This Mountain

” …if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”

On Tuesday 18 June, I sat on my bed with my laptop, and my VISA application open, feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I knew I had to submit the application, but I honestly did not want to. I didn’t have all the necessary supporting documents I had intended to include, and I had heard way too many horror stories about visas taking months to be granted all because of outstanding documents. I definitely had 35 days left, so delays could not be my portion at this point. But, I was comforted by the fact that, firstly, I had not gotten to this point because of my own efforts – the same God that brought me this far, is the same God that will continue to see the promise through. And secondly, I wouldn’t know if I had given them enough information unless I actually submitted the application and allowed them to communicate that with me. So with my heart racing in fear and my mouth declaring the promises of God, I submitted my VISA application.

Now, once you’ve submitted and paid for your VISA, you have to get a medical assessment, as well as, your biometrics done. Your application can or will be denied without having both these components. Now, I had anticipated that both these would need to be done, but what I hadn’t anticipated was how much the biometrics would cost! My budget did not allow for this expense. In fact, I would only have enough budget to pay for my biometrics, and maybe my x-ray. So here I was again, with less than what was needed, but more than what I started with. I remember planning to just ask someone for help. I could always find a way to pay them back. Easy. But God immediately asked me, “Is my word still enough for you? Is knowing that I am for you still enough for you? Am I still enough?”

So despite it all, I went ahead and made appointments for my biometrics to be done the next day and my medical assessment the following Monday – I was happy to leave it all to God. Paying for the biometrics that Wednesday was easy; the money was there. But Monday was still coming. And as if my faith wasn’t being tested enough, sometime during the week an unexpected expense came along and I had to use everything I had. Now I definitely could not pay for the medical assessment.

On Friday, the doctor’s office called to confirm my appointment. I confirmed. I would be there. I have to admit though, I was very tempted to cancel the appointment. I was actually very sad that I finally had an application submitted, but again, I would have to fight my way to the finish line. Again, I would have to ‘prayer and petition’ my way through. But, I would be there.

On Sunday after Church one of my friends said something that really encouraged my heart again, “Just show up. Even if nothing happens. At least you showed up”. There had been no physical change in my finances, but I was going to arrive at the doctor’s office that Monday morning. Ready for my medical assessment. Ready, whether or not I could actually pay.

That Sunday afternoon, I had lunch with a old school friend. We hadn’t seen eachother in years. It was absolutely awesome seeing her but I was pretty stressed throughout that lunch. I was even tempted to ask for help, but the Holy Spirit reminded me to stay still. So I stayed obidient to God, knowing He knew what He was doing. Or atleast hoping He did. As we got into the car, on our way back to the Gautrain, she said “I have a gift for you.” And slid something into my hand. It was the exact amount I had paid earlier in the week.

“Just show up.”

So I woke up on Monday morning, with only half the amount sitting in my purse, but a willingness to show up. Don’t get me wrong, I was very nervous and uncomfortable. Would they allow me to pay the rest later? And if so, would they still send the results through so my visa could continue to be processed? I was playing several scenarios in my head, but was still hopeful that I wouldn’t have an oustanding balance when I left the doctor’s office that morning. While on our way to the hospital, I was telling my boyfriend that I could still only pay for my x-ray, and not the second part of the assessment. I continued to ask him if the scenarios I had played out would be viable. I was visibly panicked. He simply looked at me, completely unshaken by what I had just told him, and said he’d pay for the second part. In fact, he had planned to do so all along. Less than an hour before my appointment, I now had everything I needed for my assessment. Imagine if I had cancelled my appointment that Friday afternoon?

There’s something about positioning yourself. Granted, you may get disappointed, but man oh man, you may just find yourself positioned under an open Heaven. You may just see mountains move.

I did not feel prepared enough to submit my visa. But I still showed up.

I had not planned for the biometrics expense. But I still showed up.

I did not have the finances to pay for my medical assessment. But I still showed up.

“You will say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;”

Yes, faith the size of a mustard seed has the potential to move mountains. But in order to know that “this” is the moutian to move, you’d have to see it.

You’d have to show up.

Noah

In Genesis 6, we see the story of Noah unfold. And as you read further, God gives Noah strict instructions to build an ark, as well as, the instruction to take his family and a certain number of clean and unclean animals with him on the ark. And thanks to Sunday school, we probably all know that God told him to do this because He was going to send rain for 40 days and 40 nights. This is would result in what we refer to as The Great Flood. Now, when I had previously discussed the story of Noah, or at least what I was taught, was that it was a great story of faith in God. I mean, imagine what everyone must have thought of Noah when he was building the ark. Especially since he was the only one that knew about the flood that was to come. It was just always framed as an incredible story about God’s chosen who would, ultimately, be used to fulfil God’s plan and affect generations to come.

