the story of me & God & life

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I originally wrote this blog, in 2011.

I was forty years old and I reflected on life and being.

Stories continue, and so I do not rewrite, but add the rest, what progressed as time passed.

It is still the story of me & God & life.

It is also the story of our Origin & me & life.

Fifteen years ago I was thirty.

I was living in a small village on the Botswana-South African border.

There were perhaps two-hundred people in this village.

I was happy.

Zuko and I had been together for seven years and married for six-and-a-half.

We had two stunning children.

A boy and a girl.

Both still in nappies.

We had many friends.

Good friends.

Dear friends.

Kind friends.

And we had meaning.

Or at least the perception or feeling that what we were spending our time on was meaningful.

Made a difference.

I was minister to a small congregation of pioneering souls who lived thinly spread on a piece of land that ran 300km north to south and close on 200km west to east.

In those days we travelled a lot.

We spent many hours in our vehicle on desolate gravel roads.

Many hours talking.

Dreaming.

Sharing.

As my fortieth birthday is loomed we were living on the outskirts of the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

One-thousand-two-hundred-and-forty-five kilometers South.

Population: 1.2 million.

I was still happy.

Perhaps even happier.

Zuko and I had been together for seventeen years and had been married for sixteen and a half years.

We were happy.

Which I later realized was a gift.

We had three stunning children & it was no scare when one day she thought she was pregnant.

She wasn’t.

Not then.

And it was okay.

We had many friends.

Good friends.

Dear friends.

Kind friends.

And we had meaning.

Or at least the perception or feeling that what we were spending our time on was meaningful.

Made a difference.

I was working at a radio station. Not any station.

Kingfisher FM.

I stumbled upon this career.

Four-and-a-half years before.

Up to that point my professional life was very intentional.

After finishing high school, not convinced of what I should spend my life on, I did my conscription service in The South African Navy. Those were the final days of apartheid in South Africa. I remember coming out of the isolation of basic training at the far off naval base in Saldanah Bay, discovering that Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison and negotiations were underway for our country to find a peaceful transition into a new inclusive democracy.

Having studied music during my schooling days I was drafted into the South African Navy Band and spent my days as a national conscript, not preparing for war, but peacefully playing the Tuba at military parades and official occasions.

During this time I became convinced that I should spend my life and energy on telling people about the God with whom I shared life.

I had grown up in the house of a reformed minister.

I had an awareness of God’s presence since forever.

For me it was never a question if He is.

It was never a religious conviction.

It was always personal.

A reality.

A consciousness.

And it, this relationship which I experienced with a Person who was no human, had affected me.

Who I am.

Who I was.

It had changed who I was.

It had changed me into who I was deep inside, since before my first desperate scream.

I enrolled at University.

I studied theology and history and ancient languages.

For seven years.

I moved to the Kalahari to serve that band of commercial farmers in that thirsty expanse of land in two countries.

While there I stumbled upon serving two other tribes.

A band of former soldiers from Angola living in the town of Promfret.

A group of Tswana people who predominantly provided the labour without which the commercial farmers would never be able to effectively produce beef.

I was there by choice.

Intentional.

I enjoyed every moment.

The diversity.

The newness.

The beautiful people of extremely different heritage.

After four-and-a-half years in this world, a Church from my city of birth called.

They wanted me to come home.

They wanted me to come be their minister.

We came home.

Intentionally.

We found a little wooden house on a not so little hill and settled on the outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay.

We believed this is what God wanted.

We wanted to serve him.

We wanted to be inside that greater plan or intention we hoped he had for our lives.

If there was no plan.

If it was just about existence.

Eating.

Buying stuff.

Accumulating possessions.

It would be unbearable.

But something was brewing inside of me.

A discontent.

Not with life or with God.

Certainly not with Zuko and our beautiful family.

A feeling that even though I had studied theology for seven years, even though I had known God and lived in relationship with him for the entirety of my life, even though I had been ministering Sunday after Sunday, talking, studying, discussing, I was missing something.

Something.

Perhaps misunderstanding.

Perhaps ignoring or being blind to a reality which I could not grasp.

I focussed my energy on the work I was doing.

On Church.

On remedying what I perceived as short-comings.

Ineffectiveness of religion.

Cultural compromises.

Maintenance of a system rather than meeting a Person & sharing life with him.

An orginization consuming people’s’ lives instead of empowering people to live independently.

To become.

More.

At first my energy was expended inside the Church of my birth.

Eventually I collaborated with a group of people, who shared my discontent, in an attempt to create a new kind of Church.

