Like a Child: Rules are Rules

On Friday 26 June, 2015 at 8:01 a.m. Diane Naomi Omondi (hereafter referred to as “I”) was stopped by a police officer because of using a mobile phone while driving. The officer greeted me, then politely asked for my driving license. “I want to give you a ticket,” he said. “Do you agree that you were talking on your phone while driving?” I responded in the affirmative.

He proceeded to write a ticket, checking the phone’s serial number, time of call, and other details for the record. I was told to report to traffic court the following Monday at 8 a.m.

On Sunday 28 June, my dear husband visited the Karen Police Station on my behalf to request that my court date be moved from Monday to Tuesday. The officer agreed, changed the date on the ticket and put a rubber stamp on the change. No cash was requested or exchanged.

On Tuesday 30 June at 9:30 a.m. (yes, 1 1/2 hours late but don’t worry; this is Kenya!), I arrived at Kibera Law Courts. When my case was called, I agreed that the charge was true as read. I was found guilty and sentenced to pay a 500 shillings ($5.00) fine, failure to which I would serve 5 days in jail. End of story.

This experience was very, very encouraging from start to finish. But IF you don’t live in Kenya, that statement probably makes no sense. Allow me to explain.

  • The officer was courteous. There was no ranting, intimidation, shouting or harassment.
  • No opportunity was given for me to offer a bribe — even if I had wanted to.
  • A ticket was written on the spot without cash bail.
  • I was not railed upon to carry the police officer in my car to the station, hand over the keys, or surrender my license.
  • The date was changed without an attempt at “alternative arrangements” i.e. a bribe.
  • I paid the fine, in cash, in the courtroom — instead of being escorted directly to the cells to wait it out while a ‘good Samaritan’ would have to endure several hours of chaos trying to pay on my behalf!

Believe me, the opposite of all of these is the norm in our land. This unprecedented experience has renewed my hope in this nation, in the police reforms, and in the possibility that perhaps, one day, we will see a Kenya that is free of corruption. How refreshing!

In relation to our ‘Like a Child’ theme, I was pondering how a child’s moral reasoning is different from that of an adult. Scripture recognizes this difference by stating, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child and reasoned like a child.” In the understanding of a child, rules made by an authority are final and cannot be changed. Every disobedience must be punished.

This is quite in contrast to the relativistic thinking of today, where ‘anything goes.’ Or, where we believe we can wiggle, squirm or bribe our way out of just punishment.

God and His Word are to be our authority.

  • If God says that sex before marriage is wrong, then it is.
  • If God says that we should tithe, whether or not there seems to be any ‘extra’ money, then we should.
  • If God says ‘forgive’ — even when hurt — then we need to forgive.
  • If God says that a man should not have sexual relations with another man, then that is our standard. The Supreme Court, try as it may, does not have the right to change God’s laws.

Sometimes we do not like the rules. Sometimes the rules do not “make sense.” Sometimes they feel stifling or restricting. Sometimes it feels like God expects too much of us.

I submit that the world today needs a stronger moral compass, a sharper conscience, a more definitive line between good and evil. For us, if God says it, that’s the way it is. There is no negotiation with the consequences of sin, except the amazing gift of God’s available grace.

P.S. I paid the fine!!

~ Diane

Posted in Bible, Child-like, Cultures, development, Inspiration, Justice, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Ready to Read

Greetings, Friends. We interrupt the series on child-like faith (even though “getting ready to read” sounds like a child development topic..!) to bring a special announcement about the upcoming BIBLE READ-A-THON: two weeks of Bible reading from July 13-24 that will take us cover to cover through the Word of God.

There are two purposes for this event. First (and as I realized last year, the most important) is to read, soak in and be washed with the Word of God. Beautiful! Powerful! Completely worth it!

Second, the event is inspired by a desire to raise funds for the work of DOVE Missions Africa (DMA).  Others might organize a ‘cancer run’ or a walk for some worthy cause. Using a similar concept, this is a ‘win-win’ activity, benefiting not only those who read or hear the Word, but also the work of missions in Africa. The neighbourhood also really appreciates the reading that goes out through a combination of the P.A. system and horn speakers.

