“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor 13:11).
There comes a point in every person’s life when they know they have to stop playing, stop putting off maturity, and start living up to their purpose and responsibilities. Whether it is a boy becoming a man, a teenage girl becoming a lady, or a new believer becoming a leader in the faith. The time of childhood and adolescence is for drinking milk, but a mature person graduates to meat (1 Cor 3:1-3, Heb 5:12). If that graduation doesn’t come in due time, what the world sees, and what will soon become blatantly obvious to the fellow, is a dysfunctional person! Dys-functional because like an inferior, faulty product, they are not able to perform the duties they were created to.
That revelation has come to me today. The things that have brought my life to this point are bearing their fruit in me, and I feel the Lord telling me that I can’t continue this journey with the kiddy wheels I’ve been riding. That I have to step up, and get behind the wheel of a car and drive. I can’t continue with vanity, being concerned about worldly values, but have to start reasoning and living like one who was bought at a very great price. For me, this is a charge to accept the call of ministry.
February 10th, 2002, was a landmark day in my life. That was the day that I broke down before God, in a Church, and handed my life over to Him. It was something I’d done severally before, but on that particular day, I knew this was to be the last – there was no going back. The life I was living was not pleasing to me. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, because I already knew I was the Lord’s, and He gave me no peace to live in sin. So, instead of living in torment, I decided I’d better start doing what He wants me to do. That was the day I became ‘born again’, and my life changed forever.
Since that time, I’ve been through a lot as a person and as a Christian. But God has always helped me and been the reason why I persevered through various trials – some of which I failed. However, there has remained one thing that I know I’ve held back. Something I’ve been too afraid to give up, for fear of losing my sanity. That is my individuality, what I think makes me me. Even though I’ve never been attached to my ‘image’ as such, there were just some things about myself that I didn’t want to change. Like the way I dress, dance and even speak. I’ve even come to re-define my anger and aggression as ‘fiesty’, and believed it’s all part of me being me. However, this refusal to let go of these traits, or at least to lay them before Christ for approval, has left me spiritually stunted.
More than ten years on, I am embarrassed to see that even though I know so much about my faith, and can preach sermons, a lot of people observing me in the flesh would never believe that I believe what I believe! I was recently shocked by someone who knew me from my Secondary school days, and has been my Facebook friend, who said to me that he never knew I was a Christian. Even though I started my walk zealously, I gradually shyed away from being all up in people’s face about my faith. I thought they might be turned off, and hoped they’d be influenced, rather, by my life. However, I’ve found the opposite is now true. As I have begun to let my spirit speak and minister, not only to me but to others, the burden to live a life above reproach is causing my living witness to come under inspection and, out of necessity, change!
I used to think I can dress and dance just how I please, because I know who I am, and I’m not down for what they may think – so who cares? But God cares, and they care, because they don’t know me, and all they know about me and my God is what they see, and not what they hear. So, even if I know I don’t get down like that, anyone observing me should be able to say – “that girl, nah, she won’t go for that!” too. The truth is as a Christian, someone who calls the name of Christ, I am a minister of the gospel. People will read me and hear my ministry. And if actions and words don’t add up, they will always believe the actions.
So why am I saying all this? Well, a series of devotional messages (I’m reading two devotionals at the moment) over the last three days, today’s sermon in Church and a book I recently read and critiqued, have all combined to convict me of this one thing – that what people see when they look at me and hear me call on Christ is essentially important. In Steve Harvey’s book, ‘Act Like a Lady – Think Like A Man’, he described women who were classed as ‘Sports fish’ or ‘throwbacks’. Not that I was surprised, but it certainly woke me up to see that judging by the way I ‘drop it like it’s hot’ when I’m out dancing, and wear sexually provocative attire, I’d be cast in that class, even though, in reality, I am far from promiscuous! So thank you, Steve, for that mirror look!
One thing I know for sure – I can’t stop talking about God! He’s in my mind and in my heart! And the things He’s ministering to me, I want to shout them from the roof tops. So as I am developing this ministry in obedience to Christ, I realise that He has taken up shop, and Ufuoma has been kicked to the curb. Paul said it this way: “…He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor 5:15). As much as I’ve forsaken all other things for the Lord, this one thing must be laid down, so that Christ can truly live in me and rule. My image doesn’t matter. What matters is that in everything, I represent Christ, and bring glory to His name (1 Cor 10:31) and not shame – lest any be turned away on account of my bad witness.
Soberly, I accept this call, to live as a minister of the gospel. The sacrifice is my ‘self’ (Rom 12:1; Luke 9:23). The reward is unimaginable (1 Cor 2:9). All I know is that Ufuoma has done all she can for me, and mostly, letting her lead the way has wasted years of growth and fruit-bearing. So, here I am, Lord, ready to be Your witness in all nations, and in any circumstance. I know that being a teacher (or minister), I will be judged more severely; therefore I pray for greater grace, so that after ministering, I will not find myself cast out (1 Cor 9:27).
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