SURRENDER

My car has been my prayer closet for years now. I have made it a habit to make that short or long drive to work a moment of communion with my Father. Something about the endless sky and the horizon connects with my spirit in a way that can only my heart understands.

This morning was no different. After I dropped off our first, I hit the road to work and as I made my way, my heart was pondering on a situation that has been the focus of my prayer for years and today, especially today, I was at the “What next?” stage. As i lifted my heart to the Father, I heard him whisper a single word in the depth of my spirit – “Surrender”.

As I paused to consider the instruction, I realized more than ever before just how powerful the posture of surrender is.

  1. You only surrender to one who wields greater power or authority over you.
  2. Once you surrender, the responsibility for your life or death, success or failure lies entirely in the hands of the one to whom you have surrendered.
  3. Having relinquished control, you are completely at the mercy of your captor. And whatever he bids you must do. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve.

For once, I did not fight the instruction (being helpless or losing control is not my default so…it’s an area of growth). Instead, I was relieved. I knew at that moment my “What next” situation was no longer my responsibility. It’s outcome is no longer mine to worry about. Neither would I, going forward, required to develop and implement any plan to deal with it. All I have to do, ney… NEED to do, is to surrender it and myself to Him and follow his direction.

What’s that your carrying on your heart, shoulder, arms?

Surrender. Let him take you and it captive. He’ll work it out. I promise.

What is in a name?

Hind sight is 20-20.

As an avid student of history, I believe that in looking back, we understand where we are and how we got here and hopefully, prepare for where we are going or want to go. One of the most intriguing things about history is how names, words, symbols, emblems, standards etc. always tend to provide insights into a society’s norms and values, important events, its culture and belief system.

I never paid much attention to my names until the day I reported for a new role in a certain company that was more parastatal than it was private. On my first day, i was taken on a tour to get to know the company and the people. In the process, i was repeatedly asked uncomfortable and unwelcome questions about my names. I think i was too clueless and shocked to read between the lines so imagine my shock when I realized it was all a tribal mapping exercise! I mean, who does that? This was 2009 by the way so the post election issues of 2008 were still fresh in the air! How does an entire organization survive on such a culture? That my tribe would be such a fundamental issue and a huge determinant of my existence and success in the organization was a battle i faced over and over again and by the time i left, i was a sad individual.

In the last few days, i have found myself asking myself many questions around my identity as a child of God vis a vis my tribe in a post election Kenya. How is it that we as believers are always more aware of our tribes especially around elections? When did it become ok for us to refer to each other by our tribes and exalt that above our identity as bond servants of Christ? How is it even ok for us to map churches to geopolitical locations? Shouldn’t we have been the unifying factor for the nation? More importantly, how do we come back from that? Please tell me – I really would like to know.

Anyway – what’s in a name? In Kenya, apparently everything!

God Is Not Your Village Elder 🤭

Yesterday in the course of a crazy day (my body is already in the weekend, by the way), I decided to listen to a session I had missed over the weekend because, time and deadlines happened.

The speaker, a well grounded minister and emotional intelligence coach, was speaking about the many identities and cover ups women need to shed as we seek to perfect his purposes in our lives. She spoke candidly and passionately about our relationship with the Father and while expounding on a particular point, said something that amused me and amazed me in equal measure.

She said that the notion that we should not ask God questions is entrenched in our African norms and values that teach us not to question our elders. She then gave us a serious clap back – “God is not on your village council of elders, neither does he suffer from low self esteem. Your questions will not diminish his sovereignty or endanger his throne.”

Gbam!!

That was something!! Child of God, You and I must realize that God is so big and loves us so completely that we can come boldly into his presence and pour our hearts out to him…and yes, even ask him questions.

I cannot tell you how liberating that was for me. I needed to hear that because, wueh??!! I have many many questions.

Finally, when he called me and predestined you and I, he already knew you through and through. So believe me, he is not in any shape or form surprised when we thrive in foolishness. He does not face palm when we act out or make mistakes or blunder. He does not stop loving you because you messed this morning or 5 minutes ago..

Imagine he factored all that in when he picked you for the assignment. And he loves you completely!!

So, brethren do you have questions?? Ask them!!
The Father loves you completely, eternally, and unconditionally.

Don’t look for me – Leave me at the alter with my Father.

Mombasa Road, Twenty Plenty Two and All.

I struggle sometimes, no actually, most times, to make sense of what i am seeing around me. I honestly do not think there is a generation that will match this one. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have taken the trophy. In every category. I mean, which other generation is more vocal and opinionated than this one? Which other generation has radio and tv stations crawling out of the wood work? Which generation has totally, and i mean totally lost respect for each other and its elders? You innocently (or not) post about a random topic like how to cut finger nails, or dust a carpet and the opinions come flying in, makombora mzito mzito. Yaani! This generation takes the cup!! – end of rant.

