Changing Homes

This is not my home. This is the first reaction I had when I got there. There is that instinctive feeling of recognition that comes into one’s mind – recognition of your own turf when you find it, and of a strange place when you get there. The strange place may even be where you used to call home. But then something had changed. That thing is you, most probably. Change just happens sometimes. You don’t call for it. You don’t anticipate it. You don’t even believe it. But you know it. You feel it. You recognise it. It’s just as if something has changed while you were not looking, while men slept. It happens to all of us. The most pitiful part is that the greatest and most significant changes in our lives happen just like that, while we are not looking. We just find out that the tides have shifted and we no longer belong where we used to be in charge. Suddenly it’s time to move on. And the biggest challenge in handling such situations is how to move on. You have invested so much here. I should belong here, you think. But you know you are no longer allowed there, not by the dictates of men or by the choices you made, but by the very fact that the seasons have changed.

I stood on looking at that old building. In the past years it had served as house and home, not only for me, but also for my peers with whom I shared my childhood. Distant memories of a happy and fun-filled childhood lingered, waiting to be set free like a bird from the cage in which it is trapped. But how does one let go of such beautiful memories without inevitably losing or feeling like losing an integral part of one’s self? Yet the distant future beckoned at me, begging me to forget all that had ever been, promising a life I have not anticipated. A bird in hand, they say, is worth two in the bush. I stood and wondered, hesitating on how to react to the myriad of thoughts flooding my fragile mind in that moment of decision. For me the die was cast. It was either I clung onto the hope of the past (and pray for some resurrection of that hope) or I completely abandoned all, including my most cherished thoughts, for the unknown prize of a future that supersedes my greatest expectations.

Here we lived, here we played, here we fought and made up. Here we ate and slept, read and dreamt. It was in those years on this spot I am standing that my little brain began to conceive ideas that would later grow into massive visions, with which I am now running. It would seem as if ‘here’ has finished serving its purpose, ‘there’ is next. But where on earth is there? I just travelled for a while and came back to see we had moved. I thought it was not too far from here. But distance meant nothing. I had been separated never to return, even if here was within walking distance to my new house. The people that made this house home had also left. Here would never be home again. Even now I can feel the sweet moments we shared on those beautiful starry nights in this building. But the glory of Israel was fallen and its days of splendour were gone – things would never be that way again. Henceforth, each one of those children who shared a life on the tiled corridors of this house would have to find their way into the depths of the universe by themselves. Each one would have to sojourn into the unknown following his own path and charting his own course, with various extents of help – some with a little help, others with some, some with no help, and still others with all the help they needed. But each one of them would have been given equal chances to accomplish the dreams they once cherished.

My mind kept working feverishly as I stood there, oblivious of what was happening around me. I didn’t know for sure how to handle the emotions that were being stirred up in me as a result of the ‘mixed multitude’ of thoughts that were racing through my mind. For a split second, I considered calling up one or two of my childhood friends to see if we could meet and play ‘catch up’ – revisit the past, share some stories and jokes and then maybe wander around the house awhile. But I dismissed the idea as quickly as it came. Who said I would be able to get them anyway? Besides, people only want to talk about the future these days, not the past. Or so it seems. I quietly resigned in my thoughts. The decisions had been made. Not by me, though. I would have to leave this past that had slipped away from me and pursue the future that I could not see clearly. And pray that I can find my way in the gathering darkness of the present, against all odds. I suddenly blinked and looked all around. The whole building was dark and deserted – a clear reflection of the state of my mind. I realised I had been standing on the same spot for well over an hour, as unmoving as the odds that stood against me. I took one last look at this building which held so much charm, so much allure for me and shook my head at the transient nature of man’s existence. He is simply a passer-by in the roads of life where he finds himself. The inanimate things often lived longer to tell his story. As I turned and walked away, a little tinge of guilt tainted my conscience for turning my back on a building that held much of my story, aside the attraction I had for it. But I quickly washed it away with the water of reasoning, reckoning that some things just had to be. I imagine that the house itself had some attraction for me, keeping my secrets within its walls, the various nooks and crannies bearing the mark of my existence and filing away the story of my adventures in the book of records, the Big Book of Records that buildings keep of those who once lived in them. It was very dark by the time I found my way home that night. I simply went straight to bed and slept. Tomorrow is another day.

