Listen with headphones while you read.
'Old Days' Written by friend and singer/songwriter Jennifer Eaves. Soundscapes and strings arranged by Nathan Gernetzky. For more about this song and Jennifer's artist info, scroll to the end of episode 10.
‘We must remember throughout our lives that in God’s sight there are no little people and no little places.’ Francis A. Schaeffer
‘…the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him in those who hope in his steadfast love.’ Psalm 147:10 (ESV)
Don’t you just love the ‘undo’ feature built into the operating systems of our computers? On my MacBook, I just hit ‘Cmd-Z.’ It’s the permanent ‘second-chance’ for all of us. Gone are the days of writing on paper and whipping out the Tippex like you had to do in school to correct your mistakes. My accounting exam papers always looked like they had been dive-bombed by a flock of kamikaze poop-squirting pigeons.
Reset to Plan-A. That’s my ‘Cmd-Z’ keystroke. It’s a long walk on mercy-road to discover that God always works all things for His Plan-A.
So, there is a little life metaphor for us in the ‘undo’ button. You now just need to be careful of checking your recipients before sending that message or email. Many relationships have gone pear-shaped over your thoughts to a close confidant being mistakenly sent to the boss or the staff or some other team you’re part of. It happens all too frequently. Check before hitting that ‘send’ button.
In the previous episode, we were speaking about how God takes us back to the beginning at various points in our lives. Our wedding day was the primary example that I used to describe God’s powerful work of restoration. If you’re just jumping in now, I’d like to suggest that you tag this page and then go back to the beginning of our journey so that you can get a clearer picture of what we are talking about. Go for it. You won’t regret it. I promise.
The wedding party at our beautiful Noordhoek home was over and Jo and I snuck out to embark on our honeymoon road trip. Friends stayed over at our house to clean up after the last guests finally left. My parents and children were making their way up to East London and we were all going to join up for Christmas. All that lay before us now was two whole weeks of alone time together.
You’re thinking it, so I’ll just say it – this was my second honeymoon. Yes, it felt new. This was ‘our’ new story – written in the stars for before all time. We were full of hope that God had taken us back to the beginning. We were each other’s best and ‘A-plan’. It might be hard to imagine yourself feeling the same as we did. So would I, if I were you. And yet, we just can’t put ourselves into other people’s moments. We can’t walk the path that they are having to walk. And before us lay largely uncharted waters, but we had set sail and every new day was just beautiful – full of friendship and romance, discovery and pleasure. We were enjoying every part of marriage union.
The Bible has some pretty passionate language to encourage the journey of joyous intimacy between a married couple. Just go and read the language of desire and longing in the Song of Solomon – a book held in the canon of poetic writings within the Bible.
For my first honeymoon with Diane, I didn’t have much money at all. I had saved up a bit and with some angelic patrons – who added to the ‘hotel fund’ – I had enough to pay the deposit on a four night stay at a small hotel beautifully situated at the base of the majestic Franschhoek mountains. The village name literally means the ‘French Corner.’ A beautiful valley, where the French Huguenots settled when they arrived in the Western Cape some time during the 17th Century. This was part of a mass Protestant exodus that was fleeing persecution in France.
At 22 years old and Diane 21, we were young and even younger looking. Come to think of it, I’m still only able to grow a mean moustache and soul patch. Yip, for those guys who were youth pastors in the nineties and still have the soul patch, it’s time to lose it. Call you wife and teenage kids around to the razor and watch their joy and applause. They’ll thank you.
We arrived late in the afternoon at the hotel. Parked the car and proceeded to the reception desk. Being met by a sarcastic and cold employee, the mood soured quickly. I gave this man my name and surname and told him the name of the woman I had made the ‘honeymoon suite’ booking with. Chills ran down my back as I watched him hit the keys.
Stare at the screen.
Hit more keys.
Scratch his head.
Hit more keys.
His smug look dropped and the small blood vessels in his cheeks lit up like a strawberry field in picking season.
