A. THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
MARTIE’S ACCOUNT OF EXPERIENCES IN REGARD TO OUR FIRST SON, FRANS
After nine months of waiting, the day came for our first baby to be born. Shall I ever forget that day! Ben took me to the maternity home on the afternoon of 17 September. When we arrived there, the sister in charge examined me and I was told that it would be many hours before the baby would be born; so we waited, Ben and I. Late that afternoon he walked me around the garden for hours until I could walk no longer. Evening came and still nothing happened. On several occasions Ben asked the sister whether she had phoned the doctor. Her answer always was: ‘It is not time yet’. Ben then sat in a chair beside my bed, keeping watch. I fell asleep. By about twelve o’clock I woke up in terrible pain. Ben called the sister and insisted that she call the doctor. After another examination, her answer still was: ‘It is not time yet.’
I was lying there, hour after hour. Ben got very cross with the sister because it seemed to him that she did not care much about me. She instructed him to go and wait in the waiting room which was way down the passage and even accompanied him to make sure that he got there. As she returned to my room, he followed her back and when she looked over her shoulder before entering my room, guess what?… There was Ben, right behind her again! It must have been a shock to her, because there and then she called the doctor. By that time it was already 08h30 in the morning. The doctor arrived within a few minutes and had hardly time to prepare himself. Within a short time, I was able to hold our son in my arms. Everything went well and he was healthy. I then knew that the Lord had been with me all the time and had carried me through that very difficult experience. Praise His wonderful Name! I also feared that they might accidentally exchange my baby for another one. But the Lord knew about my fear, and had engraved that little face on my mind and in my heart and from the first time they brought him back to me, I knew for certain, that was him! A mother will, and can never forget that first impression as she looks upon that little face and will recognise him/her amongst a thousand other babies.
When Frans was just over one year old, Ben’s parents visited us on Christmas Day. We had a lovely backyard where there were various types of fruit trees. We showed them around and as we went, enjoyed some of the peaches. As we were on our way to the house, we suddenly heard Frans making strange noises. We rushed to him and realised that he had something in his throat and was actually choking. Ben stuck his finger into his mouth, trying to dig out whatever got stuck there, but could not succeed. By that time Frans was turning blue in the face and I ran out of the room for I saw blood on Ben’s and his mother’s hands and could stand it no more. As a last resort, Ben turned him upside down, smacked him hard on the back causing the air to gush out of his lungs. The peach pip, for that is what it was, shot out onto the floor and the crisis was over. We of course then took him to hospital. The doctor said that his throat looked very bad and he would have died had we not succeeded in removing the pip. A course of antibiotics took care of possible inflammation and very soon he had forgotten all about that experience. Not so with his mother who went through it again and again and over and over praised the Lord for the Christmas miracle He performed for us as a family.
Quite early in that first year of our salvation, we felt that we should tithe. Now let me not enter into the different present-day teachings on this issue, but just say we felt that that was the right thing to do and to us, living in the glow of our new-found salvation, to do the right thing, was the right thing to do and we applied ourselves to it industriously. Putting faith into action, however, was not all that easy, for during that year we had bought a new house, filled it with furniture and our first child was born. As can well be imagined, each of these items took its toll on our finances. It was our conviction that we had to tithe on our gross income and since my salary was the only income we had, this was easier said than done. As I sat down to plan our monthly budget I realised that we were barely scraping through, so how would we manage to get by on only 9/10ths of our income?
There was only one answer to this challenge: by faith. We just had to trust God to see us through and so we set about doing this. Every month, before using my salary for any other purpose, we industriously deducted 1/10 which we gave to our church. This was the first step of faith we had ever taken in trusting God to provide for our material needs. And it worked. We actually got by, month by month.
How did God manage to do this? On looking back, I discovered that He had kept his hand of protection over our material things. We never had a mishap; nothing ever broke. He did for us as he had done for the children of Israel during the forty years they were roaming in the desert when neither their clothes, nor their shoes wore out. God has bags of miracles to dispense to them that put their trust in Him. We have, by now, after forty-two years of tithing, proved that He can be fully trusted in this matter. We have often heard people say that their income was insufficient for them to be able to set aside 1/10th of it for the promotion of God’s kingdom, but we have not found this happening during the course of our own lives, although we often went through very testing financial straits. You cannot prove the existence, power and faithfulness of God, without stepping out in faith.
