A touching tale penned by TB Joshua recounting experiences in his early life that served to prepare him for the task ahead.
In our spiritual walk with the Lord, we have good times and hard times. When the going is good, we say we are in good times. When the going is tough, we say we are experiencing hard times. Remember, life itself is a mission. While we are on the go, we need to stop between steps, to re-focus on the Word and the Will of God.
While we are on the go, I mean, while we are on the mission, we need to sometimes stop at intervals to assess our progress and prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead.
Certain challenges on our way usually make us stop awhile – I mean, for a moment. When you stop awhile, you are not down. What are these challenges? They could come in the form of sickness, failure, setback, imprisonment, poverty. For instance, if I receive a sack letter from my very lucrative job, there is a natural tendency for me to cry and lament, if I do not view the situation from the maturity that comes from faith. It takes faith to realise that the situation is a mere stopping interval – a short break between two events.
I do not need to go very far to cite or give an example of what I am saying because my experience in life is enough to illustrate this philosophy or principle of life. As we said earlier, many things could cause one to stop between steps. I could still remember vividly when I sat for and passed the entrance examination into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
I was invited for the interview and I had to board the train from Lagos to Kaduna. Behold, on our journey the train developed some serious faults that kept us in the bush in Jebba for six horrible days with little or no provision. Remember, I was going for an interview that was billed to hold the following day. I was on the railway line in Jebba while the interview was going on in Kaduna and there was nothing I could do to help the situation as I lacked the means to arrange for an alternative way of transporting myself to the venue of the interview, so I missed the whole thing.
This was how the ambition to enlist into the military was aborted by what was obviously an act of fate. Who knows what would have happened if I had successfully attended that interview. I actually felt very bitter I had missed another chance of making it in life.
With a very heavy heart I went to the village to complain to my mother of how so many opportunities had slipped by. Little would I have reasoned that it was one of those stops between steps in my spiritual walk with God until my mother did her best to calm me down, saying: “My son, do not mind the seeming appearance of things as of today. If I am ever confident of any child, you are that child. Do not be afraid of what the future holds for you, because I know if anyone is destined to fail, you are not the one. So, be patient and you would see what God would do in your life. I am so sure of your future breakthrough, considering the strength of the predictions and prophecies about you even before you were born. I cannot forget so easily what I experienced when I was pregnant with you, and I know God cannot lie. My son, whatever you may be going through today, just take it as a temporary setback, meant to prepare you for the challenges ahead. Don’t forget your name is “Temitope” and, by the grace of God, the whole world shall have the cause to thank God for your sake.”
After this encounter with my mother, I began to look at whatever came my way with a more mature mind whose focus was on God alone. I mean, the maturity that comes from faith in the finished works of our Lord Jesus Christ. My case was already settled in Heaven. Here I am today in your midst; I can boast of what God is doing for us. Hallelujah! You are all witnesses.
In my spiritual walk with God I have experienced both good and hard times.
Who knows what would have happened if those temporary stops did not come at intervals. Consider how my education suffered epileptic fits; today I am in school, the next day I am out. Remember, when God is executing His plan in our lives, He also designs and arranges events which continue to unfold until His purpose is revealed. The ups and downs in my education were part of the events that revealed the purpose of God in my life. Remember, the man who is poor is not the man that has no money, but one without a dream. They are suffering that have no dream. They are poor that have no dream.
Before I knew it, I had gone around six different colleges in less than one year. I enrolled for the examinations of JAMB (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board) four times and on each occasion it was either I forgot my acknowledgement card and other necessary documents or there was an accident on the way to the exam venues. People who saw what was happening to me simply attributed my predicament to either sin or non-seriousness on my part. But those with the maturity that comes from faith, like my mother, saw it as mere stopping intervals or natural stops in my spiritual walk with God.
In James 4:7, we are told to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil. If we examine carefully our attitudes toward certain situations, we would see how much we willingly submit ourselves to the devil each time we view things with the maturity that comes from the experience rather than of faith. The maturity that comes from experience is based on what is seen, what is heard and what circumstances look like. When your maturity is derived from circumstantial factors other than faith, your level of maturity would continue to fluctuate rather than being stable. This is why I am enabled to maintain a balance and stable approach to the challenges that come my way every day. I am not moved by what people say or do concerning my relationship with God. I submit myself to His direct will which is good and perfect with no evil in it.
Sometimes, God uses foolish things to strengthen our desire for Him.
In Luke 22:32, Jesus said to Peter, “I pray that your faith would not fail”. This means, all men make mistakes but people of God get back up. Certainly we would fall, but with Jesus supporting our position, we would soon get back up.