‘Sorry sir (now I’m sir), but it appears you don’t have a booking with us for tonight. Or any night.’ He coughed out, apologetically. We’ve got our honeymoon clothes on (post-wedding ceremony attire) and our story was legitimate enough for him to now believe us. He went on sheepishly. ‘The lady who took your booking doesn’t work for the hotel anymore. Your details aren’t on the system. I’m really sorry. And the honeymoon suite is already booked for another night.’
Enraged and embarrassed that this is how our first evening of honeymoon was starting off I went all wild-eyed on him. I demanded action. At least I could prove my manliness. And Diane would know she had made the right choice with me, instead of the missionary dude who wanted to move to China.
‘We are really full with it being holidays, but the best I can give you for tonight is one of our business rooms’, he proudly stated. For a brief few seconds light filled the darkness and there was hope. All I could hear playing in my head was ‘Business Time’ by The Flight of the Concords.
‘This will have to do. At least for tonight.’ I muttered and stormed off indignantly to get the bags and my wallet out of the car. Diane gracefully found a comfy couch to rest until I returned. I was taking the situation much worse than she was.
‘Click’, and the boot opened for me. I stared inside for a while. Panic set in. I search everywhere. There is no wallet and our bags weren’t in the car either. Panic turned to terror which dissolved away into sheer mortification. How do I go back and tell Mr ‘Bell-hop’ that I can’t pay for the room? And I can’t just drive off to go fetch our bags and money, leaving my new bride reclining in the foyer area. The thought did cross my mind though. There was no easy way of out of this predicament.
This was no sick prank either.
I remembered that we had left our bags and cash at the wedding venue. We were drunk with love and gave no second thought to getting the bags into the boot or making sure that we had the gift cards. (There was no wine or any other alcohol at the reception – we were still quite Baptist then.) I carried Diane to the car over the muddy ground of recent January rains, got in to the driver’s seat and waved goodbye to family and those who were still eating and drinking. And we were off.
Now about 100 kilometers away from our luggage. We had no extra clothes and no cash. And to add insult to gross injury, I had lost my dignity too. I hope you’re laughing as you read this because we were experiencing complete opposite emotions. Diane was teary and I was borderline Bruce Banner explosive.
In chapter 8 titled, ‘I thought we were going to change the world’. I told you all about how our honeymoon had ended in the Kei. Go and refresh yourself with the details of lost rings and failed recoveries. ( And yet, an incredible miracle came out of it.) So, that’s how it ended. This was how it began. All the makings of a divine comedy.
The hotel manager agreed to let us stay the night in the ‘business room’ and pay once we had fetched our luggage back in Cape Town. By the way, the name for the room was completely fitting if you were two colleagues on a business trip trying to save some company cash. The 6 by 4 metre room had two single beds placed against the walls on opposite sides of each other. Between them was a coffee table. Nice.
To make matters even more romance-destroying: the geyser wasn’t working in the tiny bathroom. Let’s just leave it there, okay. In the morning we took a comfortable drive to collect our stuff, which was now in Pinelands at one of my best friend’s (and groomsmen) mother’s house. Karen knew me since I was about 12-months-old so it was kind of awkward. (Our moms had been close friends when they were pregnant with us).
And now there we are – Diane and I standing at her front door the next morning. We weren’t supposed to be at her front door. We were meant to be away, enjoying the leisure of this time. I wasn’t meant to be showing up at ‘aunty Karen’s house’, sheepishly smiling like a naughty couple who got caught out in the family caravan. She was gracious about it all and didn’t ask any questions like; ‘So tell me, how was the night?’
We both changed into fresh clothes and left. I was happy to never visit that house ever again.
There are many characters in the historic narrative of the Bible who had more than one wife – polygamy or concubines. Whatever you want to call it. It wasn’t meant to be. I was raised as a one-wife man. My daddy taught me right. But now, here I am off on my second honeymoon and this time I packed the car myself and double checked.
Creams and lotions. Check.
Money for the road-trip. Check.
Surfboards and wetsuits. Check.
Hotel bookings confirmed. Check.
Sheet Music book. Check.
In the previous episode we spoke about Jacob. Remember him? The wrestler who now was reconciled with God and his brother. Well, he also had a second honeymoon. Not by choice either, but through the trickery of his uncle because he fell in love with Laban’s daughter – Rachel. Let’s have Peterson’s The Message Bible tell the story in Genesis 29:
‘Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved. So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” “It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.’
