Index Page   The Lord Took Me


A Crisis

I was already persuading myself that eternity was not such a vital question after all, when the Hand from above intervened. It happened on an Easter Sunday. We were sitting in church – in my father’s pew – and I was listening rather indifferently to the sermon. Suddenly I was wide awake and severely shaken. The elderly pastor had said something – looking straight at me the while. Then he repeated it. ‘Where are the young men who are willing to take the Easter message to the heathen?’ Did he mean me? He paused for a long time, and his eyes seemed to fix on mine. Should I perhaps become a missionary? I had certainly contemplated it in the past, but that was long ago.

Moreover, was I not doing my part already? I conducted on the farm a little school in which Zulus learnt the Lutheran catechism by heart and toiled with primer, slate and pencil. I sacrificed many an evening hour for this work. Did any one else do that? And did I not go each week to the kraals, read a portion of Scripture and add a few words of explanation?

Everything in me rebelled. What right had the pastor to send me away into Germany – into the Mission House; away from my horse, my dog, my trumpet and my love? Did he not realize that my father had just bought me a beautiful farm by the river and that I thought of marrying? Were my two missionary brothers in any way happy people?

In the church pew of my father there started the battle in which my horse afterwards had its share; soaked in sweat, foaming at the mouth and with trembling flanks he stopped rearing up on his hind legs in front of the workshop at home. What did I care for the others who wished to ride slowly and sought to hold me back! They could follow at a more leisurely pace. The pastor had not meant them!

I dismounted and, stalking into my room, flung myself onto the hard bed. But there was no rest for me. I jumped up, and, calling the dogs, went into the orange grove instead. I climbed the mountain and shouted my terrible rage to the partridges.

However, in the night, God’s Word struck me with forceful insistence. Had not men in the Bible also contended against God in vain? Did not Moses try, with different excuses, to change God’s mind? And what happened? – I rose in the middle of the night, lit the candle and searched for the place in the Bible. At length I found it. ‘And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses…’ That settled the matter; God’s anger. I shuddered at the thought of what would happen to me if I provoked Him to yet greater wrath.

I lay down again on my home made bed with its rigid frame, pulled up the woollen blanket once more and, having extinguished the light, tried to collect my thoughts. The violent beating of my heart slowly calmed down. Then a vision conjured itself up in my mind. I saw myself in a clergyman’s gown, preaching to a hushed and reverent congregation. Oh yes, that would be good. Everyone would have to keep quiet and I would be speaking. I fell asleep.

In this state of mind I went to my parents and told them of my intention. They were shocked, and tried to oppose me, but nothing could now alter my decision. However, I did not confide in them the factors bearing on me to produce that decision. Two entirely different yet powerful forces had determined for me life’s way. The fear of eternal judgement and the desire to be someone of importance. But are they entirely different – or are they not, perhaps two sides of one powerful force?