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Opinions of Friday, 16 June 2017

Columnist: Daniel Gyebi

What if we begin and end with God?

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Have you ever thought about how things were before God created heaven and earth? Think about it for a moment. However, before you scratch your head too hard and too long, let me help you a little with some of what did not exist.

Of course, there was no heaven or earth. There was no human being, animal, bird or plant. There was no money, television, computer, or internet. There was no house, car, or airplane. There was no sin, sickness, or sadness. There was nothing or no one, except God. That is why in the beginning, God.

Then, God, the Creator, started the process with the creation of heaven and earth. The Bible provides a glimpse of how things were immediately after heaven and earth were created. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2 NIV). Imagine how you feel when you enter a place where there is total darkness. Think about a large-scale total blackout or “dumsor” that affects the whole country with no end in sight. Add to that the earth that is empty with no form, but great depth, and a large expanse of water.

From our perspective, if there is one word many of us could use to describe the amorphous and indescribable situation immediately after heaven and earth were created, “depressing” would probably be appropriate.

What brought hope to an otherwise dark and depressing world was the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. With that hope in mind, let me suggest three ways to help build a positive relationship with God: begin with God, stay with God, and end with God.

Begin with God. In the beginning, God. A plan, roadmap, guide, and strategy are all important for people to lay the proper foundations for important projects. There are no projects bigger or more important than the salvation of our souls. Those who start their lives early with God lay the proper foundations for their future. We have to start our lives with God because He started it all, and knows the end even before we begin. If we surrender our will to Him, He will help lay the proper foundations upon which to build a lasting relationship with Him. He will save our souls and straighten our paths. Any attempt to bypass God and do our own thing, may lead to temporary success, but ultimate disaster.

Stay with God. Be patient and know that the beginnings of many good things are rough. The formlessness, emptiness, darkness, and the unfathomable depth that characterized life immediately after heaven and earth were created describe our lives without God. However, just as the Spirit of God which hovered over the waters brought hope, so, too, does the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, provide comfort, hope and encouragement to us in our relationship with God.

Many of us are in a hurry. We are in a hurry to grow up, complete school, find work, set up business, make money, get married, have children, and reach our highest potentials at the earliest possible time. As a result, we want and demand quick answers and solutions to our problems and have the tendency to withdraw from God whenever things do not seem to go our way.

We do not have to be over-anxious. God created man in His own image and endowed man with tremendous creativity. Diamond in its natural state is rough and not so nice. After rough diamonds are processed by cutting and polishing, their sparkling qualities manifest to the delight of many of us. A piece of wood in the bush may not look special until it is transformed by a craftsman into a beautiful carving or furniture. Similarly, raw clay in the ground does not necessarily look nice until a potter or sculptor molds it into beautiful ceramics and other works of art. It takes time, hard work, and craftsmanship to achieve success or good results.

We are that rough diamond, that piece of wood in the bush, or that clay in the ground. Staying with God enables Him to mold and transform us into the kind of persons He wants us to be. Therefore, be patient and stay with God. God makes everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Christianity is a journey. Being a Christian is not easy; it has never been. It was not easy for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who humbled Himself and took on human nature. You and I know about what He allowed Himself to be done to Him. You and I also know about what they did to some of the Apostles, early disciples, and followers thereafter. It requires endurance, sacrifice, and perseverance. That is why the Apostle Paul advises us to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). As we work out physically at the gymnasiums, fitness facilities, or use other methods to keep fit, we should work out the salvation of our souls, too. We have been saved by grace, not by works, but we should do all we can to elevate the importance of our salvation over and above our physical fitness and other considerations.

One way to stay with God and work out our salvation is to obey the Great Commission Jesus gave us to go and make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to obey what He has commanded. Teaching others what Jesus has commanded and talking to them about our salvation and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, are good ways to learn and make disciples.

In carrying out the Great Commission, we should be assured of what Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28: 18). That authority includes the awesome power used by God to create the heaven and the earth and everything therein. With that backing from Jesus, Christians need not be afraid of anyone or anything as we seek to do the Lord’s will.

End with God. Whenever we see athletes in a marathon race approaching the finish line, they look tired and some may fall down and unable to complete the race. Those who are unable to cross the finish line, do not receive a prize, even if they were ahead of everybody else when the race started.

Like the marathon race, the period towards the end of life must be a challenge for many people. That is why a Ghanaian proverb translates as follows: “the beginning of life is not difficult, but its end.” It is towards the end that the human body becomes frail and there may be struggles with sicknesses, failures, and unfulfilled ambitions. It is also the period when some people take comparative stock of their lives and conclude, erroneously, that some of those who did not care about God have made it in life better than them. Out of frustration, they may seek help from fetish priests, gods, shrines, oracles, and other unchristian sources for healing or making amends for perceived lost years.

Christians need to finish strong. The Bible tells us that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). Our relationship with God is an enduring one and so we should nurture and hold on to it till the end. There is another Ghanaian proverb which translates as follows: “an uncompleted work deserves no reward.” Having started with God, we should stay with Him and end with Him. We should be on God’s side so that God will be on our side till the end. As Jesus promised in Matthew 28:19, “... surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Whether we are on a pinnacle, in the pulpit, or in the pit, Jesus has promised to be with us to the end of the age. Therefore, begin with God, stay with God, and end with God.

Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.

Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.

PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted.

One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 027-7423815. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Bekwai Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.