Life without pain is painful

If you had to ask a world-renowned sports athlete how he became so prosperous he would say that he suffered. If you had to ask a famous writer how he has become so crafty with words and sold many books he would tell you he suffered.

I heard this today in an interview with Jon Foreman, the lead singer and guitarist from the band Switchfoot, great band by the way, and he overheard it from someone else at the store funnily enough. Long story short the message he wanted to bring was that there is light in the chaos, a reason for adversity. if we never struggle in life we may struggle!

My favourite passage in the bible comes from a story in 2 Corinthians 12:10. It’s when Paul gets a thorn in his flesh and at first he is angry that it has happened to him but then comes a moment where he has come to terms with it. A moment of euphoria.

He then says: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions and difficulties for when I am weak; then I am strong.”

Through the pain and suffering he finds his strength in God and grows from the experience. I’m sure there was an experience you had in your life that was seemingly impossible at the time but now would seem rather doable, perhaps easy.

I had that moment just recently, I do find it hard to say that it will be easier and less stressful next time around but even so I will at least know how to deal with the situation a lot more efficient.

I was challenged with an amount to pay that was just too much. Although I have some savings in case of an emergency I would still not be able to cover it. I would have to take out a loan that would possibly take me at least a year to pay off while I change my lifestyle to extreme minimalism. Practically never eating out. Not buying miscellaneous items I might need. Not putting money aside for my future. Nothing.

I had that plan but it was stupid. Flawed. I only started to get a better way to sort out the problem by seeking counsel from my mom. Aren’t they always the best advisors?

So I would have to plead to the other party and request that there is anything they can do, but I was nervous, worried what they would say. So I gave it a day. That evening my life group worshiped and sang the song Good Father. It reminded me how good He is, crazy isn’t it? The coincidence. Even though things are not going the way you want them to, even though you walk through the valley of suffering, fear and even though it seems impossible God is good. Maybe I do take out a loan, maybe not. Regardless He is good.

I started to declare it. When I was ready to confront the other party I was filled with peace and it turns out I couldn’t have gotten a better deal. I saved myself from a large loan. I was thrilled.

You may look at adversity and shake but I look at a time of suffering to produce growth(sometimes). What God also said in that passage is this:

” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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Down to the wire

I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about struggle lately. I’m going to talk about it again. Previously I have overcome it and this time is no different. Except that I am still in the middle of a big trial and tribulation. I know I can get through it too.

This last week has been tiresome. It’s one of those times where I really have had to grind through some challenges. A few sleepless nights, a few nights where my bedtime is the time I pass out. It doesn’t feel like the day ever ends, it’s just a constant battle.

However there was a day of triumph.

It’s rather a funny story too. So without further ado, here is my story.

My colleague and I arrive at a new clients house just after 9am. We had to install Wi-Fi into their house, but most importantly, the coverage had to be brilliant with no intermittent speeds. Problem was, the house was enormous. Monumental dare I say.

Reaching the very top of the house made us realise this was not going to be a normal job. We would be here for a while.

It probably took us about half an hour just to plan what to do. Plan A didn’t work. Plan B didn’t too. Luckily plan C worked out.

Plan C was risky. We had no idea how we were going to run a cable through the house through the conduits because we struggled to get through just one section of the room let alone the house. We did however see a data cable already inside the house. Was it meant for something? We weren’t sure. But we gave it a try. Seeing that either ends were not crimped. There were 3 sections of the house that needed Wi-Fi routers. The opposite ends were simple for there was clearly one data cable. However, in the middle of the house there were plenty of cables coming from all over the house. And they were all white. How would I know what was a data cable and what not? Then how would I know that it was the right cable?

I eventually narrowed it down to two cables. I had no idea which one was the cable so I took the two cables, one in each hand and prayed. I asked God which one to cut and waited.

I wasn’t going to do anything until I was sure God directed me to one. If I cut the wrong cable it could be devastating for I wouldn’t know what it was for.

I started to feel a pull on the right side. So I opened my eyes and saw what cable it was. Funny story I was holding onto the same cable! So it didn’t matter which cable I felt I should cut for it would be the same!

I felt that it had to be that cable so I cut it. It was very scary but I did it. When I eventually cut it I saw that it was in fact a data cable. What a relief. So if for some reason it wasn’t the right cable we could just add an extension.

Turns out it was the right cable after testing!

I was blown away by God’s goodness that day. What I learned from that experience is that sometimes God has already given you the tools you need to do what you are made to do.

What He also does occasionally is give you only one option so that you won’t need to worry on how any other outcome could go because He already knows the correct one.

We sometimes feel we need to be so spiritual to get an answer from Him and when we just start to do, when we make a choice, we start to see God’s hand guiding and assisting you. It is sometimes difficult to see at first because we judge the unfinished product. But once we see the final product we realise how He has been assisting us RIGHT FROM THE START.

My current product isn’t close to done but I know I am on the right track. It has given me courage not to give up but rather to push through, to give that little extra.

I declare perseverance to all who are reading this! Amen.

