the aspiration to achieve in our 60s what we can get only at 80, is sad weariness and shortened life span. We end up with health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, partial blindness, hypertension, loss of hearing, and what not. The burden of trying to accomplish in a short time what must be stretched over a long period is so taxing that we tend to miss out on life and its nuances. In our pursuit of an unrealistic focus, we miss out on the process of life itself as well as it’s myriad designs.
When we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comes to enjoy as planned, we may be too sick to relish what we have worked for. We may end up losing all of life, not just our health, and maybe even relationships and people, because we have been too focused on the endgame rather than relishing every day. We are supposed to sustain our stamina and strength until the end, but lose it out in a bid to finish early. When we reach our end season, we may find ourselves not only alone and lonely, but geriatric and bereaving.
God has neither planned nor envisioned for us such morbid disillusionment and abandonment as our end time. His plan is for us to be well-formed and well-informed individuals, enjoying abundant and best of life just before our departure from earth or when we meet Him. The key to such a life is to realize and recognize that He has ordained and designed for us a rhythm of living, a perfect timeline, a mode of operation that will help us appropriate the abundant life He has promised and kept in store for us.
According to Moses, the architect of Israel’s freedom and nationhood, 70 or 80 years have been ordained for us to live, according to our strength. If this is the length of our days, then we need to conserve our energy until then and not exhaust it 20 years before the appointed time. We need to consider living well until the end of our days, until the last ounce of our strength has gone and we step into the grave. We need to pace and space ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest and accomplish what we have until that day of our death or the day Jesus returns. For He has appointed for us seasons and according our days so shall be your strength (Deut 33:28).
Caleb, the spy who along with Joshua refused to fear the giants in the land, possessed a different spirit. He urged the others to press forward into the land and conquer it because of God. Unfortunately, his fellow spies who brought a contrary reportcaused a setback and he ended up having to wander in the desert for 40 years along with the community. He had to see a delay in his dreams and the promises he had received, not because of his mistake but that of others. Yet when he finally enters the promised land, he still has the same drive and zeal to inherit what he had taken for his own, keeping intact the spirit of enterprising faith. We see him asking, no demanding, of Joshua that he be given the hill country of Hebron where there are giants. Forty years have passed but Caleb declares that he still has the same strength as he had that day and same fervor to possess his inheritance (Josh 14:10-12).
That the years beyond sixty are meant to the best and most fruitful time of life may be moot point, but we have never given thought to it nor realized it nor been taught as such. What is to be the most blessed and best season of our life in which we would be at full self-actualization, we have bracketed as worst time. By then we have gone through life, survived it, learnt from what it throws across our way, been totally immersed in it, saturated with its experiences, have distilled its essence and developed rich content. We are in the right place and position, with time to spare, to be able to train others, offer advice and possess the right language to communicate in the best way possible to those who are behind us in age, because of the passage of our years.
People give very high value to old wine and vintage wine that has been preserved for years is highly priced, with older the wine greater its worth. How is it then human life which by default has greatest value, is suddenly devalued and sidelined with the increase of years? When antiques, things that have existed for years, are estimated highly, why is it that people are counted less valuable with the passage of time? Why is it that highest form of life, humans are rejected as useless and not relevant? It is because we haven’t realized and accepted that old age is the best and most noteworthy season of all times!
Life is not a sprint but a marathon and so strength as well as stamina is needed if we are to complete all our lifework.
We need to sustain our energy and be fruitful till the last, and not end our life in weakness and defeat.
If we are to peak in the last season of our lives, we need to do something very important: We must not set our horizons of returns and rewards at the 60s but at 70s and 80s. We need to continue to influence, impact and even innovate beyond the age of 60.
Reassess your goals and priorities which may have revolved around your kids, but don’t give up as being useless or clueless.
We surely do need to take a breather at 60 and a time to realign to a new way of life because of diminishing physical strength, but let’s not write ourselves off.
Reach back to your dreams which you may have laid down because of your duties and restore them to the forefront of your consciousness and mind.
Renew your hold on life, reinforce your zest for living and restore yourself to live again, afresh all the years that Heaven has blessed you with beyond 60!
