When you don’t ask, most likely no one knows what you need or even, if you have a need. Asking takes humility and the only answers you can get is a yes or a no. Sometimes, we are so afraid of getting a no that we choose not to ask. The fact is, if you choose not to ask, you already told yourself no! Others more likely to support or give than not. When they don’t, that is okay because you did you part by asking and have no regrets. It could even be saying something when things don’t seem right.
One day, I brought my vehicle for oil change and it is first come first served. I was waiting for about ten minutes for the person ahead of me. Another customer came just as I was getting ready to be signed in and another attendant arrived same time. He right away signed in the person who came after me even though I said I came first. They said they would make the change in the system but didn’t. I saw that person’s vehicle changed oil before mine which meant an extra 45 minute wait. I don’t have a problem allowing others in line to be served before me and I have done that many times when I choose to. But when this is done against you and cost you that much longer to wait, it hurts. I felt angry but Holy Spirit prompted me immediately to pray which I did before saying anything. I then approached the assistant manager who had said he would change it in the system and asked him why that happened. He first played not to understand and I gently reminded him. It was this had taken place a month ago. I could not believe it. He then apologized but I told him again gently that this was unacceptable behavior it made me sad they could do that. When my vehicle was done, he gave me a pass for free oil change next time and promised they would watch out for that not to happen in future. Sometimes, people behave the way they do because we aren’t bold enough to call them out. Or because we let anger take control of us and act out causing us the blame even when we are truly violated. Sometimes, there is nothing we can do about things done to us and the best choice may be to walk away instead of picking a fight. But don’t be afraid to ask or say something because if we don’t, we are saying no to us. It takes humility to accept a no from others and if we can get to that place, we will be able to receive a lot more because we won’t be afraid to ask and won’t be afraid to get a no. And we will never know the answer until we ask. Most of all, ask from God our Father all the time because He is faithful.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV).
Have you had moments when you feel so alone? You feel like no one understand? Sometimes, life can be so tricky and difficult that it feels like God has forgotten us. Those moments when you feel like you are doing your part but things keep going the wrong direction or continue to be difficult. The enemy can throw doubt in our minds to question if God is really with us or if He really cares. The truth is that God understands and is always with us. Sometimes, we walk away from Him but He never stops pursuing us. He is full of love and compassion for you and I no matter what. In Isaiah 40 God is described in His might and wisdom. He reminds the children of Israel who He is and How He works. He reminds them that He has not overlooked them; (vs 27-28), “27 Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
One of the things that God continue to train me is the importance of surrendering to Him. Sometimes, I don’t understand the things I face, the pain I feel, the stress I carry, but in surrendering it all to God, I am comforted. What can I do any other way that would help? I have not found a better way than to cry out to God and surrender it all to Him. If you are going through a tough time, trust the process because God is always faithful even in situations that do not make sense. Still go to Him and not away from Him. Still talk to Him and trust Him. He will never disappoint you. Do not give up!
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off…..7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?…..23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139 NKJV).”
Every person goes through some sort of suffering in this life. It may be the death of a loved one, sickness, financial, marriage or relationship problems, divorce, loss of property, etc. It is part of normal life which means most people know to some level what it means to suffer or go through painful moments of life. But what about when pain or suffering is not just a moment but prolonged. For example in case of disability, chronic illness etc. Unless you have dealt with such a situation, it is difficult to come close to understanding it. Some people think a person gets used to suffering and others think you get over it because it’s like a “norm” for that person. But pain is pain and doesn’t get less because someone lives it for a long time. No one becomes an expert of enduring pain because they suffered very long. Prolonged suffering usually slowly can eat up into the person dealing with it. That’s why people who appear to be handling it well are suddenly gone, and people are left surprised that no one saw it coming. For many years, I suffered with chronic illness in my family, after a painful divorce. As a single mother, my hospital bill maxed every year faithfully meaning $6000-7,500 out of pocket after insurance covered the rest. Not to mention many days, weeks and months of being hospitalized, so not working. Having rent and all other bills to pay, etc. Talk of the emotional, mental with sleepless nights, worry, advocacy etc. Talk of stress of working at keeping job in the midst of all this and acting at best conduct even when I felt like crumpling. The suffering was beyond words and nothing ever prepared me for what I had to face each day with my child at the time. The friends and family could only go so far because they too have their own to worry about and when it is an always situation like mine, it is normal for people to get tired. Don’t forget, a friend in here and there leaves the rest of 95% or more of the time on your own. What got me through was intentionally focusing on gratitude for the glimpses of goodness around me. I have shared testimony of goodness in my life and it can seem like I was covered. But that was the focus that kept me going because the reality was that no one could attend to my situation because it was too much. Think of Job in the bible and all he went through for a long time. His friends as well as his wife got so tired of him that they wanted him dead. They accused him of sinning in secret, etc. This is all part of prolonged suffering. He endured so much pain but in the end, He was restored. And in His suffering, God was with him because and kept him focused. God was glorified in Jobs faithfulness. I intentionally kept my focus on God and His blessings even in helping me get through each of the difficult days. About 12 years of intensity and God came through and stabilized my life. Not perfect or without suffering but nothing close to those 12 years. If you are going through suffering and the pain is too much, if you are wondering if people care enough, if you are wondering if you will make it through, hold onto hope. No one else will understand but God alone. Focus on the small rays even when darkness seems to overload your current world. Trust God no matter what. Give thanks for those who bless you even if it may be a small scratch to your big situation. God is faithful and will see you through if you don’t give up hope. And in His timing, He will give you a way of escape.
