#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
#iRemember | Episode 325
Author’s Note: This post was first published in May 2013 shortly after the UTME results for prospective University students in Nigeria were released. At least three of the young chaps whose stories were told in this post are presently members of the AMG family. Happy Reading!
I looked at all of them-all 7 of them. They were full of questions. A good number of them saw their UTME results right in my presence. 189. 154. 160. 148. 128. 053. Woeful scores. Only one of them had above 200-he had 226. I knew they were full of questions-anyone could tell. And since I spoke with them a night before their examination, I thought it wise to gather them together again and speak with them now that the results have been released.
“Before we progress, does any of you have questions-for God-for me-or for us?”
I’d hardly asked when their hands shot up in quick successions.
“Pastor Kola, before the exam, God told me to work for Him as I prepare for the examination. That was why I joined the Ushering Unit. And just before the exam, He gave me a reassuring word from 2 Corinthians 1:20 that His promises are ‘yea and amen’. So how do I explain the 128/400 score?” Sincere questions from Sister Ruth.
“My own question is this: ‘why must I score 154?'” Who has an answer for Brother Faith?
“Pastor, see, that night when you spoke to us about maintaining our integrity in the exam hall, I went to the examination hall the next day and did just that. Cheating in my hall was ‘free’, yet, I maintained my integrity, faced my work and got out when I was done. So is 160 the reward of my faithfulness?” I felt for Brother Gideon.
And what about Sister Mary? She was at a ministration the night before the exam, and according to her, the Pastor’s wife of the church where she ministered had even called her out and prophesied success into her life after the ministration since she sacrificed her time for God. And what was the end-result? 053. (Only her English result was released).
They were all full of questions. Understandably so. (I know my Western friends would find this absurd. Whatever scores they got is what their efforts amounted to. If they had prepared a bit more, then they would have had better results True. I absolutely believe so and in my estimation, these guys didn’t prepare well enough. But in my country, what translates into a good result goes beyond your preparation. There seemed to be a spiritual dimension as well to these things. There must be.)
Before I proceeded, I asked a question, too.
“How many of you think that deep down inside of you, there is perhaps something that you did or didn’t do that could have led to this undesirable result?” And my! How they all had one such thing or the other. Fear and Doubt topped their list. And that became my starting point . . .
I’m not writing to those that failed UTME, or at least, didn’t get satisfactory grades. No. I’m writing for people who felt they deserved something better than what they currently have or are going through. I’m writing to anyone that has ever felt disappointed by God like these teenagers that I Pastor.
If you cheated and failed, congratulations! If you cheated and you passed, watch how your life will be fast-forwarded in your very eyes only to enter an automatic rewind at some junction in the nearest future. And your latter end shall be worse than your beginning. But if you are God’s child and you’ve felt cheated by God (or still feel so), to you I write, UTME or no UTME.
The qualification that earned me the boldness to speak with such people is because I’ve been there.
Was it not God that gave a nod of consent to the trip I embarked upon with some colleagues in 2009? A trip to a wedding turned out to be a trip to the bush, to the hospital, to the police station, and to the cemetry-to bury a dear brother.
Was it not God that spoke to my church through a prophetical message years back that one of our Elders that was sick and hospitalized will be restored only to hear later that night that the man is late?
Where was God when BCH 304 results were being compiled and in a curios series of events, my name was tagged with the grade 32F? (after the Course Coordinator had generously buffered every student’s score with an additional 5 marks)
Truth is, we’ve all been there-where our questions are more than the answers we get. But these few things I know:
1. I ACTUALLY DON’T “DESERVE” ANYTHING FROM GOD.
On what basis do I deserve an ‘A’? On what basis do I deserve to go on a trip and return safely? On what basis do I deserve to have my prayers answered? . . . but for His Grace and Mercy-both neither merited nor deserved!
But maybe you quite agree that you don’t deserve anything from God and you’re already a customer of His Grace, then you might be asking, why didn’t His Grace and Mercy speak on your behalf? Why was the grade so poor when you are a candidate of His Grace? Why did you have to lose that beloved relative or friend despite your prayers of mercy and grace? Then I have a second reminder:
2. I CAN ONLY RECEIVE ANYTHING FROM GOD ON THE BASIS OF FAITH!
James 1:5-7 comes to mind.
James 1:5-6 KJV If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Verse 7 says “A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord” (God’s Word Translation).
Someone said it this way: “Feed your doubts and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your doubts will”.
Have you truly received His grace by FAITH? Have you prayed for that desired result WITHOUT DOUBTS? Have you decreed your desire in FAITH? If your answer is “YES”, then I can’t help but wonder what you understand by FAITH . . . and that leads us to the next point . . .
3. FAITH IS NOT THE BELIEF THAT GOD WILL DO WHAT YOU WANT. IT IS THE BELIEF THAT GOD WILL DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
Faith is not the believe that you will pass because you want to pass; faith is the believe that God has got your life in His hands and is free to use any tool He desires (even failures) to shape it into the best life it can be. Faith is the believe that ALL THINGS indeed work together for the good of God-Lovers!
And when the limits of faith seems exceeded, just TRUST! While faith believes that God can do a thing and hopes that He does it, Trust believes that He can do it, hopes that He does it and also understands that EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, HE IS STILL GOD! (Daniel 3:17).
In conclusion, I may not have an answer to the questions of my teenage friends that I spoke with in my office yesterday . . . but I’m sure of the fact that God does not disappoint. Anyways, life is life. Earth is earth. Heaven is heaven. And I’ve learnt to lower my expectations of earth. This isn’t Heaven, so I don’t expect it to be.
And I’m sure, anyways, that you weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman. You are the only you God made … God made you and broke the mold. You are unique! So the past does not have to be your prison. You may have written UTME 5 times, but you still have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take. And you can sit with God and plan out the next 1 year of your life. Or the rest of it altogether. Affliction shall not arise a second time.
Remember, God loves you just the way you are. With your 053 or 226, he loves you. He loves each one of us like there is only one of us to love . . . but He refuses to leave us that way. He wants us to be just like Jesus. And He goes to any extent to get that done. He uses any tool to make that happen. Failures, successes, delays, speed, good news, bad news, and JAMB. Yes, JAMB.
Why not let go . . . and let God!
And who says that low score of yours can’t get you an admission this year?
Who says that genotype can’t change before tomorrow morning?
Who says that sack letter can’t be revoked tomorrow by another letter calling you back with promotion?
Never you forget; IMPOSSIBLE is one of God’s favourite words!
I celebrate your New Found Hope!
Author’s End Notes:
1. UTME is UNIFIED TERTIARY MATRICULATION EXAMINATION which is the examination that Nigerian Students write in order to gain admission into an institution of Higher Learning. It is anchored by JAMB-Joint Admissions Matriculation Board
2. I found it interesting that about two years after this post was published, all the guys whose stories were told had gained admission into one tertiary institution or the other-except the guy that scored more than 200. Indeed, the race is not to the swift…