“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Rev 12:11a
I had the desire to write down my testimony around my 40th birthday.
The Lord graced me with the time to sit down and do so.
40 is a significant period in Scripture
40 days of rain for Noah
40 years in the desert for the Israelites
40 days of temptation for Jesus
40 days from Jesus’s ascension to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
In this testimony I am reflecting on my own 40 years of living.
May the Lord add a blessing to you, dearly beloved, through my attempt to write down something of what God has done for me.
I like the analogy that says:
“A Christian is just one beggar showing another beggar where to get bread”
May you be blessed in you seeking for and living on the Bread of Life!
“We loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” 1 Thes2:8
UNLESS YOU ARE BORN AGAIN
I grew up with a traditional Christian value system for an Afrikaans speaking white South African woman. God was never a very important part of my life.
I pretty much lived my own life, asking Him, now and then, to bless the plans I had for my life.
In 1993 Mike and myself moved to Rustenburg, engaged to be married.
I started in a new job. Suddenly I was surrounded by outspoken Christian people who boldly talked about their faith. I met them at work, in my lift-club, at the flats where I stayed – everywhere. Never was I deliberately challenged regarding where I stood in my own Christian faith. Yet, I could scarcely turn without meeting and bumping into outspoken Christians.
As a Lifeline counsellor on phone duty one evening, I answered a call from someone who ended up counselling me regarding hearing God’s voice and having a relationship with Him.
Shortly thereafter I went for my first ever Gynecologist visit and the doctor spoke to me more about God than endometriosis etc. I was cornered by the living God. I could not ignore Him any longer. He was not just going to make a Sunday service / bedtime visit anymore: God was pursuing me relentlessly
“I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness” Jer 31:3
I shared all of this with Mike, my fiancé, saying:
“I don’t know where all this is going , but I do know there is no turning back for me. Life will never be the same anymore. You need to know this and decide if we can share a life since we both don’t where this road is leading”
Mike committed to walk this new road with me.
I HAD A DREAM
An incident at my workplace revealed to me the darkness of my own heart; my judgemental attitude and lack of love. That evening I read about the prayer of relinquished in Richard Foster’s Book, “ Prayer” :
Jesus’s prayer wasn’t answered when He asked for the cup to pass. Jesus relinquished His will to the Father’s will. Foster mentioned that he himself had an experience, hearing angels singing a lovely song with the words “You are dead” signifying the joy in heaven when one sinner dies to self. I repented of my own sinfulness and committed to crucify my own will. That night I had a dream:
My sister, Lisda, and myself were arguing over our inheritance. I became very sad and realised that I have hurt Lisda and our Mom. Someone called me away to look at an animation movie. He said that the white daisy in the movie, was me.
This white daisy was busy dying .As it was drooping and slowly swinging in the wind, it was losing its petals one by one. Once all the petals were gone, the heart of the daisy changed into a bright STAR that shot off into the darkness and joined other stars in the heavens. About ten people, surrounded by some animals, including dogs and warthog, were looking on. They were standing ankle-deep in water under an arch-bridge. Lovely music and joy was all around.
I woke up, pondering the meaning of this vivid dream. My Scripture reading following this dream was:
“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like the STARS in the universe as you hold out the word of Life.” Phil 2:15
This Scripture verse has become my Life-verse, signifying to me the purpose of my existence. The Lord has been revealing my purpose through this dream more and more as the years go by. I had this dream a week before our first wedding anniversary. The Lord provided for a double celebration for us as a couple when Mike gave his heart to the Lord on that very day of our very first wedding anniversary.
THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE
I am on a journey of becoming more and more like my Saviour. As I die to self, each petal signifies a giving-up of my own will and understanding in an area of my life. I am a clay jar, broken to enable more of His LIGHT to shine through me.
