I have been saved ever since I can remember, but I haven’t always walked in God’s plan and purpose for my life.
In Deuteronomy 4:29, I am reminded of the dream in which God spoke to me as a 5-year old. (1 Samuel 3)
I remember waking up in a cold sweat, sitting up-straight, shocked… Ironically, what had just happened brought an incredible feeling of peace and comfort that I had never experienced before.
In the dream God told me: “I have forgiven all your sins and I love you.”
I also remember telling my Grade 1 teacher, Miss Rita van Rensburg, about my dream. She didn’t believe me and laughed it off.
The funny thing about that dream is that to this very day I can remember every spec of detail of the face I saw. However, cannot explain or draw this face - I’ve tried many times.
For 16 years I allowed the dead religion, of my community and society, to break down and clog the revelation I had of God then. My passion and fire for Jesus faded.
During those 16 years I went to church, prayed, read my Bible, but it was more out of a place of obligation and routine than anything else. I remember standing in front of church as an 18-year-old lying to the congregation about my relationship with God. (Dit was tydens my voorstelling vir die wat vertroud is met die NG Kerk.)
I can recall one or two times where I experienced the presence of God. One such a time was when I was as an 18-year-old, right after our Matric finals. I had just been awarded the prize as Dux-student and best male swimmer of my school and had finished 7th overall in the Eastern Cape in the national exams. I lay in my bed that night, crying, thanking God for all He has done for me.
Nonetheless, my obsession and drive to be the best in everything I took on continued. The bar was never high enough. I found tremendous joy and a feeling of acceptance in pursing excellence in every way conceivable - recognition.
I enrolled for a degree in Actuarial Science at the University of Stellenbosch. The workload and res commitments were insane, but I had to perform, and I did. In between classes I would literally run back to res, get on my bike and head to the pool. I would do a quick 2km swim and still managed to be back in time for my next class - all in the space of an hour. After classes, I would head back to res for a couple of hours, and would then hit the library to study.
Countless friendships felt the strain and inevitably collapsed under this insane routine and my self-centredness. More importantly, my relationship with God (if you could call it one) deteriorated to nothing more than a couple of verses in a week, maybe one or two short prayers (often before tests or other important events) and the usual one-hour-Sunday-visits to Kruiskerk.
After 3 fast-paced and frantic years, the only thing I had to show was a degree in Actuarial Sciences, Cum Laude, and some good swimming times…
However, the tide dramatically turned at the end of that year - I suffered quite a bad rotator cuff injury in my right shoulder. This sidelined me for nearly 4 months and hours of rehab followed. On top of this (even worse for me at the time), we were awarded new spots in res for the following year and I ended up in a part of res with a bunch of Jesus-freaks. Nothing could be worse!
I returned to Stellenbosch the following year with new-found motivation and a weird sense of excitement that I just couldn’t explain.
I enrolled for Honors and started swimming again. I withdrew myself from society - I studied harder than ever before and trained like a maniac. This was going to be my “come-back-year” and nothing would stop me.
I also started listening to Ramstein (I believe a bunch of demon-possessed Devil worshippers) and other heavy metal bands. All of a sudden I had unprecedented and unexplainable energy and focus - the music pumped me up to a whole new level. Nobody could keep up with me - I felt invincible. I slept a maximum of 5 hours a night and out-performed my peers in class and in the pool. I could do a 5km swim without stopping.
I swelled to a massive 87kgs and physically was in the best form I have ever been in. I lived on supplements, creatine, Pro Nutro and Ramstein.
Round about then a good mate of mine, Jannie van Staden, invited me to church with him. He was one of the Jesus-freaks. I constantly cooked up entertaining and very creative excuses as to why I couldn’t go. He was a member of Shofar - a church well-known for its “extremism” and its ability to suck in people and “change” them.
For someone raised in an extremely strict and religious environment, Shofar scared me senseless and so I was to avoid it at all cost. Things were going so well, the last thing I needed was change.
Thank goodness Jannie never stopped with his constant bickering! I eventually agreed to go, just so that he would shut up! I later also found out that the “freaks” in my section had been diligently praying for me the whole time.
I remember entering the evening service. People everywhere were dancing, jumping up and down, praising God. I grew up as a very proud individual and very seldom felt intimidated by anyone or anything - the epiphany of arrogance and insecurity, but that evening I was crushed with fear…
I think Fred May was preaching on spiritual warfare that evening. Something was changing in my heart and during worship I received a vision of a rider on a white horse.
Revelation 6:2 “I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.”
Revelation 19:11 “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.”
At that stage I didn’t know my Bible at all, so I knew nothing about these scriptures in Revelations. The vision I had just had freaked me out, but at the same time reminded me of the dream I had as a 5-year-old.
After church I went to speak to my section leader (HK) - DB Haupfleish. I knew he was a “Shofarian”. When I told him about what I had experienced he flipped to Revelations 6:2 - the very scripture God shared with him that same morning.
Needless to say, I was absolutely stunned and lost for words. For the first time in years I felt God’s presence and I wanted to cry. My vision got confirmed and having a strong background in Statistics, I knew the odds of this happening was 0. God had a divine appointment with me and so He dragged me out of the battlefield - wounded, weak and beaten to a pulp.
Since that day (almost 3 years to the day) my life has been changed irrevocably. Jesus stepped into my life and made a statement so profound it couldn’t be ignored.
I gave up swimming in June that year and also eased on the academics so as to spend more time with Jesus and work on my relationships as a whole. In retrospect, 2009 truly was my “come-back-year” - the year when this prodigal son found his way back home, joined in the festivities and got given a new ring and a robe.
Since then, there’s been many ups-and-downs, mostly due to my stubborn and boastful heart, but God has been faithful in so many areas, which I will share later.
We were all called by the Lord to join in one purpose, a life completely sold out to Christ, a life completely passionate and abandoned to Him!I am Izak, and I’m second.