Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Should I Forgive Him?

There was this day Mr. Rita annoyed me. I was to go to class for a small test and I needed to be there on time. I asked him to drop baby in her day care so I could catch the bus. He said no (because I woke up late). Long and short of it, I went late and I missed the test. It pained me well well. I did not understand anything they were teaching in class that day. I had to send him looooong text telling him how hurt I was and how I will never forgive him. Infact, I did not want to see him for 1 month. But when I returned from class, he met me at the door and said "I'm sorry." With his arms wide open and that his handsome face, who was I not to melt and run into his loving arms. And by God's grace, I have forgiven him and forgotten (lol) about the incident.

But then I asked him, "what happens after I have forgiven you 70 X 7 times? Does it mean I am free not to forgive you any longer?"

And then he shared with me a story...

Long Post Alert!!!

Lisa sat on the floor of her old room, staring at the box that lay in front of her. It was an old shoe box that she had decorated to become a memory box many years before. Stickers and penciled flowers covered the top and sides. Its edges were worn, the corners of the lid taped so as to keep their shape.
It had been three years since Lisa last opened the box. A sudden move to Boston had kept her from packing it. But now that she was back home, she took the time to look again at the memories.
Fingering the corners of the box and stroking its cover, Lisa pictured in her mind what was inside.
There was a photo of the family trip to the Grand Canyon, a note from her friend telling her that Nick Bicotti liked her, and the Indian arrowhead she had found while on her senior class trip. One by one, she remembered the items in the box, lingering over the sweetest, until she came to the last and only painful memory. She knew what it looked like--a single sheet of paper upon which lines had been drawn to form boxes, 490 of them to be exact. And each box contained a check mark, one for each time.
The story behind it..........
"How many times must I forgive my brother?" the disciple Peter had asked Jesus. "Seven times?" Lisa's Sunday school teacher had read Jesus' surprise answer to the class. "Seventy times seven."
Lisa had leaned over to her brother Brent as the teacher continued reading. "How many times is that?" she whispered. Brent, though two years younger, was smarter than she was.
"Four hundred and ninety," Brent wrote on the corner of his Sunday school paper. Lisa saw the message, nodded, and sat back in her chair. She watched her brother as the lesson continued. He was small for his age, with narrow shoulders and short arms. His glasses were too large for his face, and his hair always matted in swirls. He bordered on being a nerd, but his incredible skills at everything, especially music, made him popular with his classmates.
Brent had learned to play the piano at age four, the clarinet at age seven, and had just begun to play oboe. His music teachers said he'd be a famous musician someday. There was only one thing at which Lisa was better than Brent--basketball. They played it almost every afternoon after school.
Brent could have refused to play, but he knew that it was Lisa's only joy in the midst of her struggles to get C's and D's at school.
Lisa's attention came back to her Sunday school teacher as the woman finished the lesson and closed with prayer. That same Sunday afternoon found brother and sister playing basketball in the driveway. It was then that the counting had begun. Brent was guarding Lisa as she dribbled toward the basket. He had tried to bat the ball away, got his face near her elbow, and took a shot on the chin. "Ow!", he cried out and turned away.
Lisa saw her opening and drove to the basket, making an easy lay-up. She gloated over her success but stopped when she saw Brent. "You okay?",she asked. Brent shrugged his shoulders.
"Sorry," Lisa said. "Really. It was a cheap shot."
"It's all right. I forgive you," he said. A thin smile then formed on his face. "Just 489 more times though."
"Whaddaya mean?" Lisa asked.
"You know...what we learned in Sunday school today. You're supposed to forgive someone 490 times. I just forgave you, so now you have 489 left," he kidded. The two of them laughed at the thought of keeping track of every time Lisa had done something to Brent. They were sure she had gone past 490 long ago.
The rain interrupted their game, and the two moved indoors. "Wanna play Battleship?" Lisa asked. Brent agreed, and they were soon on the floor of the living room with their game boards in front of them. Each took turns calling out a letter and number combination, hoping to hit each other's ships.
Lisa knew she was in trouble as the game went on. Brent had only lost one ship out of five. Lisa had lost three. Desperate to win, she found herself leaning over the edge of Brent's barrier ever so slightly. She was thus able to see where Brent had placed two of his ships. She quickly evened the score.
Pleased, Lisa searched once more for the location of the last two ships. She peered over the barrier again, but this time Brent caught her in the act. "Hey, you're cheating!" He stared at her in disbelief.
Lisa's face turned red. Her lips quivered. "I'm sorry," she said, staring at the carpet. There was not much Brent could say. He knew Lisa sometimes did things like this. He felt sorry that Lisa found so few things she could do well. It was wrong for her to cheat, but he knew the temptation was hard for her.
"Okay, I forgive you," Brent said. Then he added with a small laugh, "I guess it's down to 488 now, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess so." She returned his kindness with a weak smile and added, "Thanks for being my brother, Brent."