“You will never be tested more than you can bare but with every temptation, God will provide a way of escape for you. Never give up hope!”
A farmer plants grain in his garden after preparing it. Very quickly, some green starts to sprout out of the ground and fills the garden and has no rhythm to it. This makes it very difficult for the farmer to distinguish between what he planted which is grain, and what grew on its own which is the weeds. It all looks the same. The farmer must wait until the crops grow enough to know difference. By the time that happens, the weeds are taller than the crops, the roots firm and had to uproot and it is a lot more than the crop. If a farmer is not careful, it is easier to uproot the crop because the roots are not as firm and the crop is hidden below the weeds. It takes time and caution to take out the weeds and keep it off. This is very true for our lives we being the farmer of our lives. Whenever we start a project, it is important to know who we let in. The wrong person into your project will overshadow it and will also be difficult to uproot once in it. It is important to always watch who you let into your circles and to what level. At the end of the day, it will impact you and your success. If a farmer was to let weeds and crops grow together, the crop would definitely not be healthy and would most probably die before yielding fruit. So are our life projects. Wisdom is key.
Your day can be made because you made someone else’s day in a simple way. I stopped at a Sam’s club gas station to get gas and a woman approached me from the opposite side seeming upset and discouraged. She said, “would you please swipe for me your membership card so I can get gas? I forgot to bring my card.” I said sure, and I did. She was so happy and said a loud thank you. She was with someone on the phone and she said to that person, “Imagine this lady helped me.” After getting gas she came over and said, “I had approached five people and they all ignored me. You are the only one who don’t look like me but you helped me.” I couldn’t imagine why anyone would refuse to swipe a membership card for another person because it costs nothing. Besides, I have forgot my membership card many times I believe many people have forgotten theirs. Four people overlooked her for such a simple thing. She went ahead to tell me She was on her way to work and was completely out of gas but would get to work in time now. She blessed me and was so happy. It cost me absolutely nothing but I made her day. I was so glad I was the recipient of her joy and blessings. Sometimes, all it takes is to genuinely smile at someone who is overlooked, or hold the door for someone and give a compliment to make someone else’s day much better. And in being a blessing in simple ways, we can be more blessed by the joy of those we bless.
It is better to give than to receive. This morning, I woke up to photos of a young child who was rescued from extreme circumstances and placed into loving home. It was amazing to see the change in him in Seven days of being with us. Looking back at the sacrifices our family and many supporters have done, it was all worth it. Giving is for the sake of the other person but is also has a way to fulfill the heart of the givers. The overflowing joy that follows can’t be compared to holding onto all what we have for ourselves. It is the reason I pray that God make me a blessing. Great joy comes with giving. I am often reminded of God’s generosity to us by giving His own son for our sake when we did not deserve it. For me, it is the reason I feel blessed to give to those who do not know me and those that may not ever give back to me. Because I have already been given and because God is faithful to His word; “38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV).
In many occasions, intimacy can not be expressed with words. It is a depth that only a heart’s mind knows. It is scary for those who have not experienced it but beneficial for those who know it. This was a place Mary chose with Jesus. While Jesus was carrying grief in His heart and preparing to die on the cross, Mary Identified it and helped prepare Him John 12:3 ” Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Everyone else minded their business and some like Judas, express distaste for what Mary was doing. Like Mary, we can have great revelation of God’s move in our lives if we choose the right place with him. That is, spending time seeking Him in prayer and studying His word. God wants us to be His workmanship. But we must commit to seeking what that means for his kingdom. The more we discover our part in God’s will, the more effective and productive we become for His kingdom here on earth.
