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I’m deeply troubled. And these are thoughts I’ve had for quite some time now but I guess now I see the seriousness of it all. Have you ever seen something fall apart right in front of you? More you could see the cracks in the roof and ceiling but you never really did much about those cracks except talk about them. The water from the rains would drip through but the rains weren’t that heavy so it didn’t seem like an important thing to fix. But then, one day, you see dark clouds covering the skies and you know, a heavy downpour is on its way. Now its getting real, you’re seeing that cracks are going to lead to your demise.
To most, it sounds far too vague and covered by many metaphors. Over the past couple of months I’ve been grappling with a myriad of issues that affect the church, or particularly mine. Mainly church politics and the hushed murmurs (very loud though, because even when you think people don’t know, they do). Its so easy to pick out things that are going wrong (which is exactly what I’m guilty of) and talk about these issues passionately with those who agree with your views, you bash people in the process, start to lose hope in “the church”, start to distance yourself or maybe even reach a point of indifference where you don’t care anymore or you might have given up to the point where you’ve told yourself you’re leaving, searching for greener pastures because you simply can’t put up with the cracks. I know I’ve been there, had my “I hate church” days because of all the “injustices” I’ve seen. I’ve distanced myself, attended only because I was dragged there but no longer believed whatever was taught. Sure I loved Jesus but I really just wanted a break from what I’d come to know “church” as.
But today, I got stopped in my tracks as I was going on the default trajectory of blaming stuff on people and pin pointing faults in the system. Not to say that things can’t improve, they can. But at the heart of it, we’re sinful people. All of us. I grew up thinking that church folk were suppose to be the epitomy of morality. Well the truth is, the church is messy. The church is you and me. Sinful, broken people who’ve been redeemed with Jesus’ blood. The more people you add, the messier it gets. And in my frustration with how things are going and how it seems we, the church, aren’t going anywhere, something my best friend says to me ring in my head, based on a scripture in Psalm 127 that says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, they labour in vain who build it“. It reminds me that actually, the church, its Jesus’. And as much as my venting is because I genuinely care how the church is doing, it helps no1 if I try to fix and “build” something when is not even mine to do so.
So today, maybe more to myself than anyone else, I’m challenged to look to Jesus, the builder and the Cornerstone. And I rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign over all things and there’s a plan, that I probably don’t see. And that He helps me see, even a part of that plan. Even I never see the plan in this life, that He helps me be a part of what He is building, not my preconceived notions of what a church is suppose to be.
The minute our eyes are shifted from Jesus, we lose the plot. That doesn’t mean when we look to Jesus, we’re oblivious, busy singing, “with Jesus in my boat I can smile at the storm”. We’re not oblivious. We just know what’s important. And He’ll give us ways to build His church, the way its suppose to be…
43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5
I haven’t read my bible in a while (and maybe that’s an understantement) but that’s just an aside. I come across a whole bunch of scripture thanks to all my cyber friends and a few months ago, I stumbled across this one. It was in a post written by Kate Andre. In it she talks about this lady who was praying for someone who has deeply hurt her. And you know how when we’ve been wronged, we try and justify ourselves, and in our anger want to be vindicated, we seek justice, we ask God to right the wrongs that have been committed against us? We never really take the time to pray, I mean take ourselves out of the situation and really pray for that person. Ever since I read that post, that is what God has been calling me to do and I guess it was all leading to this moment, when I’d have to pray when it hurts the most. When the pain is most unbearable and you just want to cave in and give up. I have no clever way of ending this post except…
Do it anyway. Pray. Because you understand grace and you know what it is to love…
Today I was at the bus stop, waiting. And while I waited, this guy came, wheeled in my direction. Stopped a few feet from where I was. I greeted, he greeted back. He told me he was tired. I offered to come closer, give him some of the shade from my umbrella since it was blazing, my red feet even told the tale. He said he needed the sun. He said he. Was having trouble with Wits and that they had excluded him for a very minor thing and he went on to explain what it was. What caught me the most from what he said was this: he said he was at peace. Whether things were going south or otherwise. He said that he would prove people wrong. He had been told that people in his predicament never finished with their studies, that the odds were against him. His name, he said, is Themba. Hope.
Today I learnt something. What’s important? What are your priorities? Never neglect the people you love because you’ve got work to do, especially when they need you the most. I’m glad I learnt this lesson early on in my working career. I am sorry. I hope I am forgiven.
Happy New Year er’bady! Hope you’ve all been enjoying it thus far. I’m pretty excited about the year!!! I’m too much of a realist to think its going to be peachy but I think for me, I’ve decided that I’m going to make the most of every day. Just hoping that I follow through and that by the end of maybe even by the middle of the year when the excitement with which I planned to do stuff is gone, I’ll still seek to see things through with all that I’ve promised or sought to do. But that’s just an aside…
Gratitude is something that’s been on my mind a whole lot lately and something happened a few minutes ago that made me see how important it is. I think we as humans always have this tendency to compare blessings, the success of our relationships, how much we achieve in school and even what kind of family you’ve been brought up in, with others and I think its sad that that is the measure we use to determine if we should be grateful or not. I remember at church this other day, my pastor, PJ Smyth was talking about this very thing, although probably slightly different, it was more to do with self-righteousness I think? (I am so bad, aren’t I? Need to listen to that preach again) and I remember how challenged I was by this concept. A month or so later, woken up by someone who’s on the phone,here I am. My first thoughts were, phew! At least my situation isn’t as bad and we’ve already gotten past that. But then something in me questioned this, so if things were going bad, would you still be grateful? Ouch much?
