Many years ago the most astounding thing happened to me, a miracle. It was so extra-ordinary that, for many years, I struggled with the question: Why did it happen to me?
I was a young man living in South Africa, unmarried and my income was nothing to be envious of. Like any young man, I dreamt of my own house and so I bought a piece of land, a beautiful plot on which I had to pay monthly instalments. Every month the levies and taxes had to be paid as well. Shortly after that I got married and moved into a rented flat with my new bride. Then my pocket truly started to feel the strain: Flat rental, instalments on my loan for the plot, levies and taxes and all the usual added expenses that come with a wedding (furniture, honeymoon, ring, etcetera, etcetera…).
We have all, at one stage in our lives had something that clings to our shoulders like a big octopus. “One day” I am going to run a marathon. Another person wants to go overseas, “one day”; or, “one day” starts a business. This vague ambition just hangs there round your neck, dragging you down and, until you actively do something about it, that’s all it does – just weighs you down. If you see someone jogging, you think: “One of these days…” Or if a travel brochure slips out of the newspaper and you longingly look at the inviting idyllic pictures of foreign destinations, you think: “One of these days…”
My octopus was a house on the plot that I was still paying off – I constantly dreamt of my own house on that piece of land. When I saw a truck with a load of bricks or trusses, I felt the grip of this weight around my shoulders. Or when a building society dangled their mortgage rates with alluring advertisements in my face, I felt the tentacles tightening. My wife and I even went so far as having the plans drawn up.
But, with the war going on between my income and liabilities, I just couldn’t imagine my dream house ever becoming a reality. So the situation dragged on until one day when I decided enough is enough and took the day off. With the building plans, bank statements and all the determination I could gather I went to see anyone who could possibly advise me on what would be the best route to realise my dream. Banks, building societies, an architect, building contractors, a quantity surveyor…and I gathered information, a bulky folder full of it.
That night, after supper, I sat down with all the collected information and I processed it. Much later that night (could have been early morning) I came to the conclusion that, if I could get R10 000 (that is South African Rands) for one week, I could build my house – but where would I get such an amount (quite a fair amount for those days!). I didn’t know anyone who could lend me that sort of money. I hadn’t got any security for a loan and, after all, financial institutions would be very reluctant to lend me money for a week only.
Mulling over this problem I went to bed with absolutely no sign of sleep as my brain was running in overdrive.
“R10 000! How will I raise such a vast sum? Can I pray for it? Maybe, but then again, how many people on earth went to bed tonight on an empty stomach and I want to ask for R10 000! Yet, in Matthew 7:7 God promises: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Yes! I am going to ask.”
Then I went onto my knees and I prayed for God to give me R10 000 for a week. After finishing my prayer, calmness descended upon me and I peacefully fell asleep.
I was employed by a university at that time and we had a spacious tearoom where most staff members went during a tea break. My boss and I however, chose to have our tea served by the secretary in his office so that we could discuss important matters like the weekend’s rugby scores, latest films and books or even sometimes the forthcoming faculty meeting – always in the office, never in the tearoom.
That day (following my struggle the previous night) was no different – initially. Like every day, most people went to the tearoom, and we had our tea served in my boss’s office. By the way, at this stage it is important to mention that absolutely no-one knew about my R10 000 or the previous night’s struggle.
I was just about to take a sip of tea, when my boss announced out of the blue that, for some reason he would like to have tea in the tearoom that day and he wanted me to join him because he didn’t want to go there on his own.
For the first time in all my time working there, it so happened that we went to the tearoom to have tea.
In the tearoom people sat around these low coffee tables scattered with magazines and newspapers, chatting and discussing the latest happenings. My boss engaged in a conversation with the professor next to him while I was stirring my (new) cup of tea, intensely absorbed in my thoughts, pondering on my R10 000. Opposite me a professor noticed my absence of mind. He wasn’t particularly well-known to me, I only knew him from greeting in the hallways. He commented that he could see my thoughts were miles from the tearoom which triggered the rest of the conversation: about my excursion the previous day, my tussle with all the information and finally my conclusion that R10 000 stood between me and my dream.
Then he said: “Young man, this has got to be the hand of God that brought us together here today. You know, I seldom come to the tearoom. I usually have tea in my office, but today is the maturity date of one of my investments and I was hoping to see old Gerald here so that I could prod him for a bit of advice on how best to re-invest my money.” (Gerald was professor of Economics). “What’s even more intriguing is the amount of my investment: R10 000, exactly! You can have it for as long as you need it.”
For a moment I was speechless – a complete stranger offering me R10 000 without any security or guarantee, nothing. To cut a long story short, the next day he brought me the cheque, which I used to settle the outstanding balance on my loan for the plot which I could then use as security for a building-loan. The loan was approved within a week allowing me to make the first withdrawal: R10 000 to settle my dues with the professor (interest free!). I was owner-builder (a builder friend advised and assisted where necessary) and six months later my wife and I took up residence in our brand new house.
For many years I contemplated why God had answered that particular prayer of mine so easily and so quickly – until, later in life, it dawned on me. I often prayed for – according to me – equally worthy issues, in just as righteous a way as the R10 000, often without apparent success. When old Satan then tried to delude me into believing prayer is a futile act, I could banish him by remembering how God, when I was a young man, indeed answered my prayer and gave me R10 000. God listens! I have proof.
I also learned another valuable lesson from this episode. We often ask God to give us a house, for instance, but God has another way of working. He is keen to give it to you, but not just like that. No, you too have to do something.
If someone had told me before this amazing experience that God is going to give me R10 000 for a week in order for me to build a house, I would most probably have sniggered and said: “A doll’s house, maybe. What else can you build with R10 000? And after a week, do I have to return the doll’s house?”
After doing a bit of research, though, and putting in some effort, God opened my eyes to bring me to the conclusion that, with borrowed R10 000, my dream could become a reality. Trust God with your dreams, but never expect Him to deprive you of the satisfaction of partaking in the accomplishment of them.
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