Wednesday, October 31, 2012


During December 1997, for reasons of His own, God brought me back to Vanderbijlpark, South Africa.[1]

South of Johannesburg
I hoped to live among Christians, desiring to enjoy meaningful fellowship, whilst awaiting clarification on why He had me return to the country of my birth.[2]
Previously, whilst residing in Israel, although for the most part living apart from one another, and being a decided minority, genuine born again believers gradually got to now one another through meaningful fellowship[3] and, for the most part, looked out for the best interests of their brothers-and-sisters in the Lord.
In South Africa, my experience with Christians had been very different.  Although professing serving and worshiping God, most Christians are in reality in pursuit of their own agendas and goals having adopted a “bless me” attitude towards the God they claim to know and love.[4]
Brotherly love[5] is something believers here displayed on a Sunday, from a respectable distance, or perhaps sometimes in their meetings, scheduled once or twice midweek, but rarely (personally, and) on other occasions.  In fact, it still is unusual to see many Christians meet on grounds other than that which had been pre-arranged (or when, God forbid, there is a crisis, urgently needing concerted prayer).  It disrupts their neatly arranged lives in which they reign supreme.  (Unfortunately, in my experience, almost 16 years later, not much has changed.)
An Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor, whom I had randomly contacted towards this end, recommended that I get in touch with a family who “let rooms to students.”  They were members of his congregation.  Incidentally, living as I do falls way outside the paradigm of most Christians, and is often frowned upon, but this was not the practice/experience of New Testament believers, such as Paul and others.[6]
The pastor seemed indifferent and not particularly helpful, but I phoned them nonetheless.  They could temporarily accommodate me, I was told, for no more than two-and-a-half months, at R500.00 per month.[7]  It was summer holidays and the students they domiciled were only expected to return towards the middle of February, the following year.
They owned a small three-bedroom house in a smallish yard, facing the freeway between Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging.  It is situated around the corner from the (then) local "Vaal Technicon" or College.  It was a working class home with all the bedrooms next to one another along a narrow passage, leading straight from the front door, through the sitting room, onto the main bedroom.  The bedroom assigned to me was furthest from the main bedroom, adjoining the drawing room.

Cornwallis Harris home
(location of washing line circled)
White students lived inside the house.  The cramped servant’s quarters had been reserved for a black student.[8]
A small section of the fridge had been allocated for my personal items.  For breakfast, a table was generously set everyday (which the lady of the house provided).  Dinner usually consisted of a slice of bread, late at night, when the owners had retired for the day (so I would not disturb their privacy or them needing to use the kitchen at the same time as I did.)
With nowhere to store the few groceries items I bought (no space had been allocated to me in the kitchen), I stocked it in my clothing cupboard, carting back and forth whatever I needed to concoct something to eat.[9]  To purchase these items I travelled by black taxi or minibus to the town centre and back.[10]
Not owning a lot of clothes, I soon needed to do some washing.  When the landlord and his wife went shopping one morning, I took the opportunity to quickly chuck my clothes into their washing machine, not wanting to disrupt them whilst at home.[11]
Having forgotten something, the owner returned and almost had a heart attack.  He was furious that I dared using their facilities.  He wanted to know who was going to foot the electricity bill.  Then, totally unfounded, he deemed it fitting to reproach me, accusing me of undermining, almost usurping, his "man of the house" authority.
I was stunned and horrified, to say the least.  As an adult, no one has ever accused me of anything even remotely as nauseatingly humiliating as this.  “How did he,” I stood there wondering, “expect me to do my washing?”  There were no laundry facilities in town.  I had nowhere else to do my washing.  Clearly, given his outburst, a different set of rules applied to me.  Perhaps I was to attend to legitimate, normal everyday needs outside the house, under a tap, preferably in a portable basin (that I was to supposedly cart along with me wherever I traveled).  I had no idea how, in his eyes, I was to accomplish such a simple, regular activity.
I took the abuse without saying a word.  However, I can assure you, at times like these, and there had been many throughout the years in my walk with the Lord, I have, on occasion, wished I had been back in business for my own account.  Living in the lap of luxury, in the best neighborhoods  with the best money could buy (as I had been accustomed to virtually all my life), not having to put up with people like this (be they Christian or not!).[12]
It dawned on me that they took in students merely to supplement an inadequate retirement income—definitely not because they were loving or caring!
After his malicious verbal attack, I desperately wanted to get off his property.
A childhood neighbor  now in her late thirties, lay bedridden in an old age home, debilitated by progressive multiple sclerosis.  Knowing Jesus had made provision for her healing,[13] and having already spoken to her about it, I decided to, once more, head in her direction to find a way in Him, on her behalf, to counteract/deliver her from all the torment she had been experiencing.[14]
Whilst talking to her it began to rain, so I decided to wait until it subsided before heading back to my room.  As I eventually crisscrossed the sopping wet streets, I thought, "Now even the washing I had hung out will be soaked."
Winding my way through the suburbs, it became apparent that the downpour had been exceptionally heavy and widespread.  Even though I was still somehow hoping my washing had escaped the deluge, I soon held out virtually no hope of such a prospect.

