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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.

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.

Send Me To The Nations


It’s so easy to sing&pray, “send me to the nations, lead me along Your path Lord, let Your will be done” up until God does send us and we either don’t like the path, the time or the circumstances we’re sent under. Should the song not go somewhere along the lines of, “Here I am Lord, send me to the nations, I’ll go for you provided you’re willing to wait for me while I do what I want to do. Oh yes Lord I’ll go to the north and south for You just give me all the cash and resources I need. If it’s not too much to ask can I also please choose where You send me? While I’m still choosing, can I choose what Your purpose for my life is?” Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it but all too often that’s what we think and don’t want to utter it.
 
A few months ago I was presented with an opportunity to emigrate but still stay with the company I work for. I wasn’t keen because I had other plans. Nonetheless I prayed hard about it and finally left it it in God’s hands. I said, “God, if this is Your will for my life then I have no doubt that if this is Your will for my life then You will make it happen.” So in faith I put forward my application. Within a few weeks I received an email asking me to do my 1st video conference interview. As nervous as I was I apparently impressed the person who was interviewing me because they told me right there and then that I’d qualified for a 2nd interview with someone higher up. I thought,”Wow! God is at work here. So many people in this country more experienced than I am and they want me?”Second interview went off without a glitch and before long email came thru offering me the position. And that was the end of the happiness!!! Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong! There wr problems with my passport, problems with my current bosses, then my new employers couldn’t issue me a visa the list just goes on. All these problems ended in a 3month delay which naturally I didn’t budget for. I carried on making preparations, I cancelled my medical aid, I moved out of my flat, I basically put a hold to my present life.

True to form, what happens within 10days of my medical aid lapsing? I get sick! What’s the worst of it is my employment contract has finally arrived after over 2months of waiting and one word sums up my response…DISAPPOINTED!!! Firstly I’l be getting paid less than what I’d be paid if I stayed. Secondly I’m expected to pay my own relocation costs and claim them from my new employer the month after I arrive. That wouldn’t be a problem if I came from a rich a family or if said relocation costs weren’t exactly 3months salary. True to God’s humor, there’s 3months left before I’m due to leave. So I guess if I don’t touch my salary for the next 3months, I sleep@the office,use no toiletries except the free soap in the ladies bathroom, drink the free coffee I shud be fine! So shud I have acted in disobedience? Do I pull out now that the odds are stacked up against me? Do I really want to be sent to do His work under these circumstances. Though I’l be honest, I’m not sure right now but my answer is leaning towards…YES!