Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Twenty two verses, that's all it took...

Life sometimes comes screaming around the corner toward us and slams us with insurmountable problems. Just when you think everything is going good, isn't so! Or is it?

There is a life lesson and amazing story of one such a person who had such an encounter in the Bible. Job was his name. He had three qualities that endowed him with greatness on a spiritual plain. And he had physical attributes that associated him with greatness beyond measure in his time.

In the material world Job had much. Seven sons and three daughters. Seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred donkeys. He was well known and was the greatest of all men of the east. Often his children would feast or party and Job would make sacrifices to the Lord to atone for their sin. Spiritually, Job's qualities were amazing, he was a man who was perfect, upright, fearing God and hating evil.

The book of Job is an eye opener. The very first chapter, speaks of unparalleled greatness and success of one man, and within the space of a short twenty verses everything is gone! One day, Job receives one of his messengers, and is told of how his oxen and donkeys were destroyed. At the same time, another messenger arrives and tells Job that fire came and burned up all the sheep and servants, and yet again the messenger comes and tells Job the worst news of all...his seven sons and three daughters have been killed!

Twenty two versus is all it took...but consider this;
Satan was going around the earth, to and fro. The Lord asked him "have you considered my servant Job? - do what you will with him, only do not touch his life".

Verse one starts out proclaiming Job's greatness and asset register. After all the calamities befall him, verse 22 concludes: In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

I know that for many of us, the curve ball of life and all she throws at us, can be very disconcerting. Seems like troubles come our way relentlessly and we feel that we are unable to cope with another day of hardship. For many it is a health issue, a diagnosis you never dreamed would touch your mortal life, suddenly becomes reality when you go for a routine check up. For someone else it is a financial nightmare that you just didn't see coming. Others, it is an economy doing strange down turns that spiral your nest egg into peril. A child gone astray perhaps, or even a foreclosure on property you banked on spending the rest of your life in. Or the loss of income by default of a lay off.

It would be foolishness to make light of any of these very real difficulties, because they do happen, and they touch people that are near and dear almost too often to imagine.

What is the secret to being able to cope with calamity when it strikes? And strike it will! I glance over at Job and read of his wealth, and that looks appealing, but achievable? I don't know. I look at his spiritual qualities, and then I see a glimmer of hope. I believe his material greatness came by way of his spiritual obedience. Is this a standard we can achieve? In our own strength, no. But if we were able to walk through life with perfection, being upright and God fearing wouldn't that be something to be desired? I believe it is attainable. Through a belief in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross at calvary, by taking the sin of the world upon Himself, he made a way for us. Does it mean then when we come to Christ in our frailty that we too will have to endure such hardship as Job? Maybe not. It will not be easy, there will be difficulties to encounter, but the promise we have is that "He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure". Job was the perfect example making it attainable for even us today. He had it all. He lost it all. He never once denied God, never once blamed God, bore an incredible testimony of trust in the Lord and was rewarded over and over for his stand in faithfulness and worship to God.

If Job paved the way, then we too can expect hardship, bad news, poor outcome of circumstances, the list is endless, but if our hope and faith and trust is in the Lord then losing what we have is worth gaining what has been promised to us by Christ - eternity in paradise.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections 2008

Six years down the road, clear of living in Zimbabwe, it is that time once again where the nation heads to the polls, to elect their new leader 28 years post independence. Sometimes, when you are in the thick of the forest it is hard to see the wood for all the trees. The only way to get a clearer perspective is to literally step outside and look in. Alternatively, for many it has meant exiting Zimbabwe in order to get that view into perspective.

I have a lot of ideas of what could, what should, and what won't happen in Zimbabwe, as I am sure do many millions of others who have left voluntarily, under force, driven by fear or simply made their escape good while they could. In a perfect world, Mugabe would not have served as leader by default for the past 28 years. He would have sat in office for a maximum two terms, and vacated the building handing the reigns to his subordinates, or allowing a new party to step into office. Neither idea has come to pass. Everyone and their grandfather has been blamed for every evil under the sun in Zimbabwe, by the ruling Zanu PF.

