Learning to face reality

In times of trial and difficulty, we often hear, “all will be well” or “it will work out for good” when people want to provide comfort. I used to wonder, “on what basis will all be well when everything screams the opposite?” We also hear, “face reality”, when it seems someone is not acknowledging the facts of an undesirable situation. If reality is essentially undesirable, then we are in hell.

But reality though unfathomable, is deeper, more reliable, more beautiful than my thoughts about this passing show. One reason to believe that all will be well is because wholeness is the true nature of reality. When anything gets broken in creation, the natural tendency and flow in relation to that brokenness is towards wholeness, restoration, redemption, healing, even without human intervention.

Consider your own body, “uncreated” by you. When broken, even down to the cellular level, it immediately begins to heal, often without your knowledge. In reality, all you need to do is to create conducive conditions for healing to take place. Healing was programmed into creation before you came on the scene.

According to scripture, the process of restoration, healing and redemption was immediately activated when the human family got compromised in Eden. Why? Wholeness predates the universe and has its roots in Love. We did not invent Love and it is not a religious idea, it is God’s nature. And no, God is not a religious figure, even if religion pretends to “own” it. He is Creator and “fills every thing every where with himself,” when unblocked. But we have the God-given prerogative of being able to block God.

Just like the human body strives to subdue any foreign body that enters it, the universe overwhelms brokenness with the nature of God and that has been going on before Christ was manifested in time. Many living systems in the universe fight brokenness by overwhelmingly healing it. This, I believe, is closer to the original meaning of “subdue the earth.”

Jesus brought about the immediate surrender of Saul the terrorist by overwhelming him with these words overflowing with compassion, not judgement and not a drone-delivered explosion – ”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Jesus, I believe, is the perfect imprint and the truest expression of God’s nature. He said, “I was born to bear witness to the truth.” That is not just a cute statement. He was born to reveal the nature of reality, to reveal the nature of God. He referred to himself as the truth, the embodiment of ultimate reality.

What is that nature?

He healed all the oppressed, diseased and broken people that came to him. And while on the cross, having done nothing remotely worthy of crucifixion, the embodiment of truth prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Why? Because that is the nature of reality, the nature of God. That nature is Love that is infinitely giving, restorative, redemptive and healing.

Matthew Henry said, “the plaster is wider than the wound and more healing than the wound is killing.” That is God’s nature incarnated in Christ and displayed at the cross. Imagine, the sacrificial lamb for human brokenness is none but God incarnate. That is overwhelming redemption and that, is reality. I wholly embrace this not just because I see it in scripture but also because I find it consistent with every other witness outside scripture, including the witness within me. After all, God communicates the same message through all the means by which God communicates. But to truly hear God, kindly take off your religious or “tribal” lens and approach it every time with radical amazement, as though you are coming to it for the very first time.

Now, I remind myself to face reality when I notice my thoughts begin to drift from peace. I am realizing that any deviation within me from peace is ultimately untruth because redemptive love, wholeness, abundance is the nature of reality and when there is brokenness, restoration is not only possible, everything in the universe is designed to facilitate it.

It is going to be well because it is well. Because wholeness, beauty is the nature of reality and all you need to activate it is to accept the truth, which though simple is difficult because we have become used to a broken world. Jesus suffered, bled, died and rose again to heal that brokenness and restore humanity back to reality. A mystery I find unfathomable.

Facing reality is seeing beyond this transient event and my transient thoughts into that which is true, which was true before time began, true before the situation and my thoughts about it arose, is true after the situation and my thoughts change and will remain true when time is no more. In reality, is peace. In reality, is Love. In reality, is no fear.

To face reality is to see that the context in which we live, move and have our being is love and peace and good beyond our wildest dreams. Cleaning is an apt metaphor for this. In cleaning we remove transient dirtiness leaving behind reality, a reality untouched by dirt.

If these sound too good, remember that Christ did not come here to proclaim hell on earth but news so good it is hard to believe. That is reality and that is what we need to face, not events that come and go like clouds. Reality is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God is all-vulnerable (a staggering, paradigm-shifting phrase I am borrowing from Richard Rohr) that he pours himself out to restore us back to reality. I believe, the vulnerability of God is bigger than his power. We are strongest when we are weakest. Mercy, grace and compassion break our defences and move us to tears. Evil was overcome by a slain lamb and not a roaring lion. The vulnerability of God is reality. If God was only mighty and not vulnerable, there could be no redemption, no healing, no restoration.