The age of 60 maybe the end for your job, but 80 or the end of your days is for your lifework!
To be fruitful and productive you need a lifetime, not just 60 years!
Don’t look for returns and rewards in your 60s and don’t plan for 60s. Plan and live for all the years God gives you life!
Have a new life, make a new beginning, learn a new skill, fulfil your dreams, pick up a hobby, do something you have never done before!
Be a Caleb with another spirit and conquer in ‘old’ age!
Recently helped coordinate a women’s training program in order to equip women with various skills needed to run a family. This followed the one the same team did for men and I found a vast difference in the way both these took off. It was interesting to study and note the different gender workings!
The men’s program registration picked up very slowly and not until the last few days, in spite of advertising it 3 weeks in advance. The number of men who attended were only the half the number registered, with some of these too dropping out midway the training. Only about 40% of those who registered completed the course fully and most of these were part of one church!
The women’s program, on the other hand, showed the opposite trend. Learning from the experience with the men’s program, the core team of women began praying together once a week, a month before the program. Planning and relevant issues were included as part of this prayer agenda the following week. The next week the core team of women, apart from praying, took total ownership of the event and began reaching out to churches and people they knew. Intensive and intense canvassing begun, with each one inviting their relatives, friends, aquaintances and church members to register for the training. Taking time to explain the nuances of the program, viz. the what, when, why of it, they urged and motivated the women to attend.
A week before the program the registered participants were put into WhatsApp groups and the team began to keep in touch through short messages. Prayer points as well as practical tips of how to arrange their schedules, prepare food etc in advance so that they could attend the meetings, were shared, helping to keep the women alert and in touch with the program. It served to trigger curiosity and maintain interest in the event, besides creating an anticipation of the event.
In John 4 we see that the first real evangelist was a woman, the one at the Samaritan well whom Jesus met. She went back to her village and told everyone that Jesus knew all about her and all that she had done. She made such propaganda, not feeling the least afraid to expose her own sinful nature and His acceptance of it, that they went back with her to meet Him and believed in His Word.
The last ones at the tomb, when it was closed sealing the burial of Jesus and the first ones when it was opened at His resurrection, were women. It was they who carried the good news to the apostles who then verified it. Women were indeed the first evangelists of the gospel of His resurrection from the dead!
Comparing and combining my practical experience with the Biblical precedents, I had a glimpse of why Jesus chose women to be the first evangelists of His good news!
1. Women are eager learners and thirsty for growth, especially if you give them space and attention. The best way to teach a woman is to give her some consideration, respect and acknowledgement. She will then be open to correction and rectification without rebellion or resistance.
2. Women are relationship-oriented, being connectors and builders of people. Their ability to be empathetic and sympathetic listeners enables them to quickly build a bond with others, intuitively sensing their need.
3. Women are good communicators and are never hampered by a lack of vocabulary, both the educated and uneducated. The 21,000 words a woman is supposed to have in contrast to a man’s 7,000 helps her voice out her thoughts, emotions and opinions. Women may need triggers to talk in order to overcome their natural reticence, but most women will just articulate and blurt out with a little motivation.
4. Women are doers and Bible designates them as the builders of the home. Nowhere in the Word of God does it say that a man builds a home, but does insist the role of a woman. A man governs the home that the woman builds, guarding, provisioning and administering it, but it is the woman who is mooted as its architect and builder.
5. Women are willing to go the extra mile to connect, communicate and care for others. They reach out to those around her and will generally have or be part of a group of people. She will have at least 2 or 3 cronies and friends with whom she will talk at least once a day. She cannot just be without reaching out to others.
Knowing all of this, Jesus not only brought emancipation to women, but also used them extensively in His ministry.
Understanding this, the Apostles and leaders of the early church tapped into their potential, giving them free rein even though they laid down principles for their spheres of action. These principles were not meant to confine women (as it is thought and practiced today), but rather provide walls of protection for them to be guarded from the enemy and guided in the right way. Lacking this was what caused her to be exposed to manipulation and exploitation in the Garden of Eden.
Jeff Reed of the BILD network USA, in his paper entitled ‘Women and the spontaneous expansion of the gospel’, declares and authenticates that women were key to the growth of the early church.