Anyway, the other day as i was sitting in traffic [it’s become a full time-after-job on Mombasa road these days] i subconsciously started people gazing and in the process, i made quite a few observations. But three stood out – a young man to my left whose radio was blaring old school RnB, wachana na hii kelele ya juzi [not the recent noise we are subjected to in the name of music]. This dude was having a ball!! He was thoroughly enjoying the music. Then to my right was loud kigoco [kikuyu praise] music. At first i was waiting to see an elder gentleman, god father hat and all (because the heat), probably headed to his hardware store hapo chini to collect the day’s sales. Never. Ever. When i finally saw the kigoco driven vehicle, it was a sleek, crisp, shinny, silver lady driven mercedes benz who was dancing in her seat like there was no tomorrow!! She was having a ball. Then there was a Noah, with a visibly impatient man, who kept changing lanes only to end up at more or less the same distance relative to where i was – kujitesa na kujigandamiza.

I concluded that the first two had: a) made peace with the fact that we were stuck in traffic and probably would be for a while and; b) decided to make the most of the situation. They had found a happy spot and occupied it well well. The Noah dude was probably calling the gavment, contractors, workers and the sun all manner of names. A quick self check made me realize i was actually very irritated and frustrated at the road hog habits of Rembo and Embassava Sacco drivers. So, i asked self, Why allow them to rob you the opportunity to enjoy this moment? In fact, why was I stressed about a situation i had little power to change? Why was i worried about the next 5 minutes and totally squandering the opportunity to enjoy the peace and (semblance of) quiet? Or using that time to invest in my personal development? After i dismissed my self-board meeting, i pulled up a video of one of my favorite speakers and hit play. I managed to finish a 50 min video over the next 11Kms – totally worth it.

As we start out this year, many people have probably made plans for this year. In fact, many of us have already hit the road running, chasing the clock and calendar so that by 31 December, we can tick off our list of achievement of this, that and the other. I can only imagine how excited they already are in anticipation of the days ahead. On the other hand, some of us are stuck. Unable to move past an obstacle, a bad experience, the pain of loss or betrayal, or in some cases, memories of past victories. We may even be overwhelmed by the magnitude of our plans and are experiencing analysis paralysis, totally unaware that time is doing what it does best – moving.

I want to encourage you to do one thing and one thing only, regardless of your situation ( yesterday i learnt to say “let us situate the situation”) – you are not alone. We are many occupying either or both categories.

If you are already rearing to go, get those that are like minded to keep momentum and cheer each other on. Motivation alone will not win the war. And if you are stuck – reach out to someone who is several steps ahead and ask for a helping hand. Appreciate the fact that all these thoughts and emotions are helping you identify what needs to be sorted and then, get it sorted. And finally, having done all you can – Stand.

In this year of Mombasa Road (almost done, mercifully), I have chosen to make every inconvenience, delay, pause, detour, halt, denial, answer, open and closed door a learning for me. I am determined to find my happy stops and spots and hit play, then i will stand, or sit, and dance like no one is watching.

Twenty Plenty Two, Mombasa Road and all – Let’s dance.

The Soil – Part 4

As a child, i always looked forward to the school breaks. My dad would take advantage of his business and ministry trips to take us on mini -vacations. And it was mad fun. Our trips took us to Machakos, Nakuru, Kericho, Embu, Meru and Loitoktok [local tourism nani]. My favourite destination at the time was Nakuru. I looked forward to our usual stop over at the Great Rift Valley Check Point to marvel at the wonder that is the Great Rift Valley. Come to think of it, i need to that real soon. The view, especially in the soft glow of the morning sun is absolutely breathtaking. Another habit i had at that young age was lookin up into the clouds and in my head and heart, have conversations with God. Some were as silly as “why that cloud looks like a horse” or “heal those that are sick”. And i know, at the bottom of my knower, that he heard, and he answered. Such precious memories.

