I know it is a bit late, but to me it is not; I mean the Catholic Church agrees with me- we are in the second week of Easter according to the Calendar. Easter season is not only celebrated on the Sunday and Monday, we have seven whole weeks till Pentecost.
Before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, the Church usually undergoes the season of Lent. It is a period of 40 days in which we prepare ourselves for Easter by being prayerful, undergoing fasting ( not necessarily food, bad behaviours, habits or things we enjoy regularly; we are encouraged to fast from them). Charity towards the poor – essentially giving ourselves for the service of others.
This blog post is not about the Roman Catholic Calendar (sorry for the digression) but, about the Gems I found whilst reading this book.
I had heard about the wonders of this book; A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, from different people – particularly Lola Akinkuowo of The Blogger Etiquette and Martina of Martina’s journal ; here and here respectively. These people spoke highly of this book and how they were helped in finding their parts through life. It is so good a book that Lola has read it so many times over the past years. She recommends it to so many people, who in themselves have testified to the goodness of the book.
When it comes to faith and spirituality, I am still a baby. I have not yet found my footing. To be honest, I got tired of the Priest in my Church. I am used to being stirred up by homilies from several other Priests that I still had notes taken from them over the years with me. I use them to keep my spirit alive. The amazing thing about the Catholic Church is the universality if the readings – year in, year out; they remain the same.
I wanted my 2019 Lenten season to be different, it so happens that the book was also for 40 days, which further heightened my interest in having it as an essential part of my Lenten reflection. Although I was not consistent, I did a fairly good job of writing down words that struck me and scripture readings too.
That being said, let’s get into the Gems!
Purpose is not what you have planned for your life, it is what God has planned for your life.
This may sound really funky, I mean we all have these great goals listed out that we want to achieve; some even have timelines attached to them and we strive to meet up. Now, a question that comes to mind; “What if being a Pharmacist is not the purpose for my life?” “What if writing books, being the secretary-general of the United Nations, finding the cure to HIV/AIDS, finding a new planet or being a president isn’t the purpose of your existence?” Don’t get me wrong, these are all great dreams and our names would look beautiful in the History of the World; but have you ever asked these question, “Is this what I was created for?” “Would I truly be fulfilled in life if my dreams come true?” “Would all these give me a feeling of purposefulness?”
In the past few days, I have had to ask God what my purpose is. When I pray, after giving him all the glory and thanksgiving, my next question is “God, what did you make me for?” “Why am I on this earth?”. I have not heard anything yet, perhaps my heart is still noisy or my faith is still in the infancy stage, but I am positive that I would get an answer soon.
God has a purpose for everyone. A classic example is Moses. He was an Israelite whom God saved from death by directing him to Pharaoh’s daughter whilst she showered at the Nile River. He was made a prince.When it was time for God to answer the prayers of the Israelites whom have suffered years as slaves of the Egyptians, he used Moses.
The Call to Service
What is your perception of greatness? Prestige and respect that comes with being a member of the upper class of the society – perhaps a Head of State, CEO of a multi- billion dollar conglomerate or a War Hero. Whatever it is that greatness may mean to you, trust me, it does not hold a candle to what God defines greatness to be.
In God’s eyes, greatness is about the Service you give to others. Jesus gave us multiple examples of how to be great. He healed the sick, cured those whom had been tormented by demons, fed the five thousand whom had been with him for days listening to his teaching, washed the disciples feet and ultimately, he gave his life for our salvation. Remember, he is God, he could have opted out of this; I mean he told Pontius Pilate that his Kingdom was not of this world, if it was, his angels would fight for his release (John 18: 36). He did because he had to show us what Greatness is.
Now, I am not saying we should do exactly what Christ did for us, I cannot even do one-quarter of what he did. All I am saying is that we imbibe the attributes that Jesus had towards his service. We are talking about his Dedication, Resilience, Consistency, Patience, Faithfulness and Humility. You do not even have to a full time missionary to be of service to people, you can serve in whatever capacity / position you find yourself. Are you a student? Can you share your knowledge with your classmates who are struggling? Can you do your daily chores with love and dedication? In the hospitality department, how can you make your guests’ say worthwhile? A leader, how can you make a difference with your regime?
Everything and everywhere we find ourselves in, ask this question; “How can I serve?”
You can question God; show your emotions and let him see you truly.
When we are confused by a sermon or homily and we search for answers by way of asking the older people or even or Priest/ Pastor, we get certain responses like; ” Don’t question God?”, “He knows best!” The most annoying is when they respond with another Bible verse as though that is the perfect answer to the question. The Scripture is Yes and Amen, but we are inquisitive and we have a right to ask questions. Surely, God would not turn us away for asking questions, or would he? Do you ever feel that way?
Well, I am here to tell you that God welcomes your questions. He is so interested in learning and knowing every inch or cell that makes you up. You can be mad at him, berate him, question him when things happen; he would not send a lightening bolt to strike you instead he would listen intently and still show his faithfulness to you. Job had a lot of reasons to be angry at God; all his possessions and loved ones were taken from him. He spent the most of the book of Job berating God. God listened through all the anger and pain and still remained faithful.
Above all, Job was humble enough to seek and listen to God. In my growing relationship with God, I am learning to be bare with him; not just using sweet words whilst praying, my emotions are shown as I pray my anger, vexation, cry if I need to, smile and laugh. I communicate with him just as I would with a physical friend. I tell God as it is, but one thing I do afterwards is to be still and humble to listen, just like Job. Cheryl of Twenty-six letters shares more light on this topic, here.
God uses our weaknesses
We are works of art, masterpieces but, even masterpieces are flawed. So we can rightly say that we are perfectly flawed. We have this generalisation that God only calls the brave and strong to do his word. Let me just stop you right there, you are absolutely wrong about that. God wants us even with our weaknesses, that is what makes us different and special.
Most times, we deny these flaws, they would not go away. The good that can be done unto oneself is to accept them completely and wholeheartedly. Our God is not one of limitation, he enjoys using us only if we allow him work through our weaknesses. We are like clay in the potter’s hands as the Bible rightly tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:7 – We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.
Apart from accepting the weaknesses, we must also learn to share the honestly. Vulnerability is an attribute we all shy away from and rightly so. People whom we call ours, may use this vulnerability to our own disadvantage and so the fear is rightly accepted. Let us know one thing, God would use you if you unmask yourself , share your struggles as you serve others.
Jonah was reluctant, Moses was a stammerer, Jeremiah was depressed, Peter was impulsive and reluctant, Thomas doubted his resurrection,Timothy was timid. Despite all their visible flaws, God used them. Why not embrace your weaknesses and let God use you to fulfil your purpose on this earth.
Every line in this book deserved to be highlighted, this is one rich book to have in your arsenal. Continuous reading would make you understand or know what God made you to become on this Earth- why you are still breathing. If you have read it, let me know what you felt about it and how it impacted your life, because it has definitely affected mine positively. I may already have an idea of how to be of service to humanity.