60% of any church anywhere in the world are women and any church leader or pastor who recognizes this would be smart to tap into this greatest resource that God has given and blessed his church with.
Myles Munroe points out that the greatest need of a woman is a man who knows his mind and has a blueprint for his life and his family. Created as his helper, he opines that a woman comes equipped with all the skills needed for him to be an achiever. Therefore, if she is blocked or left clueless, she cannot remain quiet but will begin to flow in other channels that will give her field to operate, since she is meant to perform!
Most men reject and sideline women with the accusation that they are incorrigible. They do this because they have no idea or clue about the design of a woman nor do they take the time to learn about her. This ignorance tends to birth insecurity and fear, because of which they think and assume that the only way to handle a woman is to bully, threaten, control or restrict her to a narrow area of operation. This forces the women under such treatment to experience frustration and dejection, resulting in depression and disillusion or aggression and decadence.
This is not to say that there haven’t been any men who have upheld and promoted potential of women. In the history of the world and the church, time and again, there have been men who have understood the value of women partnerships and welcomed the input women gave. Nations have been blessed by the governance of women leaders, voted in and supported by strong and secure men. Corporate companies have grown and expanded by the leadership of women whose authority has been upheld by male colleagues and subordinates. Churches and organizations have been established by the ministry of women with the able support of their men and others in leadership.
However, these have been more of a minority rather than the typical, a very small and countable number in contrast to the vast majority. Acceptance of women potential is yet to become the persuasion and conviction of the masculine gender. It hasn’t progressed to become the default disposition of the male component and counterpart of society or churches as a whole. It is more of a rarity rather than the norm, even though of late there have been pereceivable changes in the general outlook of the male social perception.
Let’s remember that when God didn’t find a man, He always found a woman to birth His will and fulfil His purpose – Deborah, Hannah, Esther, Lydia, etc. Remember also that Jesus has depicted the church as His bride, not as just His Body!
Happy is the man, husband, father, leader, son, grandson who would recognise and accept a woman’s potential, step up to give time and effort to develop as well give room for women to blossom and self-actualize!
Blessed are you if you such a man, for your woman will be a fruitful vine within your house, gladdening your heart and refreshing your soul with the wine of joy distilled from the essence of who she is and what she has become!
Jesus, her Maker, upheld her potential and acumen, giving room for her to flower.
In the Bible, when Israel entered Canaan land, the first city they won a victory over was Jericho. The second one they went against was Ai but were defeated because of sin in the camp. Once Joshua and the people had repented of it and had cleansed themselves, God enabled them to overcome Ai.
God gave them a battle plan to overcome it by setting an ambush. Joshua killed all its inhabitants and its king, taking only the plunder and livestock for themselves, then set fire to the city, leaving it in ruins, just as God instructed them to. You can read an account of this incident in chapter 7 and 8 of the book of Joshua.
Ai was not just another town to overcome, but a place of defeat and shame for Israel because they disobeyed God. It was, therefore, imperative for Joshua and Israel to drastically deal with it, destroying it completely to strike fear in the hearts of all the inhabitants of Canaan who were watching these events. We read in chapter 9 that this did strike so much fear in the hearts of the kings around that they ganged up together to fight against Israel and in the battle that followed, were soundly defeated.
Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus warns them to put on the whole armour of God since our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness in heavenly places. Our enemies today are not physical, but those that war against the soul and hold us captive by influencing our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle in ch 10 tells the church that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (not physical), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
Strongholds are imaginations and high thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, resulting in unbelief and birthing rebellion against His rulership and authority in our lives.
The way Joshua dealt with the stronghold of Ai gives us clues and pointers as to how to deal with strongholds today.
Strongholds come when we allow wrong patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour to crystallize in our lives. Strongholds begin when we allow Satan, self and sin to gain a toehold in us. From being a toehold it progresses to a foothold, a threshold, an anchor-hold (rooted in you), becomes a household (part of you), then a stranglehold (doesn’t let go) and finally a stronghold (holds you captive).
