So I’m procrastinating…again.
I’m supposed to be reading a non-fictional book for class so that I can complete my first assignment – a book analysis. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve gone back to study. Can I really be bothered with the pressure? I’m too old for pressure, I try to convince myself…
I’m meant to start formulating, planning, reading, analysing….but no, I’ve decided to have coffee with my housemates instead (which is actually really great, since we don’t know each other that well, as I’ve only just moved in). I have to say though that it’s a useful way of procrastinating since relationship building is a positive and constructive thing…Excuses can sometimes be a blessing? I continue to procrastinate, I clean the dishes, clean my room and now…I’m on the computer writing what is really quite unnecessary. I’m stating the obvious (in my world that is), procrastination has one over me.
So let me just give you a little run-down of my chosen book (This might actually help me straighten out my thoughts and prepare me for the actual analysis). Have you heard about a young girl named Malala? She is a Pakistani girl, who in October 2012, almost lost her life when shot by the Taliban on her way to school. At only 15 years of age, she was an advocate for education of girls in Pakistan. But the Taliban, knowing her father was a well-known campaigner for Education, targeted young Malala, and “shot her in the head at point-blank range…she was not expected to survive”.
Since then she has been “nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded the National Peace Prize in Pakistan, shortlisted for the Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, and has received many other international peace Prizes”.
“I am Malala” is a story of a young girl who fought for what she believed in, and has inspired many in the Western world since then. Although her story is amazing, the book itself wasn’t necessarily written with the smoothest narrative.
The book was ghostwritten by Christina Lamb, a well-known International Political Journalist. In the beginning of the book it is her voice that comes through clearly, not necessarily Malala’s. A little further on, I felt it was Malala’s father who was talking. Malala refers quite a lot to her father – they obviously have a very strong bond with one another – especially at the beginning of the text, which was quite frustrating when I wanted to find out more about Malala as a child, and what it may have been like for her to live in Pakistan at age seven, eight, nine… Perhaps a more ‘detailed’ description of a day where she was part of a family gathering, or perhaps a school day, would have sufficed. There was also probably a little bit too much specific information regarding different political groups and events that were happening. I ended up just wanting to get to the day of the shooting.
As Malala was still a young girl at the time of her shooting, and even by the time she had moved to England, I sometimes wondered if the passion for women and education, was just ‘her’ parroting her father’s own passions. My theory however, was disproved, when I watched a number of You-Tube videos of her in interviews with various talk shows. Her passion came through quite clearly and autonomously. Even as a now 16 year old. I guess when you have been brought up in such an unstable environment you learn to grow up quickly.
Personally I have come to really appreciate this book, however, unfortunately Malala seems to have unwittingly turned many of her own people in Pakistan against her. According to comments made to online publications, including the The New York Times, she had “shed Pakistan in a negative light”, and in due course it seemed she became the West’s puppet, to promote democracy, women’s rights for education, and other campaigns that according to the East, was against Islam.
Whatever your thoughts of “I am Malala” however, it is sure to spur on group discussions and political interests. We must remember, that Malala, as young as she is, has experienced an extremely traumatic incident. Anyone in her shoes, in the Western world, would require ongoing counselling, I’m sure. However, Malala seems to be taking it all in her stride, as though she is fully prepared for the worst possible outcome. “I am not afraid to die”, she said in one of her many interviews. Her boldness, her courage, her faith, her passion, her determination and love for her country are obvious. This makes her a girl worth taking note of. In fact, this gives hope to many women, that one day, life may be different because of the courage of one woman. Perhaps this is, as Malala says, what the Taliban was so scared of.
As I write this in my small office, I get that deep sense appreciation for my own life and circumstances. I sit back in my chair, and am quickly reminded of the peace that surrounds me. The smell of – another – good coffee, the gently swaying trees, the colourful flowers, the laughing children that go to the school just across the road. They are just a few things I’m thankful for. If only life could be this simple, and this good for everyone.
Yes it is true. It isn’t often that I spend time in the word, but when I do, a little bit more of His heavenly mysteries are revealed. Writing these blogs are a way of helping me to get more deeply into the word, and growing in His truths. It’s part of the treasure hunt, that God prepared for his children, to find His fullness and their identity in Him.
