Journey towards life

journey1

I am alive. So many things I can do and so much to see and experience. So much potential in who I can become in living, doing and experiencing.

But it is not to be.  Slowly I discover that I am told what to do. I have no say and my opinion does not matter. I am a tool. A vessel there for another’s whim. That other gets to decide what I do and where I go. Who I am and what I am worth. Choices are not mine to make. Left or right? / Up or down? / Good or bad? Not for me to decide for you see, I am a slave. I am owned. A mere possession, there not for myself. Alive not for my life and waking up not for my day.

I am a slave defenceless against my master’s whim, voiceless against my owner’s greed. Powerless. I am never going to be. I have no right to be. I do not matter. I am bound by a faceless evil that consumes me mercilessly.

Then one day he came. A soft-spoken, gentle man. Guileless. Wise. Free.

journey5

I followed. My slave master did not matter. The one whose greed and need I existed to satisfy faded away. I turned away from the one who destroyed me merely for a laugh… and followed.

Hope stirred in my chest. My heart yearned for significance. I wanted to matter, so I struggled against my bonds as I battled with the thoughts of a slave. I strained against the yoke that has been destroying me for years… as I strived to follow.

The harder I tried, the more I failed. The weight was too heavy. It felt as if I had the DNA of a slave and I knew I was losing the fight. I pretended to follow, but I knew my old master was still in control. The chains were unbroken and pulled me back and down.

I was not worthy. His words that made me yearn to follow, became beacons to my failures. I wanted to change but I could not keep it up. I knew this was the way, but I kept stepping off the track.

Hope lost is worse than no hope. It is darker at the moment when the light is switched off than in the middle of the night. I had seen the light and I knew it was there but maybe it was not for me…

journey2

He turned to me. ‘You are why I came,’ he said. ‘What you are trying to do… it is done.’ He stretched his arms wide and died. It is finished!

I was free! No bondage. No chains. No one controlling me. No one using me, moving me towards destruction. Freedom! Amazing! Wonderful! Alive! For the first time!

As he walked out of a grave, I bowed my knee. My Lord! You saved me! Set me free! I will serve you all of my days and with every breath. I will do whatever you ask and go wherever you send me. You are my Lord and for the first time ever, I serve with joy.

I study his words and memorise every command. My utmost for him who saved me. I belong to him and I am ready to change the world. His will be done, not mine.

As great as joy has become, as strong as the love that is burning in my heart has grown, the task is a big one. In moments of sober pause, I acknowledge the task is too big for me. The need out there drains me and the cry for help overwhelms me.

I must keep going. It is for my Lord… He saved me… He loves me… I am his! I must keep going. I must … but I am growing so weary…

journey6

He turns to me again and bends down to wash my feet. ‘You are no longer a slave. I call you friend! Take my hand.’

Streams of living water flow from deep within. I rise with clean feet and new strength from deep. As I hold onto his hand, I follow again. From up close… In step… Moment by moment.

This is easy. I can do this! And as I walk closer still, I hear his voice. It is a soft voice, like a whisper. You cannot hear it from afar. Even reasonably close such a whisper fades among many other voices. However, when you get really close, you hear. Clearly!

‘It was for freedom that I set you free.’

‘You are mine and I am yours.’

‘My child!’

‘My child!!’

‘I love you! Now and forever!’

‘I am the vine. You are the branches.’

‘Live in me as I live in you.’

In my heart, a yearning grows. It becomes a birth.

‘Abba, is that you?’

A slave I am not. A son I am. A father I have. An inheritance I possess.

I am alive. Truly alive!

I am free! Free indeed!

I can be. There is nothing left to do!

journey4


I wrote this during a sabbatical period in 2018 not thinking I would ever publish it. It is my hope that my journey will enlighten and lighten yours. Your feedback will, as always, be treasured.

Reon Louw

(@reonlouw)

There is some good in rolling blackouts

loadshedding

I live in Johannesburg; South Africa and it is March 2019. This means that I live in a place and at a time where we are experiencing the worst rolling power cuts in the history of our country. (We call it load shedding.) Our national grid is under unprecedented pressure and a complete, country-wide blackout is not as impossible as it once seemed. It is better, so we are told, to be without electricity for 5 hours a day than to lose it all for an undetermined period.

As South Africans suffer in gridlocked traffic, contemplate huge financial losses during unproductive hours and throw away the defrosting content of their freezers, a tide of anger is rising. Everyone I speak to seems to be convinced they could manage it all much better and that there is an easy and quick solution. The conspiracy theorists are working overtime, even without electricity. To top it all, it is nearly election time and politicians are pointing fingers in any and all directions with awe-inspiring passion and angel-like innocence.