Distance from the Retirement Home to my rented room
Walking down Cornwallis Harris, the (long, straight) street in which I resided, it became apparent that likewise it had experienced a cloudburst.  Approaching the house, I noticed it had not escaped the rain either.  By then I was convinced that all my clothes were going to be sopping wet.  Located on the other side of the house, the washing line was obscured from view.
Nearing the property gate, I observed something amazing.
Wherever I had walked, it had been sodden.  Even standing in front of the house everything was drenched, but a few yards further, the rain had suddenly stopped, leaving a “line” across the tar road.  The one side was saturated, the other bone-dry.  Usually rainwater runs off a slightly convex tar road making it impossible to determine where it actually fell.  What I was now looking at was totally different, unlike anything I had ever witnessed before.  It was as if the rain had deliberately not fallen beyond a certain point.
When I eventually got to my washing (hanging on a circular washing line), I discovered that, to my utter amazement, the rain had stopped, not reaching the laundry line, again leaving this side soaking wet; the other as dry as can be, as if it had not rained at all.
Not a drop of rain had fallen on my clothes.  From where I had set out, a distance of several kilometers  it had rained heavily—all along the way—but it all ceased inches from where my clothes hung and not a driblet had fallen from that very point onward.
I was flabbergasted and instantly knew that this was the doing of Almighty God. 
From the Scriptures I was aware that He alone causes it to rain (or not).  Moreover, that normal rainfall depicts God’s blessing and the withholding thereof His curse.[15]  God speaks via “nature.”[16]  Rain, among many other natural elements, is often used by Him towards this end.[17]  (Unfortunately, many are totally oblivious to it or, for that matter, the many wonderful other ways in which He continually speaks to us.[18])  Although still damp from having been washed, I had no doubt that His hand had restrained the rain from falling on my clothes.
Living in Israel during 1994, Oraleigh Bligh (at the time a 92-year old believer from New Zealand, who has resided in Israel for many years) once shared a telling incident.  After having washed her clothes, she too hung it on the washing line and then left to stock up on a few items at the Jerusalem suq, the local market.  Upon her return, she noticed it had rained on both sides if the washing line, without a single drop having falling on the entire length of the line—leaving all her washing bone-dry.
Inexperienced in God’s ways and word, I had my reservations about what she had shared at the time.  Here I was now being confronted with a similar situation.
Not only was God showing me how graciously He had dealt with Oraleigh, He was addressing and correcting my skepticism and perception of Him.  Moreover, it was His way of letting me know that He had witnessed the events earlier that day; aware of what had transpired.[19]  I encountered Him in an unusual manner that day, as others throughout the centuries had; knowing factually, that He alone determines where the rain falls, as Scripture so clearly records/teaches.[20]
I did not even bother to share what had happened with the landlord, his wife, or anyone else for that matter.  As I wrote this, I briefly wondered if they perhaps had observed the same miracle I did.  I seriously doubt it.
Self-centred,[21] self-serving individuals (whether one lays claim to being a born again believer or not) rarely experience God’s awesomeness and are not aware (or doubt) when or how He acts towards, via, or on behalf of those called to serve Him.[22]
As a believer, one always reveals the Jesus one knows to others.  One may lay claim to being born again, to be a child of Almighty God, but if one is still impoverished in one’s mindset and conduct, one truly does not know Him at all; it will always reveal itself in one’s deeds and/or actions towards others.  (1 Jn 2.1-6)
He will reveal one’s inner poverty not only to oneself, first and foremost, but also for everyone else to see, now matter how hard one tries to conceal it or pretend otherwise.  One may think that others are unable to discern the condition of one’s heart, but neither they nor God is fooled about one’s true state before Him.
One day, when we stand before the Judge of all mankind, we will come face to face with the living God, the One revealed to all of us through the Scriptures, whom we encountered (or not) and served (or not)—and receive (or not) the just rewards for all our actions.[23]
May we all seek and frequently experience Him prior to this event in His multifaceted awesomeness, and may such encounters radically and irrevocably change us, causing us to bear fruit eternally for His pleasure and to His glory.
Blessed be His wonderful Name forevermore.

