Reading the Bible in Public
A True Story
on Feb 11, 2023
Last Wednesday, I woke up effortlessly at 5.20am. After making my bed and uttering the Lord's Prayer, I took a shower, got dressed and packed everything I needed for the hymn I was scheduled to produce on that day in the studio of my friend Sylvester Otieno. Among the items I packed in my bag was my Bible for reading during any idle moments that might arise.
On taking my breakfast - a delicious meal of sugared tea and brown bread - I picked my bag, bid my parents goodbye and then set out for Sylvester's studio which is in Utawala, a town about twenty kilometres from Nairobi City. My journey to Utawala was quite long as it entailed walking, boarding two public service vehicles and riding in a motorbike.
I arrived at Sylvester's studio at around 10.00am, just as we had agreed. What was even better was that I was feeling bright and cheerful while I walked into the compound of the buildings that house the studio. Unhappily though, Sylvester was busy doing something in the studio. He therefore requested me to wait in another mansion next to the studio.
The mansion, which was under construction, was reeking of paint. And there were workers, clad in paint-stained clothes, who were busy hammering some bricks and carrying bags of cement for use in whatever they were constructing. I feared the smell of paint could cause me a headache, thus making me less bright and cheerful.
As I waited for Sylvester to finish what he was doing, I took out my Bible and re-read the book of Ezra, just to remind myself who Ezra was and why he is considered a noble character. I also read some information in the glossary pages of the Bible.
Well, I can't remember what I learnt about Ezra since the workers kept interrupting me with their work. The little I gleaned from the Bible was that Cyrus, who is mentioned in the book of Ezra, was a king of Persia. And Persia was an ancient nation in what is now Iran. Did you know that?
I paused reading my Bible when I spotted Sylvester outside his studio. Carrying the Bible with me, I went to ask him whether he was done with whatever he was doing. He was with another lady who I greeted as I talked with Sylvester. The lady responded to my greetings warmly, and when she saw me clutching my Bible, she asked me in Swahili, "Kwani wewe ni muhubiri? (Are you a preacher?)"
To tell you the truth, the lady's question embarrassed me. I also felt ashamed to be seen with my Bible. Not wanting to be thought of as a preacher, I mumbled something to her along the lines of having never been a pastor. Thankfully, she received a phone call that cut our conversation short. As she engaged her caller in a talk, I asked myself, "Why should I be embarrassed of reading the Bible in public?"
By the way, that was not the first time I had been ashamed of being seen reading the Bible in public. I have had similar experiences in the past. And I don't know why I have found it shameful to be seen with my Bible in public. Maybe it's because people who read the Bible are considered pious, and pious people are thought of as strict, preachy, boring and intolerant - the last traits I'd like to have on Earth.
I have always wanted to be someone fun to be with, someone with a warm personality, who respects the beliefs of others. And when I get married, I'd like to have an exciting sex life with my wife. The Bible does actually exhort us to be kind, friendly and accepting of others. It says God's wish for us is that we love all people, judge no one and enjoy sexual ecstasy in marriage.
As I now reflect on the experiences I had last Wednesday in Sylvester's studio, I regret feeling embarrassed to be seen carrying my Bible in public. But I am glad I read it on my trip back home during which I memorized Zephaniah 3:17, a comforting verse that says:
Now that I have come to know the Bible as a wonderful source of hope, wisdom and encouragement, I have resolved to never again feel embarrassed of reading it in public. I will pore over it while waiting to be served in a bank, a supermarket or a barbershop. And I will also unashamedly read it while travelling in a car or an airplane. Not an unwise thing for you to do as well, my beloved reader!
The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn entitled "Lord of All Power". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the hymn.
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A True Story
on Feb 6, 2023
If you are not familiar with my past, let me inform you that I used to suffer from bipolar disorder, a psychosomatic illness which made me experience bouts of excitement. During those bouts of excitement, I would talk a lot, what is known as verbal diarrhea. And if I didn't have someone to converse with, I would send messages to my friends.
It all began in 2007 when I was in my final months at Starehe Institute where I was pursuing a diploma in Information Technology. One night that year, I felt euphoric after delivering a speech to Starehe students during evening assembly. In my euphoria, I stood on the staircase of a certain building where I babbled to myself for almost 30 minutes.
Given how euphoric I sometimes felt in those final months of my time at Starehe Institute, I wonder how I would have reacted had I been accepted at MIT, the world's premier university in science, technology, engineering and math. I would definitely have become so excited that I could have been hit by a moving car as I celebrated my success.
In May 2007 when I matriculated at a local university called JKUAT to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, I continued experiencing bouts of excitement. Fuelled by the excitement, I would go walking in all the highways and byways of the university without caring how security guards would respond to my behavior.
And then when I enrolled at the University of Nairobi (UoN) in September 2010 to study a less demanding degree than the esoteric engineering course that made me drop out of JKUAT, I had bursts of excitement that were similar to those I used to have at JKUAT. On some nights, my joy would become too much to an extent that I would go for an entire night without sleeping a wink.
I will never forget the evening in early 2011 when, in the heat of excitement, I went jabbering to a boot-faced man hired to look after bags left by students entering the UoN library. Seeming annoyed by my talk, the man bluntly instructed me to just ask for my bag and not bother him with useless chatter.
Even after I dropped out of UoN, I kept having those moments of excitement during which I would be unable to concentrate on one task. My inability to focus on a single task made me wonder how Bill Clinton, my hero, used to sit down and read a book during his years in the White House. Had it been me in the White House, I would have felt so elated that I would have gone walking and talking to people in my neighbourhood.
With time, I came to realize that my bouts of excitement weren't taking me anywhere. I wasn't being productive by talking and walking around aimlessly. Even Mr. John Mwaura, one of my high school teachers with whom I shared my university experiences via email, remarked to me that my behavior was abnormal when we met on one Saturday in 2012.
Having realized that my bipolar disorder was detrimental to my progress (it made me drop out of JKUAT and UoN), I have over the past two years been striving to control my enthusiasm through willpower. I have aspired to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances. Or to borrow the words of one of my favorite hymns, I have tried to be "controlled and cleanly night and day."
These days when I feel full of enthusiasm, I strive to channel my energy in doing something constructive instead of talking and walking around aimlessly. Some of the construcitve tasks I do include reading, meditating, writing, playing the piano, singing and composing hymns.
I am praying that the first time I will accomplish my dream of travelling overseas, I will remain cool, calm and collected. Because there are negative people in overseas countries, I don't want to incur their wrath by jabbering to them in the heat of my excitement for having flown abroad.
My beloved reader, I exhort you to also be controlling your enthusiasm, especially when something wonderful happens to you. Meet with triumph and disaster with equal calm, poise, peace and grace. And always remember that we all die in the end, so avoid undue elation in prosperity and undue depression in adversity. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the story above on controlling enthusiasm, you might also enjoy another one on "Practising Self-control" that I wrote two years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.