Learning to face reality is learning to imitate God, who lives in us and in whom we all exist including those we consider enemies. It is learning to weep for the same reasons for which God weeps. But if I am worried by what God is not worried about then I am losing touch with reality. If reality is Love and I am not, I need to face reality. Those who are in touch with reality are moved by unpleasant events that deviate from reality. Just before raising Lazarus, Jesus wept. The compassion that moved him to tears raised Lazarus.

When you are in touch with reality, compassion moves you and transformation back to wholeness is inevitable.

The giant within

chain me down the darkest dungeon
give to me stale bread and water
guard me with a hefty dragon
yet my thoughts will soar
far beyond the chains

and something in me will tell a story.

give me aching pain and sorrow
give me torment steeped in trouble
give me dryness stilled in darkness
yet my mind will spin
a world of brilliance

and know that world will tell a story.

For a while now, I have thought that the things that are external to me are tiny compared to the potency within. Even when I have failed and fallen flat on my face, I knew deep down that I did not fail because of the intensity of the battle without but because on the day of battle, I was internally unfortified. When I had to battle a terminal disease (terminal diseases do not know their age mates, I know), I knew that the disease could not defeat me if I did not allow myself to be defeated internally.

As an entrepreneur even when my enterprise reflects my operating environment, I know that the state of the economy or my industry does not determine the state of my enterprise, if I refuse to allow it internally. I know deep down that my personal economic conditions are determined from within and really have nothing to do with the local or global economic cycle. I have fallen to temptation before but even then, I knew I did not fall because I was tempted, I fell because I was unfortified internally.

My present challenges, my recent posts, the vibrant comments and the suggestion of Histiara, who wrote the opening poem and with whom I collaborated on this post, prompted this post.

There is a giant in me. I know it like I know my name is Tolulope. There is an invincible one in me, who can make a way in the wilderness and create rivers of water in the desert, who can make things happen against all odds. Who is this giant? He is my recreated spirit, my real self, a child of God, who came into being when I received Jesus Christ into my life.

Like God who fathered him, this giant within is invisible and invincible. The giant within is also referred to as “the hidden man of the heart.” Believe it or not, if you have also become God’s child, there is a giant in you. This giant is a love child of the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. That needs to sink.

Like his father who created this tangible earth and the surrounding universe from those things we dismiss as non-existent, this giant within has the native ability to bring new things into existence. Like his father, this giant within can create a “world of brilliance” from “aching pain and sorrow,” “torment steeped in trouble,” “dryness stilled in darkness.”

Being a child of the Creator of the universe and having the Creator’s native ability to create, this giant within can create, with or without formal education or “experience”. After all, his Father, God the Creator, has no formal education and look what He did! The giant within is the reason Joseph graduated from prison having spent his educational years in slavery and prison and went on to run the empire of his days. The giant within is the reason David, schooled in Sheep Herding and Protection, lacking the required combat experience and equipment, brought down Goliath. There are many more examples in contemporary times, of the giant within in action.

There is a giant within, who, like God his father, can handle whatever he confronts on the outside. He is invisible and in a world where all attention is focused on the external, we are easily deceived into ignoring or dismissing “the hidden man of the heart,” who is the real person. Little wonder many of us live and die without having lived. The hidden man of the heart is not to be ignored as we are admonished in scriptures, “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.”

The giant within originated from God and therefore has no potency or equipment problem when it comes to challenges of life or engaging forces of wickedness. The giant within is so potent that he cannot be defeated except by himself. From the beginning of time, every defeat of God’s children has been caused by themselves, not the enemy. There is a giant within, who is more potent than the enemy without. Because of the giant within, God expects us to be victorious and that is why heaven is for winners and hell is for losers.

If the enemy was so powerful, why did he have to make suggestions to Adam and Eve? Why could he not come against them unawares and just defeat them? He needed them, he needed the giants in them. Why did Samson have to be tempted by Delilah, in order to be defeated? Like Adam and Eve, his downfall had to come from him, the participation of the giant in him was necessary for his downfall.

I am at a point where I need to activate the giant in me. Activating the giant within, I believe, starts with knowing that there is indeed a giant within. Are you a child of God? You may know there is a giant in you but do you know there is a giant in you?