the boats (Zanzibar 2016).

 

I can’t stop grinning.

February 2017 is almost over. We’re 1/6th of the way through 2017… it’s CRAZY!

So far it’s been a BLAST. God is doing things I could never have imagined, teaching me lessons I could never have learnt without His loving guidance. If I journaled everything I’ve learnt here it would take forever. But I wanted to compile some of the highlights and key life lessons I’ve learnt — a sort of quick-fire catch up on what’s been going on and what lessons I’m taking into March 2017 and beyond. I pray they bless you and leave you feeling inspired and encouraged, with something you can take with you into next month too.

 

Balance, Depth & the Bigger Picture

It has been a BUSY MONTH. Balance has been key. Studying full-time for this Cambridge degree (which is no joke lol), arranging a Year Abroad (finally secured!), filming and uploading for our channel (‘our’ because you as subscribers + God + me = a family), applying for internships, being on a society committee AND now being on the Worship Team at church… it’s been crazy! But I am so grateful to God that everything is now sorted and settled in its own respective way.

That said, blessing often comes with burden, and — I’ll be honest — I found my motivation slacking a little earlier in the term. It was partly because I suddenly became so aware of how small and, in some ways, relatively unimportant this university degree is in comparison to the breadth of the wider dreams and goals I have for my life (which might sound ridiculous, but sometimes as a student you can lose your passion for what you’re studying, even if it’s your FAVOURITE subject, because your eyes are set on your bigger long-term dreams). But — and somewhat strangely — I also lost motivation for my studies because I was developing this new, deep hunger to know more of God and His Word! Literally, I spent hours reading the Bible and worshiping, and getting into a habit of learning as much as I can about Him. Every lunch-break was dedicated to a T.D. Jakes or Joyce Meyer sermon, and it’s been SO EDIFYING!

In the process, I have become so engulfed in His love that a friend told me I sounded ‘lovestruck’ as I spoke to him about God and His goodness, and encouraged me to stay there as long as possible. I replied telling him ‘Mate!!! I’m not moving!’ And it’s true! God’s love is so awesome — and the door to understanding His nature personally — and that’s key: personally — and for myself has opened wide as I’ve begun setting aside time to read His Word. Every morning I meditate on His Word; every evening I spend time in worship. I’ve never been so determined to build and stick to a routine. It’s a habit birthed in February 2017 that I want to take with me into every day I live going forward. I guess you could say I’m going deeper (hence the title of this post, lol!)

For anyone who wants to try it out and join me, I’m currently following the Chronological Bible Plan on the ESV Bible App, and have just finished reading the book of Job and half of Genesis. If you’re unsure how to start: as I read, I ask the Holy Spirit what’s on His mind, what He wants to teach me, I ask for revelation, and then I dig into the Word – definitely try that approach. Some of the key points I’ve learnt in these moments of Bible study of the book of Job are listed below but, all in all, Job has taught me to be careful who you award the title of ‘friend’ (it’s a title that must be earned, and actions speak louder than words) — and to learn to respond to trials, troubles and tests with WORSHIP. Get to the point where it’s like a reflex. Worship is a weapon! It shifts your focus completely!

My motivation for the more mundane tasks of student life, like trudging to lectures in the rain and completing endless pages of grammar exercises, came back when God reminded me of the importance of being faithful in the small, mundane, seemingly un-spiritual and unexciting aspects of life. He then reiterated this as I read Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the Wisdom Books of the Bible (Job through to Song of Songs), which said:

‘It is fairly common among people who get interested in … God to get proportionately disinterested in their jobs and families, their communities and their colleagues…But that is not the way God intends it. The life of faith has to do with extraordinary experience; the life of faith has to do with ordinary experience.’

THEN, the very next day, Heather Lindsey uploaded a video on the EXACT TOPIC of being faithful in the small things! (You know when God wants to hammer a point home? Yeah lol… Confirmations come in threes, so God had officially made His point!)

God was making it crystal clear to me that He works just as well and just as beautifully in and through the mundane aspects of life as He does through the exciting miraculous moments — and He reminded me that that truth in itself ought to be my motivation. And I realised that if I can’t steward the little things well, how am I going to steward the big things well, since a big thing is just a lot of little things put together?! Lol!

 

 

5 Key lessons learnt in Feb 2017:

Please be aware there have been many more life lessons, which I’ve journaled privately, but here are some of the KEY ones I hope might apply to others:

  1. Be intentional and discerning about who you award the title of ‘friend’. Key lesson learnt while reading the book of Job. His friends were pretty arrogant and lacked emotional intelligence; they weren’t there for him in his time of need. People’s actions speak louder than their words, and your friends can make or break you. Be discerning; detox where necessary.
  2. Also learnt from Job — the best response to a trial is worship. Reading Job 1, verse 20 stood out to me. Job loses his family, his livestock and his possessions; little does he know he’s about to lose his wife and his health, and STILL it says he ‘fell to the ground in worship’. God really challenged me on this. If our worst fears were to come true, as happens to Job (see Job 3:25), how would we HONESTLY respond? I know I’d ask ‘WHY ME tho?’ and I’d get super emotional lol. Lesson learnt: have a song on demand in your head that you can buss out as soon as the devil tries you! Then sing it with all your might, knowing God inhabits the praises of His people and your worship is a weapon!
  3. God is just as God in the mundane ordinary day-to-day, as He is in the miraculous extraordinary moments. He’s God in and through it all, working in and through it all for your good and for His glory — so let that be your motivation and what excites you, in and through it all!
  4. Protect your peace. Literally my motto for life.
  5. The best way to get to know God and His nature is to spend time daily in His Word and to cultivate the habit of loving on Him in worship every day. Read the Word for yourself with a Bible Plan if it helps. I use one from the selection available on the ESV Bible App. Take notes, ask the people in the story questions as you read (‘how did you feel when that happened?’; ‘what can I learn from you?’; ‘why did you respond this way?’), ask God for revelation — and as you’re reading, write down and pray about what jumps out at you. Set aside time each day so it reaches a point where your morning routine — wake up, say a prayer, shower, make a coffee — doesn’t feel complete without you having spent time in His Word. Do all this and watch His love wash over you. You’ll be lovestruck, just like my friend noticed about me!

I pray that these lessons, and the reflections on motivation (and how to get it back!) have been encouraging. Keep pushing, you (in fact, we) are doing well. ☺️?

P.S. I love hearing from you! You can reach me any time at enquiries.imanishola@gmail.com. I’m here to love and to listen!

Lots of love always,

Imani

 

Follow: