I wrote this blog post on Sunday, so that I could remember most of the things and maybe put them in my own perspective. Have you ever prayed and strongly believed in God for a miracle and the more you prayed, the worse it got? Have you ever felt offended or insulted by God? Have you ever got to a point where you doubted if God is real?
These are some of the questions we reflected on last Sunday as we came to an end of the July series, Bold Conversations at Mavuno church in Nairobi. The series that has been headed by Pastor Linda Oluoch, has been quite inspiring and I found the last series quite captivating.
Pastor Linda of Mavuno Church
Linda is very dramatic in her preaching and I love the way she contextualizes her messages almost always leaving the whole congregation in unbridled mirth. The Bold Conversation has been about persistent faith. The kind of faith that says……“You know, I am trusting in you God, whether you do it now or you do not, I still know you are God.”
Linda gave a number of examples in real life. When we are trusting God to answer our prayers, either concerning our search for a job, change of workplace, in our relationships, marriages, in our families or school, we want God to act according to our wishes. However, this does not happen all the time and therefore, as human beings, our natural response is to discontinue our prayers with a sense of offense or disillusionment, or even with bitterness.
Linda cautions, “Those feelings if left unchallenged can settle down into a mindset, a way of thinking, an outlook or a frame of mind about a particular situation.” Many will reason, if I cannot trust God with these simple prayers, how else can I trust him with great things in my life? While at it, many things seem to change direction.
This is the place when we are advised to take a step of faith, and declare that in His slumber land, God is working something special for each one of us and therefore, “Be stubborn, know what you want, pray boldly and don’t give up!”
Great Faith, Positive Thoughts
Almost all biographies of the most successful people in life will rarely miss this: that the journey had not been easy, a lot like most roads in Kenya, where massive potholes are a common eyesore, unpaved surfaces and other obstacles render movement uncomfortable. However, most of us need to remain focused on the destination. When you leave Nairobi for Mombasa, all your focus should be on you getting to Mombasa.
This is the great faith we need to have considering that in Kenya, we have accidents almost on a daily basis. But trusting that your driver will be careful and the rest of the other drivers on the road will be equally careful, if not more, is dwelling on positive thoughts.
Linda encouraged the congregation, illustrating the importance of often having bold conversations with God. You know the kind of conversation with hands held akimbo, “God, I am believing in you concerning this and that. You will not push me away. I am trusting you to take care of me. Remember I do not have a plan B, so you would better act now,” said Linda.
Whenever I hear such, I miss some of my friends in Norway. Many were the times we had philosophical discussions based on the word of God and around the church and we never reached a conclusion or agreement. After this particular service, I engaged a Norwegian friend in a conversation explaining how great and inspiring the service was, and your guess is as good as mine. We started a new bold conversation.
Invisible Hand, Supernatural Power
He had very valid points. “Yes, this message from Mavuno Church is probably encouraging for those who believe that the Invisible Hand or God could and would always interact in one’s life… And giving hope even though it sometimes looks like there is no supernatural power working and making life move in the direction that one thinks is the best,” explained this Norwegian friend who is not sure that there is a God who is always present and eager to help every human who asks for it.
I explained my case, that the difference between the two of us is our varied beliefs mentioning that, I have always thought that life will be quite boring if God answered all our prayers as if he was an automatic teller machine (ATM). Even so, we don’t always find an ATM working, sometimes you desperately need money, but when you finally spot an ATM, you find a bold message, “Sorry this ATM is out of service for now, try again later.”
“I just have a weak belief. That way I do not get so disappointed when nothing happens. I am just hoping sometimes and happy when it seems like there is some power working,” he added. I miss such discussions. In Kenya it is not easy to find friends who do not believe in God or Invisible Hand as my Norwegians friends would refer to Him.
As we ended our discussion, he asked me to think about this and I am handing it over to you as well. “Is there a chance that our plans are corresponding to the plans that the Invisible Hand has for us? What is the probability that we could have the same plans? What is the probability that He will answer our plans if they do not correspond to those that He has for us? If not, then what?” He asked.
As I discussed this with a Kenyan friend, he had different thoughts. “Patience, interesting philosophical conversation. And I like the contrary thoughts of your Norwegian friends. Have you ever asked yourself whether God really exists? Or is it just a sense of faith transferred to us from people around us and for lack of a contrary belief, or since it has always been that way or out of fear of the unknown, we tag along? But then again, can so many billion people all over the world be so wrong to believe in a non-existence? Bold conversations indeed!!!
“Where there is no longer any opportunity for doubts, there is no longer any opportunity for faith.” -Paul Tournier