Low Information Diet: The Breakfast of Champions

I read a lot of books because I write a lot…

Or maybe I write a lot because I read a lot.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”. Since books are compendiums of experiences, it is safe to assume that reading books can stretch the mind into new frontiers.

Last year was a great year of reading for me…I think I read about 50 – 60 books.

Pretty impressive, right?

However, I am starting to find out that I had been going about reading books the wrong way. I realized that I was focusing on ‘just-in-case’ information, rather than ‘just-in-time’ information. ‘Just-in-case’ information leads to action paralysis which is often due to mental clutter fluttering through the mind. You’re merely accumulating information just for its sake. You really don’t need that!

What you need is ‘Just-in-time’ information which would give you a competitive advantage over anything that life may throw at you.

 

David and Saul

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When reading the story of David and Goliath, many people fail to realize that the war between the Israelites and the Philistines was that prolonged because of ‘Just-in-case’ information.

Take a look at the following verses from 1 Samuel 17:1-7, 16.

“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him…

…And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.

How were the Israelites able to measure Goliath’s height with stunning accuracy? Six cubits…and a span. It doesn’t get more accurate than that!

How were they able to know that his helmet was made of brass, and his coat made of mail…without even touching him?

How were they able to know that Goliath’s spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron, or that his coat weighed five thousand shekels of brassall the way from the mountain where they were standing?

All these unnecessary information kept the Israelites captive to one man. For 40 days!!!

If they had put down their compasses, set squares, French curves and protractors, and simply got down to attacking the Philistine army, they might have had a shot at winning the battle.

If you can take this, you would be on the right path of simplifying your life greatly: Not every information is important!

I know this post started with mere accumulation of information from books, but it’s much more than that!

There are several of you reading this right now, who have been held captive to information overload from gossip blogs and news sites. For others, it is their Facebook feeds and emails. Still, others more (including yours’ sincerely), it is your favorite football team. You know your team’s latest scores, their transfer targets and the jersey numbers of everyone on the team – including the B team!

Regardless of the type of information, our minds are just being bombarded time and time again with ‘just-in-case’ information that we do not need.

I mean, who gives a rip about whether Kim Kardashian was really tanned or not?

How is knowing ‘the number of times Jon was stabbed when he was murdered at Castle Black’ going to benefit you?

Who cares whether EFCC has the best Twitter handler ever?

Not every information is important!

Goliath was trending and David didn’t even know!

This simple fact of David choosing to be ignorant about Goliath’s attributes and well-informed about the attributes of God positioned him for victory. What Saul and the Israelites saw as too big to defeat, David saw as too big to miss!

 

The Tetris Effect

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If you’re old enough, I am sure you should be familiar with Tetris. You know, that game where you had to arrange falling blocks into empty pockets of space at the lower part of your game screen. If you were not able to do this fast enough and the blocks got to the high enough to stop more blocks from falling, it was game over.

Well, some scientists decided to have some more fun with this game.

So, they got a bunch of Tetris lovers and made them play the game for extended periods of time – up to hours a day for weeks!

Here’s the interesting thing that happened next.

The gamers started seeing everything around them like, wait for it…falling blocks!!!

It was terrible. I can almost imagine one of the participants just sitting there chilling and busy figuring out the kind of block that would fit into the space between two cars following each other!

However, you shouldn’t be surprised with the findings. The Bible had been right all this while and it’s always nice to see science finally catching up with the Word.

Whatever you focus on continually would manifest in your life!

This is why Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.’

A lot of people are not are not diligent with what they allow to go into their hearts. This can happen in two major ways:

  1. A lot of people are focused on all the wrong things. We are all aware that if you focus on the negatives, you would lead a stifled life. I’m not going to dwell too much on this.
  2. A lot of people are focused on too many right things at the same time! I’m more concerned about this second way because it is much more prevalent in our day and time.

Back in the days, I used to think it was cool to be focused on so many things at the same time. In fact, I used to pride myself on my ability to multitask because I had multiple talents. However, if you go through the path of trying your hands on everything you come across, you would find yourself living under the illusion of being an expert when in the real sense, you are not. It would also force you to be spread out too thin – since you are simply trying your hands on everything and not spectacular in anything. Man was not made to be spread out thin. Rather, he was created to have depth!

This is why I say multitasking is the highway to mediocrity because the only thing you become good at doing is doing multiple things poorly!

 

There Is A Better Way

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I have said it before – God is The God of Principles.

