I joined the Men’s Health Urbanthlon this morning. Well I didn’t sign up for it but because I work in media, I was automatically registered by my friend Jaja from Summit. She put me up for 5k plus obstacle course. Now first things first, I usually host the runs and races–not join them competitively, and even though I dabble in kickboxing and other martial arts and regularly hit the gym, it doesn’t guarantee how well I’ll do in an actual race.
I woke up before dawn and I had a nervous knot in my stomach. As I walked up to the tent to register, I asked myself “What on earth are YOU doing here, Isaac? You did not prepare for this!” Hahha. My one and only goal was to finish it and survive it. My brother left me a lil note this morning that came with two packets of energy gel “I love you! Remember quality over speed!” My brother is my inspiration. He came from nothing and has since accomplished 2 full marathons and a few 21 k and 10k runs. The man is half machine.
Bottom line is I finished and I think I finished in good form. I loved scaling the 8-foot wall. It was the last obstacle before the finish line. I was quite daunted at the beginning seeing the other people struggling to get up and over, some ladies shrieking as they tumbled back. Just kept thinking “do it like there’s a buffet table of smoked salmon, caviar, foie gras and chilled sauvignon blanc on the other end—FREE of charge.” So I charged that wall and scaled it in a fashion that might make GI Jane proud.
After the perfunctory shakes, mutual congratulations, etc, I walked to my car in the warm sunshine just grinning from ear to ear. I drove down the beautifully-lit highway just thanking God for helping me through it and overwhelming me with His presence. I just kept crying tears of joy and saying “Thank you Lord for going through this with me.” Originally, months back, I had planned on doing this course with the former flame. When i chucked that idea out the window, I was then going to do it with another guy friend. But you know, I’m really glad I went alone. It was symbolic for me. Like it was God’s way of saying “see, no more loneliness–even when you’re by yourself. I will do all of it and go through everything with you. Always.”
For the first time, I joined a contest where my mindset was “I’m not in it to win it; I just want to live through it.” But little did I know that the prize awaiting to surprise me was a revelation of God’s omnipresence in my life. Such a sweet and comforting revelation.I can’t wait until the rest of this new chapter unfolds. I just know that God has quite a new season planned out for me. Quite exciting!!!
“Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 1 Samuel 14:7 (ESV)
“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” Psalm 73:23 (ESV)
DVDs are nifty things. If you really fancy a certain movie, you’ll purchase the original DVD (or not, if you’re a pirate) and watch everything including the commentary and the deleted scenes. You’ll savor each and every moment that you have to feast your eyes and your mind on the story and the characters as they unfold before you in visual ecstasy.
But if life imitated art and you were going through a tough time, I doubt you’d find any comfort in having as many options to rewind, relive and backtrack each particular scenario.
I’m at a crossroads again. Geez you must be well over hearing me say that again. But I can’t lie to you. I really am. I’m in a dip, a valley, in a rut, and all the other cliches you can think of. I don’t wish my life right now was a DVD where I can watch deleted scenes over and over again. I wish it were a flexible script where I can rewrite this difficult chapter and change it to say “End scene.” Shorten the painful time period, is what I want to do.
But Isaiah reminds us that our ways are not God’s ways; our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. His are higher–and thank heaven for that!
I’m so tired in the physical and sometimes I feel like I’m tired in the spiritual too. I crave rest. His rest. But I get bogged down by the arrows of the lies of the devil. Accusations left and right; condemning thoughts that remind me of my past and very recent mistakes. There’s no escape—but in the shadow of God’s wings. In the past two days a very emotional guy friend of mine has been unloading his burdens to me and I’ve had to set aside mine in order to listen to him. He gets to a point where he drains me of my energy and joy but then later I realize that hearing him whine and moan and complain about how much he has screwed up his life has brought out the innate encourager in me. I caught myself and heard the things I was saying to him and felt like God was speaking to me through that.
Sounds weird I know. But God is so amazingly creative in his ways of speaking to us. I just need to pass through this valley and wait out this dip while I wait on God. Someone once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep walking” and that’s what I intend to do. I get really afraid sometimes that the consequences of my past and recent recklessness will catch up and swallow me alive–then I remember the truth about God’s goodness and His tender mercy and steadfast love for me. Then I feel alive again.
I guess once this dry season is over, I will once again be a mangrove thriving by the riverbanks. By the time God’s carried me over to the other side, I will look back and see the mighty things He has done once again to restore me. Then I wouldn’t mind being a DVD that I could replay over and over.
God’s goodness in our lives deserves altars or landmarks. That way when discouraging seasons come, we can look back and remember His goodness and be assured that He will once again uplift us and be good to us.
“In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer….so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
I’ve just read Ali Smith’s book called “Entrusting the Key” which was given to me by my friend Stevie (my nickname for her). She had messaged me out of the blue saying she had left something for me and that I should make sure to pick it up that afternoon no matter what.
It was the aforementioned book and it came with a letter where she encouraged me about trusting God in this season of my life. She said she couldn’t help but think of me upon seeing this book and as I finished her letter, I looked at the book cover with a little bit of dread and said to myself “Oh great, another self-help book for single women.”
I tried to read a few pages but couldn’t follow through because my day was packed with meetings. But one Sunday afternoon, as I sat in my mum’s couch (I was visiting the family for the weekend), I had managed to devour the book in one sitting. I found myself shrinking back the writer’s experiences which I could so painfully relate to. In between chapters I would stop and cry out to God the very contents of my heart. I didn’t hear an audible voice talk back, but I did feel good knowing He heard me.
