Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
– Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 is a day that many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry.
Churches were attacked by bomb blasts in the North and there was a plane crash in the South. Both events were bloody and resulted in heart-wrenching fatalities.
The soul of the nation was steeped in dismay and despair. Gloom and grief hung thickly in the air. From newspaper headlines to radio programs, from Television reports to social media commentary, our social circles were saturated with heart-wrenching stories of the passengers aboard the Dana flight. For many people in my immediate circle of influence, it was a personal loss. For me, it sure was, considering the fact that one of my colleagues and closest brothers in the ministry, Reverend Akinola Olumodeji was aboard the flight. We didn’t see very often but whenever we did, we shared fellowship, we laughed, we played, we encouraged each other, we prayed for each other, we talked about life, God and the future. He teased me about getting married ‘early”. He was always full of hope, enthusiasm and joy. Besides, he was an exemplary giver. It was never a contest, but he always out-gave me.
You can only imagine the shock and disbelief that overwhelmed me when I got the news. Perhaps, the only time I have ever felt that way must have been when I lost my Cousin a few days after she was delivered of her baby. She was not even 30years old yet.That was over four years ago. Like the news of my cousin’s death, the news of the Dana plane crash and particularly Pastor Akin’s death hit me in a way that I may not be able to aptly describe. It was a very personal loss and I’ll miss him so dearly.
Like millions of Nigerians, I sincerely pray that we do not have to endure such a terrible and painful plane disaster ever again.
I believe in the power of prayer and I hold our dear nation up before God on a daily basis. Many times my prayers for Nigeria intersperse my activities several times a day however, I realize that while prayers are vital, praying ALONE will NOT bring the transformation we seek. God WILL NOT do for us the things that WE SHOULD do for ourselves.
We have become adept at flinging phrases like “It is well”, “God will save us in this country”, “One day, e go better”, “Na wa for dis our leaders o”
Some of these expressions may hold within hints of hope but they are often indicators of our perceived helplessness or unwillingness to take responsibility for our lives, families, nations and future.
For sure, this is not the first time we are losing people to air accidents so the question is
“Have we learned from the previous accidents?”
“Is it enough to lament and sigh?”
“Do we prevent such crashes in the future by simply sending doleful blackberry messages and chanting somber syllables?”
“Have we come to grips with the fact that the number people we lose to air accidents is only a fraction of the number of people we loose everyday to preventable diseases, poverty pangs, avoidable road accidents, molestation, domestic violence, assassination, manipulation and witchcraft.
“Are we going to remain a Nation of analyst or are we going to IDENTIFY THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER and DO THE THINGS THAT WE SHOULD DO if we are serious about making progress?”
It’s important to note that Grief alone never brings relief. Today’s sorrow doesn’t translate to a better tomorrow.
Let’s also remember that at times like this, not everything being printed or said is important. It’s key to process information intelligently and identify what’s really important.
I have taken out a little time to reflect and I have a few recommendations that could help us forge ahead as individuals and as a Nation. Some may strike you as simple. You may consider some profound but the important thing is to make positive difference in any way you can.
1. Comfort and Care For Those Around You
We often fall into the trap of selfishness. We lead such busy lives that we seldom take a break to give a helping hand. It will be so shameful to do nothing else than lament at such a time as this. Our analyses will mean very little if we do not support those for whom we claim to mourn with or for. It is important that we reach out to those who have been hit either through bomb blasts, gunmen, explosions, road accidents, the plane crash or simply by life. No matter who you are, I am sure that there is someone around you now who needs some comfort and or care. You could send a prayer right now. You could send a note of encouragement. You could donate some money to a TRUST FUND set up for the families of those who are bereaved. You could send clothes, cash gifts or decide to sponsor a child’s education. Think of something you can do and do it.
2. Construct What You Control
There’s something you control. You may not be the president of a multinational conglomerate. You may not be a lawmaker. You may not be the General Overseer of a mega ministry but you exert influence in some sphere of human endeavor. Even if you are a gate-man, you control the flow of people and vehicles in and out of a property. What you control is ultimately a reflection of your commitment. Be careful how you handle the things you control. A little oversight could lead to a dismal failure. A little nut out of place…a little bribe that beclouds your judgement…a little outburst that could destroy someone’s future…don’t let the little negatives lead to a cataclysm. Build up the things you control. Don’t tear them down. Make the things within your jurisdiction better. Don’t make them worse. Be an agent of construction not destruction.
3. Control What You Construct
A true champion isn’t just one who builds great institutions and organizations. He is one who is able to control himself and hold his faculties and organization(s) in balance. Don’t let your achievements get to your head. From my interaction with people we generally consider successful, this is often a challenge. Nevertheless, it’s a battle that no one can afford to lose. Don’t just conquer your obstacles, conquer yourself. We have a tendency to indulge in self-worship after we relish the taste of success and are honored with a few accolades of accomplishments. If we dance to the tune of our praise-singers, like many who have gone ahead of us, we will dance out of line and find ourselves in places we never dreamed to be. Success is a continuum. It’s a journey, not a destination. Control your appetites. Control your feelings. Conquer yourself. Don’t let your error land someone in horror
4. Carve Out Lessons From Your Losses
A person who at 50 years old believes exactly the same things he believed at 20years and behaves exactly the same way may have wasted 30years of his life. We make mistakes and we suffer loses but if we keep making the same mistakes and suffer the same loses, it means we are not learning key lessons. A loss is often a proof that we overlooked or sidestepped an integral part of a process. It is only wise to reflect on our losses and carve out important lessons. You may have heard this before: “Lunacy is doing things exactly the same way and expecting a different result” You can’t build new experiences on the foundation of old expectations. The lessons we learn and apply determine the results we get and replicate.
5. Carefully Consider where you will spend eternity
A lot of our decisions will be different if we walk in the consciousness of eternity. You may have been putting off the thought for donkey years but it is important that you face it NOW while you have the “luxury” of time. Can you confidently answer this question “Where will you spend eternity?”
People die everyday. It’s a part of the cycle of life. Realize that death is just a door. Doors lead to places. Death leads the human soul somewhere. Your soul will pass out of your current body and live either in heaven or hell. You may consider this scary or eerie but you have to face it. Death is NOT EXTINCTION, it is SEPARATION. It’s a separation of your soul and spirit from your body. Where will you live after you leave here?
I made this decision almost two decades ago and even though I was still a child, I am glad that I did. It’s so simple, you can do the same now if you haven’t done that already. Accept that ALL men are unworthy to stand before a Holy and Perfect God.
Accept that Jesus Christ died as a man and through His consequent resurrection has made it possible for you to be accepted before God by God’s grace and mercy. Then believe that as you say this simple prayer aloud with faith in your heart, you have the GIFT of God’s nature and righteousness and that you will spend eternity with Him when your soul and spirit are separated from this body.
I thank you for dying for me.
I believe that you are the Son of God.
I believe that you died for me and you are now risen
and now seated at the right hand side of God.
I accept your sacrifice for me.
I confess that you are my Lord and Savior.
Today, I accept your forgiveness.
Write my name in the book of life and make me yours forever.
I will spend the rest of my life on earth for you
and be with you for all eternity.
Do let me know if you said that prayer and I’d send you some material that will help you on your spiritual journey.