A Race Against Time

Slowly he trudged, his journey lay ahead

Bleakly he looked, hoping to see the end

Armory at hand, his frail soul to defend

Pains around his body, aching in his head


His fragile soul was famished, looking for a sign

All his strength focused, on finishing the journey

He had nothing left; he’d spent all of his money

But he had this resolve: to see the finish line


Along came a traveler, a fellow journeyman

He too seemed exhausted, tired to the bone

They began to discuss, both talking in a drone

Our friend did not inquire, about the strange man


They traveled on together, sharing their pain and sorrow

But time soon revealed, the person of the stranger

For soon he condescended, to eating from a manger

And then put off his journey, until an unknown morrow


He put our friend in danger, a state of real confusion

For he began to dither, over his fallen friend

But soon he realised, all things were at an end

And so picked up his journey, bringing it to conclusion


Finally as he ended, though he had not a dime,

Yet his soul was comforted, knowing he’d overcome

He had a lot of trouble, all of through which he’d come

To finish up his journey, a race against time

Toyin Taiwo © 2012

A Christmas to Remember

When I was thirteen, an event took place that forever altered my understanding of the purpose of Christmas. It was on the morning of Christmas day. We had prepared to go to church, all dressed fine and ready to show off to everyone how gorgeous we were looking. We had just finished a sumptuous meal of fried rice and chicken, our favourite for such special days. And my mom just knew how to make such meals memorable. All was going as expected. My younger sister made a little fuss about her eye-glasses, which was coming apart. With what looked like a flip of his hand, my dad fixed the glasses and averted what could have been a major cause of trouble that beautiful morning. Then he called on my mum to hurry up and not spend the whole day dressing up. She replied that she could not come out looking rough – typical of my mother. My sister and I were just in a hurry to get it all going…

A piercing scream from our neighbour’s flat temporarily suspended our thriving Christmas mood. It was undoubtedly an appeal for succour. I hesitated briefly and found myself standing alone in the living room. Every other person had run in the direction of the screaming voice. I briefly wondered to whom the highly-pitched voice belongs; it was clearly that of a woman. I had never heard anyone with such a voice in that compound of ours: trouble can make people do what is otherwise impossible. I was also temporarily annoyed at the sudden break in the flow of the day’s event. While I was selfishly gloating over nothing in our flat, my dad was busy trying to resuscitate our neighbour in the other flat, while my mum and sister anxiously looked on. After about a minute of hesitation, I dragged my feet to go on and join them to see what had happened – these women sometimes made an issue out of nothing. I had figured that whatever happened, my dad would have taken charge, plus the scream had died down after they must have gotten there.

I quietly eased my way into the troubled flat. It belonged to a young couple who had been married for less than two years and were yet to have a child, although the woman already had a protruding belly. I met everyone looking desperate, including the wife of our Catholic neighbour upstairs and the whole family of the Pentecostals who lived adjacent to them. The man of the house lay on the ground, stretched out with his hands by his sides and looking unconscious. I could not imagined what had happened to him. The women were trying to calm his young wife down and take her into the room, especially because of her pregnancy, while the men kept trying different first aid measures they knew. The children simply looked on in confusion. In my foolishness, I blurted out what I felt needed to be done at the moment, “Take him to the hospital now!” But those men knew better and were only waiting for the woman to be taken in before announcing their verdict – the man had given up the ghost. When she was later told about her young husband’s death, she let out another scream of infinitely higher pitch, so high it almost destroyed my eardrum…

That day, I knew the voice of sorrow. It was unique in an indescribable way. Perhaps more disturbing was the look I saw on the face of that troubled woman as she attempted to let out the pain and sorrow of her loss in a single scream. It was heart-breaking. Add the look on her face to the sound of her voice and you get a special effect one cannot communicate, but can only comprehend. I later gathered the rest of the story from my family. The man had complained of sharp painful stabs in his chest the previous night, and resolved to make a quick visit to the hospital on Christmas morning. But that visit was never to be, as he suddenly fell clutching his chest while dressing up to go out that tragic Christmas morning. Moods were suddenly altered, and plans were modified, as my parents had to see to the transportation of the man’s body to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead – a fact we already knew. And the women had to stay with the bereaved woman, whose daylight had been transformed into the darkness of death.