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The Good, the Bad and the Smelly

There is something most people don’t actually know about me that is rather peculiar. That is my sense of smell. Since as long as I can remember my smell has been non-existent. I could not smell the most obvious things which in a way was rather lucky for my family has a reputation for emitting the most horrendous odours at any given time, myself included. It never really had an impact on me and there weren’t many times where I wish I could smell like a ‘normal person’.

This past week however, was a big change in my life. I honestly felt different on that day. My work took me to the mountains on that specific day (which was the first time ever actually) and my colleague asked me if I could smell the scent of the untouched nature. Now usually I take a deep breath and act in bewilderment and say something like: “Hmm, smells great” but when I took that breath I could
honestly smell the fresh air that the mountain was giving. It made the hike even more special to witness another aspect contributing to the beauty of what I was experiencing in that part of the world.

What made it even better was that I was able to smell other things over the week such as diesel, pancakes and some not so nice scents. Even now I can smell certain things that are around me that I never could.

Through this brand new experience I have learned a couple new things.

Before I was shielded from smelling anything nasty or peculiar but that also meant I would not be able to smell things that were beautiful and fresh. So to be able to smell a rose or an enticing meal of food I head to brace the fact that I might also smell someones gas or a dirty room.

And that was the choice Adam and Eve basically chose, to give up the perfect place just to be able to know what is wrong as well as what is right, to be able to see the evil as well as the good.

Being able to know the difference makes you appreciate the times where you see the most amazing things.

You will only be able to know what true love is if you have experienced the opposite (which doesn’t mean you need to find someone to break your heart, just learn from other people). You will only know how to treat others when you have experienced it on both levels.

And that is just life. I am so glad now that I have the ability to smell things regardless of whether it is a good odour or not because it is that extra beauty one can find. Our life is so intricate that there are multiple ways to appreciate life and sometimes the scent of nature is all you need to shift your emotions.

As Jon Foreman says:”The shadow proves the sunshine”, meaning that even in dark places and dark times, positive things are happening in the world.

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Can recurring signs and symbols you see have a distinct message for you?

Have you ever had one of those days or weeks that you see a certain object or you hear a certain sound and it happens over and over and over again? Does it then feel that the world is speaking to you? That the world is crying out to you? Or do you believe that it is just coincidence?

There was a day this week that I saw a spider web over and over again. It was in the weirdest places, the places in which one should not see a spider web, but it was there. When I went to do my usual checks in the morning I opened up the canopy of the car and immediately I saw the first spider web of the day.

That’s strange I thought. It didn’t phase me though so I carried on with my daily duties.

After checking the car I went upstairs to my desk and on my monitor I saw the end of a spider web which I again thought was strange but did not take too much notice.

But then it happened again, and a few hours later again, it was probably about 5 spider web’s that I saw that day and by the 5th one I got the message. Something was up and I really wanted to know.

Yes it may have all been coincidental but the places I saw the web’s were very significant because it was technically on the things that belong to me. I didn’t see a web on another vehicle and it was only my screen with a little web on it, so there must be more to what meets the eye.

So the following day on my free time I decide to search biblical meaning of a spider and I found an article that I could really relate to. It was in Proverbs 30:28. “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king’s palaces!”

It(the article) then further elaborates on the verse stating that a spider was outside the kings palace and wanted to go inside but it seemed impossible for the palace seemed too big and intimidating to reach. Eventually though, the spider gave it a chance and started weaving and each day it got a little bit closer to reaching its target till one day it reached the top of the palace.

Yes it is a short summary of the story but what I learned from the story is that sometimes a task looks daunting and impossible till you give it a try, and it doesn’t take a short while but sometimes very long. But you get there. You may toil for very long but the outcome will be completely worth it. Hard work and perseverance always results in a good outcome.

It does sound obvious but the story for me was a good reminder especially because I feel like that spider in my current situation. I feel like there is a very high wall I need to climb and all I need to do is keep climbing and never give up.

One day I will reach the top and be able to look back to where I once was and smile knowing that the hard work paid off.

So I personally believe we can know more about ourselves and our situation through signs and symbols and I believe God put it there for us to see. He wants us to suceed and He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. He is so incredible that He can speak to us through things that can seem so small.

Here are a few tips to know if God is perhaps talking to you through signs and symbols:

  1. The sign occurs regularly out of the blue meaning that it wasn’t a recurring happening a day or two ago but suddenly it won’t stop happening.
  2. The meaning of the sign has a relevance to your life or perhaps someone around you.
  3. You feel that others are not aware of it but you constantly see it and it seems to be very obvious for you.
  4. You feel a certain sensation in your body that does not happen regularly.

If you look closely and observe nature you might see something truly amazing that may give you the perfect encouragement in whatever situation you are in life.

A link to the article of the spider: https://www.onlythebible.com/Bible-Gems/Wisdom-of-the-Spider.html

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Race day: Part 1-Build up

It’s race day! The annual Jbay wind farm mountain bike race is here. Cyclists from all over South Africa have come to participate. Fierce competition was to be expected and prizes that would match the talent of the racers.

