The past 3 months, my best friend Gerrit was severely ill and in and out of hospital. In fact, the neurologist thought that he was not going to make it and that his children had to come from the USA to be at his side. Sitting in his hospital room praying for him while he fitfully slept, day in and day out, while watching one’s prayers seemingly going unanswered, drains you mentally, emotionally and physically. I reached the stage where I started feeling powerless, as if God was no longer hearing my prayers. In fact, I was beginning to wonder whether I really know God as I was experiencing an increasing distance between us.
I continue to be amazed.
Over the years I have tried to encourage people to spend time in prayer and reading (the Word as well as daily devotionals) with the promise that God will answer them. Some of my favourite scripture passages that I used to illustrate this point was from
Matthew 7:7 (New Living Translation) – ‘Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.’
Those of you that follow my blog know that the Lord usually ‘gives me’ a verse for the year ahead. Towards the end of the year, I re-looked the various promises He gave me over the years as I started feeling more and more concerned, worried, depressed and fearful about the year ahead.
The Economist (19 Dec 2015) so aptly summarised the situation in South Africa under the heading ‘The hollow State’ where the article refers to how the country is rotting from the top. Add to this the whole of Europe fearing yet more terror attacks and a general worldwide picture of doom and gloom starts to emerge. This forced me back to the Word and to relook at God’s promises over the years. After all, when God gives you a promise it is not just for the pending crisis but also for the years to come.
It has been a rough and extremely busy year…I am not always sure whether all the ‘good things’ I have been busy with were all ‘God things’.
Jan and I recently travelled to China and Singapore, where God opened some astounding new doors. I could share God’s vision that He entrusted to me…to ‘make a difference in deaf education!’ with hundreds of principals and staff from Chinese schools for the deaf. Planting the seeds that there is ‘a new way’ and thanks to modern technology, today’s deaf children can speak – provided that these deaf children identified and fitted with amplification. The key is early identification and the necessary support in a language rich environment, such as a mainstream school. In my life, I have experienced God opening many doors for me along the way. It became the expected, the norm…slowly God, my First love, became not only my Friend, but also my ‘mate’, my ‘chum’.
This was Anita and my 3rd trip to Namaqualand. For a short period this normally arid area becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of colour during the flowering season. This is known throughout South Africa as the Namaqualand daisy season, when orange and white daisies, as well as hundreds of other flowering species, spring up from a previously barren landscape. 15 years ago we were too early. Last year we were too late. This year we were ‘just right’, exactly during the time the locals told us to come, the third weekend in August during early spring. For the best views we needed to travel from north to south, as the flowers turned towards the sun for warmth.
Anita and I had 10 wonderful days. After our guesthouse in Naries, near the town of Springbok, we travelled to a tented lodge. Only 7 tents, without power but we did have Wi-Fi and leg of lamb that evening. I love leg of lamb. The next morning a rather chilly wind blew and I decided to ‘lie in’ under the thick duvet and not have my normal ‘quiet time’ – as Anita said, “God will understand”. We waited for the flask of hot water to be delivered to the tent for our coffee.