Sadly, we live in a generation that gets the order of God wrong every single time:

We first try to accumulate the information we think we need and then we try to ask God to approve our agenda. When we find out that the agenda does not work out, we dump it somewhere in the recesses of our brain – alongside the information we gathered with it.

Wasting precious time and mental resources.

And then, we look for the next shiny information source to consume.

The cycle always repeats itself again!

Listen up: God is deliberate.

I do not think He created us to be Jacks of all trades, and masters of none.

Just the same way each cell in our bodies has a specific purpose which contributes to the general well-being of the body, I believe every individual has something specific to contribute to God’s wonderful ongoing story of creation.

The only way to find that specific purpose that God wants you to do with your life is to ask Him to reveal this to you. Only then would it make sense to start accumulating as much information as possible on your highly specific assignment.

We were not created to be spread out thin like shrubs. Rather, God designed us to be trees with depth in Him.

Find your purpose in Him first!

Then you can start building depth in God through the Word and cultivating expertise through accumulating “just-in-time” information within that narrow niche.

God bless.

 

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Who Died And Made You God?

Within the space of two weeks, two different people within my circle of influence were visibly shaken by other people’s opinions about them. One moment, we were talking and jesting, the very next moment, they were wrapped with so much doubt and uncertainty in themselves. What I found most appalling is the fact that nobody had been physically present to make them feel bad.

I can empathize since I was once a victim too.

I had always attached a large importance to what people thought about me. In fact, in a bid to maintain my “Nice Guy” persona, I went to great lengths to conform to other people’s expectations of me. Not only did this leave me in the quagmire of mediocrity, I was also constantly overwhelmed and frustrated, because I was spread out too thin, trying to “meet up with the standard”.

Right now, God has cultivated me to the point where I really could not give a rip about your opinions of me.

Remember this?

By the way, you can still get your copy by clicking on the picture above!

Anyways, I may still have tendencies to be shy in a new environment, but I am secure in the love of the Father to know that He’s got me – any day, any time. Of course, by now, you should know that one of my favorite Scriptures I like to quote about this matter is John 12:3-5:

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”

Are you like the way I used to be? Frustrated and overwhelmed with meeting up with the opinions of others? Pay attention to the following practical tips that may be helpful in helping you to a life of freedom and abundance – just as God wants it!

 

The Father, The Son And The…Donkey!

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I’m sure I’ve heard Ebenezer Obey sing a song about the story I am about to share. Ah! The good ol’ days…

But I digress.

So, there was this old man who had a son and a donkey. They were apparently going on a long journey and the father put the boy on the donkey, while he walked by the side. As they moved along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out (I’m pretty sure she was a Yoruba woman), ”Ahhhhhh…..Shame on you, a fully fit boy, riding while your old father is walking. What is this world turning to? Ahhhh….the children of nowadays!”

The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right, so they swapped positions.

Later as they passed by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One (Yoruba woman, of course!) cried out in protest, ” Ahhhhh….eh!!! Oooooooo!!! Ahnahn! Ahnhan! Ahnhan! Wat hapin na? How can you make your little boy walk under this terribly hot sun while you ride! Ahnhan…don’t you have any conscience?”

So, what did the duo do? They simply decided that maybe it would be in their best interest to walk.

Next, they met some young Warri men hanging out.

“Oboi! See craze o! You guys have a healthy donkey to ride on, and yet you’re both walking!” one of them shouted.

So, both the old man and his son climbed the donkey.

Then they met a group of Animal lovers….

Of course, one of them shouted, “You people are so mean! Imagine you were the donkey, how would you feel carrying two people on your back?”

The old man and the boy saw that there was clearly no way out of their ‘predicament’, so they struggled to carry the donkey.

As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the really confused animal and it fell to its death in the river!

This is pretty much the first lesson to be learnt: Irrespective of what you do, people would always talk about you!

If you do something, they would talk. If you refuse to do anything, they would still talk. It makes absolutely no difference if you do anything or not, because people would always find a way to still talk about whatever you do.

Funny enough, in my experience, I was able to find freedom to live above people’s opinions of me the moment I realized that opinions would still be formed – regardless of what I do. If that’s that’s the case, I might as well go ahead with what I feel God is leading me to do per time!

 

Nothing Has Meaning, Except The Meaning You Give To It

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Some days ago, I wrote the following on my Facebook wall:

“All human phenomena are absurd outside context. E.g, money: ‘Give me this Ferrari and I’ll give you a piece of paper with digits. Deal?'”