It’s my first ever mountain bike race. I have nothing to compare this to. It is all so mysterious, but packed with excitement. Am I fit enough? Will my bike survive on this terrain? And who am I even racing?

These were all the questions racing through my mind.

But how did I get here? How did it all start?

Let’s rewind a few months…

I was having breakfast one morning, or was it lunch I can’t remember, and the local newspaper was in front of me. So I do the obvious thing and not read the newspaper to keep up to date with politics and the nature of the town, but rather flip to the back and read whatever sport is going on.

After turning over the newspaper the first thing I notice is the mountain bike event is happening 10km away from my house!

Just to give a little info on what the race entails:

There are 3 distances one can race: The 25km, 50km and the ultimate challenge of 85km.

The event has been running for the past 7 years and this year it has become a lot more family friendly which now incorporated a 5km and 10km run for those who aren’t that crazy over cycling.

I was so glad that not only was there a bike race I could enter but also one that I can cycle to without needing to find a ride to get there.

I’ve been cycling to work and back every day and whatever errand I had for the day so I felt I had a lot of pre-fitness. So all that’s left is to go for longer cycles and fine-tune my technique.

It was tricky to go for long cycles because work being very time-consuming and having very little time for anything else in the day, and then to top it off the shortened sunlight due to it being winter.

I would go for one long cycle a week and each time I would add a few km to the tally. I was certainly getting fit and also getting some time for myself in an isolated place.

With places like this you get that sense of refreshment and peace with your situation.

One week prior to the race I was confident that I would at least finish the race but whether or not it was going to be a good time I had my doubts.

Now back to the present…

The 50km racers just set off and it was time for the 25km racers to go, I chose 25km because it was my first time racing with no real grasp of what would happen.

I was catching up with a friend so I ended up right at the back of over 150 racers not realising that they were going to start. I had no intention of winning but the intention of riding as fast as I could and leaving nothing behind. So starting at the back was not the end of the world but I would’ve preferred to be a lot closer to the front.

The countdown had begun. Less than 30 seconds to go. The excitement became evident amongst the racers including myself and once the countdown ended we rode off and the 25km race began…

Part 2 of the race coming tomorrow!

Why should you forgive someone?

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Rekindling what was once a close friendship

Loving someone is difficult because there is a high-risk high-reward to it.
You can share the things most people will never know about you, have memories
that can never be compared to anything else, you could share your life to that
person.

But what if one day that person does something that will change the whole spectrum of your bond with that person, it will never be the same, and you will be left heartbroken and thinking why did I ever open up and should I ever be that person who puts their heart out there for one day to be broken again?

I lost a dear friend once and got my heart torn apart.

I met this person when I was only 5 years-old, or 5 years-young should I say.
We were in the same school for 7 years. Honestly we were not always the greatest
of friends, I always struggled to talk to girls due to my insecurities and shyness
until only our last year in the same school did we really have a bond. And it was strong.

From then on I truly loved her and the next two years after that I never saw her.
I had the cheapest of phones that could only do phone calls and SMS while I don’t think she had a phone for quite some time.

Those two years were tough and I could never find that same friendship with anyone else and I was left yearning to see her once again.

The year after that I moved schools which originally was about a 30 minute drive from her to just up the road from her!

Must be destiny I thought.

Eventually I did see her again and as time went by our friendship started to rekindle. Seeing her again after two years was almost like seeing a flash of heaven. I was thrilled.

Our friendship grew stronger than ever before and I was content with life.

But there came a time where our friendship took a wild turn.

Our last year in school we planned a great adventure for the 2 of us and another 2 friends as well to come and pretty much from there it all went haywire.

There were many instances where I felt betrayed and left in the dark till one day it just became the last straw. I was devastated but I felt I had to let her go.

I was left heartbroken and a lot of hurt, wanting to never trust any woman again.
The things that we shared now became difficult to even look at. At the time I was so glad that our paths took such a wild turn that we weren’t even on the same continent.

After a few months I started dealing with the pain. a large thanks goes to some of my friends that I met that year, showing such kindness and love. It gave me a fresh perspective of woman and just people in general. I also had to deal with all my emotions spiritually though. Breaking soul-ties with her, praying for forgiveness and forgiving myself and ultimately forgiving her.

So eventually I did forgive her. I still wouldn’t know if I would talk to her properly but I had no more resentment to her, no more pain.

It was only till about a month ago that I saw her again and got to deal with the past.
The real truth came out and I was finally taken out of the dark as to what actually
happened. I was not only completely okay with what she put me through but I even wanted to become friends again. And so did she.

After all the hardship and pain we both went through we were still able to deal with the past, forgive each other and actually move on.

Someone once told me when I still had a lot of resentment to her that if we could somehow push aside our differences we could build a stronger bond than ever before.

I feel that if I could forgive her after all that she has done then I can forgive anyone.

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself from God’s part.” – Matthew 6:14.

It is only the start of this brand new friendship but if we could go through so much pain
and still be friends surely there is more at stake for us. Surely there is a future.