A couple of posts ago I hinted that I’d be joining the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) here in my country. Just in case you were wondering, nah, it’s not the military. The NYSC is a program organised by the Nigerian Government (yeah, I’m Nigerian) to place graduates of universities and colleges into service for the nation, for one whole year. Some get to work in hospitals, some in industries, and some of us get to teach in schools (yup, I’m a teacher alright!)
During our 3-week orientation experience (aka bootcamp) one fact was constantly drilled into our heads: that for the next 12 months our lives belonged to the government. They would be responsible for us, but we were going to serve them. I mean we weren’t even given a choice! They gave us uniforms, and we were consistently indoctrinated on what service to the country means. It felt like they were trying to brainwash us! And that’s not the half of it. Everyday, from early in the morning till evening, we were drilled by military personnel: standing in formation under the hot sunshine for hours (some folks fainted), marching, standing at attention anytime the anthems were sung, discipline — it was like they were punishing us for being civilians! Ok, I’ll admit it was also fun, but I still felt like they were trying to turn us into mindless pawns, or robots!
But it gets better.
Now we’ve been deployed to our places of assignment across the country, and this writer’ll be teaching for the next 12 months (and he’s loving it! The kids are amazing, thank God!) I’ve noticed that wherever I go in my corps uniform, I’m respected. People bow to greet me, elderly folks see me and bless me with prayers (in my country, the blessings of elderly folks are placed in high esteem); it’s all been pretty cool. But you see, I can’t let it get to my head. It’s not me they respect. It’s the people I represent — the government — that they respect. But it’s still been fun to be a celebrity (hehe).
It’s all come at a price, though. We live by a strict code, barring us from living like others. For security reasons I’ve been seperated from my lovely laptop (sniff!) That may seem like a small price to you, but not to me. Besides, we have given up some other stuff such as the comfort of home, friends, the lives we’re used to, etc. We represent the government here, so we gotta be good.
It’s got a military ring to it.
But then, I also am of another military breed.
Paul wrote, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Following Jesus is like being in His army. It means we’ll live only to please Him. Actually, that’s the best way to live, because it’s got a Great Reward.
It comes at a price too. We don’t just live like anyone else would. We don’t simply blab because We have the freedom to. We don’t simply do stuff because we can. If He doesn’t want us to, we don’t. On the other hand, we speak and do stuff if and when He wants us to.
In case you didn’t notice, let me lay it out for you: YOUR LIFE IS NOT YOUR OWN!
We were made to live for Him, to please Him. That’s what following Jesus means.
It’s not everytime that this is easy, I know. But He’s told us that to follow Him we must deny ourselves. It’s like He always says: to live for Him we must first die to ourselves. That’s the way to life. And the rewards here and beyond far outweigh the hardship of submitting to His leadership. There’s glory and honour involved, but remember, it’s still all for the One that called us here. He’s not a sadistic mind-controlling dictator. He’s crowned us with His glory because He loves us. Following Him is the best thing that could ever happen to us. Really.
I too am undergoing training in His Service. By submitting myself to the guidance of His Word and His Holy Spirit, I’m allowing myself to become what He wants me to be.
A soldier pleasing the One that enlisted me.
‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’