Monday, October 3, 2011

To be loved

Late one summer’s afternoon, during 2007, living in Muizenberg (South Africa), I decided to wander from Muizenberg, past a pleasant tidal pool at St James, towards Kalk Bay, and back, along a wonderful walkway skirting False Bay, to exercise a bit, clear my thoughts and to see what the ocean has brought to shore.

 (where author lived)
(Please click on images to enlarge}
Muizenberg - Kalk Bay map
St James tidal pool, mountainside view
Muizenberg - Kalk Bay
(Google Earth image),
 with Bailey's  Cottage
 (visible where walkway turns more north.)
Muizenberg - St James walkway
Kalk Bay harbour

As I approached the walkway, I noticed a young “coloured”[1] couple in conversation.  They were in disagreement about something.  It turned out he too wanted to get some exercise, by jogging along the same pathway.  She simply wanted to sit on a bench somewhere along the way, facing the ocean, romantically soak in the beauty of it all.  In passing, I casually commented to the man to accede to her wishes and to simply appreciate it all along with her (rather then making a production of their time away from the grind of daily life).

Instead of telling me to mind my own business, they somehow, of their own volition,  joined me on my daily stroll and, as it is my custom when meeting strangers, we soon got talking about what consumes my life: Him and his kingdom.  The man wanted to know if I was a pastor.  If anything, I said, my role was more prophetic.

He then wanted to know if they were meant to be together, in a marital relationship.  It quickly became apparent to me that she was keener to be in a permanent, more lasting relationship than he intended and may well have been “pressurizing” him, ever so subtly, towards this end.  He clearly had his doubts about it all.

It was also evident that, although regularly attending church, neither of their lives was right with Him, i.e. He was not truly their first priority.  This was more apparent concerning the young man, as is unfortunately nowadays so often the case.

They both worked for the same commercial enterprise, but she had recently been made redundant when their organization decided to scale back.

In the Spirit, I “knew” they were not meant for one another, but did not feel led to express anything to them collectively or individually.  However, in sharing our need to resolve everything, including marriage and one’s destiny or calling, in Him, she, in turn, indicated that she had years previously been a “missionary”[2] to Russia.  When asked the reason for her return, she cited monetary restrictions.  I expressed the view that I do not believe this to be sufficient reason to terminate or deviate from what He had assigned to one’s life; that one needs to pursue one’s calling in Him regardless, trusting Him to resolve all obstacles, including (perhaps even especially) monetary considerations.[3]

On our walk back to Muizenberg, at the slight incline near the historical Bailey’s Cottage[4] landmark (towards the end of our walk), He suddenly spoke to me.

“Tell her that I love her,” He said

Bailey's Cottage
(Google Earth image)
Bailey's Cottage
(view from Muizenberg)
God spoke to us where person is walking to the right of it

A few years prior to this account, He had uttered those exact same words to me concerning a well-known prophet (with a worldwide ministry), who, at the time, was a member of the Hatfield Christian Church ministerial team, in Pretoria, South Africa.

I did not know him at all, but was invited by a Dutch Reformed minister’s wife to attend a daylong meeting at which he was to minister.  One of the ladies from her assembly, in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, had been impressed by his ministry, and consequently invited him to address a group of us, presumably mostly believers, on a Saturday morning at the local golf club.  I was told beforehand that he functioned in the office of a prophet: something not truly recognized by this particular lady’s denomination.[5]

When I met him, I deliberately asked him if he was a prophet.[6]  “Yes,” he said, but probably being mindful of the audience he was about to address, added, “But I am also a Pastor.”

As I sat down, waiting for the meeting to commence, I asked[7] the Lord to give me a specific “word” for this man (who had brought two ladies along with him to assist him ministerially).

“Tell him that I love Him,” He said.

“Lord, You love everyone,” I countered, “This is not specific enough.  He will never believe this to be a personal word coming from You.”  He remained silent.  I consequently promptly discounted the idea as being inconsequential.

After breaking for early morning tea, during the second session, he related how he used to suffer from a psychological condition generally referred to as a panic attack.  Gripped by illogical fear, it totally immobilised him—to the extent that he was unable to even extricate himself from a chair to go to the shops to purchase something.  He shared how he had through prayer, or in endless conversation with Him, struggled and eventually succeeded in freeing himself from its devastating stranglehold; its overwhelming, debilitating bondage.

