Understanding the Bible
There was a time, not so long ago, when I doubted the literary accuracy of the Scriptures. But then one Sunday afternoon in 2007 when I was in a small piano school in Nairobi where I used to teach music, I opened a Bible that belonged to another teacher. And as I was reading its preface, my attention was drawn to a statement that said the Bible has helped transform confused people into clear-thinking Christians.
That statement caught my attention because I was constantly accused of being confused. While I cannot remember whether it made me instantly believe in the Scriptures, I am sure it helped kindle my desire to understand the Bible so that I could get rid of the confusion that people saw in me.
So much did I come to desire to understand the Bible that towards the end of 2007, I bought my own Bible from a bookstand at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi where I used to worship. And when I reported back at the university in JKUAT for my second year in 2008, I tried reading that Bible like a novel, beginning from the Book of Genesis. Well, I found its first five books to be piously stuffy and boring but I still continued devouring the Bible with the zeal of a he-goat on heat till it got stolen on one Sunday afternoon that year in 2008. Let me tell you how it got stolen.
On that Sunday afternoon when I headed back to JKUAT carrying a bag that contained my Bible, I was denied entry into the university because it was still closed following a students' strike. I then decided to hide the bag in a tunnel near a JKUAT gate and went for a meal in a nearby food cafe. And lo! When I came back to check my bag in the tunnel, it was gone.
You know what else? Despite having read the Bible from the Book of Genesis to that of Psalm before it got stolen, it didn't transform me into a clear-thinking godly character. On the contrary, I became more sinful by hanging around the university without attending classes and communicating home. Surely, is that a behaviour to be expected from a true Christian? It is not.
A dozen months later in 2009 when I was admitted at JKUAT hospital, I saw a New Testament Bible belonging to the hospital which I read to completion. But to be honest, I didn't understand it. So all my efforts to read that Bible went to waste because as Confucius put it, learning without thought is labour lost.
Sometime in 2010, I bought another personal copy of the Bible. And when I bought it, I re-read the books of New Testament since I hadn't understood them when I was at JKUAT hospital. Then I finished going through the Old Testament that I hadn't finished a few years earlier before my first Bible was stolen. By the year 2012, I could proudly claim to have studied the whole Bible.
But still, my studying the whole Bible by the year 2012 did not do much to transform my character. I still continued behaving foolishly at times, plagiarizing other people's writings and fearing some men - conduct inconsistent with teachings of the Bible.
In recent years, I have re-read books in my Bible and highlighted the verses that have touched me. And I am gratefully glad to report that they have been transforming my character. Like these days, I try to honour my parents as the Scriptures command us. I also strive to tell the truth at all times and to avoid stealing other people's materials.
Lately, I have found myself craving to understand and believe in the Bible more as a result of the worries that have been preying on my mind. That craving led me to re-read the verses I have highlighted in the Book of Psalms.
I have now come to discover that the Bible is not something piously stuffy and boring but a scientific procedure for successful living. It's full of wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement that can help us rise above the petty conflicts and worries that litter our everyday living. I have therefore purposed to continue understanding and believing in it more as the days roll by. So help me God.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on understanding the Bible, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Lessons From the Bible". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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How I Once Messed Up in a Job
After I left Starehe Institute in April 2007 and before matriculating at JKUAT a month later, I went looking for piano-teaching jobs in Nairobi that I could be doing part-time when I was at the university. I was lucky in my search because I landed three such jobs. Today, I will tell you about one in which I totally messed up.
Well, there was this lady called Mrs. Kisaka who once heard me play hymns on the piano. She was so impressed with how I was playing them that she asked me to teach her daughter at her home where she had a piano. Grateful for the offer, I requested for her contacts so that I could get in touch with her afterwards and arrange how I could start teaching her young daughter. She gave me her business card which I still have to this day.
A week or so later after Mrs. Kisaka heard me play hymns beautifully on the piano, I followed up with her on the teaching job offer using the phone number on her business card. She texted me the directions to her home which was located in a leafy sub-urb in Valley Arcade, not far from Nairobi City.
Armed with those directions, I boarded a bus and headed to Mrs. Kisaka's home on a Saturday evening that year 2007. I was feeling very elated that evening which must have made Mrs. Kisaka to be impressed with me. But I didn't do any teaching that day. We just got to know each other a little more and arranged that I would be teaching her daughter on weekends in the evening. She also asked me how much I would be charging her for the lessons. I told her Ksh. 500 per lesson that would last for one hour.
Charging her that amount was a big mistake considering that students in Nairobi used to pay about Ksh. 1,200 for a half-an-hour lesson. But then, I was just a greenhorn in teaching piano to young children from affluent families like Mrs. Kisaka's. And that inexperience led me to make more grievous mistakes while teaching her daughter. Allow me to tell you more.
One evening when Mrs. Kisaka came to check on how I was doing, she perused through the notes I was writing for her daughter. Given the haphazard and untidy way in which I had scribbled the notes, I could tell she was unhappy with me. I tried to make up for that untidiness by writing neater notes for her daughter when I went back to the university but that did little to help me secure the job as later events would demonstrate.
Some evenings, I used to turn up at Mrs. Kisaka's home in a confused state of mind. I particularly remember one such evening when I found Mrs. Kisaka seated with her family in the living room. She engaged me in a conversation during which she asked me whether I had taken her daughter's music exercise book. I told her 'no'. Then she told me I couldn't teach her daughter because she was sick. As I left her home that evening, I thought that Mrs. Kisaka and her family were talking about me and how miserable I looked - a thought that made me feel guilty and ashamed.
And you know what? A few weeks or so later, I discovered the exercise book, which Mrs. Kisaka had asked me about, in my collection of books at the university. I am sure she must have thought I was a thief and a liar but to tell you the truth, I hadn't known I had it and had carried it by mistake.
At yet another evening when I turned up to teach piano, I forgot my calculator at Mrs. Kisaka's home. The following morning, I texted her at around 3.00am informing her that I would come for my calculator later on that day. Have you noticed another big mistake there? And that was texting her at that ungodly hour.
But the worst mistake I made was trying to teach complex stuff in a hurry to Mrs. Kisaka's young daughter. Instead of tutoring her how to play simple compositions clearly, correctly and up-to-speed, I allowed her to stumble in desultory fashion through more technically advanced music.
Little wonder that when I turned up to teach piano one Saturday evening, two or three months into the piano-teaching job, Mrs. Kisaka asked me to go away - politely and firmly. It dawned on me that evening that I had lost the job. The following day, I sent her a message apologizing for my confusion and thanking her for the opportunity to teach at her home. And that, my dear reader, is the account of how I messed up in one of my first jobs after I left Starehe in April 2007. Adieu!
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