The outside world also known as the ‘real world’ is a phrase I grew up with. It connotes the place where the magic happens, where freedom from parents and school authorities reigned. I went to Christian private schools (both secondary school and University) and a lot of times they would say stuff like ‘…when you get to the outside world’. It was frustrating to hear that phrase in university where other people seemed to be finally enjoying the outside world while we lived somewhat caged in by rules and more rules. But then again, I loved my school (Shout out to all who finished from Covenant University).
My school could easily be compared to the Utopian society; everything we needed was provided; there was no traffic; the environment was serene and sane; you could easily connect with like minds and sustain such relationships. Most interestingly was the way our spiritual lives were molded; we went to church almost as much as we went for classes; you could see people around speaking in tongues without looking weird. If I’m being honest, it felt like a lot of ‘church’ then. But in retrospect, I gained more than I could imagine!
Now I’m finally in the outside world. The place we counted down to, days to our graduation. The place we always dreamed of! Where we would finally be free from the clutches of rules and regulations to do what we wanted, when we wanted. Where we would finally be seen and respected as adults! Oh the expectations were so high! The excitement peaked!
Almost three years down the road and I’ll give anything to go back to the serene and secure four walls of my Alma mater; to be cradled and nurtured in the midst of other people who spoke faith and walked in style without feeling ‘overdressed’ (my school was pretty fashion oriented I must say). But I can’t go back! Even if I did, it won’t be the same. All my friends are in different places now, there’s no going back 😦
What ticked me off about the outside world? You may ask. Well, to be honest, the little things. The harsh realities of the world outside; the fact that some people are extremely cold and mean. Survival of the fittest is as literal as it sounds! Everyone thinks of how to survive, how to make more money and buy more stuffs even if it costs them their relationships with others and with God. Don’t even get me started on how it’s ‘lame’ not to have some bad history to brag about. You’ll probably hear folks say ‘you haven’t lived yet’ just because you haven’t done crazy stuffs! Painfully, you may just be coming from one pumped up spiritual service to get into a bus with ungodly music booming and gently sifting into your system. A world where evil prevails and good is slowly going extinct. A world where it pays to join the worldly trend than stay on the spiritual bend. A world where I am an oddity. To be honest, the crazy out here is overwhelming!
In the midst of all this, I’m reminded of this;
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matt 5:13-16 (MSG)
You can’t easily identify a light in the midst of other lights. The impact is minimal. To shine as light, you have to be in the darkness. And the way I see it, the outside world is pretty dark! To be the salt of the earth, you’ve gotta step out of the salt shaker (as comfortable as it is in there) and seek to add flavour to a rotten world.
I understand how tempting it is to dim your light in the darkness so they don’t hate you. If they hated Jesus, what makes you invincible? Oh, dear one! They will hate you for beaming your light in areas where they would rather hide in the dark. But that shouldn’t discourage you! Someday, they would come to the light. The bitterness will someday give way to your salt. You can never deny the power of light and salt! My pastor said ‘salt does not have to be as much as food to make an impact’. And that’s so true! You may feel you’re so small and insignificant in this large world. But you’re not! You can always affect the little corner where you find yourself.
So shine bright! Add flavour to the earth! Be kind even when everyone is mean. Don’t allow the outside world harden your hearts. Don’t let the gloom overcome the joy of the Lord in you! Smile some more! Give some more! Love some more! Don’t be afraid of the outside world, for He is with you. 🙂
Happy New Month!
©Mfon Etuk, 2016
****Song for the day: Outsiders by Lecrae ***
Living in the shadows,
Afraid to stand in the spotlight,
Losing myself every day,
A part of me is long gone
Who have I become?
Please tell me
I can’t feel; or do I just feel so?
My mind is wrapping itself around me
I’m held captive
By my thoughts and imaginations,
Please get me out of here!
Who do you want me to be?
I trust you have so many labels you would like to tag on me,
I’m afraid to disappoint you,
But I may just do
Find me if you know me,
Call me- maybe
Bring me back from my grave thoughts,
Turn the lights on,
Can’t hide no more,
Gloom gives way to light,
From shadows to the stage.
©Mfon Etuk, 2016
The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned.
Yippee! It’s that time of the year! There is no doubt, Christmas is the best time of the year for all the right reasons; Holidays, family, food, gifts, decorations, carols and the best part; Christ, who came to save the world!
A friend of mine pointed out that Christmas is overrated. No one really pays attention to the reason for the season. All that matters is what we get ourselves, how much food we get to eat and how we get to spend the holidays and watch the year end. But is Christmas really overrated? Has it completely lost its meaning? Come on! The first six letters in the word say it all. Christ! Without Him, it’s just another mass.
I love Christmas! I love everything about it, including the weather! The harmattan seems to be all over the place, making the morning and nights really chilly. And I love it! Cozying up in the blanket at night watching a Christmas romcom, nibbling on some chocolate… that’s my idea of a perfect night!
I love the time I get to spend with my family. Right now, I’m writing this from the warm couch of my family home in Uyo, Southern Nigeria. It feels so good to be home! Not thinking of work or traffic but just basking in the euphoria of the season.
Then the gifts! Oh my! I just luuuv me some gifts. No doubt, that’s my love language. My grin while unwrapping gifts is out of this world! 😀
Oh yeah, the food! Lots of them! I once said my hometown is known for the amazing dishes and you bet all of them are usually on display then! #CalabarKitchen
I also love putting up the decorations and watching how they light up the house like a city on a hill. The Christmas spirit envelops me like a mail sent via post. It’s incredible!
But my friend’s words keep ringing in my ears. Is this all there is? How about those without food? Those without families? Those who don’t have a home to decorate or gifts to give and receive? It breaks my heart when I think about it.
So instead of sitting in despair, I believe we can open our hearts and hands to these people. Identify people around who don’t have what you do. Give out food, shelter, time, care, money, attention, warm blankets, and everything you can to make sure someone else is happy this Christmas. In so doing, you would be putting a smile on Jesus’ face.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus easily comes to mind (Luke 16:19-31) those who need help may just be at your gates. I pray we recognize them and we bless them as we have been blessed.
Thank you so much for the readership, the encouragement, the comments, criticisms, sharing of the link etc! You guys have been wonderful! God bless you massively this season and keep you to see a better 2016.
This is wishing you a pleasant Christmas and a super duper year ahead!!!
Love you muchos!