I equally loved our 5 hour road trips upcountry. [I was the designated and self appointed singer for the entire journey]. On those trips, i got practical lessons in geography [though i later dropped it like a bad habit]. If you were born before1999 [let’s not argue please], you will remember our G.H.C books had a collection of maps [and we were expected to remember all of them- what for?]. One of them showed rivers and lakes, another longitude and latitude, another the hills and mountain and another, the agricultural segments and so on and so forth. If you remember [no judgement if you don’t], there was one that showed the agricultural segments [arid, semi arid areas, cash and food crops etc], and which crops grew in which areas. For instance, the Rift Valley and upper western region was considered the bread basket because of the predominance of wheat, barley and maize farming [again, i dropped the subject so, just follow my drift. I’m trying to make a point, alright?]. Embu – Mwea was known for rice, the coffee plantations that were common place in Muranga, Kiambu and its environs while Kericho was synonymous with tea. 0

For me, those maps were boring and naturally, i hated having to memorise them. But the truth is, they were extremely important because they taught us which climatic conditions were best suited for what type of crop. For instance, cotton and pyrethrum thrived in regions that had predominantly dark cotton soil, the western highlands were best for tea, maize and bananas and the eastern highlands were best for potatoes, coffee, so on and so forth.

Anyway!! What’s the point of all this banter about Kenya and farming? 😂. The soil.

Let’s go back to our reading in Mark 4.

As you recall, Jesus was telling the story of the sower who went to sow seed. In the process, the seed fell in 4 different types of soil or ground and we have so far, looked at the first three. Now, let’s look at the 4th and last. Yes? Jesus describes this last environment as good ground. Here, we see that the seeds which fell in good ground sprang up and yielded a harvest, some of 30, others of 60 and others 100 fold. As he later explained the parable to his disciples, Jesus described good ground as representative of ones who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit.

By the way, i’ ve just had a flashback – Do you remember the picture used in our Bibles for this parable? The most common illustrations or pictures shown to us during Sunday School had a man, the sower, walking and scattering seed, and all the 4 types of environment were visible in the picture. So, is it safe to say that at any given time, all 4 types of ground are represented in the congregation?

From what Jesus explained, we see that the good ground has 3 characteristics – the ability to hear, accept and be fruitful.

Hearing in this case is not just the physical ability and sense of hearing, no. It speaks of a spirit that is tuned into God’s frequency and is able to pick out from the message being delivered from the pulpit what is specific to him/her. This is a person who is familiar with the voice of God. And has a heart that is constantly searching for God. Acceptance speaks to the ability to allow the word take root and begin to effect change and transformation in our lives. Acceptance creates the perfect environment for the seed to take root and begin to change the “how” we do things. It means the hearer is submitted enough to accept the truth of God’s word and walk in obedience to it. And can i tell you, the faster you accept and walk in obedience, the faster the change is manifested – as fruit.

By the way, this is not just in reference to areas that need to be repented of. No. It touches even those areas that the Lord wants us to grow in. Ubaya ni vile the first thing we think about is sin, eish.

Fruitfulness. Do you know you cannot hide fruit? Do also you know that all trees in the shamba do not produce the same quantity of fruit? And that in one year you can get 55 mangoes and the next 125?

Ok. So why didn’t Jesus simply leave it as, they bore fruit, and instead went on to state the rate or return? In my view, the graduation from 30, to 60 and 100 fold is an illustration of two things – the degree to which we hear and accept the word of God; and the wisdom to remain consistent. So, what should we do?

First, through prayerful introspection, identify your level of fruitfulness in all areas. Yes. You can. A farmer knows which side of his shamba will produce the sweetest maize so don’t try and make an excuse here. If you are honest, you will agree that some areas have more fruits than others.

Secondly, identify why the is less fruit in an area than others. Is it because of what i have set my heart on? My level of obedience? My fears and doubts? And again, this is not simply because you sinned. No. It can be deficiency in understanding, or ignorance of the whole truth in any area.

Third, deal with the hurdles and make a commitment to stay consistent. The Christian walk is not one of perfection but one of repentance. That said, consistency means that regardless of the state of the soil [1,2,3 and 4], we allow the word to continually check us, wash us and restore us to fruitfulness. And the truth is, His word is not a novel. Its alive and well – we jsut need to allow Him to work on us.

Prayer: Search me, I pray and know my hear today. Cleanse me from every sin and make me new. Give me a heart that hides your word, and bears the fruit of righteousness.

The Soil – Part 3

I greet you, how are you? Did you take some time to examine the rocks and boulders in your heart? Have you allowed the Lord to start breaking each one? Has the mirror of the word revealed YOU to you? How many has the hammer pounded down so far? May you find more grace for the rest, yes?

Well, I did my own introspection. I had a few aha! moments – Isn’t it amazing what happens when we allow the Word of God free reign in our lives? Anyway, as i was examining my own rocks and boulders, i started to meditate on the third type of soil – the one covered in barbed wire [sengenge ni ng’ombe] and thorns.

