GENDER TALK: Thoughts on God and his mercies

Sunday January 6 2019


By Jackson Biko

I want to say something about God. I didn’t step into a church last year. Or the year before, come to think of it.

I have sinned, not because I haven’t gone to church, but because I’m a sinner. I have constantly failed God. I have coveted my neighbour’s goods and I even coveted his wife.

I haven’t stolen public or private funds or killed anyone but I have not kept the Sabbath holy. On Sabbath Day I have perched myself on stools in bars at 5pm with sinners like me and we have disappointed the Lord by acts of debauchery in doubles and in singles, some on the rocks, others neat.

But here I am, in 2019, in sound health of body and mind (mostly), still with a roof over my head and food on my table while the more righteous men, the more deserving ones who live in God’s light, already perished and sunk back to the soil that awaits all of us.

But I pray at night. Not daily, though. Sometimes I start by saying, “God, thanks for a wonderful day today, thank you for the gift of -” then the next thing I know my alarm is going off at 5.30am because I drifted off to sleep in the middle of prayer. I sleep on God often because I always place Him as the last item of my day. Sometimes I pray very fast so that I finish quickly so that I read my book or so that I just sleep because I’m bone tired. I rush God. Sometimes my heart is not into praying. I do it out of obligation, because I’m afraid to disappoint Him, to get his wrath because I’m told he’s a vindictive God and he’s also jealous.

Mostly I just forget to pray. I’m too tired or I’m least bothered to say thanks to Him. Other times I forget God for days then one day when I hear someone I know lost a loved one or is sick I remember Him and I say a quick prayer. It’s a selfish reflex prayer because it’s prompted by bad news – I tell him thank you for life, but also please do you mind keeping me alive much longer to see my children grown up so that I can see how strong genes are and see if my son’s taste in a spouse is anything like mine?

Prayer, my Bible and God

I sometimes pray because I have time, like in waiting rooms, or as I wait for my Uber, or in banking hall before they call my ticket number. Those are snappy prayers that I suspect don’t even count because I read somewhere that a proper prayer involves you getting down on your knees and giving God His time. Mostly I have one boring prayer and I keep repeating it over and over again. It bores me so God must be bored too.

I own a Bible. It’s always on my bedside table, under Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and The Africans by David Lamb. It was a gift from my late mother. On the first page is her handwriting dated August 7, 2000 - that’s a good 18 years ago. It smells of disuse, this Bible, of neglect. It smells like a secret. It smells of the dark recesses of a drawer, a place of useless old coins, orphaned buttons, and decrepit folded notes with faded ink.

Last time I opened it I opened it to read Songs of Solomon for its flourishing language and abstract, poetic prose. Things like: “I went down to the nut orchard, to look at the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vines had budded, whether the pomegranates were in bloom.”

So yes, in this regard my status relationship with God must look complicated from the outside but it isn’t. It’s just different. But it’s only us who know and understand our relationship. I’ve had a decent 2018; healthy, safe, fulfilling and rewarding. Granted, it wasn’t as good as 2017 especially business wise, but I could count 100 things that were good with it. It’s not my right from God, I realise this. It’s a favour. A high favour.

I’d like to thank you for stopping by here to read me but also thank God for his many privileges. This year I will find more exciting ways to thank Him in prayer. Happy New Year. Stay blessed.