[1] One does not always know beforehand why God leads one somewhere, e.g. Ge 12.1, “Now the Lord had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you ....”
[2] Unfortunately, the reasons therefore, although significant, cannot be dealt with here.
[3] “…  [we] bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 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 1.2-4, annotation and emphasis mine)
  Believers, not actively engaged in fulfilling their destinies in Christ are, in my experience, seldom have meaningful fellowship.  Their faith is mostly impersonal, centred on dogmatic issues, which is what they will mostly convey or try to “share.”  Unfortunately, many consider this fellowship.  I do not.  One cannot have meaningful fellowship with another believer, unless one has meaningful fellowship, first and foremost, with Him.  Fellowship, in the aforementioned Scriptural context, is to be intimately involved with a Person.
[4] They either want God to do something for them or desire to do something for Him—they rarely walk out what God had preordained for them, all the issues of Life flowing out of His Being, unfolding as, how and when He pleases.
[5] Scripture teaches: “… love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13.34-35); “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us …” (Ep 5.2); “concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” (1 Th 4.9).
   When tested by “a lawyer” as to “which is the great commandment in the law,” Jesus responded by saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and then added something astonishing, by saying, “and [the] second [commandment—on par with the first—i.e. exactly] like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mt 22.34-39).  He emphasized it by adding, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Mt 12.40)
  In other words, everything all the prophets throughout the centuries have spoken and everything the law may possibly teach, is summed in a single sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  James does not even refer to loving God, when he cites this command as the “royal law according to the Scripture!”  (Jas 2.8)  One would have thought loving God is far more important—but the two are of equal importance! 
  Jesus gave practical meaning to the term love. 
  James’ and Paul understood Jesus’ words in the overall volume of Scripture.
  The reason for all of this is beautifully dealt with by Paul in the book of Romans, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if [there is] any other commandment, are [all] summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The next verse tells us why, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love [is] the fulfilment of the law. “  (Ro 13.8-10)
  All of this is should not surprise any born again believer because God Himself is love personified, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  (1Jn 4.8) (All the aforementioned Scriptural annotations and emphasis are mine.)
  Christianity, and the behaviour of its adherents, cannot be substantiated apart from all of the aforesaid.
[6] I even had someone recently refer to me as a “drifter,” not reflecting my walk (or track record) with God at all, but his perception of my “lifestyle.”
[7] In today’s money terms this amounts to R 5,380.63 or $ 621.03, assuming a compound growth rate of 15% pa over the period (and a R 8.664/$ 1.00 exchange rare at current levels), all of which I presumed, erroneously as it turned out, included reasonable usage of all their facilities (other than the land line), including water and electricity, washing and ironing.
[8] Although South Africa has had democratic elections the previous year, racism still prevailed in the hearts of people—even born again believers!  (The author subsequently lived in similar servant’s quarters (although spruced up in order to earn the owner a far better income!) in Muizenberg, for a while, renting a room from a lady owning a double storey property, which she had hoped to convert into an upmarket guesthouse.)
[9] Since I did not feel at liberty to do so, I never cooked a meal whilst residing there.
[10] Disallowed under apartheid and (still, in many instances) frowned upon by whites.
[11] Which, mistakenly/presumptuously, it turned out, I thought I was entitled to use.  (Please refer to footnote 6 for more information.)
[12] Be that as it may, if one is committed to one’s destiny in the Lord (and understand the importance thereof) situations like this always works to one’s favour (Rom 8.28).  Nowhere does one better learn to produce the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control,” particularly longsuffering and self-control, all of which reflects the very character of God, but in situations where one is unrighteously and wrongly accused of something.  (Ga 5.22; Ex 34.6)  No serious believer will divert his/her set course in the Lord merely because someone decides it appropriate to kick up a dust storm!  Besides, Scripture declares, “A fool’s wrath is known at once …;  A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.; Do you see a man hasty in his words? [there is] more hope for a fool than for him; A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips [are] the snare of his soul.”  (Pr 12.16; 29.11; 29.20; 18.7, emphasis and annotations mine.)
  The hallmark of a fool is someone who is wise in his/her own eyes.  (Pr 1.7)  Normally, one wastes one’s time to even share Godly truth with them.  (Pr 26.4; I will let you, for your own edification, contemplate the seeming contradiction of second portion of this text!)
[13] “But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace [was] upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”  (Isa 53.5.  See also 1 Pe 2.24) In her personal bible, I noticed, all the healing passages had been marked by a friend, who had shared the significance thereof with her, but who had now moved, residing elsewhere.  Even so, she had not yet accepted Jesus as her Saviour or embraced His wonderful provision for her healing.