A Church which would not be about systems.

A Church which would be about people.

A ‘space’ more than an organization.

A ‘space’ in which people could find themselves as they had the freedom to explore relationship with God.

A kind ‘space’.

A gracious ‘space’.

A ‘space’ in which unconditional love and unconditional acceptance was stronger than ‘justice’ or ‘compliance’ or ‘obedience’.

In which life and living in freedom and being was more important than how many people attended services or how much was accomplished or what was conquered.

A ‘space’ in which relationship with ‘God’ and ‘self’ and others wasn’t a matter of following rules and fitting into systems, but of ‘being’.

In which we would be helped and be helping each other to love without agenda.

It didn’t work out.

Not for me.

The system and religion too strong for my weak hands.

And so I stepped into a deep dark abyss.

At the time I was reading about Abraham who had to sacrifice his son for whom he waited almost a century.

How could God ask that of anyone?

I was also reading of Job. Of the hardship which became real in his life. The loss of everything he owned, just so that God could show that he was being loved not for what he did, but for who he was.

I realized that God believed in us, more than we believed in him.

I realized God desired to be loved, as much as we do.

Without conditions.

That sometimes, he expected us to place everything we thought we had on an altar, and wait on him to give back to us what would truly be good and meaningful.

To trust.

I did just that.

‘God, I know you are’, I said. ‘This is everything I am, everything I own, everything I’ve spent my life on. Consume what is not to my benefit. Consume what would destroy me and give me back what you know would be good and kind and well. I trust you. I trust you completely.’

I lost my career.

I lost my parents.

I lost my siblings.

I lost many friends.

And some stuff.

I lost my innocence.

I did not lose Zuko and the astounding relationship we share.

I did not lose my children or our little wooden house on the not so little hill.

I did lose my perception of who God is.

Or perhaps I did not loose anything.

Perhaps I gained a lot.

A new way of looking at life.

A new way of seeing God.

A new way of living.

And in all of this I stumbled upon Kingfisher FM.

A new direction.

A new place to expend my energy and find meaning.

At the time of my stumbling upon it, it was a typical Christian radio station. It was emulating everything Christian media has ever been.

It was focussed on feeding the fat and fed. On providing more Christian teaching, more theory, to good Christian people who belonged to Churches and strived to live lives acceptable to their often very demanding God.

I and it were both at a cross-roads.

We were both reconsidering.

What we’ve been doing.

What we’ve believed.

What we’ve been hunting.

And so a typical Christian radio station was transformed, for a little while, into a Family Lifestyle Radio station, while an uncertain being, stripped of everything that was, was being transformed into a new being who made new sense in new ways.

Kingfisher FM went from a small community operation with a core staff of six employees aided by almost forty volunteers, to a proper radio station with almost thirty skilled professionals dedicating all their energy and time on creating quality media.

Media which could compete, not in the isolated and very protected Christian-media realm, but in the open market.

Kingfisher FM went from feeding the fat and fed with more often conflicting Christian theory & theology, to drenching life in relationship with God.

It was an amazing time.

We were people who believed we lived in relationship with God.

People who believed in a God who created this world as the perfect habitat for human-kind.

A God who desired to relate to someone outside of himself.

And created us.

Like him.

But also different.

The perfect synergy between flesh and spirit.

Free.

To choose to share life with him.

Or not.

We believed a life shared with him is not about stuff or accomplishment.

We believed it is about life in relationship.

Positive relationship.

With him.

With our ‘self’.

With our partners.

Our wives.

Our children.

Our friends and family.

We believed as we live in relationship with God, we are changed.

Healed.

From all the brokenness which constantly threatens to destroy our true being.

Recreated to be who he created us to be.

We were incomplete.

We were broken in many ways.

But we believed in what we lived & we shared it.

We did not try to offer it as ultimate truth.

As the only way.

As something which judges and divides.

We lived it.

Bravely.

As our way.

A way which someone else might find good.

For seven years my history with God and Kingfisher FM’s history were inextricably woven into one.

I found meaning in my living.

In my work.

In doing radio.

In building something alongside a band of people who loved going into the studio & switching on the microphone.

It was seven years of learning.

Seven years of investing.

Myself.

And of my resources.

And then, one day, maybe half-way through the sixth year, I woke with a realization.

Our fourth child had just been born.

I was working 16 hour days and coming up against increased resistance from institutional Christianity.

I was plagued by the question if this is what life is supposed to be.

And we started standing back a little.

Looking in, instead of being consumed by the flurry of busy-ness.

