TITLE: NOTES TO MY GOD
AUTHOR: FEMI PETERS
NUMBER OF PAGES: 161
PUBLISHER: Zayzee Writes
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2017
REVIEWER: Jide Badmus
‘Notes to My God’ is a collection of verses as the author likes to call it. The verses display bare thoughts that seek not the cover of poetic flair; they are wrapped only in thin transparent veils of sincerity and simplicity. The words are songs from the depth of the heart, a love story of an unworthy mortal and his lover cum creator. Femi Peters is a psalmist of our generation; he scribbles feelings about God that we all experience but are afraid to share.
The irony of this collection is in its title. God knows about these thoughts before they were formed; it is a note He had read long before they were penned! Banter (pg 74)
The book acknowledges a creator in poems like My Potter (pg 2)
“The clay in Your hand
In Your mind a picture rears
Clear and concise
Detailed to the letter
You begin to mix and mould…”
It however also raises a big question about the Supreme Being; does He make mistakes; a divine creator trying to correct a flaw in his creation, an error of His hands?
“You compare with the image in Your mind’s eye
You step back and look…
You dissolve all of it and start again”
The deep ironies in this collection could also be as a result of a dearth of the knowledge of Him that the author seeks to write to (or about). He fires staccatos of random and exploratory questions, seeking a deeper relationship. The best way humans visualize God is through the mirror of their own mannerism. Thus, lines like the ones above from My Potter (pg2) and the ones below from I Know You (pg30)
“When can’t You help but do the ‘electric slide’
What prompts butterflies in Your stomach
What gets You grinning like a toothless toddler?”
Peters talks about God’s personality, His aura and ambience, his own struggle to please his maker and become who He wants him to be, how his flaws influence their relationship and fellowship, and the traits of an Almighty deity in eight chapters: Encompassing, Overwhelming, Becoming, Innermost, Dedication, Con Artist, Almighty and Easter. The collection of verses contains 73 poems in 123 pages.
The poems are however interwoven and somewhat independent of the umbrella under which they stand. How can you talk of a relationship with God without acknowledging his traits and personality? Or how do you talk of your flaws and weaknesses without speaking of His strength, grace and mercy?
The author echoes the fears of many men; he thinks he knows God but he fears he doesn’t really do! He spills certainty and doubt in one breath. However it seems more like ‘I know You but I don’t know me yet; I don’t know why I doubt the reality of Your omniscience.’
“How can I know the end is bliss
And yet fuss about the web spinning?”
I Know You (pg 28)
I’m on a journey
Searching for who I am…
My jaw keeps dropping
As I surprise myself repeatedly…
I fear that I might fail God and my loved ones
Journeying Towards Me (pg 42-44)
And there’s this exasperation and a resignation that he might never fully grasp the nature of God or His ways… like how He chooses to be silent when you need him to speak. He recognizes the Father’s voice but he’s unsure of His silence; and if He is always around, doesn’t His silence also send a message?
“I know that I’ll never fully grasp
The half of what You did for me on the cross…
I need tips to Your unfailing love”
The Rainbows of You (pg 17)
“Your presence is a certainty
I know Your voice well enough
Yet You won’t verbalise
Does there need to be words every time we frolic?
Isn’t Your silence fellowship in itself?
Words or not, it’s comforting knowing You are near”
Your Silence (pg 13)
Femi’s note is an unbridled desire to come before God naked and unashamed, thus he isn’t scared to admit that he gets tired of His show of love once in a while.
“Teach me to keep coming back for more
Even when I’m sick of it”
The Rainbows of You (pg 19)
And he is not ashamed of his flaws; he draws succour from the fact that his immortal lover’s only flaw is His compassion and forgiveness. Yet he speaks of a God that embraces his failings without rebuke or chastisement…he only talks of his own guilt when caught in sin and a promise of penance.
“If you were to judge me daily
I would fail consistently…”
Your Mercies I See (pg 3)
“My prayers are halfhearted
I have starved myself of You
Letting my mind feed off thistles
Enjoying the bruises that follow…
Now I’m weak
Willing to self-destruct…”
Elastic Loving (pg 7-8)
Poems like ‘Strength of a Mushroom’ (pg 76), ‘A bunch of Keys’ (pg 77), ‘I Miss You’ (pg 78-79), ‘Face to Face’ tells of a man who admits his weakness but finds succour in a God who offers healing and never fails to show up when He is called upon:
“It’s been too long
Living on the edge
Worn to the bone
Don’t let me eat the fruits of my aches
I want to feed off Your grace
Give me fulfilment…
Show up, Lord
Show Up (pg 84)
For me, these personal notes have been a tonic for my mornings as I transit to work and for my nights as I lay my head on my pillow; I draw strength from the fact that I can relate with the experiences there in, like I’m yearning to say the same things (maybe in different ways).
My favourite lines are written below:
“Spiritual muscles –
You help me work on my abs
Why do You need me in top shape?
For Your glory, right?”
I Know You (pg 28-30)
The lines highlight the peak of man’s cluelessness to purpose – God’s purpose. It reminds me of the need to feed and keep fit spiritually so as to be able to be what He wants me to be!