Tag Archive | Submisison

Molded By His Discipline


“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” ~ Deuteronomy 8: 2 – 5

I have never hidden the fact that I am naturally very disobedient. It is not that I am proud of this trait because I am not. I admit my short-coming and confess it out loud because I want to acknowledge that there is a need in my life, a part of me that I am trusting God to heal, to perfect and at His appointed time to make whole. I am trusting the Potter to take the lump of clay that I am, and mold me into something beautiful and unrecognisable even to myself. While I am not a finished product, I will admit how remarkable it is to witness my own transformation, even in the past two months alone. I am beginning to see a new me and this process is blessing me with a personal testimony on Ephesians 4: 22 – 24.

I have been on one of the greatest adventures of my life in the time I have been back home, perhaps even greater than the time I spent abroad. God has brought me such clarity about the things He wants for me, the person He wants me to grow into and the company I need to keep for those things to come into fruition. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean everything in my life makes sense all of a sudden and that I’m now living a doubt-free, carefree life because I’m not!

Like Kirk Franklin says in Blessing in the Storm, “some of you would never pray if you didn’t go through something.” Lord knows I probably would have stopped seeking Him if He’d given me all the answers I need all in one go. What’s been wonderful though is just feeling the bond between God and I growing with every “ok I hear you Lord but what do You want me to do with this knowledge” and with every “no I don’t understand why it must be so, please help me understand.”

I’ll admit that in my walk with God I have thrown a lot of tantrums along the way and sometimes plonked myself ceremoniously on the side of the road and refused to carry on until He caved into my demands. Temper tantrums, screaming sessions, spells of defiance, passive aggressive pouts name it and I’ve done it. What did I get from God as a result of these? Absolutely nothing! He has sat and ignored me, as any good parent would and refused to give into my terrorist ways. I do not think anyone likes discipline, I know I don’t but as Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 says: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” God knew my heart and He knew I needed to be go through a period of rebuke for me to learn some truths, not only about Him but about myself as well. As painful as it was for me to learn this lesson, I now understand how a lot of what I went through, particularly in the past year, was God’s way of disciplining me.

I spent the most of 2011 living in a spiritual wilderness, somewhere I would not have gone voluntarily had I been told that’s what it would be. For months I stumbled around, convinced He had forsaken me until I eventually realised that I was the one that had turned my back on Him. My heart physically hurt every time I thought of Psalm 42:4 because I, like the psalmist, could “Remember as I pour out my soul, how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” And boy was I mad! I felt so betrayed by God! How could He yank me out of my comfort zone and out of a place where I was so comfortable with His presence and protection only for Him to go dump me all the way across the globe? Why was I now being excluded from the protection of Psalm 91? And what of Romans 8: 38 – 39, why was I the only one that it did not apply to? What would become of the promise He made to me with Jeremiah 29:11? Was my destiny for Him to set the table before my enemies just so they can witness my demise? I praise God though because through all my moments of insanity, through my disobedience and through my period of shunning the Word, I still desired nothing more than to return to His presence. In my heart I still knew that if I just dragged myself back to the altar and lay myself there, He would pick me up battered and broken as I was and make me whole once more.

The road back to my rightful place at my Father’s side has been anything but easy but I am grateful for the journey I have travelled. I remember the peace and joy I felt the moment I walked into church. This was it…this was what I had been yearning for…I was finally home! First few services were an emotional time for me and all I could really do was cry which was a huge deal for me because I’m not much of a crier and especially not a public one. He has done great things in my life, revealed great plans to me and none of this would have been possible without first appreciating Deuteronomy 8:3. I had to be humbled enough to know that I couldn’t live on my own, I couldn’t survive without Him and without His Word.

We all know the story of Job and we pray that after God has put us through some form of suffering that He will not only restore what we had but that He will also bless us far more than before. Part of the reason I was mad at Him for taking me away from His presence was because before I had left He had blessed me with the a direct line of communication with Him through the Bible. I knew that if I asked Him a question or needed guidance on a particular matter, if I opened a Bible the scripture I first lay my eyes on would be His response to me. In my time in my spiritual desert I longed for this more than anything. I eventually gave up on reading the Bible because it seemed every scripture I flipped through was irrelevant. Looking back now I realise that I needed this so I could be blessed with greater spiritual blessings.

I needed time away so that I would be able to recognise His voice when He talks to me. He has shown me what He has destined for me and what a beautiful future this is. None of this would have been possible without Him killing off parts of the old me, breaking down all that was hindering me and showing me what the new me is going to be like and then leading me step by step towards that goal. I wear the scars of the fire and cast of His disclipline with pride because I know, not only am I divinely favoured and loved, but I am being transformed into a better creation.

Advertisements

Unpaid Dues


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18

For the past few weeks I have been struggling to write, I have worked on two posts and abandoned them halfway because they just didn’t feel right or I just didn’t know what to say anymore. I have spent more time reflecting on my life these past two months than I have possibly in my entire life and it all boils down to me asking God, “Have I not paid my dues yet? I thought Edinburgh was about me getting a well deserved fresh start, one that is debt free?” For weeks I have gone back and forth with differing versions of these questions and I have not found a satisfactory answer. Well, until now that is.

