Tag Archives: grace

Post 112. A begging bowl and bikinis

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Paul and Kirsten looked like hippies straight out of the sixties.  Paul had longish dark hair, a bit of a mallet and a big moustache.  Kirsten always wore layers on layers or Indian clothes.  She had long blonde hair.  They had two children, Hannah and Jacob.

They started coming to our meetings and we became good friends.  Friends we could completely relax with. Tony and Paul would go for long runs along “Piggy Road” and all along the by-pass.  Tony loved his chats with Paul. He really calmed him down.   We always enjoyed visiting them in their arty little apartment in the senior boy’s dormitory at Woodstock school.  They were dorm parents.

They were also polar opposites.  Kirsten was choleric and Paul was phlegmatic.  Somehow they seemed to work well together.  The senior boys gave them a hard time.  Paul often found threats and graffiti in his office after busting them for doing something illegal.  It really wasn’t what he enjoyed doing.  He was a peacemaker and wanted love not war.  He was calm and collected which irritated the boys even more.  They really wanted to see him lose it.

Paul had been in India since his early twenties.  He was on the drug/hippy trail as Tony had been.  He met Kirsten in Goa.  She was on the same trail.  They fell in love and started travelling together.  Paul would get her to carry his illegal substances in her suitcase, which she did willingly.

They got “married” and travelled to Laos where they lived for many years in a bamboo tree house.  They learnt the language and lived simply, like their neighbours.  Both of them were attracted to Buddhism and decided that was the answer to their spiritual emptiness.  Paul checked himself into a monastery and Kirsten joined a woman’s one in another town.  They shaved their hair, put on Buddhist robes and lived lives of celibacy.

It was years before they were let out into the “real” world again.  Paul was sure he had conquered his sinful nature and headed for the beach with his begging bowl.  As he sat and watched the bikini clad ladies, he realised he wasn’t free at all.  After ten years of chanting, meditating and cleansing himself, he was still having lustful thoughts.  He was desperate and angry.

He climbed to one of the highest cliffs in the jungle, stood on a rock and prepared to jump.  It had been ten wasted years, without his wife and without a life.  As he was about to jump, he remembered a prayer from his Catholic childhood:

Our Father, who is in heaven

Holy is your name

Your Kingdom come

Your will be done on earth

As it is in heaven

As he went on, he realised that he actually had a Father in heaven; a Father who loved him.  If he had a Father, it meant he was his son.  Suddenly he fell onto the rock under the power of that great heavenly love.  He woke up what seemed to be hours later.  Everything was different.

He got back to the monastery and opened a letter that had just arrived from Kirsten.  In it, she was subtly trying to tell him that she had met with Jesus that week.  She was planning to leave the monastery.  What did he think?

They made plans to meet each other and headed for India.  Somehow they bumped into believers who helped them with their questions and new faith.  Mussoorie was their last stop.  They rented a one-roomed place with hardly any water or electricity.  They had no money but Kirsten started making and selling candles to the foreigners on the hillside.  She made just enough to cover their expenses.

When we met them, they had come a long way.  Paul sometimes led our prayer meetings and that was always interesting.  He knew how to meditate and he was NEVER in a hurry to move on to the next thing.  He was happy to wait for however long he needed to.  Tony didn’t have the same patience.  He would sit there thinking, “Ok, now what?  What are we going to do now?  Let’s move on.”  He would open his eyes to look at Paul and there he was, quietly sitting in the same position with peace all over his face.

We learnt so much from Paul.  The biggest thing was this: When we are spending time with our heavenly Father, let’s not rush away.  Let’s ask Him if He’s had enough.  We will know how loved we are when we always hear the same answer.  “No not yet, please stay a little bit longer.”

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Post 70. Grace

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India was still very much in our conversation but I was struggling.   I had two beautiful daughters and an amazing husband, but something had died inside.  I just couldn’t pull myself out of it.  There I was, living my dream, being a pastor’s wife but I wasn’t happy.  Life was full and I was busy with kids.  I had made the decision to breastfeed any and everywhere so I wouldn’t miss out on anything, but that didn’t help either.

I had lost all spiritual passion.  There just didn’t seem to be time to sit and pray or read the Bible; and if there was time, I had no idea where my Bible was.  I hadn’t read it for about two and a half years.  There was no desire.   Tony would ask me to pray with him and I didn’t want to.  He started to wonder if he needed to stop being a pastor.  It just didn’t seem to be working.

There wasn’t really anyone to talk to about it.  Everyone was busy and there wasn’t much they could have done anyway.  I couldn’t explain it and I couldn’t get out of it.  On a couple of occasions, I went up for prayer after a meeting and the only way I could explain how I felt was, “Something has died.”  I was holding things together, counselling people, having friends around for dinner and was generally a nice person in public.  With Tony and God, I was cool and indifferent.  We just weren’t connecting.  We were living on different planets.

On one of our trips to Durban to visit Wilf and Val, Tony “dragged” me to Victory Faith Church to hear a man,  Michael Eaton.  I really didn’t want to go.  I was so switched off,  but as I listened to him speak about the grace of God, something started to change in my heart.  It started to warm up and I felt a movement that I hadn’t felt for a long time.   Grace was the thing I needed.  So much of what he said cut deep.  Simple things like, “If you never read your Bible or prayed again, God’s love for you would still be the same.”   I had become hard on myself and forgotten the love of God for me.  I had put too much emphasis on me doing instead of me being.  If I couldn’t do, I couldn’t be. I had it all wrong.  I cried all the way home in the car.

I was running a ladies coffee morning for moms with young kids.  I had all the right words for them and they always left encouraged.  I always left feeling empty and spent.  I invited Jean Guthrie to do an “Inner and outer beauty,” talk on one of the days.  She did make-up demos and talked about beautifying our inner parts.  After the demos she prayed for any ladies who wanted prayer.  I watched from a distance; happy that my friends were getting touched, but feeling that God had left me forever.   I had asked for prayer many times before and nothing had happened.  It wasn’t for me.

I was clearing up cups, trying to look busy.   Jean called my name and I pointed at myself and said “Me?”   There was no other Linda there.  She asked me if I wanted everything that God had for me.  Like a good pastor’s wife, I said, “Yes.”  She looked at me in the eyes and asked, “Really?”  My eyes welled up and she gently put her hand on my head.

My mind went back to Pastor “Banana Fingers” who would lay hands on us and push us to the floor.  I would firmly put one foot in front of the other and resist falling down with all my might.   Somehow, I knew this was different.  As Jean prayed, I felt a warmth go from my head to my toes.  As that happened she said, “See, Linda, that is the Holy Spirit.”  I knew it was.  I had missed Him.  It had been so long and my heart had been so cold and hard.  I relaxed and took it all in.  He gently put me on the floor where I lay, unaware of anyone or anything else.

It was as if all my fighting had stopped.  I held up my white flag and surrendered to the grace of God.

 

See Post 66 for more background on my spiritual struggle.