Free falling … in the Garden

Now that I believe that I am in a safe place, I realize that I have been in free fall for the last 18 months or so. I wish I could say: ‘like a cat that has jumped off a tree branch, knowing where it is going to land and how, and confident that it will land safely’ … but I can’t.

The free fall I am talking about is more like:

Woa! Woosh! Oh no! That looks like quick sand! Bang!  Ouch! That hurt! … where am I going?  Why does it feel like I am heading nowhere? … or somewhere not very nice? … oh! thank God! … that looks like a rope … God has thrown me a rope to save me!  Thank You God! If I swing out towards that rope, I will be carried safely to a safe place….

Aargh!  that burns! I am too heavy to carry myself… why can’t I hold on to the rope? I am falling!  God help me! …. Oh… I have too much baggage from the past?   I need to throw it off? ok… Now when did I let go of the rope again?  Ok, there it is, let me swing towards it and try again… ok, maybe if I hold on tight I will be able to carry on safely this time… no! No! I can’t hold on, what is going on? I am still too heavy!’

So I learned to throw off the baggage from the past, the baggage of materialism, the baggage of village-centric superstition, the baggage of independence and self reliance, the baggage of pride, the baggage of trying to be part of the world, the baggage of being holier than the world… the baggage of fear, the baggage list seemed endless… and so I have reached this place.  I am not sure what other baggage I still have on me, but I think I am close to landing.

And as I cling to God, I know I need to throw off all unnecessary baggage so that I can be lifted up high enough to see and get to that safe place where God is taking me… A journey with less baggage and during which, and at the end of which I can be better able to obey God and do all He wants me to do in my daily life.  A journey with that much less baggage that allows me to be ready to receive those blessings that God has in store for me. Meanwhile, I shout as loud as I can to those around me about how great a lesson God is teaching me and how wonderful the experience of being lifted up by Him is, when I resolutely relieve myself of so much unnecessary baggage.

Do you feel like you are falling?  Is it time you got rid of some unnecessary baggage and held on to God instead?

No, it is not going to be easy, you are likely to encounter scratches, bruises and hair raising moments.  No, there is no shortcut.  No, you will not be able to sleep your life away, you will still have to work hard from day to day for your daily bread.  Holding on to God, just means that you put God first and so do your best at doing whatever you do in uprightness, so that God’s name is glorified.

It is hard to hold on to God when your hands, heart, mind, life are chock full of so much baggage.  I am so glad God has shown me to throw out all that baggage.

Wanna join me?

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2013, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Out of focus … in the Garden

It was another Sunday afternoon. It was the beginning of the year and was rather warm… no …hot!

Fortunately, there was a slight breeze rustling the trees and giving the impression that it just might be cool.  It was quiet .. except for that distant sound of a praying group that seems to be playing the music rather loud … and the cockerel that seems to think it is morning every 10 minutes… ‘wake up! … it is morning! .. time to get up and do something! … let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! … he seemed to be saying.

Only it was now 4:30 in the afternoon and in fact the day was almost done.

Something seemed to be wrong with the cockerel’s body clock … rather like ours goes off sometimes.  Yes, those of us who want to just keep going, never stopping for a break, never stopping to spend some me time, never stopping long enough to recognize that the time to go has past, and it is now time to take a break.  And much like the cockerel drives those around it crazy, so do we, with our insistence on the urgency of the matter as though it were in fact a life and death issue… when to others, there are more important things that matter.

The cockerel was clearly not understanding what was happening in its surroundings and was giving a false alarm every 10 minutes or so.  It sounded confused, and many simply wanted it to shut up.

Are you like this?  Are you focusing on the wrong things in your surroundings and life?  Are you looking at the big picture or are you only noticing that thin ray of light coming through the cracks, and feeling the pressure to do something about it right now!  Are you constantly putting yourself under pressure, sounding the alarm for action lest there be certain failure in getting your daily bread?

Or have you instead stopped for a moment… just long enough to recognize that it is God who gives? Have you stopped long enough to recognize that running longer and putting yourself and others under pressure  more and more does not necessarily allow you to reap and enjoy those benefits you are running so hard to receive?  Are you losing sight of the vision … the real reason why you are doing what you are doing… to live a better life?  Have you stopped long enough to remember God, pray and even recognize the blessings that He is giving you already?