My grandmother [of blessed memory] was an amazing woman. One of the many things i miss about her is the sound of her laughter and, the sound of her clicking her tongue in exclamation. You know that click that does not quite leave the lips but is loud enough for you to hear? Yes, that one. Back in those days, we used to grow pyrethrum, finger millet, millet, tea, maize and beans. I remember whenever my grandmother finished sowing the finger millet, we had to cover the patches closest to the path with briers, or thorns to protect the area from our little feet and the livestock that wandered freely around the homestead. So as the finger millet germinated and grew, we would move the thorns out of the way, otherwise, the crop would not flourish.

In Mark 4, the Bible says that as the sower continued to scatter the seed, some fell on thorny soil. Jesus later, in Vs 18, says this of the seeds and the soil:

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

You know, all things being equal, fertile soil can grow anything. So i believe that the seeds that landed here actually sank roots and started to grow. The problem was that as the seeds grew, thorns that may have been left unattended or thrown carelessly around sprang back to life and also took root, only much faster than the seed. So, by the time the seeds germinated, the thorns were tall enough to strangle the life out of the growing seeds. Oh my… I’ve just remembered this funny video that has been making rounds of a young man who when asked to write an essay using the words “ghafla bin hu” [suddenly] quickly starts jotting down his essay, only that it in our story, he’d would probably write- ” Ghafla bin hu, wezi wenye miraba minne na silaha kali wali vamia wale mbegu na kuwanyonga!!” [Loosely translated – Suddenly, armed thorns pounced on the seeds, attacked them and strangled them to death”].

As Jesus later explains the parable, we get to understand what the thorns represent – the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things.

You know, as i think about this and look around me, I am of the honest opinion that Jesus was describing this generation. Why? Because we are the generation that witnessed the dawn of the new millennium and the technological advancements that followed [oh…. do you remember a program that used to show on KBC called “Beyond 2000” ? And how we thought the robots would take over?]

But even sadder for me, is the fact that this generation has postulated, venerated and, i dare say, manifested the worship of self. One of the most popular mantras is “Do you babe, the world will adjust”. We’re constantly competing and comparing ourselves with the next person, or their position, network and net worth. While there is a lot of good in this increased sense of self awareness, we are as a direct consequence, walking dangerously close to falling over the edge of life and into death. Did you realise we now have pastel labels for sin? What about our relentless pursuit of wealth, and, all costs?

With all these, when do we suppose, the word of God will grow to fruitfulness? We are so busy that we hardly have time to meditate on the word of God and allow it to take root in our lives! When was the last time you sat and actually studied the word. Not read a chapter in traffic or listened on the app while driving or cooking. No. I mean the old fashioned way – silence, pen, paper and Bible. When did you take time to cross reference scripture for a deeper understanding of its context and examined for yourself, not through Joyce Meyer or Priscilla Shirer, but for yourself how the word applies to your day to day? When last did we commit the word to memory? I mean large chunks of scripture. Yet we somehow have time to commit pages of songs to memory [Ouch!]. By the way, which authority do you quote more – the Living Word or your favourite author?

Sadly, as this trend takes root, you soon realise that as much as you are a Christian, Christ is not really the Head. And even worse, is that the soon enough, all we will see of our lives is a stunted crop covered in thorns. And do you know what, there is a determined end for such soil – fire.

So, dear brethren, what are we to do? Good question. I thing the answer is incredibly simple. Since Jesus already identified the thorns for us, what’s left of us is to do some serious weeding. How? By allowing the sword of his word free reign in our hearts to cut off, uproot and dig up the thorns. Simply put – study the word, meditate on it, let it cleanse you, correct you and burn the weeds, break the boulders and soften the land. Let the word dwell in you richly. Then and only then, can we begin to manifest the characteristics of fertile soil.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you do not leave us to our own ways. As i study your word, i invite your Holy Spirit to be my teacher and counsellor. Remove the thorns and thistles, rocks and boulders and soften my heart so that my life may be a fruitful field. Amen

The Soil – Part 2

How are you today? Have you given any thought to our last discussion, you know, the one about what has been rolling down the road of your heart, hardening it with each rotation? Yes? Have you made any progress in remedying the situation? Do you know that under that hard exterior lies fertile ground that given the right attention, will bear much fruit? Ama I leave you to your thoughts? Ok.

Well, we need to talk about the second type of soil. By the way, you might want to also refer to my post on The Power of Seed – you can find it here. It’s a good read, I promise.

So… the soil. As we read further, Jesus goes on to say that some of the seed fell on rocky places where the seeds sprung up quickly but was soon scorched by the heat of the sun. By the way, notice it said rocky – not stony (the Bible is very deliberate in its choice and use of language). The land has soil, yes, but it also has rocks. In fact, more rocks than soil. Which means that the little soil cover is seriously lacking in depth and therefore any seeds sown will not sink roots. They face the real risk of being easily uprooted and washed away by the rain or wind, or withering in the scorching heat.

