OUR STORY – Chapter A5

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Another incident which is etched into my memory is my special visit to my boss’s office. He was a very senior official, a deputy secretary of the Department of Justice. He was very rude to his staff and often also used the name of the Lord in vain. Every time he did so, it pierced my heart. How could a human be so irreverent towards the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord that loved us so much? As time went by, I could stand it no longer and decided to go and speak to him about this matter. I phoned his secretary from my office and made an appointment with him. As I was waiting, my heart trembled with fear for I knew very well that he was not the type of man that would accept my words without offence. Some 15 minutes later, my phone rang and I was called up to his office. He was quite friendly and asked me to sit down. That caused me to feel even more uncertain as to whether I was doing the right thing, but it was too late to turn back and I decided to press on with this issue for if I failed to do so, I would never be able to live with myself in future.

I started off by giving a short testimony of the encounter I had with God, ending by saying that because of this relationship which I now had with the Lord, I was sensitive towards irreverent conduct where He was concerned, and for that reason it upset me to hear him using the Name of God in vain. His reaction was an immediate denial of the fact. He actually said: “I never do that,” which somewhat took the wind out of my sails, but the Lord came to my assistance and so I replied: “Well sir, I am much relieved to hear that you are not doing so wilfully, but I have to point out to you once more that you are in fact doing so, whether you are aware of it or not.” Having said my piece I felt that there was no point in pressing the issue any further.

The fact that I, being a fairly junior official, did speak to him,  confronting him on such a delicate issue, must have been quite a shock, so I just thanked him for the opportunity I had to bring the matter to his attention and then left his office without anything more being said by either of us. I went back to my office much relieved because of the fact that this matter that had been pressing on my heart for such a long time, had been dealt with. At the same time I wondered whether I would be penalised for that in future, whether he would bear a grudge against me. My relief and joy was great after a week or two to find that he was now putting so much more trust in me and never again would he be rude to me as he was to some other staff members, some more senior to me. What is more, never again did he use the name of God irreverently in my presence. Whether he was totally cured of that bad habit, I would not know. I left that to the Lord.

It was incidents such as these that caused me to draw nearer to my Saviour and to trust Him in a deeper way.

But now, lest you are beginning to have a bad opinion of the Department in which I was serving, let me hasten to say that it was managed very, very well, and that it was a prestigious department of which every member of staff could be proud and indeed was so. Strikes, as we experience nowadays, were unheard of, and even the smallest transgression was immediately and strictly dealt with. We knew what our duties were, were well trained and meticulously supervised. There was a very strong sense of responsibility and I recall how I would sometimes be at the office on festival days like New Year’s Day, finishing some urgent work or balancing my financial records before going home and joining in the festivities. There were many others that were like-minded. It was the normal thing, the right thing to do. It was the prevailing life-style of all upright people. We were brought up with a strong sense of human responsibility. The term “Human rights” had not yet become an issue and I dare say that the fruit of that attitude towards life was an orderly society in which people felt secure and could relax. I am not saying that no-one stepped out of line but that that was the exception and not the rule. People could still blush with shame and we toed the line, not for fear of being arrested and sent to jail, but for the unbearable shame it would bring upon us. Decent people would no longer be friends with us. How things have changed. Nowadays cabinet ministers that are caught red-handed embezzling huge sums of money or having extramarital sex, do not flee and hide themselves somewhere in shame, but, using public funds, fight with all their might to retain their posts.

Let me not get entangled with the issues of society – this writing is all about the Lord and His gracious dealings with two sinners called Ben and Martie who He salvaged from the garbage dump and gradually transformed to slightly resemble His Son.

It was He that directed our footsteps day by day and kept us from falling into the snares of the evil one. Sometimes His Spirit just rushed to my assistance when I landed up in grave danger. Such was the case when the devil used a woman to try and ensnare me. In the course of one of the projects assigned to me, I had to work closely with a certain lady over a prolonged period of time. Since I was very dependent on her co-operation, I was of course friendly towards her, not realising that it had the wrong effect. While I was concentrating on the work, she was concentrating on me. Then, one day, she took me aside and almost accusingly asked me whether I had not noticed that she was so much in love with me. I was stunned for I truly had not noticed it and on my part I had no such emotions at all for I loved my wife and, in any event, even before I found the Lord, believed that faithfulness was a great virtue. So what was I to say without seriously offending her? The blessed Holy Spirit just put the Words into my mouth and I humbly answered: “Well thank you for being so frank with me about this matter. I will share it with my wife and we will pray for you so that the Lord may deliver you from these thoughts that are causing you so much distress.” She stared at me for a few moments, then spun around, walked away with as much dignity as she could muster and never again troubled me. When I got home that afternoon, I also immediately shared the incident with Martie, so that she would never learn about it from another source. Transparency between spouses allows no room for the devil. Boy, did he burn his tail that day! I was also grateful towards the Lord for His wisdom to answer the lady in a kind way, for Solomon (who was daily surrounded by hundreds of ladies competing for his attentions) experienced that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a biting Word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1) and even our present day sages say that there is no wrath like that of a woman scorned.

My personal experience in these matters is that it is wise to rely altogether on the Holy Spirit when conflict arises for He knows the hearts and motives of those that confront us and therefore also knows the best way of dealing with every situation. There definitely are instances in which a soft answer may be construed as a measure of willingness to go along with an evil suggestion and it would be necessary to use the Sword of the Word on the “sons of vipers” as Jesus did.

In this regard I recall an instance when we gathered around a huge table in a meeting of twenty or more government officials from several departments. In his opening address, the chairman repeatedly used the Name of the Lord in vain. After he had done so five or six times within the first three minutes, I interrupted him by raising my hand and requesting that we show reverence to God during our meeting for then only would we experience His blessing on the issue we were about to discuss. He turned red with anger, floundered for words for a couple of seconds and then continued with his speech without once abusing the Name of our Lord again.

The Lord Jesus also often addressed wrong behaviour of people openly. What made it difficult for me to do so was that, though being fairly low in seniority, I was designated by my Department to solve functional problems both within our department and also those affecting our co-operation with other departments, so I could not rely on seniority or authority to protect myself but had to leave these issues in the Lord’s hands altogether.



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