Brent's forgiving spirit gripped Lisa, and she wanted him to know how sorry she was. It was that evening that she had made the chart with the 490 boxes. She showed it to him before he went to bed.
"We can keep track of every time I mess up and you forgive me," she said. "See, I'll put a check in each box--like this." She placed two marks in the upper left-hand boxes.
"These are for today." Brent raised his hands to protest. "You don't need to keep--"
"Yes I do!" Lisa interrupted. "You're always forgiving me, and I want to keep track. Just let me do this!" She went back to her room and tacked the chart to her bulletin board.
There were many opportunities to fill in the chart in the years that followed. She once told the kids at school that Brent talked in his sleep and called out Rhonda Hill's name, even though it wasn't true. The teasing caused Brent days and days of misery. When she realized how cruel she had been, Lisa apologized sincerely. That night she marked box number 96. Forgiveness number 211 came in the tenth grade when Lisa failed to bring home his English book. Brent had stayed home sick that day and had asked her to bring it so he could study for a quiz. She forgot and he got a C.
Number 393 was for lost keys...418 for the extra bleach she put in the washer, which ruined his favorite polo shirt...449, the dent she had put in his car when she had borrowed it.
There was a small ceremony when Lisa checked number 490. She used a gold pen for the check mark, had Brent sign the chart, and then placed it in her memory box.
"I guess that's the end," Lisa said. "No more screw-ups from me anymore!"
Brent just laughed. "Yeah, right."
Number 491 was just another one of Lisa's careless mistakes, but its hurt lasted a lifetime. Brent had become all that his music teachers said he would. Few could play the oboe better than he. In his fourth year at the best music school in the United States, he received the opportunity of a lifetime--a chance to try out for New York City's great orchestra. 
         The tryout would be held sometime during the following two weeks. It would be the fulfillment of his young dreams. But he never got the chance. Brent had been out when the call about the tryout came to the house. Lisa was the only one home and on her way out the door, eager to get to work on time. "Two-thirty on the tenth," the secretary said on the phone. Lisa did not have a pen, but she told herself that she could remember it. "Got it. Thanks." I can remember that, she thought. But she did not. It was a week later around the dinner table that Lisa realized her mistake. "So, Brent," his mom asked him, "When do you try out?" "Don't know yet. They're supposed to call." Lisa froze in her seat. "Oh, no!" she blurted out loud. "What's today's date? Quick!" "It's the twelfth," her dad answered. "Why?" A terrible pain ripped through Lisa's heart. She buried her face in her hands, crying. "Lisa, what's the matter?" her mother asked. Through sobs Lisa explained what had happened. "It was two days ago...the tryout...two-thirty...the call came...last week." Brent sat back in his chair, not believing Lisa. "Is this one of your jokes, sis?" he asked, though he could tell her misery was real. She shook her head, still unable to look at him. "Then I really missed it?" She nodded. Brent ran out of the kitchen without a word. He did not come out of his room the rest of the evening. Lisa tried once to knock on the door, but she could not face him. She went to her room where she cried bitterly. Suddenly she knew that she had to do. She had ruined Brent's life. He could never forgive her for that. She had failed her family, and there was nothing to do but to leave home. Lisa packed her pickup truck in the middle of the night and left a note behind, telling her folks she'd be all right. She began writing a note to Brent, but her words sounded empty to her. Nothing I say could make a difference anyway, she thought. Two days later she got a job as a waitress in Boston. She found an apartment not too far from the restaurant. Her parents tried many times to reach her, but Lisa ignored their letters. "It's too late," she wrote them once. "I've ruined Brent's life, and I'm not coming back." Lisa did not think she would ever see home again. But one day in the restaurant where she worked she saw a face she knew. "Lisa!" said Mrs. Nelson, looking up from her plate. "What a surprise." The woman was a friend of Lisa's family from back home. "I was so sorry to hear about your brother," Mrs. Nelson said softly. "Such a terrible accident. But we can be thankful that he died quickly. He didn't suffer." Lisa stared at the woman in shock. "Wh-hat," she finally stammered. It couldn't be! Her brother? Dead? The woman quickly saw that Lisa did not know about the accident. She told the girl the sad story of the speeding car, the rush to the hospital, the doctors working over Brent. But all they could do was not enough to save him. Lisa returned home that afternoon. Now she found herself in her room thinking about her brother as she held the small box that held some of her memories of him. Sadly, she opened the box and peered inside. It was as she remembered, except for one item--Brent's chart. It was not there. In its place, at the bottom of the box, was an envelope. Her hands shook as she tore it open and removed a letter. The first page read: Dear Lisa, It was you who kept count, not me. But if you're stubborn enough to keep count, use the new chart I've made for you. Love, Brent Lisa turned to the second page where she found a chart just like the one she had made as a child, but on this one the lines were drawn in perfect precision. And unlike the chart she had kept, there was but one check mark in the upper left- hand corner. Written in red felt tip pen over the entire page were the words: "Number 491. Forgiven, forever."