This rocky soil reminds me of how often our minds and hearts carry weights – rocks and boulders. Granted, the rocks will eventually break down and form part of the soil. But that is a process that will most definitely take a bit of time. The funny thing is, the land (that is, the owner of the heart) is completely unaware of its state. I think the fact that there is some bit of soil visible creates a false sense of comfort – eh? That after all, si you can see some soil? How can you judge this land just because there are a few rocks here and there? Oh..now you’re judging me. (By the way, Kenyans are an emotional bunch! You have to be extremely bold to try to correct someone – its an extreme sport nani!)

Another thing is, the longer we refuse to address the rocky state of our hearts, the more rocks we collect, and i dare say, some people are audacious enough to throw their own rocks into our hearts. Sadly, we are often so out of touch with ourselves that we don’t even realise it! Anyway, so the Bible says that in this type of soil, the seeds easily sprout – but die quickly.

In my more than 30 years’ walk with Jesus, i can tell you my heart has been in this condition more than once. Let me not dwell on how and why I would find myself in that state and instead, focus on how i responded while there. In retrospect, i can tell you that whenever my soil is rocky, i immediately become erratic and just…….shallow. So, i will look for and listen to speakers who appeal more to my emotions and avoid those who will provoke me to really examine my life in the light of God’s word. In fact, i am sure that if I’m in the room while they are speaking, I’ll probably shout and scream the loudest – emotions. Hey!! No offence to those that receive the word in this manner; I’m just telling you that for me, that’s how i respond when in this condition. Disclaimer!!

The sad part is that after a few weeks in this state, i will be worse off because the word that i heard (up there) has had little impact on my life. Infact, by the way, the weights, the rocks and boulders will look and feel heavier than before!! Its like a dry dry place. Drier than a biscuit. Now, before you start looking at me somehow, ati i am judging the preacher and all, remember, the issue was not the preacher or the word that he spoke, no. (Because i believe that the same message was transformative to someone else – in a deep way). The issue here is the state and condition of my heart. Ok? Ok.

So, how does this turn around?

After days, or probably weeks in this state, i usually have a come to Jesus moment. It’ll get so bad that I’ll have no option but to examine the real condition of my heart, and examine each rock under the light of God’s word. And as i do that, His word that is a hammer and a double edged sword will break down my defences, arguments and justifications and reveal ME to ME. The best response at this point is repentance, receiving the grace of God and allowing Him to lead me back to the place of fruitfulness.

And in no time, the weights are gone and the dryness is replaced by times of refreshing in His presence.

As we continue, allow me to encourage you. The many seasons of life have given me a deeper appreciation of the grace of God – how boundless and inexhaustible it is. There is no state that His love and grace cannot embrace and turn around, no matter how bad and hard it looks. I know how hard those rocks look. You probably know when and where you collected them and some have been there so long, you have forgotten how it feels not to have them… There is no rock that can stand in the face of the hammer of God’s word, no condition that his word cannot slice through and dissect and no stain that it cannot cleanse. We only need to allow Him total unhindered and surrendered access to our hearts.

Prayer: Lord, here’s my heart, rocks and all. Today, I surrender each one to you that you may break them down, and some, simply throw away. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Soil – Part 1

Back in the day when we offered my Mom free labour, we on occasion needed to fertilize the soil with manure. Don’t ask me which type we used, that’s not the focus here. All i remember is how awful that stuff smelt! At no point during this season did i worry about how the smell would be eliminated from the soil, or even how it worked. All I know is that we harvested the sweetest maize this side of the sahara!

Often times, our up bringing influences how we understand and apply the word of God. For instance, if you were born and bred in a concrete jungle, you may not fully appreciate the village night life. Therefore, you may struggle to understand our longing for the sights and sounds of mashambani – the smell of cow dung, goats and sheep, the crickets and fire flies, the sky and the stars. You may equally struggle to appreciate some of the parables Jesus used to teach.

Case in point? The parable of the sower in Mark 4 .

Jesus was teaching on the Kingdom and in this instance, chose the parable of the sower. We read that this man, woke up one fine morning and went out to the farm to sow seed. In the process, we observe that the seed fell in four different environments.

Let’s examine each one over the next few weeks, shall we?

The first environment we encounter is the wayside where the birds came and quickly devoured the seeds that had been sown. Yaani, punde, si punde, ghafla bin hu, ndege wenye miraba minne na misuli tinginya, wali zingira na kupora hilo neno ( no sooner had the word landed than army(ed) birds came and stole the word). There was no time for the seeds to even sink a few millimeters into the ground?! Jesus later explained that the birds represented the devil who quickly comes and steals the word. (By the way, with the amount of word stolen, one would think the devil has eaten enough to change. You don’t think so? No? Ok). So, basically, the devil steals the word and the farmer suffers double loss – he can’t salvage the seeds and there is no harvest.

