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In Times Like This… | I Challenge You!

ISIS. Paris. Syria. Terrorism. Death.
Nigeria. Boko Haram. Fuel scarcity.

The thoughts kept jamming each other in my tiny little brain box as I walked back home this evening shivering in the windy drizzles of rainy Bradford. The walk back home is always slower for the many purposes that it serves for me. Self-made music. Prayer walk. Meditation. Love gists. Noisy silence. They all fit into my 40 minutes walk back home in no particular order. Today, it started with the noisy silence. I was oblivious to the moving vehicles; just me and my noisy thoughts about what the world keeps turning into. The metamorphosis is rapid!

Then suddenly…

I blurted out in vocal words. I started speaking out loud on the road to an audience that sat in the largest auditorium in my mental chamber.

“I know where it all ends. I’ve read the book before seeing the movie; I know where it all ends!”
My soliloquy began…

It hasn’t happened to you? I read “Gifted Hands” years before I saw the movie. I knew the outcome of the surgery before the movie reached the scene. While the parents of the twins waited and waited… While the complications arose in the theater and suspended palpable suspense in other first-time viewers, I was moved, too—but I know where it all ends! The Siamese twins were successfully separated.

Didn’t you use one of those arithmetic textbooks in primary school where each chapter is flooded with examples, explanations, and then Test Questions. Oh! The dreadful test questions! But I’m guessing I’m not the only smart kid that somehow discovered that the textbook had answers to every test question at the back of the book in the last few pages! No explanations, though—just answers. But more often than none, that was all I needed. Just the answer. With that and the examples already given, I can work my way from the known to the unknown because the unknown had, in fact, been made known before the unraveling of its identity became an issue.

Can’t the same be said of times like this? Bodies strewn on the streets of Paris, blood stains on restaurant floors, a pregnant woman dangling from a second-story window—can’t we say of a certainty that we know where all these ends?

I think we can—for those that had read The Book before seeing the reality show. The answer has been given in the last pages of The Book. It’s one word: VICTORY. One phrase: WE WIN!

Make no mistake, the enemy is not some Muslim radicals nor some seedy politicians. “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.” (Ephesians 6:12 NCV). The Bible presents a real and present foe of our faith. His name is Satan. Blame all unrest on him. Don’t fault the plunging economy or raging suicide bomber for this bloodshed. They are simply tools in Satan’s tool kit. And this is not his first time…

  • “Satan . . . incited David” (1 Chron. 21:1 NIV).
  • “Satan has asked . . . to sift you [Simon] like wheat” (Luke 22:31 TLB).
  • “The devil . . . persuaded Judas Iscariot . . . to turn against Jesus” (John 13:2 NCV).
  • “This woman . . . Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years” (Luke 13:16 NIV).
  • He has “blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. As a result, they don’t see the light of the Good News” (2 Cor. 4:4 GOD’S WORD).
  • “He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God” (Eph. 2:2 CEV).

Satan incites, sifts, persuades, binds, blinds, and rules. He has one objective: “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). But again, we know where it all ends:

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Victory! We win! But that is in fact as much a present reality as it is a future prophecy. I remember the story…

An ancient legend tells of a general whose army was afraid to fight. The soldiers were frightened. The enemy was too strong. Its fortress was too high and weapons too mighty.
The king, however, was not afraid. He knew his men would win. How could he convince them?
He had an idea. He told his soldiers that he possessed a magical coin. A prophetic coin. A coin which would foretell the outcome of the battle. On one side was an eagle and on the other a rat. He would toss the coin. If it landed eagle-side up, they would win. If it landed with the rat up, they would lose.
The army was silent as the coin flipped in the air. Soldiers circled as it fell to the ground. They held their breath as they looked and shouted when they saw the eagle. The army would win.
Bolstered by the assurance of victory, the men marched against the castle and won.
It was only after the victory that the king showed the men the coin. The two sides were identical.

Though the story is fictional, the truth is reliable: assured victory empowers the army.

And on that note, I challenge you.

I challenge you to “deceive” your head to embrace the truth of your victory. It’s practically illogical, hence the need for that positive deception. It won’t be victory if it is sensible and predictable. It’s no victory that a 100 pound man flogged a 20 pound man. But it becomes victory when your 17-year-old-David stature brings down the demonic monster called Goliath, for then it becomes apparent that it couldn’t have been you, but He that dwells in you.

I challenge you not only to hope that “God will make you forget your suffering” (as Joseph named his first son) but to also “be fruitful in your land of suffering” (as he named his second son). And guess which son got the blessing of leadership? The second!

Finally, I challenge you to be the channel of hope to someone out there—especially this Christmas season. Earlier this year in the month of May, I challenged people in the circumference of my social media influence to make at least 50 people happy between May 1st and May 31st. 99 people responded and we got together on whatsapp to make it happen, sharing our stories of little gestures as we go about each day asking ourselves “who can I be a blessing to, today?” That month was a memorable one for me and for a good number of the participants. #50HappyPeople moved from being a “challenge” to a lifestyle for most of us.

I’m throwing it open again. At such times as this, will you go out of your way to put a smile on someone’s face each day for the rest of this year? Will someone have a better end-of-the-year experience because of you?

I think it’s possible. You can read all about it at www.josephkolawole.org/50happypeople and you can sign up for the challenge at www.josephkolawole.org/challenge-form

I believe in you! Let’s do it!

Victory! We Win!!!

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