[14] During the course of our conversations, I learnt the man she had hoped to marry reneged on his commitment to her, and this, I am convinced, led or contributed to her physical condition and mental torment.  Even though I insisted that she forgave him, she absolutely refused!  I was sure Matthew 18.21-35 was relevant in her situation, as well as passages such as Matthew 4.24 and Luke 6.18.
  I have subsequently dealt with one other case of multiple sclerosis and the person was equally bitter.  In her case, her husband had been electrocuted at work and, although remarried, she blamed God for her misfortune!  She even turned against me subsequently, even though I tried to help her escape her dreadful condition!  (Personally, I believe they were both demonically bound.)
[15] “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, 4 then I will give you rain in its season …” (Le 16.3-4.  See also Dt 11.13-21; 28.12; 28.64; Am 4.7-8; etc.)
[16] “Then He shall speak to them in His wrath.”  (Ps 2.5)
[17] “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest.  I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city.  One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered.  8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, but they were not satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the Lord.”  (Am 3.7-8, emphasis mine)
[18] For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, nor [are] your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;  it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] for which I sent it.“  (Is 55.8-11, emphasis mine.)
   Once, sitting in a church service, I suddenly saw, in an inner vision, rain pouring from heaven.  My immediate thought was, “Wherever this downpour is falling things are going to grow like crazy.”  The pastor ministering were calling out people to whom God had already spoken personally regarding their destiny in Him, speaking to them prophetically, exactly depicting the truth of the aforementioned text!
[19] We know He is omnipresent, but to experience it is something entirely different.  Shortly thereafter, He divinely moved me to another Christian home, which although far more pleasant, presented another set of challenges! 
[20] Subsequently, I have encountered Him via rain in other equally astonishing ways.  Of course, some scientific “experts” will disagree with Scripture and what I have shared, but then their own forecasting and track record often make me, in turn, question their expertise!  Besides, there are many specific details regarding natural phenomena that simply cannot be explained by science.  Even if it can predict reasonably accurately, if one continues to question their theories, one often find that they can seldom fully account for it scientifically.
  For example, just yesterday I asked, in this instance, a medical specialist if it is true that “…the life of the flesh [is] in the blood …” as Scripture declares in Leviticus 17.11.  Although not a Christian, this cardiologist said it was true.  When asked, she briefly explained her hypotheses.  However, many medical professionals whom I have questioned concerning this in the past would totally disagree with her (and God’s revelation in this regard, I may add).
  Another example: a medical specialist with whom I discussed the spiritual causes of diseases (to which he was oblivious, not having been taught the significance thereof at University, despite God referring to Himself as “the Lord who heals” i.e.  Jehovah Rapha (Exodus 15.26), said (in trying to justify the enormous advances in medical science, negating spiritual issues), “We now what causes down syndrome.”  He then proceeded to name a specific gene, but when asked what caused this gene to malfunction, he was unable to answer me.  (To further complicate matters, a German physician, who has just returned from Germany where his father almost died from advanced Alzheimer’s, informed me today that chromosome 23 actually is the culprit.  Apparently, an extra chromosome is produced, in addition of the normal two.  When I asked what causes that he told me they know but as one, in turn, investigates that [and so on], eventually one arrives at a place where science has no answers [and therefore, in my opinion, unfortunately, no solution either].)  In practical reality therefore, the source of it is still a mystery and so is God to many in the medical profession, specifically regarding what He has to say about sickness, diseases and infirmities.  (Incidentally, the German doctor is sadly, despite all his scientific knowledge, unable to even be of value to his own father.  I related to him a particular instance where God had completely healed someone from this condition [after he had been delivered from demons].  Although listening with interest, he shrugged it off by saying he believed his father’s problem to be too advanced, i.e. beyond reversal.  When I began to relate Scriptural and contemporary instances of creative miracles, his whole demeanor changed.  He did not believe it was possible. 
  In order to help all of us, I invited him to a crusade I am planning to hold in the near future in Gugulethu, a huge area in which many deprived blacks reside, to witness—and verify— medical miracles personally.  He immediately backed off.  The area was way too dangerous for him to potentially risk his life!)
  God help us!  Without God, medical (and all other science) is woefully incomplete and as powerless as the men and woman putting their trust in it.
[21]But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”  (Jas 3.14-16, My emphasis)
[22] “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Ro 8.28, NIV)
[23] “You render to each one according to his work” (Ps 62.12)  “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”  (Mt 7.2)   “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward [is] with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”  (Re 22.12, annotation mine.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bag of white sugar

