Real faith. Real doubt. Raw sewerage.

The meal was served an hour before we landed at O.R. Tambo International Airport, where my family waited.

The nice airline lady said it was ‘chicken’. But it was tricky to confirm this. Based on texture and chewability, it could have been a squash ball on that bed of sad lettuce. And it led to a night of intimate bonding with the loo, once presents and hundreds of hugs had been dished out and I’d given full sway to the ecstasy of home-coming.

Three nights later, I had mostly recovered – from the chicken, and from the strange spiritual jetlag you get as reality re-absorbs you after Big Moments Overseas. I was already in bed and Murray had gone to lock up the house et al. He walked into our room. Stood silent, pale and furious in the doorway for a few long seconds. Then said,

‘Guess what’s overflowing into our garden. Again.’

The downside of living in our leafy suburb is that big trees have big roots. Every so often the big roots grow into the big sewerage pipes. And the sewerage bursts (and I mean *BURSTS*) through the manhole cover on our neighbour’s pavement. The lie of the land has all that sewerage gushing down our driveway… onto our front lawn… past our house… onto our back lawn…

It’s as awesome as it sounds.

I don’t want to describe the horror of having everything that has passed through one’s neighbours, subsequently passing through one’s garden. And how the dogs are quite keen to play in it. IMG_20171024_172954.jpgI don’t want to revisit the irony of what it cost to get me and my velvet wedges through the poo and to a Matric valediction the next night where I spoke about resilience in adversity. (Ha ha.)

And I’d rather forget the forty-three hours it took to bring the sweet, overworked folks of Tshwane Municipality, and their high-pressure hoses, to the disaster scene.

In the midst of our shit storm inconvenient plumbing situation, someone gently placed in my lap a fairly dazzling job offer. It was an opportunity that, on paper, I’d be a fool to reject.

And suddenly faith wasn’t just good vibes about God.

Faith was the scary place of going with my gut and against good reason, because God had spoken. (Cue the doubts: Or had He?)

Faith was giving up a tangible deal for an intangible yet acute hope. It was facing the fear of possibly putting all my eggs in an imaginary basket, resulting in all those eggs possibly ending up on my face.

Because honestly? When you’re on the other side of the world and JD from Hillsong is leading 8000 people in worship, it’s easy to say a brave yes to whatever God’s asking you to do. IMG_20171006_143040.jpgBut when you and your 8000 new friends go home, the feelings fade. With no emotive chords and key changes in the background, you wonder if you’re kidding yourself.

What helped me is what Robert Madu said about Jesus in the water and Jesus in the wilderness.

He was baptized, and immediately He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

He went straight from the water, into the wilderness.

He went straight from being washed, refreshed and set apart – imbued with calling and courage – to being tried, tempted and made to feel alone – sabotaged by ridicule, doubt, hunger and thirst.

Here’s what I’d never seen before.

In the water – the faith-building place of acceptance, blessing and commissioning – the Word of God came over Him:

‘This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.’

And in the wilderness – the desolate place of danger, rejection and fear – the Word of God came out of Him:

‘The Scriptures say…’

‘The Scriptures also say…’


For the rest of our earthly lives, it’s going to be all about the water and the wilderness.

Because pre-eternity life-on-Earth is pretty much one big wilderness experience. And so we need to get ourselves drenched as much and as often as possible. We’ve got to immerse ourselves in prayer and church and accountability friendships and podcasts in the car. We’ve got to get over ourselves, and into the Word.

So that when we leave the water where the Word has come over us –

When we’re immediately back in the wilderness of bombs on trains, office politics, school runs in the traffic and sewerage in the garden –

The Word will come out of us. Powerfully. With conviction and the deep-seated faith that isn’t dependent on circumstances.

And we’ll be just fine.

. . .

Have an amazing weekend! And please share this post with a friend who comes to mind.

(FYI – our lawn is unbelievably green, owing to events described.)

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  1. Was blessed by this today, thank you, Dalene. The water and the wilderness…the Word coming over him and the Word coming out of him. And FYI – we too live with big trees and the occasional sewerage disaster. My own humour has always been severely lacking in the situation, but I really enjoyed yours 🙂


  2. This reminds me of the doorway of hope in Hosea 2 verse 15 … I was hoping there would be a place of escape into fresh alive fields. Now I see it is in the desert we find a brook like Elijah did that sustains us in 1 Kings 17.
    These wilderness places can be overwhelming and places of deep grief. I will ask God to help me to see the doorway differently. Despite all my eggs on the floor… thanks.


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