Strongholds develop over some time and can be acquired by genetic transfer, genealogical download, from our wrong thought processes, from rebellious orientations and stubborn natures. If we have to truly be set free and enjoy the fullness of the abundant life Jesus promised, we must deal with strongholds and destroy them.
How do you destroy strongholds and overcome deep-seated bondages? You destroy them by a truth encounter and a Spirit encounter.
Truth encounter is when you are confronted by the Word of God and you allow it to work in your heart and life. In John 8 we read of Jesus declaring that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free and in John 17:17 that His word is truth. Heb 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it can judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. Since strongholds are found in the inner being of thoughts and intents, only the Word of God can penetrate deep enough to destroy them.
However, truth encounter can set us free from strongholds, if and only if we are humble enough to accept and acknowledge the diagnosis of sin and wrongdoing that the Word brings to us, irrespective of who brings it and no matter how it comes. When our hearts are tender and pliable, we will hear and accept the truth even from a child or a donkey (Balaam) or by hearing a cock crow (Peter)!
Acceptance of the truth about ourselves will lead us to humble ourselves and repent. Once we repent, we are in the light as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, making us whole. Strongholds need the truth of the Word of God to be demolished and destroyed!
Spirit encounter happens when the power of God is present to heal and deliver us from all bondages. That is why we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit, nor just once, but constantly in our lives. The Bible says that where the Spirit of God is there is liberty because the veil over the mind is then removed by His presence and there are openness and sensitivity to His word (II Cor 3). Hence, being filled with and being full of the Spirit and power is a mandatory need for being set free from strongholds.
If the Spirit of God is to deliver and set us free, we need to allow Him to heal our inner wounds and hurts. People may have wronged us, done evil against us or even robbed us of our opportunities and prosperity. We need to forgive each and everyone unconditionally, just as Christ has forgiven us, irrespective of what they may have done. Harbouring bitterness, malice and unforgiveness are key factors in developing strongholds in our lives.
To live a life free of strongholds, we need to:
Walk in the light as He is the light, being sensitive and responsive to His word Renew our minds and calibrate it to the principles and precepts in the Word of God Avoid nurturing hard feelings and wrong emotions, but allowing inner healing to happen Forgive, let go of hurts and all kinds of negativity Work in the habit of reconciliation, restitution and restoration, always taking care to be led by and yielded to the Holy Spirit Grow in the knowledge of the Lord and the power of His might to deliver as well as protect us from all else Be strong and convinced about God’s love, certain that He is always for you, never against you!
It is very important for us to be aware, identify and confront strongholds, taking care to see that they are utterly dismantled. Just as Joshua completely ruined Ai, even so, we must root out every last bit of stronghold and ensure we have removed any vestige or remnant of it. The reason for this is that if there is a root left behind, it will be easy for the stronghold to rise again to rule the roost. A vulnerability and weakness remains embedded and hidden in, giving a handle for the enemy to use it to enslave.
Every disciple and believer of Christ can themselves identify and destroy strongholds when they are yielded to the Spirit of God and sensitive to the Word of God. When you are encountering or being confronted or convicted by both, just bow down and accept humbly. Allow the Word of God to wash you and the Spirit of God to empower you with His healing anointing.
Both encounters can come to you through various circumstances and people. If you reject the message because of the messenger, you are the one who will lose out. Happy is the one who is open and sensitive to take correction and admonition even from a child, for God can use even the least to bring deliverance!
If you find certain strongholds too much for you to handle, request the help of godly strong mentors and leaders who are older and wiser than you. Don’t hesitate to open up to them, but live and walk in accountability to them, always. Do not seek help from peers, but seek out the help of mature and understanding elder men and women who themselves are walking in Spirit and in truth.
Be part of a small group and grow in relationship with the people of God. There is much protection from the forces of darkness and deliverance from inward bondages when you are actively part of a community of faith.
Do not give place nor a foothold to the devil, Eph 4:27
Strongholds are dangerous to cultivate, foster and maintain for they give room for the devil to have a place in our lives. Root them out asap, even though letting go is hard. It will be harder when you allow a stronghold take root in you, for then you are building an arsenal for the enemy to use against you!
Imitate Christ Who boldly but surely declared that the prince of this world had no hold over Him (John 14:30)!