When God is Sovereign and things around us don't add up - Take Heart!
I had been sitting for hours, listening to the constant drone of the engines on a long-haul flight to London, flicking through the entertainment channels. Nothing captured my interest. Eventually, I focused on the map which shows the progress of the aircraft towards its destination. We were flying over Africa. My heart swelled with pride; this is my beautiful continent. But its beauty belied the turmoil going on 35,000 feet below me.
In my own nation, rape, murder, robbery and violence seem to be an integral part of daily life. Babies are born and tossed onto garbage heaps, unwanted, and left to die. HIV/Aids has systematically almost plundered an entire generation, leaving orphans to fend for themselves. As we crossed the borders of nations, I was able to reel off the devastation that breeds in Africa. I identified famine, disease, military coups, over-mining of resources, wars in the name of religion, and human trafficking in country after country as we progressed northwards. On and on the carnage seemed to continue. I was becoming so overwhelmed by a sense of great human tragedy and helplessness. I turned off the television screen with a hushed plea, "Oh God!"
I lay back and started to reflect on my own journey in life in the last while. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction as I realized that I am at peace in my Father's love. I have just completed a two year journey of self-discovery and re-alignment with God. It wasn't an easy journey at all; I had discovered that I had an orphan's heart. Life had been complicated, unfulfilling, and everything and everyone was a challenge. I wanted to be commended for everything I ever did. I think we call it striving. If I wanted something done, I could only rely on myself. Over the years, I had become a little bit of a control freak. I always saw things differently to everyone else and was confrontational at times. I was grasping, grabbing, and tried to engineer situations for my benefit. I was soul sick and it was manifesting in the way I conducted myself. I never felt I belonged.
God had arrested me and, after a two year journey, I had become whole. As I have ministered and shared my testimony, many have requested my notes on how I walked back to wholeness. As the demand grew, I discovered myself writing and editing my notes, and eventually a book was published and released: Shaken yet Stirred - Alive to life and loving it.
So, here I found myself traveling north to London, with resource books in a suitcase to fill pre-release orders. I had done it. I had the experience, the book and the T-shirt, so to speak. Little did I know that, within days, everything I had written was going to be tested again by the sovereign God in His wisdom.
My mobile rang as I was ministering in a small village in the south west of England. It was my daughter who was hysterical. I couldn't make out all the words but, between static and screaming, I heard: "Attacked, intruder, stolen, robbed, police" The line went dead. My heart stood still, as did my brain. Then, as adrenaline kicked in, my mind went into overdrive.
Emma had been at home alone. She had been confronted by an intruder in our home, who had attacked and restrained her. After a tussle, she had managed to escape from him. Suddenly, the 'plight' of Africa had entered my home, and had become a close companion. In that moment, all the wonderful steps I had written about regarding walking back to a place of wholeness, went right out of the window. Forgiveness, establishing basic trust, followed by peace, responding instead of reacting, the desire to embrace this event in order to be able to move forward, all these things, at that moment, were just a bunch of words on a blank page. Right then, I didn't care how history would remember me - I just wanted to go home and operate out of anger.
But the Spirit of God grabbed hold of my attention, and I ran into my Heavenly Father's arms, begging for His help. I made what for me was a startling discovery. God was actually just testing my heart again, and proving whether the truths I had written were as foundational as I had come to claim.
I have learnt again that God is Sovereign, even when things around me
don't add up. For whatever reason God lifted the hedge of protection
at that moment, we have learnt so many wonderful truths about His
character and, in spite of what situations we find ourselves in, we
have a choice to embrace life and grow through the experience.
As a family, we choose to embrace life and see God's hand at work in this situation.
- We praise God for His protection of Emma and for the fact that she was not physically violated.
- As I was so far away from the situation, I had to TRUST God to be everything to me and my family.
- We realize that even though 'we were doing the work of the Lord', God does not suspend His growth activity in my life.
- We do not understand the benefit of this encounter, but to hear my daughter say, "I choose to forgive him; I will not remain a victim; I have always said I want everything of God and, for whatever reason this has happened, I embrace it and choose to make it part of my history so that I may be able to help others in similar situations in the future", this is victory.
Being 'alive to life' means we embrace every situation presented to us, be it filled with pain or love and laughter, with the Spirit's enabling.
Jesus said in John 16:33 (Message):"I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all articles by Shelley du Plessis