It was a day like this, January 14, 1743, when David Brainerd wrote these words,
“My spiritual conflicts today were unspeakably dreadful, heavier than the mountains and overflowing floods. I seemed enclosed, as it were, in Hell itself; I was deprived of all sense of God, even of the being of a God; and that was my misery……”
David Brainerd is remembered and highly regarded for the sacrificial missionary work he wrought among the Native Americans. He inspired many Christians to a life of sacrificial evangelism. I seldom read his accounts without thinking of Jim Elliot – another missionary whose life compares to that of Brainerd. The above piece was penned in his journals. It followed another one he wrote that paints a picture of a man immersed in the power and presence of God. The two pieces reflect on our real lives: We sometimes have two extremes of life.
As we reminisces on the life of Brainerd in the Woods, let us not forget to examine our lives in the same vein. The truth is that we live in times of ominous present and uncertain future. There seems to be nothing tangible to hold onto. We are blitzed with bad news every now and then. News of wars and tumults, famines and catastrophes, diseases and deaths.
We are informed that it will not rain tomorrow and we should prepare for the worst. The world is arming itself at the fastest rate in history. Do we want to destroy ourselves? I mean the world is changing so fast that I sometimes wonder where we are racing to.
We used to hear of modern world, and now we are hearing of the post-modern world. Everything seems to be moving at a supersonic speed. It is as if the world is racing towards a certain destination. We are in a tram that is cruising through the alleys damn fast but unbeknownst to commuters.
We are now producing vehicles that move faster than those of two decades ago. We are now churning out trains and airplanes that travel faster than those of two decades ago. We are now producing missiles with a high degree of precision and a thundering speed than at any other time in history.
Time is running very wild but the peace we crave for, the unity we hanker for, the tranquility we yearn for seems to have been left behind by these rapid developments. It gives me the impression that we are progressing asymmetrically. Our hearts are now filled with anxiety, fear, disquiet and apprehension than our ancestors. We do not know if we will recover from a downward swing. We are not sure if we can recuperate from that disease. We are not certain if we can heal that separation, that relationship and that friendship. We are not guaranteed that unity of purpose in diversity can work. It is not definite that divine love will cure division and prevent death. Just as the Ferrari is aerodynamically designed to go fast so is our systems genetically wired to move: In haste, to nowhere, most of the time.
As the time moves on we find ourselves ejected from the orbit and relegated to black holes; and from dithering to complete desperation. We laugh from outside but inside we are sad. Our laughter is synthetic and simplistic. Our happiness are man-made and mud-mended. Our systems are plastic and plastisols. We try hard to put on a bold front but we are scared from the inside. We pretend that all is well but our innards are withering. We have become masters of dual personalities. We have mustered the art of pretense and pretext. We are as nervous as a leaf on a tree. We do not know when the sun will smite us dry. We do not know if it will rain again and turn us green, great and grandiose. We do not know if a caterpillar will take advantage of us. We don’t know if a Marabou’s stork will shit on us. This is what describes us.
Life keeps on shifting; swinging like a pendulum, sometimes without warning. We never really have time and opportunity to order our lives. We sometimes have that ecstatic experience when we see God in glory, glamour and splendor. It warms our hearts. It melts the snow. Sometimes it gets dull, cold, dark, husky and silent. We wonder if there is still any hope for us, just like Brainerd in the woods. We say to ourselves, ‘We are not out of the woods yet”. Robin Hood is better suited for the woods and not us. “Woods does not bring out our elements.” Really? Woods crafts a world beater! Ask Mike Tyson!
I don’t want to be a Robinson Crusoe; I want my way out!
Our dream-filled hearts quickly turn into a pawnshop of broken dreams. We sometimes hide it in ‘I am fine’, but occasionally wear our hearts on our sleeves. Fiendish problems befriend us fanatically, sticking like a leech.
What can provide a Rosetta stone into our true selves? How long can we avoid facing our demons? It appears that fairy tales are written so that we don’t have to confront our greatest fears. It is so easy to wrap our lives in in mystery, obfuscation, and denial.
Is your heart as silent as the cemetery? Are we nurturing a monster that will finally maul us? Is our zenith disappearing as fast as it comes? Are our lives a labyrinths without a centre? Are our minds a dangerous neighborhood to travel in?
Questions and questions. Never mind, I learn by asking questions, mostly by asking myself questions.
It will rain again.
We should cut the slack now. The rain will come again. Oh I know the earth will be drenched again. The smell of the wet soil will fill your compound once more. The crickets will chirp in joy, and the termites will fly again. The rabbits and pigeons will raise their young ones again.
Yeah, it stopped raining long time ago, and the weathermen predicted a devastating drought. However hope is never lost even for a tree that is cut.
It rained today in the town I stay in. A town close to the snow-caped Mount Kenya. It rained after a long time of sun blast and dusty roads. It rained peacefully and refreshingly. It must rain at some point.
Start planning for a requiem mass for Mr. Drought. For all is not lost save him. As long as you are still alive, you can see the redemption again. No one is beyond restoration. Work on your dreams, praise God even when you do not feel like. Speak to Him even when all you hear around is deafening silence.
We can always separate our emotions from the worship of God. God is trustworthy than our emotions. This is not incomprehensible to me.
We have all the fixings that we need for something unusually special to unfold. Your dreams should not die easily even when they face roadblocks the size of Malagasy Island.
Give me a megawatt smile for this. You cannot afford to be a sitting duck anymore. You may be a commonly found household item, but inside you exist a powerful powder keg. Go for the gong.
Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field.