I also noticed one more detail- the description of the environment into which the seeds fell.

By the way, have you been on Mombasa Road of late? No? Ok. We are currently meeting and making new friends in traffic courtesy of the ongoing road works. At this rate, we might as well just form a sacco and start saving. Because, me let me tell you- its for tears. Trenches, heavy machinery, disappeared lanes, dust, noise- name it! Recently, i found myself in mad traffic (- but si that’s daily??!!) as a compactor went over a section of the road over and over again. With each trip, the marram was compacted and made smoother and smoother, readying it for tarmac. Now, imagine if you decided to be a macmende and plant wheat, maize, millet falling on that surface. What are the chances it will take root and germinate? Zero, right?

Ok.

The road side represents your very hard heart. Yes, you. It is obvious your heart has had some traffic given how smooth and hard it is. Ebu tell me – What compactors have been treading all over your heart? What situations, offences, challenges, ideologies have been added with each day to the existing rollers, increasing the weight as they rolled down the slope of your heart? How many times have you blocked the hammer of God’s word from breaking up that marram and turning it into fertile ground? Have you noticed how of late, the verses you had once memorised have become harder to recall? How you’d much rather read the directory than a chapter in the Bible? Have you realised the subtle changes to your language? Thoughts? Anything?

What are you doing about it? Ama you remained focused on the devil? The devil this, and the devil that!

Let me assure you friend, as long as you remain focused on the birds (the devil), you will fail to recognise the state of your heart and miss the opportunity to make critical shifts. May you find courage to allow the hammer of God’s word to break the resistance and change your heart so that the next time you hear the word, it will sink roots and eventually, it will yield a harvest.

Prayer: Lord, break through my resistance so that i can receive your word and bear much fruit- Amen.

The God of Jacob, and Joseph

I developed a love for journaling in my first year of college. My many journals hold a mixture of prayers, bible expositions, decisions and life’s experiences. They are a reminder of how far the Lord has brought me. And its a mighty mighty long way.

I recently took an unexpected, yet very necessary “holiday” – let’s just say that God has a serious sense of humour. I’m still shaking my head at His ways. During my time alone, i took time to go through my journals covering a timespan of about 21 years. Yes. 21 years. I know, some of you are a few off that mark in age, yes? I’ve been writing for a looong time. I’ll tell you one thing, it was an afternoon very well spent. I had moments where i deeply marveled at the things God showed me and taught me. Political events and family situations that later came to pass, dreams, visions and prophetic words that are etched in heaven, as He watches over His word to perform it.

I also had heart breaking moments – i noticed specific issues that have been my prayer points for which i have raised silent and loud petitions to the throne room consistently and persistently, over the last 10 years.10 years. Some of the entries were so bang! (can’t put a clap here so, bang!) that i had to confirm the dates – you mean this was 7 years ago, 5 years ago? This wasn’t this morning? Maaaaann, that hit a spot. Has it been that long since i started banging on heaven’s door? Why hasn’t God answered? Is there “something” I need to do or stop doing to get an answer.

Ah, “something”.

Do you realise that we, people of this soil, are naturally inclined to be superstitious? No? You don’t think that in some way, we think or make God an “oracle”? The one in the villages that demands a chicken for a magic portion and any disobedience meant misfortune? No? Ok. How many have seen anointed salt/oil/brooms on sale – for a blessing? Is that closer home? Ok. Let me go back to my story. We’ll come back to this one day.

Anyway, my journal entries evoked two very strong emotions – first i was really sad and i spent a few days beating myself because i reasoned that God must be keeping me here, delaying the answer because i had a poor attitude, or had not learnt the lesson He was trying to teach me. Did you do tie and dye? No? Ok. When you are dying a material, it must be tied up and immersed into the dye where it must stay until the colour catches. This process can repeated severally depending on the desired outcome. So, i wondered if i wasn’t being dipped into successive tubs of dye. After a few days of turning this over and over in my heart, i then found a spot of hope – maybe God was allowing me to walk through this valley so that one day i can encourage someone! Eventually, i had had enough of my monologue and decided to seek an answer from Watumishi wa Mungu (Wafundis) whose counsel i have come to trust. And….. i was pointed to the word and reminded the stories of two characters who waited 20 years and 13 years respectively for God to turn the page of their lives and make sense of the pain – Jacob and Joseph (Genesis 27 – 50).

