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Faith

Stretching Our Faith (2)

By January 5, 2017 February 5th, 2019 4 Comments

I remember going on my knees every single day in the last week in December 2016, with one major prayer: “When you delivered the Children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, you did not ‘just’ do it so that they ‘barely’ escaped. That was a majestic exit you purposed and ensured, parting the Red Sea and causing them to walk on dry land in the midst of the waters.” 

In millennial terminology, that’s telling the devil: “you’re going to watch me go, and you can eat my dust while you’re at it!” 

2016 had been rough, in every sense of the word, but I wasn’t prepared to barely walk out.  And boy, did I walk out gallantly to the Glory of His Holy Name!

On the night I arrived in Boston, I had to keep telling  myself over and over again: ‘Nana, let God take it from here’

But the human mind- and the flesh in general; it’s like we are set up against ourselves!

Traveling from Texas, I did not have enough warm clothing to brace me for the cold. Feet numb, fingers numb, one torn and tattered suitcase on one hand, as I struggled to balance another suitcase,my hand luggage and my handbag through T-Stations because I simply could NOT afford Uber, nor LYFT -the cheaper version  .

Seriously, how much would it cost, right?! I sound so extra, right?!

Let me break it down. 

This job that brought me to Boston, -and the reason why I had to keep reminding myself to ‘let God take it from here’ – paid me $280 a week/20hrs! Multiply that by the 4 weeks in a month- $1200. After taxes are deducted, my monthly earnings were a little over $850. No, seriously. $850 and change. 

My rent? $800. What’s left? $50. That’s not even enough to pay for my monthly bus pass. 

My former boss, Saran, had said to me that she would financially support me out of pocket so I could pay the bills. Saran is a woman of her word. However, she was out of town when I arrived and she ‘didn’t have the money now, but I’ll get it to you as soon as I can arrange for it.

If I had any security in back-up, that was now out the window. 

Let me circle back a bit further on why any kind of back-up was wiped out. 

I am not one to play with my tithe, offering and seed-sowing. I believe in harvest time, so long as seed time prevails. 

I could never tell God I have no money for offering. Or tithe. Many, many months prior to this season of financial hardship, I had told God I would always give Him a set, non-negotiable amount as offertory. (Except higher, of course!) My sister travelled to Ghana the day before I left for Boston. Whenever I have such an opportunity, I directly send my offertory and tithe and seed (as He leads) to my church back home. 

A week before that, we had a Bible study on the story of the widow and the Prophet Elijah. And I got hooked on the one word The Lord gave her: 

“For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”- I Kings 17:14 NKJV

*insert bank account where you see bin of flower*

I grabbed that word as the runner in me grabs a baton, and have been running an everlasting race since! 

But like I said, the flesh that is always in constant battle with the spirit….

With all the math going on in my head and all the shivers, anxiety, fear of tomorrow, I drove to the bank and withdrew my pending tithe, offertory and seed for her to take along. 

…. On another hand I had also already mapped out countless days of fasting – not because  I want to. Set aside  a $20 budget for grocery (and this is even way off the mark), wondering what I’m going to start with! Water is important. But that’s a whole $3.99 for only 24 bottles. That’ll be done in 5 days. So I settled on purifying tap water by boiling it and bottling it. 

Anyone who knows me, or even follows me on social media, knows I am VERY high-maintenance with food. I have a strong views against junk. But here I was, with $20 to spend, and junk was looking right within my budget and really attractive. I am always preaching eat healthy and the power of food in determining our well-being. 

Was I now about to put my integrity on the line and go against everything I have ever said, or stood for? Because I couldn’t afford it? Is Nature’s Spoonfuls going to be dormant. I’ll have no content to update it; I can barely afford to eat. 

I said a silent prayer: ‘God, You told me 2 years ago to glorify You with the aspect of my life (nutrition)’. Right then and there (no joke!), I literally hear ‘buy what you need and stop thinking about tomorrow.

At this point, my Spirit is communicating something along the lines of ‘you need to stop playing with me Jesus;You know what I am earning’ back to Him. At the same time, I know who I heard from, so I buy what I need. *Mind the use of need and not ‘splurge on the unnecessary’.* 

I get home, phone rings.

“Hi Nana, we got a temp job assignment from Harvard Business School(HBS) for the role of a Research Associate. They’ll need you for about a week, and I wanted to know if you’d be interested and available.”