A few weeks ago, while reading the story of Noah again, I couldn’t help but notice the timeline in which the fulfillment of God’s promise to Noah takes place. Noah was a few days into his 600th year when the flood began. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. But only in the second month of Noah’s 601st year, did God give Noah the instruction to finally come out of the ark and go forth and abound on the earth. God hadn’t disclosed this waiting period to Noah. In fact, God remembers Noah, his family and every living thing on the ark somewhere between that year, but only a year after the flood begins does God finally speak to him.

I mean, I understand the earth needed to dry before they could disembark, but I’m pretty sure God could have just made provisions for the them to immediately leave the ark. Why did Noah have to wait a year to finally be able to live in the fulfillment of the promise of God? And God said to me, “There’s much to be done in the waiting. Do not get caught up in the excitement of Me calling you to something. And even though the work done in the waiting may not be as glamorous, fun, or as straight forward as ‘just having faith’, it’s necessary. Many may not see what happens inside your ark, but it does not mean you get to neglect it either.”

When I moved back to Johannesburg and moved in with my older sister this year, God had put family on my heart. That there was work to begin while I prepared for Sydney in July. I wasn’t too sure what, how or why, but I knew God had something up his sleeve. Now, I haven’t been the very closest with my family. Even more so, now that I decided to leave Stellenbosch and go study at Hillsong College. But, so much had happened in my life that my walls were pretty high up when it came to family. I had established a rather transactional relationship with my family and I was okay with that. No one at varsity or Church really knew much about my family background, and I was pretty comfortable with keeping them separate because “They just don’t understand me as a person, so they definitely won’t understand what God is doing in my life”. So even though I was willing to let God do a work in that regard, at the back of my mind I still had my doubts so my defenses were still up.

But even with my walls up, I envisioned that everything with family would happen so easily. I thought, since God’s hand was over everything, everyone would be all smiles in no time. But man, oh man… That is definitely not what it looked like. It was actually quite discouraging the way things were going. I became less eager. But I saw how the more I avoided listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the more things were not working out. Even with my plans for Sydney. God would constantly put me in situations where I would have to rely on my family. Where I’d have to humble myself and listen. Where I had to ask my sister, who is my financial adviser, for signed documents to prove I had savings. My VISA application depended on it. But despite His efforts, I still wasn’t very keen to do the work of actually building bridges. Actually healing. Actually engaging. Actually confronting my reality. I was okay to ask for help under the banner of “I know you’re annoyed with me but I had no choice. Only you can help”.

About a week ago, my sister sat me down and said our living arrangements weren’t working. She explained that I had the choice to move out or stay with them, but both options had some ‘conditions’ attached . Either way, I’d have to actually come to the table, engage and just “do the labour” as my sister always puts it. More so if I actually chose to still stay with them. I felt rather hurt. I was upset. I mean, I had stayed out of everyone’s way. I had tried my best not to make things worse than they already were. It seemed easier to move out, and just be out of everyone’s hair. It seemed easier to just throw in the towel. I mean, I moved to Johannesburg. I was closer to family. I was here. I had messaged. I had tried. And it just seemed like my few attempts had brought everyone, including myself, nothing but more hurt and disappointment. Where was this God that had spoke of a new hope before I moved here?

The next day, I remember sitting on my bed feeling like that 14 year old girl again. The one who felt her world crumble when she had to move out of her father’s home. This wouldn’t be the very first time I left home. It was all a very familiar feeling. Almost comforting, even. But I remember feeling very rebuked in that moment. Remembering the story of Noah. Now, I do not know Noah’s intimate life story, but imagine being in an ark for a year with your family and live animals. Imagine how much the family may have fought. Imagine the discomfort. Imagine how much their bond may have been tested. Their character. A lot probably happened in that ark. A lot that we did not get to see. And if any of them ever felt that they had had enough, I’m pretty sure they could have left the ark straight after the flood. It may not have resulted in their death, like everyone else, but at least they wouldn’t be in one another’s space. The only difficulty may have been that the land would have been wet and they wouldn’t have been able to plant anything or even make a home anywhere. They probably wouldn’t have been able to abound in the conditions and in the way God had desired for them.

I now had the choice to stay in my ark, or live out my calling (not in it’s fullness) while neglecting the work to be done. Pastor Mike Todd often says ‘Partial obedience, is still disobedience’ and I believe disobedience has consequences. Yes, there is grace. And yes, God loves us and all that good stuff. But sometimes, we delay our own promises because we refuse to be obedient to what God tells us.

So I decided to stay with my sister. I decided to fight. I decided to get better. I decided to work at allowing God to heal me, so that I would stop hurting my family. So that I could be a better sister, daughter, friend. Because hurting people, really do hurt people. Whether intentionally or not. I decided to start.

