It may seem strage to some that having just seen Jesus face to face (as described in my previous post), one can plunge to the depths of despair within a matter of hours.
Entering the ministry is not easy. And yet I knew up front what sacrifices would be required. One of those is the fact that (for this year at least) I am 1000 kilometres away from my family, with them in Johannesburg and me in Uitenhage. However, thanks to modern communications, I am able to remain in touch with their lives.
That's when they work, of course.
I'm fast discovering that when it wants to rain in Uitenhage, the weather almost seems to ask you if it is convenient first before sending it's oh-so-gentle drizzle floating down to earth. When lightning DOES strike, half of the town comes outside to have a look in case it happens again. Not so in Joburg, where thunderstorms are so sudden and violent that if you are caught in one, you feel like it is literally raining in buckets! Rain so heavy that one is drenched right through to one's underwear within seconds, thunder louder than any jackhammer, and lightning that threatens to split the sky in two.
It was such a bolt of lightning that hit the telephone lines, thereby cutting my family off from the outside world. No telephones, no ADSL line - zip.
Granted, we all have cellphones, and we've been making full use of our free minutes. But those are starting to run out, and my Phase One stipend does not stretch to increasing Vodacom's already obscenely large turnover figure. While the Church has kindly and generously provided me with a manse 'phone together with a "Closer" package that entitles me to free calls after 8 pm and on weekends, this only applies to calls from one Telkom line to another.
My wife reported the line to Telkom on Monday, and they promised faithfully that a technician would be out yesterday. Needless to say, that was one promise that was not kept. They didn't arrive today, either...
95% of the time I can cope with being apart. I can keep the proverbial stiff upper lip that we British are supposed to be renowned for. Cooking for myself, keeping the manse tidy, and regularly feeding the washing machine with dirty clothes is not the hardship I thought it would be. I get on so well with my fellow Phase Ones at college. The ministry work in the Circuit is both challenging and stimulating. 95% of the time I feel energised and just so privileged to be in God's full-time service.
But then there are those "5%" moments - like now. I want to hug my wife for about an hour and tell her how much I love her. I want to lie on the floor while my son "beats me up". I want to sit down with my mother and engage in mindless chats about cricket and Formula One, and have strident debates about who the best "bad guy" in the movies is. And I want to get hold of those rotten, bloodsucking, lying swines at Telkom and wring their bloddy necks!
But I can't, because I'm here and they're all up there. Oh, God, I know You have called me to this, and You promised that You would never leave me nor forsake me. But sometimes it just seems so HARD...
Adversity - We have become so used to preachers speaking about the 'prosperity' of the Gospel, that we quickly forget the suffering that comes with the package of fol...
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