Luke 10:38 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””
For any relationship to develop deep and strong, it takes spending a lot of time together. Not in a hurry; relaxed calm time together. Business takes away from depth and trust in a developing relationship. Our culture today is leading us to unhealthy relationships or no relationships at all which is costing us unfortunately. God created humans to be relational and no education, money, carrier, or anything else can take that away because relational is in our genes. It will take intention on our part to go back to our basics though because many of us have lost the basics whether we are aware of it or not. Many young people today will text a person that is in the same room instead of talking to them. Depression, anxiety, and other mental related disorders are on the rise. Families and marriages are difficult to keep together and many children are growing in extremely dysfunctional situations in spite of having two parents in the home. We pride in signing up our children for every activity there is available and forget our children are growing up without knowing who they really are because they are too busy to just be. We as parents are so busy making money and other things that keep us away from our children. There are many parents who admit to spend only Fifteen minutes a day with their children. When they get them out of bed to drop at day care and when they pick them up worn and hurry to get them in bed. How can we know our children that way? How can we build any strong relationship in such a hurry? Yet this business and constant hurry is costing us every day. Our relationship with God which is the most important has completely lost place in our lives. Too busy for God. Can we really be surprise at all horrible things we see in our communities?
Spending time with God is necessary and should be a priority is our lives are going to be meaningful and fulfilling. Spending time with our spouse is necessary for a strong marriage. Spending time with our children, a lot of time is a must to have lasting close relationship but most of all, to help our children feel they are important to us, to know them and guide them the right way, to protect them from seeking attention in the wrong places, to basically help them become strongly who God made them to be. I pray that we evaluate our priorities for the better tomorrow of everyone.
The thoughts we allow to sit in our mind affect our perception of everything, including how we feel and what we do. How we think is not determined by our circumstances but by our choice. “8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8). The bible in several other places makes it very clear that we choose our thoughts. As I have personally practiced being mindful of what I am thinking and why, I have found it to work. Sometimes, when things were very difficult and scary, I choose to focus/meditate on God’s word even when my circumstances were painful. I choose to worship and praise God. What I realized, is that I felt better and peaceful in spite of the circumstances continuing to be difficult at the time. As I continued to imagine things being different many things begun to change. Paul was before King Agrippa in chains and many accusers following Him and wanting to kill. In this situation that appears very difficult, he chose to think himself happy. To Paul, what mattered the most was any opportunity to testify about Jesus Christ. While many of us would not want to be before the king in chains, He thought Himself happy. We too each, can make a choice to think self happy in spite of our current conditions. Where we focus our thoughts leads to our actions and to our freedom. ” Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself.’ So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.'” (Acts 26: 1-3).
Leadership is about people and the welfare of everyone in the community including those that are opposed to the leader. Leadership is not about power, fame, money and self glorification. Great leaders are humble and understand that it is about serving those who have entrusting them into the leadership. Any person who want to become a leader but is bitter towards those who oppose them will not make a good leader. Any person who wishes to have power to revenge against those who they perceive as their enemies is not a leader but a ruler. A leader want to improve the lives of those they lead. When following a leader or choosing our leaders, it is very important to have our children and generations to come at heart. When we give power with today’s focus, we can easily put our children’s future in jeopardy which will eventually cause us a painful death. Imagine watching your child in future suffer due to choices of our leaders and it’s too late to do anything! This is why we need to act now to avoid pain tomorrow. Sometimes, it is better for us to suffer some discomfort today to give our children a better tomorrow which takes wise choice of leaders. A person who must have power at the expense of people should be carefully reconsidered. Leadership is not about the benefits of the leader but the improvement of the people they serve. Great leaders are servants at heart. As believers in Jesus Christ, the word of God guides our choices. Parents are leaders in their homes. Christian believers have a responsibility to know what is happening to our children at school. It is our responsibility to have meetings and talk with school about what is appropriate in the schools. Those spreading ungodliness are speaking up loud and clear and taking away our values because we are choosing to stay back and quiet. If we as believers don’t take action for our children’s sake, who will? Who are we giving leadership over us and our children? What will tomorrow look like with the leaders we choose? Instead of watching our world move further away from God, we can take a stand to move our world towards God with each passing day. “14 This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5: 14-17).