I was with a person who posted Christian content on his personal Facebook wall.

Now, that would not have really mattered, except when you consider the fact that this person is a highly-placed individual in a very secular community. So, naturally, some people started criticizing him for posting such content.

That really got to him.

I mean, it’s not like he shared some nudity or pornographic images on his Facebook timeline. He only shared a few encouraging lines from the Bible and he was being criticized for it?

If you look at the issue the way I have started seeing things, you’d realize that some things do not even make sense at all, except you decide to read meanings. Everyone accesses social media via their phones and laptops and if you are working yourself up because someone criticizes you on social media, in the ‘realest‘ sense, you are actually getting worked up with your phone! Whoever is criticizing you online is not in the same room with you, and there is no need for you to waste mental energy rehearsing your rebuttal in your mind. There is simply no time for that!

I remember a story I heard while growing up. Now, don’t quote me anywhere because I’m not sure whether it’s fact or fiction.

So, this witch went to a party and she was served jollof rice and fried rice – topped with chicken wings. She took offense and some days later, she started afflicting the family who organized the party. One way or the other, the witch was soon found out and she was asked why she decided to afflict the family.

Her response? Her rice was topped with chicken wings, instead of chicken thighs!

While some of you might laugh at the story I just shared, a lot of you reading this post are just the same way. In fact, so many would be offended if they went to a party and were served water, instead of juice or wine. They would forget that water is probably the healthiest liquid you can drink. Rather, they would think that they have just received the worst insult that any human could possibly endure!

Don’t even get me started with those who feel offended because someone handed something over to them with their left hand – instead of the right hand….

 

Receive Understanding To Tie It All Together

You would not believe it (just kidding!), but God has an opinion.

He has an opinion about everything – and He has His opinion about you!

If there was ever an opinion you need to highly consider in your life – that opinion is God’s.

This is where Understanding comes in play.

You see, Understanding is a supernatural discernment and perception of reality from God’s point of view. In essence, it is perceiving and accepting God’s opinion about things, people and places per time.

The truth is that with Understanding, it is impossible for you to be confounded, depressed, confused or at a loss. Why? You have the benefit of a supernaturally elevated perception – one that is backed by the very breath of God. By understanding, you are tuned into the dynamics of the spirit and your comprehension of actions, events and intentions becomes razor-sharp.

To me, the most outstanding feature of understanding is that it is applicable to EVERY aspect of your life. That includes your physical well-being, career, social life, relationships, spiritual walk with God, emotional intelligence, financial health and so on.

Proverbs 8:9 says, ‘They are ALL plain to him that understandeth’

Understanding makes all things plain to an individual.

Understanding is all-encompassing.

When it’s in full manifestation in your life, you understand the ways and timings of God, you undestand people, you understand things, and most importantly, you’d understand how God sees you.

He sees you as righteous.

He sees you as anointed.

He sees you as wise.

He sees you as forgiven.

God sees you as beloved!

The more you focus on God’s perspective of you, the more you can walk in the full awareness of God’s love – without anybody’s opinions holding you to ransom!

And if they try, you can look them squarely in the eyes and ask them, “Who Died And Made You God?!”

 

Finding Grace

Genesis 6:8 says, ‘But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord’

There’s a principle in Scripture interpretation, referred to as ‘The Principle of First Appearance’. The principle simply states that the first time a word appears in the Bible, there’s a lot of importance attached to how the word is used in that context.

The word ‘grace’ first occurs in the Bible in Genesis 6:8. And believe me, its significance could change your life forever!

The Bible tells us that Noah found grace IN the eyes of the Lord. Some people may read that verse and just gloss over it like that. But if you pay attention, with the Spirit’s help, you’d find that Genesis 6:8 is actually trying to tell us HOW to walk in grace.

The process is actually simple.

Just look IN the eyes of God!

Some may scoff at this and say Promise likes taking scripture verses a little too literally. Others may complain that Promise is reading too many meanings to a Bible verse that simply means that God lavishly poured grace on Noah.

But the Bible never said the God poured grace on Noah!

No. It said, Noah FOUND grace IN the Lord’s eyes!

God’s grace was already abundantly available to ALL of mankind. But Noah was able to find it IN the Lord’s eyes.

What then does it mean to find grace IN the sight of God?

I’d use a story to explain:

When I was younger, anytime my parents took me for outings, but didn’t want me to eat there (for reasons best known to them), all they did was to look at me…

…and I would find the instruction not to eat IN THEIR EYES!

