Thursday, October 4, 2018

Being Me. Being You.


My younger sister was a quiet gentle soul that everyone loves to love.
Sweet and kind, with a quirky sense of humour, she collected friends as a magnet does iron filings.
I, on the other hand, was the one with too much to say, and my unfortunate habit of saying it too bluntly did nothing to enlarge my circle of friends.

Many were the times when I wished I could be like her
I admired all in her that was lacking in me.
For one incredibly stupid season, I tried to behave like her in an effort to crank up my friendship circle.
It nearly split my mind.
I learned the hard way that trying to be someone else is a big mistake.

One day, my sister and I were having a heart to heart
And I told her what I have just told you.
She looked at me in amazement -
And told me that she has spent her life wanting to be more like me.
We gaped at each other in disbelief

I was vividly reminded of this during a conversation with a much admired friend.
She is in her early 80's,  an avid hiker, forever off on some new adventure and up for any challenge.
She is also neck deep in helping needy people: details are sketchy because she doesn't talk easily about what she does.
She lives alone, is invariably upbeat and enjoys her life thoroughly.
And yet there was, in her, the same dynamic as between my sister and me.
She sees in others the way she would like to be -
And can't see anything special about herself

Why do we think that the way we are is less than, rather than just different from?
Why is it so much easier (and maybe more socially acceptable?) to focus on what's lacking in ourselves?
I'm not advocating arrogance or vanity
But imagine the change if we each embraced our own personality packages and just got on with living those out.
There's a reason for uniqueness . . .


Monday, January 22, 2018

It Keeps Speaking

On a recent trip to Plett, we were treated by our hosts to breakfast at an out of the way restaurant -
On the way back, wanting to show us some of the tragic damage after the recent firestorms there, they chose a narrow gravel road that used to be boundaried by tall trees, densely packed, with thick undergrowth.
It must have been very beautiful.
Green, green, and shady.
Like a secret emerald tunnel.

What remained were charcoaled trunks reaching like scarred arms to the sky in supplication.
So quiet, so sparse
No undergrowth, just a little new growth at the base of some of the trunks.
At first glance, the saddest sight.

"You never used to be able to see the sea from here," volunteered our hosts.
"Now look, you can see it clearly."
I looked, changing my focus from the near disaster to the more distant view
There lay softly folding hills, overlapping each other like carelessly thrown green materials, and behind them the azure blue of the ocean.
A breath taking sight!

Tragedy had opened up vistas never before seen and brand new perspectives -
That scene keeps speaking to me
It has a myriad tales to tell.
Maybe it will say something to you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Longings in the Midst of Here-ness.

I heard my cell phone ringing.
It sounded close so I ambled in the direction of the sound
But the sound moved, so I turned around, towards the kitchen
And again, the same thing, so I turned again, this time more hastily
And repeat . . .
Every time I thought I'd located the direction, I hadn't.
Eventually I found myself darting around the house in all directions like a demented being

As you've probably already worked out, my phone was in my back pocket


I find myself living with longing.
(Yes, there's a connection. Stay with me.)

Jesus said if we drank of the water He gives, we would never thirst again. *
I know what He means.
I thirsted for God from a young age and searched desperately for Him for many years.
When I "drank from the water" Jesus offers, the longing for God was fully satisfied.
I never thirsted again in that way.

But although finding Christ has satisfied that longing, it has evoked a powerful new one
Because knowing Him at all, is to long to know Him more.

Think David, of the Psalms fame
How well he knew and loved his God
But look what he says:
"My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water" *
He had, but he still longed . . .


Think Paul, the apostle who wrote most of the New Testament
And surely knew the risen Christ
Look what he says:
". . . that I might know Him . . . " *
You can almost hear, "Oh! if only I could know Him more!"
Such a cry of the heart!
He had, but he still longed . . .

I can relate.
I "have" Jesus -
Christ indwells me as He does all who trust in Him. *
I too have, but I still long . . .

Here is the conundrum
I have what (Whom) I'm seeking
Yet I often feel I am still searching
Not for another -
But searching, seeking, yearning . . . for the One I already have

As with my phone -
All I had to do was respond to the call.
Yet there I was, running around like a crazy, looking for what I already had.

So, is it more a question of cultivating a growing awareness of His "here-ness"?
Tuning into the knowledge of His immediacy?
The more easily to answer the call?
To hear His voice?


*John 4:14
*Psalm 63:1
*Philippians 3:10
*Colossians 1:27













Friday, July 21, 2017

Teetering or Leaping?

I had coffee with a friend yesterday
And the talk meandered through all kinds of topics as it does when you feel comfortable with each other.
Leisurely, relaxed.



Then suddenly we were in "a zone"
You know how it goes?
Where your friend says something and you feel your inner ears prick up
And you come to attention
Your friend is talking about her struggles, naming them
And you know they exactly mirror your own
Only she is giving them words.

She spoke of aims, dreams and hopes for the future
Noble things
High things but not, to me, anything she couldn't aspire to
But there seemed to be a little sadness in her, in sharing her dreams.

And as we pondered on that, our shared monster was revealed
The fear of failure
The fear of success, which would lead to bigger things, and then failure.
The fear of being exposed and vulnerable as you put your whole self out there

She said it's as though you have walls around you protecting you
And you feel safe as long as you operate inside those walls
But if you ventured something larger, allowing those walls to collapse
The sense of vulnerability would be overwhelming

I could so relate
Its easier for me to dream,
Than to do the thing and take the risks.

