Abba’s Letter

By Adeyinka Shittu

It wasn’t easy writing this. This isn’t one of the usual stories/articles I write, the thing you’ll read now is a letter Abba woke me in the dead of night to write just for you.

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Dear Child,

The chapters I’m writing in your life will wow the earth. I’m crafting the phrases and fashioning the paragraphs as you read this. Be patient.

You’re Esther. The first chapter doesn’t contain your name but the book is about you. You are one of the many girls in the province of Susa but that’s not all you are. You are emerging. You will serve Mordecai and do menial work. Your knees will quiver when you stand before Haggai. You will feel the animal instinct to run at the smell of Xerxes’ perfume but the divine instinct to win heaven’s applause will sustain you.

I agree with your heart full of fear. Of all the maidens in Persia, you’re not most beautiful but dear one, beauty is not the point. The point is that the book is about you.

You’re not most beautiful but you’re most favoured. You don’t need to have the best brains to win because you have GRACE .

You’re not qualified, you’re called. You’re not lucky, you’re blessed. You’re not a flash in the pan or an ordinary Jewess. You’re Esther and you’re going to be Queen.

You were predestined and fore known and preordained and crowned from the foundations of the world. No matter what part of the first chapter you’re reading, do not forget you’re going to be queen.

The story will end but not without the crown on your head. Haman who plots to have your head will find his swallowed by the hangman’s noose at the gallows. Vashti may be queen now but, she won’t be forever because you are Esther and I have destined you to be queen.

Maybe I got your name wrong.
Maybe you’re not Esther.
Perhaps, you’re a prisoner in the dungeons of Pharaoh because of the lies of your master’s wife. Despite the mud life slings at you, you’re still trying to make pies from it. You’re young and smart and promising yet all anyone ever does is make you chief servant.

I’ve got good news and bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first.

Your life will go south after this. It always gets worse first before it gets better. It’s the principle child. Darkness heralds dawn, death precedes life, and seed goes before harvest comes. Mourning may wrestle with Joy but morning always returns so Joy wins.
Joy always wins.

You’re going down first before you go up because I’m really not faithful to you. I’m faithful to My word. And My word still hasn’t changed.

Be patient. I’m writing chapters in your life that will wow the earth; so shave your beard, dust your clothes, hone your talents and sharpen your skills because you’re leaving prison soon. 

Be prepared to say bye to the jailer at any time. Don’t get comfortable with prison life because, I’m grooming you for palace life. Don’t miss the multi-coloured coat because, I’ve got a much better wardrobe waiting for you. (How would you like a royal robe, a signet ring with a chariot and a beautiful wife?)

I don’t care that your name is Joseph and the first 30 chapters of the history books do not have your name in them. I care about My word and I stand by it to fulfill it.

Although the first chapter doesn’t contain your name, wait. I’m planning for your scenes in the script to steal the show, shame the scoffers and confound the wise. I’m writing. Be patient. And prepared.

From Your Abba.

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Do let me know if that letter was yours so I can give you the parts of it I can’t share here. 

All Is Grace: How To See The Good In Grief

By Adeyinka Shittu

Grandfather passed on Good Friday.

I remember it as clearly as a lover’s last words. I was dressed for choir rehearsals and all I needed was 10 extra minutes (and a clean pair of socks).

As I unplugged my phone and grabbed my notepad, I got ‘the’ text.

“Yinka, come home as soon as you can. Your grandfather passed this morning.”

Asides seeing that my father was the one who sent the message, all I remember is my shocked self falling to the ground like a wet rag and crying like a stupid baby.

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Grandfather had a dozen grandchildren, a home in Asaba and a chieftaincy title. Even if he didn’t want death, he was old enough not to refuse it. 

However, when Sola (my every service seat partner) passed, my watertight defenses broke.

How could a good God take one so young, one so sold out to the cause of Christ? If he gives and takes away, why does he not take evil out of the world and give long life to those who deserve it?

Grandfather is dead. So is Mrs DaSilva, the neighbor who spent her entire lifetime reminding people to smile. So is Mr Ndukwo….

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It seems to be a season of deaths. I’ve been holding off admitting this to myself for too long. So many things around me are either dead or dying.

I write about how God is an artist who makes tragedy into art yet in my own life, all I see is lots of darkness and not much art.

How can this be? How can a possessor of eternal life be surrounded by death and loss and grief?

Where did I get it wrong?

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Blessed be the name of the Lord
He gives and takes away
He gives AND takes away
My heart will choose to say
Blessed be the glorious Name

– Matt Redman

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The deaths don’t make sense yet. Someday, they might but there’s the possibility they won’t.

We won’t always have simple answers to the questions of life. Its a truth we must constantly remind ourselves.

God does not promise answers. He promises to give us His presence. He does not promise us a smooth journey but he assures us that we will never be alone.

What then do we do when we have asked the storm to cease but it still rages? What do we say when we have said ‘Amen’ but it’s still raining?

You see, we have choices.

We can call God unfaithful and shake our tiny fists at the heavens or we can rest knowing that no matter how hard or how far we fall, grace is the mighty hand of God that catches us every time. 

We can call death an enemy or we can call it the instrument that brings us closer to eternal life. 

We can call our failings the bad and our faults the ugly or we can; like the Author of Life name all things ‘good’.
We can behold the loose ends and the untied knots and the figures that don’t add up and proclaim along with Hillsong that ‘It makes no sense but this is grace.’

When you are faced with a ‘Job experience’, (perhaps a boyfriend who walked away or a business that didn’t go your way) instead of crying and sulking or blaming God, name the problem ‘grace’.

The one that gives his life never loses it. The one that names all things grace never lacks it.

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Romans 8:27-28 MSG

He (The Holy Spirit) knows us far better than we know ourselves…That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives (of love for God) is worked into something good.

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There have been deaths and there will be deaths. I’m not going to pretend everything is fine but I’m going to believe everything will be fine eventually. I’m not going to hide my grief behind a smile or my pain behind alcohol.

I choose to plant the flower of gratitude in this garden of brokenness watered by tears.

Until the sunlight comes bursting through the night, in my darkness, I know that God is working something beautiful from these losses. He is waiting to be gracious so I will name all things grace.

Here in the desert where this grief abounds and comfort seems small, I choose to sing thankfulness as my desert song. I choose the ‘chara’ in ‘eucharisteo’, the joy present in thanksgiving. I choose shalom, the inexplicable kind of peace.

I choose to name the gory, the bloody, the ugly and the terrible ‘GRACE’.

Because where it is good, bad or ugly, it’s all working together. Its all grace. The gifts and the grief, I must be quick to recognize that they are unmerited and underserved things like grace.

Good, bad, ugly. All is grace.

All is grace.

***

Adeyinka Shittu is the current president of an imaginary world where there are no people, only books. When he isn’t obsessing about grace, irritating humanity or looking for his glasses, he writes at adeyinkashittu.wordpress.com

Queen’s Note: I love Yinka!  He is a total package of awesome and crazy at the same time and I couldn’t  resist dragging him down here!
It’ s good to have you here dude!