Stay

“Welcome home. You will stay now, won’t you?

While you were away I hardly slept

Countless were the vigils I sorely kept

Now that you are home, I pray you will stay”

“While I crossed the sea I was thinking of you

Deep, wide and endless, matched by no other

Akin to your love, unsurpassed by another

But still I cannot say if I really will stay”

“When I close my eyes I dream only of you

Standing like a tower that never can fall

To be with you I long for, far above all

But I only wonder if you still will stay”

“I never dreamt of anything apart from you

Wondering if and when I’ll return to my home

And set my foot on its friendly ground of loam

Never again to wander but always to stay”

“If you so desire, then do what is in you

We will live and work and do all things together

And then build a home that will last forever

But then you must promise me that you will stay”

“It would be my pleasure to promise to you

Never again to leave the shores of our land

But if life should lead me beyond where I stand

I’ll be unable to keep my promise to stay”

Toyin Taiwo © 2012

To Daniella

Beautiful and fiery, you swept me off my feet with your charms, and you knew it. You did not hesitate to let me know how much you meant to me. You had a place in my heart and you knew it. But your attitude left a lot to be desired. At some point I was scared that if I continued with you, you would lead me to my death. Your incessant quarrels and endless nagging were giving me a headache, and you knew it. You thought you could get me to do what you wanted by forcing me to seek peace. But you failed to take note that there were several ways to seek peace, one of which was to leave you. You counted on the fact that such an option was non-existent. But how wrong you were! Even now, I am not a man to bend his utmost convictions for anyone. Those convictions were not acquired overnight. They were acquired through severe trials and testing that proved that they were my only options for living a fulfilled life. Not even a passionate lover could separate me from such fiery convictions, especially not by employing such methods as you did!

I remember the day I made up my mind to leave. Even I could not believe I had eventually come to the point where I was giving up what I had sacrificed so much for. I guess that is how God works. One does not know what he can do until he is pushed to the point where he is left with no options. God proved to me that He could make me give up what I had valued more than Him by creating a higher need that strongly competed with my relationship with you – the need for peace. And so our once beautiful, passionate and undying love for each other would be sacrificed on the altar of peace. It was clear that there was no way I could find peace with you. But I would not have believed even if the most genuine prophet had made that statement two years ago. I hesitated briefly at the door as I packed my things together to leave. But my hesitation gave way as I considered my doctor’s health report. His advice had been simple: avoid heated discussions, worry or any other factors that could stress your body any further.

You did not think I would see it through – our separation. And so you were shocked when I visited you at your office with my lawyer to sign the divorce papers. You were further shocked when I agreed to let you have the most of the property we worked for together. You did not think that day would come when our blossoming relationship would wither beyond the point of revival. Even a plant when cut off, blossoms at the scent of water. But this plant had been uprooted, passing the point of revival. And so it was that you gave it all up – it was never up to you to keep it anyway. I had always been the one to insist on our staying together. But you enjoyed it all. I gave so much to keep us together. But not only did you not appreciate it all, you ignored it all and went on like a mad sow to rip apart everything our relationship ever stood for. And now, we are left with nothing but the ashes of our love.

I have moved on and found peace since our separation. The absence of children in a marriage that lasted about a year made this easier for me. I cannot imagine having to bring up my children in this kind of messy situation. No, that is not the life I planned for them to live. And I thank God they were not here to share in the pain that characterized our fateful separation.  I would certainly tell them the story when the time comes, so they can avoid the pitfalls I could not avoid. The scars of that damage remain deep inside my heart, though I appear to be doing well, having escaped the worst that could have happened. Rebuilding my personal finances has not been as easy, but I was never one who cared for much wealth anyway. I have learnt to be content whatever my state.

I still think about you though, but not with the hope of us coming back together. Instead I think about you with a firm resolve that I should never find reason to join business with you or with anyone of your kind. For I am becoming more and more convinced that you were sent to pull me down, to destroy me and see to my end on this earth. But God did not permit that. And only that same God can now help me to really forgive you, for all I have done is to put away thoughts of you from my mind and move on. Maybe someday I will really find a place in my heart to truly forgive all that you did to me.

