I don’t know about you but 2014 was a year of struggle for me. This year tried me on all fronts: spiritual, financial, relational, and in a myriad of other ways.
The headlines screamed gloom and doom: kidnapped girls, explosions, missing planes to name a few. We buried far too many young ones: unmet potential enclosed under six feet of dirt. There was much pain and hurt. And a great part of me wants to just close the chapter that was 2014 and get on with it, hoping for a better year ahead.
But wait…weren’t there any bright spots this year? Anything of note to take on? Why yes, I believe there were.
The very day I attended the funeral of a friend in January, another was in the labour room giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. The very day a bomb ripped apart lives and property in Jos, yet another precious life was brought forth to the world. Both children are a sign of hope and future, ironically the very things we are promised by our Maker in Jeremiah (in the Bible).
Just as there were random acts of cruelty, so were there random acts of kindness. People who were strangers one minute were inexorably bound the next, when the blood of one was donated to another due to injuries caused by bombs. Money, food, clothing and toiletries were given to people in need. People who were accustomed to praying only for the next toy they could play with found themselves on their knees pleading for the lives of unknown villagers thousands of kilometers away, bound together by a common nationality and humanity.
I saw a young lady with perfectly coiffed hair and dressed in the latest fashion stop to help a stooped old man across the road and carry his bag. I was moved. I read of an orphanage with no grants or affiliations to any government agency testify that they had received millions in donations and gifts to keep their 350 orphans fed and clothed throughout the year, and that they were even able to hold a Christmas party for them!
In a city that was in the past beleaguered by constant religious crises, there were tales of Muslim youth volunteering to protect their Christian brethren as they worshipped in church on Christmas Day, putting their lives at risk, acting as human shields.
In the same way that I saw the country seeming to get exponentially worse, I saw examples of ordinary people getting exponentially better within themselves. And I think: is this not the point? Is this not what the Creator is on about?
2014 has come and gone… And we face new challenges in the year ahead, for sure. There is no guarantee that the headlines will improve, girls will be found or insurgency completely crushed. But yet, we do have one thing: life.
If you are reading this you are alive. You have potential. You have dreams yet unfulfilled.
As the late Dr Myles Munroe eloquently put it in his book ‘Maximizing your Potential’: “Determine not to be satisfied with anything less than the full accomplishment of your dream…The responsibility to use what God has stored within you is yours alone.”
I have determined that this time I won’t be making any New Year’s Resolutions. I will simply continue to rely on my Maker to help me to grow, to improve, to dream, to excel, to affect those around me positively. And maybe, just maybe, in the midst of all this, I might lose a few kilos in the process!
And so I ask you: will you join me in the process of becoming better, for your sake and the sakes of those around you? Will you allow yourself the time to grow and mature? Will you dare to dream big and dream hard? Will you defy fear and take that step to reach out and mend that broken relationship, try again in that failed venture, give yourself a chance? Will you just let go and let God? Will you admit to that failure, ask for forgiveness, forgive yourself and begin again?
I’ll leave you with this: The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Happy New Year, dear people!
This goodwill message is brought to you by Sifa Asani Gowon