As a young boy I grew up knowing Jesus. I was brought up in a Christian home and going to church, reading the Bible and praying were things I experienced as normal. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was very young, probably at the age of 10 or 11 and I have walked the Christian path ever since. I never doubted the existence of God, I never needed to. There were obviously times when things were tough, I mean life happens. I often ran to God for comfort, guidance and security, but it wasn’t to such an extent that I started to doubt whether this God I’m running to actually did exist. And I always did find comfort, guidance and security in Him.
Christianity was never something I questioned. I wasn’t interested in what the scientists had to say about creation or how humans evolved from the ape. I was content with the bible and the Christian beliefs. Just over a year ago I started to mentor a young person who at that time considered himself to be an atheist. For the first time I encountered someone who didn’t believe in Jesus and had no problem confirming it. I was offered Christianity on a plate by my parents and I decided to accept it and make it my life. He on the other hand didn’t receive the same offer. Growing up with an alcoholic father and having to see his parents separate because of it was definitely not my life. I realized then that what I believe in and see as the only and obvious path to take, others simply don’t. Where is God in divorce? In an alcoholic parent? I never had to weigh my faith up against such painful realities of life. How can I tell an atheist that Jesus is real and that He makes all things well? I don’t have any scientific knowledge that could prove what I believe and even if I did would it be enough? There is no experiment for proving God exists.
Even though I was raised to believe in God, that is not why I believe. I have had too many moments where I have seen God in my life, both in the little things, but also in the big, life-changing things.
In 2012 I finished high school and went off to Stellenbosch University to study mechatronic engineering. I was excited and thought I was going to be able to maintain my high school marks throughout my further studies. At that point I have never failed or even came close to failing a test or module so I probably had reason to feel confident. First semester came and gone. We had 5 modules from which I passed 4 and failed 1, but that’s not too bad right. Second semester came and gone. Again we had 5 modules, but this time I failed 4 and passed 1. I never expected to get these results. I studied hard, I wrote the exams okay, but I still failed by quite a margin. Being certain that engineering was the career for me I was devastated when this happened. I failed to such an extent that I couldn’t continue to study engineering and switching universities wasn’t an offer on the table. I was broken. The only other study directions I could pursue were basic economics, education and a few other degrees I also weren’t interested in. I really disliked them all and definitely wouldn’t study any one of them. I was sold out for engineering and having received a 4-year free bursary I thought that it was definitely a sign that God wanted me to study it, but then this happened.
For about 30 days after I received my results back I was lost. I isolated myself from friends and spent hours in my room every day asking God what I should do. I wasn’t good company, I was embarrassed, confused and sad. I cried. I got angry at myself for not having studied harder and all I could think about was “what am I going to study?”, “Am I going to study?” Above all I didn’t just want to study anything, I wanted to do what God wanted me to do, otherwise I will just end up here again. So for 30 days every day I prayed, felt discouraged, didn’t smile a lot and kept on waiting for God to show me an answer. I asked God for clarity and to show me what He wanted me to do, but in return all I got was silence.
Time was running out and soon I had to return to the university to let them know what degree I wanted to change to. I later realized I had the option to study forestry for a year, which had almost identical first year modules as engineering, and then afterwards just continue with my engineering degree, but I knew God didn’t want me studying engineering. As the days remaining got less I started to hear God’s voice. It wasn’t an audible voice, but I started to think of studying theology. Even though I was a Christian almost my entire life I have never thought of studying theology and being someone preaching the message of Jesus like that. I didn’t think I could, I was terrified of speaking in front of people, but the desire started to grow in me to study theology and to confirm that it was truly God’s will and not just my own feelings, God gave me three signs.
- In the first few months of studying engineering God told me to start a Facebook page through which He can use me to share His word and help others on their Christian journey. One evening I made a post on purpose and felt unsure about how to spell the word ‘purpose’. So that evening, while waiting in KFC for my order, I Googled ‘purpose’ and after seeing the correct spelling I thought why not scroll down. I came across an article written by Melissa Evans that talked about soul purpose and how we should follow our hearts in our decisions and not just take the option that best accommodates our friends and family. When I read this I felt a sensation rush through me and I knew it was God telling me to study theology.
- The second sign I got was also near the end of that 30 day period when I felt so lost and discouraged. While lying on my bed, and not knowing what to think I felt something tell me to read a book, which is definitely not normal. So I got up, went to my bookshelf and took a book I had bought over a year ago and probably read over 8 months ago at that time. It was the book “Life Without Limits” by Nick Vujicic. Amazingly enough the page I had stopped at all those months ago started with Nick Vujicic writing about how he had to decide between either pursuing accounting, because he is good in numbers, or pursuing a life of public speaking and sharing the love of God through that. Accounting would have been the safe, logical option and it would’ve best satisfied his parents also. But Nick decided to pursue Jesus full time instead and be a beacon of hope for this world by traveling and encouraging people through his story all over the world. When I read about how he chose Jesus, I realized again that Jesus was telling me to pursue Him by studying theology.
- The last sign I got was a photo I saw on Facebook. Now usually I see a lot of photos and just scroll by, but when I saw this particular photo I immediately stopped. It described my situation so well, because for a long time I was actually contemplating theology, but only as a thought and I always ignored it, because I felt the possibility of it happening was just nonexistent.
On the 30th December 2013, 01:51 to be exact, I thought about all these signs and how everything has worked out and so I prayed to God and made the decision to study theology and pursue not my own will but that of God’s. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure if I was making the right decision. I knew what I felt in those three moments and I could see looking back over the past few years that God had caused everything to work out for the best, but there was still doubt in me. Shouldn’t I rather study forestry for a year and then just continue with engineering? But I chose to ignore the doubt and uncertainty, and trust what God had shown me. I decided to lean not on my own understanding, but to place my life in God’s hands and just trust Him and that has been the greatest decision I have ever made. This has led me to start this blog, to mentor 15 people, to be a youth leader and to speak confidently in front of people. God has used me to help my once atheist friend become a Christian. I am in awe of what has happened only from that one decision. I shudder to think at where I would’ve been if I hadn’t made that decision and even more so, if I hadn’t been a Christian. Definitely not writing this post and maybe studying basic economics and hating what I do.
If it hadn’t been for God’s grace and direction I don’t know what I would’ve done. He has shown me so many times that He is real. I cannot doubt anymore. Sometimes God is silent, but He is there and He will never leave us. He has given us His spirit, we are never alone.
Like saying I am in love, I cannot prove it. I may buy flowers and chocolates for that special person as a sign of my love, but it’s not proof that I am in love. Having affection and caring for someone are signs of love, but it’s not proof of love. I can say the sweetest words and show the greatest attention to the small things, but it’s not proof of love. It can easily be false, pretended and insincere. Only I will truly know if I am in love or not and I will never be able to prove it, but I know what I feel and I know it is true. In the same way I cannot prove that God is real, but I know what I feel and I know what I have seen and I know it is true. I know how God has worked and helped me in my life and I cannot imagine how lost I would’ve been without Him, and if you ask Him, He will show you He is real too.
Love is Real. God is Love. God is Real.