Stretching Our Faith(1)

Albert Einstein said there are only 2 ways to live your life:

1 – as if nothing is a Miracle and

2 – as if EVERYTHING is a Miracle.

My sister and absolutely amazing friend , Frances (best girl ever, by the way) were reviewing what a year 2016 had been for us, especially the happenings in the latter part of the year, that hit our picture-perfect storyline like a ‘thief in the night’. This conversation took place sometime in the first week in December.  She had already declared her expectations for 2017 and had mentally shut down 2016. Me? My resolve was the opposite. “I have unfinished business with God for 2016 and I am looking up to Him to fulfill the harvest of all those seeds before I say goodbye to this year.”

She’s been through the entire journey you’re about to read. After I shared this story of The Lord’s faithfulness on December 30, 2016,  she said to me: “Thank God you didn’t give up on 2016! I am so encouraged by your testimony”

Spoiler Alert: I share this testimony not because God answered my prayer for a well-paying job. If that was the case, I would borrow the accent of my Nigerian brothers & sisters, and title this blogpost “Because of American Job” Laugh out loud. That would seriously be so shallow of me given the Kind of God we serve!

My testimony is summed up in so many scriptures, but let me start with:

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”

Let Israel now say—

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side (!!!!)” – Psalm 124:1-2

Now that you know the end of the story, let me circle back to the journey that led to it. Because that truly is THE testimony.

Two days before my graduation, I got called for an interview in a really good company….or so I thought . I was anxious, I was excited, I did my homework on the organization, had the interview, and nailed it… or so I was told.

“They LOVED you, but they decided not to move on with you because of your visa status”. So much for ‘loving’ me. What’s even better? I received such pleasant news ON THE DAY OF MY GRADUATION! Right after we had all tossed our tassels, recessed and were shuffling to find our parents and loved ones to celebrate. What perfect timing?! My boss at the time, who had approved of the organization and had really nice things to say about it (and when Saran approves, best believe it’s GOOD!) attended my graduation. She was the one right in front of me ready to give me a hug, when I hung up the phone. I broke the news to her, ( of course she was sorry it didn’t go as planned) and decided – no matter how much it stung- to make the best of my day. Because #Ebenezer! I am a Master now!

After graduation, I was set on staying in Boston; because the God who asked me to change the first choice campus for Boston had not told me otherwise. With my lease ending and no job at hand, I had to move to Texas with family.

Now let me tell this story properly.

I had known for a while that my oldest sister would be moving back to the States to work on a few things – just to cut an already long story short. We started talking about living arrangements since she was to travel with her 3 kids, and decided she would move to Boston so I could offer my help as we adjusted our schedules. A few weeks before graduation, this agreement would be revised without my consent so that she would now be moving to Texas. And guess what?! I was being ‘advised’ to quit job hunting, and  babysit my sister’s kids while she ‘put things in place’. The story gets even more interesting when my other sister living in PA at the time, decided she would also like to move to TX. So now, I am to ‘sacrifice (operative word of the family during that period) and help take care of’ the kids of both sisters.

I was never okay with this. But like I said, with no money and no job, no positive outcomes of the many jobs I raved about as I built my case on staying in Boston (which made me appear so silly!!),I was quite pressed for options.

This is where the nitty gritty details begin.

Now, before I start this documentation of God’s mind-blowing Faithfulness, I would like to answer some questions that are very much likely to be asked, and give a few pointers  because nothing about this testimony makes sense. Everything makes FAITH. I held back a little on writing this because I considered the “psssh, I am sure there are in-betweens she didn’t mention”. This is a very transparent post. Possibly THE MOST transparent I have ever been on my blog because I really want each and every reader to be encouraged that GOD IS! No matter where you find yourself in this beautiful, yet ever so challenging journey called life.. NEVER EVER GIVE UP! Very very much easier said than done, and I know that full well. But Faith is HARD and WORTH IT!

‘Not a single tear is lost on God. He remembers each one. He honors each one. He collects each one. ‘

So let me set the ball rolling:

  1. Yes I am the biological child of my parents and they are alive.
  2. No, I haven’t and did not receive any financial assistance from my parents during this period. – I did eat and did not pay bills while in TX though.
  3. No, I did not have some savings stashed somewhere as emergency back up money.
  4. The Math will never make sense so please don’t try adding, subtracting, multiplying
  5. Finally, as a very Wise Man I know stated a few days ago, right before the highlight of this testimony: the journey to growth may appear as grief; but that’s really God preparing you to run effectively. 
  6. I LOVE my family so much and have no ill feelings towards anyone. They love me too! (lol) whether they like it or yes!
  7. This is a documentation of MY journey. God had to teach me THIS way to depend, and solely depend on Him. “When my mother and father forsake me, THEN The Lord will take care of me”-Psalm 27:10

One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite authors -Elisabeth Elliot – goes:

“If you believe in THE God who controls the big things, you have to believe in the God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things looks ‘little’ or ‘big’”.