Read-a-Thon 2015We would be honored if you could join us in Read-a-Thon by:

  • Coming to DOVE Nairobi to take your ‘sponsored’ turn in reading the Word, or
  • If you are far away over the ocean or across the continent, donating toward the cause of DMA.

Sponsorship for Bible reading is 100 Kenya Shillings per hour (approximately $1.00 per hour). We welcome you to sponsor as many hours as you can, or give any amount. All of the proceeds will go directly to DMA.

Thank you for your amazing support!

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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Like a Child: Living in the Moment

Every day is gift; that is why we call it ‘the present.’

I like that quote. It reminds me of young children, who live fully in the present. They are ‘concrete’ thinkers. Try asking a two-year-old, for example, what he did yesterday. Or what his plans are for tomorrow. (You can share the answers you get in the blog comments!) At that age, past and future are difficult concepts to grasp. A child lives in the here and now. He talks about the things he can see around him or things that he is currently doing.

Perhaps this is one of the characteristics of child-like faith that we need to emulate.

Jesus made an interesting statement to the Samaritan woman recorded in John 4. It seems that she tried to dodge Jesus when he pinned her down about her current status, and sidetracked to a century-old conflict between Jews and Samaritans about the correct place of worship. She was going to the past. When Jesus answered by saying that the time for true worship has “NOW COME,” she sidetracked again to talk about a day that was still coming when everything in life would make sense. It really seems that she wanted to avoid a discussion about the mess-of-a-life she was living right then.

Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am he.” Jesus was saying, “Messiah is here with you, right here – right now, to set you free.”

I am not saying we should not plan! I also am not saying that God does not hold the future. He does. But there is something about living in the present, with God, in whatever challenge we are in right now, that is very important. God promises to guide us a step at a time, to whisper in our ears to turn to the right or left.

Might I be stuck in a painful experience or burden of bitterness from the past? Might I be too worried about tomorrow to enjoy today? Or — am I fantasizing about a ‘fairy tale’ future where everything will be perfect and all problems solved?

God wants my attention TODAY. He wants to walk with me TODAY. He wants my life to honor him TODAY — when things are not perfect and I have not figured everything out (yet). “Today is the day of salvation.”

Enjoy the moment; enjoy the present.

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Easy to Influence

I believe we would all agree that it is not easy to change another person. It is not easy to change a spouse, a friend, or even ourselves. If we really want to bring change, we probably should invest our efforts in a child, because a child is still in the process of becoming the adult that he or she is going to be.

Young children can be easily shaped and molded. They are easily influenced. Values, worldview, attitudes, beliefs, personality and character are in the formation stage. Basic templates about what life is about are being put in place.

Recently, our Springs of Africa website needed an overhaul. The webmaster worked on the basic design and showed me the new template. All of the text was Latin ‘gobble-de-goop’, but it was so exciting to see what the website was going to look like. I told Ibrahim, “Wow, it is almost done.” The page layout was set in place. The color scheme was selected. The ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of the website had been determined.

The next day, I was busy typing away. “What are you working on?” my husband asked. “The website,” was my reply. “But I thought you said that it was ready,” he objected. No, it was not ready; it was still an empty shell. All of the data still had to be put in, but the structures were in place and would not be changed.

We can make a comparison with children; their template is still being written. They can be easily influenced and changes can be made. But as adults we are more like a finished product. Information can be added, but our basic outlook, character or habits do not readily change.

A common Swahili song says, “Ni finyange. Unifanya kua kama upendavyo.” It translates, “Press me. Mold me. Make me what you want me to be.” When I sing these words, I imagine a very strong force that is trying to press on and shape me. I imagine a situation of struggle. Somehow, I recognize that changing me and molding me is not an easy task.

But God wants us to be pliable, like clay in the potter’s hand. In fact, we are asked to be transformed: changed and formed into His image. Where the kingdoms of this world have shaped us instead, may we be ready to change. . . .

Like a child.

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Daddy will Fight for Me

Two young boys were on the playground. Each one wanted to use the swing, so they started quarrelling. What started as a little dispute soon turned into a major power struggle. Each was threatening the other.

“My Daddy will come and beat you,” said one.

“My Daddy is bigger than yours,” the other retorted. “He will smash everything with a big stick.”