“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.” – There is often quite a wait between what He says and when it manifests. And sometimes, like with Noah, He may not say anything until the time it does. But His word still stands. His promise still stands. Maybe things aren’t “working out” because we refuse to be obidient to the instructions we were given in the waiting.

On Tuesday, 18 June I applied for my VISA. That same evening, I had the conversation with my sister.

On Wednesday, 19 June I decided I would commit to doing the labour to heal.

On Tuesday, 25 June, I began therapy. That same afternoon, I was granted my VISA.

Maybe Noah was in the ark for an entire year because God wanted Noah to tend to issues that may hinder him from stepping into the fullness of God’s plans.

Maybe sometimes, God doesn’t move until we do.

Even if He doesn’t

On Thursday the 14th of March, I received an email with the subject line: “Congratulations on your conditional acceptance to Hillsong College!” Man! I was beyond excited! And you best believe I celebrated with some good food (that I generally would not splurge on). You could not tell your girl anythiiiiing.

Then the reality of it all sunk in: It was no longer a far-fetched idea. In just over 4 months my semester would begin. In Sydney, Australia. I had approximately 140 days to raise just under 40 000 AUD. That’s just over R400 000! I don’t work. I don’t have much experience. And simply put, the chances of finding work that would raise that much money, while allowing me to cover my current living expenses, would be pretty slim. My heart honestly sank. “How God?”, “Why God?” What would happen now?

I figured I needed to really get serious about raising this money. “These studies aren’t going to fund themselves,” I kept telling myself. And as much as I don’t want to do things in my own strength, I also don’t want to sit idle and hope the miracle will fall in my lap, unaware of tools I’ve been given.

A few months ago, while sharing around this season, my brother-in-law asked me if I believe God. And if I do, do I believe that God will outwork the promise accordingly. Saying ‘yes’ sounds simple. But living out my ‘yes’ has been really difficult. Would my answer still have been “yes” if I wasn’t accepted into College? Would my answer still be ‘yes’ if I didn’t end up finding work and didn’t raise the amount needed? Would my answer still be a ‘yes’ if God doesn’t see the promise through?

Be still.

I’ve heard these words very often. But outworking them in this season has been extremely difficult. Every time I panic. Everytime I feel defeated. Everytime I feel alone. “Be still” are the only words He offers me. Hearing God, amidst the chaos. Allowing Him to outwork it all, even when facts say it’s probably safer to stay in SA. To know His voice.

The enemy has definitely tried to use the idea of not having completed my degree to justify not being able to raise money on my own. The enemy has tried to use my insecurities about family to make me feel like I’m inconveniencing them. Fear. Fear of disappointment. Fear of failure. Fear of being alone. Honestly, every trick in the book, he has used. And he’s made a pretty convincing argument each time. But, the weapons of my warfare are not carnal.

Some days I’m filled with so much faith. And I am so sure I’ll be in Sydney with everything in place. But in all honesty, some days I can’t see a way that this could ever work out. Some days I want to give up. Some days I feel like I’m in this on my own. Some days I imagine myself having to email College letting them know I will no longer be studying this year because “It’s not working out”. Some days I’m actually paralyzed with fear.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t exactly know if God would deliver them from the furnace. They didn’t know when, how or if God wanted to deliver them. But they knew their God. And that was enough for them to refuse to worship any other god. I am defintely believing for something only God can do. And I don’t know how or when He will do it. But I know my God. And on days, my emotions get the better of me I declare the Truth of God. Even when my thoughts and circumstances don’t line up. I will continue to declare the promise even with tears streaming down my face. Even when I have very little fight left in me. Because I know my God. Or atleast, still learning to.

“When I only see in part, I will prophesy Your promise. I believe You God. ‘Cause You finish what You start, I will trust You in the process. I believe You God” – Katie Torwalt

But even if He doesn’t.
I will serve no other God.

All things

On Wednesday the 27th of February, I had the opportunity to serve at our Sisterhood service in Pollsmoor Prison. To be quite honest, I didn’t know where I was going to serve but I was pretty excited to be able to go. When we arrived, I started to feel a little unsettled. A part of me no longer wanted to be there, while another part of me was trying to convince myself that being able to come at such short notice was no coincidence. After quite the pep talk in the bathroom, I made my way to the hall and started helping wherever I could. While standing at the door welcoming the ladies, I was asked if I would be willing to share a little bit of my testimony, specifically around my journey with my dad.

Now, my dad and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up. Several months would go by without having spoken to eachother. In January of 2015, we finally started talking again and he committed to really building our relationship. We started going to Church together, and even had dinner dates. He was the first person I’d call at 02:00 in the morning crying about how I’m probably gonna fail my exam. We had become so close that just before my November exams, I flew back home to spend a week with him. Because I missed him and just wanted to be home. We stayed up late talking about God, and worship and how grateful he is that we are working at our relationship. It was my absolute favourite week. But it was also the very last time I’d see him. In December of that year, my dad was shot in an armed robbery at our home. He died on the scene.

