Once, the police arrested my business manager on trumped up charges. I had to go to the station to see what I could do. Before I left, I said a short prayer asking God for help. I asked him for the favour of God and the favour of man. When I got to the police station, I spoke to the arresting officer. The man listened to me intently for a few minutes and then decided to release my manager. Then he gave me his reasons.
He said to me: “I am releasing him for three reasons. I am releasing him because I have a lot of respect for people who have grey hair, and you have lots of it. I am releasing him because I understand you have a doctorate, and I just have lots of respect for people who have doctorates. I am releasing him because I understand you are a pastor, and I just have a lot of respect for pastors.”
I told the officer: “I am sorry to disagree with you, Sir. You are not releasing him because of any of the reasons you have given. You are releasing him because before I came here I went down on my knees and prayed and asked God to give me favour.”
You see, right from the beginning of that episode, God brought the case to a man whose mind he had already prepared to be sympathetic to me. All the issues about grey hairs and a doctorate were simply the devices of God. Somebody else could have hated me precisely because my hair was grey; and he could have despised me for having a doctorate.
Jigsaw puzzle of life
Beloved, recognise this; God has planted his people everywhere as salt and as light. He told Elijah that he had in Israel reserves of the righteous who had not bowed down to Baal. (1 King 19:18). He told Paul not to be afraid to preach in Corinth because he had many people strategically placed in the city. (Act 18:10).
Your life is like a jigsaw puzzle that God assembles. That includes every word you are going to speak on earth. It includes everything you are going to do. That is why you could not have been born in another century. You could not have been born a woman, or you could not have been born a man. You could not have been white or you could not have been black. You could not have been anywhere else except where you are right now. You could not have been doing anything else right now except reading this article.
Without interfering with your free will, God puts you in a particular space where your disposition and your inclinations are precisely suited to his will. It is like acting in a play. The Director tells you that you could say whatever you liked, and do whatever you wanted in this scene. But he foreknew you. He knew your character; he knew your disposition.
He knew if you saw a man being attacked, you would not stand idly by. He knew if you saw an old woman walking across the road, you would be inclined to help her. So he said to you: “Be yourself.” But in being yourself, you are simply acting according to his will, because he has contrived everything about you fearfully and wonderfully.
Be anxious for nothing
That is why the wise man of the scriptures says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; he turns it wherever he wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1). This shows there is no situation that God cannot affect or change. There is no heart immune to the power of God. God has full control over the tendencies of your parents. He has perfect control over the inclinations of your boss. He has full control over the disposition of your teacher.
Therefore: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).
God uses everything. He uses the good, the bad and the ugly. He is like an amazing chef who uses all kinds of strange ingredients to make to make the most scrumptious dishes. He is the builder who uses even the stones that Julius Berger rejected as the chief cornerstone of the world’s tallest building. Therefore, gather up all the fragments of your life, nothing will be lost.
Everything about your life is for a reason. No detail is overlooked. No episode is insignificant. Take another look at some of those bible stories. You will find that God is a God of meticulous and punctilious detail. He does not miss a beat.
Redeeming the past
I spent nine years in the university. Another sixteen years pursuing a career in international relations. I was a columnist in African Concord. I also wrote articles regularly in The Guardian and National Concord. Then suddenly God stepped in with his own completely different agenda.
He asked me to drop everything and preach the gospel. So what was the point of my B.A., my M.A. and my Ph.D.? For fifteen years, I thought they were all wasted as I obeyed and devoted my whole life to the scriptures. Then my friend, Hakeem Bello-Osagie, told me he was starting a newspaper and introduced me to the publisher, Dele Olojede. That was how God gave me a faith column in a newspaper called NEXT.
A few weeks after NEXT closed down; a family-friend took me to see Sam Amuka, the chairman of Vanguard, who hired me on the spot to continue my column in his newspaper. Then, twenty years after the Lord made me stop writing political articles in newspapers, he redeemed my past. Sam Amuka phoned me to ask that I should take over the newspaper page of the late renowned Vanguard columnist, Pini Jason. I was back writing political articles again.
Keep thanking God
Therefore, I repeat the word of the Lord: “Gather up the fragments, that nothing may be lost.” The Good Shepherd who is determined that no fragments of bread and fish should be lost is unlikely to lose any sheep. Neither is the Almighty likely to lose or waste any fragment of your precious life.
Accordingly, “in everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thank God for the promotion you missed, had you obtained it, it might have been your ruin. Thank God for your brother who died, had he lived longer he might have lost his salvation. Thank God for the man who ditched you, had you married him you would have lived a life of agony. Thank God for the exam you failed because you failed it for a reason. Take nothing for granted.
In every situation, go to the loving Father and ask him: “Dear Father, what are you saying to me through this situation? What do you want me to learn through this delay? What are you trying to teach me through this adversity?” That is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.