Archive | November 2010

It Was Not Commissioned By God


” “No weapon forged against you will prevail,  and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.”         ~ Isaiah 54 : 17 (NIV)

Friday November 13, 2009. For some this was just another day, others cannot even recall what they did on this day. For me, this is a day etched in my memory and a day when God showed me and left no doubt in my mind and heart that He, and only He, can take away my life and that He is indeed the author and finisher of my fate.  This blog is not dedicated to the works of the devil, so I refuse to make that the centre of this blog. I will describe what happened in as much detail as is absolutely necessary to understand what happened and what I was going through that day.

It started off as most of the days in that week had started. As with most mornings in my life, I was filled with grand, ambitious plans of things to do. On this particular morning plans centred around how I would  catch up with the study time I had lost from being in hospital for a week barely two weeks before. I was five days away from my second and final qualifying board exam. I had woken up early, made breakfast , was clad in my favorite study pajamas, was suitably drugged with newly prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication and was just getting ready to settle into my normal study routine. I cannot recall how it began or why it began but all I know is that by 8am things had begun their downward spiral.

I had often heard stories of how people know when they are about to die. A few years ago, I overheard my mother tell the story of a family friend who had sorted out all her affairs, cleaned out her house, packed up her belongings neatly in boxes, said her goodbyes to her family and friends and a few days later died in her sleep. I had somehow thought the same would happen for me. I thought maybe I would receive some form of signal from God to tell me that this was it. In the few days leading up to the 13th I had lived in fear for my life, and things had gotten to a point where I either slept with my Bible against my chest or with it on my pillow.The thought of the inscription on my tombstone  reading, “Nqobile Nokulunga Khumalo, Born: 18 February 1985, Died: 13 November 2009” just did not sound right to me. Yet somewhere in the world it had been determined that this was to be.

I have never believed in witchcraft and still don’t! I sadly live in a society where people think jealousy, hatred for someone who has never done anything to you are valid reasons to pay someone to have them killed. It had come to my attention earlier that week that such a plan for my life was and had been in force for a while. As much as I did not believe in spells and witchcraft, I could not ignore the feeling of being surrounded by darkness when I was in my flat and especially the blanket of blackness that suddenly fell all around me, even though a few minutes earlier it had been a perfectly sunny morning. Even harder to ignore was the memory of live maggots that swarmed my whole kitchen floor one morning, the dead flies that appeared out of nowhere after not having seen a single live one and mostly the cockroaches that had tormented me for months on end. I cannot even remember anything I did not try to rid myself of those cockroaches, they were everywhere! In my shower as I showered and some nights I would be woken up by the feeling of something crawling all over me and when I jumped out of bed and switch on the lights, I’d be traumatised by sight of my bed filled with roaches of all sizes. I have never believed in witchcraft and I say I again, I still don’t believe in it but I do know that it exists.

One of the last things I had done just before I slept the night before was say a prayer, that a friend of mine had given me, to cleanse myself and my flat of evil spirits . I believed that it would work even though back then I was not yet familiar with Luke 10:19, which gives us authority over ALL the works of the enemy. I remember being hot and very unsettled as I crawled into my bed, which is why that was one of the nights I had clasped onto my Bible as I fell asleep. I remember the sense of relief I felt when I woke up the following morning and tried to focus my eyes on the light that was peering through the blinds. I thought I was over the worst…I thought wrong.

I had barely been at my desk for an hour when I started feeling very hot, agitated and nauseous. I had this feeling that I could not shake that something was going horribly wrong. When I started getting a very strong feeling that I should throw myself out the window, I knew it was time to step away from the desk which was right against the window and crawl into bed. As I lay in bed I was bombarded with more thoughts of killing myself using various objects in the flat. I was quickly losing strength and grasp of what was happening. I phoned one of my friends and tried to tell her what was happening and almost immediately she said to me it was some form of evil spirit in my flat and should get out, go to the nearest church and get a pastor to pray for me. As she was talking to me I could feel my strength slipping away, I told her I could not even feel my legs anymore and my whole body felt like dead weight. All I could do was just start crying. I am grateful that she immediately got into her car and started making then fifteen minute drive to my house after collecting another friend. 