Yes, hard work pays, and is necessary… but so is some rest… just enough to allow you to re-focus on the right things, pray to God for guidance, and gain the wisdom and strength you need to forge ahead successfully, peacefully and in harmony with your environment much like the wise old elephant strolling peacefully through the Garden.

Young elephant on the age-old path - in the Garden

Young elephant on the age-old path – in the Garden

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Building … in the Garden

It has been a long while since I lived inside that little corner of the Garden where the elephants roamed and the wildebeest held sway.  With many beautiful memories to be recalled, I look back and thank God for that opportunity.

I now live on another little corner of the garden … where the people roam and the birds hold sway.   A place where the beginning of my stay in the previous little corner of the Garden is refreshed in my memory… the days when work was done in a boiling hot container, finding the right staff was a nightmare, and the workload always seemed like the Himalaya mountain range… big and never ending, and well… almost insurmountable .  The days when a reprieve from the office container was in the form of a night in a tent … only a cloth away from the most ferocious of beasts… who may or may not spend a night outside … right next to the tent.

Yes, those days were sometimes terrifying, often exhausting, almost always thrilling. … and here I am again.  Only this time, I am more comfortable… in a house, not a tent, in an office building, not a container.  The only similarity between now and then, is that it is another beginning… when no one knows who you are, nor understands what you are trying to do… when the toil seems never ending … when getting the right team together seems a near impossibility … when the nights are spent wondering when the dream that started all this will all come together and become a reality… and the days cannot begin soon enough, yet sometimes come too soon.

I was recently asked about my life by a person I am just getting to know.  I completed my resume in about 3 or 4 sentences.  When I was through, he smiled and said: “You are a builder, you like to build things.”

Huh! I responded that this seemed true, but I never really thought of it that way. I have for  a long time asked myself why I always felt the need to torture myself by starting over and over again.  It suddenly dawns on me that when I felt that the project in my previous little corner of the garden was complete and only needed minor improvements or enhancements here and there, I actually lived in fear of … wait for it… boredom!  I actually lived in fear of repetitive continuation!  Yes, I rather leave that to someone else who has a passion for fine tuning the building. I rather go ahead and start another great and beautiful building.

So now that I know what one of my passions is, I can recall asking God for direction on my life, and over Easter the answer came.  But, if I am a builder, what exactly should I be building?  Teams is one of them… i really enjoy building teams that function well.  But more and more, I find myself attracted to building a business that is a source of joy to all those that have anything to do with it…. and that can be a business in almost anything.  Yes, now I find that instead of fighting the challenge and asking myself why I put myself through it, I should embrace it, because it is what drives me!  Step by step I know I will find a way through anything with God’s grace and saving help.

I thank God for showing me a part of myself I had not recognized, and pray that you who read this will find your answers from God as well.  Are you asking?  Are you listening? Do you already know?  Share with me how you found out and let others know the many different ways to peace in God’s great and beautiful Garden.

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2013, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Jumping Hot … in the Garden

I woke up to another day of sunshine. The sun always shines here except on very few occasions.  Sometimes it is so hot that I can only compare my experience to being in a cooking pot.  Yes, a cooking pot.  Parking your northern zone model vehicle out in the sun  in this corner of the Garden will definitely result in a burn on your hands and back.  The steering wheel is burning hot and so is the seat.  I actually  had someone jump off the seat today, all the while begging forgiveness for jumping out of the car when offered a lift.

Knowing what to expect, I sat gingerly… then put my hands on the steering wheel carefully… keeping my door open while my prospective passenger danced a jig around the car looking for a seat that was cooler.

Fortunately they did not seem to notice how hot the air was inside.

As I carefully turned on my ignition to allow the AC to begin to run, I tapped softly on the steering wheel to begin to get used to the heat… I was going to have to drive off soon and the sooner the vehicle cooled down the better.  No … don’t ask me about my back….

