A Proud Spirit
Before now, I had no plans to grow in God.
This was because I would start, stumble and stop, then start again. I had gotten to my limit before Chioma (a friend of mine) ‘caught’ me, encouraged, and brought me to fellowship in her church group (God’s Lighthouse).
As I made a choice and began to seek God, I started to hear Him. Hearing God was very amazing, and it birthed this huge pride in me. Even before I started seeing visions, I would hear the voice of the Holy Spirit like an external voice; you would know somebody was speaking. This made me start speaking to God more and talking to Him, and I sort of put everybody else in the background – I couldn’t care less.
The pride was sort of toned down when I noticed most people here in Church were hearing God too, but it didn’t deter me. It was like, “Well, you’re doing your thing and I’m doing my thing.”
Also, I didn’t really like correction. I had walls set up, so that anyone’s correction hit the wall, and not me. I almost didn’t hear or listen to anyone. My pride made me also to disregard people and put their instructions at the background.
Again, I couldn’t care less and would constantly say, “I will talk to God about this.”
At first, the Holy Spirit would talk to me on the issue, and I would listen and adjust simply because He spoke and because I sort of loved Him, and I knew somewhere at the back of my mind that He loved me too.
After a while, I had to grow; He would reply once and no more whenever I spoke to Him after I had ignored people. He rebuked me – “No! Listen to what they are saying,” and I’d say, “I’m trying to listen but it’s not getting in.”
I Was Flogged
I prayed a certain prayer that I didn’t know would result in a lot of things in my life; I told God to love on me more and to help me grow quickly. It’s a good prayer to pray. So God started loving me with discipline! After all, He chastises the ones He loves (Hebrews 12:6).
Recently (2019), the discipline has been more intense because, by this time, I am supposed to be teaching others, not being taught this particular thing – the matter of listening to others, lying, grumbling, etc. People would speak and I would be slow to respond. Sometimes, I would listen, and plan to put it to practice, but it just didn’t happen.
I had an injury on my leg. It was a day after my pastor had spoken about swift discipline coming. I disobeyed God in different ways, including quarreling and lying, as I disembarked at the gate of where the church met, with the driver of the vehicle that dropped us off. As I turned away from him, a part of the gate struck me in the shin. I took it lightly hoping it’ll simply heal, but that wasn’t the case.
A little advice: My Pastor keeps telling us that experiential knowledge is not always the best type of knowledge. You can, and should just hear instructions, or other people’s story and learn, and obey.
I used to pride myself in getting disciplined by God, but not anymore, as I no longer want to be anybody’s living illustration [as my Pastor would put it] of disobedience and it’s consequences.
I was being disciplined for telling lies. That morning I had dedicated my mouth to the Lord in some form; I didn’t really plan it. This discipline for lying didn’t come because I just lied that day, it was like an accumulation. I wasn’t really listening to the various warnings and words that had been coming.
You know when the cup gets full? ‘These ten times you have tested Me…’ (Numbers 14:22) – and it happened! I didn’t know I had sustained a wound that would not heal for two months. My leg started swelling and then I progressed from wearing a plaster to wearing a bandage that was as high as socks on the injured leg. But, I am happy that I hadn’t lost my leg.
So that was it – I was flogged, and I’ve really repented.
A Cry in Crisis
Now, sickle cell patients (of which I am one) sometimes have crisis, which is actually a ‘crisis’.
It’s called crisis for a reason – it is very painful. It feels like someone is killing you but you are not dead yet. These crises had significantly subsided in their frequency of occurrence compared to the past. God had helped.
But I suffered from one which was more painful than any I ever had – at least to my knowledge. Immediately the crisis started, and I couldn’t bear the pain anymore, I blurted out, “God see me and You…I now know some things: I’m saved, if I die, I’ll go to heaven, but if I go at this time, I know I would lose a lot of rewards, as I have a lot undone and ahead of me. But rather than me staying on this earth with this pain, let me go to heaven.” I couldn’t care less, and I was ungrateful. And God didn’t like that talk at all!
