The year was 2001. Lagos, Nigeria.
I had just completed my National Youth Service Corps assignment. I had enjoyed the year tremendously. Not only because I got to work with Nigeria’s very first internet service provider, ensuring I had an unfettered access to the internet, an access that less than 1% of Nigerians had at that time; but I had also been able to complete my MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) Certification exams earlier that year. There were six different modules to go through, and although thousands of people had to re-take at least one module, I had gone through them in a breeze. Of course, I received tremendous help from family, especially from my very loving parents (who were both retired), and from my big brother “Bros Dee”, who paid for a number of the exams. I will forever be grateful for their sacrifice.
But on this fateful day in August 2001, I was unhappy and I did not know why.
I was on a lunch break from my internet service support duties and having a quick lunch at “Mr Biggs” on Akin Adesola Street in Victoria Island. It no longer stands on that street today, but back then in 2001, Mr Biggs on Akin Adesola was thriving. My office was in Eagle House, just about three buildings away.
For no reason in particular, I was not in a very good mood. It was not the food, as I’ve never been the picky eater. I literally follow Apostle Paul’s injunction that whatever is placed before you, ask no questions, receive it with thanksgiving and eat on. While some people have highly developed tongues to know what food lacks what spice, I have never been in that prison.
So, it was not the food.
As I felt this disquiet and discomfiture inside me, it suddenly occurred to me that it was probably linked to my unfulfilled plans and expectations for the future. Don’t get me wrong; I was doing OK, especially if I compared myself to some friends I graduated with just the previous year. After all, I had not spent a single minute in unemployment. I was living with my brother, and not paying rent. I was a “network administrator” and could conceivably hold my own in both Linux and Microsoft network environments. But I wanted more. I guess I’ve almost always wanted more, convinced that I am built for way better than this. If I was an African slave in the deep slave-holding American South of the 19th century, I would be called an “uppity” one that didn’t know his place. Perhaps it’s basic human nature to want more.
I wanted clarity on where I should set my sails for. I wanted to know that my potentials were being maximised.
At about this same time, I realised that the sprite I was drinking through a straw was not really coming through. It was from a bottle, and I could see the straw though the glass bottle. It was right there in the drink that was almost full, but I couldn’t drag any liquid up. This was totally frustrating, so I dragged out the offending straw to investigate what the problem was. As soon as I brought it out of the bottle, I knew why I had been unable to use it.
There it was- the mouth of the straw was closed. By one fluke or the other, the end that was in the drink was flattened and closed. I pried the ‘mouth’ open, dunked it back in my sprite, and drank away. The laws of hydraulics (or is it fluid mechanics again?) held true.
And that was when I saw that I was like the straw.
Dipped I was in the grace of God, which was not lacking in abundance, but my “mouth” was closed, as it usually is. I had not been opening my mouth like He instructed. I had not had abundance passing through me.
“Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!” was a verse in Psalms that I had known since my early teens. Hidden in that small verse in Psalms 81 verse 10 was the secret of the ages.
Hidden in that verse was the truth that set other truths free, that no matter the desire in the soul, and no matter the belief in the heart, without opening your mouth to declare what you believe, you are going nowhere.
Jesus always asked what people wanted Him to do for them.
Charles Capps calls this “The law of confession” which simply states what Jesus said, that if you believe for a particular outcome, and you don’t doubt, you must still speak out that outcome, and you will have whatever you say. The converse has also been true that if you let the wrong outcome rest in your heart, and it eventually comes out of your mouth, it’s going straight into your life.
The parable of the straw taught me that you need more than just be in the abundance of goodness to experience God’s goodness; you must open your mouth wide, let God’s refreshing goodness flow into you!
…To be continued
Chukwudi is @adechuks on twitter