But the same walls that make us feel safe
Can be confining ones that frustrate us, imprison us
So we never dare
Never find out what we could have done
Never find out what its like to explode with joy at achieving what seemed impossible for us.


I think for many, its the story of our lives
It just keeps replaying in different guises.
An avoidable tragedy.

Taking the leap comes so easily for some.
For others, its a strain but they do it anyway.
This post isn't for those
Its for those of us who long to take the leaps
Dare great things
Make a difference
But find ourselves so often teetering on the brink, then stepping back
Thinking, "Maybe next time I'll be braver."

Imagine
If all those shrinking violets suddenly stepped up to the plate
What riches might find their way into life on this planet!
If we all brought our little loaves and fishes to the party
What a party it could be!.

Selah.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Turning The Tables

My late father-in-law, at 80 odd, an imposing figure with a Moses-like mane of white hair, instructed us all to hold hands while he gave thanks for the meal that was about to be served us in the crowded seaside restaurant.
He had a loud voice anyway (being quite deaf) and a special voice for spiritual matters that seemed to make it even louder.
So we had more than a few interested observers at neighbouring tables.

With eyes tight shut, he prayed with great fervour, telling God how grateful he was for the good food he was about to receive, and asking for blessing upon it.
While this was going on, the respectful waiter slipped plates of delicious looking food in front of each of us.
On opening his eyes after the resounding "Amen!"my father-in-law exploded (also loudly),
"What is this mess?!"
"I can't eat this rubbish!"
"Take it away!"
(Or, for Saffers, (its SO much better in his native Afrikaans)
"Wat is die gemors!?"
"Ek kannie die gemors eet nie!"
"Vat dit weg!"

Yes, it was horribly rude
But we were so overcome by the humour of it that we just collapsed in puddles of helpless laughter
And have retold the story quite a few times.

This happened years ago
But only yesterday did I realise the beam in my own embarrassed eye
SO much bigger than my FIL's speck

How often do I thank God for the new day and ask for His blessing
And how many times during that same day do I complain, whinge and criticise?
About weather, politics, referees, traffic, services - the list is endless
How is that different from my FIL, I ask myself?
I answer myself -
"Not at all -
Except mine is on a much grander scale."

Will I be different after having seen this?
In a week, will I even remember that I saw it?
Maybe
I hope so
Time will tell . . .

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Around the Bliksem Bush

B is for

Bliksem.

If you stared at that word in puzzlement, you are probably not South African.
Because this is our word, created originally by the Afrikaans speaking community and used exclusively (till now anyway) by Saffers.
Maybe, after reading this, you'd like to introduce it into your own vocabulary as it is
A DEEPLY satisfying word.

Firstly, how do you say it?
"Bluck - sum"
Accent (heavily) on the first syllable.

It has a dazzling array of uses -

(noun)
A tough problem.
eg: Sympathising with a friend who is struggling, "Ja man, its a bliksem alright!"



A rascal.
eg: At the cat who stole the boerewors for the braai off the counter.
Or the teen that finished the last of the chocolate, "You little bliksem!"

Could be anger, or affectionate exasperation.
Tone of voice plays a big role here.



A rogue.
eg: Chasing after a group of thieves, yelling, "You blerry bliksems, wait till I catch you!"





Anyone who makes you mad.
eg: Those bliksems who mow their lawns at two oclock on a Sunday afternoon!
Or. "Those bliksems who shoot through red traffic lights!"



Anyone who disagrees with you
eg: Those bliksems don't know what they're talking about. They should just shut up.

Any ref who blows up your side
eg: Heyyy you bliksem, who stole your glasses!?



Someone to be admired for their cleverness or wit.
eg: "Jislaaik, but he's a clever bliksem!

Indicating sudden pain or fury
eg: BLIKSEMMMM!!!


A naughty kid, cat, dog etc.
eg: Now listen here here, you little bliksem



In order to make an adjective of it, just add "se"
"Bliksemse"

eg: This was a bliksemse fun post to do.

Monday, April 3, 2017

B is for Being Real

B
Being Real

Since I am South African, and I'm breathing, I'm aware of the cataclysmic things happening in the political arena here
It's not my intention to go into it (it is easy to check it out if you want to; it's all over the media.)
But to explore the tension between the outrage I feel and being a Christ follower.

I note that Jesus never seemed to get pulled into the politics of His day
And He lived in tumultuous political times with the Romans occupying Israel and lording it over the people.
It is evident that the people were being overtaxed, but He still said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's . . . "

His teachings, and His life indicate turning the other cheek -
As in, when much is demanded of you, offer more,
Remembering that we belong to a different Kingdom

How do I interface my following Christ with what's happening around me?
If my faith is authentic, it will influence every part of my life
And there is no dodging the tricky bits.
How does loving my enemy,
Turning the other cheek
Praying for those who despitefully use me (and others),
Forgiving as I have been forgiven, work?

How can I ground these Kingdom principles in my ordinary life
Against the backdrop of evil actions that will hurt this nation so badly
And harm the poorest of the poor the most?
What do I do with the emotions that I feel?
I cant pretend they aren't there.

Do protest marches have a rightful place for me?
For us?
Or is our battle on a different front? A different line?
I don't have answers; not yet.
Maybe you do?

In the meantime, God bless Africa.