Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kamvalethu.

I was sitting on the edge of the couch, overwhelmed by my surroundings and the bleak reality that my eyes met. I spent a week at Themba Care, the government institution that housed 13 babies – sick, infected, abandoned little babies. The kids were so sick they couldn't hide it. Frail and under weight bodies, oozing ears, babies on machines, children who couldn't walk properly. I was genuinely overwhelmed. My prayer for that week was that God would reveal more and more of Himself as Father. Daddy.

Days passed and I still felt uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I knew there wasn't much I could do to help those children, but I played, and smiled, and laughed, and rocked, and fed, and prayed over them.

Now, I don't normally play favourites..... but... that was before I had met Kamvalethu. He was a precious little boy who was quiet and cautious at first, but so warm and friendly after we established ourselves. He couldn't speak much english and he wasn't capable of walking properly, but we got on so well. At the beginning of the week I was completely unaware that this little boy would show me exactly who I am in the eyes of God.

One afternoon we were working on developmental skills that the children needed help with, but Kamvalethu wasn't very happy with me. He had a particular toy that was going to hurt him if he had fallen or bumped into something, so I took it away from him so that he wouldn't hurt himself. Boy oh boy that child cried and fussed like it was the end of the world. He literally worked himself up so much that he was struggling to breathe and I think he could have filled a river with tears. He was so upset with me and refused to pay me any attention for the rest of the afternoon.

I was a bit hurt to be honest. He had become my little buddy and I was simply trying to protect him because I cared about him. His young mind couldn't conceptualise that though. We both had to suffer the consequences. He didn't get his toy and exhausted himself from his tempertantrum, and I was cut off from the baby I wanted to be with the most.


Months later I'm sitting in my room, trying to talk to God through my stubbornness and apologise for how strong-willed and uncooperative I've been lately, and I just had an overwhelming picture come to my mind.

The first was thinking of my high school years and my relationship with my dad. My parents are so wise and have examplified large amounts of leadership and guidance in my life, but that doesn't mean I always understood their leadership or decisions. Actually, more often than not, I bucked their authority out of the stubbornness in my heart and did what I felt was best. That would lead to arguments, frustration, and consequences. My parents are my best friends and I understand now that they love me and made certain decisions to protect me and to give me what was best. The picture I got was the pain of being separated from my parents because I was rebellious and angry because I didn't get what I had wanted in that moment. I see the pain my parents felt because I was essentially hurting myself, but more than that, I wasn't trusting them and I was pushing them away.

After thinking about that, my mind immediately went to that precious baby. Yoh it hurt my heart when he was so upset with me. I wish I could have explained to him in a way that he would have understood... I was simply protecting him. I was keeping him from hurting himself.

How often is that us though?  

We fight and kick and scream at God like little babies because we don't get our way. We don't understand Him, and we decide not to trust that He is protecting us and taking care of us. Worse than that, we tend to push Him away. 

Kamvalethu is a Xhosa name, and within the Xhosa culture children are given names with specific meaning. This child's name means “our future”. Despite his illness, I know that God has a future for him. I sat and watched that child kick and scream and throw a tempertantrum like he created it, but I couldn't help but smile because I knew this wasn't the end for him. Though he thought so, it wasn't the end of the world. He'd get over it and completely forget that I took the toy away from him. In the long run, it was better for him to experience that frustration in that moment than to have gotten hurt.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

When I looked at Kamvalethu, I couldn't help but see myself. It was like God gave me a glimpse of Himself as Daddy and me as His daughter. Stubborn, spoiled, young daughter.


A week after sitting with God and recognising myself as this stubborn, strong-willed child, I found myself sitting across the table from a beautiful young woman who finds herself lost in the same exact place. Except she doesn't want to talk to God. She doesn't understand that He is a good, loving, caring, and protecting Father. In her mind He has done nothing good for her. She's run away from Him, hard, and she doesn't know how to get back. She doesn't feel like she can go back.

I listened, affirmed, and explained so gently that just because she ran away does not mean she cannot run back. She struggles to be the mother she dreams of... she wants her children to be safe, loved, provided for, and in her care. But what if her children leave her? What if they look at their circumstances and decide that they want something else. What if they doubt her love for them based on their circumstances. Those children may leave her, but that will never take away her love for them.

I asked her if she could ever stop loving them.

She looked at me with big tears in her eyes and knew exactly where this question was going. She understood. In the same way that she would never stop loving her own children, God has never stopped loving her.

I'm reminded that God is for us. I believe that even in the most terrible of situations, God is more than willing to work it for our good. I believe that despite our sins and mistakes, God is capable of taking that evil and turning it around. The consquences and punishment we may face are intended to make us better and to mold us into the image of God. The circumstances we go through are capable of bringing us closer to God, and God labours on our behalf to make it all for our greater good. Even when we don't understand, even when it hurts, and even when we are frustrated, we can lean into the One who is trustworthy.

I think that is what truly matters to God. He wants us to trust Him and embark on every single day of our lives like it is an adventure with Him.

Through the easy days and the days that feel unbearable, He plans for your future with Him. You have been chosen by God, elected, set apart for a purpose (1 Peter 1:1-2) ... He has named you Kamvalethu in one way or another, because He is continually plotting for your future together with Him. You carry the purpose of knowing God and walking with Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Despite your stubbornness, doubt, sin, or anything else, God is stretching His hand out to you in love. Rather than running away from Him, He wants you to lean into His arms in absolute trust.. He is saying, "My child.... I have our future in mind..."

Lean in, rest in His arms, and trust your Daddy. 

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