Recently, as I walked to the local Spar supermarket, in Vredehoek, Cape Town, up from Ludlow road, where God had given me a three bed roomed apartment to reside temporarily[1], I was not sure if I had enough credit on my credit card facility[2] to purchase sugar.

As I approached The Sidewalk Café restaurant, I noticed a man sharpening knives outside their premises, at the back of his bakkie or truck, on which everything had been conveniently assembled for him to ply his trade.

Sidewalk Cafe, Vredehoek, Cape Town.
Apartment (upper) at 32 Ludlow Road,
Vredehoek, Cape Town.

It got my interest as my own paring knife had its tip seriously damaged by someone, whilst living in George, having used its tip for some ill advised purpose.  I did not know how to fix the problem and then remembered an old Afrikaner remedy.  Attempting to work off the badly twisted point, I slid both sides of the knife against a cement slab, trying to straighten and evenly level off the edges, as best I could.  Ahead of me I observed a craftsman at work, someone who truly knew what he was doing, otherwise his services would not have been used by such an establishment.  I sneaked up on him and jokingly stuck my finger in his side.  He did not hear me coming but, despite my actions, was not startled.

Bevan Pope,[3] the owner of Cutting Edge, the mobile knife sharpening operation, turned out to be a blood redeemed son of the living God, and we soon stood talking about God and His kingdom as he plied his trade on the “sidewalk” or at the back of his truck parked next to it (whilst at the same time answering all my questions on the process of sharpening knives.)

He then suddenly stuck his hand in his pocket and, to my surprise, handed me R30.00, the tithe on the work he was performing, he said.  When he arrived at the restaurant the person authorizing the sharpening of knives was out, and he did not think he would get any work from them this time.  But a prayer and a phone call (from someone working in the restaurant to someone in authority) resulted in him having to tend to all their kitchen knives.  He was being blessed and he wanted, in turn, to bless me.

After an interesting time together, I eventually left and walked into the Spar, purchasing a 2.5 gram bag of Huletts white sugar for R 27.95.  (This particular Spar is a neighborhood establishment and therefore (rightly or wrongly) considerably more expensive, in just about all the items they stock, than a more conventional supermarket only a few kilometers away.  (Biblically this is unjustifiable, but then a lost world couldn’t care less about what is just.  It honors an idol, called greed, behind which a demonic entity lurks.[4]

A few days prior, as I was beginning to run out of sugar, a believer (who came for breakfast with another believer), noticing my dwindling supply of sugar, suggested that I should purchase a “small bag.”  In the light of the aforesaid, I venture to suggest this man’s logic portrayed his comprehension and approach to the God whom he professes to know and serve, rather than what God had in mind.

As it turned out, I learnt  a day or so later, I had just enough credit on my card to buy two cups of coffee when two of us went to go see a brother-in-the-Lord earning his living selling paintings at St Georges Square, at the Cape Town city center.

This brother, I’ve noticed, often offered to buy coffee but never does.  In this instance, after alerted the waitress with whom he wanted to place an order, he promptly got up and disappeared.  When she arrived I ordered two coffees—and paid for them, and when I checked afterwards I noticed I had completely depleted all my recourses.  Thankfully, I had just enough “cash” left to pay for the coffees.

How often do we not treat our heavenly Father as if He is a pauper and act accordingly in our conduct towards others?

The sugar incident yet again sharply reminded me how faithful, merciful and gracious the God I serve truly is, knowing one’s every need,[5] small or great—and meeting it in His own time and way.  If He can meticulously supply something as insignificant as sugar for our timely enjoyment—how much more not everything else needed to accomplish the work pre-ordained in Him, big or small—if only we truly trust Him completely and wait upon His solution and timing!

