Will You Let Go?
I still remember two cases that happened when I was in my early teenage. Odera, a nephew, about two years older than me, had forgotten his sandals in the ferry plying between Mbita mainland and Rusinga Island in Kenya. Instead of waiting for the ferry to come back on its return trip, he waded in the water trying to catch up with it. He never heeded the shouts from people trying to stop him. Mbita channel had very powerful currents. He had no chance! No sooner had he waded into waist-deep water than he was swept away by the strong currents. He drowned because of sandals.
The other case was a girl called Arujo, also a teenager. She had gone to the lake to wash utensils. An offshore wind picked a saucepan. She waded into the water, chasing the saucepan. In the process, she was lured into the deeper parts of the lake where she couldn’t swim her way back to the shore. She drowned.
I personally almost drowned, chasing a jerrycan that was also picked by an offshore wind in the same lake. Chasing after certain things only lures us into a death trap.
There are general principles that rule life; there are also spiritual laws that influence the way we relate with one another and our environment. In some specific circumstances, there may be an inspired moment where the Spirit of God may prompt us to do something unconventional but out of which God may perform a miracle, teach something or show His unfathomable wisdom. This usually happens when we are the sheep that hears the voice of the Shepherd (John 10:27).
The moment of inspiration and the day of visitation are not matters out of which we should build doctrines or establish formulas. What this means is that if we are always in contact with Heaven, we may not live in the replica of what God did for or with others, unless it is His regenerated idea.
2 Samuel 23 tells us of the names of the mighty men whom David had. Amongst them was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. It is recorded that the Philistines were gathered together into a troop at a piece of ground full of lentils. Though other people fled from the Philistines, Shammah stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines and the Lord wrought a great victory (vs. 8-12).
We may ask: Why would Shammah endanger his life by facing off with a troop of Philistines because of a piece of land and lentils? The last part of verse 12 implies that he didn’t just fight for the sake of it but that it was the Lord who inspired him to fight and it was the Lord who gave him the victory.
Compare the above case with the story of Isaac and his servants:
“And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”—Genesis 26:18-22.
Instead of fighting the herdsmen of Gerar, Isaac and his servants let go the wells each time the Gerarites strove with them. When the latter finally gave up, Isaac and his servants perceived that it was the Lord who had made room for them. Even after losing two wells, the one well they got to keep would be enough to make them prosper in the land. God may choose to demonstrate that He is able to do with one well what people who don’t know Him cannot do with many wells.
What the two stories teach us is that a person who lives under the daily inspiration of the Lord, will know what to do in every case. After having sat under the feet of Christ, one understands that the love we have about certain things can provide the enemy with a scheme to drag us into sin and eventually kill us. This is where we need to learn from gecko’s autotomy (self-amputation). Geckos are known to sever their tails when a predator catches it (by the tail). A gecko would rather let go the tail than be eaten whole. This must be one of the things the Lord Jesus talks about when He says:
“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”—Matthew 18:8-9.
If a gecko can amputate part of its own body in order to survive, how much more should we let go of a material thing if we realize that the enemy is using it to catch or enslave us? Is it any wonder that the Lord Jesus uses an autotomic narrative to show how important it is and how radical it can get when eternal life is at stake?
There are lots of fraud going on even among believers—this ought not to be but sadly, it is a reality. Quite unfortunate for the fraudsters, but will the enemy also use the scenario to destroy the defrauded? This is an area that needs to be managed spiritually, especially for the defrauded.
There are cases of piracy of gospel music and plagiarizing of Christian writings, etc. These are in addition to extortions, prosperity preachers’ rip-offs, manipulations and sale of fake religious paraphernalia like holy waters, anointed handkerchiefs, etc. Spiritual matters have attracted many business people who come primarily to make money.
It is possible that when one discovers that he has been cheated, one would become either bitter or begin protracted court cases—and that is how one can be ensnared to give the enemy a foothold.
There is no denying that some are in the ministry not for the souls but for the privileges. There are also people who are in the ministry because they are called and would want to reach souls but they are being distracted. If the driving motive is to reach souls to the extent that one can pay whatever cost to fulfil the call, Paul’s convictions in Philippians 1:18 would apply for the ministers who feel that they have been robbed or cheated. The apostle Paul said: “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” What this means is that, for example, if one pirates music, a minister should rejoice that some soul is being reached by his music.
The writer of Hebrews had the following to say:
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times, you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”—Hebrews10:32-35 (NIV, note the italics).
May the Lord help us! We can be confronted by a situation where chasing souls can mean losing money, and chasing money can mean losing souls, including our own. May I emphasize this: the first soul that we will lose as we chase mammon is our own. We must be aware that the main aim why the enemy may want to defraud us materially is to disorient us spiritually.
And before I finalize this chapter, may I mention that it is not only material things that get stolen. Some people will have their hearts stolen in relationships gone sour; some will have their trust stolen (read: betrayed) in social settings; some will have their identity stolen and character assassinated, etc. In all this, we must know and understand that we do not fight flesh and blood. We must understand the tricks of the enemy.
Reflections and Questions to Ponder
7. Nothing is worth dying for except life, eternal life: Do you agree? How can you demonstrate in the way you live that your life is more important than the things of this world?