Be general or THE general

Be general or THE general

I see a photo this week and it’s haunting. This time it wasn’t someone hurting. It was lambs: A few sheep on a farm in South Africa desperate for water, food…relief.

General lamb
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

And I guess that’s the trend in our country today. We dream of relief.

 

Our Wish

No matter on which side of the political fight (because all we seem to do is fight these days) you’re at, you crave release.

Release from poverty.

Release from oppression…no matter what race you are.

Release from abuse…

Release from addictions.

Release from jobs we hate.

Release from heartbreak.

Release from drought.

 

I Plead

The list goes on and I pray. No, I plead. Lord, why can’t You…PLEEEASE Lord will you bring hope for these people. All of us in all these situations.

My wish is that our country’s problems get solved instantly: That He helps us forgive, He brings rain and He gives us wisdom to work together. Instantly.

I start a conversation. At the end I had goosebumps…but not because I got the answer I was hoping for.

 

He Created a Plan – We Made it a Problem

We (not just South Africa but the world at large I guess) are suffering in part because of sin.

I want to clarify my definition of sin: Sin as in ‘missing the mark’. He designed us for specific purposes: To love, to flourish, to be wise. When we don’t live that way…we miss the mark…that’s sin. We all sin.

So the consequences are not because God WANTS us to suffer or because He’s directly punishing us.

It’s natural consequences for our refusal to listen to His guidance.

He created rules. He set guidelines. He said ‘Rule the earth’. And humanity did a very poor job of that.

Now, because of centuries of sin (missing the mark, not listening to His voice, feeding our cravings for power, lust and pleasure) we’ve brought suffering to earth. Just look at the percentage of broken families and the amount of plastic washing up on our shores. Yes, in all aspects, humans are pretty much missing the mark.

We can’t blame Him for that.

So what now?

 

Enter…De La Rey

A few weeks ago I was at a concert. Bok van Blerk. I’m not a regular…but a few of his songs I will admit: They bring me to tears. The passion for this country, the land and its people – it’s impossible to ignore.

And then he sang that song: De La Rey.

Let’s be clear: I’m not writing any of this because we’re all supposed to choose sides or to bring up the past. There’s enough of that and it’s not doing us any good.

But the song calls someone to lead.

And this is what I saw: A crowd being drawn by a single man with a single song. Multiple people in the audience drifted towards the stage. They flocked towards…their general.

In that moment, Bok was their De La Rey.

And this is what our country needs: A great many De La Reys.

What did he fight for over a century ago? Reading his story I believe this general’s convictions and motivations were based on a wish for peace, fairness and the best for the country; Not a political ideology, power or racism.

That’s the kind of general this world needs.

 

If Only We Would…

The song is being sung and you see the people’s yearning. A solution for their situations. We CRAVE for someone to show us the way.

And we’re all blind to what’s right in front of us.

Do we not realize WE are the generals the country is hoping for? Do we not see we can’t leave it up to the corrupt leaders?

A different kind of leader – the good general – needs to help people find their relief.

And that…that’s all of us.

general
Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash
  • What do we as generals do around a braai? Do we speak truth and positivity or only complain?
  • Instead of repeating fake news and bad news about our country and the world, why aren’t we praying for His opinion on the matter and sharing that? That would make us generals.
  • Being kind to the people who work for you, instead of breaking them down as others do – that’s being a general.
  • Breaking down barriers between white and black simply by respecting the waiter, your colleague or a shop assistant – that’s taking the lead.
  • Taking your family to church, not out of guilt, but because you know you need Him – you’re being THE RIGHT KIND OF general.
  • Fighting for what’s RIGHT, not what seems the best for your culture, race or gender – you’re being a general.
  • Praying about a situation instead of complaining about it – that’s you being a general.
  • Being fair and kind when you’re getting the opposite in return – that’s a general’s design.
  • Artists, pastors, businessmen, celebrities – you’re all generals (which direction are you taking your people?)

Let’s be clear: I don’t want to be naive and not realise how terrible some situations are. But do we want to be led out of the problem or simply wallow in it?

And we’ve all heard this speech before. But as Bok was singing I saw in people a hunger for a leader. If we stand up – others will follow.