“Nothing in the world is more important to me than God telling me that He loves me,” he unexpectedly said.  Words I will never forget!  I was stunned.

Ashamedly, I still do not know anything about panic attacks, spiritually or otherwise, but my gut says it has to have something to do with extremely low self-esteem; possibly feeling unloved, all of which had to have been demonically induced.  I suspect his desire to hear God expressing His love for him had been crucial in him being delivered from Satan’s incapacitating lies, and consequently continue to be of paramount importance.

Believers so easily confess Jesus’ words, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them,”[8] often without being convinced or truly assured that He is in fact present, especially in the absence of any spiritual manifestation(s).  Given the aforesaid, I had no doubt whatsoever, He was present all right—exactly as He said would be the case.

The word God had given me was one-hundred percent accurate, highly relevant and specific to this man’s life.  I was dumbfounded, deeply regretting not having implicitly trusted what He had conveyed to me.  I rued being disobedient, not expressing His living word to His servant—prior to me discovering what it meant to him.  I also knew that even if I belatedly shared what He had told me—this man was not going to believe me.  God’s soul was left unexpressed.[9]  I had failed functioning effectively as His mouthpiece, as prophets should.  My ratiocinations proved to be disastrous.

When we eventually broke for lunch, I asked to speak to him.  I told him what I had shared with you in the preceding paragraphs.  He listened attentively but did not truly accept it as coming from God, as expected.  Throughout the rest of the day, I became aware that he occasionally thoughtfully stared at me, as if he wanted to believe what I had shared, but a lingering sense of scepticism seemed to prevail.

I blew it big time and seriously regretted it.

Here I now was, years later, walking along a walkway with two total strangers, having heard the exact same words concerning one of them.  For a few seconds I recalled and reflected on what had transpired in the past.

On extremely rare occasions will I say to people “God has told me to tell you … (whatever it is He has told me).”  I much prefer delivering His word more indirectly by, say, asking a question.  However, this time I boldly stated, “God has, just now, told me to tell you that He loves you.”

Her reaction truly surprised me.

Whilst maintaining a steady gait, she absentmindedly continued staring at the walkway in front of her.  I might just as well not have said anything!  The living word from God seemed to be like water running off a duck’s back.  It seemed inappropriate, misdirected, meaning nothing to her whatsoever.

I could have shrugged it off, musing to myself, “I have badly missed You this time,” and left it at that, by all accounts not having done any “serious” damage, since He truly loves us, after all, as Scripture unequivocally declares.[10]

However, no longer a novice in His ways, I was positive He had spoken.  Being a prophet, I am always curious about what He says, how He says it, who (or what) He addresses, and why.[11]

I asked her if she had recently sought His face on anything specific.  Again, she appeared to be apathetic, but I persisted in pursuing the matter, aware that He is a purposeful Being and spoke to her accordingly. 

“I have asked Him all day long if He loves me,” she eventually said.

Her response, given all of the aforesaid, astounded me.  (It should not have, but it did.)  For a few days afterward I continued pondered the unfolding of the events on that day.  I did not meet them by chance.  It had deliberately been orchestrated divinely.  Some, with merit I presume, refer to such occurrences as divine encounters.

Had I left the place where I lived a few seconds earlier (or later), or got delayed along the way, or if they did (having travelled a long distance from the exact spot where our lives intertwined) we would have missed one another and none of this would have unfolded!  Had I not initiated contact, God would not have eventually spoken to her prophetically via me.  They could have completely ignored me, viewing my casual comments as intrusive; uncalled-for.  They did not.  Instead, they chose to accommodate me.  Moreover, they were willing to listen to what I tried to convey to them concerning Him.

Even now, thinking about it all, I am particularly grateful I used the words, “God told me … to tell you …”[12] Had I not used those specific words the impact may have been far less significant.  What would have been her response if I had asked, “Have you perhaps asked God if He loves you?” or stated, “You know, God’s word declares that He truly loves you.”  She may have answered, “Yes I have, but He has not responded” or “Perhaps, but I am not so sure …” (even though Scripture does declare so unambiguously!)”