By the time they arrived, my quiet sobs had turned into full on hysteria. It was a fight to even get to the door. I had to slide on the floor with my back against the wall for me to get from my bedroom to go open the door. I was a complete mess, my Bible still clutched against me, I refused to let it go. I instinctively knew it was protecting me. Though I could not put it into words I knew that one of two things would happen for me to let it go. Either I was going to die holding firmly onto it and all God’s promises inscribed therein or God was somehow going to deliver me from this. My friends’ arrival started one of the longest  3 hours of my life.

They say your life flashes in front of you when you are about to die, mine didn’t! All I could feel and see was darkness. As much as I knew I had two friends with me, I could not really feel their presence. I was partial conscious of their presence and their attempts to hold onto me. At some points I would hear them praying, they would take turns holding me because I was tossing and squirming on the floor. From what they told me afterwards, the more they prayed the more I would fight them and want to either hurl myself against the wall or thrash myself against the floor. I was in sheer, undiluted pain! What was worse is I could not pinpoint the source of the pain. It started deep in spine and while they tried massaging my back, the pain would suddenly shoot up one of my arms and when they tried focusing on that arm it would suddenly be on a leg.  It seemed like my body was turning against itself and against me.

I remember one of them fetching a glass of water, praying for it and trying to get me to drink it. A drop had barely hit my lips when I screamed in agony as it felt like boiling lava was being forced down my throat. They held me down and tried to get me to drink a little more. I cannot even describe the pain that followed for what felt like eternity after that. While I lay on the floor, resting my head on one of them, I remember things suddenly calming down. I felt my heart slow down so much it felt like it would surely stop altogether. One by one it felt like my organs were shutting down. I could suddenly feel organs in my body that I had only seen on a biology chart in school. I was convinced that that was it, that was the end of my life on this earth. When we talked with my friends they admitted that at that point they had not known what to do and as I had started calming down they thought I was slipping away, that I was dying in their arms. But it was not to be! It was not commissioned by God!

In the still of it all, the light started returning. I could feel the air filling my lungs once more. The first thing I said when I opened my eyes was, “I can see the light again”.  I looked at the watch, I had been “out” for over three hours. Despite all the commotion my Bible was still snugly in my one arm and in the other a rosary that one of my friends had placed there after she’d arrived. I looked at both of them and they had been crying. Even to this day, I have never seen the fear that I saw in their eyes but somehow they had remained strong for me and had not left me. I sometimes wonder, if roles were reversed would I have done the same? Would I have walked straight into a battlefield knowing I was fighting the unseen? 

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” These words from Ephesians 6:12 became very real to all three of us on this day.

I remain so grateful for being blessed with these wonderful women. Were it not for their presence, their prayers and strength I would not be here recalling the events of that day. It was a year ago yesterday but even as I think about it now I am in awe. Not at the works of the devil but at the works of my Lord, my God. He said no. He refused to let me go. As much as it sounds weird but I am grateful for that day. That was the day the devil was defeated once and for all. That’s the day he was unequivocally taught that my life is not his for the taking. Nothing will ever happen so long as it is not commissioned by God and God alone.

As I was writing this I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of a Bishop TD Jakes sermon that I heard a few weeks ago. He was talking about how we should never run away from the mess that God creates in our lives because out of our biggest messes are our greatest blessings born.  As much as I did not have the luxury of time that most of my colleagues that I was writing that board exam did, I had one thing on my side….The ruler of heaven and earth. God turned what was supposed to be a disaster into something tremendous. Friendships were cemented on the 13th of November 2009, faith renewed, lives rebirthed. Because my Father is a show off, I passed my exam. He could have taken me around the red sea, but he took me right through it!

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For My Own Good


“…We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew His people in advance and He chose them to become like his Son.”  ~ Romans 8: 28 -29

This has been my home since my arrival on this earth. These have been my people, we have challenged each other, shared some difficult times and in the end celebrated together. I have known no other home except for this one. Yet, a warm smile crosses my face as I think of the path I will take when I pick up my suitcase, hug my family and friends goodbye and head off to start a whole new chapter in my life.  I am not afraid, I am not anxious because I know the Lord has prepared me well. He has been preparing me for this since before I could even speak and even more so in the past few months. He has really taught me who He is in my life and what He can accomplish within me if I just let him. Even though in my plan I was supposed to have left over a month ago, I now understand why things had to be the way they are.