My parents were able to communicate with me clearly and non-verbally, regardless of how far they were from me, or the number of people in the room at the moment.

How?

Because of the relationship I had already cultivated with my parents over the years, I knew how to read meanings and receive instruction by merely looking into their eyes!

The same occurs with receiving grace.

God’s grace is already richly abundant to all of Mankind. However, the levels of manifestations of that grace differs from one to another…depending on the quality and quantity of time spent lovingly gazing into the eyes of the Father.

There’s no formula to receiving grace from the Father. All we can do is to imitate Noah, and cultivate a rich, vibrant relationship with God!

Rejoicing When Passing Through

If there’s anything we need to rehearse in our minds over and over again, it is this:

God loves you and He has your best interests at heart.

The oft quoted Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the thoughts that He thinks towards us. He says they are thoughts of peace and not evil.

We have to come to the point where we know in the very core of our hearts that God wants the best for us.

3 John 2 tells us that God wants us to prosper and be in good health, even as our souls prospers.

If we are able to reach the point where our minds come into agreement with the truth of unconditional God’s love for us that is already in our spirits, we would be able to respond appropriately when challenging situations arise.

Consider what Paul said to the Phillipians: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice’ (Phillipians 4:4).

We would find it easy to rejoice in the Lord if, and only if, we have settled the matter of God’s unconditional love for us in our hearts!

Now, despite the fact that as believers, we have settled the matter of God’s love in our hearts, we would still have some ‘passing through’ moments that creates in us more questions than answers.

The reasons are not too far-fetched:

First of all, we still live in a fractured, sin-affected world under the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:22). This is where we live in, despite not being citizens of the world (John 14:16).

Secondly, we live among people in the world who by their actions give the devil and his demons the right of way in their lives. This is consistent with Romans 6:16,

‘Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey’

People are yielding themselves to the devil on a consistent basis, and as a result, they become devil-controlled and would never promote the course of God’s kingdom. Rather, they antagonize God’s perfect plan.

But in spite of all these, we can still thank God, because He causes us to always triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). The devil tries to take his best shot at us, using the sin-corrupted world and the actions of devil-controlled people. Yet, God is able to turn these situations into something beneficial for us.

Matthew 5:10-12 makes us understand that despite the fact that the devil would inspire people to persecute believers, it would still end in the great inheritance of the kingdom of Heaven…starting from this side of eternity!

The Pharisees in Acts 5:40-42 were evidently not led by the Spirit of God. As there’s no equilibrium in the realm of the spirit, if you’re not Spirit-led, you’re devil-led! So, these Pharisees yielded themselves as tools to the devil for the persecution of the apostles. Yet, the disciples chose to maintain the correct perspective, choosing to see themselves walk in the great reward of the kingdom of heaven. They chose to revel in the love of God, and as a result, they found more strength to go on the offensive for the kingdom.

Friend, God doesn’t tempt with evil (James 1:13), but when temptations and trials do arise, God is able to use it to build patience in us. Patience is simply faith sustained over a longer period of time. And the good news is that when patience has had its perfect work, there’s no limit to what we can believe God for by faith (James 1:2-4).

Once we are convinced in our hearts by our consciences and by the Holy Spirit (Romans 9:1) that whatever sufferings, trials or temptations that we are going through at the moment is not caused by a door we’ve opened through sin (John 5:14) or because we’ve stepped out of God’s grace and Perfect Will in disobedience (2 Corinthiains 2:10-11), then we can rest in God’s love that whatever we’re passing through at the moment would end in joy unspeakable.

With the right mindset, we can rejoice in the Lord always and taunt the devil; telling him that, if he had known the great work that God was using that particular situation to do in your life, he wouldn’t have brought up the challenge in the first place!

God is the master of doing good (Psalms 85:12) and whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, would always be turned around for our good. With this at the back of our minds, we can boldly say, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God…’

How To Command God: Quick Steps

Motivational preacher’d be like:
“And I shouted, “God!” and INSTANTLY He replied me, “Yes, my son!”. Then I told Him, “Move this mountain, Lord!” and He said, “Yes, my son! Would that be all?””

And I’m like: Is that the picture of the Ancient of Days you have in your puny mind…sir ?!!
A talkative God?
A God you can wrap around your little finger?
A God that is waiting on you just to serve all your whims?
An inferior God?