There is no doubt in my mind she theologically knew He loved her.  Nevertheless, I suspect having lost her job, being unsure whether her relationship with this man is grounded in unfailing love, suspecting there to be a possibility it may turn out not to be as she had hoped, she began questioning God’s own goodwill or intentions towards her; yes, even if He truly loves her.  There seemed little evidence of it of late, or so she might have reasoned, despite the fact that Scripture declares, “And we know that in all things [even if it does not appear to be the case] God works [not us] for the good of those who [meet the following two conditions:] [1] love him, [and] who have been called according to [2] his purpose.”[13]  (Annotation and emphasis mine.)

Whenever God speaks prophetically to someone via my person, it probably has a far more profound effect on me than the person to whom the word is directed.  It is I who hear Him speak.  He is speaking directly to me!  It is not a casual remark made by someone of little importance or of no consequence (although it often divinely comes to one almost as such).  This is the God of the universe, the God of all creation, speaking, to me (who, in the greater scheme of things, is totally insignificant).  After all these years this, to me at least, is one of the most momentous things anyone can experience and, still as important to me, as when I first heard His voice.  He is expecting me to represent Him, to convey His Person, to another—(usually) with words from Him.

Think about what I had shared for a moment.  He could have told her in a zillion different ways that He loved her.  He could have done so directly, by means of an inner voice (and I suspect He did, but that she had possibly discounted it as having been initiated from herself, rather than God).[14]  He could have told her so audibly or through a vision, a dream, a sermon or via any other way He pleased.  So why did He do it in this manner?

Part of it, I suspect, was to make it credible, as not being wishful thinking, coming from her thoughts and/or inner desires.  It did not come via a known or concerned friend or a brother-or-sister-in-the-Lord, who might have been more familiar with her circumstances and/or needs and whose goodwill could have been misconstrued, questioned or even distrusted.

There could be innumerous other reasons, of which I could not possibly have been aware, unless I asked her (and even then I could have drawn erroneous conclusions).  Besides, one often cannot do so.  This was not a consultation.  It was a sovereign word, from a supremely Sovereign Being, who wanted to convey something important to someone, in His own time and way.[15]

Throughout the years, I have learnt that He often prophetically cuts to the chase, so to speak.  He often, succinctly addresses core issues, the crux of the matter, things sometimes deeply hidden from others, yes even to the very people He is addressing themselves.  He is dealing with it because unless it is understood and dealt with, there will be no resolution.  Better than anyone else, He knows how to put His finger on what matters most.

The accuracy thereof also never ceases to amaze me.  This is another reason it is important to single-mindedly track what is on His mind/heart.  I have often stood in front of people telling me something completely different to what He is saying, contradicting what He had told me.  One can easily discount His word under such circumstances, arguing that one has heard Him incorrectly.  But I have always found that if I probe, or even better still, receive further words from Him (as the situation unfolds) that He is always one hundred percent correct.  It will always prove to be the case when one trusts what He is saying as opposed to those He is speaking to (or providing information on).[16]

No doubt, I also was part of it.  The road to becoming a mature, trustworthy prophet is a long and winding one, where one has to learn to hear and trust Him accurately and to deliver His words faithfully, in whatever way He chooses to speak.  God will not entrust an immature or self-centred, self-serving prophet with words (be it simple and/or profound, for whomever it is meant for, say, someone with a desire for certainty [as in this case] or perhaps a world leader, whose actions [or inaction] may negatively impact the lives of billions of others as a result) if their response to Him defeats His intended purpose(s).  Prophets need to learn to be become sensitive to His Person, to the diverse and sometimes totally unexpected manner in which He speaks, in order to grow to maturity in Him and His ways trusting Him implicitly, working out their calling or destiny, or to put it even more succinctly— life itself—in Him.  He is life itself.[17]

