As a born-again Christian, prayer plays a crucial role in my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Communicating with God, my Father has helped me to deal with my trial, test, valley or hidden in the cleft situation. The latter words aim to explain that I’m dealing with a difficulty or challenge in this season of my life.
During my prayer times, I become quiet. I do this, in order to hear from God. During one of my quiet times, I thought of Abraham. I envisaged him walking up the mountain with his son, Isaac (Genesis 22). My immediate thought was that I was going to have to sacrifice or let go of something precious.
I thought of Abraham and wondered what must have gone through his mind when God asked him to sacrifice his son. His only Son. Isaac was the son that God promised Abraham (Genesis 15). Isaac was also the evidence of the covenant God made with Abraham, in that He would make Abraham the Father of many nations and that his descendants would be blessed (Genesis 17). Did Abraham lie awake that night? Did he question God? Did he ruminate over his decision to obey? Did he speculate about what impact the sacrifice would have on the covenant between him and God? How was God going to fulfil the covenant, if Isaac was sacrificed?
I also thought of Elijah, God told him to wait by a brook until he heard from God again. I pondered about how he spent his days waiting on God. He was alone by the brook. Did he ration the water in the brook while he waited on God, like I did with my savings and salary? The brook eventually dry up and only then did he hear from God. I read further that Elijah, after performing several miracles and being known as the Prophet who God heard, fell into a depression and asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19).
Thinking of my own situation. There are many times that I feel like Job sitting in the ash heap (Job 2:8). Ruminating about my decision… what was I going to do? Was I going to turn my back on God and say, I’ve waited too long on you and why should I let go of this thing I worked hard for? Why should I let my life fall apart again? I could do my own thing as I have done so many times before and become the God of my own life. Direct my own destiny. If I do this, then, I would not have to experience another loss … again. So, my head battles with my heart (Galatians 5:17).
Like Abraham and Elijah, I find myself driven to obey God. Maybe because my situation seems hopeless. I have learned that God is faithful and I am confident that he has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11). I trust that all things will work out for my good (Romans 8:28). However, at the core, my reason to obey and wait, even though uncomfortable and sometimes so painful to point that I can physically feel the ache in my heart, I know that the plan God has for me will impact the lives of many others. My valley is no longer just about me but rather the Kingdom of God and the role I play in it.
In my quiet times, God has also reminded me that whenever I experienced a loss, something greater was always added to me. This is true. Whenever something was removed, something so much greater was added. Even though, I can’t see it, I live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). In fact, it is impossible to please God, my Father without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Previously, I used to proclaim my faith and trust in God when in reality, I had one or two back up plans. Now, I have no back up plans, other than denying God and doing my own thing. This is not an option. I find myself reliant on God and nothing else really matters.
However, having faith does not make me immune to the “what ifs”. What if all your efforts do not pay off? What are you going to do? What if God does not come through? Is He even real? The “what ifs” even offer solutions, however, not in line with the Word of God. Thank God that I am more than just thoughts. As a believer, I’ve decided that the Word of God is factual and the “what ifs” are only theories and scenarios. However, there are times where I have to persuade myself of these facts and that God will do what he has promised (Romans 4:21).
To grow my faith, I press into God by reading His Word. Daily renewing my mind (Romans 12:2). Who is the Word? The Bible says that, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The Word is Jesus. My first love. The invisible God, made visible through Christ (Colossians 1:15).
Jesus Christ or the Word, said I must not worry about a thing and promised to take care of my every need (Philippians 4:19). He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). The Word is also alive and active, sharper than any double edge sword, piercing through the division of soul and spirit, discerning thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). When the “what ifs” come with their lies, theories, scenarios and solutions, I read the Word, sometimes aloud because faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). And the Word pierces through these lies, theories, scenarios and suggestions of the “what ifs”.
When Isaac asked his father, where is the offering? Abraham, replied, “the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:8). The image of Abraham walking with Isaac up the mountain, is no longer about my sacrifice or letting go but rather about my trust and faith in my Father, providing for me. Through dreams and prophecies, my Father has shown me glimpses of where He is taking. I have also tasted the goodness of the Lord many times before and it is good (Psalm 34:8). This is how I have and am still learning to live by faith and not by sight. Trusting my Father even though, I don’t know what the future holds or where I am going. This is Now Faith.
Zelna Jansen is the Executive Director of Zelna Jansen Consultancy, a lobbying and advocacy firm with the aim of bringing people together to find solutions and helping people to have a more effective conversation with their law- and policy-makers.
She is an admitted attorney of the High Court, with an especially keen interest in public policy, trade law and constitutional law. She has a Bachelor of Arts (prelaw), a Bachelor of Laws and a Masters of Commerce degree specialising in trade law and policy. Through her volunteerism in leading roles in several organisations she actively engages the community and social spirit necessary to continue to uplift many in South Africa today.