(Before I go on, I must say that the title of this post is a LITTLE bit….er….misleading. You won’t be seeing any tips on how to command God. Sorry to disappoint you, but kindly spare me some minutes. I promise you won’t regret it)

Now, on commanding God, it seems to me that a lot of preachers have taken Isaiah 45 vs 11, a bit out of context. The verse says,

“Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hand, command ye me”

So, they see the phrase, “Command ye me” and then proceed to exercise their “authority” over the LORD Almighty.

Funny, isn’t it?

But to have a better understanding of the contextual meaning of a Biblical text, it pays to read the preceeding and suceeding verses.

Verse 10 says,
” Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? Or to his mother, What hast thou brought forth? ”

Now, this is getting interesting!

From Isaiah 45 vs 10, it is apparent that verse 11 is a QUESTION!!!
In essence, God is saying: Inasmuch as you can’t question your parents about why they gave birth to you or why you have certain features in your physique, you also can’t question His purpose regarding you!
He’s not asking you to command Him.
Instead, God is saying, “You shouldn’t dare to command Me!”

Well, that should settle this issue.

But if you still have doubts, let’s check verses 12 and 13:

“I have made the earth and created man upon it. I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city and shall ket go my captives, not for price or reward, saith the LORD of hosts”

Regardless of what we declare, decree or command, it is His Will and Purpose for our lives that would stand in the end.

Look, don’t waste your time commanding Jehovah to do your own selfish, lustful desires. We are not meant to command God. We are meant to do His own will and bidding.

Do yourself a favour: Whenever you pray, instead of commanding God, find His perfect will by His Spirit; and pray in that line.

Remember, swimming against the tide causes you to expend a lot of energy while you cover very little ground.
On the other hand, flowing with the tide is both easier and rewarding.

Be wise!!!

The Return Of The Ark (Part 5)

“Who is this Obed-Edom?”

King David asked the grey haired fully-bearded elders seated along the two flanks of the throne-room.

It had been three months since the king had entrusted the ark into the care of Obed-Edom. The news of the man’s prosperity and all-round blessings had reached Jerusalem.

“Who is he?”, David asked again.

One of the elders on David’s left rose up to speak.

“Your majesty, if my memory serves me well, it has been three months since that tragic incidence at Perez Uzzah occured”

“Yes, yes, when Abinadab’s son touched the ark of God near Nachor’s threshing floor”

“Indeed, your Majesty. But permit me, sir, to remind you, sir, that you left the ark in the care of a certain Levite who lived near the site. That man, your Majesty, is….”

David cut him short. How could he have forgotten? The daily demands of running the nation might have contributed. But even that wasn’t an excuse.

“…Obed-Edom! ”

The ‘uhs’ and ‘ahs’ filled the room, as the elders communed amongst themselves.

David thought: The ark was definitely not an instrument of mass destruction if handled properly. If the ark could transform the life of a man and his household in just three months, how much more would the fortunes of Jerusalem be changed for the better.

David stood up on his feet,
“We are paying Obed-Edom a visit! ”

For the third time in as many months, there was a lot of pompous fanfare and celebrations. David and the people set out to Obed-Edom’s household.
Nobody needed to point out the place to the king. The changes in the man’s house was as clear as day.

Moments later, Obed-Edom came trotting on a large healthy stallion of his own! As soon as he saw the king, he dismounted the horse and prostrated before the king.

“Your majesty, may you live long, sir”

“You may rise up, Obed-Edom. Look how you’ve been favoured of the Lord”, David said, pointing at the visible changes round about Obed-Edom.

“May the Lord be praised forever more, Your majesty! ”

David looked intently at the man. He also loved God deeply. Which worship leader wouldn’t?

However, the images of a dead Uzzah flashed momentarily in David’s mind. He knew he had to be careful this time around.
He cleared his throat authoritatively.

“We have come to take the ark to Jerusalem, but….”

Obed-Edom smiled at the king knowingly,

“Oh king, I understand you more than words can explain. You don’t want another tragedy on a day as this”

David nodded. Then he put a hand on Obed-Edom’s shoulder.

“Obed-Edom, I understand that you are a Levite. Tell us, what must we do to avoid another….uhm….another outburst”

“Your majesty, it is all simple. Only Levites are allowed to carry the ark of the covenant by the poles on its sides. And when they carry it, they are to do so on their shoulders for as long as it takes to move the ark. No shortcuts, your Majesty”

“And how many of these levites would be needed?”, David asked. He was leaving no loose ends.

