Introducing: Spiritual Growth Series
One out of 5 Christians would tell you that one of their biggest struggle is growing spiritually.
Most Christians still find themselves on the same level where they began their walk with Christ years after their salvation experience.
We believe that reason for a lack of spiritual growth are numerous but below are a few that we can think of off the top of our heads:
- A lack of teachings in this area: Not every new believer is taught what to do when they come into Christ. Some are quickly hit with the other things. But growth as a believer is very key.(2) Most Christians know that they should grow but lack the hunger to do so.(3) Some Christians simply do not know what to do.
Whichever side of the divide that you fall into; whether you are a new believer who needs to grow or a believer for some years who have fallen away from your spiritual disciplines or believer who simply does not desire God anymore or a believer who desires to grow but does not know what to do, it is our prayer that this series this month of May would meet you at the point of your needs.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
Introducing the series for us today is our sister Oma who will start at the very beginning of our walk in Christ – salvation story.
If you already have a salvation story we pray that this brings a fresh gratitude to God for what He saved you from.
If you don’t, we pray that God draws you to Himself through this.
Oma Ogban: The Beginning
And I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s Alabaster Box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost
Of the oil in my Alabaster box
I can’t forget the way life used to be
I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound
And I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul with the wonder of His touch
So now I’m giving back to Him
All the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why
I love Him so much
Excerpt from Alabaster Box by Cece Winans
I start with the lyrics of this song for two reasons.
First, in my opinion, salvation stories are really difficult to write. Because it usually is a deep experience…one that vocabulary often fails to adequately express.
Another is…while some can tell their story as one immense experience- a transformation that resulted in a 360 degree move from the ‘world’ to God, most of us have a more evolutionary experience – that one VERY important decision… and subsequent decisions also.
Coming to think of it, salivation is never really a destination; it is a journey. Salvation of the entire being, salvation in a bits. A continuous (and often painful) process of breaking and re-making. And for most, a story of coming to God, going back to the world and then returning to God.
I’m pretty ordinary – I know I am. But I do have something special today. I have a deep relationship with an extraordinary God. And indeed, this leaves me with a sense of true belonging and the knowledge of the power that I have. But it hasn’t always been like this; I have a past – one I am not very proud of. And I will use this medium as an avenue to share the events that are me…and why I do not hesitate to praise Him with the content of my “very cherished” alabaster box.
I don’t have a very dramatic background so don’t expect to gasp in astonishment at any point while reading this.
But I will say….I didn’t have it all rosy growing up. My parents did (and are still doing) their best to fulfil their responsibilities as my earthly parents. But I was forced to face many things from my childhood that left me utterly confused.
You see, I grew up in a Christian home. My parents are both recognized in their individual denominations. I went to Sunday School, my house was a venue for house fellowship. My parents tried to cultivate the morning devotion culture in our house. I have had family friend pastors who took special interest in our (my siblings and I) upbringing. But I did see a lot of disunity in my home – my parents fought…and my mum (whom I perceived to be more spiritually inclined) seemed like a very bitter woman. She blamed the spiritual for her state – they had attacked her and taken all that God had given her. She will cite all these spiritual experiences to me as a young girl. And all the narrations just left me confused. What kind of life was she living? What kind of God will put her through this? In my confusion, I knew one thing – I did not want to end up like my mother. And one way to do it….was to stay away from all the spiritual shenanigans.
My First Attempt at Being Born Again
So when I was seventeen (17), I went off to get my A-levels done. And at some point, a guest minister came to preach at the school’s cathedral…and a number of the popular kids heeded to the altar call that day. You know what happens when the popular kids become born again? All of a sudden, it is the ‘in-thing’ – the rave of the moment. So I joined the barn wagon and got myself the ‘born again’ tag. I prayed, I read my Bible regularly…all those things Christians did. Then I left for the holidays…and being born again wasn’t werking. So I dumped it; I couldn’t be bothered.
And My Story Continues
As time went on, I just staggered through most of my life. Well, not really staggered….just lived a carefree life. But I have discovered that people aren’t really “carefree” – there is no such thing. Whether passively or actively, you are building or tearing down something. Anyway, I didn’t know this then…and so I just lived. I made all of the mistakes that young girls who live like I did make – I made it all about school, fashion and the boys.
Yes, the boys! Oh the boys!!
I realize now that I had a bit of a self-identity/self-confidence issue. And so because I wasn’t getting my affirmation from within. I had to get it from others. And who would readily give false affirmation than boys. And then there were all these hormones that I couldn’t control.
And so I went from one boy to the other…from boyfriend to fling to a boy that just liked me…then to boyfriend again; I enjoyed the attention. With some of these boys, I gave myself to – yes, I had sex. I even have had to face the consequences of fornication – even abortions and a total loss of self-esteem (not like I had much of it to go by in the first place). It didn’t feel “bad” at the time – it just felt like it was the normal thing to do. Don’t get me wrong; my mum had the “talk” with me – she just had it a bit too late.