My purpose in life is to hold out the Word of Life within the darkness of this world we live in.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord…For God Who said:
“Let light shine out of darkness” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God… “But we have this treasure in jars of clay” 2Cor 4:5-7
The Lord confirms this calling to me over and over again. I want to share with you just some of the ‘petals’ I have lost. You might recognise yourself in the pages following. My prayer is for the Lord’s abundant blessings on your life as you have abundantly blessed mine. May you not see Elna, but the portion of His Light given me to hold out to you…
“For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Col3:3 2 Cor 4:5-7
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Col3:18
How my sister and I disliked Paul for his discriminating writing in Scripture! Wee reckoned he was the typical male chauvinist. Therefore what he had to say about woman can be ignored since it is way out dated and not applicable to us modern, emancipated woman.
I grew up, the third of four children. My youngest brother was born a month after our father passed away. My mother never remarried. She is a gentle but strong woman. Never in my childhood years did I ever consider that I was missing out on account of not having a father. My wonderful mother gave herself for her children and provided for us in every way.
It was only years later, getting to know Scripture, that I came to realise that all the blessings my mother and her children received was directly from God’s Hand.
“Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan (fatherless child). If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” Ex 22:22
Even with my godly mother to guide and teach me, I still had no role model for the husband-wife relationship. To further add to my misconceptions about marriage; I grew up in an environment where Christian woman was rebelling against their traditional role. “Emancipation of woman” was the in-thing. I graduated from University a young, independent woman. The Lord graced me with a wonderful husband yet I considered myself a bit better than he for reasons like being better qualified, holding a managerial position in the workplace and earning more money than he.
Our marriage was going to be founded on division of roles and responsibilities right down the middle. Unrelated to gender except perhaps for pregnancy…
What a big surprise when it dawned on me that my perception of marriage was not in line with that of the Author and Initiator of the institution of marriage! One of the biggest revelations to me in my Christian walk, has been the authority of Scripture . The Lord showed me that it was not Paul’s commands written in the Bible but His own.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful…” 2 Tim 3:16a
In acceptance of the authority of Scripture, I reluctantly started practicing submitting to my husband. Dying to my own and society’s ideas of a woman’s role was not easy. It was humbling, frustrating. Yet, the Lord showered me with blessings every step I was willing to take.
I gave up my promising career path for the sake of Being a better wife and mother. Only two months later Mike got a promotion at work that placed us financially back to where we were prior to me giving up my managerial position. Mike was now the breadwinner, blossoming as the head of our family while I was in a position to spend more time nurturing our family.
I have often heard: “But I don’t want to submit…” or
“If he…then I will…” or
“I can’t, my husband is not a godly man…”
It took a long time before I started experiencing submission as a blessing. In the beginning it was purely an act of obedience. Now, submitting to my dear husband is no longer difficult. I find that: If I am willing, God will make a way. He is God and to Him nothing is impossible.
There is freedom in submission. A wife under the protective wing of her husband is free to be herself and live out her God-given dreams. I believe God meant for submission to be a good thing.
“…now you have tasted that the Lord is good…” 1 Peter 2:3
THE WORD OF GOD
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing joint and marrow, soul and spirit. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb 4:12
Here I was, a born-again believer, involved in church-life, serving the Lord alongside my husband. I started having an issue with ‘The Sabbath” I questioned why the church changed the Sabbath day from the Jewish Saturday to a Sunday. I searched for answers. My cousin invited me to a Christian ladies camp. Here the Lord opened my eyes to the authority of Scripture.
I have been reading my Bible regularly, yet at this camp I met ordinary people who talked and quoted from the Bible in a way that fascinated me. Most of them had no formal theological training – yet they spoke with authority and wisdom, intimately knowing the Bible and talking about the Lord and His Word in a way that made me thirst for what they have. They reflected a joy and peace that drew me like a moth is drawn to light.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished…” Acts 4:13
I determined to get to know the Lord better through the reading and study of the Bible. It is God’s written Word, given to us; useful in all things.
