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: what do i HAVE?
“what do i have?” is perhaps the most frequently asked question for me. I’ve encountered it in various phrasings and I’ve given different answers. Looking back, though, there is an interesting trend in my responses…
Q: “what do i have in order to cater for my feeding expenses?”
A: “I have a Dad”
Q: “what do i have in order to pay my school fees?”
A: “I have a Dad”
Q: “what do i have in order to throw a 10th year birthday party?”
A: “Dad and Mum will take care of that”
Q: “what do i have in order to maintain my 5 year unbroken record of topping my class?”
A: “wake up earlier to read more and remind people that I am the best student”
(that term, I was beaten to second place by 2 points)
Q: “what do i have in order to facilitate an end to my negative addictions?”
A: “make a new year resolution”
(the resolution was broken on the 2nd of January)
Q: “what do i have as a guarantee for an ‘A’ grade in MCB 202?”
A: “divine guidance in my preparation”
(I had an unbelievable 89A)
Q: “what do i have in order to foot my bills if I give Rasheedat my last 13,500 to buy her GCE form?”
A: “I have Jehovah Jireh—God the Provider—on my side!”
(that night, I got an alert for 4 times the amount I gave Rasheedat)
Q: “what do i have to supply inspiration to write this 4th episode of the #TBL series?”
A: “I have … the Holy Spirit”
The same question comes to us. How do we answer it?
To build contentment, we are urged in Episode 2 to RESIST making comparisons; in Episode 3 to RELEASE what we have to help others; and now, in Episode 4, to REJOICE in what we have!
Yes, you have something! And the simple truth is that none of us would have ANYTHING if it were not for the goodness of God. He wants us to enjoy what He has given to us! Ecclesiastes 6:9 (CEV) says “It’s better to enjoy what we have than to always want something else, because that makes no more sense than chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT) says “And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life — that is indeed a gift from God.”
You want to know the secret to True Happiness? It is not in getting whatever you want, it is in enjoying whatever you have. Rather than hoping that a change in circumstances will bring a change in your attitude, embrace the blessed reminder that “What you have in God is greater than what you don’t have in life.”
It reminds me of a man who went to a minister for counselling. He was in the midst of a financial collapse. “I've lost everything,” he bemoaned.
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your faith.”
“No,” the man corrected him, “I haven’t lost my faith.”
“Well, then I’m sad to hear that you’ve lost your character.”
“I didn’t say that,” he corrected. “I still have my character.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your salvation.”
“That’s not what I said,” the man objected. “I haven’t lost my salvation.”
“You have your faith, your character, your salvation. Seems to me,” the minister observed, “that you’ve lost none of the things that really matter.”
We should follow the example of Doug McKnight. At the age of thirty-two he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Over the next sixteen years it would cost him his career, his mobility, and eventually his life. Because of multiple sclerosis, he couldn’t feed himself or walk; he battled depression and fear. But through it all, Doug never lost his sense of gratitude. Evidence of this was seen in his prayer list. Friends in his congregation asked him to compile a list of requests so they could intercede for him. His response included eighteen blessings for which to be grateful and six concerns for which to be prayerful. His blessings outweighed his needs by three times. Doug McKnight had learned to be content.
So had the leper on the island of Tobago. A short-term missionary met her on a mission trip. On the final day, he was leading worship in a leper colony. He asked if anyone had a favourite song. When he did, a woman turned around, and he saw the most disfigured face he’d ever seen. She had no ears and no nose. Her lips were gone. But she raised a fingerless hand and asked, “Could we sing ‘Count Your Many Blessings’?”
The missionary started the song but couldn’t finish. Someone later commented, “I suppose you’ll never be able to sing the song again.” He answered, “No, I’ll sing it again. Just never in the same way.”
When you look at life through the eyes of gratitude, the world becomes a wonderful place. Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time; then your time on earth will be filled with glory. Gratitude, as more and more experts have demonstrated, is probably the single most helpful attitude we can cultivate in seeking happier and healthier lives.
Are you grateful for the MUCH MORE that you have in God as opposed to what you lack in life? Are you even aware of the in exhaustible riches that you have in God? Before you are blinded by the needs and lacks of your life, embrace the blessed reminder that You have a Dad—your heavenly Father who hears you, you have the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have Jesus, then you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need!
And who can take it from you? Can economic breakdown affect the Daddyness of God in your life? Can leukemia infect your salvation? Can bankruptcy impoverish your prayers? A tornado might take your earthly house, but will it touch your heavenly home? I don't think so, too. No wonder the psalmist testified:
“Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. YOU ARE ALL I REALLY WANT IN LIFE.” ~ Psalm 142:5
May that be your testimony, too.
As I count down to March 23…See you here, soon…with Episode 5.
With Jesus Joy,
Ola Joseph Kolawole.