“Just twelve, your majesty. Three men on each corner of the ark, your Majesty”

“Thank you, Obed-Edom”.

As the king turned, he remembered Abinadab’s request three months later. So, he added,

“Any last requests before the ark is moved? ”

Obed-Edom was shocked. Was this a test? If it was, he was ready to pass with flying colours.

“Oh King, after all these things that the Lord God had done for me, do I dare ask for more? Oh king, I am not of the high priest’s family, I am just a priest. I am not qualified to see this ark. Even the high priest and his descendants from the time of Aaron only saw the ark three times a year. Yet, I and my family have wined, dined and slept with the ark every day for three whole months. Oh king, may the Lord do so and even more if I ask for any other thing! ”

David was spell-bound. His respect for Obed-Edom grew more.

So, David and Obed-Edom arranged for the twelve levites to carry the ark. The men were young and slightly built. Yet David looked in wonder as these young men carried the ark so effortlessly. Compared to his strong men that had carried the ark with all their might three months ago, these young men were not doing badly at all.

The celebrations now begun in earnest. David and the people were overcome with energetic bliss. The joy of the Lord now empowered them with boundless strength. Burnt sacrifices were offered to the Lord for every six steps taken by the Levites who carried the ark. This went on and on till the ark got to Jerusalem. Considering that the sacrifices were completely burnt to ashes, the procession to Jerusalem took a long time.

But king David didn’t bother. Neither did the people, nor the Levites carrying the ark. All that mattered was that the ark of the Lord had returned. The ark of covenant was now at home!!!

(THE END???)

The Return Of The Ark (Part 4)

It was now dusk.

The Ark was still on the cart. The cart was still joined with the two oxen. But the fanfare and joyful progression was all gone. There was no one else in sight apart from a small-statured bald-headed man. He sat down on a rock a couple of metres away from the ark. He stared blankly at nothing in particular. Apparently, he was lost in his thoughts.

Perez Uzzah was the new name king David had given to the site where the ark had stumbled.

The threshing floor of Nachor was renamed not because the ark had nearly stumbled there, but because of what David perceived to be an act of unbridled harshness on the part of God.

Uzzah had died because he had ONLY ventured to prevent the ark from falling.

Prior to the incidence, God had expressly spelt it out in the Law, that absolutely no one was to touch the ark under any circumstance.

But, couldn’t God have relaxed his standards a bit? At least, the circumstances warranted that.

David the king was sad.
What was meant to be the happiest day of his reign had been marred with tragedy.

Obed-Edom’s house happened to be quite close to Perez Uzzah. And the king had ordered the ark to be kept in Obed-Edom’s house while he came to terms with the nation’s grief.

Obed-Edom had naturally been shell-shocked at the king’s decision.

Why should an article that had just killed someone be placed in his custody?

It simply wasn’t fair.
He tried to reason out what sins he or his progenitors had committed in the times past that now warranted his punishment from the Lord.

Obed-Edom had considered appealing to the king to change his mind. However, he promptly dismissed the idea. Why, the voice of the king was as that of an angel.

Now, Obed-Edom shifted on the rock he was seated upon. He tried to reason out what he had to do to avoid ending up like Uzzah. Almost at that instant, the eyes of his understanding were opened.

In carrying the ark, God desired His people to have a burden to worship and serve Him. This burden was not meant to be only heartfelt but also backed up with the right actions too.
There was to be no shortcut.
There was to be no easy way out.
The Law specifically made it clear that the Levites were to carry the ark of covenant on their shoulders, where they would feel the burden of the ark’s weight the most.
There were no provisions for carts to make the movement of the ark easier!
It didn’t matter if the ark was to be moved from Dan to Beersheba, it had to be carried on the shoulders of the priests.

Obed-Edom looked up at the cart again.

God had intended to use that particular stumble to make His people see their error in the way they moved the ark.
And Uzzah might have been killed because his actions tried to cover up God’s attempt at correction!

Again, Obed-Edom realized that not just anybody was qualified to carry the ark. The Levites were the one’s instructed by the Law to carry the ark.

The small-statured man with a bald head smiled at himself. He was a Levite! He served as both a porter and a musician at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.

Instantly, Obed-Edom rose up and danced vigorously to no music. Not a few passersby threw cautionary glances at the older man’s direction. He didn’t even spare them a thought.

Instead, he worshipped God heartily. The God who elected him via His Grace and qualified him to be a custodian of the ark.