(Taken from The Lift of Laugh & Lift for February 12, 2012)

Remain blessed...

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Inspired My Novel "Against The Perfect Will"

As I lay on the bed that day, shivering and feeling my body parts get numb in stages, I could not help but think about my life and how it seemed it was coming to an end prematurely. So my life would soon end, I wondered. What will I explain to my maker? That I mistakenly took an overdose of expired Ampiclox and that was why my life was cut short? A mistake? Pathetic!

My mother and siblings surrounded me, trying to understand what I was going through. How could I explain this strange thing happening to me? My legs were numb now and lifeless. The numbness had started getting to my arms and back. I know the moment it gets to my ribs and heart, I would be gone. My family was hoping I could endure until morning (only 3 hours away but it seemed like a year away) so that they could take me to the hospital. I was quite pessimistic. I started talking about my preferences for a burial.
As I closed my eyes and awaited the next stage of the numbness that should finally affect my ribs and heart, I had a discussion with my maker.
"So you mean that I can die just before I defend my final year project? All my hardwork, sleepless nights, 6 years in school and I will not see the logical conclusion?" I asked Him.
"If someone makes the wrong decision, no matter how small it may seem, it can affect his or her whole life forever, in some cases even cutting short his/her life," He replied.
"Hmmm, I wish people knew about this."
"Yes they will know about it. You will tell them." His words were firm.
"Me? That is if I get to heaven when this Ampiclox overdose thing finishes me," I replied.
(As I look back, I can imagine that He must have laughed with my statement)
"Go and drink water, my daughter," He instructed me.
"Yes, water and lots of it!"

It was not as though there was any other thing to do. I could lay on that bed moaning and awaiting death. Or I could drink water and see what happens.
“Water”, I muttered. “Big bottle of water!”
One of my sisters hurried to get me water. I finished 1.5litres in no time and continued laying on the bed. The numbness continued and affected my ribs then stopped. I remained on the bed waiting for the next wave of numbness that would numb my heart.
Suddenly, I felt a strong urge to urinate (of course). My siblings took me to the toilet. When I urinated (a very long urination for that matter), the whole house was filled with a strong smell of Ampiclox. When I got back to the bed to lay down, I realized that the numbness had left my ribs. Slowly, the numbness started leaving my body (in the reverse order in which it came). By morning, my whole body was back to normal. No one would have imagined what we passed through that night.
So, while waiting to defend my undergraduate project, I began to write the story “Against The Perfect Will”. Today, 10 years later, it has been published to the glory of God. In order not to make this a long post, I will save the synopsis for a later time (maybe just before the book launch). But please join me in thanking God for His inspirations, for the privilege of using me to send a message, and for making everything beautiful in its own time.
Against The Perfect Will is on ground in preparation for the book launch (date to be confirmed). But you can get a copy from the following links:
Word Association Publishers

Please feel free to visit EROInspirations facebook page and like it to be updated with the plans and progress of "Against The Perfect Will", to read and receive inspirational articles from EROInspirations, and to receive encouraging quotes and messages from the Word of God.
Remain blessed.
(PS: If you are in Nigeria and interested in getting a hardcopy of the book, please send me an email at esurunma@gmail.com and we can get talking...).

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Refiner At Work

The fastest growth I have experienced in my Christian walk were always during "low" periods in my life. Like when I was waiting on God for a husband. That what when I learnt about God, learnt about His values, learnt that the best way for me to learn the bible is through study, and generally learnt about the value of mixing with the "brethren". When I was waiting on God for the fruit of the womb, that was when I learnt how to pray, I improved my worship style, and I learnt the importance of making out time for God. Now when I see someone going through a challenge and the person has chosen to walk with God, I know there is no way that person will not come out changed and a much better person. I know what the refiner can do...