After seven years, Jacob asks for Rachel’s hand in marriage and Laban puts on a great celebration for everyone. Yet, he plans to do back to Jacob what Jacob had done to Laban’s brother-in-law. He plays the worst wedding prank I can think of and disguises Leah, his elder daughter, as Jacob’s bride. (Think ancient Middle-Eastern times, with the customary veil over the bride’s face and the honeymoon tent having extremely poor lighting. The rest of the night just boggles the mind.) Let’s continue with the shocking and embarrassing set of events:
‘Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed! Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?” “We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.”’
On reading this you just don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a rabbit-trail of questions like; ‘Surely there was a way of identifying your wife Jacob? Come on!’ Jacob gets a bad case of his own medicine of fraud and betrayal but eventually he does marry the woman of his dreams. Laban makes him work another 7 years, this time for the real Rachel.
Two honeymoons, 14 years of labour to show his love for Rachel later, and Jacob is left trying to make sense of it all. My sense of humour over this story grows on me. I can only presume that Jacob had 7 years to plan the second honeymoon. And get it right! He must have opted for a larger tent with stadium-sized lighting just to make sure he didn’t get this one wrong again.
I’d like to imagine that Rachel was a very gracious and strong woman who didn’t suffer from major insecurities – you’d need to be to get into a marriage with Jacob, knowing the back story of your eldest sister already having been married off to the guy. Study a bit of biblical history and you’d know it’s more complex than that. But the culture made provision for this kind of reality and Leah would have been honoured and looked after.
And now, you have a sense of the backstory here. I was feeling some sort of solidarity to Jacob. At least one guy from the scriptures who I could learn some lessons from coming up to my second honeymoon . And Jo and I, were determined that it was going to be a great time away as a newly married couple.
‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.’ (ESV Proverbs 18:22)
A moving story appeared in the New York Times recently. It was written by a former inmate of the notorious prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Mansoor Adayfi wrote of his learnings of marriage from an informal class that he attended at the prison. The class had been presented by an older married inmate. Having been incarcerated for 14 years – since he was 18 – half of that time was spent in solitary confinement and the remainder of his time was upgraded to group interactions. The class brought Mansoor and other inmates a chance to imagine life beyond incarceration.
Adayfi tells the story of knowing nothing about women because of his strict Yemeni upbringing until he attended that ‘marriage class’. He writes:
‘One of the older, married detainees saw that the single detainees were desperate to know about women, so he decided to teach us. We used to arrange classes and learn from each other anything that could be taught… On our first day of marriage class, our teacher began by asking us each to say what we thought about how men should treat women. We agreed that men should have absolute respect for women, but many of the students said men always were, and always would be, superior to women. Then the teacher asked: “If you were a woman, how would you answer my question? How would you want men to treat you?”
While reading further down the comments that Adayfi wrote struck me between the eyes.
‘I said that if I were going to choose someone to accompany me for the rest of my life, I would want a wife who was better than me…I said that all of us, guilty or innocent, we’re sitting around Guantánamo talking about marriage instead of experiencing it because of what men had done.’
Wow, ‘I would want a wife who was better than me..’
Talk about having a realistic view of yourself. And yet, I knew that this was true when I married Jo. God restored me to His ongoing ‘Plan-A.’ And yes, Jo is better than me in so many areas. I often just watch in amazement at how Christlike she can be in situations where I just want to hurt for being hurt. We’d all be blind if we really had to have the ‘eye-for-an-eye’ battle strategy for life.
Now, let this simmer a little; ‘we’re sitting around Guantánamo talking about marriage instead of experiencing it because of what men had done.’
Mansoor Adayfi was just a teenager when he was recruited, like many of the inmates, to fight for an ideology that was forced on most. And now, after being arrested without trial, they’re adults trying to imagine a normal life outside of the wire and hatred that imprisoned them. So, he rightfully admits that most are there ‘because of what men had done.’
