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Beyond Toys

Published on

March 7, 2022

As a young boy growing up in Kaduna State, Northern Nigeria, I played a lot of children games. Gathering ‘agbalumo’ seeds was one of them. The child or group of children who had the highest number of seeds were considered the ‘richest’ and ‘most influential’ in the neighbourhood. Another asset that added to your wealthy status was the number of ‘rubber-rings’ (rubber bands) you had managed to amass.

Anytime we went to school, my brother and I were so invested and deliberate in looking for and collecting as many ‘agbalumo’ seeds and rubber bands as we could find. Whenever we saw anyone eating ‘agbalumo,’ we would stand by them, with all attention and alertness so that when they spit out the seeds from their mouth, we were quick to harness this into our collection, not minding how saliva-laden the seed was. This was a mission for us.

Anyone who had these two ‘resources’ in abundance would often flaunt them proudly on the street, and in every corner of the neighbourhood, to the admiration or envy of those who lacked or possessed little. My brother and I would even play games with these ‘resources’ to win other people of theirs. In a matter of time, we became very ‘influential.’ If you never participated in or have heard about any of these childhood past-times, just smile and keep reading.

The game I played the most, however, was the Tetris game — the one that came in a rectangular shaped case with buttons on it for controls to regulate the movements and sounds of the structure you’re trying to build that must not get to the top or it’s game over for you. Again, if you have no clue about what I am saying, just smile and move on. It’s still Pushbuttons o. Don’t get it twisted. Scriptures are still below. Let me move on. I must have played this Tetris game more than a thousand times. I so fell in love with it that I’d skip doing my school assignments just to play the game. In church, while my Dad was preaching a fire sermon, all I could think of was how to proceed to the next round of the game. I played this game well into my teenage years till I got into university.

In 2012, while undergoing NYSC in Sokoto State, at a market, while purchasing some food items, I sighted the Tetris game on a stand, and immediately, flood of childhood memories rushed through my mind, and without thinking twice, I purchased the game and took it home, excited to have the opportunity to once again be able to relive some exciting moments in my childhood with this game. By this time, I had not played the game for at least 5–7 years.

To my sheer dismay and disappointment, in 15 minutes of playing the game after I got home, I was extremely bored and uninterested. I was shocked! Was this not the same game that excited me so much as a child? Was this not the same game pad that made me lose some marks in school and took so much of my time and attention from focusing on other more important things? What is happening here? I sat in disbelieve, but soon realized that my 22-year-old self was trying to recreate the excitement of a 14-year-old. I soon concluded that the game had not changed, but I had. My priorities had shifted without me even trying to force it. I didn’t have to pray and fast to stop being a child that was so fascinated by game pads, and ‘agbalumo’ seeds and rubber bands. Life caught up with me and re-aligned my interest. The next day, I gave away the game to a little boy in the area.

Brethren, 1 Corinthians 13:11 speaks to us in this regard:

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”

It is excusable to still be intermingling with childishness when you’re still a child in the things of God. But the moment God begins to introduce you to higher dimensions of truths and kingdom realities such as the quality of word we are steadily exposed to at the PowerPoint tribe, you’d be doing a great disservice to your destiny to still be frolicking with juvenile indulgences. There is a responsibility on your part to ‘put away childish things’ at some point. Scripture talks about God winking at the days of ignorance, but there is a time where God calls every man to repent (Acts 17:30).

The ignorance a child demonstrates is, to some extent, excusable, but if the same ignorance is manifested by a mature, enlightened adult especially with the abundance of light and revelation knowledge in our generation, then doom and downfall are potential ends of this person. But this is not even the focus of my contemplation this morning.

How do you grow? How did I lose interest in puerile and phantasmic amusements? How do you overcome a spiritually immature habit? How did I break free of enticements and excitements that are beneath the call of God for my life? Simply put, how do you become mature?

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” — John 8:31–32

The secret to maturity is continuity — continuity in the word. Being a disciple does not mean you are without a weakness. What God wants to see is a heart that is in pursuit of God. Too many Christians fuss about the weaknesses in their lives. We all are weak. It is part of the calling. If you are reading this as a young person, don’t allow the enemy feed you with lies and shame you out of your calling. When Romans 8: 1 talks about ‘no condemnation,’ it is for a time such as this when you are still in the journey to maturity.

Grace does not excuse sin, but recognizes your immaturity, strengthens you to pick up again and keep the pursuit on. This is why you must stay in the word. It is the only tool that can mature you as Christian. A day will come when ‘truth’ will penetrate your heart, and make you effortlessly superior to that weakness that presently seems unbeatable. The only thing God wants is for you to continue in the word. Don’t be distracted by your failings and shortcomings.

At 22, I didn’t have to wrestle myself out of my passion and obsession for boyish lures and allures. I only needed to grow. The more I grew in knowledge about my identity and my career ambition and the graces and giftings that God had deposited on the inside of me, the less baser elements appealed to me. The more you grow in the knowledge of who you are in Christ, what He has called you to become, and His special assignment for your life, the stronger you become against that weakness, and the easier it becomes for you to prevail over it, to a point where you just toss it aside almost mindlessly, the same way I gave away the game without feeling I had lost anything. Folks, this is the pathway to putting away childish things.

Granted, there are times that particular weaknesses in your life have to be prayed away and fasted off even with series of counselling sessions, and some other times you will require an extended season of consecration to recover the ground that your disobedience and childishness have made you lose.

But in general, if it comes to an area of your life where you battle with a weakness as a result of your immaturity, Grace is sufficient. Grace will tell you that where sin as reigned unto death, I (Grace) am reigning through righteousness unto eternal life. (Rom 5:21)

‘Through righteousness’ means that you continue proclaiming who you are in Christ no matter how many times that weakness overtakes you. You can only do this if you continue in the word. ‘Unto eternal life’ is the truth that sets you free. Can you see the connection between Jesus’ instruction in John and Paul’s assertion in Romans? These things are related. Stand tall in your identity. Stay in the word. Light will dawn in your heart, and soon the truth will set you free.

Finally, tribesmen, I leave you with Titus 2:11–12

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, TEACHING us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world”

The Fact is: Grace is a Teacher. The Question is: Are you a student? Continue in the word, be a student of grace and let it (Him) teach you how to grow beyond the toys of this world.

Do have a Graceful week!!

Peace Bamidele

@askpeace_

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