I cannot remember much about what we talked about thereafter.  The sound of His wonderful voice made what followed seem both irrelevant and insignificant.  I gave them my contact details (in case I could be of further service to them in Him), which they eagerly accepted—but, as is so often the case, have not heard from them again.  This dumbfounds me, especially after powerfully encountering Him but, since I am usually unable to do anything about it, I have reluctantly come to accept it.  I much prefer analysing what had occurred, getting as accurate and complete a picture as possible when encountering Him, trying to eliminate, as far as is humanly possible, conjecture or assumptions[18] in order to better understand Scripture, His Person and ways.  Such fellowship is immensely enriching and rewarding.[19]

All of us knew we had encountered the Living God on that precious day.  I also, suspect, He manifested via His wonderful Holy Spirit, in the manner He did because He wanted to confirm many of the other kingdom issues we had touched upon, not only concerning our walk in Him, but on marriage, and finding and working out our destiny or calling in Him.[20]

He is a living God!  He loves[21] us immeasurably—and He loves us encountering Him thus!

[1] A term, which unfortunately became more pronounced under apartheid South Africa, indicating, for purposes of immoral and unethical racial classification, a separating off of people of mixed descent—in order to oppress them for personal gain.  Personally, I believe we all descent from Adam and since God shows no partiality, neither should we.  (Ac 10.34; Ac 15.8-9; Ro 2.11; Jas 2.1, etc.)
[2] Personally, I do not like the term “missionary.”  I believe one simply does what God tells one to do, as and when He unfolds, what had been preordained for our lives in Him.  (See Ep 2.10)  There are endless examples of this in Scripture: Abraham, Moses, The Israelites, Jesus, Paul, etc.
[3] Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.” (Mt 6.24-34, annotation and emphasis mine)  The Holy Spirit used this very passage to teach me the same principle I tried to convey to her.  I now have firsthand experienced of Him divinely providing for me in innumerous ways for more than 20 years!  God willing I will relate some of these on this blog.  An earlier posting Toiletry bag on this blog serves as an example of His provision.
[4] Bought  by and named after Sir Abraham "Abe" Bailey in 1909, who once owned it as a fishing cottage. Although now in a dilapidated state, it was designed by the famous architect Sir Herbert Baker's firm Baker and Massey.  In 1939 it was taken over by the military at the outbreak of World War II.  Navy personnel have used it over the years, but it has stood empty for some time.  Recently it had been leased to Peter Mdlalose, reputedly a businessman from Johannesburg, South Africa, who wants to turn it into a guesthouse.  Bailey’s descendants are in dispute with the parties to the transaction.  Bailey’s gravesite is directly above the cottage, presumably on land still owned by his descendants, on the magnificent mountain slope overlooking False Bay.  For more details regarding Abe Bailey’s “remarkable” life, please refer to the following websites: Wikipedia and  I wonder if Bailey (whose approach to and views on life, although from a different era, I suspect, I once identified with),  knew Jesus as His Saviour, who said, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.   21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [an Aramaic word meaning riches, where it is personified and apposed to God].”  (Mt 6-19-24)
[5] Many of their theologians believe, despite what Scripture clearly teaches in, for example, Ep 4.11 (“And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.) that the office of the prophet (and others mentioned above) had somehow ceased to exist.  Others, with opposing views, view the functioning thereof very differently to, say, Pentecostals.
[6] The primary function of prophets according to Scripture is, I believe, for them to hear God’s voice concerning any matter He wishes to address and to verbally (and/or otherwise) express it (unless it was directed towards the prophet personally, for whatever reason).  Because they are usually more sensitive to hearing Him speak, and usually more proficient at relating what He wishes to convey, I make a point of introducing myself to them wherever possible, in case He wants to communicate something to me prophetically, as He often has done, just as expected.  In this regard, Jesus said, He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.  (Mt 10.41)
[7] It was a “spur of the moment,” request, something I have never done before, but have often since, given this experience.
[8]The New King James Version.  1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (Mt 18:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[9] In case you wonder about the usage of the term “soul,” in reference to God, please refer to, among others, the following texts: Is 1.14, 42.1, Je 6.8, etc. נֶפֶשׁ in Hebrew, transliterated as nephesh, is translated as “soul” in these texts.  It also means “self; life; person; heart,” according to Vine’s (Vine, W., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1997, c1996).  Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (electronic ed.).  Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