In the light of the clear revelation of Scripture, how differently all of us still act towards Him.

We are never dependant on others.  Likewise, we can never base our trust in Him on the Scriptural interpretation/comprehension, or lack thereof, of others.  We are solely reliant on Him, the owner of everything on the face of the earth.[6]

Bless His wonderful Name!

[1] For which I only have to pay the water and electricity bill.
[2] The only “cash” available to me.
[3] His father lives in and serves God in a coloured community and I soon gathered that this Godly man, more than any other professing Christians, has left an indelible mark on his own son. (This unfortunately cannot be said of many Christians.)
[4] “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” (Col 3.5) with “They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons …” (Ps 106.36, see also Le 17.7)
[5] 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.” (Mt 6.31-33, emphasis mine)
[6] The earth [is] the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. (Ps 24.1)

Pay them half

This account deals with a typical encounter I have had with the living God in addressing a financial situation pertaining to accommodation and sustenance, whilst living in Sea Point, Cape Town, during the mid-1990s.
Prior to moving to Sea Point, I had been renting a room (on a weekly basis) at The Lennox, then still a reasonably appointed residential establishment in Gardens, Cape Town.  I was asked to vacate it at months end as it had been pre-booked by cyclists partaking in the annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Race.

As still is the case today, I had been walking out my preordained destiny in Jesus, going to where He was leading, resolving everything in Him, step by step, as I went along.[1]

However, as is perhaps still the case, I was reluctant to commit myself to long-term fixed accommodation, especially to a protracted lease agreement.  I was totally reliant on God for all my accommodation, food, and clothes, which He had faithfully provided[2], albeit always at the very last minute.  Living like this is exhilarating but can also be nerve-wracking, as one has to wait to see how and when He chooses to provide.  Moreover, there always is the possibility that He might choose, for very valid reasons of His own, not to provide.[3]  Safeguarding me against such an embarrassing financial eventuality always seems to cause me to irrationally want to hedge my bets.  Such reasoning, ultimately is, of course, fallacious and perhaps still, to some extent, needs to be worked out of me in my walk with him.[4]  (Unfortunately the lost, but especially believers, often scrutinizes one’s every move/step, to watch to see if one comes undone.  If this happens, it seemingly will validate their own theories or interpretation of Scripture, as apposed to what one is practically walking/working out in Him.)

Whilst seeking God’s face for alternative accommodation, a sister-in-the-Lord one day took me to a residential hotel located in Kei Apple road, Sea Point (not far from where she herself lived), then known as The King David Hotel (previously also known, I was recently told by someone who knew the area well, as The Queens Hotel). 

By God’s grace, I was able to book a room for R700.00 per month (obviously at a more beneficial rate than on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis) providing some form of stability, albeit only briefly.[5]

Having recently returned to Cape Town,[6] I looked up the location of the hotel to determine if it still exists.  Where it once stood is now a new development, know as Planet Africa  (However, in case you are interested, it used to be situated within a few minutes’ walking distance from the Checkers Supermarket, located at the corner of Regent street and St Andrews road.)

Planet Africa (ex-King David Hotel
Sea Point, South Africa)
View from King David Hotel
(to local Checkers supermarket)
Google aerial view of above images

Although the hotel offered pre-paid restaurant meals to residents wanting to use such facilities, I chose not to, instead daily visiting the local supermarket for my daily sustenance.

Also staying at the hotel at the time was Dino, a brother-in-the-Lord (of Italian extraction).  By occupation he was a chef who had worked in a guesthouse in the Eastern Transvaal.  After a serious car accident, he moved to Cape Town, hoping to utilise the compensation received (from a personal injury insurance settlement), to set up a coffee shop or similar establishment, perhaps even providing light meals for potential customers.

Having previously been in business for my own account, I assisted him in working through his limited options, mostly trying to prevent him from squandering his cash and by him avoiding costly, irreversible financial mistakes, such as locating it in the wrong area, entering into unfavourable lease arrangements, superfluous or costly expenditure on the wrong items, etc.[7]  He almost daily came to see me to assist him in exploring his options and we got to know each other reasonably well as a result.

Despite my own arrangement, I knew that, at some point, in the near future, I was going to run out of cash, a prospect too frightening to contemplate for most people.  At least I had the temporary “security” of a pre-paid room for a month in advance, providing me with some breathing space—but it was not going to last long, and so, as this day approached, with a little more than R 700.00 to cover my existence, I began seeking God’s face for solutions.