Obed-Edom perceived that he and his household were in for a ‘season of refreshing’…

(TO BE CONCLUDED IN THE NEXT AND FINAL PART!)

The Return Of The Ark (Part 3)

Abinadab couldn’t believe his ears. Hurriedly, he took permission from the king and went to fetch his sons. Moments later, two well-parloured and healthy young men were lying prostrate before David.

King David studied the two men. The duo would surely not be out of place in the army. David quickly dismissed the thought as soon as it came. That was an issue for a latter period. Getting the ark back into Jerusalem was of prime importance.

“Which one of you is Uzzah?”, asked the king.

The taller of the two men signified by raising his right hand.

“I see. Alright, both of you, get my men to come and pick the ark. We have to start moving back to Jerusalem”

Outside Abinadab’s house, there was still a lot of fanfare and celebrations and rejoicing before the LORD. There was even a greater shout of joy as the ark surfaced. The ark was so heavy that it took 8 strong soldiers to lift the ark’s poles upon their shoulders, two men at each corner of the ark. They were most definitely not going to carry the ark in this manner to Jerusalem. That would be too strenous!

Abinadab devised a plan to make the work easier. He got a new cart that had never been used before. That way the transport of the ark would be easier for everybody. David liked the idea.

The cart was yoked and joined to two oxen. The ark placed was placed ever carefully into the straw-padded cart. Soon, all was set.

Ahio and his brother Uzzah took charge of the oxen and the cart. Joab and his men were directly behind. And King David and his ‘Mighty 30’ followed up in the rear.

The road back to Jerusalem wasn’t particularly smooth. The cart endured a bumpy ride. Uzzah was worried about the ark of the LORD falling off.

So he called out to his brother,
“Hey bro!”. His voice was in a hushed tone laden with agitated excitement.

Ahio narrowed his eyes with a little frown. What was wrong? He looked silently in his brother’s direction.

“With the road full of gullies and potholes, do you think the ark might fall off?”

Ahio glared incredulously at Uzzah.

“What are you saying, brother?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a passing thought. Besides, my concerns are genuine”

“Uh…Okay”

Ahio couldn’t understand his brother’s fears. After all, when the Philistines captured the ark years ago, it was put on carts. When they also returned the ark, it was put on carts. Nobody had watched over the carts in those instances, yet the ark didn’t fall off.

“Look….”, Uzzah interrupted Ahio’s thoughts,

“…stay here and lead the oxen. I will watch from the back of the cart. If anything unusual happens, I’d be right there at hand”

Uzzah had made up his mind and started off to the back of the cart. For peace’s sake, Ahio kept mute.

The ride was now very bumpy and rough. Uzzah stared at the ark. He played in his mind’s eye how he was going to act when the ark fell off. When the ark fell off? How on earth did he know that the ark was going to fall off? Uzzah kept on dwelling on these thoughts.

The ark’s entourage soon reached the large threshing floor on Nachor’s land. That was when it happened. One of the cartwheels got into a gully. Time seemed to freeze. The impact of the shock caused the ark of covenant to stumble out of the cart! Uzzah had seen the scenario in his mind before. He knew what had to be done. He made for the ark.

Everyone who saw the scene knew what must not be done.

Behind Uzzah, Commander Joab and others with him yelled,

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

It was too late.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

The Return Of The Ark (Part 2)

Moments later, the hosts departed the highly fortified city of Jerusalem amidst a lot of fanfare. Cymbals clanged and trumpets poompaahed. The crowd shouted joyfully as the army men trooped out of the city. They seemed to be as numerous as a troop of locusts invading a ranchland. Commander Joab was in front of the men, trotting slowly on his big, black and powerful horse. The crowd cheered his name. The commander afforded himself a wry smile. He waved back.

King David rode his white horse behind the marching troops. He was in the company of the ‘Mighty 30″- a group of selected valiant men of valour who had been with the king through thick and thin. They had seen it all: The wars, the hardships in the desert and the search parties organized by King Saul, David’s predecessor. And in return, David treated them more than his aides- they were his brothers.

Eventually, the King and his entourage arrived at Gibeah. It was as if the whole nation had turned out to see the ark, as well as the king. There was a lot of music and fanfare. The people and the troops mingled joyfully. They all danced about like playful birds.

David alighted his horse and got into one of the first houses near the city’s gate. It was Abinadab’s house. As soon as the middle-aged man saw the king, he prostrated himself in obiesance to King David.