Jacob was born to Isaac, the son of Abraham. The young lad, for no fault of his, was given a name that no child deserves. Jacob was translated “thief, deceiver”. Do you know the saddest part? He in many ways actually manifested these traits. By the way, free advise – be careful what names you give your children, and, now as you read this, what you allow people to call you. The man was such a witty thief that he identified an opportunity and moment of weakness in Esau’s life and successfully negotiated and acquired the birth right from his elder brother. Hakumalizia hapo (he didn’t stop there). He later conspired with his mother to deceive his blind and old Father into giving him the blessing of the first born. He did not at any time think it was important to mention that he had rightly acquired it through legal tender? Any way, we know what followed – God is not to be played. This trait needed to be sorted out. Poor fellow became a fugitive. But guess what? God led him straight into the home of the REAL thug – his father in law, Laban. This man Laban manipulated Jacob into marrying Leah, then made him work a further 7 years for Rachel (tchaiii! Those two sisters were not friends by the way) changed his wages 10 times and robbed him blind! I’m talking about an abusive relationship that lasted 20 years. Eventually, when we were all tired, God shows up – in the 21st year. By this time, i am convinced that Jacob was a changed man. Then to teach Laban a lesson, God paid back Jacob for all those years, so much so that it made Laban look poor!! Finally, the ultimate restoration happened when his name was changed from “Thief” to” Prince with God”. Hah!! This God is amazing!! He had been working behind the scenes, all along, intentionally setting up Jacob for His glory.

Joseph was born to Jacob, the son of Issac. He’s the one whose story is used in sermons like “From the Pit to the Palace” or “From Prisoner to Prime Minister” or “In 24 hours!!” or ….. Ok let’s go on. Joseph had the misfortune of being the son of Jacob’s true love, Rachel and was therefore, the apple of his father’s eye. The problem was that Jacob made no effort to hide his soft spot for Joseph. The result was that the other 10 sons grew to really resent the young man. But come to think of it, even Joseph surely! His mehe mehe (no translation available) was too much. This guy had no discretion at all. He consistently talked about his dreams oh bla bla even when he clearly saw they rubbed his brothers the wrong way. Anyway, his dreams eventually landed him in a pit from where he was sold into slavery and eventually, landed in Egypt.

Can you imagine the agony and despair he felt? The raging anger towards his brothers? The tears? The pain of separation from his father and younger brother? What about the Lord? Why would God give him dreams that now, given the circumstances would never come to pass? Why did he allow his brothers to sell him into slavery? How, in this distant land, does God imagine that his father and brothers would ever find him, and then, psshhhh, bow to him? Who? A prisoner? Never ever. I imagine that his dreams had died with each step further away from the familiar and closer to a land he had no idea existed and a culture he was not equipped to survive. Let me pause to wipe my tears. This just hit a spot.

Ok. Where were we…. Joseph. Yes.

The Bible goes on to tell us of Joseph’s unwavering devotion to God despite the circumstances, his spirit of excellence in the midst of a terrifying existence and his request to the butler to speak well of him to Pharaoh. Yet, even then, the butler went ahead and forgot. Until the day God gave Pharaoh a dream no one could interpret. Then, in 24 hours, Joseph moved from the pit to the palace, from prisoner to prime minister. That dream, the one he had many years ago and which must have been filed away “impossi-cant” category manifested so fast, Joseph was left in a head spin. Can you imagine that?

Child of God, the God of Jacob and Joseph is very much at work today. I’ll be honest enough and tell you that have not yet received the answers to my decade long prayer points, or seen the prophetic words come to pass. But i am persuaded of one thing – that when God finally answers, he will show up, show off and show out!!

I know beyond a shadow of doubt, that i will receive from his hand what i have asked. I know he will not let his word over my life, and yours, fall to the ground. I know this very well. So, is today especially rough because of the weight and wait? Ok. Pause, shed those tears, and then, keep watching, keep walking, keep waiting. He is just around the corner, ready to do what only He can do – show up, show off and show out!

Prayer: Lord, this year, i ask for one thing, that you be with me – Whenever i pray, answer me; whenever i stand, stand with me; and wherever i go, go with me. Amen.

Fallow Ground..

One of my many treasured memories is tilling my Mom’s patch of soil. Yes. Kulima na jembe. The land my Dad bought was in one of the leafy locations on the outskirts of Nairobi. Those ones that sat on a minimum of an acre? You know them? Where neighbours are far between, but near enough for you to know their dogs and other domestic animals? Yes? Ok. There! </p>

Now, this land was extremely fertile. The previous owner had really not done much with it and had opted to only plant avocados. Many of them. Before i continue, let me tell you about those avocados. They were amazing! Yanni one bite and you’d be huko thanking God for the manure, the soil, the roots, the stem, the branches and leaves of each tree!!  Yaani those avocados!! Kashaya! Endebosa!! Mhhhh!!! (No translation available…). Anyway… the land was full of avocados……..and weeds.

