The Village in the Clouds by John Bartels

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet – Ac1, Scene 5, 166-7

James Fromme tripped and fell off the ten-meter-long suspension bridge into a shallow stream running in the gully below. The drop was about five feet and he landed on some boulders. Lying in the icy water he realized his left leg must be badly injured. 

The pain was excruciating, and he passed out. It was five thirty in the afternoon and getting dark.

The accident happened on Sunday, September 16, 2012 on the golf course at the Sani Pass Hotel close to the border between South Africa and Lethoto. The hotel is in a narrow valley next to the road leading up the pass.

The valley is surrounded by the Drakensberg mountains. It is an area where the weather changes quickly and with little warning. The temperature can drop suddenly. On a sunny afternoon black clouds can appear in the west over Lesotho and quickly bring drizzle, rain, sleet and even snow. It is not a good place to lie unconscious hidden in a gully with a badly injured leg.

At the time, James and his wife Cindy were staying at the hotel. The plan was to stay for the week. They had been several times before. They knew the place well and in particular enjoyed the golf course. It is a narrow golf course because of the narrow valley. This means that the furthest hole is about two kilometers from the hotel building. Baboons can often be seen from the hotel patio feeding on the distant fairways. These baboons have never been a danger but as anyone who lives in Africa knows, baboons are not to be trifled with. A baboon can easily kill a dog or even a leopard, given the chance. Obviously a person is no match for a baboon.

      On the day James fell, his wife Cindy was twenty seven kilometers away in Underberg. She had gone there for a Church Meeting to be followed by a late afternoon tea with friends from the nearby Drakensberg Gardens resort.

      Cindy had left the Hotel at around two in the afternoon. She told James she would be back at about seven in time for dinner. James stayed behind at the hotel. After tea – at about half past four – he decided to go and play golf. He did not tell anyone he was going.

      He fetched some balls and a golf club and made his way down to the course. There were some baboons at the far end of the course about two kilometers away, but he was sure that they would run away if he went near them.

      Playing several balls, he made his way towards the Lesotho end of the course. The baboons were nowhere to be seen but he could hear them barking in the nearby ravines. Then, it began to get chilly. Huge clouds over Lesotho had quietly crept closer, dropping and getting darker. He suddenly realized the light was going fast because when he looked back at the hotel in the far distance the patio lights had come on and were sharply visible in the gathering dusk.

       James had just crossed he last bridge and was at the end of the course when suddenly there was crackling flash of lightning followed immediately by a massive boom of thunder. The sound of the thunder was greatly amplified as it echoed back from the surrounding mountains.

      James was concerned because there was no delay between the lightning flash and the boom of the thunder. This meant the storm was right above him. Then suddenly –  more and more lightning and thunder. This really worried him as his golf club had a steel shaft and this could attract the lightning. He realized he must get back to the hotel. And quickly. By then it was half past five but because of the coming rain and heavy clouds it was it was difficult to see. It was when he was crossing the first bridge on the way back that he tripped and fell.

      James must have been unconscious for about half an hour when he woke and realized that something was moving in the darkness above the gully. Confused and nauseous from pain and terrified that it might be a baboon he shouted. “Who is that?” A scuffling sound grew closer and he then could see the very dim shapes of a person and a dog clambering down towards him. “It is me – Joshua and my dog Nala.”

      James must have lost consciousness again immediately because the next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital room with Cindy at his bedside.

      “Awake at last sweetheart” Cindy kissed him. You are going to be ok. You fell on the golf course and nearly broke your leg. Banged your head too. You would have died if a young man had not seen you fall and come to you. He carried you all the way back to the hotel in the thunderstorm. An ambulance brought you here to the hospital in Umzimkulu – about an hour and a half from the Hotel.”

      James lay very still. “Cindy – it was Joshua who rescued me. He was there with his dog.”

      Three days later James was discharged from the hospital and returned to the hotel. The next morning, he discussed his amazing rescue with the manager of the hotel.

      The manager told him that at about seven in the evening the previous Sunday, during a massive thunder storm, a member of the hotel staff had come running and told him that an injured person had been brought to the hotel. He had quickly gone outside and found a young man carrying James who was unconscious. The young man told the manager that he had found James injured on the golf course.  The manager had then brought James inside to get warm by the huge fire in the hotel lounge and phoned for an ambulance. At the same time Cindy had returned from Underberg. When the manager looked for the rescuer, he discovered that he had gone without even giving his name. The manager told James that he was incredibly lucky – nobody had known where he was. He could have died of exposure as it had snowed later that night.