In the same way, it is we, who perceive an occurrence as a Miracle only if it involves physically walking on water, physically turning water into wine, or physically raising the dead. We miss the spiritual implication of what Scripture teaches us.

If there’s anything I should be skilled in in my years of walking with God, it’s waiting. You would think my persistence quotient is unparalleled at this point in my life. That it gets easier with time -as they say -and I should know by now that ‘Nana, this is one major way God instills trust in you. I am out-of-this-world-ly obsessed(!!!!) with kitchen activities aka cooking and plain making stuff with my hands, and I am that girl who prefers to stock up on food items when they are halfway done! Not 2/3, not 3/4. Halfway! What a candidate to single out of the lot to teach trust, Jesus?! lol .

I’ve gone through all the motions:

The Excitement Phase:

‘God has revealed to me what He’s going to do.’

‘He showed it to me, I have what it takes to wait ‘

‘Though it tarry, I will wait for Him’

The Wearing Out Phase:

‘How long will I wait, Lord???’

The Frustration:

‘You said it yourself! Why should it take this long??!’

You begin to wonder if He hears, if you’re praying the right prayers, you run a check through your entire life! ‘God is never wrong, so is it me?’, we ask…or at least I do.

Getting expected results is fun. Working towards that is anything but.

‘We need the patience of the planter. We need the foresight of the farmer. We need the mindset of the sower’

I could consider 2016 THE MOST CHALLENGING YEAR of my life Physically, Emotionally, AND SPIRITUALLY, OR I could consider it THE YEAR of ANOTHER INTENSE PHASE OF GROWTH, watching God level every mountain, gird me with the strength to run through troops and leap over walls, anoint my head with oil, and hold my hand as He, and He alone, led me through the double gates!

Suffice to say, I choose the latter…NOW. Rewind to 2 months ago and my response would have been the exact opposite. That’s such a shame on my part.

From August 26th to December 31st, 2016, I watched my own life unfold like a movie right before my eyes.

I had this fairytale ending of a Masters Student, graduating, finding the best job, riding into the sunset with the Love of my life, sitting behind my computer documenting how ‘great’ and ‘picture perfect’ life is. I put these two terms in quotes because… again… it is we who make up definitions of ‘great’ and ‘picture -perfect’.

By objecting to giving up an entire year to babysit, I was lablelled:

“the most selfish child out the the 7 kids of my parents”

“The one who is so into herself and considers no one else’s welfare”

I was told:

“if your plan is to get an ‘office job’, no-one is ever going to hire you. People like Nana Yaa (sister) get hired; not you.  You have no ‘American Experience’ and with what do you qualify?”

I was accused of favoring one set of nephew and nieces while ‘maltreating’ the others because I apparently had ill feelings towards my sister

Seeking God’s face in prayer as against watching TV with the family, was now termed “finding myself a new family when even the God I pray to gave me a biological family for a purpose.”

I can’t possibly narrate every scenario here but I would literally have a dream about what’s next in this series, wake up and see the PHYSICAL manifestation of the dream!

But like I said, I could term it the worst period, or I could highlight the growth process. I choose the latter.

After 3 months of Nigerian Movies made real, I got offered a job in Boston.

Between these trials and the job offer is a very dramatic dream where God tells me you have to leave or there’s going to be a lot of confusion in your life.

O.K. Lord. Like….Isn’t this what I have been praying for? Leave to where? with what money?

Then comes the job offer!!

This company is one with whom I had been trying to secure an internship during my school year. Did informational interviews, webinars, you name it, NEVER heard back from them! Almost 6 months later, I receive a call. “We found your information in our database and would like to interview you for this position.” I was offered the job but was very verryyy apprehensive about it. WHY? Because it was based in Boston so this means I would have to move to Boston. Great news right? That’s what I had always wanted, right? Not really, anymore. Again..WHY? 

Anyone who has spent a day in Boston knows how expensive housing is. With the rent I was looking to pay, I would barely have anything to feed on. I prayed and said to God: ‘I want to go away and back to Boston, but not this way! How am I going to survive?’

All this while, I am obviously missing the MIRACLE in God answering my ‘Leave to where?’ question, while focusing on my bank account.

I was in Philly for a conference when my now roommate texts me explaining that we would have to make a payment or the apartment is going to be snatched by someone else. My security deposit is just about all I have in my account. I need my parent’s blessings. My sisters already know about the job but possibly believe my parents wouldn’t let me leave and so remain unbothered.