Maybe you can remember a time like this in your country or at least know of such a time. Maybe you live in a country where timed and controlled blackouts for only 5 hours a day would be an improvement. Wherever you are, I have discovered that everything is not dark when the lights go out. Here are some thoughts on the advantages of 5 hours without electricity daily.

Hopefully, some South Africans will read this and find some encouragement.

  1. Family time

While we as a family have a lot of fun together and we try to limit our children’s time on devices, we are not as successful with the latter as we want to be. We also watch television together and laugh and discuss the antics on the screen. When there is no electricity, this is not an option.

As a result, our conversations are longer and range over more topics. This is true of conversations with my wife and with my children. Board games are back in vogue and I see many pictures on Facebook of candlelit Monopoly or Cluedo boards.

Don’t you agree that this is a good thing? And that it is sad that such an extreme situation must occur for us to talk about more and for longer with our loved ones?

 

  1. Slower Pace

Since we can do less in a day, the pressure is building. However, for right now, everything in our hustling, bustling city has slowed down. It is something we contemplate all the time. We speak of the rat race and of the need to slow down as we gulp down our coffee before rushing to the next meeting. There is no rushing in gridlocked traffic and no Skype meetings at two in the morning. It is not going to last, but you should enjoy it while you can. And maybe discover that the world did not end because you slowed down…

 

  1. Creative proactivity

I have a new friend who will often spend 20 hours a day on his computer working under great pressure. He works from home and can only sustain his equipment for a part of any blackout period. In response to this ‘downtime’, he created a list of long overdue maintenance tasks at his house that can be done without electricity. You know, the kind that we all procrastinate on forever and ever. The moment the power goes out, he switches gears and gets going on these tasks.

I’m sure his family is smiling, and he is getting things fixed that will benefit him now and later.

 

  1. Prayer

I’m a fan of social media and I love the connection, interaction and information that comes my way via different channels. Yes, I know it is not perfect but is just a thing and not inherently good or bad. You get to choose what you use it for and how well you use it. (You can read my blog on this here.)

It does, however, fill my thoughts with a lot of noise and I spend many an otherwise idle moment scrolling down one feed or timeline or another. When the power goes, and the batteries die that is obviously not an option.

Just like you, I pray a lot. My circumstances often demand this of me. Social media sometimes remind me to pray for someone and it is repeatedly the best way I can help people in situations that boggle my mind. I mostly pray while driving and I do not recommend that you do any unexpected things around me on the road as my skill in doing only one thing at a time confirms my gender.

However, just like with my family, I am finding that my conversations with God are longer, deeper and on more topics than during a productive, electricity-filled day. I am so not immune to the frustrations of power cuts, but this single thing fills me with immense joy.

If you are a South African and suffering the same fate, I hope this blog inspires you to turn to your Father every time your computer suddenly ignores you or the traffic come to a standstill or your drill stops working. He is on the edge of His seat in eager anticipation of a conversation with you!

I love to listen to people and have spent a lifetime asking questions to get people talking. In doing this I have learnt the following. If you let people ramble on, they will share with you three stories and/or bits of information portraying the reality they want to present, or they think you want to hear. This part of the conversation is controlled and censored and while not devoid of truth, it is a guarded version of the truth. If you let them continue after that, they let their guard down, often unwittingly and you get to hear unguarded or uncensored truths.

Don’t you think that as a result of this human trait your relationship with God will be helped by longer and less structured time in prayer? When you have said everything you can think of, what will come next? What will you say then?

Or when was the last time you had the time to really listen to all He has to say?


Load shedding will be with us for a while. It is the one thing everyone seems to agree on. When it is done, we can be one of two things. World-class complainers after hours of practice. Or we can discover new joys in hours of intimacy with our Lord.

I hope you choose well!

 

Reon Louw

@reonlouw

Monday Motivation: a good story

MM1

One day the story of your life will be told. Now is not the time to tell it. Now is the time to write it. Be a good writer!

A good story, whether a novel or a movie, needs intrigue, a captivating plot that keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. We often speak of a book that is a page-turner where you can’t wait to discover what will happen next.

It is possible to create this intrigue through an enemy plotting against the main character. The fate of the world is often at stake in such storylines and while I find it exciting, I do not expect to experience anything like that myself. My karate skills have not been exercised in at least 40 years and I have not pulled the trigger of a gun in about 25 years. There must be someone somewhere with better skills to save the world.