I finally drove off with my passenger seated in the back left, still exclaiming how the jumping around did not help, but thankful to have been helped out all the same.

… and so we both got to our various destinations, having experienced what God’s beautiful sun can do in my new little corner of the Garden…at the foot of the rooftop of Africa.

The freezer or the cooking pot… which would you prefer? 🙂

Come … walk with me in the Garden

Copyright © 2013. Ophelia Swai.  All Rights Reserved.

Life can be beautiful in God’s light … In the Garden

“42 When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual.

43 When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it.

44 They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances.

45 When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

46 It happened that, three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions;

47 and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies.

48 They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’

49 He replied, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

50 But they did not understand what he meant.” Luke 2: 42-50 (New Jerusalem Bible)

… and neither did I.

For the longest time I have pondered and wondered at this action that Jesus took. Yes, he would be expected to want to share with others who know much about God, His Father in Heaven.  But … why could he not have told his parents that he would be staying behind?  Why did he not care enough to let them know so that they would not be worried? How could he be so insensitive?  Was he being a typical teenager?  Could he have been simply beginning to express his teenage need or desire for independence? Yet, he was expected to be wiser and more considerate than this surely?

Of all the issues surrounding his disappearance, the worry he caused his parents concerned me the most… especially with the knowledge of how they had to run away in the night to a different country in order to save his life when he was born!

… so there has been this missing link in my understanding of this reading until today.   Eureka indeed.  The Holy Spirit of God spoke and I finally heard.

Luke – 2:49 “ … Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph were worried.  Today I learned that the 3 days of searching for him were symbolic of the three days it would take for Jesus to rise from the dead many years later.  But more importantly for me, I finally understood that the entire episode culminating in the words in Luke 2: 49 as always was not just a lesson for his parents Mary and Joseph, but for us all.  It is a profound message and lesson.

 Mary and Joseph had no reason to be worried … because so long as Jesus was in His Father’s house he was safe.  Simple… Jesus was safe because he was in his Father’s house, in his Father’s hands, in his Father’s protective care .. in fact, not just while he was in the Temple. It was not yet his time. He knew it, he was confident about it, and he wanted his parents on earth to begin to be confident about it. Nothing would happen to him before the time laid out for him to suffer and die for the sake of mankind. Everything was in God’s hands… there was no need for them to worry. That was his message and lesson for them.

… and that was his message for us… so long as we are in God’s hands, walking in His light, doing His will and obeying Him, nothing will happen that is not allowed by God in God’s time.  Challenges will come (not may, but will), but by being close to God, and open to His counsel, guidance, wisdom and grace, every challenge will be understood and may even be an important lesson in the journey of life towards God’s heavenly kingdom.  Every challenge will be overcome and be easier to address than we ever thought possible.

It is truly that simple… so long as we too are in our Father’s (God’s) house we are safe.  The key is to obey God and do all we do according to His commandments and will… as Jesus was doing… sharing his understanding and knowledge with the well educated in the faith to their astonishment considering his tender age.. he was beginning to show the world who he was, and he was starting early enough to make it clear even to the skeptics that he was different… even as he taught his parents and us all, this profound message of the safety of being in His Father’s house:

That by being in God’s presence in our lives, the struggle, the pain, the challenges, will be easier to bear, easier to address until peace good health in mind, body, spirit and soul come back to us once again. By putting ourselves consciously in God’s hands we actually give Him room to take care of us and keep us safe. It is our choice… to try and do it ourselves and be consumed by worry about all manner of things… or to live in God’s presence and let His Holy Spirit guide us safely through it.

This is my missing link finally found.  Do you have a missing link?  Do you want to find it? Share it with us… send us a comment in the Garden.

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Life Can Be Beautiful in Gods Bright Light ... in the Garden

Life Can Be Beautiful in Gods Bright Light … in the Garden

Copyright © 2012. Ophelia Swai.  All Rights Reserved.

When you think you know what God wants you to do … in the Garden

The afternoon was hot as usual … the continental music playing on the iPod rhythmically.  The smell of rain came too late… the rain was already coming down.  Some thunder was rumbling in the background… and a deep breath of fresh air was in order. Ahhh.