“My Daddy’s stick is higher than this tree. And he can fly right over it!” declared the other, not wanting to be outdone.

“But my Daddy…..” We can imagine the rest of the conversation!

Each boy viewed his father as omnipotent. All powerful. Each was convinced that nothing could stand in his father’s way. In case he ever felt threatened or overwhelmed, all he needed to do was entreat the power of his father. Each actually believed that Daddy would magically appear and protect them.

Children are fully confident in their father’s ability to fight every battle, defeat any foe, and always be victorious.

So often, we try to fight our own battles. This is a lack of faith. We (I) struggle and strive, feeling too overwhelmed to even know where to turn. I wonder what God thinks… watching me flail and falter when He is just waiting to take over. Trying with our own strength is really ridiculous and can never be as effective as entreating the Lord get us through.

At times, we might even wage ‘spiritual witchcraft’ on our own behalf by speaking curses on those whom we perceive to be enemies. This is of course veiled in religious language, but is still an attempt to fight in our own strength.

Instead, we would do well to walk in the child-like confidence our Father’s power. He holds the ultimate victory; nothing can defeat him.

Yes, Abba – Daddy will fight for us!

 ~ Diane

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Like a Child: Not Pleasers of Men

One of our adult children was wrestling with whether or not to attend a certain event. “I really don’t want to go,” he explained.

“Then what is the problem?” I asked. “No one is forcing you to go.”

“But I feel like I am supposed to,” he replied.

“Who said that?” I wondered out loud. “Who said you are supposed to go?”

“Well, nobody, really. But if I don’t go, I will feel guilty.”

“Why would you feel guilty?” I wanted to know.

“You see, I learned that from you. I always feel like I have to do what other people expect me to do. And if don’t, I feel guilty.”

OUCH! What could I say?

Back to our topic of child-like faith, we notice that the intellectual level of young children does not afford them the capacity to understand or care about what other people think. An infant cries in the plane, even though everyone around is disgusted by the noise. Or jumps up and down on a sofa set, even though the hosts are quite perturbed. Or sleeps during the day and stays awake all night, whether Mommy likes it or not.  They do what they want to do, not what other people expect them to do.

Don’t get me wrong. There ARE times we need to do what we might not feel like doing! There are times we must do what is right, whether we like it or not.

But how often do we make decisions based on the expectations of others, a desire to impress someone, or just out of wanting to please men? Scriptures warn us that that is not a good idea!

Children, I would want to believe, follow a divine inner voice, that guides them toward balanced and optimal development. Assuming that my life is truly yielded to God– do I follow that inner voice of God’s Spirit? Or do I follow that which will earn me the praise of man, the approval of friends, the social status that seems so appealing?

Unless you become like a child” holds yet another lesson for me.

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Sleep through the Storm

Nepal babyA devastating earthquake hit Nepal on April 25; another struck again last week. The disaster was horrendous. This amazing image of an infant asleep (or maybe unconscious… but let’s say asleep) after being rescued really struck me. Now safe in the soldier’s arms, this baby was oblivious to the terrible tragedy.

Children have the ability to sleep through any storm. Or maybe it is just that they have not yet learned the ‘art’ of worry. They do not concern themselves with things that are outside their immediate environment, or things that are outside their control.

Unfortunately, as an adult, I have learned the ‘art’ of worry. I often try to sanctify it as “being responsible.” But worry, or control, it is, nonetheless. When it comes to management styles, I have a weakness toward micro-managing. That is not a good thing. That does not demonstrate a child-like approach!

Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is a declaration to God, “I do not trust you.” Yet the Word instructs us, “Do not worry for your life, what you will eat… what you will wear…” for your children, your finances, your job, your future, not even your present predicament.

How often do concerns, fears or worries keep us awake? How often do we try to manage things that we cannot or should not?

Right now as I am writing, many things are happening around me that I do not like. But most of them I have no control over. I can pray, but that is about all I can do. Will I release those cares and burdens, trusting God to bring the answers? Can I rest in Him through the storms of life?

A young child sleeps comfortably, even when a storm is raging. When our faith is ‘like’ a child’s, we can do the same.

~ Diane

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