Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
We would wake up to the voice of mama praying, singing or both and trace that pillow that had fallen off to cover our heads. We knew what followed and couldn’t find sleep anyway. The moment she stopped it would take her a minute to walk away with our bed covers and no amount of sickness faking left any of us in bed. Never mind that our church went all the way to 5pm so we had to find all means to skip the torture. Mum and dad knew what time each of us walked in. J was always last, she would come in as late as 1 pm. See, it was better late than never because there had to be an emergency to miss church. We had to say who preached and how we felt about the sermon. There were no phones to pass this message across so it was everyone to themselves. Needless to say, Sundays were not entirely peaceful days.
If I needed a new pair of shoes I had to pray it loud enough for mama to here and sure enough she would get me one. I was keen to describe it so she would know my preference and when I got it we held hands for thanksgiving. Being a last born, she knew what worked and what didn’t from my older siblings. There was no compromise. I was ever present for choir practice, youth camps and church cleaning. Church was 3km away and I made this trips Saturday and Sunday. Cleaning started at 8 am. We carried all the metallic seats to one corner first and cleaned the area, brought them back and repeated the cycle until it sparkled. We would wipe the seats and I had to count mine and tell God ‘I wiped 162 today’. Later on we would practice until about 4 or 5 pm.
We hosted bible study every Friday evening and sure enough I carried this with me to my home. We prayed most evenings before going to bed and I now make sure our mornings are covered as well. Mum calls from the blues and I’d assume she’s missed Nathan only to ask ‘what verse have you read today, have you prayed, did you pray yesterday?’…’what did you pray about’???
Then along the way something went wrong.
This operant conditioning creped all the way to my adulthood. I had my little shelf full of good little Caroline. I matched my good deeds to His blessings and they didn’t always go hand in hand. I cleaned my room so why didn’t I get those boy shorts I craved? I washed 8 blouses, 4 shirts and 3 pairs of socks why couldn’t I get a baby sister or brother? Mum said they dropped from heaven and God was in heaven, couldn’t He just give me one? I didn’t understand. I got saved every Sunday because when I hit a friend or stole candy/sugar knowing it was bad, God wasn’t in my heart any more. Salvation had become tough to keep up with and it continued all the way until everything came crumbling. My loaded shelf came down so fast so hard it took away every good off of me.
I was completely naked and afraid and had been on the bathroom floor for hours with the shower on. I cried so hard my head and stomach hurt but there was no stopping. I hadn’t eaten for days, was weak from sleepless nights so I silently groaned. Then I stood and knelt besides my bed and prayed because there was no other option ‘God am sorry, am really truly sorry and I need your grace….’No words can describe the unfolding grace that took place in that room that night. I got dressed, had a meal and slept peacefully until late the following morning. There was no fear in my heart and no doubt He had me, He has always had me. I was stripped of everything I could boast of as my own. In that moment I understood that I am not saved by my good works but by grace. Grace meaning free unmerited & underserved mercy. There’s no situation that makes Him love me any less. His love is unconditional, His mercy new every morning. Whatever He instructs me to do is for my own good. He tells me not to steal because I will end up being caught and face the consequences. He asks me to read His word and meditate on it day and night because that’s about the only way I can face this world and be able to make wise decisions. He tells me not to worry about a thing because I don’t have ultimate control over everything and am not able to see where He can. At that point of my indulgence, he had to step aside and let me see the ugliness of sin. Most importantly He wanted me to stop going in circles and yield.