I have been going through a strange time of being very quiet in my spirit the last couple of days. I almost couldn’t even answer telephone calls. We are flying to Pakistan this weekend, and when the news broke earlier this week of the flood that hit Pakistan, I could feel the warring in my spirit begin. Everything in side of my stood up, and I decided, “This is it, we are not going anymore! How can I expose my son to such danger?” My excuse was that I saw the terrible conditions and heartache that a disaster like this can cause when I experienced it firsthand during the 2004 Tsunami when I helped out as a relief worker in Banda Ache. I tried to tell myself that no one would blame me if I didn’t want to go because of the risky conditions. With all these excuses I tried to justify my decision, and finally gave my P.A. the go-ahead to cancel the flights to Pakistan.
That evening I went to God with a lot of unrest in my spirit, and after spending some time in His presence I heard these words so clearly, “The secret lies in surrender, Retah.” “But Lord, haven’t I already surrendered everything to you?” came my response. “No, you take it back off the surrender-altar with your fear and when you don’t trust Me. I am looking at you, and I want to teach you something today: Yield to me completely, everyday. Trust me completely, everyday. That is the mark of maturity. That is the place where you have come to the end of yourself and what you can do out of your own strength and abilities. The problem is that most of the time you don’t even recognize you are acting out of fear and not faith. At that place you rely on your human wisdom and you have no real power.”
I knew that we have come to a place where we could no longer protect Aldo from the hurt in the world, because this was what God asked of him (of all of us) – to reach out to the weak and hurting and tell them of Jesus. Instead of trusting God for our protection, I acted out of fear and cancelled the trip. I wanted to please myself. I learned a hard lesson through this. Every time I want to please myself (out of fear of selfish gain) I am doing something that is worth nothing to God.
“Retah, first things first – deny yourself. This eco in you that says I want, I wish, I feel, I think, I like – has to be denied. You have to say, ‘No! I will trust God – and not follow self.’ Only in those places where you have died to yourself can I take up habitation in you. So choose today to day to yourself, so that you can live!”
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me (Jesus), he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
What is this cross that Jesus talks about?
It is the place where your will and God’s will cross each other. Your “crossing” is the thing on which you have to die to, it is the place where you can lay down your life. When Jesus went to the cross He said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” John 10:17 - 18.
Your cross is the place where you make the decision not to please yourself. There was a great inner struggle going on inside of me before I could make the right decision, but I believe that when we walk in obedience blessings will follow.
It was difficult for me to see how much ‘self’ there was still in me, and I also realized that the road of faith is getting steeper and steepen now that Aldo is starting to go with me. My mother-heart still wants to protect him from the world, and the world’s comments, and the world’s expectations of him. But I know that I have to keep on surrendering to God everyday and trust in Him only.
“Retah, you have the Spirit of Christ in you. This life giving Spirit is the only mark of a true child of God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ(Romans 8:9).
My Spirit is meek and humble. With My Spirit in you, you will be able to trust Me even if you have nothing in your hands. My spirit is certainly not a self-pleasing spirit. You need to have your entire being in My Spirit.”
We need to realize that God works in different ways at different times. Why do we struggle so much to accept this? God knew long ago about the floods in Pakistan – but He also knew that now is the time that He wants us there.
When I realized this, all I could do, with tears in my eyes, was to repent and surrender. “Please forgive me Lord, I surrender all!”
I phoned Judike the next morning, a day after she cancelled the tickets: “I know you already cancelled the tickets, but please phone the airline and find out if we can reinstate our booking. I will pay the fee out of my pocket.” I kept on telling myself, You have to surrender now - leave it in God’s hands. I am so aware that I always leave my mess in His hands.
She phoned back a few minutes later, “You won’t believe me, but they never cancelled the tickets yesterday! For some reason they didn’t process my request and your original flight tickets are still in place. You won’t have to pay any fees or make a new booking!”
So, we (Aldo, Tinus and I) are on our way to a very wet Pakistan – we are flying out this weekend. (A friend of Aldo came by to help him prepare for Pakistan - he washed his feet and anointed him with oil.)
This is what will ALWAYS happen when GOD entrusts us with something very special. It is a gift from God, it is precious, it is miraculous, it is unique – but one day God is going to ask of you to surrender all, to trust completely, to trust Him only and not in yourself. God is looking for hands that are stretched out towards Him. Open hands that surrender everything to Him again and again. God wants us to give back to Him what He gave us; so that He can do with it what He knows is best. Whatever it is that you are clutching onto today, open up your hands and lay it on the altar of God. At this point you are either going to follow in the footsteps of Abraham or you are going to miss God’s blessing and His plan for your destiny.
When I look back now I can see how I also faced this test. God I place this ministry on the altar and I place Aldo on the altar. I will not hold on to my will, but I trust in Your will. I now rest in the fact that all the challenges and trails we face will be turned around for your glory.
Aldo fell on his knee some time ago and he is still struggling to walk because of the injury; and last night, out of nowhere, the tissue under his skin where the shunt normally is started to swell. No one got anxious when we saw it; we knew it was just another attack from the enemy and that we can trust God to fight for us. We had communion together, anointed him with oil and prayed for him, and trusted God for the rest. This morning he went to school as usual, without even thinking about it again. I took a quick peek at the swelling while he was eating breakfast and it already looked better to me.
Someone phoned him last night and probably mentioned something about the floods. I heard him answer, “Please, you shouldn’t worry – I am a great swimmer!” I didn’t know if I should laugh or scold him. I realized once again that God is in control and that is why I can rejoice in the God of my salvation! God doesn’t make mistakes. I can see how this mother is entering into a new dimension of faith. It is one thing to preach, but another thing to live what you preach!
I wanted to protect Aldo from the heavy expectations people place on him, and God said, “Retah, maturity is to live by what I expect from you – and it has nothing to do with the world’s expectation. Maturity is to have My character and My heart inside of you. Be still and know that I am God.” With these words I will now go and pack for my trip.
Last night Josh made himself a bed next to ours, and when I looked down some time during the evening I saw him with his i-pod in his ears, and arms outstreched worshipping God. This morning he said. “Mom, please come and pick me up at school today, but you have to have your tennis clothes on – then we can go and play some tennis directly after school. I want to get all my playtime in before you guys leave.”
I still have to speak at another event in Secunda on Saturday before we leave for Pakistan on Sunday. Josh said, “I really wanted to go with you to Secunda, Mom, but I have to play hockey on Saturday.”
“Don’t worry, Josh, I’ll be coming home soon. But what is it with you? I can feel that you are on and around me the whole time. Not that I mind, I love to have you close to me – but I can see something is up. What is it?”
“Mom, are you sure you are going to be okay so far away? Remember, the food they eat is a lot different from ours,” and then he opened up his lunchbox and took out an energy bar and handed it to me. “Take this with you, Mom. I love you, Mom,” and then he jumped out of the car and ran into his classroom. I looked at the energy bar in my hand and I knew that this is how God also gives us fresh manna every day – the Spirit of life, Christ in us!
Thank you to all the people from around the world that sow into this ministry, the people of Pakistan are going to have the Word of God preached to them because of your help. You are a part of this outreach and also the harvest.
I pray for a hundredfold harvest to come up for the seeds that you have sown.
Peace and love to you.
Retah and family.
Wisdom says that He will go with us to Pakistan. He says that Jesus says that I am free. Wisdom says that He will send His angels with me. Those who He blesses will be blessed indeed.