Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Chronicles of Sebastian - A Star in the Night

Hello everyone!

Guess what?! We have another special guest star appearance by Sebastian! It's always a delight to receive a guest-post from him as I am sure just like me, you have missed the rich and funny Chronicles of Sebastian series where Sebastian shared with us weekly, his experience of him being a German student in Enugu (Nigeria) for 6months! So here goes wonderful people, another fantastic one 'A Star in the Night' by Sabba Sabba :-)

LIGHT up for Jesus!
There were many things I loved doing in Nigeria. One of them was "star-gazing". There’s nothing quite like going out at night, sitting down, listening to the crickets and the frogs and watching the beautiful sky. With the mortar waking me up in the morning, the heat making me suffer at noon and all the chatter I enjoyed throughout the day, I really loved the quiet of the night. I know the quiet-thing doesn't work so well in "Lag" and even in Enugu it was sometimes not that calm at night, especially when in some night vigil, the preacher next door stretched the microphone’s capabilities by repeating "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! SEND DA FIRE!".

Okay, back to the quiet lol… I've also prayed-oh! But especially at night it was more a calm prayer, when I reflected on the day, thanked God or just watched the stars. Particularly when NEPA took the light and there was no fuel for the gen, you could see the stars so clearly. If you’re in a village, star-gazing works even better, since there is less "light pollution" brightening up the sky with artificial lights. Spending Christmas in a village is probably a good opportunity for watching a clear sky. Now for all you romantics out there, doing that with your S.O./MGM (I’ve learnt all of these terms here on the blog! hehe) is probably a much more magical experience!

In Philippians 2, Paul uses this imagery of stars and night. He calls us to “shine like stars in the night”, night being a "twisted generation" (bad world), lights being us. Okay, now you might ask yourself, how do I do that? How can I be a light? By suffering for Jesus? Being an acclaimed pastor? Fighting poverty? Ending corruption? What does Paul say? Ready?: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing!" Wow, who would have expected that? "BE A LIGHT!!" How? "Don’t complain". It sounds too simple, too ordinary.

Yet, it is so true! We complain so much, don’t we? About bad service, annoying friends, uncomfortable situations, family pressure, the government, the weather, our work, our life, ourselves. I've heard that 30-40% of our conversations are about complaints. This number may vary from culture to culture, but I've found that people complain everywhere and in many situations - school, church, home, when we chat, jam bodi, etc. - we all be "gra gra" at times.

However, God wants us to be different. He wants us to be positive, to work without grumbling, to talk without nasty overtones, to not beef each other, to smile genuinely and to have a generally positive outlook at life. Because this can be so hard when we think we have all the reasons to complain, so here are some tips to fight complaining:

Smile, no grumbling today :-)
1. Let God work on your heart. You all know this, "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaketh"… God does not want us to put on a fake smile while deep down we resent everything. Complaining is usually a symptom that we are not satisfied with something, whether with small things or the world at large. Only God can give us a deep sense of contentment that goes beyond circumstances. He can help us by giving us the patience to cope with situations that we are not happy with or in control of; He can remove the pride in us that we always want to have it "our way" and when life or specific people or services don’t cater to us. We can honestly tell Him what’s on our hearts, we can lament and then ask Him to change us.

2. When you complain, have an aim. Not grumbling does not mean we can never utter criticism. Of course things need to get better, people misbehave, companies do anyhow: there is always room for improvement. But your complaint needs an aim - an aim to make it better. You can tell a friend what he or she is doing wrong and how he or she can avoid that in the future. That serves the person more than calling him or her "Idiottt!" and gossiping about him. If you don’t like something about your work, try to talk with your boss or your colleague about possible solutions. Now I know it’s not always that easy - fear, pride or emotions can come into play. In Nigeria, some debates end up in a huge quarrel where everyone talks at the same time in all sorts of languages, which actually looked quite funny from the outside… lol But even though it is sometimes hard to improve things, we should try to focus on solutions instead of just whining and doing nothing.

Correct in love :-)
3. Dwell on and share good things. You might ask, "But Sabba, what can I talk about if I don’t complain?" A couple of chapters later, in Philippians 4:8, Paul gives us an answer by encouraging us to "think about whatever is honorable, lovely, commendable etc.". Sometimes we can be so drawn to the negative that it is hard for us to talk about good things. But there is so much to talk about! Share a good story, show what a friend has done for you, what you have experienced or learnt, tell a joke etc. The key is to  redirect" your emotions and to focus on something or someone else. If you feel like grumbling, you can also just have a good conversation with someone and be genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to. This way you can often get a new perspective and forget about yourself for awhile.
This very blog here is an excellent example of how all of this can work in practical terms: Not only through Ayo’s lovely posts, interviews and convos, but also through your comments, the blog’s positive spirit shines through! There is so much encouragement and hope that can be drawn from here. If we practice that in the real world as well; if we, in our individual lives, try to offer hope instead of grumbling, encouragement instead of harshness, purpose instead of cynicism and patience instead of frustration, we can be bright lights in the night. And even if you still have to watch the stars alone, just by being this kind of light in your environment you can already create "magic" in other people’s life. :)

Another beautiful piece from Sebastian with a lot of wisdom and lessons from everyday activities! Thank you Sebs for this great reminder that God wants us to be His light here on earth. 
Like Sebs said, living in this world and holding yourself from complaining/grumbling is TOUGH! But that's what God asks of you and me. Let's start consciously practicing it, asking God for the grace to represent Him well!

For all previous Chronicles of Sebastian posts, please click HERE
Also, you can visit Sebastian's blog It's in German, however you can use 'Google translate' if English translation is required - Lovely lovely blog!

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  1. said it all.
    Life's circumstances can make our face to turn upside down sometimes but ultimately, our hearts should be merry.. we can be lights in the way we think, in our positive outlook towards the future we have in Christ despite whatever we may see.

    Totally enjoyed this.pls start another chronicle

  2. Thank you Frances! :) Your summary is very precise, we need merry hearts!! not just mere "merry Christmas" greetings lol. And let me add, our gospel message, the good news, is a lot more attractive and believable if we live this way :)

    Have a wonderful Christmas season! Compliments of the season!! (oh btw how I miss the cheerful Christmas tunes when calling someone in Nigeria) :)


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