A refiner is a specially skilled person who removes impurities or other unwanted matter from something (or in this context - someone). He knows the right temperature at which the unwanted matter will be removed. He sets and watches to ensure the refining process is done effectively. He knows when all the impurities are gone because HE IS ABLE TO SEE HIS IMAGE CLEARLY on what he is refining.

There are times when God allows us to pass through a fire in order that He may refine us, purify us, and bring out the best in us. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver [Malachi 3:3a, NIV]. God "sits" as a refiner and purifier. He does not see us in the fire and walk away. He does not let the fire get too hot (that we may be burned) or get too cold (that we may not come out refined as He intended). He "sits", watching closely and keeping the temperature right. What others may think would destroy us would make us stronger and much better people - if we allow God. And when He is done, everyone, including Himself, can see an image on Him in us.

This scripture is consistent with His promises. He said, "When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" [Isaiah 43:2]. We know that "the trials in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the trial to be more than you can stand. When you are tried, He will show you a way out so that you can endure" [1Corinthians 10:13].

No matter what you go through, be rest assured that your loving Father is with you, watching, and ensuring that the situation does not burn you. In the midst of the situation, ask Him to show you what impurities He wants to remove or what characteristics He wants to bring out of you. His plans for you are always good - plans to give you the future you hope for.
May you feel an added sense of God's presence today and always.
Remain blessed...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Four Years And Counting

It's been four years of being married...
...Married to the most beautiful man on earth
He is not perfect, neither am I,
But, the guy try.
When I see the way he understands and manages me, I just know it is only God that could have given me such a husband.
Then today, he gave me a card and wrote the words "Without a doubt, I truly made an excellent choice..."
As if he knew that secretly I had been fighting inferiority complex after I realized some people felt I was not "good" enough for him considering my past. His words really made my day and have destroyed the last shreds of inferiority complex.

I thank God for these four years and pray for four hundred more years with him. May God bless him abundantly. May God continue to remain the head of our home.

And the sweetest part is...

Today is his birthday. Please join me in saying happy birthday to Mr. Rita. Double wishes for him today!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

He Cares About Every Detail

I like it when I receive an apt word of encouragement, especially when I am waiting on God and I have alot of questions. I was reading the bible when I stumbled upon "The LORD your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little..."[Deuteronomy 7:22a, NLT]. I was concerned. We are speaking of a God who can wipe out a nation in one second. We are speaking of a God who had parted the seas, and had provided manna and quail for His people. I wondered, why couldn't He drive out those nations in one go to enable the Israelites have rest once and for all?

The verse went on as follows: "...You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you..." That was when it all began to make sense. Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save. He was more than able to drive out the nations ahead of the Israelites,but He did not. In His love, wisdom and foresight, He did it little by litttle. God cared so much for His people that He did not drive out the nations occupying the promised land all at once knowing that if He did that, the wild animals would grow in number and would threaten the safety and livelihood of His people.

There are some times when you may wonder why God is allowing a challenge to remain. You might be wondering why there are delays in seeing the physical manifestation of the answers to your prayers. It could be a small or a big issue, but you know God can handle it in one second if He chooses to, yet He has not done so. The passage today is a reminder that God cares about the details of our lives. He does not want the presence of the "wild animals" to interfer with the promised land, nay, the answer to the prayer we have brought before Him.

Do you desire something that God has not given? Are you praying yet it seems God has not answered? God has a perfect timing and may be concerned about the "wild animals", such as unforgiveness, unresolved issues of the past, self condemnation, double-mindedness, or some area of your life He needs to refine. Or He just may be waiting for the appointed time when the testimony will be ripe, while blessing you in preparation.  But no matter what may be the cause of the delay, He loves you and cares about every detail of your life. And He will not give you more than you can bear.

Remain blessed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Time To Be Born

I received THIS today and could not help but share with my blogger family, THIS being the cover of my novel!!! I was so excited yet had tears fill my eyes. I never knew that one day, "Against the Perfect Will", written 10 years ago will be in print (and on Kindle and on ipad :-)).

This is just to give you a heads up. The novel is currently being printed. Would let you know as soon as you can grab your copy. Details and more details to come.

He makes everything beautiful in its own time...

(This partly explains my hiatus...)