**My $280/week job was mostly remote so I could do temp jobs**

The God who told me to forget that $20 grocery budget and buy what I needed? The God who told me to stop focusing on tomorrow, and my bank account? 

ONLY HIM!

It may be ‘just one week’ to you; but if you earn $280 a week, one week of extra money sounds like Heaven. 

Of course I finished that one week, and I won’t lie to you; life after that was plain hard. My mother wasn’t talking to me, didn’t even want to hear of me, my sisters are here and there, and here I am, on the strictest budget! I can never thank God enough for Sisters in Christ who stand with you through anything!

There were several days when my mother would call me and my heart would leap for joy! ‘She wants to talk to me!’

I’d pick up and -I kid you not- my mother would hang up on me. “I was trying to reach your sisters, not you” … dial tone (meaning she hung up)

By Thanksgiving Day, I was so broken, so tired, so weary! I had no prayer left in me. No hope. Very little – if any – faith left. The miracles had phased out and all I could see was neglect from my family and financial hardship!

Tell me how wrong I was for wanting a good job that would make my parents proud after they spent such a huge amount of money on my education? 

November 25,2016- Thanksgiving Day. The irony. I wailed like a baby on the floor, in my room. I asked all the questions I had been holding in. ‘Am I doing something wrong?’  Like I said I forgot the miracle in leaving TX and asked ‘are you paying me back for disobedience’. ‘If I was wrong, tell me and I’ll repent and apologize’. ‘Lord, can you please say something so I know You hear me someway, somehow?!!’ 

Almost 2 months later, and  *All the emotions, all over again*

I specifically asked for a direct word because at such a low point, everyone saying ‘God said….’ looks like a joke. I thought they were just saying stuff to make me feel good.

When my schedule permits, I join my Pastor to pray on Fridays. The day after Thanksgiving was no different. He called me and said that day’s session would be brief because he was in the process of moving. Then right when we’re about to wrap up, he says ‘ I want us to close so I can continue moving but it looks like God wants me to prophecy.’

MIRACLE!!!! 

I’ll tell you why.

Believe me when I say every single question and every nag I poured out to The Lord on Thursday- every single one of them, He answered, LITERALLY!!! 

And He told me to never feel alone for ‘have I not said to you in my word: I will never leave you; Neither will I forsake you. For you to think that I have, is an insult to Me. Don’t say you feel alone. For you will always have support. I ensure that you always have support…..’ Those words are like the Lord’s prayer to me now. laugh out loud. This man had absolutely no idea what had happened on Thursday! He could hear me wailing on the phone and asked ‘Did God answer questions you’ve been asking Him? 

I could barely mouth a response amidst the uncontrollable tears. 

If that wasn’t God!

Literally, the day after, my mother texts me two of my favorite hymns and that’s how she started talking to me again. 

My friend in Chicago surprised me with a winter jacket to battle the cold I was struggling with. 

My Frances gifted me with a food processor- NEED!!

Life was challenging financially, but I would wake up and remind myself of what He told me on the 26th of November,2016. 

During the first week of December, I got another temp offer at HBS (for 3 days!)and met the nicest people (with who I still keep in touch.)

Again, if you’re earning $280, an extra 3 days of money is like Heaven. 

2nd week of December is when Frances mentioned how ready she was for 2017, and I, the opposite. 

I was tired of these Temp Jobs. I wasn’t about to go through 2017 temp- ing. This isn’t the expectation I talked to Him about at the beginning of the year when I sowed my Thanksgiving Seed. This is not the prayer I pray over my offertory and tithe.

Suddenly I became the Jacob that wouldn’t leave until The Lord blessed him(Gen. 32:22-31). I became the Canaanite woman who wouldn’t let Jesus go until He healed her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). I became that paralyzed man and the four able men who made a opening in the roof  just to get to Jesus (Mark 2:4). I became Elijah, who wouldn’t relent until there was rain; Not just any rain- HEAVY rain!( 1 Kings 18:41-45)… ‘And Lord, even she was Canaanite!!! yet you blessed her.  I am from the tribe of the Lion of Judah!

You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.- Isaiah 62:6-7

2016 may have been rough and tough… but so was the Israelites’ journey through Egypt. But you ensured a Triumphant exit!!! That is my expectation. 