So, you can imagine the emotional turmoil that came with finding myself in the room I was in, having to tell this part of my story and still let them know that God wants to be their father too. That God desires a relationship with them too. Initially, I was going to be superficial about it. Tell the truth, while completely leaving out the parts that actually have hurt me the most. But during worship, God asked me “Do you think they are not worthy of my love? What makes you any different to anyone else in this room, that you would feel more deserving of my love?” I replied, “Nothing”. And He asked “So why have you hardened your heart so much?” and I said “Because it hurts. Because my dad was murdered by a man that thought it was okay to shoot him for a TV and a laptop. We had just started getting to know each other again. And I don’t know how to be in a room full of people that may have done something similar and tell them that they are loved. Because I’m not sure I do.” And He ended our conversation with “Just let me in to that hurt that you try so hard to hide from me.” And so I spoke. And I cried. And I wrestled. And I allowed God to do a work.

I’m not entirely sure of what happened that Wednesday morning. It still feels quite surreal. But I am sure of this; Someone needed to know that He loves them, despite their reason for being in that specific building that day. Someone needed to know that He sees them. Someone needed to know that earthly fathers may sometimes fail you, but God never will.

And I needed to be reminded that saying yes to Jesus, includes Him opening wounds that haven’t healed because I’ve tried to quickly cover them up. Yes, I didn’t want to speak that day, and it took everything in me to say ‘yes’. I honestly couldn’t wrap my head around why God would use this most hurtful part of my story. But I’m so very glad I let Him. Because that day, resentment made room for healing. Mourning made room for joy. And a crown of beauty instead of ashes was bestowed on me.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

All things

The Dance

“FAITH MAKES A FOOL OF WHAT MAKES SENSE”

I remember getting onto the plane back to Stellenbosch in July 2018. I had just found out, during the holiday, that I failed a module and may need to add yet another year to my studies. I was completely overwhelmed by what was to come. Discouraged. Tired. And to add on to the ‘stress’, I was to lead worship for the very first time that weekend. I remember thinking “God I don’t know if I have the strength to worship, let alone lead people into worship”. And as the plane took off, He said, “I won’t lead you where I don’t go”. I could almost hear Him singing “We Dance” over me.

So that Sunday I lead worship. Weak. Hurt. Disappointed. In complete surrender. And at the end of the final service He said “Now you’re ready for Hillsong College”. I was a little confused. It was never part of the plan. I didn’t exactly feel unqualified, but I definitely didn’t think I was qualified enough to go study worship and actually pursue something in it either. Yes, I had been serving on our worship team for 2 years, but I guess I had limited worship to just the serving on a Sunday. Either way though, my plan was to eventually go into criminology and continue serving on Sundays.

I was initially hesitant to go with God’s plan, but I was eventually willing to go study in Sydney. On my own terms. I would finish my BSc at the end of the year and go study Worship Vocals at Hillsong College in July 2019. It gave me enough time to get that degree in the bag, you know, “in case things don’t work out’. It was a foolproof plan!

One night, I was listening to the song “We Dance”, and I just knew there was more to this “You’re ready.” After a few days of conversations with my mentor, a lot of prayer and petition, it finally dawned on me; He was not just asking me to go to College as a nice-to-have, but as a call to something greater than myself. And so my faith was tested. Would I be willing to forsake everything for His will? Every impression people had of me? Every form of comfort and security? Even my studies? Everything.

Now, anyone who’s been walking my academic journey with me would know that I’ve failed Mathematics more times than one probably should. At first I was discouraged, but I kept repeating it. I was not going to give up. I would extend my degree again. Whatever it took. I would persevere no matter what. So when God asked me to forsake my studies, I felt rather let down by Him. How could He ask me to leave in what could potentially be my final year? I mean I had worked really hard to be where I was. I had sacrificed so much to just leave it all now. I was so close. Surely the Lord understood that I deserved this?

“For your glory or Mine?” He simply asked me.

Truly speaking, it’s pretty easy glorifying God in the seasons that “ work in your favour”, but man, when He calls you out into the deep, it becomes quite the battle. It’s been a difficult journey laying my future down. Trusting His intentions. Trusting that He will never fail me. And sometimes I have to speak life over myself when I’m feeling discouraged and my heart feels forsaken. But despite it all, I am certain of one thing; He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will.

So here I am in January 2019, 6 months before my semester begins. It’s all still quite a blur. I don’t know how it will all come together. And yes, sometimes I want to go back on my decision. It’s scary. It doesn’t all make much sense. But I know that this is no small thing. And despite all human logic, He will order each step accordingly. Because He is a God that won’t lead me where He doesn’t go. And He has proved that several times over.