There is a question that I find difficult answering, that is, what is your life verse? A bible verse that is one which you live by, one that you hold on to in all of life. Honestly I don’t have one. I just have verses that have been of significance in my life. First one has to be Ephesians 2:8-9 which was the one that led me to giving my life to Jesus. Another one has to be Romans 8:28 which I would say was a pillar through University. The verse, actually a passage that I want to share about and why it is of significance at this moment in time is Isaiah 43:1-3.
“…Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord your God…”
Context of this is when the Israelites where in exile under affliction. God is giving them promises of His presence with them, for their support and deliverance. First time I heard this verse was from a man whom I would consider my grandfather, a grandfather I never had. He was a family friend and pastor in the church I grew up in. I use ‘was’ because he passed away in 2017. He shared this verse to me in January 2016 when I had just finished my postgrad studies and was going back to Johannesburg to job hunt and start my life post studies. If I’m not mistaken it was the last time I saw him. I loved this man because every time I visited him, before I left his house, he would pray for me. Also he left me with something that is true in my life and I’ve held on to.
Only now when I look back I can see the significance of the day he shared the verse with me. Andile Khumalo’s words come to mind when he says: “Often you don’t realize what is happening to you until you have the opportunity to pause and look back”. Steve Jobs puts this perfectly by saying: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”. I firmly believe this and I trust in God. I see the dots connecting in my life.
Simply put, ever since Isaiah 43 has been shared to me, life hasn’t been plain sailing, which is an understatement. Past 3 to 4 years years have been quite the ride. In a nutshell; I lost my aunt who raised me, my brother who was a father figure to me committed suicide, went a year unemployed which became a gap year, then worked a year at a frustrating job and then to a year of unemployment again. I can’t help but laugh whilst I type this because mans has gone through a lot but he is still standing, all because Isaiah 43. To add spice to the story, some heart break along the way. You know relationships stuff. But I’m still here to share my story because Isaiah 43 has been true in my life.
Honestly speaking, when going through some of those hardships, really felt, the rivers and fire would drown and burn me respectively. I doubted God, got angry at God, gave up on God came back to God. Went through all the motions, but God has been ever so consistent and constant. I remember there was even a time I genuinely believed my life was a joke to God and He is there in heaven with the angels enjoying the sitcom that is my life. That’s when I turned my back on God. I was ready to give up my faith, I just couldn’t anymore. I gave in to a sinful relationship and alcohol was my coping mechanism, which is an understatement; but God…..
I had made a mess of my life, but God had known that about me before He sent His son to die for me on the cross.
I have learnt to look at life in a new perspective, life as a timeline. The beginning being the day I was born and the end the day I die. In my life’s timeline there are high and low points. There are great peaks, signifying moments of accomplishment and times of pure delight, and valleys representing painful loss, rejection, and loneliness. The high peaks for me have been graduating twice, so two peaks, getting my first job and other little peaks of small achievements like winning football matches, getting my dj gigs and so forth. The low peaks have been losing my aunt and brother, unemployment twice, a frustrating job, relationship failures and also of course small valleys of disappointments. I’ve learnt that when I reflect on my life’s timeline with all the peaks and valleys, God’s perspective of it is the opposite of my perspective. In His perspective, God sees my timeline as upside down. God sees my lowest moments as my spiritual highs because that is when He is doing the deepest work in my life. And it is out of those valleys that God gives platform for ministry. These low points are essential to discern the calling and walk with Christ. From them come my most significant growth and greatest dependence on God.” From the lowest emotional points comes the most significant growth. My greatest dependence on God. This analogy is not original to me by the way, it comes from The Scars That Shaped Me.
With the second unemployment, I had to leave Johannesburg because I couldn’t afford to stay there anymore. I had hit a low point for a twenty something year old male, that is staying in your mom’s house, being broke and unemployed at the same time. God had stripped everything I had valued. Left my friends, comfort, community and my life altogether. In this stripping of all I held dear, God gave opportunity to plant new things in the garden of my heart. Things like trust, faithfulness, and obedience. I learnt that the greatest witness I could be for Christ is not doing things for God, but who I am becoming in the quietness of the day, being planted in His love as I commune with Him.
Disclaimer: The second half of this post is about 8 months later. I couldn’t finish it at the time because I sort of sensed that my story wasn’t over.
Anyways 8 months later and I look back on God’s faithfulness. Still can’t believe how wonderfully and intentionally God has orchestrated my life. So earlier on I said the verse that has carried me has been Isaiah 43:1-4. The crazy thing is that I had never read further but I got to when God was working in my life. Came across this second part of Isaiah 43 last year when I decided to study the whole book.
18-19 “remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it”
That verse has been true in my life also. In the wilderness God has removed all that wasn’t like Jesus in my life. Built me up afresh. Forgave me, redeemed and restored. Honestly as I write this it is unfair on God to put words on how amazing and glorious God has been. God has redeemed in amazing ways, constantly giving me revelations of Himself to assure me of His anointing of me. Got a new job I love, with a great environment and within 4 months I got a promotion at work. He restored me to the community and friends I love and even more amazing entrusts me with the gospel to go take it to those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. God has been so intentional with me and been a good good father to me.
I have received all God has for me, even though portions of it may had been unpalatable to me at first. Even though the medicine he had for me may have tasted unpleasant initially, this was only because it was foreign to me. As I have digested what He has given to me, I have seen it’s significance and began to appreciate it all, and acquire its taste. As I sober myself from the toxins of the day, and absorb the truth God has presented to me, my understanding has increased and I have seen the beauty and wisdom of His ways.
I am now finally learning how to practice faith. How to live without fear. How to love well. How to believe God for who He is; mighty, trustworthy, powerful and good. For the first time, what is coming out of my mouth is actually lining up with the peace I sense in my spirit. It is a belief that says “God is bigger than all that”.