I took this photo in the Arctic near Svalbard years ago. A scientist lived alone in this hut, hiding from the ice bears and the ice-cold weather for a whole year, of which six months were in pitch-black darkness. He was well prepared. He collected a year’s newspapers and brought them with to his cabin. Every evening he would put a newspaper outside the door to motivate him to get up in the morning and read the paper whilst sipping his coffee. Getting up and getting into a routine were important things, or he would not have survived.
What routine do you have that motivates you to get up in the morning during lock-down, and not only survive but thrive? I get up to have my quiet time long before my trainer arrives at 07:00 to put my knee through its paces. But the most important decision is to get up and spend time with God early in the morning – to build a solid base for the day to come.
After listening to all the economists and financial advisors, we made our financial projections on how to surmount the Covid-19 period that lay in front of us. We had to climb this mountain for the next three to four months, and looked at various scenarios. We decided the safest option to ensure the continued viability of our Group would be to start off with a 50% reduction of our staff’s salaries and then add the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contributions on top. Everybody reckoned this was a wise decision and we prepared the salary slips.
A few nights later I could not sleep. Tossing and turning in my bed, I eventually decided to get up and have my quiet time. After a time of prayer and asking for wisdom and understanding regarding the Covid-19 challenges, God spoke.
“I will go before you and level the mountain. I will give you hidden treasures … so that you may know that I am your God.” (Isaiah 45:2 and 3)
“I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and very courageous … have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5-9)
“Do not fear! You will not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 54:4)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 (The third reminder to be strong and courageous, and not to fear in as many minutes!)
I then read my daily devotional that morning from Streams in the Desert, 18 April,
“After you prayed stop all self-effort, it hinders God’s work. Wait in an attitude of praise and do only what He tells you. Sit still, do nothing except trust in the Lord. Do not be tempted to take the battle into your own hands!!”
In Today God is First (Volume 1), Os Hillman had the following to say,
“God wants to teach us a different set of values, so that the kind of thing we started out wanting, becomes secondary. God has something in mind for us that is far greater than the interest we began with.”
I knew we had to be strong and courageous, and not afraid to take a bold step in faith. We had taken many a bold step in faith over the years and not once did God let us down! I spoke to my son Nico and we decided to pay 100% of our staff’s salaries, while trusting God for the outcome. The UIF paid on time, and actually more than what we expected. The banks agreed to our request to wave our loan repayments for a certain period of time, and our suppliers agreed to help us with the foreign exchange losses due to the weak Rand – nothing but favour and grace in God’s eyes.
Our company had zero income during April and yet, after we paid our staff 100% of their salaries and covered all our other commitments, we ended April with a bigger bank balance than a month prior to that! All we had to be was strong and courageous, and wait for God to act in an attitude of praise. Were we tempted to take the battle into our own hands? Yes! But God gave us the grace to overcome our own fears and rather trust Him for the outcome.
It is my prayer for you, dear friend, that in this difficult time,
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Tough times don’t last, tough people do! Trust, and do not be afraid.