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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.

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Winning…One Battle At A Time


“In weakness or trial or pain, there is a faith proved of more worth than gold so refine me Lord through the flames”   ~ The Desert Song, Hillsong

It never ceases to amaze me how easily swayed I am. How much I take things to heart and how easily discouraged I am. I can go to bed with all sorts of great plans in my mind that just never materialise when I wake up the following day. When I speak to my friends, they’re always supportive and always tell me not to be so hard on myself and to be patient and kind with myself. I often question the reasons behind these ‘daily failures’. As much as I question I think it has a lot to do with my disobedience and not doing what I have been instructed to do.

Two scriptures pop into my mind when I reflect on this issue. First comes Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust Him and He will act. This is followed closely by thoughts of Proverbs 3:5 – Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Over the past few months I have been working on trusting God and I got some encouragement from Joyce Meyer’s “Battlefield of the Mind” when she discusses in one of her chapters that we do not win battles all at once, God moves us forward through the battlefield one small battle at a time. So I can say through God’s grace I trust him a lot more than I did before I started my intimate walk with him. And wow has He shown me what happens when I trust Him over the past few weeks.

As a short aside, in ‘Send me to the nations’ I talked very briefly about how I had reached a stumbling block in my emigration process. This was one I could not just let be and hope it works itself out. I was faced with having to raise the equivalent of three months’ salary in guess how long? Three months! If there’s one thing I have learnt is that the world does not stop while I have problems. In that time one of my very close friends was going through a very stressful time financially. While I was contemplating how I could help her I remembered one of the sermons our pastor, Pastor Llewellyn Roberts, had preached about a few weeks ago. He preached about the spiritual blessings that flow from sowing into God’s kingdom. I remember him saying, “If we are to receive the wealth from His kingdom we need to be prepared to give to other members of the kingdom. We cannot make grand gestures to strangers when those closest to us are suffering and we stand by and watch.” So with the message of this sermon renewed in my heart and my own pain that came from seeing her struggle sorely fresh on my mind, I decided to give her some money out of what little savings I had. I was humbled by the completely unexpected results!

The following morning, I met with her and she told me that she had told her mom about what I had done for her. Her mom offered to donate her December bonus to help pay for a substantial portion of my relocation expenses. I was so shocked and moved by her generosity, had it not been for the fact that we were in public, I would have cried. That evening I received a call from someone in the office that I am relocating to. They were phoning to tell me that they would be personally paying for my plane tickets, my visa and would try help with whatever other initial costs I needed help with. And just like that, my financial crisis was over. Just like that, the Lord showed me that I could fully trust him and gave me my personal testimony on Matthew 6:33. Now I can also testify that God knows my needs and will give me what I need and more if I seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness. He gave me thirty-fold what I had originally given!

Now back to the first half of Psalm 37:5, the half that I still struggle with. Although on a whole I have learnt to commit my life to the Lord and I try as hard as I can to continuously assess my progress and to try bring myself back in line with His purpose where I feel I’ve deviated off the path, I still struggle to commit each individual day to Him. One of the lessons I’ve taken from reading Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” is that we are a living sacrifice and the problem with a living sacrifice is that it crawls off the altar and you need to drag it back and rededicate it again. Here’s where I think the source of my ‘daily failures’ lies; I do not pray in the morning! My mornings consist of me tossing and turning for an hour after my alarm goes off, rushing to leave at least thirty minutes late. Yep, I have given up the quest to leave home on time. Although I talk to God throughout the time from when I get up to when I eventually reach work, I do not explicitly pray and drag myself back to the altar and offer myself as a sacrifice afresh.

This brings me to the second half of Proverbs 3:5, far too often I lean on my own understanding. When faced with challenges, painful situations and roadblocks in my life, I automatically revert to my own understanding even though I am well aware how flawed my understanding is. All ant hills are mountains in my understanding! All opposition to my dreams are a personal attack on my character! Most importantly…all problems last for all eternity! It’s not hard to see then why I am so easily discouraged and why I am so sensitive to the actions of others.