This book is about someone who went from serial dating to joyfully waiting. Ouch. yes. That’s me. Serial dater. I’m coming off a painful catharsis actually. God finally closed a chapter of my life and removed someone who proved to have really pulled me down and held me back for an entire year. I didn’t even notice that it had already been a year. Wow. I wasted 12 months on the wrong person. Then again, in those 12 months, I was sort of the wrong person too: wrong in the sense that I was not allowing God to mold me into the woman he intends me to be.
So here I sit hacking away my thoughts and emotions and slight self-recriminations about “having to start over” and “being back to square one” when my brother’s words echo in my head. He said “You’re not back to square one. You’ve reached another level. All the things you’ve been through were all ingredients, tools that God was refining to help you get through the next hurdles. Don’t think you’re back to square one. God is constantly and consistently at work in you.”
In a sense, I am starting from scratch but only is terms of having a clean slate. I’ve asked forgiveness and repented for my rebellious ways and the bad decisions I made, and I am claiming God’s fresh mercy and unfailing love to help me start over.
It’s not easy, but I won’t be alone. I’m learning to once and for all really entrust the key to the Maker of my being.
Today turned out quite unexpectedly pleasant despite the rough start to the morning.
After work I had planned to just get a haircut and then perhaps a little mani-pedi at a nail salon that’s sponsoring my radio station. I thought nothing of it really, just walked into a nicely-lit salon with a beach theme and thought I’d prepare myself for some pampering. I didn’t realize that there was a much higher purpose for which God brought my through that door.
The moment I sat down, the nail stylists/beauty technicians all nearly instantly recognized me. One thought I was my older, more well-known sister, while others remember me from various adverts and TV hosting I’ve done. After a few niceties, while they began the paraffin wax hand and foot treatment, I started to engage them. The only other two customers had already finished and left so I had the whole place and staff to myself.
I started to ask them simple questions like where they were from, which ones were married and single, etc. As the conversations went on, two of them in particular out of the 6 started to get more personal and open. One was heartbroken over a boyfriend whom she’s not heard from in over a week; the other lady was airing her heart’s emptiness considering how her husband left her about ten years ago and has now fully stopped sending child support.
My heart broke but at the same time I felt an excitement well up inside of me. I felt the Holy Spirit just fill me with love and joy and empowered me to comfort and encourage them. Soon they were all sat around me as I talked (and waited for my Monroe Red nail polish to dry). I told them about how much God wants to bless them with a life full of passion, joy and peace and how much He wants to give them out of this life–if only they would accept Jesus as their savior and begin a personal relationship with Him. They agreed that they really could use a little more God in their life. It was amazing. We all had the same familiar emptiness that women who have not been brought together with their God-chosen life partners feel, and in that little circle, we found encouragement and hope.
After awhile, I asked them if it was okay that I prayed for them. They seemed really excited and asked me if I really would. So I did. I thanked God for their lives, for their hearts and for letting our paths cross. I asked that God would bless their livelihood and their families, that He would protect their hearts and their health. It was amazing how the Holy Spirit was just there.
I told them I’d visit them every now and then just to say hello and that they shouldn’t hesitate to text me if they need a prayer or encouragement. I walked away from there feeling absolutely blessed and humbled that God would use me after the many times I’ve failed him.
And almost instantly, after a God-glorifying afternoon, the enemy comes and tries to ruin it for me.
I attended the first in a 5-week class on Escathology. “Escha-what?” you might ask. Eschatalogy means the study of the last days. Yes, the last days when God judges the world.
I grew up in a Christian home and so doctrine is nothing new to me. I grew up barely resisting or questioning the Bible until in my late teens to my early twenties. My mid twenties (not too long ago to honest) were spent teeter-tottering here and there in my walk of faith–not to be mistaken as a seesawing between belief and disbelief. I always believed and still do believe in who God is to me. It was more a matter of actually applying to my life the grace that was given to me (and at such a cost too).
It’s easy enough for people to qualify their reasons for living a good life–it was simply for the sake of being “good” because it was the “right” thing. But as I sat there in that class, listening to a 27-year old preacher who is a brilliant young man (who had his own bout with atheism in his early years), I couldn’t help but be moved to tears. He spoke of being “eternity-minded”–of living life with eternity in mind.
Let me try and break it down. Let’s say you were told to go to work on a Saturday but you weren’t too sure you were getting extra pay for it, would you go? What if you found out that getting a fat bonus at the end of the year depended on your cumulative weekend overtime? I’m sure you’d come to work with bells on both on Saturday AND on Sunday, am I right? Crude example but it’s all I can extract from my brain (especially considering my brain is still splattered across some wall from last Wednesday’s class). My point is, if we thought about what all this amounted to, if we knew, understood and believed God’s Word about how every word said, every action committed and every thought processed were to be judged in the last days, wouldn’t that somehow change the way you live? If not right now, then at least sometime soon?
I’ve been moaning about some things that didn’t go the way I hoped, or perhaps things that went sour. Some are trivial and some are more monumental. But the bottom line is, those things won’t matter in the end. When I’ve reached the end of my life, I’d like to face God and be told that He is pleased at my faithfulness and that I had lived a life worthy of His eternal presence with me in Heaven.
All of a sudden the trivialities of this world and the nitpicking of people around me didn’t matter at all anymore. The insults hurled and backhanded compliments that were suggested no longer sting as much–or at all. Suddenly my mind was fixed and obsessed with the Eternity that I was going to face. With God’s grace, this is why each day has become easier for me as I learn to move in the unforced rhythms of His grace. I thought I knew Him already. But it turns out that in my 29 years of existence and knowing of God and knowing God, my knowledge of Him isn’t even a close to the size of a bee’s knees! (Bees don’t have knees, but you get my drift)
Who is this God I serve and worship? He’s too great for words! And yet, even as He fills me up, I don’t burst at the seams!
Can’t wait til the next class 🙂