You know, the story from John 11; It’s either I read it again or it came to my mind during that period and one thing surprised me. That passage actually says that ‘Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters’, but we see that He (Jesus) didn’t go there immediately Lazarus died. So He has the capacity to seem to wait or delay in showing up, but this doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love you.
I was receiving different prophetic words during that period, about love and gratitude. A leader in the church also sent me words. But the pain wasn’t going away. So I had to learn to be grateful to God. And it was hard because I am not usually a thankful person.
Before now, I usually feel like I have privileges – like I deserve certain things, so why give thanks? I used to tell my parents, “If you brought me into the world, then provide for me.” And I had these suicidal tendencies, so I didn’t care much for life.
Basically I didn’t care about things people cared about. God was teaching me to care. It had to be through these circumstances because I was very defiant.
That pain lasted for a long time and it was very severe. The usual drugs I used to take didn’t work. Pentazocine didn’t work and pentazocine is next to Tramadol or Ketamine; it’s actually an addictive drug: it’s a hard drug, it’s supposed to work. So Penta didn’t work and I was like, “I’m going to die.”
I hate being dependent on people as I’ve only ever been dependent on my parents. They love me, I love them back and they are able to provide for me. We don’t have very much, but we have enough. I was brought up under their loving hands and they are very protective (in a bad way because I know that’s not what love really is).
But that was one of the reasons why I didn’t do certain things while growing up, like having a boyfriend. This was because I didn’t think a boyfriend could provide for me. And this thinking was mainly out of pride.
So I brought this pride in with God. It just sort of happened, that slowly, I began to become more and more familiar than I should, so I would be very mouthy [disrespectful] in His presence. The Holy Spirit chided me several times but, you know how you’re hearing something but at the same time, you’re not hearing. He had to teach me in a way that would make me listen.
So now, because of my discipline experiences, I fear God very well. I’m an obedient child now! Then [before 2019], I had no fear or much regard at all because I felt I could always run back to Him, and all of that, which is true. However, as we are always being taught in church, we are not to get carried away, and take God for granted because He loves us.
“… Thank God for What?”
I could have learnt without God having to teach me through a difficult situation, but I didn’t. So I was taught the hard way to be grateful. When I was going through this painful period, the Holy Spirit kept bringing to mind that I should give thanks to God, and I was like, “Thank God for what? Why should I thank God?”
Before the day I started having the pains was over, I was told strictly ‘not to refuse to give thanks’ because I had become very ungrateful. God didn’t like it at all. In fact, I had seen a vision where an actual demon was really happy that I was ungrateful. But, somehow I couldn’t care less. I was desperate; ‘Better anything than this pain,’ and God was like, “No! You have to learn.”
I had to learn to say ‘Thank You God’ for healing I had not seen, which is actually real faith – you don’t see something but you believe it will come. I’ve had crisis many times growing up, and I know it will eventually stop, but at that point, I wasn’t looking forward to anything again. I was very reckless, I was very careless, and God didn’t like it, “You can’t be that careless, even with words, in My presence, you can’t be My child and be that careless!”
Finally, in my pain, I had to say, “Thank God.” I had to be grateful for life, I had to start looking for things to thank God for. I had to thank God for my parents, for providing (and God had been really faithful but my ungratefulness did not let me see), because while I was sick, I didn’t spend a lot of my own money. People were providing for me. A doctor would come, give me money for stuff, I was put under NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), people simply just took care of me. My brethren and family were there.
A Low and Painful Place
Amongst the things I wasn’t very grateful for was the spiritual family I have. I took them for granted. In my mind – that thing of not caring – I didn’t mind that they were around me. I didn’t like people, I didn’t like to be around them. I preferred my own self. So when I came to know God, I found out that it wasn’t about me alone, it was about God. So I had to take everybody along – by learning to know them, but in my heart, I thought, “What sort of stress!” I know where God has brought me from and it’s been a wonderful journey, but the problem I had was having to love everybody else.