While intrigue is always important, a story will usually engage you when you can identify with a character in the story. In such stories, intrigue is often created by a misunderstanding between characters. Such a misunderstanding can result from one character pretending to be something he or she is not. Or by a character lying or not telling what they know, think or feel.

I have read or watched so many stories, thinking ‘If they only sat down with one another and spoke openly and honestly, the whole matter will be a thing of the past. All will be well!’ The problem is that that will make for a boring story that readers or viewers will lose interest in. As a result, characters will lie, deceive and pretend to keep the outcome uncertain and you on the edge of your seat or screaming with laughter.

That is great for a fictional story but I want my life to be different than a story created to keep readers engaged. I want to know where I stand with you and I want you to know where you stand with me. The intrigue in my life should not be the result of my lies or deception or pretence. It should be the result of the goals and challenges I take on.

Today I challenge you to simplify the plot of your life by being open, honest and upfront. No games. No pretence. No deception. I am who I am and I am not going to hide it or pretend otherwise. No one will be in doubt about where I stand or where they stand with me.

The Bible says it like this.

When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.
Mat 5:37 CEV

  • If you are dating someone, let them know where they stand with you. No guessing.
  • If you are angry with someone, explain it to them. Don’t just glare or ignore them.
  • If you admire someone, tell them!
  • If you are in doubt about anything, ask!

Simplify the plot of your life and focus your energy on what really matters!

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Joh 8:32 NLT


May you have a great week doing significant things that will become a great story to tell. May the story of your life become an epic tale told to encourage and uplift. Don’t become a soapie bogged down in needless intrigue.

Your comments will be treasured!

Reon Louw

(@reonlouw)

Why am I blogging?

second

Don’t you think life has a way of taking you down unexpected roads? It is said that one of the funniest things for the angels in heaven is to listen to us make plans and compare it to what actually will happen. The rumour is that you can hear deep belly laughs and some actually roll around on the floor.

Life is full of surprises and those that can see a little further into the future than you and I may very well find our plans funny…

I have been playing with the idea of this blog for many years now. The twin uncertainties of unproven skill and the ability to sustain this over time have held me back. Those factors remain but it is time to take the plunge. Here is what I want to accomplish.

1. Share my journey

I have been a pastor for more than 25 years now and I am not looking for another pulpit from which to preach or to merely transcribe old sermons. However, over the years I have journeyed with many and have struggled with my own journey. It will give me great joy to share insights and aspects of these journeys with you. If these words of Jesus as Eugene Peterson penned them touch you, you may enjoy my thoughts and yearnings too:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Mat 11:28-30 MSG

Grace is a big thing in my heart right now and the life that flows from “the unforced rhythms of grace” draws my heart like a bee to a flower. Maybe this is a journey you and I can share?

 2. Random thoughts

The randomness of these thoughts makes it difficult to predict or describe to you. However, I can be very clear about what I will not post here. I will not be posting party political opinions or responding to such opinions. My political thoughts will alienate every single one of you, especially those of you who think you know what I think.

I will try not to ramble when being random but the two seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. And it gets just as sticky. The only certain thing here is that you will think, ‘That was random’ when you are done reading. I hope to surprise you.

3. Monday Motivation

In learning about blogging on the blockchain (Steem & Kryptonia) my regular Monday Motivation post was my most successful and popular series. I did about 16 and hope to get to 52 somewhere soon. These posts will lift you on a Monday as you start your work week. My hope is to inspire your thoughts and turn you to the One who holds your whole week in His hands.

4. Africa Food for Thought

I have been working with this charity for more than a decade now. Their growth has been miraculous and I am inspired daily by the amazing children we get to serve. If you follow this blog you will read about the impact food security and proper nutrition will have on a child. And you will hear about children who overcame impossible obstacles to live significantly.

Be warned! If you follow this blog, you will travel from wherever you live to volunteer at AFFT. Unless you are from America. Then you can just send money. We do not have time to teach you the metric system…

5. Monetize this blog

It would be great to bring my gifts to the church without needing them to pay me. I have always been jealous of my bi-vocational colleagues but have been unable to emulate them. In trying to do so, I discovered that I am basically a lazy good-for-nothing and that in all the world, it is only God who can use me. You may find this upsetting but I love being used by Him!

You can help me with the monetization of this blog. It is a long and uncertain journey but not impossible. The first step is to make this blog popular. You can subscribe to it and comment often. And you can share it on all your social media. All of this will not cost you a cent but it could help me. Your help will be appreciated!