Daniella! Such a beautiful name; such a scary memory! My worst days yet have been spent with you, and I would rather live alone all my days than spend another minute with you. I remember the early days of our acquaintance, when I was drunk with the wine of your love and swept away by the aura of your presence. Your carriage and conduct did more to me than years of training and education could withstand. Nobody warned about such charms as yours. You were simply too much for me, and I could only be grateful I had the pleasure of possessing such a treasure as you. Your eager submission and cooperation in those days had a conquering effect on me that most arguments and intellectual discourses have not been able to match since. And I should hope never to be conquered in such a manner again!

Your transformation into the woman I came to detest seemed to be sudden. What went wrong? Where did I get it wrong? What did I fail to do? Or were you just a time bomb waiting to explode? It is only because of the mercies of the Almighty that I was not consumed in that explosion. You suddenly became dissatisfied with the life we lived and began to pick quarrels at every opportunity, even creating opportunity when there was none. You seemed determined to push me, to force me to make our life better. But I thought our life was good. I thought you knew that. But I was wrong. Were you letting off steam you had gathered over a long period of time? Or did you make new friends who taught you new things – things that scattered our marriage? I would often wonder if life alone would not be better. I guess it is, after all. You took it too far when you began to refuse my advances in bed. It was bad enough that I was eating out to escape the judgment of starvation you passed on me; but to refuse me in bed? The marriage might as well have broken down!

I bore it all, hoping we could make some compromises and rebuild, but you were set on making demands I could not meet, and had therefore set the course for the eventual breakdown of the marriage it cost us so much to build. Daniella, even now I remember with sweet sadness our last moments together. Sweet, because I knew I was soon to be free to live in peace again, but sad because the break-up represented a failure in my own life and decision-making as well. But a living failure is better than a dead hero-to-be. The living still has the chance of making a success of the rest of his life, but the dead is gone and unable to finish his heroic act of saving a marriage that was bound for destruction. And I am alive to tell the painful story of our short-lived marriage; that is a plus for me.  As I put my pen to rest, I pray that God will heal all that is broken in me and give me grace to forgive you. I also pray for strength to live the new life that I have found after being separated from destruction, the destruction that threatened to cut me short before mid-life. And on a last note, I pray that God will rescue every other man from you, and then rescue you from the hands of the Evil One, who so threatens to make a mess of your transient life.

Mental Block

I stare in vain at my screen. Today makes it exactly a week that I have been trying to write. It feels as if I’ve got something trapped deep within me, trying to find expression. But I cannot find words to articulate it. My computer screen glows white, waiting for the command to start generating characters. All the letters of the alphabet stare at me from the keyboard, creating a kind of collaborative mockery. And the computer lights blink on, signaling their readiness…

I feel despondent as I sit there, trying to figure out what exactly it is that would give me relief. Like a computer system that has hung, trying without success to make sense of all the information bombarding it, I struggle without end to return to balance – that state of calm and satisfaction that has so eluded me. But all my trials end in nothing.  “This is not my normal self,” I reason, but then normalcy is fast becoming a strange word in the light of my most recent experiences.

I try to think of something beautiful to write about, a kind of utopian reality that would bring me that feeling of having had a breakthrough. But nothing lends itself to my assistance – not even my spongy memory can evoke any beautiful experience to write about. I consider calling this experience a “mental block”. That would be a good name for it. Yes! As if an invisible hand were detaining a torrent of ideas trying to surge through my mind. If only I could get that hand off my mind…

I think of my past. I consider myself to have been relatively fortunate in life, with an early successful start that boosted my confidence and gave me the guts to tackle every challenge thinking I would win. That winning attitude kept me till I started learning the realities of life – the stark truth about the inadequacy of every man that dwells on the surface of this planet, and the possibility of failure every time anyone called ‘human being’ tries a thing. I learnt about success before failure…

The future waits to be explored. And it carries with it the mystery and secrets of the challenges that will yet confront every human who reaches it. The future holds within it promises and threats, assurances and uncertainties, hope and despair. But all these remain unknown to all except one who holds time in his hands – the power that be, or so I have come to believe. Nevertheless, our part is to hope, and believe we will fare well in that future, the details of which we know not…

