For two months, Bunmi didn’t show up at the drama rehearsals and that got me worried.
Bunmi was one of our best actresses. I still remember the day I was assigned a role to be her best friend. It was the smoothest rehearsals ever. She got into character from the first day the script was handed to us. By the time we presented the play at the annual youth conference, the congregation was moved to pray.
What could be wrong with her? Why wasn’t she coming to church anymore?
My drama coordinator was a no-nonsense person and at the last rehearsals, he sounded really angry as he addressed us.
‘Don’t ever for once think that because you are gifted as a drama minister, you cannot be replaced. Beware of pride. Once you take the glory that belongs to God, it is only a matter of time before your downfall becomes evident. Listen, God uses only those who are available. If you are not careful, he will dump you and raise other men to take your place.’
It was obvious Bunmi was the reason our coordinator ranted that way. Bunmi rarely missed rehearsals and the drama team depended on her for major roles. But now she had disappeared out of sight.
Before she stopped coming to church, I noticed she’d sneak out of service during the closing prayer. Her line wasn’t going through and she always had this sullen expression on her face
Something wasn’t right and I didn’t think it was because she felt too big to serve. I knew Bunmi well. She loved the Lord and many times when I slept over at her place, she amazed me with her devotion life.
‘Did you notice it was Bunmi Bro James was talking about?’ My best friend, Esther asked as we walked out of the church after the rehearsals.
I nodded. ‘I think we should check up on her again.’
‘I don’t know why she is refusing to talk to us. If something is wrong, we should know. Afterall, what are friends for?’
Bunmi lived alone in a one room apartment. We left the church for her apartment. When we got there, we knocked but there was no response.
‘Bunmi don comot.’ One of her neigbours said.
Same response we’ve been receiving every time we showed up at her door. We stood outside the compound, contemplating on other alternatives to reach our friend.
We figured that the only option left was to fix a time to see Bunmi at her place of work.
During my lunch break the following day, I left the office to pick up Esther who was already waiting for me at the front of a supermarket. We picked some items from the supermarket and then drove to Bunmi’s place of work.
Bunmi was seated behind a table full of books when we entered the staffroom. She was engrossed in marking some notebooks. When we greeted the teachers, she raised her head and saw us. She was shocked. We left the staff room and waited for her under a tree at the back of one of the classrooms.
We hugged her. She was stiff at first and then gradually relaxed.
‘We’ve missed you.’ Esther touched her cheeks.
‘How are you?’ I said, holding her hands.
She stood there, speechless. Then she smiled sadly and nodded. ‘I’m fine.’
Esther wrapped her hands around her waist. ‘Whatever it is, we are always here for you.’
I held up the nylon of beverages and toiletries. ‘We got this for you.’
Tears stung her eyes as she collected the bag from us. We hugged her quickly and said we had to return to work. Bunmi couldn’t say a word. She waved at us as we left and I spotted a tear drop on her cheek. She quickly wiped it away. When I got to the school gate, I turned and blew her a kiss. She chuckled.
That evening, I was watching a movie with Esther when my phone rang. Bunmi.
‘Can I come over to your place?’ Bunmi asked.
When she finally did, Bunmi broke down in tears.
‘I’ve been having sex with a guy I met at a singles conference some months ago. I got careless. When it happened, I felt so guilty and ashamed of myself and that was why I stopped coming for rehearsals. It happened about twice again.’ She hesitated. ‘Every time, I feel God is mad at me and doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. I don’t have a relationship with God anymore.’
For about two hours or more, we talked about our struggles. We reminded ourselves of our position in Christ. We talked about the privilege of sonship where we could come boldly to the throne of grace when we messed up. We spoke about God’s desire to help us stay victorious. We shared scriptures and prayed together.
Bunmi was beaming with smiles as we escorted her out of my house that day. At the gate, she stopped and faced us. ‘I feel like a heavy stone has been removed from my heart. I can’t remember when last I prayed like this. It’s so refreshing. When we were sharing scriptures, God opened my eyes to new things from His Word. I can’t believe it. I feel strengthened already.’
I smiled. ‘He has promised he will never leave nor forsake us. We can trust that he’ll always be there for us. He’ll teach us how to walk this Christian life.’
Bunmi nodded her head. ‘Can we do this another time please?’
‘I was going to suggest that,’ I said.
