December 24, 2018 by Kgalalelo
My uncle was buried in Mahikeng last weekend and as tough as the situation was, it was wonderful seeing the family together again after a couple of months. We usually have our family reunion once a year during the Easter weekend and that was the last time I saw everyone. It was an emotional get together but healing at the same time. Whenever a loved one dies, it makes me think really deep about my own life and what I would like to accomplish while I’m still on earth. Time doesn’t wait for no one, I realise, put your plans in place and start accomplishing them before it is too late. Death doesn’t announce, it arrives unexpected whether you are ready or not.
Anyway, as I was journaling and praying during one of my morning devotions recently, I had a vision of my own life in a flash; how my family relocated to Mahikeng from Klerksdorp when I was little and then back to Klerksdorp when I finished school and we moving back and forth over the years from the two towns as my father’s relatives and my eldest brother lives in Mahikeng and my mother’s side of the family in Klerksdorp and how I ended up living in Bloemfontein. All that depiction of my journey in my imagination was compressed in a few seconds and I appreciated the moment that led me to Bloemfontein.
I then received the message contained in Genesis 12: 1-3 when God said to Abram “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Abram was 75 years old when he relocated from Haran to Canaan. The bible says that “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” God gave Abram the land that was inhabited by the Canaanites. In my imagination I saw how I came to dwell in Bloemfontein at the age of 23, I was young and ready to take up the world and start my own life as a young woman. Abram was old and yet he travelled to the land that God had showed him and age didn’t matter to him. He took all his belongings, his wife and nephew and livestock and headed for Canaan. I thought about many people who really began their lives at a late age, how they built businesses and prospered in their prime years and not before and left a legacy for their own children and grandchildren. God’s idea was to give an inheritance to Abram, his descendants and bless the entire world.
Like Abram, I left my home and had many challenging experiences when I first moved to the city. I didn’t have a place to stay and had to crash in with three other ladies and we had to share a double bed forcing the two to sleep on the floor. They were like good Samaritans who sacrificed for someone they didn’t even know. I had many days where I felt lost but one thing, I will forever be grateful for is that I got to know God the way I do now. I was raised in a church, going to Sunday school and was in the youth ministry in my church growing up but I didn’t have a personal relationship with God until I came to Bloemfontein and coming to think of it now, when I was still at university at the age of 20, I came on a trip with a Professor to Bloemfontein to Vista University, now a campus of the University of Free State and saw the city for the very first time.
I was excited about the trip and it felt like the sun was shining differently on that day and there was a spark in my eye. I felt welcome and at home. Perhaps it was a signal that someday, I would settle in this town, it was part of my destiny. When Abram departed from Haran, I assume he didn’t know where he was going but trusted God that wherever He takes him that would be the right place. Abram pitched a tent in Bethel and further up to Negev, however, the area was soon hit my famine and he was compelled to move temporarily to Egypt. When you read Abram’s story from Genesis 12-25, it was not an easy one but very eventful, from meeting Pharaoh who wanted to take his wife to his separation with his nephew as a result of the strive between their herdsmen, his struggle to have children and ultimately, the son he had outside the marriage. In all of this, he held on to God.
As I was thinking about Abram’s barriers, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my own; as challenging as things became which forced me to embark on a journey of self-discovery in my twenties when I first arrived in the city, this was the most fulfilling period. My life was at its peak; my encounter first with the New Thought movement and then the Pentecostal shortly after, I got in touch with myself and more importantly, I got to know about God opulently, established a personal relationship with Him and understanding spirituality in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had remained in the land of my upbringing. When I was home with the family during the weekend of the funeral, I had an epiphany that had I stayed with my people, my consciousness wouldn’t have evolved to the level that it has now because I needed certain experiences that could only be produced by me moving away. Running to my family when the going got tough was going to be easy because they were there and available all the time whereas being 300-500km away, made it difficult for me to go home anytime I wanted to.
I wouldn’t have met the people who influenced my life and propelled me to transform the way that I did or picked up the books that I did because of my level of curiosity about the things of God. I know for certain that I wouldn’t have been the person I am today. I wouldn’t have had one of the most fulfilling pilgrimages to India had I stayed, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity of connecting the dots and learnt about the power of thought and have been inquisitive to learn about the afterlife and really understand in a broad way what happens after we die.
I doubt if I would have been interested in certain subjects except the ones I had been socialised with because as a child, it is easy to remain in your mother’s bosom and suckle the breastmilk but is it enough? In his address to the church of Corinth Paul says “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). I believe that when God led me to where I am today, He knew that I was ready for solid food and the experiences I had to go through had to demonstrate that.
We all have to go through stuff in order to transform and be able to handle challenges before us. It is said that gold is refined in fire and so we are polished in the difficulties that we face in life. Abram’s faith with Isaac had to be tested to see if He believed in God. “Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis: 22:2). Sometimes we have to give up the things that we love like Abram did in order to gain them back again and receive even more. Out of Abram’s loins, the great nation of Israel was born; God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and declared him the father of many nations because of his faith.
Jesus on the other hand says “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18). Jesus was detached from the things of this world and gave them up at will whereas we cling tight. We are afraid of losing the things that we love including people. As a parent, it must have been difficult for Abraham to mount his child on a donkey as a sacrificial lamb but knowing who God is and how Isaac was born, he relented.
He left everything that he was familiar with to follow God’s plan. Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). We’ve seen the illustrations of Jesus’ cross in magazines and television programmes, and it was indeed heavy and carrying such heavy wood needs focus, not looking back or sideways but keeping your eyes on the journey and on Jesus. He says further in John 14:6 “I am the way”. I sacrificed the comfort, warmth and safety of my father’s house looking for a better life and found Jesus along the path and am still hanging onto Him.
Pray and seek God’s guidance and where He leads you, take that leap of faith and trust that He will see you through. Tomorrow is Christmas and soon the new year will begin, make a resolution to keep your eyes on God, hold on to Him and never let go otherwise you will be lost.
Merry Christmas to all!
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. & The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible, Copyright © 2012 by Crossway. All rights reserved & The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
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