[10] Even so, if He had not spoken to her at that time (as I had so definitively declared prophetically), I had no right whatsoever to express those words in the manner I did.  It would have seriously misrepresented God.  It would have been extremely sinful, an action in need of repentance, as it was not a specific word from Him to her at all—but one emanating from myself, or worse, Satan, God’s enemy, and/or one of his evil hosts.
[11] Scripture declares, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.”  (Ps 103.7, emphasis mine)  The Israelites knew when God was doing something, but often without insight.  With Moses it was different.  He mostly knew what God was doing and why He was doing it, and over time became even more familiar with His ways.
[12] Similar to what Jesus said would happen to His disciples, albeit under different circumstances, “…  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Mt 10.19b)
[13]The Holy Bible: New International Version.  1996, c1984 (electronic ed.)  (Ro 8:28).  Grand Rapids: Zondervan.  Please note this text is conditional.  The “all things” is conditional upon us truly loving him and working out our purposes in Him.  Note: He is working something out in the lives of those fulfilling these two conditions, and not us.  If one does not meet these conditions, everything does not work to one’s advantage.  In her case, if she truly met those conditions, it may very well be that this man is not God’s choice for her as marriage partner (as I “knew” to be the case.)  He was then dealing with her in relation thereto, but her failing to yield to His working this out, in order to establish what had been predetermined in Him; clearly to her advantage, could then not be accomplished owing to her unwillingness to yield to Him!  Remember: all the issues of life flows out of His Being.  He is life itself (Jn 14.2) and if we fail to comprehend it and yield to Him, we do not truly comprehend who He is (and cannot truly be blessed)!  In such situations, He will take us back to the cross for us to come to terms with what He truly accomplished there.  (Discussing this in more detail falls outside the ambit of this article/post.)
[14] The “still small voice” of God, inaudible to others, often comes to one as if it was a thought generated by oneself, only it is Him speaking.  One often hears “a voice” (or a thought) saying, “Don’t do (this or that) …,” It usually is pointing out something inappropriate or incorrect, something sinful He wants to be averted.  This is God’s voice, or one of the ways in which we hear His voice: “… and after the earthquake a fire, [but] the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard [it,] that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice [came] to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”  15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi [as] king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint [as] prophet in your place…” (1 Ki 19.12-16)  It is vital that we learn to distinguish this voice from our own thoughts, or worse, those likewise expressed satanically or demonically.  Unable to do so has caused untold harm to God’s servants and those to whom they speak, when He has not done so!
[15] If appropriate or where possible, I would ordinarily pursue the matter.  I have learnt invaluable lessons about His Person and/or ways (no doubt, just like Moses did) as a result.
[16] This truth will be gleaned from other encounters posted on this blog.
[17] Jesus said to him [Thomas], “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (Jn 14.6, emphasis mine)
[18] This could and often does lead to grave error.  Scripture declares, “Who can understand [his] errors? Cleanse me from secret [faults.] [i.e. perhaps of which we ourselves are sometimes totally unaware.] 13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Ps 19.12-13, annotation and emphasis mine.)  If one assumes God is doing something, and say so and/or act upon it, and He is not, one is guilty of great transgression.
[19] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  (1 Jn 1.1-4, emphasis mine)  One cannot have meaningful fellowship unless the parties thereto primarily or foremost have fellowship with Him.  We have substantive fellowship only once we have encountered Him, the Living God.  
[20] Two texts, perhaps worth mentioning in this context, are the following: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation [i.e. everything this encompasses], which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard [Him,] 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?  (He 2.1-4, in this case via the spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit referred to by Scripture as “the word of knowledge, see 1 Cor 12.8,) andFor we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works [ἔργον in Greek, transliterated as ergon, including out life purpose, found only in Him!], which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  (Ep 2.10, annotations and emphasis mine)
[21] People who are not secure in God’s love, finding expression of His love in their lives as “fruit of the Holy Spirit,” in my experience, soon try and find perverted “love” elsewhere.  (The fruit God’s Spirit bears in the life of a truly born again believer is, “… love [ἀγάπη in Greek, transliterated agape], joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Ga 5.22, annotation and emphasis mine.)

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