It has been said that Africans tend to be unnecessarily affiliated to the spiritual, divine or rather supernatural. Whether you grow up in town next to those loud Gospel churches or in the village like I was, close to the more somber like a funeral mood sanctuaries, religion and the tendency to ascribe meaning to a higher power is always there with you. It starts from the mundane things of life- weather and the reference of rain as divine and drought as judgement or a bad omen. Then it transcends to more serious issues such as child birth, success in one’s life, marriage sustainability and even longevity in political office.
There are many reasons as to why people go to church and many of us love specific things in church. It might be the electric praise or deeply emotive worship songs especially those done in the minor keys. (My favourite is A and E minors). It might be the sermon for the day, or even the monthly events on topical issues. Churches have also evolved to be core to the social fabric of the community- place to meet with family and friends. Whatever the reason, to some, Sunday’s always feels complete when the main plan includes that walk, drive or mathree journey to church.
I am a frequent church goer, at least my mum raised us as such. I sometimes in my naive extremism find it very awkward when I call my younger brother and inquire if he went to church and he says no. I am like, maybe I should tell mum that you actually woke up and decided not to go to church. Anyway, as they say, kila mtu na maisha ya, yake (each to their own- choices and destiny). So I let him be. This does not mean I go to church every Sunday’s, no I don’t; but I make it a deliberate decision to go to church unless, there is an extremely valid reason as to why I shouldn’t.
In some churches, there’s this segment for prayer requests. So the Pastor receives many prayer requests from the congregation and the pastor reads them out and says, let’s join in prayer as we pray for these and the many unspoken prayer requests you might be having. It is only then that I have found such impact and gratitude when I consider what God has preserved me from. As I keenly listen to each prayer request, sometimes I am overwhelmed by emotions. Other times I am just mum, struck in shock. I am like God- that could have been me, barren, in ICU, going through chemo, watching the last minutes of an accident victim but you are so good to have preserved me from all these. Not that I am special anyway. These moments make me realize how ungrateful I am and sometimes perhaps even inconsiderate.
Have you listened to people’s prayer requests and realized you do not have a problem? You have your rent paid up to date. Your salary checks in on time, actually by the 22nd (I understand some folks are paid by this date- tell me if you are one…Lol)
Ok, even if your salary checks in late, at least you have a salary to take care of your needs. Think about this person who has a child at the ICU for four months now and the bill is hitting over 3 million. Think about this parent who is praying over rebellious teenagers, who don’t seem to obey anything she says. Think about this husband who has been tarmacking for the last five years and is at the verge of giving up. Here you are with a job, and the much you can do is fuss about how tired you are and how you spend most of your time searching for the next greener pasture. Hands down.
If you look at these opportunities, though mundane, actually you realize that it is not that you are special but it is just by that higher power.
Church continues to remind me of how grateful I need to be. Reminds me of all the many blessings I take so for granted. Reminds me of being thankful, counting my blessings again and again, noticing the simple gifts and pleasure of life not as right but as a gift from the Almighty God.
I have come to acknowledge that I am healthy not because this is my entitlement, but because God, as Hezekiah Walker sings has favored me. I have come to that place of living my life as if everything and each day is a miracle. This is that shift- from what I have and not what I lack. Every prayer request read reminds me to be more thoughtful and mindful of others.
The moral of this blog this week, is to challenge each one of us to appreciate each step along the journey- big or small and to be content with the steady progress realizing someone somewhere is making a prayer request on what you think is your entitlement.
So if you have been wondering what to do in the next few minutes, look around and just for today, choose to be forever grateful.
Then, be prepared, next week, I am officially introducing one of my guest bloggers. She’s more than excited to be on this platform. On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing what she brings on board. So lets all wait for this, and shout……………suprissssssssssssssseeeee!!