MARTIE’S ACCOUNT REGARDING THE USE OF COSMETICS
After I left school, I used some cosmetics as every young girl does, but never overdid it. However, the Africa Evangelistic Band whose meetings and conferences we were attending, were outspoken against this practice which set me thinking as to whether it was pleasing to the Lord or not. One morning as I was putting on my make-up, a gust of wind blew some of the items off my dressing table. Bending down to pick them up, I sensed the Lord speaking to me, saying: ‘Be at peace with your appearance as I created you.’ I really wanted to please the Lord with all my heart but my problem was with Ben: what would his reaction be? Would he be happy with such a colourless wife? I removed all make-up from my face, then approached him hesitantly and told him what had happened, adding: ‘You better not laugh at me or you will be in trouble!’ Well, praise the Lord, he just smiled, saying: ‘This does not come as a surprise. I have been praying for you to take this step for quite some time.’ He accepted me as I was, because we both wanted to be obedient to the Lord.
This step stood me in good stead a while later, when, as you will see, we joined an organisation that did not allow its members to use cosmetics. Later in life, as I grew older and lost some of whatever natural beauty I had, I began to use just a little make-up again, for two reasons. Firstly I felt that just as with colourful clothes, life would be more cheerful with a couple of colourful faces. Secondly, women not using make-up, are regarded by some as slovenly and unkempt which would be detrimental to my Christian image, rather than doing it any good. My standpoint is that cosmetics should enhance a lady’s natural beauty and not be applied as a mask making her unrecognizable.
ENTERTAINMENT UNDER THE MAGNIFYING GLASS
Next in line of God’s spiritual educating for us, was regarding entertainment. There was no television at that stage and so we all went to the movies. Some of these had sex scenes that ran contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. This troubled me more and more, and so one day I tactfully broached this matter to Martie saying: “What would your reaction be should I do the same things we saw the hero of this picture doing?” Her answer was: “Don’t you ever dare!” to which I replied: “Well then I think we may be doing wrong by exposing ourselves to temptation to do things that are not right in the eyes of God.”
Well, we both pondered this question for a couple of days and then came up with the answer that we were sinning and should in future refrain from going to movies unless we had a fair assurance that they would not be offensive to the Lord. This too, was quite a radical step to take for there really was very little entertainment at that time and to some degree it left us on a barren island, not always knowing what to do with our time. It also meant that we could not participate in conversation when it came to the discussion of the latest movies. Our friends would raise their eyebrows when discovering that we had not yet been to this or that new release and would be astounded to learn that, as Christians, we felt that certain movies were not beneficial to our growth in Christ.
The positive side of this new turn in our lives, was that we appropriated so much more of our time in the studying of God’s Word. I then also discovered that there were Christian books to be read and we bought quite a number of them. The first one titled “God’s Smuggler” was by a Dutch Christian and it was his fascinating story of smuggling Bibles into Communist countries. What a tremendous challenge this was to me and how it stirred my heart to go way beyond the normal in promoting God’s Kingdom. Then also, prompted by my mother I discovered the books written by Dr Andrew Murray, many of which I bought and read. In this way the Lord was opening our eyes to behold the length and depth and height, not only of his love, but also of His holiness and power.
KEEPING THE SABBATH
There were of course also many spiritual onslaughts. Since we were thirsty for discussing the things of God with other people, we sometimes met up with those that had some interest in spiritual matters but not much knowledge and they would then try to force their convictions on us. A certain couple one day spoke to me very seriously saying that a person could not really be saved unless he kept the Sabbath. This was new to me. I did not have an answer right away and so I told him that I would think about what he had said and get back to him at a later stage.
Since there was no-one to whom I could turn for advice on this matter, I took it to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to reveal the truth to me. I then took up the Bible and started paging through the New Testament because at that stage I had no concordance or any other instrument such as a Bible dictionary or the like which I could consult. Suddenly my eye caught a verse in the book of Colossians. It was Colossians 2:16 which reads as follows: “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”
My, oh my, what a discovery. It really was as if God Himself was speaking to me in an audible voice from heaven. Not only had I, on my own, discovered the truth regarding Sabbaths, but I had discovered a greater truth, namely that my Heavenly Father had an intense interest in everything that I was doing or saying and that He wanted to be my teacher. I felt I was floating on a cloud. I could not wait to go to this man with my open Bible and with a beaming face, point him to the truth in God’s Word. However, no matter how he tried, he could not get around this clear teaching and so our ways parted.
Regarding the Sabbath, I do realise that there is much more to be said than quoting just one verse, but salvation, at least, is by faith alone and not by doing good works.
MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD, DAY AND NIGHT.
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