Up And Down.
One of my favorite gospel rappers is Ambassador. I had “Nothing like us” as my ringtone in the university, and my roommates would request to allow the phone ring a while before I picked a call because the track was dope! We also had some preachers we listened to back then and one was particularly a critique of lyrics. He would pick on songs like “I just want to be where You are” by Don Moen and say it is not in line with new creation realities as we are already with God. Well, he had a good point but I just do not exactly fancy critics. Some takes are quite hot and not well thought out. Music is art. Art is an expression of the soul. Art is hope. Did we find out the state of the soul of the composer? Did he feel far away, neglected, and yearning for help when he composed it? Jesus, The Christ who would know God more than any preacher cried out in neglect on the cross. Are humans then expected to deny their feelings and frailties? So people endured headaches instead of taking a pill and going to bed because they were healed. The headaches were termed “unreal”. At some point, a couple of such preachers critiqued Kirk Franklin’s music, and you know I’d go to war for Kirk Franklin and Michael Jackson. Kirk Franklin in far away America helped many people through traumatic situations, taught me forgiveness, helped us heal. Kirk has a song for every situation. His songs were relatable, practical – tailored for you. It was no surprise that Ambassador released “Up Down” and the preachers tore it apart.
(picture from Wikipedia showing Harmattan, a harsh season in West Africa)
“If it goes up, then it comes down
You can go up, you can come down
Everything is for a season, seasons go around
Keep lookin’ up to Jesus when it goes down
(Up and down)”
The preachers would not tolerate such a blasphemy!
“The path of the just is as a shining light, it shines brighter and brighter till the end of the day!” They yelled from glass pulpits as the congregation screamed “Amen! “, “Preach! “, “Yes Pastor! “
I was left to my thoughts. Before Abraham became the father of many nations, did he not go through years of barrenness? Did Joseph move from wearing his resplendent coat to becoming the Prince of Egypt? Was a different Joseph betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, lied against by his boss’ wife – a boss who did not listen to his side of the story? Was he not cast into jail without a trial? Was there any hope for release at a certain date? Did he not beg his fellow prisoners to plead his case upon their release and they forgot about him? Was it a different Joseph that had these experiences? Are any of these experiences a “shining light “? I mean, these were men who kept a staunch faith in God. Aha! Jesus, whom the preachers profess, I was wondering if He was beaten, lied against, rejected, betrayed, denied, abandoned by God, and crucified unjustly. Perhaps, He went straight from His glorious birth at Christmas to His beautiful resurrection at Easter in some Bibles.
Hell! Jesus went to and through hell! I can guarantee you there’s no shining light sermon in hell.
“Woah uh oh oh
You can be up, on top of the world like a polar cap
Neva stressed out, always chest out, shoulders back
Always keep landin’ on your feet, like when you throw a cat
But before you know it, snap, you flat like a yoga mat
You can go from stacked like the Miami Heat then
Overnight its over like God’s plan for Cleveland”
Ambassador continued in a, relatable rant.
2019 was a beautiful year. Every month was a hit back to back. There was something to celebrate per month. Friends were hitting milestones, everyone soaring to some heights. Trajectory was good, bearing was superb. Energy was palpable to end the year on a high.
December came kinda musty. Leveraging on the wins of the previous 11 months, there was some reservoir of positivity to push December out of the way and be fired up for 2020. Hopes were at an all time high for January.
January was salty. Pretty salty. Just when I thought we stepped into February and left January behind, a friend hollered that January took away the win we celebrated. When? Why? What?
“God, why? “
There isn’t much to be celebrated when quite a number of friends are going through the down season. A diagnosis here, a loss there, a disappointment there, an imminent divorce there, some all round recession. You want to help, but you are incapable. You know how much these guys have pushed, worked, and needed this breakthrough, only to lose it. You know they need some binding balm and a miracle, not a sermon or message of hope.
The down seasons are a given commonality to all. I believe it is why God placed us in communities of families and friends for support. The hellish seasons also reveal who your friends are to you. There are friends who will disappear totally to reappear when the sun shines on you. There are friends who will suddenly have “projects and investments”, and they will be unable to give you a quarter of a cent. Such friends will even ask you to join them in thanking God for His blessings upon their lives and “encourage” you that your own challenges are just for a while. They never forget to sprinkle the signature “it is well “. Some other friends divide the loaf they have and give you to eat. Some who just invested their loaf would go buy a loaf on credit and give you because you are their friend, you must not starve.
Such is life. Life is in seasons, and not all seasons are favourable.
What do you do in down times?
I succumb to the arts- string beads, write a song, write a poem. But tonight, I decided to engage in my all time refreshing activity.
I ironed my bedsheets.