“For everything was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Rom 15:4
I craved to know the Scriptures; I took to heart the words from Hosea 4:6 –
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”
I desired to memorize scripture. What a difficult task ! The Devil himself knows the power of the Word of God and goes out of his way to place obstacles in our way to prevent us from recalling what God has written down for us. I lamented my inability to memorize Scripture before the Lord. He encouraged me greatly by these wonderful words:
“Pay attention and listen…to what I teach…Keep (my words) in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips, So that your trust may be in the Lord…Have I not written 30 sayings to you, sayings of council and knowledge? Teaching you true and reliable words so that you can give sound answers…” Prov 22:17-21
Thus I set out to commit to memory only 30 Scriptures. For me it was manageable. I started collecting 30 scripture pieces from the Bible that were specifically meaningful to me during various times in my life. I have many testimonies on how apt these 30 scriptures have been in my Christian walk
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” Prov 25:11
What pure joy when the Lord answered my questions regarding the Sabbath from the Bible! I never had to doubt that He can and will answer my every question. I just need to ask.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Heb 11:6
“sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it”. Gen 4:7
The perfectionist in me, part of my fallen nature, wanted to be in control, have reason to boast. I convinced myself that this time I can boast of something good: The more Scripture I know, the more God will be pleased with me. My approach to study of the Bible became a militant discipline.
Studying has always been a joy to me. I like throwing myself wholeheartedly into study material and find it easy to stay motivated to master the material. Thus I started treating the Living God and His revealed Word like some study material.
Up on the Okavango panhandle in Botswana, visiting a dear missionary family, the Lord spoke to me through something the couple shared with us:
“Some people make up their own trinity: Father, Son and Holy Scripture”
This was me !
“ Lord “, I prayed, “Forgive me for diminishing You, Almighty God, to a study in mastering the Bible. In the flesh I was maybe mastering Scripture, but without Your Holy Spirit, it is all meaningless”
…”how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him !” Luke 11:13
The Lord graciously gave me His Holy Spirit . I no longer have any desire to be able to quote from the Bible verbatim. I have no desire to study Scripture if the Author of Scripture does not press it upon my heart to do so.
“Be warned…of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Eccl 12:12-13
Graham Cooke says in a book of his:
“It is not a red-lettered edition of the Bible that will be returning on the clouds one day but the Living Word of God”
Through the grace of God I shook this petal. I made myself vulnerable by being willing to trust God’s Holy Spirit to guide and teach me in all things.
I understand now that I can only truly worship God through my spirit. I understand that my body is but a temple, a temporary dwelling for my spirit. My soul is my will, emotions and intellect.
“The spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing” John 6:63.
My spirit is the ‘real me’ that God breathed into me and with my spirit I worship God
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14
Someone one said she sees me as a scared little rabbit, living life on the sideline; to scared and shy to participate. I had to admit: It held some truth.
I had this pride issue: “I’d rather die than try “
Travelling to work daily takes 30 minutes. I listen to gospel music and in my head I choreograph people dancing to the music. In my mind I saw the potential for a wonderful in-acting of the message in song.
But Lord, does it bring honour to You?
I started dancing with the junior praise dance kids from a Christian school our kids were attending. This felt so good! I enjoyed it so much. Can it possibly be a ‘godly’ thing to do? For all my religious doubts, my enthusiasm could not be quenched. I asked the Lord to reveal His will to me.
“Sing to the Lord a new song…
Let them praise His name with dancing
And make music to Him with harp and tambourine” Ps 149
I had confirmation, I still lacked confidence. Every time I brought this issue to the Lord I received further confirmation: He wants me to explore Praise Dancing. I became a matter of obedience: Am I going to dance in obedience or am I going to press this passion deep down because:
“What will people say…?”
I feel confident around children. My heart goes out to them, desiring to teach them more about the very Real God I know and showing them God is more than just the Sunday and bedtime God. So it was not to daunting for me to start a praise dance Ministry for children at our church .
The scared little rabbit hopped closer, feeling vulnerable and apprehensive.