I was determined, when Jo and I drove out of the driveway, that I was not going to be a prisoner to my past or lose the joys ahead because of ‘what men had done’ and in my case – ‘what cancer had done’ or ‘what some expected’ (Cancer took my high-school sweetheart. And I felt the pressure from ‘some’ that to prove my loyalty to my deceased wife I shouldn’t have remarried.)
Jo and I meet so many people who are behind the invisible bars of what ‘men had done’ and now aren’t free to live the fullest, most enjoyable life possible. Part of the road to freedom is learning that there is a beauty in your brokenness. I know, two broken people never make a whole person. I get it. But I don’t think that’s the point of marriage. Your brokenness is not a blemish upon you either.
You’re going to need help at times. You might even need to call mature friends who can pray with you and speak honestly to you about your life. But remember that gospel-centered brokenness is not an identity. It is a posture of leaning into Christ and receiving daily ocean-fills of His mercy and grace to become the person that God has created you to be.
Recently, I was sitting in a discussion where the question was asked of the group; ‘What is the greatest display of human love you’ve ever experienced?’ No more than 2 seconds passed by before I knew the answer I’d give if asked. Well, I had two answers in fact – the love of my parents shown to me. And now, as a man, I’d tell people without hesitation it was the day when Jo publicly vowed to marry me and become a mother to my four children. Yes, the decision was a journey over time where she spent many hours in prayer, reflection and talking to trusted voices. She didn’t just marry me for my body or brains or either one of the two, you know.
And so, on that day, in front of hundreds of friends, family, the odd stranger and our children, when Jo said ‘I DO’ I experienced the greatest display of human love I’d ever known. Like the label on the house blend of Primi Piatti’s red wine says, ‘THIS IS LOVE MADE VISIBLE’, so it was for me on that day.
There’s also humanity in our vulnerability. You hear seasoned couples say that they love each other more today than they thought they did on their wedding day. It’s powerful to think that real, unconditional love grows deeper and stronger as our journey together goes on. Stepping over the edge of pretense and hiding our fears, we find that vulnerability opens up our humanity. And in our humanity, we really see each other for who we are and who God has created us to be. And in that raw transparency we find a love for each other because we really know each other.
I found a good thing. And God’s favour has followed.
Jo was learning to surf before we got married. We often would go to Cape Town’s best surfing nursery – Muizenberg beach. A wide-spread beach with slow breaking waves because of the gradual incline of the ocean floor – perfect for learning how to catch a wave and slowly get to your feet. (That’s called ocean bathymetry.) Drop that with friends tomorrow.
So, we were really excited to surf together on our honeymoon road-trip.
We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning in Hermanus. The wind was a light South-Easter, perfect for a spot just down the road from the house. We waited for the evening low-tide to paddle out after enjoying trails around the nature reserve. How was Jo going to surf with a cast on her arm? Before we left Cape Town the orthopedic doctor who treated Jo’s break gave her a waterproof-sleeve to wear over the cast. So, she wasn’t able to press on the break in order to get to her feet but she was able to paddle out with me.
The surf spot has a key-hole channel which makes the paddle out really easy on most days. On the left, as you paddle out, is a large deep trench which has a forest of kelp growing densely off the reef below. And it was in this channel that I showed Jo where to sit on her board so that she could comfortably watch her man catch waves. This was my moment to show her my barrel riding skills and basically show off. The right-handers, which broke over a sand-topped reef, ran right towards the channel and faded out just before reaching my wife.
The waves were so good that I lost all track of time. Most of the waves allowed for an easy take-off and then hit a long sandbank giving a beautiful barrel ride into the channel. The sun had set and visibility was low.
‘One more wave.’
Coming out of yet another barrel, I pumped the board all the way towards Jo. The inertia of the board came to an end and I sat down on my board expecting to hear a final ‘whoop whoop’ from my very impressed wife. Rather stoked and feeling like the 11-time world champ, Kelly Slater, I looked around and found no wife.
No wolf-whistles or cheering. Jo was gone.
Mist was settling over the water because of the convergence of warm land air and the icy cold Atlantic. The rip in the channel wasn’t that strong so I figured Jo wasn’t washed further out to sea. So, I paddled as quickly as I could toward the key-hole to climb safely up the rocks. Calling out her name like a frantic lover, a dark thought came over me; ‘I’ve lost wedding rings before on honeymoon but surely not a wife’. Using all of the energy that I had left, I paddled with the strength that I could muster. And eventually, I heard a sobbing sound getting louder as I drew nearer to the rocks which were now blurry to the eyes with all the mist along the shore.
