Soul Searching

A great philosopher once said something along the lines of “Man, know thyself.” While that statement is profound on so many levels, it is essentially flawed on one. It is a statement that has set mankind on a journey from as far back as we can remember till date. A journey both inward and seemingly forward.

It is the knowledge of oneself that has birthed the marvels and technological advances we see today. Men, in a search for meaning have refined their lives over time, with the heart of science and technology being an amplification of man’s strengths and an attenuation of his weaknesses. All this being done with the hope that one day, this search inward would birth perfection; a utopia where the weaknesses of mankind no longer exist.

But this search, while showing us our numerous abilities, has further shown us something that is a cause for alarm. A weakness that abounds beyond any technological advancement mankind can and will ever know. Another wise man, fraught with a lifetime of exotic privileges and profound knowledge that only a few have dared to scratch its surface, came to a saddening conclusion; man’s efforts in all their magnanimity can be summed up in one word – vanity. The earth-shattering implications of such a statement have made man ignore the wise man’s findings, preferring to go down the vicious cycle of soul searching, in a bid to prove the wise King Solomon wrong.

Sadly, man was designed with a defect the size of eternity (Ecc 3:11), and it is only that which is eternal that can stopper the gaping black hole that is the soul of man.

This would be grave news if the Eternal God had not given us of His eternal nature (John 3:16). Now, by connecting with God, we can discern what is the purpose of life. We can bridge the gap between soul searching and “utopia”.

There is no statement with a greater promise of fulfilment than “Man, know the Lord.”

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

John 17:3

Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com

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The Elephant in the Room

The story was once told of a group of blind men, the number of which, although varied, has little bearing on the emphasis of this particular rendition of that tale. They congregated in their numbers, stumbling one upon the other, a cacophony of feet and canes.

“There’s an elephant in The Room!!!”

“An elephant? What’s that?”

“Come, see for yourself, brother.”

And so the search for the great beast located in the grand hall nicknamed ‘The Room’ was born. Word spread like wildfire amongst the folk of the town. The words ‘elephant’, ‘The Room’, ‘come’ and ‘see’ had been presented in every form and language possible, and quickly, the journey to behold the much talked about elephant gained momentum. An innocent bystander would have been forgiven for thinking this motley crew was nothing more than a set of extremely insane people. And for good reason. For as much as the word ‘see’ was circulating amongst the townfolk, all the residents of the town were completely blind.

And so they rushed, drawn by the allure of the elephant. On arrival, as many as could fit into the room struggled to make contact with the elephant. Even in the din, they knew this beast exuded an aura that was deserving of kings.

“What does it feel like?”

“Please we can’t touch it from the back here. Help us describe its shape.”

And behold, yet another mysterious journey began, for alas, the elephant was a beast like no other. A man, grabbing hold of its trunk exclaimed:

“Oooh!!! Step back everyone!!! It must be a big snake!!!”

“No!”, another shouted as he pressed his palms firmly against the broad side of the elephant. “It is a wall! A wall that breathes!!!”

And yet another voice erupted in disagreement, as a woman took hold of a tusk. “This is none other than a hunter’s spear!”

“But it cannot be!!! It’s a big leaf!!!” A boy with his hands wrapped around an ear made his voice heard.

“You’re all wrong!!!”, thundered an old man. He could be seen grasping the hind limb of the beast. “This is an iroko tree. A sturdy one that has its roots run deep below the ground.”

A fair lady, as slender as the tail within her hands, would not be outdone in this battle for depiction. “Na wa o!!! No be rope be this? The type wey them dey use tie goat.”

And at last, pandemonium ensued, with every Tom, Dick and Harriet having their own revelation of the animal at hand. It was indeed a strange and sorry sight. More confusion in one room than children fighting for the right of ownership to a much treasured toy. The uproar went on for hours, and then days, and then years, and it never dwindled. Newer parts of the elephant’s gross anatomy were discovered daily. And it only fostered the ongoing animosity.

If only there was such a person with sight. One who could give the people the full picture of what lay before them.

Little did they know, that the beast they had groped and tugged at was their only saving grace. For, in the midst of the back-and-forths amongst the gropers, a soft voice could be heard. 

Alas, the elephant could speak.

But they had grown deaf, feeling and describing, yet completely ignoring, the elephant in The Room.

… to be continued.

Not That Deep

I stumbled on something I wrote a few years ago…

Have you ever had a candlelit dinner with time and chance?
Where they hold you by the hand like “May we have this dance?”
Lap dance with no pleasure, violently grinding you,
Dust you will slowly turn into, feel time deserting you,
Pay me no mind, I’ve got the sands of time in my eyes,
Unwashed mud, because the pool was acidified,
And I am not basic, this complex cannot be neutralized,
But even the simple and beggarly soon realize,
That where sunny beaches lie, tsunamis abound,
For every silver lining, there’s a shade of black in the clouds,
Life is a great paradox, with good and bad so proximal,
Humans forever fighting for zeros and points like decimals,
In my head, I’m in a capsized boat, struggling to stay afloat,
My thoughts, a shoal disguised with a Mariana Trench coat,
Yet I search for meaning, wondering what I’ll find,
Pay me your eyes, I’ve got the sands of time on my mind.

