If you love Me, keep My commandments” ( John 14:15)
After a long stretch of being busy for weeks without much of personal prayer times, my spiritual perception became dull. I could hardly sense the rhythm of the Spirit within and it appeared that the joy of salvation had lifted off my spirit. I desperately needed to go for a personal retreat as I did in the distant past but I couldn’t make out the time to travel out of Abuja this time around. So I decided to take a day off from work to stay back home and just lounge in God’s presence.
I didn’t have a long list of prayer points to lift up to heaven. All I wanted was to remain quiet, fill my mind with thoughts of God, read portions of devotional classics, meditate on some portions of the bible, and listen to some spiritually- uplifting songs. And to shut out from my family and friends, I switched off my mobile phone all day to prevent interruptions and distracting calls. Time flew like a racing cloud and no sooner, I felt the approach of dusk with the descent of the sun into the covens of the western horizon.
To soak in the freshness of the evening breeze, I sat on a chair at the balcony of my apartment with the overlooking Wuye hills watching silently. I had no books to read…all that I wanted was to lounge, recline, and withdraw into my inner self to tap strength for the coming days. It was a quiet Friday evening and the sun cast its golden hues on the green grasses whose tender shoots looked into the sky. There was something transcendent about this evening I had thought, and I never knew how much blessing that awaited me!
As my eyes roved around, they alighted on a small hut that a farmer had just erected in the large expense of farmland behind the estate where I live. It was rustic and small, with no corrugated iron sheets to serve as a roof. The entrance door and tiny window were covered with a sheet of sack-like rags. As I watched intently, a middle aged man and his little son emerged from the dark interior. Both were slovenly dressed and had patches of dried mud and mire spattered all over their body. They must have been digging and toiling all day with their hoes at the surrounding farm.
The father and son worked like a tag-team on a single mission. Following the footsteps of the father, the son gathered splinters of wood and sticks as directed by his father. I watched as they made a small bonfire which they used to roast fresh cobs of maize. I didn’t perceive the aroma but the enzymes in my intestines must have rustled in restlessness, hoping to have some fresh grains to unleash their digestive powers on. They sat beside each other and ate the corn slowly and quietly; drank some palm wine freshly tapped from a nearby tree…then snuffed out the smoldering bonfire, covered the entrance of the tiny little hut, and silently walked away along a meandering track till my eyes could no longer follow the trail they left behind. And I watched till the evading dusk swallowed up their silhouette. For moments, I reflected on the symbolism of this beautiful scenario enacted by this farmer and his little lad.
The image of the father and son could not disappear from my consciousness for days. I saw the harmony and peace that ensued when the son followed the footsteps of his father. Though poor, seemingly uneducated and only able to build a tiny little hut, the son didn’t disdain the wisdom of his ‘dirty’ father. The lad obeyed the instructions of his father without any reservations or objections because he treasured the wisdom of his poor dad! The beauty of it all is in the palpable harmony, intimacy and bonding that existed between the father and the son, and it was obvious that the young lad was contented in that relationship. They trekked long distances on foot and the son followed in hot pursuit of his dad without questioning the wisdom of his father.
As I meditated on the scene before my eyes, I realized that our Heavenly Father desires a much more intimate relationship with us His children. He longs for us to follow His footsteps and obey His instructions without having to raise objections or arguments that attempt to attack the veracity of His Word. The greatest snag against our advancement in our knowledge of God is our unwillingness to not following God and His ways. We often question the wisdom behind His instructions and those seemingly restraining commandments and instructions that start with : “Thou Shall Not….” ; disdain my name; desecrate holy things; commit fornication and adultery; steal; lie; bear false witness; covet your neighbor’s wife and property….and the list goes on and on!
But if we truly are wise in the real sense of the word, we would soon discover the wisdom behind the instructions from God. They look difficult because we view them with the wrong lenses and from a self-distorted and warped angle. When we consider them from the right premise, we would realize that they were made for our good because the thoughts of God towards us His children are not only grandiose but filled with love and goodwill. The herd of cow knows that the cattle rarer has their good in mind, hence they obey without any questioning. The sheep too, is wise enough to follow the course charted by the shepherd yet we call them ‘senseless and foolish animals’.
In conclusion, it makes both spiritual and human sense if we can consciously strip away our pride and human wisdom and accept to obey the time-proven and tested wisdom of God as expressed in His commandments and principles. Though we live in a contemporary world where the dividing line between good and bad has become foggy and unclear, we still can lead a clean life of integrity if we can humble ourselves, and seek the grace to obey God’s commandments. They are not impossible for we are wired internally and eternally to become our best only when we conform to God’s revealed statutes, principles, laws and ways as expressed in His word.
As I round up this exhortation can we all pause for a while to chew and ponder over the words below as we do a spot assessment of our current relationship and walk with God as His redeemed and adopted children for whom He paid the ultimate prize through the shedding of His innocent blood on the Cross of Calvary:
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as he walked” ( I John 2: 3-6)
“ By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we love keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.”( 1 John 5:2-4)
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