September 19, 2021 by Kgalalelo
I went to visit a doctor yesterday for a routine checkup and as I was sitting at the reception area waiting, my mind took me back to the exact same day last year, the 18th September 2020 and what I had been doing on that day. It was on a Friday; I had a day’s leave from work and decided to declutter my bookshelf in the house and the one in the garage. I remember the day vividly because I wrote it in my journal as an important date when I got rid of some of the spiritual books and material, I no longer needed to begin a new chapter on my spiritual journey. It was a huge milestone to me.
I believed that these books no longer served me as I didn’t read them anymore and were taking space in bookshelves. The subjects addressed in these books included tales about how soul descend to earth before birth and how they continue to journey life after life. I had acquired these books (both hard copies and audio) over the years, and some downloaded from the internet.
I didn’t want to donate the books nor give them to anyone close to me in case I caused people to stumble. It had been my path to spiritual discovery, and I believed that everyone should find their own. I have read about spirituality broadly from the east to the west trying to make sense of the world around me and life in general and that was my elaborate path. At university I majored in political studies because philosophy was part of the subjects taught in that course and I was very much interested in Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle to mention a few. I was fascinated by their view of the world and even though sometimes philosophy was difficult to grasp, there were parts that were uncomplicated which resonated with me.
I have always been a curious person, perhaps that’s why I chose a B.A Communication degree, Journalism was a huge part of this study. Journalist under normal circumstances are curious people, they go out there to look for stories and report them. They investigate, observe, ask questions, look around, find out and that’s basically the type of person I have been all these years. I have always had a hunger to learn and so would spend time reading.
When I was living at home with my parents after graduating from university (I had been living with my relatives for four years and sometimes with friends on campus in between), I spent most of my time in the house without friends and not missing that part of life in any way. I would spend hours reading in my bedroom. I had books like ‘The miracle of seed faith’ by Oral Roberts and ‘The power of positive thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale. I found these books in my father’s garage and I still don’t know whom they belonged to. I have the two old, copies to this day. I have been reading ever since, getting motivated, and working on a positive mindset.
So, my spiritual journey began then, in my early twenties and because of the twists and turns of life and the hunger to know more I began to read broadly, to find answers and some books were not necessarily Christian. So, my consciousness expanded over the years until such time I decided to refocus and met Jesus. Even though I have been born again for years, I just kept my old books in the shelves until last year when I decided to clear them out.
One thing though that I have always wondered about was whether what I have learnt so far was in fact contained in the Bible or taught in Christianity. Sometimes when you are on the journey of self-discovery, you come across many people, with different experiences and as you travel, and advance, spirituality can be anything. You begin to hunger for more and meet different people who teaches you different things. I wanted to consolidate all this knowledge into one and really see if I can find everything in the Bible or Christianity.
I am still on that very journey and it is wonderful, sometimes frustrating because life doesn’t go as planned at times. It has been a full year of trying to gather everything together under one umbrella and I have managed to get some of the understanding. For instance, I have learnt quite a lot about the law of attraction, which was part of my curriculum over the years, and I could never get any satisfaction or got the subject addressed in many sermons I have listened to.
Lately, I’ve been led to search more and found pastors who really understand this concept including teaching about the laws of prosperity from a biblical point of view. I have been listening to them day and night and found resonance with what I have learned in my spiritual journey. I have also been led to stories on YouTube of people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs), another subject that has been of interest to me over the years. I didn’t think that this was part of the Christian discussion as well because I had never heard any pastor talk about it and people in the church who have experienced it. I mean, I have visited many churches in my life. It is one of the subjects that I put away, in case it was false, but knowing myself, if I am determined to learn about something, I look for evidence.
I searched for Christians on the internet who have experienced this or have heard of it and found many including pastors who are talking about their experiences from church to church. They describe the wonders of heaven and how they have met Jesus and have seen the marks of His wounds on the hands. It has been an adventure for me to listen and confirms that what I have been learning all these years is not really insane or false. Maybe some.
