Tag Archive: Hope


Die laaste jaar of wat was, en hou aan om te wees, moeilik. Ek is diep oortuig van my roeping om vir God in die kerk te werk. Ten einde om te antwoord op die roeping het ek oor die laaste dekade van my lewe honderde duisende rande spandeer en baie uur opgeoffer. Elke sent en elke minuut was, en is, die moeite werd. Nou wag ek vir ‘n geleentheid om my roeping, passie, en gawes uit te leef, al meer as twaalf maande lank.

 Elke tweede week wag ek vir die Kerkbode om te sien waar nuwe poste oopgaan, elke tweede week doen ek aansoek vir poste in Gauteng, in die Kaap, in die stad, op die platteland, in Suid-Afrika, in Namibië, vir vol poste, kontrakposte, en jeugwerkposte. Saam met elke dekbrief wat geskryf word en elke CV wat by ‘n epos aangeheg word, ontstaan daar die hoop dat dit dalk die plek is waar ek en my vrou op ‘n besonderse manier deel van ‘n gemeenskap kan raak.

 En dan kom die ontnugtering. Meeste van die tyd word die aansoek nie eers erken nie, so 10 – 15% van gemeentes antwoord op die aansoek, en uiteindelik; die teleurstelling van ‘n onsuksesvolle aansoek. Weereens word dit in min gevalle gekommunikeer en moet ‘n mens maar in die Kerkbode lees dat die pos gevul is. Daar waar die “jammer-jy-is-onseksusvol-maar-die-Here-weet-waar-Hy-jou-wil-gebruik-briefie-seen-vir-jou-bediening-brief” wel kom verpletter die hoop van dalk-die-keer verpletter in ‘n jammer-jy-is-nie-goed-genoeg nie.

 En ja, ons almal verstaan dat baie mense aansoek doen, en ja dat elkeen nie noodwendig die regte fit is nie, maar dit is moeilik om dit nie persoonlik op te neem nie. Roeping en teologie is nie iets wat apart staan van ‘n persoon se diepste kern nie, altans nie vir my nie. My teologie kom vanuit my diepste oortuiging, my roeping is deel van my kern identiteit, en wie ek is en wat ek doen is die resultaat van my geloof in Christus en Sy werk in my lewe. So na ‘n jaar se onsuksesvol-briewe en geen antwoorde is dit baie moeilik om aansoek te doen vir nóg ‘n pos met die wete dat dit dalk kan einde in nóg ‘n nee.

 En dan die bemoedigende woordjies, “hou net aan hoop”, “hou net aan glo”, “die Here laat alles ten goede mee werk” ensovoorts. Dit help nie, dit werk nie. Na studieskuld en lewensonkoste en ‘n gebrek aan ander werk, as deel van die werklose statistiek, is ek finansieel kniediep in die moeilikheid en die uurglas se sandjies baie laag. Moed hou, aan hou glo ten midde van ‘n oenskynlik onafwendbare krisis, skuldgat, en op straat sit, en 62 siklusse van hoop en verpletterde hoop is ‘n baie waterige soppie.

 En natuurlik is daar die ander klompie stemme. “Dit is jou eie skuld”, “jy is nie betrokke by ‘n gemeente nie”, “gaan plant ‘n kerk”, “doen iets anders”, “gaan na jou ouerhuis toe en raak betrokke by jou tuisgemeente”, “proponent is te kieskeurig” en “jy wil nie werklik werk nie”, en “dit is nou maar hoe dit is, dit is die lewe” ensovoorts. Hoe genadeloos, sonder liefde, en arrogant kan ‘n mens raak. Niemand praat van proponent, soos myself, wat aansoek doen vir kelner werk, koffie rep werk, bel sentrum werk, HR posisies en vele meer nie. Niemand dink aan die proponent wat elke geleentheid om te werk aangryp nie, al is dit soos in my geval om, op ‘n maand kontrak, in ‘n industriele wassery te werk. Die vraag is uiteindelik wat is ek, en ander proponente bereid om te doen?