Some challenges may seem impossible to overcome, but I’m not prepared to not try. Across the globe people see change because someone decided to be a general and stand up for something. I’m not about to miss out on good results simply because others are too lazy to do the right thing.

Words have power. Actions have consequences. If we want more of a life…we have to initiate it.

lamb general
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I’m praying for relief. For that lamb…and for each one in this country, even the world.

It’s not going to happen if I don’t do my share and be the general for my family, neighborhood, colleagues and friends.

 

And each day that I do take up the challenge to listen to Him…He astounds me with situations where love, peace, Godly power and results shine through. But only if I decide to be a general that day.

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Fear vs Fearful

Fear vs Fearful

Here’s the power of words: It helped me understand myself better…and my God better.

Years ago I was a scared girl, inexperienced and doubting myself in everything. Thanks to amazing friends that God sent across my path, I soon conquered some of my inadequacies. Why? Because they helped me verbalize my thoughts and I started writing them down. Understanding my thoughts made it easier to deal with them.

Okay – there’s a whole psychological discussion we can have about the value of writing and speaking about your emotions and thoughts. But this isn’t what this blog is about.

Words also have the power to help us understand our Maker better. And today I realised the importance of understanding more sides to Him. The more I know and experience about Him and the more stories I have about Him in my life (words), the better it gets.

Examples:

  • He is the Lion, but also the Lamb
  • He is Love, but also justice and righteousness
  • He is understanding, but also expects certain things of us
Fear vs Fearful
Photo by Toni Oprea on Unsplash

Facing only one of these aspects can have us retreat from Him, or take liberty of His loving nature. But when we KNOW He is also the other, it adds a beautiful balance. To me it makes me want to know Him more…and become more like Him.

The process of discovery and putting words to what He does also helped me switch from simply being afraid (fearful) to fearing Him (the latter is the good thing we need to get to).

This Morning

This morning I read a passage that normally filled me with guilt and fear. Reading about how He got angry with the Israelites and sent other tribes against them is frightening. I don’t want Him to feel that way about me, right?

But something different happened in my soul this morning:

  • Reverence
  • Awe
  • Passion for righteousness

Why? Because of what I already know about Him.

This Past Year

I’ve had a very challenging year. Perhaps you’ve read some of my other blogs. But I can also say 2018 has been one of the best years. Why?

  • Because of how He guided me through dealing with loss and change
  • Because He sent people across my path whenever I needed them
  • Because He advised me
  • Because I saw Him help my loved ones

These experiences all got noted in my diary, the words plainly displaying my God’s characteristics. Did everything happen as I wished it would? No. But my God showed His power, care and foresight in sooooo many ways.

Result: I know Him to :

  • LOVE me
  • LOOK AFTER me
  • PROTECT me

Back to This Morning

Now I read about His wrath. He really got mad…and God is unchanging, so He still gets mad. Therefore, if I don’t listen, He will probably get mad at me too.

But looking from the perspective of this past year I know that what He chooses to do, say or feel towards my actions isn’t based on hate.

  • His actions are based on LOVE. If He prompts me to do something it’s because He LOVES the world and wants to LOVE the world through me.
  • When He tells me to become better tomorrow than I am today (more compassionate, less afraid, doing rather than simply talking), it’s because He’s LOOKING AFTER us on earth and He needs me to play my part. I signed up to be His ambassador on earth and that comes with certain expectations and requirements.
  • If He’s telling me to do this or not to do that, He’s probably PROTECTING me (and others) because He knows what’s coming.

These are characteristics I can FEAR, not BE AFRAID of.

Definitions

FEAR (in this context): To respect, revere and trust.

FEARFUL: Feeling or showing fear and anxiety.

Going Forward

Reading His words to the Israelites from this perspective, I pick up on passion for them, not simply being mad at them. He wished they would act differently for their own sakes and for the sake of the world. He had a plan and wanted to use them in it.

My God is not distant, apathetic or out for revenge. He is actively and passionately involved in our lives, for the better of us and humanity at large.

My feelings towards my God can be described with words of fear, but also of love and appreciation. This fills me with renewed passion to be the kind of believer He can use.