What joy ! Teaching kids something about Jesus while they enjoy using those very busy little bodies to move in honour of the One who made them.
I never dreamt these kids would perform to an audience and in that way minister to the hearts of people.
“Aunty Elna, my dad is here to see me dance!”
“My whole family came to watch…! “
Parents and grandparents got involved. Making costumes, helping with discipline, work out difficult steps arranging venues and flowers and music and even standing in for absent dancers.
The body of Christ was on the move. My petal of pride has fallen and lovely music and joy was all around.
“Introvert and proud of it” could have been my bumper sticker in life. I didn’t need people; in fact, I was considering myself doing far better without the effort and hurt that comes with relationships.
The Lord is long-suffering. Gently He drew me closer and closer in relationship with Himself, never forcing me on the issue of relationship with others. He sure does work in mysterious ways: The closer I grew to Him, my Saviour, my Father, my intimate Friend and my God; the more the desire grew in me to share this Good Friend with others.
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words and the Spirit inside me compels me; Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak and find relief! I must open my lips and reply.” Job 32:17-20
“ Lord !” I cried, “I am so far behind! I have never invested in relationships. I lack the grace and its hard work. I feel so totally incompetent and guilty. Guilty, because I have not loved others. Lord have mercy on me”
They started crossing my path:
New friends, strangers, people at work, people in hospital where I was giving birth to our son. The Lord gently walked with me in building relationships and learning to love others. These first new friends in Jesus He sent me have been such loving , gentle friends – patiently walking a path with me, not deserting me when my introvert character sometimes selfishly withdrew in rebellion.
During this time of relationship building the Lord gave me such wonderful things to share, I could not possibly keep it to myself. I started opening my mouth, sharing what the Lord is doing in my life.
What wonder to discover the same Spirit in me, is at work in others. A colleague at work shared a dream she had, similar to my own dream: Shining the Light to others. This confirmed to me the work of the same Lord in all those who believe. Relationship became Joy!
“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Dan 12:3
I walked a path, in love, with a godly friend whom differed from me on what I considered a ‘non-disputable’ matter. How I protested to the Lord! How can He give me this friendship and then allow this matter between us? I wrestled with the Lord. I had to trust Him and act in obedience by addressing this issue with my dear friend. Reluctantly I did and found the Lord is gracious and abounding in Love .He is good. He matured and deepened our friendship. I learned that relationships will be tested at times but God’s love will prevail and never fail us.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts.” Col 3:13-16
Speaking out for the Lord does not win you the world. This I soon discovered in the workplace. Real extra grace is required in building secular relationships. These tests have proofed difficult for me. Yet, every time I accepted the test in obedience, He came through for me, giving me joy unspeakable through relationships in the workplace. During one such a time of testing I cried out to the Lord: “Lord, This place is killing me!” Very quickly the answer came: “This is the whole purpose of you being here: Dying to self”
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” Col 3:3
Step by step the Lord walked with me on this road of relationships. I learned I have a part to play; I have something to give while every person crossing my path has something essential to add towards my growth towards Christ-likeness. I can now accept other’s weaknesses and also admit my own. By His grace I have learned to love
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
Laat ons skyn vir Jesus met ‘n helder glans
Skitter soos die sterre aan die hemelkrans
Sonde moet oorwin word
Skyn dan Skyn
Jy in jou klein hoekie
En ek in myn
A Petal is busy falling….
“For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it,
But whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Matt 16:25
Dearly beloved, may something in this testimony of God’s goodness to me, speak to your heart and may you be blessed by Him.
Apologies for my poor use of the English language; my mother tongue is Afrikaans. I believe it is the Lord’s doing and to His purposes that we are born into a specific culture. I lately write more in Afrikaans. You are welcome to contact me if you want me to include you on a mailing list for any other writings to share.
Send an e-mail with Subject : “More Falling Petals “ to firstname.lastname@example.org
With all my love,
If and when this Testimony has spoken into your heart, please go to the Commitment page.