I used to think that patience was a characteristic held only by those who had nothing else to do. When Paul spoke to the church in Corinth about love being patient, I would swiftly move on to the rest of the list. Love is patient (“well yes, God is merciful and wants all His children to know Him…but I’m not God”). Love is kind (“yes, I can see the point of me being kind. Please make me kind Lord”). As I would read through the rest of the descriptions of love, they all made sense to me. Except patience. At best I thought it sounded passive.
After all, there’s a lot that needs doing in the world, right? We are the body of Christ and so until we move, Christ as the head cannot have His way on the earth. We have been given the authority of Christ to bring the Kingdom and to see heaven come to earth. Why be patient, when there’s so much needing done? I was not aware that this was how I used to think, until we received Nkosi into our family and hearts.
Nkosi arrived into our world, in March of 2014. The 4th child to come home to us. On the first day we met in hospital I knew that he would change our lives forever. Aware of his severely malnourished and cerebral palsied state we knew that his life would be full of challenge. But we felt absolutely no fear. This is one of the many ways God taught us to trust Him. The absence of fear is the presence of the full, deep and pure love from God for ourselves and for others. In this case it was for Nkosi.
We were full of faith for this frail little boy. Of course we believed he would walk! Of course we believed he would live a full life! The doctors told us Nkosi would not live to reach teenage years, but of course we knew our miracle-working God would prove them wrong! On the day Nkosi arrived home to us I had a vision of him standing in heavenly places with Jesus. He looked like Mandela in his youth. A strong, smiling, confident, authoritative leader. I felt that this was Nkosi’s spirit man and that no matter how hard things got, we should always remember that in his spirit Nkosi was happy we’d brought him home that day.
Nkosi lived for 19 months in our home with us. There were many challenges and we watched him overcome many of them. It was always two steps forward one step back. Like a dance. Nkosi taught us patience and endurance. After he received life saving surgery in August 2014 his health improved dramatically, and we felt we would have many years ahead with our beautiful boy. When he developed severe abdominal pain we discovered Nkosi had a bowel obstruction. It was agreed that an exploratory surgery would be carried out first thing next morning. My daughter & I said goodbye to Nkosi the night before his surgery, confident that he would overcome yet another obstacle. Nkosi went to be with his Jesus at 2a.m the night before this ever took place.
Nkosi taught me the power of forgiveness as I felt God gently comfort me at his funeral. I said “but God…do you not remember the times I cried out to you? Frustrated in the small hours of the morning….tired, disheartened and overwhelmed?” The Lord replied “as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far I have removed your sin from you…..no…. I don’t remember it. You are made of dust. I know you in your weaknesses, just as I knew Nkosi in his. You are forgiven.” I had no idea God could forgive me for my moments of resentment and frustration with this little boy, whom we loved very much. I struggled to forgive myself for despairing at times. But Nkosi taught us to receive love from God, as we needed Him like never before. “I can’t do this!” was often my complaint before the Lord. “I know you can’t” came the reply. “That’s why you need me”.
For this reason, Nkosi’s life although full of challenge, led us to Jesus on a daily basis. People wherever we went were drawn to him. They gave their lives to Jesus, one after another including Nkosi’s Mum and brother when they saw the joy that he carried. More still on our repeated hospital visits were healed and saved.
When they rang to inform me that he had gone to heaven, we went to the paediatric ward and then to the mortuary to say goodbye to Nkosi. They know me at the mortuary because I have prayed for the dead a few times (with full permission!) in the last few months. They now saw me visiting for another reason. Each time I had prayed for the dead in the mortuary before (obeying the scripture when Jesus commanded us to: “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers & cast out demons” – Matthew 10), I had always sensed fear in that room. But the day I saw Nkosi there, I had no fear in me whatsoever. I felt nothing but love from God for Nkosi. God broke a fear of death in me & in Nkosi’s Mum that day, as we wept, kissed him and held him. He looked just like he was sleeping.
I asked the Lord to bring him back to life, so that I could say goodbye.“We’re having too much fun” God replied to my heart. I knew in that moment that Nkosi’s life had been taken by the Lord. God wanted to bring him home because of His mercy, to Nkosi and to us. I got reminded of Enoch in Genesis 5. “Enoch walked faithfully with God, then he was no more, because God took him away”. Nkosi was a worshipper, and in our many car trips up and down to hospital we would worship in the car together. Now whenever we worship on the earth I know that we are joining with Nkosi. We will see him perfect in his new body again. I know I shall recognise him & I look forward to that day.
But for now, God has chosen to put me on a journey where I am learning to trust and to be actively patient. With each child there are challenges. Relentless patience says: “I trust you” to God. It is the one gift we can give Him here on this earth that we will never be able to give Him in heaven. There we will see Him face to face, and there we shall have no need to trust any more, for we shall see Him in His fullness. Nkosi has taught me patience, child-like trust and dependency upon God that I could not otherwise have learnt. It is the Lord who gives, the Lord who takes, and the Lord who resurrects again from death into fullness of LIFE. Amen.