Whilst in prayer one day, He suddenly responded by saying, “Pay them half.”  “I cannot do so Lord,” I protested, “there will be a rate amendment (as if He was oblivious to it).”  My mindless riposte remained unanswered.  In obedience, I eventually went to the receptionist on duty, saying, “I do not know for how long I will be staying with you.  Can I pay you R350.00 in the meantime?”  “I am not sure,” she said.  “When I see the manager again I will ask him and get back to you.”  I nonetheless insisted paying her the R350.00 (as He had instructed), which she accepted, and for which I received a receipt.

When over the next few days no one responded to my request, I approached the manager concerning my situation.  He informed me that the hotel was owned by a Jewish landlord.  The premises had been leased to a Swiss citizen, living in Constantia, operating it as a hotel.  The lease expired at the end of that month but the landlord decided not to renew it.  Instead, he planned auctioning the property.  His intentions totally surprised the lessee, potentially leaving him without his primary source of income.  His staff likewise faced a dilemma, not sure what was going to unfold, with them all ultimately risking loosing the “security” of their jobs.  “As far as I am concerned,” he said, “you can stay on for as long as you like, at no extra cost, until we all have to leave.”

The news quickly spread, especially to the residential tenants, some having lived there for years.  Everyone was forced to hastily try and secure alternative accommodation.

With the upcoming Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycling event, this proved to be almost impossible, as the cyclists have also pre-booked virtually all available residential accommodation in the area.  People were bewildered, left in an extremely vulnerable situation.  Some even approached a local radio station to air their discontent, frustration and anger—but all to no avail.

Dino joined the mad rush to find new accommodation and would check in with me daily, informing me about the prospects he had unearthed.  He was totally oblivious of my circumstances, but made it clear he was trying to find a place “for us both” to stay.  I assume he presumed I could or would pay half the rent.  Given what I had already shared above, I could not commit myself to such an arrangement, but he forged ahead nonetheless, on behalf of us both.

Having become accustomed to seeking God’s Face on everything in life, I once again turned to Him for resolution.[8]  “Lord, what must I do?”  I kept on asking—anticipating a response.

Everyone was doing everything possible to find a place to stay.  I did not.  Instead, I awaited God’s response in the solitude of my room.

Then one day, during all this uncertainty, a hotel staff member knocked on my door, “There’s a phone call for you,” she said, informing me to take it (on what seemed to be a communal line) near the staircase on my floor.  On the phone was an unredeemed, retired coloured[9] schoolteacher whom I had met whilst living in Jerusalem.  (She was on holiday there at the time.)  Having witnessed to her in Israel, I gave her the telephone number of a believer in Johannesburg to contact, when visiting her daughter (who lived and worked there), should she feel inclined to do so.

Before I returned from Israel, she somehow obtained my mother’s phone number from someone and tried to reach me at her retirement home in Vanderbijlpark, leaving a message for me to contact her upon my return (if I ever did).  When I arrived back in South Africa I tried to contact her at the number provided, but learnt she had left, this time for Zambia.  That was the last time I thought I would ever hear from her, but here she now was on the line, this time having heard from another South African (who had also visited Israel at the same time) that I was now living in Cape Town, the city where they both resided.

She suggested we meet for tea at an outdoor restaurant located at the botanical gardens, off the city centre, which we did, soon thereafter.  It was a casual meeting without any agenda or set purpose.  She was inquisitive about my plans.  I said I was between things (not knowing what God had in mind), but that I would soon (given the aforesaid) move, although not sure where to yet.  We parted company and again I truly thought I would never see or hear from her again.

Edna and I had nothing in common.  Our backgrounds differed radically and so did our outlook on life, interests and activities.  Nevertheless, a few days later, she phoned again—this time suggesting that I come and stay with her.  She even suggested Dino do likewise.  I took this as coming from the Lord (Dino had a different view), and soon moved to Grassy Park, a predominantly coloured area, in which she resided.

The flatlet, adjoining her home, consisted of two bedrooms (the one abutting the other), a bathroom and kitchen.  It was freely available to me, for as long as I wanted to stay there.  Although relatively far away from everything, it was secluded, well appointed and comfortable.[10]  Whilst Edna was going about her daily business, most days going off somewhere, I predominantly spent my time in Scripture and simply being with Him.