We were still dancing in excitement when some one (a “nani”)  put ideas in my Mother’s head and let’s just say, she decided this idea of having a house surrounded by avocados was not her style. I mean, which self respecting Kenyan mother, wife to a man from greater Nyanza will not want chingoko, managu, terere, chinsaga and chibando? So….before we knew which side was North, there was a plan in place! The land was fenced, the staff quarters built and then, boom! We were put to work.

Do you remember that song that used to play at around 6:00am every single day in the 80’s? “Nahata wewe mwanangu, amka kumekucha… kamata jembe na panga, twende shamba…” (Loosely translated – “Psst!!! Boy get up! Pick up your implements, the farm will not till itself!!”) Baaaassss! That song materialised haraka upesi! (as in, fast fast). In no time, our Saturday after school plans consisted of head scarfs, old skirts, gum boots and jembes! Remember this place only had avocado trees and weeds before this, eh? And now, my mother wanted her maize and beans in the soil before the next short rains. Wueh!  Let me tell you… Tulilima! Nail polish and all! That fallow ground had to be broken into. I remember thinking my parents did not like us at all. In fact i was convinced we were born to provide cheap labor. There was no way my mother was tilling that land alone, never ever! We used to arrive, change and wait to be shown our portion for the day, usually described as “from here to theeeere….. where the stone will land”.

The process of breaking fallow ground is as tedious as it is exciting. The sound of the jembe hitting the ground, tearing through thick grass, weeds and roots is satisfying at a level i can’t explain. We toiled over several weeks and slowly, but surely, the soil was turned. We then went over it one more time but this time, digging holes into which we dropped seeds and manure then pushing back the soil with our feet. I will not even start on the weeding process.

In Jeremiah 4:3, the Prophet Jeremiah was reciting a lamentation over the House of Israel, calling them back to repentance – to turn their wayward hearts back to the Lord. Since the House of Israel were predominantly farmers, they were familiar with the principle of resting land for a  year between harvests then returning to till and sow it. They therefore understood, very well i must add, exactly  what Jeremiah was communicating. He was simply telling them that their hearts had been overrun by weeds and in desperate need of attention. The beauty of the message is hidden in the words “fallow ground”.

Why?

Because fallow ground describes land that had previously been fertile and productive and which, with effort and resilience, can be turned back  into a fruitful field. But, that’s not all. We go on to understand that this will need hard work!  It is obvious (at least a reading of the Bible will show) that the House of Israel had gotten into the habit of playing hide and seek with the Lord – One season they would walk in obedience and the very next, bow to idols only to return in the wake of a disaster, war, captivity or Prophetic warnings.

As i meditated on this word, i realised how easy it is for our hearts to turn fallow. It does not take much by the way. It can be as subtle as a hidden offence, or even understandable, nice things like general busyness of life (life ni ku-hustle bana), or worse still, as acceptable as reading books more than the word and hearing the preacher more than the Holy Spirit. Even more dangerous is the justification we give for our state- after all, we all agree that the land must rest to restore fertility levels, right? So, we go around saying how you’re taking time off to “sit back and exhale”.  Meanwhile? Weeds are sprouting! Remember the land was fertile, so the weeds will grow like crazy. By the time we realise, we have a bumper harvest, but not of a thriving spiritual life, no! Of a prayer-less, word-less, fellowship- less life. Yaani, Meh!!

So now? What to do?

Kamata jembe na panga, twende shamba! Break up that ground, eradicate the weeds and get back on the path to fruitfulness. By all means, do not get back to sowing seed until all the thorns have been cleared. Like a farmer, do one thing before you move to the next. Slowly but surely, rebuild your spiritual life. It will take hard work and you will definitely face resistance in the process. But keep going.

Realise that God always calls us to repentance because he loves us and desires that we walk in fellowship with Him. Just like we assisted my mother, God has given us a Helper, His Holy Spirit to guide us as we weed out the nasty and turn the soil of our hearts over so that we can bear much fruit. It’s not easy, i repeat. Some areas will need more than a machete and may require tractors to uproot tree stumps. But he promised that when we call on him, he will answer and show us great things. And the beauty is that once he is done with us, it’s a complete, 100% restoration. I encourage you to trust him.

It is worth it in the end. I promise.

Prayer: Lord, i realise my heart is overrun by weeds and tares and that your word is no longer yielding fruit. Forgive me and by  your Holy Spirit, break up the fallow ground of my heart that i may bear fruits of righteousness. Amen