Ed. Note: “The Biggest Lesson (TBL)” is a series on the biggest lesson I’ve learned in life written to mark my birthday this year (March 23, 2015). May you be blessed as you follow the series. Amen.
Opening Question: Why would God ever bless you?
It has been a tiring ride from Egbeda to Cement bus stop, no thanks to the heavy traffic. But it got worse before it got better! The bus was grossly inconvenient, the conductor was disturbingly vocal and the driver was obviously having a terrible day. We (the passengers) had no idea what was coming.
In the stand-still traffic jam, the driver opted to save some fuel by turning off the engine. No sooner had he done this than the traffic melted and started flowing. The driver tried to start the engine again but the engine refused to start. The driver rushed to a nearby filling station to buy some fuel. The conductor disappeared and reappeared with a keg of water. The engine took both but refused to start still. The passengers determined they’ve had enough.
“Give us our money, let’s board another bus o”
That was the chorus that rented the air. The troubled duo of the driver and conductor tried their best to calm the already frustrated passengers but couldn’t do it. Reluctantly, the conductor returned each passenger’s money. I got a nudge in my heart to take a look at the driver’s face. I did, and compassion filled my heart.
I saw a man in despair. I saw a man asking in the loud whispers of his soliloquy “God, are You still there? Are you seeing this?” I saw hungry wife, school-drop-out children, and a hopeless husband. I saw everything but faith, hope and love… Compassion filled my heart!
While the other passengers were collecting their transport fares back from the conductor, I walked up to the driver and handed him the 2,000 naira I had on me apart from the other money I’d budgeted for my transportation and feeding for the day. That 2,000 naira was, at the time, my last kobo. My bank accounts were at their minimum balance, yet I told the driver, “add this to what you need to fix the bus”.
He was too shocked to show some gratitude. I was too quick to have noticed, even if he did. He watched me leave and join another bus, his mouth left agape.
I sat next to a teenage girl. She sat next to her dad. She was in the boarding house but her dad went to pick her from the school so that she could go and do her GCE registration. She was in her penultimate year in Grammar School. She never stopped talking with her dad—partly from the excitement of being with him again after quite a while, and partly from the knowledge she’s acquired in school which she couldn’t keep to herself.
She told her dad of her plans to put to practice the biogas production she learnt in school by turning their household waste to cooking gas… Her dad listened with pleasure. He wore a broad and obvious that’s-my-girl look. And once in a while, I couldn’t help but chuckle at her remarks.
After an hour on the road, I knew intuitively that I’m sitting beside her for a purpose. The purpose wasn’t clear yet until I started a conversation with her. She’s very bright! She maintained an intelligent discussion with me, albeit reluctantly. But after a while, we flowed like pals. Her dad was pleased, too, I can tell.
Then all of a sudden, my purpose of sitting next to her became clear. “Pay for her GCE form”, the inner voice said. Now, that was a very bad time for me to squander the little resources I had. What I had at the moment financially couldn’t meet up the expenses on ground, yet, there was I with a pay-for-her-GCE-form voice ringing in my heart.
I swallowed a lump and asked her,
“Have you obtained your GCE form yet?”
“No”, she replied.
“And do you know how much it is?”
“Not yet. I’ll find out when my Dad and I get to the registration centre”
In my sincerest heart, the maximum amount I thought a GCE form could cost was 5,000 naira. I didn’t know that my estimation was a decade backwards. I made a couple of calls to find out the average price for the form. 13,500. My heart froze!
All I had on me was 14,000 naira (after paying my t’fare). 13,000 out of that money was a much-awaited loan refund from a colleague upon which I’d placed my budget for that period. But in obedience, I counted 13,500 naira and enveloped it (secretly).
“What’s your name, my Dear?”
My heart froze again. I’m wasting 13,500 on a muslim?
God thought otherwise! Your gifts are never a waste, they are eternal investments! Proverbs 11:24 says “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.” With a trembling hand, I wrote her name on the envelope and presented it to her. “That’s for your GCE registration”. She was stunned. She left my hand hanging in the presentation posture as she tapped her dad to let him into what was happening.
The rest, they say, is history!
I could go on and on to share stories after stories of how I’d resisted the urge to hoard…and the joy that follows! Why? Contentment—the biggest lesson to learn in life—is adequately developed when we learn to RELEASE what we have to help others!
This is a joy many people have not known! After the hurricane hit America, it became apparent how pointless it is to hoard stuffs. People threw out ALL their belongings that were soaked in the flood, because they saw the uselessness of it. Boxes of comics, cloths, albums, you name it! The point is, with ALL their belongings destroyed, these people are going to move on, and continue living. The stuff, no matter how cherished, was just that…stuff.
Let me quickly tell you the truth about your stocks, cash, and your vehicles: THEY’RE NOT REALLY YOURS!
The Gospel of Mark tells the story of a poor widow who came to the temple and dropped in two small coins as an offering. She was down to her last pennies, yet rather than spend them on bread, she returned them to God.
Financial gurus would have urged her to cut back on her giving. They would have discouraged the generosity of the woman. But Jesus did just the opposite. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.”
God owns everything and gives us all things to enjoy. Those who hoard rather than share had embraced 3 failures:
- Failure to Recognize God's Provision. Everything we have is because God provided it!
- Failure to Realize God's Purpose. God’s purpose for blessing you is so that you can be a blessing to others, too!
- Failure to Regard God's Plan. God’s plan is that you will be comforted in comforting others, blessed in blessing others and favoured in favouring others.
And how great the joy that comes from giving! I never heard from the driver again, but I couldn’t forget his look of amazement in a hurry. And Rasheedat? I heard from her again. Unknown to me, the envelope I used had my name and phone number on it (my colleague used it to package the refund in a somewhat official manner). So Rasheedat called me to say thank you and she made me speak to all her family members. How soothing that was!
I believe it’s high time we moved from the fear of scarcity to the comfort of provision. Let’s purposefully experience less hoarding and more sharing. Let’s replace fear of the coming winter with faith in the living God! Jesus said, “Do good, be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.”
May that be you!
As I count down to March 23…See you here, soon…with Episode 4.
With Jesus Joy,
Ola Joseph Kolawole.
_________________The Biblical Echo…
- James 5:1-3: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!”
- Proverbs 3:27: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it.
- Luke 12:33: Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
- Matthew 19:21: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
- 1 Timothy 6:7: For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
- Ecclesiastes 5:13: There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.