      James then told the manager that it was Joshua who had rescued him. He explained that he had known Joshua for several years. He was a local shepherd. Their friend ship had started a few years earlier when James had come across Joshua on the golf course. Joshua was about fourteen then. After that, James and Cindy had come to the hotel regularly over the years and had met Joshua on almost every visit. The pattern was the same: Joshua and his sheep dog Nala would be tending livestock on the mountainside above the golf course. He would see James and come down to chat.  And so, the friendship had developed.

 James told the manager that he supposed this is exactly what had happened on the previous Sunday “Joshua and Nala must been on the mountain above the course when the storm broke. He saw me fall and came down to help me. I know where Joshua lives. He is from a village on the first mountain ridge towards Lesotho, about ten kilometers away. I have seen his village from the patio. You can’t always see it. Most times it is covered by cloud but sometimes the clouds part and you get a glimpse of it. It looks an exceptionally beautiful place.”

The manager was most helpful. “Yes. I have heard of that village. It apparently is very beautiful. Our Chef is from the same village.”

   “I would like to thank Joshua.” James was excited. “May I speak to the Chef? What is his name?”

“His name is John. He comes on duty at twelve. I’ll ask him to meet you on the patio just after twelve.”

   James was ready waiting on the patio at a quarter to twelve. The air was full of bird chatter celebrating the end of winter and the certainty of spring. He walked to the edge of the patio and looked above the golf course towards Lesotho. He tried to see Joshua’s village. It was a warm, sunny day but there was still plenty of cloud. He could just see the village but only dimly. He decided right then that he would go there one day and meet its people. Then James heard a sound behind him. It was the Chef, John.

   “The manager said you wanted to see me.”

   “Yes. Thank you for coming.  Let us sit down.”

   The two men sat down at a table on the patio. James told the John his whole story. How he and Cindy had been coming to Sani Pass Hotel regularly for years. How he had first met Joshua and then got to know him better as the years passed. And then he explained how Joshua had saved his life.

   While James was telling the story, John did not say a word. He just looked steadily at James.

   “I would like very much to thank Joshua for what he did. I understand that you and Joshua live in the same village – that beautiful village in the mountains on the way to Lesotho.

   John did not reply. A full minute passed.

   James was puzzled. “Is something wrong?”

   Speaking very softly the John replied. “Joshua died about four months ago.  He and his dog Nala were killed by a landslide high in the mountains”

   The two men sat in silence. Even the birds seemed to have gone quiet.

   Then after a few minutes, without saying a word, John got up and left, leaving James alone. James stood up and slowly made his way back to the edge of the patio to see if he could still see the village. But he could not. The clouds had come down over the whole ridge. Everything had been hidden.

   James went slowly back to the room he and Cindy were sharing. She was getting ready for lunch.

   “Did you see the Chef? She stopped brushing her hair. “Is something wrong?  What has happened? Are you upset about something?”

He looked quietly at her. “Cindy sweetheart, I have something to tell you that will change the way we look at life forever.”

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Fear in Dangerous Times (Part 2)

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

As stated in Part 1, we live in dangerous times. Covid19 has spread its lethal tentacles all over the world. It has silently crept in the hovels of the poor and into the mansions of the rich, powerful and famous. The virus is not a respecter of persons. Fear abounds. None can escape the touch of its cold hand.

How should a Christian deal with fear in “Seasons of Danger”?  The advice the Puritan John Flavel (1628-1691) gave to Christians in England long ago,  is relevant today. 

Two points that Flavel makes are:

Reasonable fear

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Some fear is reasonable. He calls this “cautional preventative fear”. This is fear that”opens our eyes” to foresee danger and take reasonable steps to protect ourselves.

Unreasonable fear

Another kind of fear is not reasonable.This kind of fear “invades the heart” and unfits the heart for duty”. It “distracts”, It “drives men upon unlawful means and brings a snare with it”. In other words it can lead to sin.

What is this unreasonable fear about which Flavel warns? It is “the fear of diffidence” which is fear arising out of our failure to trust God in dangerous situations, one of which is this pandemic.

We must guard against this at all costs.

How to guard against unreasonable fear

Trust fully in God in all things and at all times.

