La La Land

The road the righteous travel is like the sunrise, getting brighter and brighter until daylight has come. -Proverbs 4:18

Recently, my husband and I watched the movie La La Land. I am not sure that it could be described as a masterpiece, but it was sweet and full of pursuing one’s passion. The story reminded me again of how challenging it can be to follow your heart and follow your dreams. Some will recognize “following your heart” as actually being “following your calling”. The movie inspired me even more to do just that.

One day, I will get there.

A famous South African poet, NP van Wyk Louw, wrote in his poem “Die Beiteltjie” about his belief that, if a person would just keep at pursuing their goals and dreams, they will have a breakthrough one day. Here is the poem in Afrikaans (too beautiful) and English.

Die Beiteltjie

Ek kry ‘n klein klein beiteltjie,
ek tik hom en hy klink;
toe slyp ek en ek slyp hom
totdat hy klink en blink.

Ek sit ‘n klippie op ‘n rots:
-mens moet jou vergewis:
‘n beitel moet kan klip breek
as hy ‘n beitel is-

ek slaat hom met my beiteltjie
en dié was sterk genoeg:
daar spring die klippie stukkend
so skoon soos langs ‘n voeg:

toe, onder my tien vingers bars
die grys rots middeldeur
en langs my voete voel ek
die sagte aarde skeur,

die donker naat loop deur my land
en kloof hom wortel toe-
só moet ‘n beitel slaan
wat beitel is, of hoe?

Dan, met twee goue afgronde
val die planeet aan twee
en oor die kranse, kokend,
verdwyn die vlak groen see

en op die dag sien ek die nag
daar anderkant gaan oop
met ‘n bars wat van my beitel af
dwarsdeur die sterre loop.

The Small Chisel
Translation by CJD Harvey

I take a chisel, very small,
I tap it and it rings;
I sharpen it and sharpen it
until it shines and sings.

I place a stone upon a rock:
-for surely it’s well known
a chisel that is genuine
should easily break a stone-

I hit it with my chisel hard
and, strong enough its point,
the stone is cleanly split in two
as though along a joint:

then, under my ten fingers bursts
the grey rock suddenly;
I feel the soft earth at my feet
dividing under me;

the dark rift runs right through my land,
cleft to the roots, like that!
a chisel surely should do this
if it is real, or what?

The planet then, in cliffs of gold,
the two halves falling free,
is split, and boiling, o’er the cliffs
plunges the flat green sea

and with that sight I see the night
beyond split open too
with a crack that from my chisel runs
the furthest stars right through.

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Surrender

I am contemplating a year with new superb opportunities, delightful dreams that could come true, marvelous wishes, and numerous answered prayer requests.

With the above, I remind myself that high expectations go hand in hand with challenges. Exhaustion, disappointments, stress, feelings of hopelessness, pains, aches, and possibly tears might all be prevalent. The latter are really actually all part of normal life.

The questions come to mind, Why I should even be surprised by difficulties surrounding my so called successes and accomplishments? How could I imagine arriving at them without effort, diligence, and sacrifices at times? Is it even realistic to have these ‘ambitious’ and hopeful thoughts?

When I look at the past I know that not all is established in a year. I have so many failed goals I set out to succeed with. I have to do lists that are carried forward to each new year. It was liberating to me when my husband reminded me that there is just one day between the last and first day of a particular year. Calendars are there to help us humans stay “programmed” and it is not the end of the world if we did not reach our goals by the end of a year. It is just that: the end of a year. Gloriously, it is also the beginning of a new one. Therefore, I am forever hopeful that at some point I can tick more items off my list. On my website are some of my dreams. I have not reached my set goals in any of these areas. Yet, I found fulfillment in the process. Here they are:

Project 60
Art
Photography

There were, however, unexpected and wonderful events. Prayer requests were answered by God in the most creative ways. New friendships were formed and precious times were spent with established and faithful friends. Valuable memories were made with family, wonderful beyond description. I have a greater awareness of God’s presence and involvement in my life and in the lives of those dear to me. My baby daughter got married to the love of her life (this will be featured in another blog). I could not plan or control any of these. Yet it was granted to me. All of this was pure grace.

Then without a doubt, I want to lay down all of my plans before him. I want to please him and want to be used by him on his terms and conditions, without complaining. I want to know him better, as well as what is in my own heart. I want to surrender all and all (my complete list) to his perfect ways. I also want to see what he is doing in the moment and make sure I am there, here, in the moment. After all, it is all that I am sure of. The now. This moment.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. -Isaiah 26.3 NKJV

What If?

What if God takes away the rain because we do not thank him for the flowers?
What if God takes away his gifts because I do not open them?
What if God takes away his Word because I do not believe and trust what he says?
What if God answers my prayers in a way I did not expect?
What if God had granted Jesus’ prayer when he asked to let the cup pass him by?
What if God allows me to feel utterly desolate?

What if the pain of broken relationships leaves me in utter dismay?
What if accusations and curses come from unexpected places?
What if losses are more than gains?
What if disappointments drain the life out of you and nightmares come true?

Vaneetha Rendall Rishner wrote the following in her blog:

Even if.
These two simple words have taken the fear out of life. Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can ever make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God. We see that even if the worst happens, God will carry us. He will still be good. And he will never leave us.

Habakkuk models this exchange beautifully. Though he had pleaded with God to save his people, he closes this book with this exquisite “even if…”

Even though the fig trees have no fruit
and no grapes grow on the vines,
even though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no corn,
even though the sheep all die
and the cattle stalls are empty,
I will still be joyful and glad,
because the Lord God is my savior.
The Sovereign Lord gives me strength.
He makes me sure-footed as a deer,
and keeps me safe on the mountains.

Hab 3:17-19 (GNB)