People have real experiences and not only non-Christians but a lot of Christians as well. Others even attest to being afraid of talking about their experiences for fear of being crucified or being accused of blasphemy. They only needed someone to affirm and validate that what they experienced was real, thats all.
I have never had an NDE, however, have been a keen reader who wants to understand all of life. I’m fascinated by the supernatural and realise that there is so much we don’t know. We are limited and sometimes don’t believe that some of the things exist. Those who don’t believe often block those who do or cast doubt or even fear.
I came across ordinary men and women who simply explained that they had visitations to heaven without really having an NDE. They either had visions or the Lord showed them in dreams or in a trance like state. They have started ministries as a result to remind people of the beauty of what awaits them in heaven. I have wondered for a while whether it was possible to visit heaven without falling ill or being in a horrific accident since most NDE stories I’ve heard are of people who’ve experienced either of the two and realise that it is possible for the Lord to simply give you the tour of heaven while fully well. I don’t believe that the body has to be in shock or coma to experience the wonder of the supernatural, the angelic beings, Jesus or the throne of God.
Jesus is able to show us around the block, the panoramic views, beautiful golden and pearly streets and mansions right here and now. In John 14:2 He says, “In My Father's house there are many mansions. And if not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” He has already prepared a place for you and me, many NDE survivors have attested to that. Those who lived to tell the tale were blown away with their own mansions and everything they saw in heaven. There is so much that is out there, that we do not know about.
There are many things that are not explicitly explained in the Bible or perhaps, not yet revealed or even if they are, most of us cannot fully grasp them. We tend to focus on certain things or subjects and not the others. Sometimes we struggle with unbelief or are influenced by our own socialisation and experiences which keeps things hidden from our sight. We should also forgive our teachers, who perhaps don’t have full knowledge themselves, they are only humans and each person has been given a measure of knowledge just like we have all been given a measure of faith.
People have described how they have met Jesus including atheists and people of other faiths. It makes me think about the mercy of God. Psalm 136:1 says, “His mercy endures forever”. I have read this scripture many times but missed the last word, ‘forever’. This means that beyond the grave there is mercy, and we can’t prescribe to God who should receive mercy. It is for all of us and for as long as we have God and there is life, on this earth or beyond, mercy will always be available. It lives everywhere. It is who God is. He is love; therefore, he is merciful. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”.
In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul says “and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. If God loves us so much and His mercies endures forever, this is so deep and could mean that there is no punishment or judgement. I am careful though not to rubber stamp this because I am still learning. There is so much to learn and to grasp and the best way is to discover for yourself lest you say you have been misinformed. While we have mercy, there might still be people who choose another way, the road to hell despite this free gift. When you ask God to forgive you, He surely does and when you ask for His help, He will surely help you. He is no respector of persons (Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism. Acts 10:34).
Going back to near-death experiences, what others revealed is incredible, the kids that are growing and playing in heaven though they died in infancy or were aborted or still born; our loved ones who have died who never age; meeting angels and apostles and the cream of the crop, Jesus Himself. I know about never aging in heaven because I have been shown in dreams my mother and grandparents who have passed, and they all looked young and vibrant.
I have wondered for a very long time whether there are commonalities in religions as well and realise that there are elements of truth in pockets. We might be interpreting certain things differently. God is huge and the Bible says in “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2:9).
We expect God to carry a clipboard and a pen to mark what is right and what is wrong. We make each other wrong most of the time without listening to each other, we judge and condemn even within the same faith. I believe that Jesus is gentle when He corrects but it is up to us whether we want to believe in Him or not. In John 14:6 Jesus says, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
My journey continues, as I discover even more of what has always been there and with Jesus on my side and the gentleness of the Holy Spirit, I’m putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
If you love to explore, observe and feel appreciation for God's goodness in your life, then you will feel right at home on this site.