A few days ago, I bumped into one of the most wealthiest and prominent persons in Kenya. I mean, the guy is filthy rich. He’s so rich, me thinks he can literally buy one, heck even two of the planets in the solar system. A couple of skyscrapers in Nairobi, rumour has it belongs to him. He used to be in government since the days of former President Moi, and I think through that he was able to amass lots of wealth.
So, I bumped into the gentleman at a prominent hospital in Nairobi. Its one of those hospitals where you can precisely pay equivalent of your two months rent to treat a flu. He looked frail, sick and completely bogged down. His skin was struggling to cover his bones, while his mobility was assisted by his personnel. He looked like one of those people whose existence was faithfully hanging to the last thread of his bank account.
Immediately, my journalistic curiosity took the better of me, and I couldn’t help but squeeze a few details from the lovely nurse who was attending to me. It doesn’t take a post-graduate degree in psychology or sociology to know a good person. You can easily tell from the way they treat you and others around you. Well, such was this amazing nurse.
She spoke with respect. Smiled generously. And you could easily tell she really loved her job, if not her salary. Within a minute of meeting her, I had learnt that Betty Kyalo, that beautiful damsel on Tv got married in an invite-only wedding. I also learnt that though teachers called off the strike, they are still on strike, emotionally. And when she was about to tell me about her lawyer husband, sickly father and annoying mother-in-law, the blood pressure machine’s alarm had gone off. Phew!
After gathering enough courage, I abruptly asked her as she was just about to detail to me blow by blow account about the expected El-Nino. Well, I needed to know what was up with mheshimiwa (honourable), that crazy rich gentleman I bumped into in the corridor. Frankly speaking, I suspected she would quote for me Hippocratic Oath that among other things imply something to do with doctor-patient privacy. Or she would quote for me that Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 that talks about us minding our own business.
Luckily, she didn’t. Instead she paused like she had detected some evil spirit in my blood. She adjusted her bra strap (why do some women do this in public?) She then hit three times her monstrous weave with her palm, as if telling creatures that reside their to keep quiet. Finally, she slapped me with that smile that cheating husbands reserve for their nagging wives. Oooh! my goodness as I was about to shout for help, little did I know I had switched on a free to air PVR HDMI cable news network.
Aaah! huyo ako na cancer mbaya sana. (That one has a very bad cancer). She blurted. In the next couple of minutes, though it felt like hours, she gave me the low down about mheshimiwa. Apparently, he has cancer mbaya sana and he frequents the hospital for his chemotherapy sessions a couple of times a week. Ni kama anaishi hapa (its like he lives here). She ranted before adding as a mater of fact that it wasn’t looking good for mheshimiwa, and it was just a matter of time before he’s summoned to the afterlife.
“we die having never truly lived”
To be honest, that experience has been weighing heavily on me. It caused me to literally stop, take a step back and start to earnestly question the essence of life. What exactly is life? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Why do we live like we will never die, yet we know very well that someday we will die.
I mean, check this out: We sacrifice our health in order to make money. Then we sacrifice money to recuperate our health. We then become so anxious about the future, that we don’t enjoy the present moment. As a result, we don’t live in the present or the future, we live as if we will never die, and then when we finally die, we die having never truly lived.
We have been incubated in a modern lifestyle and culture that ultimately makes us prisoners and slaves. We are cultured to chase riches, success and prestige. Our definition of success and sense of fulfilment and purpose in life has been restricted and downgraded to a mere definition and determination of what we own, how educated we are, how expensive and marvelous our wedding is, how expensive our coffins are, and how fancy our houses, clothes, cars and lifestyle are.
We are caught up in a rat race. Always competing to outdo each other. Impress one another. Be more successful than others. We are like wild animals. Caged in our own prisons of materialism. Imprisoned by our own greediness. Killed by our own wisdom and foolishness.
Who needs God, anyway?
We don’t question the ultimate reason behind our existence. We are blinded by the now. As a result, we have conveniently forgotten where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. Talking about God, eternity and our purpose in life has stopped being the trending topic in our conversation and thoughts. Its regarded old fashioned. Those who proclaim to be saved are perceived as losers, idiots, boring and not with it.
We live as if we will never die. We die as if we have never lived. We are busy accumulating riches, because that’s what our culture has told us success and life is all about. We have prioritised wealth above our own health and personal relationship with God. We only briefly cry out to God when we are in trouble. But even then, we seem to give Him orders, dedicate to Him how we want to live our lives. For us, its okay for God to bless us, of course as long as He doesn’t question our lifestyles.
We know it all. We have it all. Who needs God, anyway. He’s perceived as old fashioned. He’s been relegated to be that old God of the Old Testament. The ancient God of Abraham and the prophets, who has no relevance in our fancy modern technological advanced world. We can do better by ourselves, we seem to endlessly shout out at Him by our actions and words.
We are busy. We have no time for some God. We are busy chasing houses, cars, sex, alcohol and fast-lane lifestyles. In any case, isn’t it our lives? I mean, we only live once, right? So, why not indulge in life, we convince ourselves. We have no problem burning 5K throwing rounds for friends, but goodness gracious me, we will literally spit venom when someone tells us to give tithe and offerings in church.For what? We angrily shout back. We are arrogant. Rude, Self-centred. Self-important. Greedy. Proud. We live as if we will never die.
But not so fast boo!
For now we are our gods. For now we are on top of the world. But wait until reality finally hits us that we are simply here for a season and reason. Wait until the doctor reads to us that medical report. Wait until we are on our death bed. That’s when we realise that, after all life is simply vanity without God.
That’s when we realise, like mheshimiwa that even our riches – those things we been toiling for the rest of our lives – cannot and will not save us. That’s when we realise that we are nothing without God. Yes, that’s when we realise that our culture and lifestyle was designed by the evil one to literally bury us before we die, and distract us from the most important thing which is seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.
That’s when we realise the true meaning of – what then does it profit a man to gain the whole world but loose his own soul. That’s when its finally dawns on us that we have been choked and killed by the deceitfulness of wealth. Unfortunately for us, it will simply be too late. “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” – Matthew 13:22 (NIV).