Finding God In Strange Places

#5. God of the dreaming time……

It is 4am and my eyes fly open suddenly in a manner reminiscent of my students days. Those days were great, long days and shorter nights trying to cram everything in and remain semi-conscious during class the following morning.

Good times.

But I’m not a student right now, now my body is just used to odd waking hours. So in that in-between period were I am still dreaming with my eyes half-open, I thank God silently for all He has done for me.

I relish in the quiet before dawn officially breaks over Teshie, Accra. I distantly hear the voices of enthusiastic church goers gearing up for dawn prayers with raucous calls of “Holy Ghost! Fire! Holy Ghost! Fire!” and annoyance rises within. It’s 4am, I think with mild irritation.

Then I hear the melodious call of the muezzin praying the adhan and calling Muslim faithful to prayer, “Allahu akbar…..”

sleep is beautiful

And I smile, cuddle deeper and sleep well; comforted by the presence of my God through songs and praises from different faiths.

 

 

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Finding God In Strange Places

#4. Where is God when my heart is breaking?

Today has been a mixed up day for me; a real basket full of irony. During mass today, we had a very boisterous priest whose sermon was centered around why God allows evil to flourish. And his position was – God allows evil to exist because He wants us to know that this world is not a bed of roses; that we need to be shrewd and on guard, and that ultimately on the judgement day He will redeem His children.

Great sermon albeit a bit confusing.

why_does_god_allow_evil

And then the bag of someone very close to me got stolen right outside the church building. It wouldn’t have hurt so much if it was just her purse; but the bag contained money, two phones and three lacoste shirts she was going to deliver to customers.

Oh, the irony; the painful, bittersweet irony.

Both of us were in shock so my mother raged on our behalf. And boy, was Mama impressive.  But it didn’t change the fact that the bag was nicked and it wasn’t ever coming back.

So, God, tell me again why You let evil exist?

—————

It’s almost 5pm now and I’m still confused; but I refuse to let it get me down. I have to confess, the hours before mass started I was anxious , upset and antsy. I’ve spent the past eight weeks swinging between anger at a friend who betrayed me and repeating to myself “I forgive you, I forgive you… I forgive you although you abandoned me when I needed you the most.” It’s not been an easy ride, this forgiveness thing, and the stress of it almost gave me an ulcer. I was not in a cheery or forgiving mood but I was trying to focus on God and not on my pain (see? I did learn something from ‘The Shack’ ) but it was tough. My soul needed uplifting.

And the sermon did my soul some good. But then my heart was broken by the theft of my friend’s bag.

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL2

But I’ve noticed something about myself and about my close friend– neither of us have let this situation crush our spirits. We’re sad, downhearted, but not destroyed. We’re still smiling, still walking tall, still praising God through the tears.

PRAISE HIM IN ADVANCE

It’s not easy; I won’t lie and say that I completely understand it. But that’s faith isn’t it? Trusting in the unseen and knowing that, in spite of it all, God is ultimately in control.

xoxox

Finding God In Strange Places

#3.  “The Shack”

the shack

 

First of all let me just say kudos to whoever cast Octavia Spencer as God. Brilliant move……brilliant move. As a young Ghanaian woman who is a third generation baker, to see God portrayed as a black woman who loves to bake and dance in the kitchen with the Holy Spirit is something I treasure.

Hang on, let me correct myself – God is a Black woman who loves to bake and loves to be called Papa.

Yesssss.

the shack 3

Wow, what a movie. A movie I watched back to back on the first day I got it from my friend Elorm. A movie that made me laugh, then made me cry, then made me think deeply about my faith.

In case you haven’t watched it, I won’t give too much away. But the lessons I learnt from it are:

  • God can do beautiful things with the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
  • God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are perfectly in tune with each other and want nothing more than fellowship with us. They rule over everything but they want us have a relationship with them. None of them is interested in slaves.
  • Plus, none of them is interested in all the fuss we make over our religions and religious doctrines. As Jesus put it : “All I want is for people to know Papa.”
  • In this movie, Jesus Christ is portrayed as a young man with Middle Eastern features. This is perhaps the first time I’ve watched a movie were Jesus Christ wasn’t a tanned Caucasian man. It was refreshing to see him portrayed with better historical accuracy.
  • Jesus has a sense of humour
  • The Holy Spirit, the Breath of Life is portrayed by a young woman who is as graceful of speech and movement as the wind.
  • Forgiveness is never about forgetting what the other person did to you; it’s about taking your foot off his neck so you can place it somewhere that gives you peace. And, you will never ever forgive someone completely the first time around; it is a gradual, consistent process.
  • And lastly, when life throws lemons at you and you are angry with God, tell Him. He can handle it and He won’t love you any less when you share your hurt and fury with Him. After all, just like with our human parents, when the mess of the argument is out of the way, we can sit and talk it through. And we don’t stop loving each other through the pain.

 

One of my favourite quotes from the movie is what Papa says to Mack when he asks Her where She was when his father was abusing him and his mother: “When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of Me.”

I’ve tried applying that to my life and it’s true. When rocks are hurled at you, all I can see are the rock hurlers, and not Jesus who sits beside me and whispers “Don’t worry, this too shall pass. I am with you, this too shall pass.”

the shack2

Because it does pass, it does. As a Christian in the 21st century, the temptation to believe that this world owes me nothing but goodness is one I fall prey to constantly. Not to mention the fact that I want my miracle riiiiiight now.

But that’s not how life works and that’s not how God works. He does it in His own good time; and His time could be a day, a year or a lifetime. But He gets it done. He is not a man that He should lie. Mine is to trust and not be afraid and His is to fulfill His promise.

I found God in a movie where He is portrayed as a Black woman who loves baking and likes to be called Papa. Where did you find God today?

 

xoxox