Yes, it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Much had been done that year.  Much work towards a goal that seemed to never arrive as deadline after deadline passed.  Definitely with progress, but not as much as expected.  Maybe I had too high an expectation.  I wanted this phase of the project to be complete soon so that I could work on the next phase … the more exciting phase… where the real work began… where the idea either came alive, or crashed to the ground and reminded me once again that I am a mortal human being.

Yes, I was sure that what I was doing was right.  That God would be happy with the path I had chosen for my life and I prayed I would succeed in doing that which would glorify His name in my endeavors, in my own small way, one little bit at a time.

But in the back of my mind, I understood that my contribution to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for me in life was not defined merely by my wishes and desires, but guided by the will of God and His workings in my life.  I had learned this before… that when we think we know what God would want us to do, we need to think twice and pray for guidance.  Often, His will is quite in another direction… often, His will for each one of us is right within our grasp.  You are maybe even already doing it, but don’t consider it anything special.  But the way in which you put your heart into it and your love for others in it, makes it your special sacrifice that God loves and is happy with.

Using your gifts to survive and Glorify God - in the Garden

Using your gifts to survive and Glorify God – in the Garden

Are you looking for what God wants you to do?  Look around you.  The answer is right there in front of you… use your talents and do the best you can in God’s light, lovingly and earnestly.  See how God works through this.

Do join me in God’s beautiful Garden … pray that God will guide your paths to the fulfillment of His unique purpose for you each day of your life.

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2012, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved

Accountability … in the Garden

I was thinking about my experiences and encounters recently, which have been vastly different from those I had in that picturesque little corner of the Garden where I used to live … yes, the one with all the exotic wild animals.

Anyway, sooner or later, something has to change, and so began a new life in a corner of the Garden that is not quite a town … not quite a village, but certainly much more filled with human beings than animals.

I got to this corner of the Garden and thought it was time to build me a little place to work during the day – my new office.  It was a journey into the unknown because not only was I getting something built for the first time in my life, I was doing it the hard way – acting as my own contractor and getting different teams to build different elements – with the help of a very kind engineer thankfully.  It is almost done, by the Grace of God, but not without its challenges.

You would think that doing the finishing would be the biggest challenge, but in this case, plastering the walls was it.  Aside from plastering over many sockets completely and not wanting to have anything to do with rectification of the same, one thing struck me about the leader of this particular team.

He laughed at my system to keep track of what materials were taken out of the store, and to have whoever took materials out sign for it… and then 2 things hit me all at once.  They hit me so hard I reeled and nearly fell over.

‘I had seen this before!’  This was a classic symptom of leadership accountability failure. The first thing that hit me was that the leader of the team was the source of his team’s behavior.  As a leader is, so shall his/her subjects be. This is age old wisdom.

The second thing that hit me was that he did not want to be held accountable for anything: neither the materials and any issues that arose with their use, hence the resistance to records and requisite mockery of the system to uphold it; nor the workmanship of the work that was being done, hence the complaints about water, tools, corrections and everything relating to the work.  It had to be someone else’s responsibility as far as he and his entire team were concerned.

As I slowly recovered from the shock, the question that kept cycling through my mind was: ‘how did I end up with this in my project?!’

No, he never owned up to his responsibilities, but that is a different problem.  Today I just ask the questions … How many times do we pass the buck of our failures to someone else?  How many times do we fear that we will fail and begin making a fuss even before the project has begun?  How often do we do something that we don’t really want to, and so do a shoddy job just to get over with it?

Yes, we are all different, and we do have different skills and levels of understanding of different things. That is why it is so important to find our true talents and passion (not hobby), and make sure we are honest with ourselves and strive to be the best we can be at everything that we seek to do. It is only by God’s grace that we can find this place where we can be the best we could be … for He knows how He created us.

I turn today to God to guide me along the way even as I look inside myself and work hard to make sure I am following the right way.  I turn to God to guide me in being honest about who I am and what I am capable of doing, first with myself, and then with others around me.

Will you join me?

A different place ... in the Garden

A different place … in the Garden

Come … walk with me in the Garden

Copyright © 2012, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

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