And we knew, somehow, after all that was given, that it was time to pursue something new.

And we looked and listened.

We waited patiently.

Perhaps for 18 months.

A tiresome 18 months.

And then we sold our Landy and all our precious antique furniture and we packed our bags and made our way to China.

Believing that a new journey is what the Wind in our sails is calling us towards.

Now I am almost 45.

We are living in a small village on the outskirts of Beijing.

There are perhaps two-hundred people in this village.

Millions and millions of people in Beijing.

We are happy.

Zuko and I have been together for twenty-one years and married for twenty-and-a-half of those years.

We have four stunning children entrusted to us.

A boy and three girls.

The oldest three heading towards adulthood at the speed of time.

The youngest one being everything a toddler can be.

We have friends.

Not so many, but many enough.

Good friends.

Dear friends.

Kind friends.

And we have meaning.

Or at least the perception or feeling that what we were spending our time on is meaningful.

We do not know if it makes a difference.

We wonder if anything truly ‘makes a difference’.

If it is possible, in this life, to ‘build something’.

I am a teacher to small children who live inside a massive population who are in transition and who desperately hope to be seen.

And I am a student, as much as I can manage, trying to read ancient philosophy, hoping to see what was percieved to be the secret to living a happy life, in centuries past.

And I am discovering, as I get the opportunity to digest so many experiences, The Way of the Gift.

And I have a little more simplicity, as I am freed from the responsibilities of supplier-payments and payroll-runs and performance appraisals and recruitment and training and marketing and brand-building and market-shares, to be with my children, as they unknowingly prepare for adulthood and to read and write and consider.

And we are aware that this respite, just like everything else, will not last into eternity.

And we are aware, that very little of what we believe to accomplish is really any accomplishment.

And so we enjoy the moment.

Traveling from our tiny village, amongst 1 million other subway-commuters, to the heart of Beijing, to teach.

Cycling or walking in the nearby farm-lands.

Meeting people who come from a completely different world, listening to them and learning from them.

Making new friends and discovering new things about ourselves and our being and our Origin.

And so stories always flow forward.

Mostly to places we never knew would be.

And this becomes our story.

Some parts consistent, others ever changing.

So far.

And as I write this, I still expectantly wonder what the next ten years would hold, if I am so fortunate to receive another 10, for now I know and embrace that even just this day is more than anyone could hope for.

__________________

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my books available from Amazon’s Kindle-store.

Just click this link to take a look: Theunis Pienaar in Amzaon.

6 thoughts on “the story of me & God & life

  1. Ja…… bietjie nadenking vir Aprilmaand ………. vir ‘n Saterdag ………. vir my deurmekaar kop ……. vir die regverdighed (?) …………….
    Lovies
    A XXX

  2. Dankie my liefling. Dis goed om weer bietjie te hoor, die pad wat ons en jy gestap het tot hier. Ek kan vir die eerste keer in 4jr sin maak van die laaste 6jr!

  3. You are the voice of Spirit today, the voice of love and hope. Is that not the message? I know you understand and feel my pain, not from judgment or saving, but truth. I always knew as a little girl the system was flawed, not God. I never abandoned God but I have abandoned myself. Know you have made a difference in my life today. Know that I asked for a follower of Spirit to show up and so you have. Be continually courageous in your Passion, your mission. Be aware that all that has returned to you is not only God but your own work, God can be there, but is us who must row away from the the rocks. I have a similar vision and I am way aware of what it has cost. What I must be reminded continually is that the return is a reality with Spirit that can never be stripped away. Only I determine that. Thank you kind sir for truth. I would be honored to be part of your tribe. I will be free of my own abyss and I know you shall rejoice. It will be a beautiful day.

  4. We must row away from the rocks, that is true. Being embraced by a being who loves me for who I am enables me to row away from the rocks. Thank God I don;t have to row away before he embraces me. Like good sour-mash whiskey, he embraces me on the rocks. 😉

  5. “… he embraces me on the rocks.”

    True. I’d even go further and say, the best place to be is inside the Rock:)

  6. A remarkable journey of a remarkable man & his family…I think what spoke to me most whilst reading these pearls of wisdom Theunis, was that I have experienced the the fact that you treated us in a Godly way, when so many were against us. Your words are not just idle words, but I bear testimony to the fact that you LIVE your conviction, this in itself is a rare characteristic; since many have convictions, but few LIVE by them🙂 I believe that you are the anchor of Kingfisher FM, and that this new direction was a very positive one…I have no doubt, and pray, that KFM will be a Beacon of Hope to many in despair.

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