Something awoke something which awoke something and I decided 2016 wasn’t about to be just any kind of history. You have a record of proving yourself and I know I am worthy of that experience. You are 25 (years) – 0 [basketball language for no record of losses]… please make this count.

‘…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.’ – Daniel 11:32

My friend Sandra had gifted me with the book titled The Circle Maker (best book! and I literally asked God to enable me buy several copies, simply to gift it to all my loved ones and those I do not even know! That’s how Good the book is.)

Between my change in perspective, and completing Circle Maker, I became Deuteronomy 6:9 personified. I now have a huge construction paper filled with God’s promises on my wall in my bedroom, along with other post-its. I declared a fast. That entire week, I would worship, I would repent, I would put my requests before God and I would declare His promises concerning my life!

I was dead-on going to walk out of 2016 on dry land in the midst of the raging seas. I was not just going to walk into the promised year. I was going to do so gallantly! And my God -AS ALWAYS – proved Himself. 

How?

Let me Circle back one last time to how December really went.

During my first temp assignment at Harvard, a lady from another recruiting firm calls me. ‘I came across your résumé on Monster and I believe you’d be a great fit for a position I have at x company! (A really huge company!) They’re looking for someone to start ASAP, and honestly, I think you’re exactly what they need. I wanted to know if you want me to send your resumé over’. 

MIRACLE!!!

I got offered an interview for the following Monday. Called my pastor, excited. Bro. Mo, if I get this job, I can finally afford other things! 

I go for the interview which lasted almost 2 hours, as prepared as can be. Saying all the right things… or so I thought, head tilted, made eye contact, laughed when expected, all perfect…. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Came home and called Frances. I think I’m going to get the job. That’ll be so good Frances! Finally! Isn’t God Faithful?! 

**What’s ‘LAUGH OUT LOUD’ in Heaven language, by the way?**

‘Hi Nana, I just heard back from the team and they decided to move on with another candidate. I’m so sorry this didn’t work out….’

‘Not going to cry. God knows best. Not going to cry. God knows best. Not going to cry’ ….. LIES!!!!!!

Once again, I’m not good enough. A part of me starts wondering if my mother was right. Maybe I don’t have that ‘American experience’ and they don’t hire people like me. 

What hurt more was that I had had a dream where I was interviewed by a woman who offered me not just the job..but an even better and higher position than my recruiter and myself expected. 

So when I got in there in there and met 3 females, I thought jackpot! Testimony waiting to happen. Lol.  

Robbie calls and I can’t manage my sobs to save a life as I explain how unqualified I feel and how much that hurts. 

‘I’m sorry P. Maybe sometimes you shouldn’t also map out how your expectations or dreams are going to fall in place. ‘

Why, thank you so much!!! I would’ve never figured that out and what a perfect time to remind me! 

Even the best people say the right things at just the wrong times! … if there’s such a thing. lol. 

Weeks later, I get another interview with the team I’m going to be working with at the same organization. Honestly, I wasn’t too keen about this. I prepared, but barely. A lot of that had to do with me not wanting to set myself up for disappointment YET again. Plus the job description was so technical, I said to Frances: ‘I can’t understand everything I’m going to be doing. I don’t know’, but we’ll see.’

My recruiter again thinks I’m a great fit for this role. ‘If I was in their shoes, I’d hire you already!’

I’m thinking to myself: ‘she probably says this to everyone whose been refused an offer before. ‘

I go for the interview and great first impression. One of the members of the team takes me to the cafe to order whatever I want! 

At the end of the interview, I have a better understanding of the role and I’m loving it already. They tell me they love me and even think I’m overqualified for the role. 

Huh? As my younger sister would say ‘Me dix’. Overqualified?! Whose résumé are you looking at, please?

It took 2 solid weeks and some days to hear back from the team. When I did hear back, ‘As at now, you’re their top candidate but they still want to interview one more person’

Goodness. The wait. 

On December 27,2016, I finally hear back and …

‘Hi Nana, I finally heard back from the team and they decided to move on with another candidate because they think you’re too qualified for the job. I tried to explain otherwise but they are quite firm on their decision’

OverqualifiedWhat do those words mean? The girl whose mother tried to assure her that she was under-qualified, is now being called overqualified by one of America’s Top 10 companies in the field. 

But this is the week when my inner lion was roaring. When the Jacob in me had come to play. When I became Isaiah 62:6-7 personified. Nothing was going to shake my stance. All I know is I’m walking out of 2016 with a career of Your purpose and not any menial job or temp assignment. That was the only crying I did.This time, they weren’t TEARS of rejection, or disappointment. I asked for strength. For mercy. For Grace… to FIGHT!