One day as I sat at the desk in the spare bedroom, studying (the Person of) the Holy Spirit, as revealed in Scripture (particularly in Acts 4), I suddenly heard Him say, “Go look at your passport.”

I got up from my chair and retrieved my passport from my suitcase.  As I opened it, I noticed that it was expiring during that particular week.  When Dino came to visit, and learnt what God had told me, he insisted that we immediately drive to Home Affairs (located) in Wynberg (if my memory serves me correctly) to have it renewed, and so we did.

Not long thereafter God moved me thousands of miles away—his time to Zambia, for which I needed a renewed passport!

I could have solved all of the aforesaid intellectually, by using my God-given mental faculty—and that, I can assure you, is what most Christians would have urged/advised  me to do based on their understanding of God’s word, leaving only that for which they had no answers to Him.

I deliberately chose not to do so.

Among others, Scripture in Proverbs declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”[11]

How true this proved to be the case in the aforementioned incident.

I was not (and no longer am) part of the maelstrom of everyday events in a godless world, primarily obsessed with and serving itself.[12]  I was (and still am) serving Him, walking out my destiny in Him[13], as best I know how, with Him directing my paths superlatively in the midst of untold greed, strive and turmoil—as the aforementioned incident attests.

The manner in which He so graciously dealt with me may not be the way you would have handled it.  So let me ask you this: How would you have resolved my situation and how are you practically resolving the daily issues of your life? 

Do you perhaps still act as if you are wiser than Him, resolving issues, (hopefully/presumably) to your advantage, as you see fit—or do you truly submit to Him, viewing Him as the source of all life, serving His purposes, on His terms?

In my experience, it is best to line up with the revelation of Him; to die completely to self and to find life in Him alone[14] on His terms; as He directs,[15] serving and loving “ the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”[16]

We can delude ourselves, but He cannot be fooled.  He knows who His servants truly are, and those pretending to be (or even those wanting to do “something” for Him), and He deals with them both accordingly.

The daily reality of it will be revealed in whether one clearly encounters the living God (or not) as we grapple (or not) with the issues of life flowing out of His Being. 

This is not an optional process and the consequences, whether one realises/appreciate it or not, are eternal.

Peter wrote, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”[17]

May He bless you abundantly in encountering Him as you diligently seek His word and Face with all your might for a clearer understanding of Him and His ways.

Blessed be His Name forevermore!

[1] In 1 Corinthians 16.6-8 we see glimpses of the same processes in Paul’s life (even though his calling was already broadly defined as can be clearly seen in passages, such as, for example, Acts 9 and 22).
[2] See Matthew 6.24-34
[3] Proverbs 9.11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son [in whom] he delights.”
[4] I am doing far better with the fear (or anxiousness) of Him not providing.  This was something I needed to overcome.  God sometimes allow us to come horribly undone—but allows this always for our own benefit and it usually occurs when He needs to deal with something we need to come to terms with doctrinally, relating to misconceptions, etc He wants corrected.  In this respect, Paul says, in 1 Cor 15.31, “I die daily,” i.e. there are aspects of our lives that still need to die, in subjugation, to His Lordship.  In working out our destiny, we are placed in hardship, sometimes totally beyond our control to learn to no longer trust in self, but totally in God, as 2 Cor 1.8-11, for example, teaches.
[5] In today’s terms this is equivalent of roughly R 8,662.82, assuming a growth rate of 15% over that period or  $971.17 pm (converted at R8.92/$1.00 in September 2012)
[6] On 14 August 2012
[7] Thus functioning in the gift of helps, as found in 1 Cor 12.28: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” (My emphasis)
[8] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,”  (Phil 2.6-7) with “…in Him we live and move and have our being …” (Ac 17.28)
[9] I do not like to refer to people by their race, as it is irrelevant, but this places it in the South African context of the time.
[10] Staying here, you may want to know where I got cash from to sustain myself.  I honestly cannot even remember.  I have long ago taken another text to mind and ceased wondering where my next meal was going to come from, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  (Col 3.1-3)
[11]The New King James Version . 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (Pr 3:5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[12] “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one,” (1 Jn 5.19) with “And you [He made alive,] who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others,” (Ep 2.2-3) with “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2.15-17)
[13]For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  (Ep 2.10)
[14] “…if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  (2 Co 5.14-15)
[15]And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Ro 8.28, NIV)
[16]The New King James Version . 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (Mk 12:30). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[17]The New King James Version . 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (2 Pe 1:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.