Sadly this makes me realise that I am very far from being in the same league David, Moses, and Job to name but a few. I would also like to be known as, ‘God’s faithful servant’. To be faithful I need to be trusting all the time and not sometimes. To be faithful I need to have my feet firmly planted in the Word and not to be swayed by any circumstance. To be faithful I need to above all else be obedient! There is great benefit in being faithful. It is written in Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished”

Interestingly, I learnt in ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ that half obedience and delayed obedience are tantamount to disobedience. Ever thought that’s what you are doing when you obey some scriptures and not others? That you are being disobedient when you receive instruction from God to stop doing something and you say you will do so someday? The ruler of heaven and earth will not be mocked!

So I have crawled back to the altar and I have confessed my shortcomings before the Lord. Interestingly I feel lighter than I did when I started writing. I feel the kind of joy that only comes from being in His presence. I have moved one step forward on God’s chess board. Through His grace I have one less ‘daily failure’ today and for now that’s enough.

I pray that God will help you with your ‘daily failures’ and will grant you the strength to also overcome them, one battle and one win at a time.

Who Am I Fooling


“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”                     – Colossians 3: 23 -25(KJV)

Sometimes I wonder why I ever get out of bed and actually go through the trouble of getting ready for work. Is it really worth it to pitch up everyday and do no more than an hour or two of constructive work? I’m not proud of my behaviour because it goes against everything that the Bible instructs me to do. So day in, day out I act in defiance not just to my earthly masters but ultimately to the Lord of hosts! Does my defiance not bother me? Yes it does! Have my remorse made me stop? Not yet!

I seem to be bound in my defiance. I have allowed my mind to be enslaved in my thinking and in my behaviour by telling myself day in day out that I am justified. I dare anyone to try tell me that I am not justified. With complete arrogance I stand ready to say anyone who dares question me, “Put in my situation would you really act differently?” I make myself feel better everyday and make excuses for myself and my favourite one being, “I’m a baby Christian, God doesn’t expect me to be perfect all day every day. I falter and that’s ok.” Yes true God doesn’t expect me to be perfect but I think in all fairness He does expect me to at least try and to constantly work at it and to have him in mind at all times.

Whenever I think of Matthew 7:20 tears well up in my eyes because I think to myself, “How are my actions showing fruit of what I believe in? What am I teaching people, both Christians and non-Christians alike, about the God I serve? Are my actions those of God’s servant or am I now serving another master?” These are painful questions for me to even ask because I desire, with a huge part of me, to be a light for His kingdom. I do not want to be the ‘unprofitable servant’ in the ‘Parable of the Talents’ because his fate is Matthew 25: 30 is quite clear, “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I DO NOT WANT THAT TO BE ME!!!!

So I ask again, who am I fooling because I am certainly not fooling God! Like Psalm 139:2 says, “He knows my downsitting and He knows my thoughts afar of.” I can’t help but wonder if I can be as brave as David and ask God like he did verse 23 to, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Can I handle being reprimanded? Here again is where I say I am a baby Christian. I have a set way in responding to being reprimanded by God. I sulk! Like a  four-year old, I sulk! I refuse to pray, I refuse to talk to God and I sulk! Quite a few times I can feel God looking at me and laughing and saying, “Go ahead my child, but my answer is still no! I have had so many, “Yes but Father…” arguments with God. Needless to say they never end with God caving in for which I am truly grateful. I love the Lord, with all my heart and I am dearly grateful that I know He is with me eve when I do not want him to see what I get up to but He sees ALL OF IT!

So back to my original question, who am I fooling? When will I lose myself from the resentment and bitterness that binds me? When will I return to be God’s, “good and faithful servant”? Please pray for me because I think this is a battle that I am not going to win on my own.