I came to Edinburgh eager to learn, eager to gain valuable experience that would catapult my career when I eventually returned home. My stay here was supposed to be about building my relationship with God, serving Him and furthering His kingdom. Edinburgh was supposed to be the city where I finally found my happiness, where I was settled in my career, love life and finances. I didn’t care that I was forgoing a third of the salary I was worth at home. I didn’t care that I was giving up the title that I had earned after paying my dues through my five years of university, three years of training and two qualifying board exams to my name. I’d paid my dues and was ready for the next level. I’d worked hard to get to that point in my life and went through so much, had my decisions questioned by friends, colleagues and sadly family. Scotland was supposed to be the answer to my prayers, I was on the verge of my breakthrough. Life was about to get a whole lot better, easier and happier. So I thought.

It’s been three months, seven days and nine hours since I left the comfort of South African soil. It will be a month and ten days till I set foot on that soil again. I wonder though, do I have the strength and heart to get back on a plane and leave my home and come back here? Can I move on from the three months and particularly the last two? Will I able to see past the pain, the frustration, the self-doubt and the heartbreak that I have felt in the past two months? To be honest the answer to that question, which I ask myself more than twenty times in any given day, is probably not. Undoubtedly this  could be the answer to the question why I haven’t booked my flights home. Put simply, I still do not know with unwavering certainty whether I am buying a return or a one way ticket.

So what’s changed while I have been here? What is driving me away from the beauty of Edinburgh, with its picture-perfect old buildings, cobblestone streets, breathtaking views of the castle and city’s travel connectivity to Europe? It isn’t the strangeness of celebrating my birthday in the dead of winter when twenty-five of my past birthdays were in the glorious summer sun. It isn’t the bitter cold that had me wearing thermals, at least three layers of clothes, a scarf, thermal gloves and ear-muffs when I first arrived because in about a month that had been stripped down to just three layers when outside and two for indoors. It hasn’t been the loneliness and pain of being away from my family and my closest friends because firstly, I lived 1300km away from my family for five years and secondly thanks to BBM, Facebook, Skype and other technology, I speak to my at least two of my closest family members and friends every single day.  What has broken my spirit is this feeling that I am not supposed to be going through what I’m going through because I have already paid my dues.

Plans I made, expectations I had and visions of my life here, couldn’t be further from what I am experiencing now.  My heart really cannot understand why God, in all His mercy and love, would demand that I continue to pay a debt that I think I settled a long time ago. Surely after two major heart breaks and investing eight years in relationships that left me in devastation, I had earned more than the deafening silence that I come home to and the anguish of loneliness and longing for a companion? Surely with a total of eight years of training I had earned the right to not be made to feel like I don’t know what I am doing and not to be treated in a manner reminiscent of my second year of articles? It would certainly bother me less if I’d been put back a year, but two? Really? Does being part of one of approximately 26 000 professionals in South Africa with my title really buy me the ridiculous hours, the numerous nights crying out of sheer frustration of what I still needed to get through? Seeing as how hard I work for my money, how hard I worked in school and university so that I can get the scholarship to see me through university so that I can study and pass and become the professional I am today, do I now owe a debt to everyone else around me? Is it not enough that I am still paying off my debts incurred when I was still earning barely enough to get by? When will God look at me and say that I have paid my dues, I have endured enough it is time to lighten the load? I do not even ask that it be removed completely. I just ask for it to be a little lighter.

Today as I was entered my flat, it finally hit me….you can never say you have fully paid your dues and have earned the right to not go through a particular problem. Suffering in whatever way or form is part of the human experience and I don’t think it will end while we are on this earth. I am always in awe when I think of what Jesus was going through the last few hours before the crucifixion. What greater pain can there be than knowing you are about to die, a very painful and humiliating death? I cannot even start to comprehend what it must have taken for Him to finally say in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” What I find completely humbling and very admirable is that minutes later in Matthew 26:39 He says to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In as much as Jesus had the authority and ability to not go through the crucifixion and to be raised to heaven to be with His Father, He submitted Himself to His Father’s will and endured through and paid the ultimate debt for all of us.

I often have to remind myself that the Bible is not a multiple choice book, where you can pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe and more importantly what to obey and what not to obey.  Therefore I need to obey 2 Corinthians 4:17 and realise that not only are my problems light and momentary but they are doing the very important job of “achieving eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” I have often said in my posts that I would love to be like the two servants in the Parable of Talents in Matthew 25: 14-28 who pleased their master and used what they had been entrusted with wisely. To one day go home and have God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” would be the ultimate eternal glory.

I now realise that I am very far from paying my dues and that I need to submit to God’s will as painful, hard and confusing as it might be at times. I never made the decision to come here alone. I consulted heavily with God and in my heart, when I wade past the confusion and frustration I still know that I am where He wants me to be. For that reason, though my vision may be blurred by tears and my heart riddled with many confusing emotions, I am going to focus my gaze on Him and being His good and faithful servant. That is a debt that is due, not to Him but to myself and will remain unpaid till the day I appear before Him to give an account of my life.

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.