And just to be clear. This blog is already monetized via Steem and Kryptonia in a small way. What that is, I will explain in a later blog.


A big thank you to everyone who responded to my first post here and on Facebook. As always, your comments and support will be treasured.

Reon

(@reonlouw)

My first blog

first blog

Everyone seems to be blogging nowadays. It is the thing to do if you have something to say or often, even when you have nothing to say but would prefer to say it in 500 words or more. I’m not sure where I would fit into this spectrum, but it is time for me to jump on this bandwagon. Thus, I welcome you to my very first blog on this site. I have dabbled a bit with blogging on the blockchain (more about that later) and have been a guest blogger here and there.

Blogging is a wordier version of social media than what most of us generally consume or practice. Yet social media it is and if you are reading this, you are at the very least a consumer of social media. I find it ironic how many people preach about the evils of social media on social media. And how many people claim that they avoid and distrust social media but barely miss a thing on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

In my first blog, I want to argue against some of the reasons people avoid or fear social media. Here we go!

People say social media is no good because…

  1. Everyone tends to create a false image of their lives as if everything was just perfect and wonderful.

According to the integrity police, this leads to other mere mortals comparing themselves to your perfect life and falling into severe depressions with which the pharmaceutical industry is unable to cope.

I am not a proponent of falseness or pretence, but I do want to know: where do you find people walking around telling everyone (friend, foe and stranger) of all their woes in an effort to create an accurate image of what their lives are like at the moment?

Or let me ask it this way.

Do you attend any social gathering with people you know and others you do not, wearing the shirt that emphasizes the weight you picked up? Or do you comb your hair and wear your most flattering shirt?

At this gathering of strangers, semi-strangers and friends, do you reach out to everyone to tell them of your latest mistake or that you did not get a raise this year because your boss thinks you are ‘not committed enough’?

We all put our best foot forward when in the company of new or unknown people.  And we keep personal stuff or not-so-good stuff for when we are in the company of people we know well and with whom we are safe.

This is a healthy thing to do! And you should not do it any differently on social media!

 

  1. Nothing is private on social media.

Duh!

When you are on a stage you are conscious of all the people in the audience watching you and listening to every word you say. This can be nerve-wracking and as a result, people do some ‘abnormal’ things before going onto a stage.

They memorize what they are going to say. They practice in front of a mirror. They ask a trusted friend to listen to them and critique everything from the content to the delivery. And then they practice some more.

Social media is like a stage. In fact, it is the biggest stage that you or I will ever find ourselves on. Why on earth would we want to spew every thought that pops into our heads on this stage? Why do you want to post pictures of yourself that you would not want your children or your boss to see?

Think about what you want to say. Say only the things you can stand by no matter what. Tell the jokes to which everyone can listen. You are not Donald Trump and social media is not a locker room.

 

  1. I’ll be spied on and people will find me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not interesting enough to be spied on. And why do you need to spy on me? If I post it, it is for everyone to see. When you read my thoughts or look at my pictures, I’m accomplishing my goal. When I do not want you to see it, I do not post it!

If there is someone from whom you are hiding, stay away from social media. It really is as simple as that. It may also be better to live your life in such a way that you do not need to hide from anyone…

You are fully in control of what you put out there. Don’t put anything out there that you may want back at some stage. Just don’t!

 

  1. All our connections are becoming superficial and impersonal.

You are thinking of television. Television turned us away from one another towards people and connections that do not exist. Social media turns us back towards one another. Yes, you heard me. As a result of social media, I now have contact with a multitude of people with whom I had lost contact many years ago. I have made new friends all over the world that I would never have met otherwise. I have contact with you who are reading here, and you are the recipient of some of my thoughts. You can comment on this blog in response and we can have a conversation that can lead anywhere.

Sure, this may not be a deep, soul-searching conversation where we exchange confidences in trust. Does it have to be, to be real? How many such deep, meaningful conversations do you have in any given week? And with how many different people? I hope it is not too many, as that would not be healthy. Your intimate circle should be small, but it should not be your only circle. You do not have to be my one and only BFF to be significant in my life.

Is this conversation you and I are having any less real than the conversation you had last week at a social function with a colleague’s spouse about the weather? The one whose name you can’t remember…

I think it may be obvious to you by now, but I love social media. In my next blog, I want to tell you what I want to accomplish with this blog. And why you should join me!

I do hope you will!

Reon Louw

(Your comments, even if you disagree, will be treasured.)