We agreed to meet the following week. I’ve never seen Bunmi so excited. It made me realize how God is always waiting for us to run into his arms.
‘Then the Lord told him, ‘Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are beaten will live if they simply look at it.’ So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed. Numbers 21:8,9.
As Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of God be lifted up, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:14,15
It is true that because we have now become new creatures in Christ, we are dead to sin and all it produces. Christ destroyed the power of sin in our lives, yes. Yet we live in a world where sin as a principle still operates and until we leave this world, we’ll be faced with temptations. So when believers find themselves constantly slipping into sinful habit, what should their response be? Cower in shame? Cry for days and refuse to read their bible? How should we respond when we find areas in our lives messed up by fleshly desires.
Let me first say that, one of the ways the devil has kept many believers in bondage is through the instrumentality of accusation.
You sin, then you feel bad and stay away from other believers and stop talking to God which gives the devil the opportunity to fill your mind with trash. And you wonder why you keep rising and falling.
At the time of your weakest moments is when you should talk to God more.
Of course we are not happy when we find an area of our lives controlled by sinful habits but to get out of it comes by staying focused on your identity in Christ. Doing this gives you a confidence that God will get you out of it.
Most of the times when any of my friends (believers) share their struggles with me, the very first thing I do is remind them of their identity in Christ.
I remind them that they are the righteousness of God in Christ and as sons they can come boldly to the throne of grace and seek for mercy. I do this every time. Because your identity is where the devil first attacks, and once he gets you to doubt this, it will be difficult for you to believe that the Holy Spirit can bring you a lasting solution.
Rather than share your failings with the Lord like a son to a father, you’ll cower in shame. Over time, you’ll see yourself unworthy to pray and learn from the Word. It will be difficult for you to pray or read your bible.
The devil knows that when you keep your eyes on Jesus after you sin, he gradually loses hold on you because your gaze on the risen Lord will lead to renewing your mind which will open your eyes to see what you need to stay victorious.
This has worked for me. When I reminded myself of my identity when I yielded to temptation, it made me open to God about my failings and strengthened my faith to trust him for continuous victories. Always, I’ll hear God showing me deep things in the Word and pointing out the pattern and strategies of the devil that I’d ignored.
Like the Israelites who had to look at the bronze snake to get healed, your first point of call is to keep your focus on the cross by reminding yourself of the victory that took place there and reaching into the Word to develop intimacy with Jesus.
What am I really saying? Don’t run away when you sin. Run to God. Keep your gaze fixed on the cross. Remind yourself of your Lord who died and was raised to bring you a new life. Remind yourself that your old man has been crucified with Christ and you are God’s righteousness. Doing this, you’ll find the Holy Spirit teaching you how to walk with Christ better.
Listen, the devil works 24/7 with an unwavering desire to pull your mind in the wrong direction. You have no business listening to him. That issue is between you and your Father. Quit giving the devil the privilege he does not deserve.
God does not hate you when you mess you. It is at such times he wants to show his exceeding love to you.
Don’t think that by staying on your bed crying and allowing all manner of thoughts fill your head, God will be impressed. He is moved by your response to reach out and trust the Holy Spirit. Confess your failings from the standpoint of a son and acknowledge that without Him, you can do nothing. Declare consistently who He has called you to be.
I’m asking you to rise and blot out the accusations of the devil. Walk into the throne of Grace and let God shower you with grace to live this christian life.
I’m saying that God understands your desire to do His will and He wants to help you. But a continual gaze at the cross and all that the finished works of Christ has provided is the way to live.
Stop running. You’ll only hardening your heart against God. Running from the Holy Spirit when you err is a wrong move.
God wants you to come home. He’s been waiting for you. He wants to help you. He wants to show you the deep mysteries of Christ. He wants to prove to you how much He loves you. You cannot transform yourself. Your healing and growth comes as you fix your eyes on the finished works of calvary.
You may be saying, ‘ife, I’ve been trusting God, why am I still bound to this?’ You keep trusting and believing. Consistency is where the victory lies.
Keep confessing what God’s Word says about you. Renew your mind again and again. Obey whatever the Holy Spirit prompts you to do. I’m telling you, you will see the result you seek.
If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? Romans 8:32 (message).
All you need for life and godliness is in Him. Stop running away. The Father calls for thee.