Even though I don’t often read the bible, I am passionate about God because I am starting to see who He really is – to me. For many years I was involved in the church and did everything I could, to “do” and “say” the right thing. To be blunt, it got me nowhere. I actually got so disillusioned that I was ready to walk away from the church, even though deep down I knew I could never let go of ‘God’ himself. It wasn’t until 2012, that I walked into a “spirit-filled” church, where I could say, my life took a turn for the better. I started to believe that the mysteries of God, were for me too. They were for me to uncover and be delighted with, too.
Church hopping was looked down on (and probably still is for many churches), and definitely was not going to give anyone ‘favour’ with church leadership. My pastor would say, “We spend so much time, investing into people’s lives, and then they leave!”. I really did feel for her. For a number of years, my church was supportive and even sent me regular missions funds. It was another reason, why I didn’t feel I could leave this church. It was out of loyalty that I stayed, until I could take it no more.
We would often sing songs in church, whose words were passionate and intimately deep with our creator. I would look around at people’s faces, some would shed tears, but the majority would have a blank look on their face. Others I could tell they were just enjoying ‘the song’. I knew their hearts were far from Him. And mine was too. Probably because of pain, frustration, loneliness or the lack of experiencing intimacy with Him. There was no life in the people around me. Even though words of life were being sung, they weren’t penetrating people’s hearts. I pleaded with one leader, and said, “We are missing something”, I just feel so…so… ‘blehh’, so…bored”. At the time I really didn’t know how to express this sense of void.
When I finally got the courage to move on and do the unspeakable church hopping thing, I landed at a place, where the people were friendly. They spoke to me! They actually seemed interested in me. As a newcomer this gives a church BIG brownie points. One lady even brought me to the front for worship. This is something I had never done in an Australian church. The next few moments moved my heart so drastically, and indelibly, that I knew I had just encountered Him.
What was left of me was a spiritual skeleton, but yet filled with hope. I had come hungry, thirsty and panting for living waters. Suddenly this peace came over me, a presence that was so sweet and divine. I could feel it in the air around me, I could sense it tugging on my emotional heart strings. The worshippers seemed to truly be in awe of the One they were glorifying. They seemed to be in love with Him. One worship lady, who was quite heavy-set, didn’t care that it took energy to dance around the stage the way she did. I thought at one point she was going to fall off the stage, that’s how engrossed she was.
The next minute I was crying… Then I was bawling. And then I found I couldn’t stop. My cry started with bit of teariness here and there, but all of a sudden I felt a full-fledged heavy sobbing cry coming from the pit of my stomach. It came from a deep place of grief, longing and yearning. It must have gone on for what seemed like forever. I was desperately trying to keep it together. “How embarrassing”, I said to myself. “OMG and there aren’t any bloody tissues anywhere in sight, great!”. But in the meantime, my spirit felt like it had just experienced the most cathartic spiritual encounter, ever.
I didn’t realise until now, that this was God pouring out His love on me, in a place where His Holy Spirit was free to move, and free to minister to His hurting children. It wasn’t that the Holy Spirit wasn’t ministering at the previous church, He was. It was however, that the Holy spirit was often quenched in this place, and wasn’t given the freedom to cause people to grow in Him, without the religious attitudes, or controlling nature of some leadership approaches. It was like there was a spiritual ceiling beyond which the church and its people couldn’t venture.
I don’t wish to go too much further into church shortfalls as we’ve got to realise that none of us are perfect. Those in leadership who possess qualities that may hinder the move of God, probably need a lot of healing themselves and/or may need to spend much more time in His presence to receive revelation in particular to do with Grace. It is however unfortunate that they are ‘leading’ a flock, but are unable to create space where the Holy Spirit is free to supernaturally minister to individual needs of the flock.
Having gone through such a time of transition, I have learnt, that God really is alive and that I can access the throne room of God, where I go beyond the curtain, and into the most Holy of Holies. Now when I read the Word, I need to read it WITH the Holy Spirit. Without Him, they are just a bunch of rules and words that sound like a clanging cymbal. But when His love leads me and guides me through the stories, the love songs, the poems, and revelations: it becomes a love letter from Him to me. Now that is something worth delving into, and spending my time on.