About 2½ years ago, a friend sent me the following mail which I printed and placed on my desk where I can see it every morning during my quiet time:
“SLOW ME DOWN, LORD. Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace. Give me amidst the day’s confusion, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking ‘minute vacations’ … slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to read a few lines from a good book…”
I knew I had to slow down, but how? And God decided to step in.
We were spending some time at our holiday home in Hermanus in December last year. I was excited about the year ahead. On January 7th I was about to leave for the USA where I had a number of speaking invitations. After the US visit, I planned a family ‘snow safari’ in Norway and Finland. Privileged and exciting times!
We planned to fly back from Cape Town to Johannesburg late morning on Thursday, January the 3rd. I woke up early to have my quiet time before having to pack our bags and drive to the airport. Before my early-morning quiet time, I quickly walked down the stairs to the front door to open the security shutters. Enveloped in darkness, I missed the last small step, lost my balance and fell on my right knee. An awful sound followed. The quadricep muscle tore, and my knee was operated on that same afternoon. Months of rehabilitation lay ahead of me.
One small step, and all my plans … gone in a second.
A week after this unfortunate incident I woke up during the night and realised that when unexpected, traumatic things happen to us we can become so absorbed by them that we could easily miss God’s purpose and plan completely. I realised that I could still watch TV, answer my mails, chat to friends and read, but that would entail missing what God wanted me to learn from this experience.
I begged God that night not to pass me by … over and over I prayed, “God, please don’t pass me by during this time of recuperation.” And God was faithful. As I delved into the Word in the months that followed I started to realise the reason for God slowing me down.
I started understanding the real meaning of Psalm 107:23-32 and what it entails to move out of our comfort zones. Only then will we “see the works of the Lord”. (Psalm 107:24)
I started to see the link between Isaiah 29:13 and Jeremiah 29:13.
“These (afflicted) people come near to me with their mouths and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…” (Isaiah 29:13)
How easy it is to pray and ask for help when things are tough, but in good times God is forgotten, or little time is spent seeking His face with your whole heart.
And then Jeremiah 29:11-13. How often have I quoted verse 11 (the first verse God gave me before receiving the vision of Eduplex):
“’’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…’”’
…not seeing that the secret, the key to this verse actually lies in verse 13:
“…you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I realised Isaiah 29:13 is the accusation, and Jeremiah 29:13 the solution and when read in reverse from verse 13 to 11, verse 11 is the promise.
Accusation → Solution → Promise
“Lord, please forgive me for seeking you only when I am under pressure, forgetting you in the good times just like the people of Israel in Isaiah 29:13.
“Help me to be a Jeremiah 29:13 Christian by seeking You with all my heart, for then when I call on you will I find You when I seek You with all my heart.
For You, O Lord, know the plans you have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future – Amen.”
Personal note – Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during my time of recuperation. Thank you for your visits, encouragement and friendship. Thank you for your support and the massive gift of an all-expenses-paid two weeks rehab in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland – truly a gift from God. Thank you, Jesus, for your patience with me – I am a slow learner.
Soli Deo Gloria.