Amidst the overwhelming reality of tragedy on a Christmas day, I was deeply immersed in my own thoughts. What could this woman, and her unborn baby, could have done to deserve this? Did this kind of thing happen to a lot of families? Or did the rest of the world simply go on rejoicing while one woman suffered deeply in a season of celebration? Could God not put a hold on occurrence of evil while we celebrate and then let it continue well after celebration was over? What did Christmas mean to God anyway – the birth of Jesus? Was the birth of Jesus not supposed to mean the redemption of the world? Why then were people perishing? Out of selfish concern for a disrupted day, I mulled endlessly over several thoughts until I fell asleep on the couch in the living room, where I was alone and the TV was prattling away in what seemed like a strange language, given my present predicament. My sister had long succumbed to the power of the Somnolent Spirit, and my parents were out on account of the day’s occurrence.

When I awoke, I had literally slept over the thoughts in my mind before I drifted off to sleep. Like a flash of lightning, understanding dawned on me as I awoke – evil would never cease as long as the earth remains, neither would good. Everyone who is kept from evil must remain thankful to God. While we cannot keep evil from being in the earth, we can submit to God who is able to keep us from the Evil One and his deeds. And we must extend our hands of love to those who are not as privileged as we are, especially in our seasons of celebration. I had no dreams, no visions, no revelations. This four-fold understanding just opened up in my mind as I woke up that quiet afternoon. I never hope to see such a day again as long as I have breath. But the realisation that hit me that day left me completely transformed. Every Christmas, and on several other days, I still remember those two screams; each one revisiting me in succession amidst all the sobbing and weeping which accompanied them that day. And with the memory of the tragedy comes the memory of the truths I realised. It was indeed, a Christmas to remember.

December 31, 2011

Manna (or Manner) Lessons

So the children of Israel started murmuring against Moses again. This time it wasn’t the Red Sea that hemmed them in, with Pharaoh on the other side. Neither was it thirst that parched their throats, with the bitter waters of Marah staring at them. It was hunger that inspired their cries. Sounds legitimate, huh? But instead of believing and asking God for what they needed, they chose to murmur and complain, comparing their ‘predicament’ to the former abundance of ‘flesh and bread’ in Egypt. God heard their cries, and promised to give them quails (flesh) in the evening and manna (bread) in the morning, with a view to testing them in the process. So he sent word to them through Moses, saying that he would give them food, to prove who he was to them. But there was an instruction: they were not to gather more than a certain amount per person, neither were they to gather more than they needed for a day, except on the sixth day. On the sixth day, they would get enough for two days so that they need not go out for food on the Sabbath day, the day of rest.

And the food came as was promised. In the evening, there were quails, and in the morning there was manna, just as the morning dew disappeared from the ground. The dew seemed to have hidden the manna from view. Perhaps they had descended together from the heavens. The people went out and gathered the manna. They could grind it or crush it, cook it or bake it. It tasted like wafers made with honey. It was indeed, bread from heaven! And as soon as the sun waxed hot, the remnant on the ground melted away and disappeared. However, some of the people disregarded the instruction of Moses not to leave any of the manna they gathered till the following morning. What they left till the day after began to breed worms and stink. What they gathered on the sixth day though, did not stink when they left it till the Sabbath day, for God did not send manna on the day of rest. But some people still went out to look for manna on the Sabbath day, and God became angry with them.

So what are the lessons? One: the Israelites, like many of us, failed to remember and keep a record of the good deeds of God in their lives. As a result, they started complaining, even lamenting, when hunger came knocking. Perhaps they just refused to remember. Whatever the case, they acted as if it wasn’t God who delivered them from Egypt or drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea. They would have just asked Him – he would have done it. Two: in God’s kingdom, no matter the abundant supply of material provision available, you must learn to take what you need, not what you want. Anything outside of this simple rule is covetousness. Often times, we want God to give us what we want, re-defining our wants as needs in the process, to conform to the standards of the world. We must learn to be content with the simple provisions of God from day to day. God could even give you more than you need to test your heart and see what you would do. Don’t fail the test, take what you need! Three: God’s provision is regulated by God’s instruction and will remain intact and available for us as long as we are in the boundary of obedience. Once we disobey, however, God’s own provision can begin to breed maggots and even stink! God’s provision is preserved by God for us as long as we obey his commandment. Beyond obedience, we have no guarantees from Him. I could go on and on, but you had better check up Exodus chapter sixteen to read up the whole story and let the Holy Spirit speak to you from the abundance of heavenly treasures!

July 18, 2012

The Martyr

Why did you do it? Why did you deny him?

You said you knew him not, yet he sprung out of you

You said he was a stranger, although he bore your mark

You even called him alien, while he still bore your name

You turned away from him, though he clung to you still

And through your wicked elders, you sent him to his grave

Oh you ancient city of martyrs, why did you do it?