God made people love me so much while I was down with the crisis, that the Scripture that says, ‘If you keep doing good to someone who does evil to you, you heap coals of fire on the person’s head’ (Romans 12:20) was brought right to my face. So I thought, “If I do this person who has been very good to me any evil, I’m going to heap coals of fire on my head.”
God also brought me to a place of humility, a very low place. I was in a state where I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, I needed help. I couldn’t take off even my underwear by myself…it’s a place you don’t want to be in, just to learn humility. You don’t want to be there to learn how to love people. You don’t have to be in such a low place before you yield, for God to teach you that the people around you, are people that are likely going to be with you your whole life; people that God has put before you, in your life…
So for everybody who still thinks it’s a joke, I’m here to tell you it’s not a joke. Take it from someone who has been a hater of people relatively. I didn’t care much for people. I felt like I had family at home, so I didn’t need anybody else. I felt like it’s a burden to have to love other people.
Love Your Neighbour
But while I was on that sick bed, there was a scripture that came – I had always seen it – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ It was like a battle, and I know part of why I was feeling that pain was because of my words; I had refused even with my words to love others. My pastor has taught us severally that the enemy has a right and a hold on us if we are disobedient and don’t repent, this was my case.
I was asking God on that sick bed, “Lord, how do I live?” and He brought this scripture to me – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might and love your neighbour as yourself, by this you will live.” Luke 10:27-28. ‘By this you would live‘ jumped out at me.
I had thought of and seen the concept of loving people as an obligation that I was doing then, but you can’t argue with Scripture if you are a follower of Jesus. So, He brings that Scripture and He makes you see that part. I had been reading that Scripture, in fact, I have always read that Scripture but I had never taken into cognizance the fact that it actually says that, ‘By this you would live!’ So God was telling me that actually loving people is living! The fact that you love your neighbor as yourself, that’s how you live for real. So if you’re going to truly live, you’re going to have to love people.
It’s not been easy for me especially trusting people – that was the basic word the Holy Spirit gave me when I came to this church group (God’s Lighthouse) – having to trust Him, and trusting Him will help me to be able to trust people, knowing also that they would not be able to harm me if God didn’t allow it. It’s been a hard thing to do, but I’m more open to it now. I’m more open to the fact that I have to trust people and have to love them or I won’t truly live. God had to make it that clear to me and in such a strong way.
For real, you had better read your Bible and just understand it. You don’t want to go through the stress of coming round to it only when you are in a very low and painful place. Just listen and obey! I got healed and completely well. However, I was also a very different person after all of it.
Being thankful makes up for grumbling. I used to grumble a lot and be a real complainant about almost anything, and be quite mouthy about things, because I felt that if I had to be close to people, they should know how I felt; they should bear my burdens. But I didn’t bear their burdens – “Why should I bear your burdens, for what?” – but I loved people bearing my burdens. I didn’t even see them as burdens. I was like, “You want to be close to me? Be close by all means!” It was my way of punishing them.
Remembering a statement made by my pastor during one of our church meetings; [Paraphrasing]”When you are unyielding to what God says and your actions are screaming, “God see, you said You love me, You can’t love me, You’ll get tired,” God will keep making the point that “It’s a battle of wills, you have to obey Me. I am insisting that you obey Me.” Almost like, “Let’s see who will get tired.” People, I’ve gotten tired. Let’s just obey God and have peace.
About loving people, I’m going to try my best, and God is going to give me the grace. Literally, I used to say in my mind then, “To hell with you and this God thing,” but not anymore. I’m yielding to God’s words.
Just love people!
– Sis G.
Sister G. continues to live in devotion to God, learning to love Him more deeply and loving others around her. She has been a part of outreaches to communities, spreading the knowledge of God to young and old alike. She is currently a Year 5 medical student in a University in Southern Nigeria and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org