 I can still remember the night I was in tears, hysterical and angry with the world and most of all God when I had discovered that my plan had crumbled.  I was so angry with Him and I remember how I had laid my case before Him and asked Him how he thought this was all fair. How was it fair that the one time I had decided to be completely obedient and step outside of my comfort zone and accept a job in a whole new country, giving up everything that had mattered to me, He then decided I should not leave? I thought it was completely cruel of Him to build up this longing in my heart and leave it completely unquenched. I felt like He had put on a huge production and invited all my enemies to come be witnesses to my downfall. Oh I was so angry with Him! When I was not shouting at Him, I was giving Him the silent treatment. I was convinced that nothing good was going to come out of this. Absolutely nothing! I was even more convinced that I would never last the extra three months that I was now supposed to sit with shattered dreams and hopes and in the midst of what I saw as a completely disintegrated world.

That night as I relayed the story to one of my close friends, she listened very patiently to the barely coherent banter that I spewed out in between the sobs. When I was finally quiet she began to lovingly explain to me that God probably kept me here because He was not done with me yet. There were still things I needed to learn, people I needed to learn from and there were lives that I needed to touch. At the time, as much as I was hearing her I don’t think I was listening at all. My mind was barricaded tighter than the barricades that protect presidents! One thing that I have learned about myself is that I cannot be comforted when I do not want to be. I am not afraid to say that I am the most stubborn person I know. I have however accepted that there is a very good reason that God made me that way. God is a strategist and I do not believe that He left anything to chance when He created me and planned out my life. He knew very well how He would teach me what I needed to learn given my stubborn nature and wow what an excellent teacher He is.

I have learned things in the past five weeks of my ‘detention’ that I doubt I would have otherwise learned or even if I ever did I doubt I would have learned them as fast. My head is filled with so many scriptures and as much as I often cannot recite them word for word or even quote their exact location, I know that they are there. I have realised however that for them to become truly engraved in my heart I need to have a personal circumstance or memory as a subtext. I unfortunately do not have blind faith, that is the ability to just believe simply because it is so. I learn by experiencing and not simply by hearing from someone else’s account and knowing this about me God had a very specific lesson plan for me, one that I know is far from over.

I am not a model child, in fact I am far from it. Far too many times I think I drive myself crazy trying to be. Nothing is however more comforting than discovering that despite your flaws, be it physical, spiritual or mental flaws, God knows and knew about them all long before they ever surfaced. It is so wonderful knowing that He loves you through it all and knows exactly how to work everything for your own good. I must admit that Romans 8:28 is one of my favourite scriptures in the Bible but it was not until I had to sit in detention that I truly grasped what it means. I feel like God has made me sit here for five weeks and write it out over and over again so that it truly sunk in. 

Romans 8:29 has a newfound space in my heart which overflows with warmth when I think of its message. He knew ME, God did not just vaguely know of me but out of the billions of people who walk this earth, He knew me personally. Not only does He know me, but He chose me. Quite frankly if I were choosing people to be on my team, sometimes I do not think I would choose myself. Knowing me and knowing everything He knows about me, He still chose me.  What I find so incredibly awesome is that He chose me for a very special purpose, I am to become like Christ and for me to start realising this purpose, I had to sit in detention, all nine weeks of it.

My friend’s words have turned out into a prophecy, one that I am watching play out bit my bit. Isaiah 64:8 describes God as being the potter, and we the clay that is formed by His hand. I now understand that five weeks ago I was still a lump of clay that could not be released into the world. He has lovingly molded me, even though I know I am not a finished product yet, I know that I have a better hope of succeeding in finding my purpose and living according to that purpose than I did a few weeks ago. I can finally see the light again. I can finally feel that all of this really was for my own good.  This has been my destiny. I was chosen by the potter, as much as I have kicked and screamed, His plan for my life has remained the same. He has molded me and refined my shape through flames. In as much as I hated those very flames and thought I would surely die from the pain, I have not and for that I feel truly grateful and blessed.