 Die antwoord is redeilk maklik, ons is bereid om enige iets te doen, om selfs uitgebuit te word. Ons wil dien, ons wil werk, ons wil antwoord op ons roeping. Ek byvoorbeeld, en ek is seker baie ander proponent, is bereid om as ‘n jeugwerker te werk teen ‘n klein salaries. Ek is nie ‘n student nie, ek het bietjie meer opleiding as hulle en selfs ‘n bietjie meer lewenservaring, maar nietemin is ek bereid om te werk teen ‘n student se salaries, want dit gee aan my ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in gemeentes te werk teen ‘n kwart of ‘n derde salaries en nogsteeds ‘n voldag in te sit. Hoekom, dit help dit gemeente, dit gee my ‘n plek om my roeping uit te leef en te dien, dit gee ook ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in ‘n kerkkantoor te werk, die vaktotum te wees wat so af en toe preek, ek is bereid om die dominee of dominees van die gemeente te ondersteun, ek is bereid om meer as een gemeente te dien wat nie ‘n dominee kan bekostig nie. Ons moet ook eet, maar geld is was nog nooit die oorweging vir dien nie. En as ek nie in die kerk werk kry nie, is ek bereid om enige iets te doen wat ‘n salarissie verdien, om in die eerste plek te dien in my familie, om te sorg dat my vrou en kind(ers) versorg is, om my roeping ten volle uit te leef in die kleinste en intiemste vorm van kerk.

 En dit is dalk die grootste frustrasie om te weet wat die diepte van my bereidheid is, om my tyd en energie selfs gratis aan te bied (wat ek en ander proponent al gedoen het), en nogsteeds nie ‘n geleentheid te kry nie. En na die soveelste onsuksesvolle aansoek kom die gedagte; dalk is die enigste uitweg die keuse is tussen selfmoord of die moord van roeping. Tog is selfmoord nooit ‘n opsie nie, en hoe vermoor ‘n mens ‘n roeping sonder om selfmoord te pleeg? En dan staan ‘n mens maar op in die oggend, struikel voort in die woestyn, en gaan slaap aan die einde van die dag met ‘n terugblik wat nog ‘n dag van genade en hoop openbaar. Maranatha

I wish I could promise you prosperity, wealth, and health. This, however, is not my privilege. What I can promise you is more fragile, more vulnerable, more humanish.

I promise you, my Love, that I will always be human with you.

That when things are going well, I’ll laugh with you.

When things are going not so great, I’ll cry with you.

When you feel alone, I’ll hold you.

When you need space, I’ll grant you as much as you need.

When you need support, I’ll be there to cheer you on every step of the way.

When we experience the dizzy heights of life, I’ll celebrate it with you

And when we struggle through the valleys, I’ll hold your hand no matter what.

I promise you, most beautiful of woman, to make you part of every part of my being.

My strengths and my weaknesses.

My fears and my hopes.

My joys and my hurts.

My tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

Ultimately the only thing I can promise you is a lifetime’s journey together with you.

I promise that I will undertake this journey with you with honesty, authenticity, integrity, compassion, and love.

 

In the original Afrikaans

Aan Maretha: ‘n Troubelofte

Ek wens ek kon die volgende belowe, voorspoed, welvaart, en gesondheid. Dit is my egter nie beskore nie. Dit wat ek jou kan belowe is meer broos, meer weerloos, meer mensig.

 

Ek belowe jou Meisiemens, dat ek saam met  jou altyd mens sal wees.

Dat wanneer dit goed gaan, ek saam met jou sal lag.

Wanneer dit sleg gaan, ek saam met jou sal huil.

Wanneer jy alleen voel, ek jou sal vashou.

Wanneer jy ruimte nodig het, ek dit jou sal gun.

Wanneer jy ondersteuning nodig het, ek jou elke oomblik sal aanspoor.

Wanneer ons hoogtes beleef, ek dit saam met jou sal vier.

En wanneer ons valleie deur worstel, ek heeltyd jou hand sal vashou.

 

Ek belowe jou, mooiste mens, om jou deel te maak van elke deel van my wese;

My sterkpunte en my swakpunte,

My vrese en my hoop,

My vreugdes en my seerkry,

Van my trane en my lag.

 

Uiteindelik is al wat ek kan belowe ‘n leeftyd se reis saam met jou.

Ek belowe dat ek die reis met eerlikheid, opregtheid,  integriteit, deernis en liefde saam met jou sal reis.