I found her!
Jo had decided to paddle in when she could no longer see me in the lineup. Not knowing where to go, she simply just paddled towards the house lights shining beyond the milkwoods that bordered the gravel car park. Afraid and angry with me for leaving her alone for so long, I found my weeping wife delicately clinging to the nearest rocks that she could find. I had been too selfish to realise that my barrel-riding antics didn’t trump Jo’s anxiety of the cold and dark kelp-headed waters below her. I was rightly in big trouble.
There’s grace for weakness.
So, our first surfing experience as a married couple didn’t go down too well. Fortunately, we had two weeks to go and I knew we’d redeem the nightmare Jo had experienced along the rocks.
Two days later, feeling forgiven, I took Jo to the cliffs that overlook the historic and picturesque ‘Old Harbor’ of Hermanus. Secretly, I was planning to show her how brave her man really is. Taking on the machismo of the rouge agent, Jason Bourne, I led her to a very high cliff that we occasionally used to jump from, when I lived in Hermanus years earlier. The jump was a right of passage for Grade 12 boys leaving high school. And I had learned subsequently that had been banned by the school because of injuries that had occurred. Some of our friends would come to Hermanus to surf big waves and jump off ‘Dreunkrans Cliff’ into the ocean below. The highest point that you can do the jump from is 55 feet – That’s like surfing a massive wave at Mavericks in California. Now a known big-wave location to many non-surfers from the film ‘Chasing Mavericks’ starring Gerard Butler.
Standing on that ledge is frightening. You feel the ocean air rushing up the cliff as the swell barges into the rocky overhang down below. Jumping from this height requires you to dive outwards so that when you do hit the liquid concrete below, your head has pulled you upright again and your feet make first impact. (Just like those pin-drops you practiced over and over as a child in the Summer time.) After impact, you’re plunged like a stone many feet below the surface because of the speed created from the drop. Swimming to the surface, you’ll need to climb up an exposed rocky ledge. You’ll need a firm footing on that ledge as the larger swells wash over it. Then grapple your way up the cliff again to the path. Hopefully there are people congratulating your bravery and telling you; ‘Wow, you’re amazing!’
It had been 8 years since I had made the jump so, now feeling all Bourne-like, I was going to show my bride how strong and courageous her husband was. I suppose as an intended metaphor for the future protection and strength I’d bring to serve her and our children in life.
My toes wrapped around the natural platform that you climb onto in order to get a good launch outwards.
Jason Bourne winked at Lara Croft and jumped without any hesitation out of the plane that was above the drop zone. The mission was to land within the prisoner camp, dispose of the parachute and silently open up all the cages holding the women and children who had been taken captive in order to hold the government ransom for billions of dollars. The drop was far enough for Bourne to realise his jump was poorly executed. The next horrific thought that brought panic was that he wasn’t able to correct his landing either.
With arms waving frantically to try and right gravity, Bourne hit the ground so violently that he felt his (three to five) coccygeal vertebrae at the base of his spine all explode with pain, followed by a blinding flash of light across his peripheral vision. Numbness and darkness lingered for several seconds as he caught his breath in the aftermath of the crash site. He could vaguely see the plane circling overhead knowing Lara Croft must be rolling around in hysterical laughter – because that is what she does when Bourne hurts himself. Now wounded, he would still have to make the summit before nightfall.
My imagination shattered.
Jo watched in horror as I slowly and painfully climbed up the cliff only to lose my wedding ring just as I reached the top. Shaking from the cold and excruciating pain in my coccyx, I grabbed hold of a small ridge of rock to pull myself up. My wedding ring jammed allowing my hypothermic finger to slip out. With all my dignity and masculine prowess gone, we watched the ring bounce all the way back down the cliff and land on the mussel-crushed ledge.