Remember

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Nothing, including COVID19 can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 43:1-2 Romans 8:39

Praise the Lord

Elon Musk has Serious Competition

Elon Musk has created a rocket that can land on a moving platform. Undoubtedly a great invention. However Someone very long ago created something much cleverer!

Have a look.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made …

Romans 1:20

Praise the Lord

Two Faith Centring Articles

Photo: Thank you Robert Nyman

I honestly believe that reading the two articles below will strengthen the faith of any Christian.

Especially now during the (lets be honest) frightening pandemic.

Remember the saying “it’s where the rubber hits the road”?

The author of the articles, Dr Kathryn Butler, cannot be closer to the “road”. She is a trauma and critical care surgeon turned writer and home schooling mom. Currently she is out of retirement and serving in the ICU of an American Hospital caring for COVID19 patients. She lives north of Boston.

I suggest you read the first article first and then the second article.

The first article is: “If God Doesn’t Heal You” Click

The second article is: “Even in the ICU – Why hope will conquer death” Click

If you find the two articles helpful, please tell others about them.

Keep safe.

Question: Will God deliver us from the Corona Virus?

Will God act and deliver us from the Corona Virus as He promised in Psalm 91:3?

**********

May the contents of this post, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

My prayer is that nobody’s faith is damaged by this post. I pray rather that their faith be strengthened.

Photo Thank you Robert Nyman

Question:Will God deliver on His promise in Psalm 91:3?

Short Answer: Yes

Main Reason: We have Christ’s word for it.

REASONS

Start with Psalm 91:1-3 KJV

91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

The definition of “pestilence” in a Cambridge Dictionary is “any very 

serious infectious disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people”.

The Corona virus (COVID-19) clearly falls within this definition.

Surely therefore it is reasonable to interpret the last part of Psalm 91:3  to read follows;-

Surely God will “deliver thee” from the Corona virus (COVID-19).

Is God doing that at the moment ( April 2020)? 

Many, many people in the world are infected with the virus and will become infected. Many people have died and will die.

Many of these people will be committed Christians.

This may cause many people to sadly conclude that God is not delivering on His promise of protection against pestilence in Psalm 91:3. 

Are they right?

It goes without saying that this is an extremely serious question which calls for prayerful consideration. .

My genuine humble opinion is that it is incorrect to conclude that God is not delivering on His promise of protection against pestilence in Psalm 91:3.

It may be useful to note upfront that verse 3 does not say God is delivering us, it states that God will deliver us. That is why it is not right or logical to use verse 3 to conclude that God is not delivering right now on His promise of protection against pestilence in Psalm 91:3. The word “will” tells us it is a promise about the future. More about this below.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Consider:

First,  Scripture does not teach that the Lord always grants divine blanket protection for all believers in all circumstances (see website at end of post). Two thousand years of martyrs dying painful deaths confirms this. Remember: In the 23rd Psalm God promises to be with us as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God does not promise to lead us round the valley.

Second, and here we come to Psalm 91:3. Lets look at it carefully: 

Consider again the word “will

“Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

“will” refers to the future. So the verse is saying: Even if you get the virus and no matter what the virus may do to you,  your eternal security remains secure. Ultimately God will save you from the “deadly pestilence”. Remember: The Psalms often “look forward to eternity”.

Note that the verse does not say when God will save us from “deadly pestilence”. It could be now, some other time during our lifetime or even beyond. 

Remember: In this life God grants us not security from but security in (Christ).

 Hear what Jesus said about the eternal security He has given to us:

John 6:37-40 KJV

37 “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to

37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

This is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:35,37,38 and 39 as follows (COVID-19 added!):

Romans 8:35.37,38 and 39 KJV

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, not even Covid-19, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is no doubt that God will save us from COVID-19. We know not when or where. However we do know that final victory is certain and secure. We have Christ’s own word for it. In His farewell teaching to His apostles He said:

John 16:33 King James Version (KJV)

33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.

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May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. 

Praise the Lord

May the contents of this post,  be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.

Acknowledgment

An article on the UK Apologetics Website helped me with this post. \Some phrases and ideas on the website have been used in this post. I recommend that you go to the website. Click here.

Here is the link to an excellent article about God and the pandemic, written by a Jesuit Priest. It is well written, well reasoned and clear. Above all it is honest. Click here. I came across the article after I had written the above post.