Why did you do it? Why did you put him away?

Together you sat in council, deciding on his fate

You hired false witnesses, to confirm him a sinner

And brought forth false evidence, indicting him the more

You shut your eyes and ears, while they dragged him away

To have his blood splattered, down by the sacred river

Why, oh tell me, why did you do it?


Why did you do it? Why did you wash it away?

You watched in silent horror, as they dragged him towards you

And tied him to the great taproots, that extend into you

They spilled his blood by you, the blood of the blameless

You washed it all away, taking with you his memories

Yet you moved on in silence, as if nothing had happened

Tell me, oh you sacred river, why did you do it?

Toyin Taiwo © 2012

The Coming Wrath

The wrath of God is soon to be revealed. God, in an act of justice and righteousness, will unleash his wrath upon the nations of the earth for the evil and wickedness that has filled the surface of the earth. Just as in the days of Noah when God destroyed all the earth with water, God will once again destroy not only the earth, but the visible heavens (the skies and the clouds) as well. This time however, he will use fire. He will punish all those who have opposed or rejected him, as well as those who have promoted injustice and wickedness on the earth, either by doing them, or by rewarding those who do them. He will exact revenge on every cheat, punish every liar and condemn every immoral and perverse person to the punishment of eternal fire. No form of sin, no matter how little, will escape the watchful eyes of the Just Judge of the earth. He will prove himself to be righteous by doing this.

Every wicked action, ungodly speech or impure thought (or motive) will be punished by the Father of lights, in whose sight nothing is hidden. The blood of every righteous man slain will be demanded, and due punishment will given to everyone who has done one form of evil or the other. In the day of His wrath, God will not spare or have mercy. It will be a day of great trouble and grave judgment as the wicked will roll in the fires of God’s wrath, pleading mercy and finding none. He will abase the proud and expose their shame, having removed their source of pride and afflicted them with pain. Even the formerly righteous who compromised and went into sin will not be left out. They too will share in the suffering of those who were wicked all through their lives.

All extreme, moderate and minimal forms of unrighteousness and evil among men will be punished accordingly. Every vile person will receive his due reward from God for all his works. Flatterers, gossips and malicious speakers will have their tongue suffer the punishment of eternal pain. Every form of pleasure gained by sin will be rewarded with a much greater degree of pain by God himself, who will judge the nations of the earth. And every one who rejected the Son of God will be punished for rejecting the Ultimate Sacrifice for their sins, and will pay for all those sins by themselves. The indulgent, the homosexuals, the adulterers and fornicators as well as murderers will all have their place in the flaming fire that never ceases and never consumes, so that their pain will be eternal.

Knowing well that all have sinned and no man is worthy to escape the judgment, God in his mercy has provided Jesus, his Son, to die as a punishment for the sins of all men, so that whoever trusts and puts their hope in him will not perish but will have eternal life. Jesus took that punishment for your sins if you will believe in him. But if you do not, you will take the punishment for your own sins and explain to God why you came short of His standard. Remember that God will not overlook little sins. Little and great sins alike will be punished in His presence. The slightest stain will deter anyone from entering the kingdom of heaven. The blood of Jesus however, is sufficient to cover even the greatest sins, if only you will believe. That blood will keep us from the destruction that comes in the day of God’s judgment.

Today, God’s call to us all in this wicked and errant generation is to repent of all our sins and to return to his tender mercies and loving kindness. If we will trust in the blood of His Son and live by the words he commanded, if we will accept Him as our Saviour and allow Him to be our Lord, if we will obey Him and keep walking in His love, then we will escape the wrath of God on the last day and live with Him forever in the new heavens and the new earth which he will create. God’s love for us is so great, and it is a shield to us from His judgment. So let us embrace His love and avoid His terrible judgment, which is coming soon.

I have not written on this theme because it is my favourite in the Bible, or because I fancy these ideas. I have written because the judgment of God is emphasised all through the Scriptures, and this generation is neglecting the fear of God and embracing the pleasures of sin and unrighteousness unreservedly, thereby inviting the wrath of God, which will soon be poured out heavily. I have written this, not only because of those who have embraced one form of sin or another and who need to repent, but also because of those whose love and passion for God are waxing cold because of the abundance of sin, which makes it appear as if the judgment of God is merely a thematic discourse, and not a scary reality. I pray our hearts will clearly apprehend the reality of God’s coming wrath, and of his present love revealed in Jesus Christ, who rescues us from the coming wrath. Amen.