So I guess today, I’m encouraged to be grateful. And to find things to be grateful for, especially when things are not going well. I want Psalm 34:1 to be what I do, always.
He leads me besides the quiet waters. He restores my soul – Psalm 23:2,3
You look back
Oh, but you’re so good at that,
No wonder you keep on crashing
Maybe you shouldn’t be in front of the wheel
No, you shouldn’t.
Remember the days when you used to have a posse?
You had a million and one options
Back up plans at your beck and call
Now you feel lonely because you decided to “foolishly” part ways with them
You think it will fill the emptiness if you go back
“Why does it seem better then, than it is now?”
You ask yourself
Its funny because even then,
you were lonely
Well, the curtains are open
You’ve been stripped bare
Its plain to see
You were hiding behind them
If this were a game of hide and seek
You’d be found easily
“You found me, You found me”
Your hands itch, they shake
“Just one more time won’t hurt”
You go through page after page,
it doesn’t help, does it?
The quick fix’s stink isn’t so quick to leave
What did you think you’d gain?
Why do you constantly taunt yourself with the past?
Why do you love to take ten steps back?
For what? A moment? A puff of smoke?
Calling it pleasure is far too kind of you
So after a series of falls and slow wakings,
You tell yourself
“Its over, I’m done with you”
It gets easier
But its hard as hell
Telling your eyes not to linger where they shouldn’t.
When your fingers inch closer and closer towards that button, deciding to put that phone down
You so desperately want to chat but you don’t initiate that conversation
It gets easier.
Easier said than done.
Its good for your heart
Its good for mine
If its just a set of rules,
You’ve missed the point.
Find the point
It gets easier
Some times harder
He’s got your back
Because with every passing second comes a second chance
Its been hard but each day, He gives me the strength to fight. And I take it. I take it. I’m deciding to take it. </3
I can’t believe I’m back here again
Right back where I started
Today when I was in the shower, I thought of some of the things I was struggling with and where I was going wrong and I remembered the love chapter (1Corinthians13) because love had been such a recurring thought for me in the past few weeks, particularly loving when its hard to because I feel I’ve been failing dismally in that area of my life. Its funny because more and more, its as if God has been shifting my mind from focusing on what has been done (I really need to work on that whole training/renewing my mind thing) to where I’m going wrong. Its so easy to get caught up, make scenarios in your head, feeling like you need to be vindicated for there to be some kind of release in your heart. No one ever wants to do the hard work of loving in a tough situation, letting God work with your stubborn and rebellious heart and that’s the path God has been taking me down. Tough but necessary…
So today, when I was going through all these things and the scripture came to mind, I thought it would be cool if I pencilled down some of my thoughts concerning love, maybe for next few days, weeks? (Darn, now I’ve put myself in a tight spot and made a public declaration of accountability *face palm*) And the best place to start?
There’s a passage in the bible where Jesus is talking to His disciples about there being no greater love than someone laying his life down for his friends (John15:13). That really just got to me. Laying down your life means letting your selfishness and your pride take a back seat to consider the other person. Then there’s the fact that Jesus did that for us, people who weren’t loveable, people who more often than not shove His love for us right back in His face. I mean can you imagine that? That’s been really challenging me, even now as I think of it.
What more encouragement do we need to love than that? He so freely loved us, why not share this great love that we have the awesome privilege of knowing. And I guess for me, its always a reminder, that I can never love anyone if I don’t get it from the source…
Have you ever really wanted something with your whole heart, dreamt of it, thought about it, made scenarios in your head about it? What was your response when you finally got it?
About two months ago, my mom just out of the blue said she’d send me money to buy a phone that could do more than just text and receive calls. Its something I’d been wanting for a while, what with most of my friends being on whatsapp, I always felt like it took an extra bit of effort for people to communicate with me so this would make my life (and the life of others, ehem) easier. So when it came up, I was like, “wow, its finally happening”. I remember distinctly how I felt. It was surreal. What I’d been hoping for for a very long time was coming to pass and my brain was a bit slow in processing it.
Ok. Maybe the phone example wasn’t the best one to use because I have another in my head, something that happened today (and the day before and a week ago). And although great because its something I’ve wanted for a long time, I got to thinking, “really Babalwa? This is what determines your happiness? This is what you thought would make you happy? Now what after this?”. I think its great to have desires and its also great to celebrate and be happy when God decides to give you those things (well even if He doesn’t but that’s a story for some other day) but letting those things determine your “happiness”, well not too sure about that.
Just making this a friendly reminder to myself. There are lots of great things in the world but I always need to be careful of making them the ultimate. It is only in Christ that I can find true joy, something that surpasses this pseudo-happiness that is fleeting.
There’s this one thing I’ve been trying to wrap my head around, been praying about it, wrestling with it, crying about it and in all of that, a few days ago, it became so clear to me. I needed to die. If I was ever to be free, that’s what I had to do. Have you ever experienced something, like every fibre of your being is lashing out, wanting to have some sort justice, do something that would be totally justified but you know deep in your heart, you have to do the exact opposite? Stab it a thousand times. Choose. Differently.
I was reading Shawn Mcdonald’s online journal today and it was like he took the words right out of my head.
“I feel that God has been telling me to die. I feel scared and alone at times, I don’t know how to die… My will, my wants, my dreams, need to die.”
I know God is working things out, what exactly I’m not sure but I think this is the best time for me to lean into Him more than ever. A heart of flesh for a hardened one…