The depth of the crisis that has not only been looming but has actually been advancing in it's state of decomposition is the alarming rate in which the nation as a whole is falling into depths of certain chaos. Inflation is now a daily rising factor, quoting figures is basically of no importance now, except to say everything everywhere goes up daily, if you can get it. The health care system is in absolute dire straights. It would be fatal to be involved in a simple fender bender requiring a visit to the ER. There are no doctors to adequately care for you. No medication to administer treatment, and equipment is either absent or beyond a state of competent repair. A prime example is of someone close to us, who was doing a minor repair job on their home a couple of weeks ago, the person was working on the roof, and on climbing down the ladder, lost footing, slipped and fell, injuring themselves on a sharp rusty piece of metal. This required immediately medical attention, and upon arriving at the ER, to their shock, horror and disbelief, no treatment could be given. No Doctor. No medication. No facilities. A special trip had to be made to neighboring South Africa to purchase a tetanus shot to avoid infection. Amazing to think that in your own capital city in the largest medical facility in the nation, a simple tetanus shot was unavailable. A flight to neighboring South Africa, with all the associated costs had to be engaged to make this simple yet absolutely necessary medication available.

Other evils that prevail, are the rampant cases of HIV/AIDS related deaths that continue to spiral out of control reducing the average life expectancy to figures lower than almost any civilized nation on planet earth. Malnutrition is a major contributing factor to the overall sustainability of life. Usually you would encounter this problem in rural settings, but think again, all major urban centers now have the exact same level of problems as do rural undeveloped parts of Zimbabwe.

Try buying gas, fuel or as we know it; petrol. This is a whole other nightmare. You can forget about the good old days of driving up to a gas station and pumping a tank of gas. That does not happen anymore. You have to know someone, who knows someone to be able to have the shear luxury of driving your vehicle. Then comes the associated crime that also rears itself in times of economic hardship. No longer is it safe to simply go about your own life in a peaceable manner. Even if you are the poorest of the poor you will still fall prey and become a victim of unnecessary crime. In the old days of crime, thieves and criminals would lie in wait for you to leave your home before breaking and entering. Forget that Zimbabwe, you can be asleep in your own bed, and be woken by criminals demanding valuables. There is an element of brazen "I am taking this, it now belongs to me" attitude sweeping the nation that safety is truly coming under definite scrutiny. Calling 911? Forget it...they are either involved in these acts of crime, have no transport or are too busy beating innocent people into submission to following the ruling party.

I have long since aired my views, and make no bones about the fact that none of the impending doom taking place in Zimbabwe has anything to do with anyone, other than the ruling party. Blame rests solely upon them. The accountability being racked up is terrifying as judgment looms.

Even if the elections were to be remotely free and fair this time round, I doubt Mugabe would relent and walk away. He is too far gone down that slippery road of tyrannical megalomaniac leadership. And so are his cronies. I take my hat off to Simba Makoni. Making his exit from Zanu PF and running for president all but 6 weeks before the elections. All major southern rallies scheduled for Zanu PF have been canceled by the powers that be, because of disenchantment and support leaning toward this new runner for leadership.

What does this mean for MDC? If only they had remained united and not allowed inter party squabbling to bring division! That said, it is good to know that recent rallies held by MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai have bolstered large crowds and support across the have they finally got their act together?

If we were to take a 50 / 50 view of better the evil you know than the one you don't, then in all honesty any change right now is better than none. Therefore if Simba and his crowd can legitimately pull off a new leadership victory, that change will be welcome. If MDC step up to the plate and take charge and win the elections, perhaps this would be a better gamble. International aid is in the offing if they win, and most of the national debt which is embarrassingly high, will be forgiven, giving the nation of Zimbabwe a clean start.

My loyalty will still rest with MDC. That won't change. It makes no difference what happens. My association and long standing relationship remains unmoved. Change will come, and will come soon.

For the moment, could we all pray that by some miraculous intervention Mugabe is stripped of his reign of terror, and that change comes to the government of Zimbabwe, by way of new blood, fresh ideas, and a responsibility to care for her sons and daughters who have relentlessly given their lives for the betterment of Zimbabwe? Join with me, and millions of others across the globe as these elections draw near, let us unite in our goal to touch the hem of the Lord to hear the cry of the innocent and bring hope, mercy and healing to a nation that has been long forgotten. This is the perfect opportunity to see what prayer can do for a land in need of blessing....pray with us.