A multitude of ideas suddenly barrage my mind. But I am none the better for it. From philosophy to politics, I have a billion things to write about. But topics don’t provide a way of escape for me. I still need substance. And several topics do not seem interesting enough to venture into. They are just attractive white tombs. On examination, they are full of rotten flesh and dry bones, the likes of which causes a man nightmares – nothing that prospers human existence, just plain old theories…

I’ll have to stop now. Life is waiting to be lived. And the direction in which I’m headed is yielding nothing yet. The frustration of trying again and again to produce meaningful material through repeatedly unsuccessful efforts is getting at me. I’ll have to get something someday. Luck has to be on my side. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll find something meaningful and worthwhile to tinker with, and maybe tinkering will lead to some serious effort at producing substantial literary stuff. Just maybe.

July 4, 2012

On Seeing and Entering the Kingdom

So Nicodemus comes to see Jesus by night, to affirm Jesus’ ministry and declare his faith in Jesus as a God-sent teacher. Perhaps he came to hear in detail about Jesus’ teachings so he could determine for himself what to believe. I cannot tell. But I know he did come, and that he got no further on his mission than to approve of Jesus, based on the signs he saw. Jesus’ reply to him steered the rest of the discussion, in which Nicodemus’ speech was reduced to questions and his ignorance of spiritual things was clearly revealed by Jesus, who knew all things. Yet Nicodemus was a religious leader among his people. Thank God he was humble enough to come asking so he could hear the truth. And because of that, we now know those things which were spoken by the Lord Jesus in response to his inquisition.

Jesus’ first two statements revolved around his purpose for coming into the world – the kingdom of God. I call them “The Two Rules of Kingdom Exception

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”

While Nicodemus ponders on the meaning of the first statement, Jesus quickly releases another one, that perhaps confuses him the more. The man is wondering, ‘How will a man be born the second time?’ But Jesus states the second rule instead of answering Nicodemus’ question. And then he goes on to explain more about what he is saying. I would like to look briefly at these two rules and their significance to us in this present age, as the world is coming to a close, as proven by the fulfillment of historical predictions by Jesus himself.

So, what is the kingdom of God? It is that realm (or location) over which God reigns as a king. In that realm, the word of God is law and his will is supreme, above all others. Is it a physical location? No, because God is not a physical being. He is a Spirit. Therefore his kingdom is spiritual. For example, heaven, where God dwells, is part of the kingdom of God. And like the ancient kings we read of in history, God wants to extend his kingdom from heaven to the earth. That was his original plan in sending Adam to be his ambassador on earth. But Adam failed, and sold out the kingdom to Satan through disobedience to God. But Jesus, through his obedience to God, has come to re-establish that plan on the earth.

However, to even be able to ‘see’ the kingdom of God, one has to be ‘born again’. What does it mean to ‘see’ the kingdom? It means to know, become aware and conscious of the lifestyle, standard and manner of operation of the kingdom as well as the power and authority that its citizens possess. In other words, to ‘see’ the kingdom means to know kingdom rights and privileges as well as kingdom code of conduct. What does it mean to be born again? It means to be born a second time! Yes! But this time, not to be born by a woman, but to be born by the Spirit (to be born anew inside). Just think of birth as a transition from one realm of existence to another, and being born again becomes easier to imagine. The human spirit (the real man) is transferred from one realm to another. Hence, the man has just been ‘born’ into this new realm. So naturally, like Nicodemus, my thinking is, ‘how can this be possible?’

To be born again is a concept that cannot be easily explained naturally, but can be compared to certain natural phenomena, such as birth. But to experience it is much simpler than to understand it. Since it is not natural, it cannot be felt either, but can be proven through experience. However, it is not subject to the scientific method of proving things. It is an experience that is obained by faith but which manifests in the natural. The evidence of the transformation that takes place inside is manifested outside, so that people will eventually know that such a person has been ‘born again’.