Now the highlight of all this!

Let’s break it down slowly so it all sinks in:

I received this ‘NO’ on December 27th,2016.

My recruiter is out of office of Mondays and Fridays. 

27th is a Tuesday. 

This leaves me with 2 days to hear something – if any- concerning this job I have been circling in prayer. 

Wednesday comes and nothing. However, another company I interviewed with about 3 weeks before, wants me to take an assessment test. Which usually is a step in the right direction. 

My heart still wants this job for which I am overqualified, but God, are you trying to tell me to focus on this one instead? 

At this point, I’m done with mapping out scenarios. All I know is, I’m not leaving 2016 without the Job of His purpose. 

Thursday morning, and nothing from my recruiter. 

I want to email her so bad but ‘Nana, if she had heard anything, I’m sure she’d let you know.’

4:59pm EST on Thursday, December 29th 2016; ANY shot I have at hearing from my recruiter is over and done in a minute. Her emails bounce back on Fridays and Mondays because she’s out of office. And this being her last day in the office for the year 2016….I guess this is it. 

How about NOT?!

Lord, I know you can do this!!! Yes she’s out of office tomorrow and this was my last shot but I am not walking out of 2016 without the job of Your purpose. I will harvest the seed I sowed into my career at the beginning of this year!

On Friday morning,  – ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30th, 2016; LAST WORKING DAY OF THE YEAR 2016, I go into my closet to pray as usual. A lot of me is telling me, it’s okay. Maybe not this year. But God is still good. Yet, a little yet stronger part of me keeps telling me to hold on to my confession. God isn’t bound by times and schedules. And I am walking out of this year with the job of His Purpose.

With all that’s going on in my mind, the only songs I can sing as I open my mouth are songs of worship. Thanking God for it all. Just worshipping Him. 

About 2 hours later, I open my eyes, grab my phone… email from my recruiter!

Wait, what?! You’re supposed to be out of office! 

Mind you, out of office means all emails sent to her bounce back! Out of Office.

Hi Nana,

I have good news! I just heard from Lady X and the other candidate for the role isn’t going to work out. Lady X said she received a really professional email from you and was very impressed and would like to offer you the position. Please let me know if you would like to accept. 

…. ‘sent from my iPhone’ – Out of the office. December 30, 2016. LAST working day of the year 2016!!!!

ONLY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the The Lord! – Isaiah 24:13-14

I sat for the longest trying to put my immense gratitude into words for God’s POWER AND MIGHT. It feels impossible to write anything that feels worthy of how I feel about His Sovereignty and His Grace.I am not supposed to be here! My mother told me I was under-qualified; that they aren’t looking for people like me. Then they called me OVER-qualified? This is one of the Nation’s top 10, top 5 (!!) companies in the field. They’re not supposed to pick up my résumé; I am not supposed to be here!

BUT GOD!!!!

My one and only desire is to worship Him in humility and glorify Him in every single thing. Too seek what matters in this life and pursue it with all of me.I am God’s Grace in action; and I intend to acknowledge every second of every minute of everyday, as a miracle. Yes, that’s what it is.

And I guess, I can absolutely relate to Philippians 4:11-13 now; 

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And remember that my temp job?! The office of research has requested for me every time since that first assignment. My last assignment miraculously (you can call it coincidence) ends of the 13th of January, and I start my new job on the 16th. And do you know what that ‘extra’ money has been good and JUST ENOUGH for? My Tithe, Offering and whenever The Lord has asked me to sow a seed!!!- That which I promised to never withhold from Him!

How my monthly $850 and some change has kept me till today? I’d be lying if I told you I can explain how. You all are witnesses though. You see my posts on social media! I never fasted out of lack. I am eating well! When I say well, in my books, that’s lots and lots of fruits and vegetables. And just when I thought I couldn’t even stick with organic for foods on the dirty dozen list, my farmers market started selling organic fruits and veggies for cheap!

THIS GOD!!!

“When you are walking by faith you are walking in the miraculous. Man’s mind limits you, but faith takes you into the realm where all things are possible.”

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.- Mark 9:23

“Oh for Grace, to trust You more!”

God bless you, and thank you for staying with me!

Love Always,

Nana.

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