When the Heart Murmurs

Murmurs are abnormal heart sounds produced by abnormal patterns of blood flow in the heart. Many murmurs are caused by defective heart valves. Heart valves help to prevent a retrograde flow of blood with each heartbeat. Heart murmurs are a good illustration of what happens when Christians murmur (complain or grumble). Philippians 2:14 implores believers to do everything without ‘murmurings or disputings’. This is a piece of scripture that Christians have overlooked over time, causing detriment to the body of Christ.  In medicine, heart murmurs point to heart valve defects, which are of two types; valvular incompetence and valvular stenosis.

Valvular incompetence means that the heart valves do not close properly, so blood meant to flow out of a particular heart chamber flows back in; a phenomenon known as regurgitation. Again, this is a good illustration of what happens when Christians murmur. Speaking about the children of Israel, Psalm 106:25 talks about how they murmured in their hearts and chose not to listen to God’s voice. Now, the primary way God speaks is through the Bible. Any other utterance from God’s mouth will tally with His written word 100% of the time. So, it’s safe to deduce that when we murmur, we do not have the word of God in our hearts. How is this equivalent to regurgitation? Ephesians 6:10-18 speaks about spiritual warfare, and how we are to stand. The components of our spiritual armor are all different depictions of the word of God; both as a shield and as a sword. When valves are incompetent, they cannot withstand the pressure in the ventricle or vessel containing blood, so they reopen, and blood regurgitates. When we do not have the word of God in us, we cannot stand when situations requiring that we do arise, and instead, we murmur.

The second cause of murmurs, valvular stenosis, involves the narrowing of the valve orifice, resulting in less blood flowing out of the heart chamber involved. Hence, the heart has to do more work than was previously required to pump an adequate supply of blood. A stenosed valve is a picture of a Christian not in total submission to God’s will. 2 Corinthians 6:12 talks about a group of Christians “straitened in their own bowels”. What that implies is that they were being cramped (straitened, constrained) by their desires or passions (bowels). These people were not ready to let go of their wills, and the resultant effect was a feeling of complete unease. What’s the natural response when you’re cramped up in a tight spot? You obviously complain about the discomfort. So, murmurs are also born out of our reluctance to let go of our wills and embrace God’s. Jude 16-19 speaks of how these murmurers are distinct, in that they indulge their senses rather than live according to the Spirit.

Murmurs are associated with significant morbidity and mortality if unaddressed. Valvular regurgitation or stenosis could progress to heart failure if not managed early enough. In the Old Testament, many an occasion caused the children of Israel to murmur, eventually leading to deaths and a wasted generation (Numbers 14). This pattern is also seen in the New Testament where even Jesus’ disciples murmured, turning their backs on Him (John 6:61-66). It’s obvious that as inconsequential as we think complaints and grumblings are today, they can result in our missing out on what God has in store for us.

Is there a treatment? Philippians 2:16 gives us the solution for spiritual valvular incompetence; holding forth the word of God. We need God’s word to take root in us so we can indeed stand without murmuring when obstacles arise. For stenosed valves, a procedure called a valvotomy (cutting open of the valves) is done. 2 Corinthians 6:13 encourages those stenosed Christians to be “enlarged”. In other words, open your heart to God’s will. It’s not an easy process, as it would involve some form of cutting or stretching, but the end product is worth it.

Growing Pains

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Crawling because I can’t stand this torment,
One day I’ll fly, but for now, I’m stuck in this torrent,
Bad weather and frequent domain switching,
I can’t take off because my whole body’s twitching,
Wait, I think I have my thesaurus opened wrong,
My whole body’s a jerk, singing the same old song,
My mind’s struggling to forget the lyrics,
Back and forth like a boat rocking in the Pacific,
I hide in my crawlspace, wondering if I’d sink or swim,
Fighting to remember my God controls rain and wind,
“Peace”, I long to hear, dry land, I hope to see,
But that’d only happen when I stop letting things move me,
So I stand, because this movie called Life isn’t rated for toddlers,
Toss the toys and plastic cups, and drink from the tumblers,
Even if I fall and roll in shards of glass now,
My mind is on my growth, and pain is part of the how.

Still I Rise

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Head’s in the clouds, feet on the ground,
Daunting heights, afraid of even looking down,
Step by step, struggling to make an ascent,
Loses focus for a second, and it’s a humbling descent,
There’s a loud crash, and Humpty Dumpty’s disabled,
Other eggs ignore his pleas, everyone scrambles,
Nobody wants to be walking on eggshells,
He looks around helpless, while everyone excels,
Treading without a sound, actions speaking volumes,
Echoes of sympathy much like the rhetoric of legumes,
Just beans talk; not worth much without jack,
So his famine continues, and the future stays dark,
But there would be no omelettes for breakfast,
Down comes a Kingsman, and broken limbs are cast,
Crutches in his hands, fire burning in his eyes,
Humpty fixes his gaze at the sky, whispering, “Still I rise.”

🚶✌

Surrender

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It’s weird how knowledge comes from being still,
Yet my mind sounds like an empty barrel made of steel,
My thoughts making loud noises instead,
Feels like You’ve got a gun pointed to my head,
Hearing a voice whisper “Get your hands up,”
I know it means worship, but it feels like a stickup,
I admit I’m impatient, so strap me down to this bed,
Till I exercise restraint, even when I hate what I’m fed,
And work things out to the points where I shiver,
But there’s nights I feel like I’m led to the slaughter,
I hear You yelling “Cut!” but I’m directing this scene,
I’d offer You a part, but You want the whole film,
I guess one of us needs to get their act together,
I hear the gun click and I know I should surrender,
Slowly reminded that some bullets don’t kill,
I need the Advocate to keep me in my Father’s will.