Now to the second rule: what does it mean to ‘enter’ into the kingdom of God? To ‘enter’ the kingdom means to gain access into the kingdom, to be accepted into or become a part of the kingdom. The implication is that one is recognised as a citizen of the kingdom due to his way of living, kingdom power and authority demonstrated, kingdom rights and privileges received as well as kingdom responsibilities discharged, especially as compared to one who does not belong to the kingdom. What does it mean to be born of water and the Spirit? I explained that to be born again is to be born of the Spirit, into a new spiritual realm, other than the one in which one previously existed. But this experience, from the first rule, is only sufficient to make one ‘see’ the kingdom. To ‘enter’ the kingdom, one has to be born of water and the Spirit.

Water, in this context, signifies cleansing, which is a critical use of water in the time of Jesus (especially in religious rites of worship). And the manner of cleansing implied here is not outward (external), but inward (internal). Hence, the tool for cleansing here, is not physical water, but spiritual water, which refers to the word of God. The Bible severally alludes to the word of God as having a cleansing effect. So it is not possible to enter the kingdom except one is born anew (by the Spirit of God) and cleansed inwardly (by the word of God). The implication of this is that those who are born of the Spirit, but are not cleansed by the word will se the kingdom but will be unable to enter into it. They will neither be qualified (due to uncleanness) nor enabled (due to weakness) to access the kingdom of God.

What is the significance of all this to us?. As this age approaches a close, God is actualising the plan to fill the heavens and the earth with his kingdom, and destroy whatever contradicts his kingdom in all of heaven and earth. To cross to God’s side and escape his judgment, one must become a part of his kingdom. And belonging to His kingdom attracts other present-day benefits that outweighs the cost. Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door for all men to be born-again. The power that raised him from the dead is available for anyone who desires to be born-again, only on one condition: you must repent and believe. Anyone who repents from his sins, believes in Jesus and accepts him as Saviour and Lord with confession in his mouth is born-again. Very simple!

Man is at once spirit, soul and body. His spirit must be born again and his soul must be renewed by the word of God in order for him to be able to belong to and enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom. Then his spirit and soul will be in agreement with God and his body will have no option but to be conformed to the kingdom. Thus, the man is delivered from destruction and translated into salvation, in this world and in the world to come! Amen.

Oh Jesus I Have Promised

O Jesus, I have promised, To serve Thee to the end;

Be Thou forever near me, My Master and my Friend;

I shall not fear the battle, If Thou art by my side,

Nor wander from the pathway, If Thou wilt be my Guide.

 

Oh, let me feel Thee near me; The world is ever near;

I see the sights that dazzle, The tempting sounds I hear;

My foes are ever near me, Around me and within;

But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, And shield my soul from sin.

 

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking, In accents clear and still,

Above the storms of passion, The murmurs of self-will;

Oh, speak to reassure me, To hasten, or control;

Oh, speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

 

O Jesus, Thou hast promised, To all who follow Thee

That where Thou art in glory, There shall Thy servant be;

And Jesus, I have promised, To serve Thee to the end;

Oh, give me grace to follow, My Master and my Friend.

 

Oh, let me see Thy footmarks, And in them plant mine own;

My hope to follow duly, Is in Thy strength alone.

Oh, guide me, call me, draw me, Uphold me to the end;

And then to rest receive me, My Savior and my Friend.

Who am I?

I am a poem, of untold origin

I am a cat, of nine lives

I am a fire, of raging passion

I am a city, of mixed multitudes

I am a farm, of bountiful produce

I am a river, of many journeys

Carrying the story of several lands and peoples

 

I am the wind, of unknown destination

I am the word, of a king in power

I am the winter, of cold and darkness

I am the wealth, of men in honour

I am the face, of a lovely damsel

I am the shoulder, of a man of strength

Bearing his burdens in due time and season

 

I am your God, of invisible presence

I am your image, of exact features

I am your friend, of unswerving devotion

I am your future, of unknown nature

I am your thoughts, of shifting focus

I am your past, of memorial presence

Holding the power to live in your present

Toyin Taiwo © 2012

The Son of Man

He stands alone outside the gates

Spreading his hands for all to see

He speaks the words of life in parables

Calling for all to come to him

Whoso will come and then believe

Shall be saved and never die

But those that don’t believe in Him

Will be judged by words they heard

The Son of Man has come to save

And not to judge the sons of men