“You may stand up. May the LORD God bless you and your household”

“Amen. Thank you, your majesty”

David now looked beyond Abinadab. That was when he saw the ark. It was much more beautiful and glorious than anything he had seen before. It was a large golden cuboidal box. On the top of the box, there was the shape of two golden angels facing each other. The wings of the angels touched each other at the top. There were also two long golden poles along the length of the cuboidal box. These were used to lift the ark.

But the most amazing feature of the ark was its luminscent nature. The body of the ark seemed to radiate a special light that did not cause the eyes to ache. David’s heart leaped within him. He turned to Abinadab,

“Is this how it appears everytime?”

“Yes, your majesty, isn’t it wonderful?” There was emotion in Abinadab’s voice.
David looked at the man. He definitely loved God too.

King David cleared his throat, “We’d take it from here”

Almost immediately, Abinadab fell on his knees before the king. David wondered what the matter was. Abinadab clasped his hands together and used them to touch his forehead.

“Your majesty, if you will, please, I have one last request to make of you, regarding the ark, sir”

David motioned him to go on.

“Your majesty, if I have found favour in your sight, please let my sons Uzzah and Ahio take charge of the transportation of the ark from here to Jerusalem”

King David took a moment to think. There was no harm in the older man’s request.

“Very well then. Where are the boys?”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

The Return Of The Ark Part 1 (My First Short Bible Fiction Story)

It was still early in the morning. The sun was just coming out. The skies were clear and the birds hopped, flew and made joyful chirps all around the trees nearby. The building in the compound was different from any other type one would see in Jerusalem. It was very much larger. And it was well guarded by tough-looking men armed with spears or swords. The reason was simple: It was the King’s palace.

Inside one of the largest rooms in the building, David Barjesse could hardly control his excitement. He shifted excitedly on his large ivory throne. In his mind’s eye, he replayed how the fleet-footed messanger, Ahimaaz, had recounted the news just moments ago. The news was simply too good to be true.

David signalled at one of the servants waiting on him in the throne room

“You beckoned, Your majesty, sir”, said the slightly built young servant. He was already kneeling on the soft and furry animal skin directly in front of David.

“Get me the commander of the Army, immediately”

“Yes, your majesty”

With that, the servant hurried out of the room in a manner similar to the movement of a squirrel on a tree branch.

King David looked at the gold-plaited ceiling above his head. He smiled to himself. Of course, it was not the beauty of the ceiling that fancied his amusement. It was another article made of a similar material, yet so much more important…

The ark of God had been found!!!

David had heard so much about the ark all the while he was growing up in the backlands of Bethlehem. Yet he had not so much as set his eyes on it. The ark had been captured in a battle with the Philistines, Israel’s fiercest enemies, over 40 years before. This implied that throughout the reign of his predecessor, King Saul Barkish, the ark was nowhere to be found. And for years, the annual ritual at Shiloh still went on. The people and the priests knew the ark, which represented God’s Presence was absent from the tarbernacle in Shiloh, yet they still went on worshipping an organized structure, rather than the Personality.

But that was in the past, thought David. Now the ark was back in Israel, specifically at the house of a certain Abinadab in Gibeah. It was within reach.
David silently muttered a deep heart-felt praise to the King of kings for counting him worthy to witness the ark’s return…

” Your Majesty?!”

David blinked. Joab, the army commander, was already standing in front of him. David briefly studied the expression of the sturdy, battle-hardened man before him. They had been together right from the harsh days in the cave of Adullam. Joab might have been savagely brute but he was loyal, and that was what count. David went on to speak.

“Today is a glorious day in the history of Israel. I’m sure you’ve heard that the ark is back in Israel!”

Joab’s bearded face remained expressionless.
“Your majesty, I am fully aware of the new developments, sir. Ahimaaz debriefed me. I also double-checked the details with Cushi. The two pieces of informatiom tallied, sir. It appears that the ark is seemingly safe in the house of a certain Abinadab in Gibeah, sir. May I know your plans, your Majesty?”. Joab’s voice remained in a flat, emotionless monotone.

“Arrange for 30, 000 of the finest soldiers and get the men ready to pick the ark of covenant. I would be coming along too”

30, 000 soldiers!
Joab felt he would rather use that amount of men to expand the kingdom of Israel than employ them as entourage for the ark. He maintained his expressionless exterior.

“Alright your majesty. Permission to fall out, sir?”

David nodded and waved his heavily ringed left hand in dismissal.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)