The Real Deal
I continued on this path for about a decade. And then, a season came where I was just weary and depressed. I kept wondering “okay, so this is it! Is this all to life? There has to be more!”. And there, a preacher in church was saying all these things that made it all like he was having a conversation with me.
Rewind to say a decade earlier, my mum had forced me to go to a seminar hosted by the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya. Something she said stuck with me from then on:
“Life isn’t qui cera cera (Whatever will be will be); you make what you get out of life mostly by your choices”
Fast forward to the present…and this preacher in church was saying the exact same thing…except an older, more mature, more receptive me was there…and I thought, “I AM TIRED OF MAKING THE WRONG CHOICES”.
And there you go….I had taken the first (and probably the most crucial) step.
What has changed?
Recently, I was trying to describe myself to someone. And I said this….I live in the world and I am affected by the things that happen in it – economic turmoil, financial issues, emotional rollercoasters -name it. But what defines me- and indeed differentiates me is that inner depth…that knowledge that I am in fellowship with God. The more in depth I feel this, the more joy I feel. Sounds familiar? It’s the Holy Spirit and indeed a manifestation of His fruit – peace (Gal 5:22-23). That’s my core and once I start drifting, I feel like I have been displaced from the very essence of my nature….if you get what I mean.
And that essence reinforces 1 John 4:4 – that what is on the inside of me is by far greater (and indeed more important) than WHATEVER is in the world.
Over and over again, I have experienced breaking and remolding. I have seen myself – naked with all my weakness right before me. I have backslidden over and over again. I keep failing at this ‘holiness’ thing. My eyes have been opened to my insecurities – even the ones I never knew existed. I have fought (and keep fighting) my flesh. But it is a process and as painful as it is, I won’t have it anyway else.
But in all of my journey, I have learnt a lot….
That God is the God of Second, Third and well, other chances. Regardless of how many times I have fallen, how filthy I think I am, how unworthy of his love I am, He really does love and care for me and NOTHING can change that. His promises are continuously true in my life- whether I believe them or not. Salvation has nothing to do with any righteousness on my part. I didn’t deserve it; I never have, never will.
What it truly means to be free. Remember those carefree days, there were bondage years…and I didn’t even know. Today, I wake up with an amazing smile on my face. Just with the knowledge that this is me – a whole me, a Christ-filled me, I am well in my body, mind and spirit. No convictions, no judgment, no guilt, no debt, nothing.
Humility. Chai! Humility!! I approach the throne of grace feeling free but in absolute reverence. Because once again, I understand that it is such a great privilege that I have gained. I did not earn it…it was just awof!
But I have also learnt to show humility towards mankind. I am not better than anyone on the street (regardless of what walk of life, or what choices they have made). We have all had our struggles, we all still do. And God chooses to work in everyone differently.
But the greatest lesson of all is knowledge. When you are saved, God begins to show his true nature…in bits. I continuously grow in the knowledge of Him. He reveals deep secrets of whom He is (Daniel 2:22). This is a very powerful weapon (and where true powerful over the enemy lies) as the Bible says:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God
-2 Corinthians 10:4-5
It has also caused me to know my issues – especially when it comes to dealing with negativity that sometimes, I didn’t even know was there.
He continues to bring me into true knowledge of who I am. Not necessarily my likes, dislikes, or those physical sort of stuff. But because I was created in the likeness of God, as He reveals Himself to me, He reveals me – my God-nature to me as well. I am slowly coming into an understanding of my gifts. A true understanding of my inner beauty – the one that gives true radiation. I get to truly become God’s fragrance here on earth (2 Cor 2:15).
Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
While I hope I haven’t bored you at this point, I’ll just go ahead and summarize the message in my very lengthy prose.
If you feel like it’s too late – it really is not. I am a living example.
If you feel hopeless – that’s not true. You are alive; thus there is hope for you.
But while the voice of Jesus keeps calling for your surrender, you have to come to the realization that the only thing keeping you from an intimate relationship with Him is You – not your sin, not your background, not your past. If you choose today and say “I have had enough of doing things my way and I want to go God’s way”, I can assure you that there is no regret in it.
And if you are someone who has made this choice but is struggling with sticking with your choice, He sees your struggle. I ask that you hang in there and FIGHT to stay in Him! I declare that your zeal for God and His righteousness is restored in Jesus name! And I declare that the joy of His Salvation is restored in your heart in Jesus name!!
If you need support, I’m available to be a listening ear or a praying partner. You can reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond as soon as possible.
I love every single one of you and God loves you more.
Oma can simply be described as a lady with a heart for the Lord, one who earnestly desires to follow Him all the days of her life. She is a writer and founder of Yeiwoman (www.yeiwoman.org).
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