I had to do two critical things in one day: Speak to my parents about it, AND send the majority of the last of my savings to pay for a security deposit.

I call my Pastor hysterically crying because I’m thinking I am God’s baby! Who puts their baby through all this. He tells me not to worry (very typical response, by the way. I DESIRE THAT IT-IS-WELL CONFIDENCE so so bad! LoL!). “Just tell your parents the situation on the ground and seek their blessing. I am driving now so let me call you back.” I get off the phone, cry a little (…actually a LOT) more, pray about it literally asking God to stop me from crying so I can hear what HE has to say concerning all this. In the silence of my heart, I receive the confidence to text my parents and I hear “send the money”.

There’s that moment of Stupidity when you ask the All-Knowing, ALL-ABLE, ALL-POWERFUL,  I AM THAT I AM, Maker of this earth, I-knew-you-even-before-you were-formed-in-your-mother’s-womb GOD, the question “ARE YOU SURE about this?!”

My Pastor calls after he gets home and asks, “any response from your parents?”

This is about 4 hours after I sent the text. NO RESPONSE. And thanks to WhatsApp, we know when the recipient has read the message…and they have.Lol.

“Lord , (just in case you missed it) that was my savings I just transferred and I can’t leave Texas in disobedience!!”

Again, there’s that moment of Stupidity when you ask the All-Knowing, ALL-ABLE, ALL-POWERFUL,  I AM THAT I AM, Maker of this earth, I-knew-you-even-before-you were-formed-in-your-mother’s-womb GOD, the question: “ARE YOU REALLY SURE ABOUT THIS BECAUSE IT’S LOOKING REALLY MESSY AT THE MOMENT!”

Later in the afternoon, I am on a video call with Robbie, as he helps me with a project when I randomly check my phone.

Now mind you, I never check my phone when talking to him because we both don’t like distractions during our conversations. It has never happened in almost 4 years that either of us is expecting an important phone call at the time that would make a case for an exception. So me checking my phone alone was a Miracle!!!

*Text from Dad* : ‘I’ve been trying to reach you. Please call me’

Now let me break this down a little bit more:

My father is one of the following at different points in time:

1. ‘Either you pick up, or… your loss’

2.He’ll keep calling till you pick up and then give you a piece of his mind about what – for heaven’s sakes – took all your attention so much so that you couldn’t pick up a phone call after several tries.

You don’t get text messages! And he does not stop to consider something being wrong as an option.

So again, that text was a COMPLETE Miracle!!!!

I ask to hang up our video call with the speed of light, and I call him back.

Racing heart, sweaty palms and armpits in a 40 degree Fahrenheit Philly weather, misappropriation of words and stutters (and I DO NOT stutter!) as I respond to “I couldn’t respond to your text at work because it was a busy day. Tell me what you were saying?”

(*explanation for a delayed response from my father?!*= MIRACLE!!!!!!)

“Well you know, as your mother and I have said, this year we are all sacrificing so the others can get their lives together….”

*Tears begin to fill my eyes* ‘Lord, nooo please nooo. I transferred the money!….’

(Dad continues) ‘…. but at the same time, I understand that you also want to pursue a career and who knows what opportunities that could bring your way.’ (MIRACLE!!!)

‘You know it wouldn’t be possible to support you there and then support your sisters but you’re only asking for my blessing and not money right?’

Me: ‘Ye…Yes. Yes please Dad’

“Then I give you my blessing. When do you start and when would you like to leave. I’ll arrange your ticket with your uncle and call you back ….. * you can already tell the direction of the conversation*

Just in case that sunk in too quickly: This is my father; the same man who reportedly addressed me as the only and most selfish of his 7 kids. The man, who reportedly did not want to hear anything I had to say.

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

Few minutes later, my mother calls and gives her blessing with the straightest of tones (obviously not happy with it). Hangs up on me afterwards. 🙁

But guess what? Even IF unwillingly, she mouthed the words: “You have my blessing!!”

And just like that!!! God fulfilled His word to me that day I cried out to Him in my friend’s room in Philly. I did not leave Texas in disobedience. I left according to how God had purposed it when He told me ‘It’s time to leave’. AND to answer my stupid question- YES, HE WAS SURE!!!

I left Texas by God’s Grace on November 6th, 2016.

But the story was nowhere near done and the bumps were about to get even more intense as I made my way to December 31, 2016!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Stretching Our Faith. I am certain your eyes are worn out by now 🙂

If there is any take away in this:

“I am God and always will be. No one is able to take anything out of My hand. I do something, and who can change it?”- Isaiah 43:13.

One thing remains: GOD IS!

In Love- and until Part 2,

Nana xx

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