The Evolution of Pain


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”                                             ~ James 1 : 2 – 4

Pain has been such an integral part of my life, I cannot seem to remember a time where I felt safe and immune from it. It’s been battle after battle and not surprisingly I am still dealing with scars, not just physical ones but emotional ones as well. For quite a while I was quite happy to put everything into little boxes and stow them safely in places where the world could not see. This strategy worked well until the cupboard hiding the boxes flung open in April 2006 and my life as I had known it came to a standstill.That was my very first encounter with despair and heartache so bad it brought me to my knees and left me feeling like I had no other viable option but to end my life.I sometimes wonder whether knowing what I now know would have made any difference. Would I have chosen differently? Would I have been comforted by the knowledge that as my pain has evolved, so have I?

I sometimes long for the pain of my childhood though back then all I wished for was for it to end. I long for it because it was mostly physical and much like most physical ailments, I knew it could be healed and it would go away. Apart from a few scars on my arms and legs, which are completely painless until I look at them and remember why they are there, the pain did go away. What I did not know then and what led to the box cupboard filling up while I was not looking, was the evolution of the physical pain into emotional pain.

My parents left impressions of the worst kind in my life, those that are imprinted on the very fabric of your soul. As much as I do not hate either one of them and as much as I try not to hold any grudges, I am always reminded of just how much they affected my life. For starters, I do not trust people or ever feel completely safe because I was never brought up in a safe nurturing environment. Sadly even though I am 25 and even though it has been over ten years since my mother laid a hand on me, I often find myself flinching and stepping away slowly when she is angry with me. Quite honestly, I am terrified of both my parents and that is something that I have realised will remain with me for the rest of my life. What has been most affected by my turbulent childhood is my relationship with God. As someone who does not have a healthy parent-child relationship template to work with, it is pretty hard for me to understand some of the concepts taught in the Bible. I am grateful though that God has been patient with me and He continues to work in me one step at a time. I cannot say He never granted my heartfelt pleas for the beatings to stop because they mostly did when my parents got divorced when I was 12. The pain I knew then is nothing compared to the pain I know now.

I remember reading somewhere that God uses pain and hurts to prepare us for our ministry in life. Looking back at how I have  grown through what I have gone through, I cannot help but tremble in fear of what is to come. I do not believe that it is over. Neither do I believe that God has reached the highest level in the pain scale. I know this because Romans 8:29 talks about how we are called to be like his Son and I have read many Bible scriptures that talk about the pain Christ had to endure and what I imagine He still endures as our intercessor. If Jesus could be brought to a place where even He could groan in pain for His cup of suffering to be taken from Him, if I am to be conformed into the image of Him, what makes me think I will stop going through pain?

One thing that I am now sure of is that there was a point to it all and that point is applicable to my life today as well. The most monumental event in my life was the birth of my daughter when I was only 15, yes 15. For some who actually know me personally will be surprised to learn of her existence. The truth is, she is one of the many boxes that I stored in that overflowing cupboard and it is going to take a little while longer for me to be able to write a whole blog about her but I can assure you that I will. As much as I have had to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain to be her mom and most of it was what seemed like senseless pain, I would not be who I am today without her in my life. In as much as I feel I was not given much of an option in deciding whether to bring her into the world, I now know that she is a necessary part of my evolution.

Each day I am learning to persevere a little more than the day before and the more I do that the more the Holy Spirit works in me. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, a year ago, a month ago or even a week ago for that matter. What is wonderful is that all my experiences have shaped me for the better. God’s grace has given me beautiful testimonies about just how far I have come, the most significant for me being; try as I may, I do not have a bitter, twisted heart. Somehow it continues to overflow with love. Somehow with all the pain it’s had to take in, my heart can still exude love. I therefore know that my pain is a necessary concomitant to my evolution. If I did not experience it how else would I achieve the dictionary meaning for the word? How else would I experience, “the gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”?