Home is about belonging, connectedness and shared memory. Home is a matter of community.” This is one of the sentiments with which Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh starts their book “Beyond Homelessness

The shear problem of homelessness, of displacement in the world today, makes this a book everyone should read. It offers us a fresh and honest account of ourselves as displaced. “We are a culture of displacement” to quote a phrase from the book.

In stark contrast to our utter displacement is the deeply rooted need to belong, to be placed. In an ever shrinking, over-populated, virtual world we rush out to grab pieces of superficial, virtual real estate. We occupy our Facebook, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn spaces in order to belong. We join a myriad of groups and networks in order to orientate ourselves in a four-dimensional ether plasma.

And throughout all of this activity we try to silence the niggling feeling that, with all of the positives of the virtual social world, we are being displaced even more. That we are increasingly disconnected from place, in a sense of our own embodiment, as an essential part, like all other, of Creation. It seems that we have lost our rooting points in the web of life.

It is here, even thought others might not, that I agree with Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh on the importance of the Christian faith. To quote them: “[The] Christian faith is a faith that is always placed. Placed in good creation. Placed in time. An incarnational faith.”

It is the loss of our “primal” place in relation to God that we became homeless, drifting into the wilderness of displacement. Thus we journey still today, with the frail memories of a home lost, a garden of provision, abundance and tranquility left behind.

However, we were not left with only the memories of a home lost, we were also gifted a vision of homecoming. A vision that is rooted in the garden-home we left behind, a place that grew into a garden-city. The strength of this vision is not rooted in the mere existence of this fabled garden-city and the promise of a final homecoming but in the ability to come home to it in the present.

And it is in this homecoming that the refrain of Bouma-Prediger and Walsh, that home is a matter of community, pulsates with life. The very act of homecoming implies a homecoming with other, extending the invitation which we ourselves have received.

Thus, we are invited to a homecoming and challenged to be homemakers for others, by extention inviting others to share in this gracious homecoming.

What are we, if not the beneficiaries of the biggest generosity known to (wo)mankind. The generosity of a son-sacrifice, the forgiveness of a just God. Not only were we forgiven, we were brought home and made part of the family. We were given holy food, a safe haven to rest and a new place to call home.

So if we are treated like children, being given a safe haven, fed holy food and grafted into a new family; I think it makes us family. And it goes to reason that if we are part of the family that we should display the spirit of the family.

We certainly sing about generosity, we write about it, we talk about it; we even deliver sermons about it. But do we live it? Have our DNA been transmuted by the genetic code of our Father, irrevocably changing our very being? Have we become generous people by nature? Giving rather than wanting to receive? What about the guy at the intersection or the minibus taxi jockeying for position on the road?

Do we swear, carelessly conversing in sign language or do we smile and generously allow. Do we strive to gather as much as possible even at the detriment of the Other, other-nature and other-humans or do we live light lives filled with generous upliftment of the Other?

In search of our Story.

“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people”  –  Albert Einstein

We are beset by two questions: Who am I and where do I belong? The first question is answered in “my story” and the second is answered by a “master story”. My story is a fairly easy thing to write with some thought and time. It starts at birth, ambles through early childhood, primary and secondary school, maybe university, marriage or not, hobbies and interest and continues to the day of our death.

My story however has the danger to start floating in space if it is not connected to something more; to a Master Story.  It is clear from Einstein that we sense this Master Story but we are not to clear on what it is. We do know that this story will always include that we exist for others.

This aspect I think is being denied by the popular Master Story of the day. It seems that people today use their existence as motivation for self gratification and advancement at the cost of others. The prevalent paradigm is not that I exist for others but that they exist for me. Evolution and the “survival of the fittest” maxim become the pillars of thought and the critique of a God-centre must be destroyed at all cost. The goal becomes a nihilistic quest for satisfaction before death ends it all. This Master Story is essentially a self-centred story.

The counter culture Master Story is that of a God-centred story. People are acknowledge as being more than mere animals; entities that is created in the image of Community. It acknowledges that we do not live primarily for ourselves but that we live for others. Death is not an end but a transition to something other. The Master Story of faith gives hope and purpose; it focuses us on the other.

In a world that is besieged by all kinds of crises; we could do worse than to take to heart the advice of Einstein that “only a life lived for others is worth living”. It might solve some of our problems, not immediately, but in the long run; problems of the community, economics, environmental and maybe even the self.