What if Jason Bourne and Lara Croft did get married? The movies all tell the Hollywood version of life. Well, at least, in the action-figure genre generally speaking. We watch those films to escape and be wowed. The stunts and fight scenes are always so improbable. The bullets never find their target and seem to be dodged in The Matrix style high-def slow-mo. And then, all dirty and bloodied, they kiss passionately while standing over enemy bodies.
This wasn’t how I hoped my second honeymoon would begin. Later x-rays revealed I had dislocated my coccyx (tail-bones) and I needed some sort of re-alignment therapy when we got back to Cape Town. Just think about these three words – ‘coccyxical realignment therapy’ – I shiver and clench my buttocks just typing them. When Jo and I heard the diagnosis our minds just couldn’t picture anyone prodding around in my rear-end straightening out little bones we don’t even need. Come on God! Why?
For the rest of our honeymoon Jo wore her cast with pride, albeit some discomfort here and there. I carried around a circular sponge seat that resembled a really old and creamy looking toilet seat. We called it ‘The Ring Of Shame.’ T.R.O.S.
I needed T.R.O.S for every car-trip in order to bring the slightest ease. (For those who have never had the pleasure; the ring takes your body weight off your butt.) I carried it shamefully into every coffee shop and restaurant that we would visit. I couldn’t lie comfortably on my back to sleep. Any posture for our ‘sheet-music’ was a mixture of sexual ecstasy and hellish agony. And it wasn’t just me. Jo’s cast got in the way a lot! I think she even hit me on the forehead a couple of times while we tried our best to enjoy the ‘music.’
If you were to ask me what one of the biggest discoveries I’ve made in the last 5 years is, it would be this: When God rescues and restores our lives, when He takes the ash laying around from the traumatic aftermath of the ground-zero of our lives – He starts to bring out beauty. God doesn’t give you a fantastic ‘Plan-B’ to live in for the remainder of your earthly days, while forever viewing you with disappointment because you somehow blew the only chance you had. Jo is not God’s ‘Plan-B’ for me because of cancer and death.
‘They say there is a young lady…who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on Him…You could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure. . . . She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.’
I’ve borrowed these words to echo the nature of my wife to be God’s ‘Plan-A’ for me. This was found written on the inside of Jonathan Edwards school book as he pondered the lovely Sarah Pierpont, some time in the mid-18th century, his future wife. (Iain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, Banner of Truth, 1987)
I’ve discovered from scripture, our journey and the beautiful story of friends that He restores us to His glorious ‘Plan-A.’ It’s a mystery and we can’t try too hard to figure it out. Our small, finite abilities to reason aren’t built to grasp the realm of infinite mercy and grace. Yet, this is God. He loves to demonstrate his redemptive and restorative power in our lives if we let Him. This is the God of The Bible. He loves making beautiful things from the ashes of our lives.
The Cross wasn’t Eden’s ‘Plan-B’ because somehow our ‘first parents’ blew earth’s only chance of paradise. Jesus wasn’t Israel’s ‘Plan-B’ because this delinquent nation failed at bringing God to the world. You aren’t God’s ‘Plan-B’ because you messed up big time, lost a spouse or walked out on your family once.
You aren’t God’s ‘Plan-B.’
Lean into the above paragraph and squeeze the truth out until it runs like amber sap onto your hands. And then don’t wash the residue off. You are God’s ‘Plan-A’ – if you surrender everything to Him and let the God of the ‘COMMAND-Z’ bring you back.
‘How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure he took in planning this! He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.’ (Eugene Peterson, The Message version of Ephesians 1:3-6)
‘Thank you Father for your Plan-A in Jesus. And thank you that you are able to turn my circumstances and even my life around for my best and your glory. Amen.’
Acrylic on paper by Jo Gernetzky
‘Old Days’ by Jennifer Eaves.
“This song was inspired by the events that unfolded in my friend Nathan’s life after he lost his wife to cancer a few years ago. After confronting the extreme contrasts of life that presented themselves to me while walking the streets of Kalkbay, I had a realization that when faced with tragedy we often (as humans) experience a desperate feeling of being alone…
“Come heaven slowly down, all the way down, and shatter in the ground…”
As Nathan cried out for God to take the pain away, I believe that instead, God broke too, experiencing the loss just as deeply.”