Another Day, Another Heartache

It’s been an interesting 2 weeks.  This entry has more of a “story” than most of my writing on this blog, but bear with me. There’s a point to it all…

My wife’s Grandmother, lovingly known to us all as Mamma, passed away and her funeral was held – in Windhoek. Having applied for leave from my employer – who out of “respect” I’ll not name here – offered me the Friday and Tuesday off to travel from Cape Town to Windhoek by road. 1000 miles approximately. Each way. I pointed out that it had to be Friday & Monday. Thankfully, the management understood, and granted me emergency leave to attend the funeral.

It’s a long drive – around 15 hours. I actually love the road. The first time I drove it I was captivated by the beauty of the landscape, and the emptiness of the land.

There are so few corners in the road that my first thoughts were of the old Roman Roads in England, but they are way shorter than this one. The entire country is shorter than this road. The road is hypnotic in its sameness. It just blends into itself during the drive, the only changes coming as we pass a limestone quarry or as the light changes during the drive.

I drove up with my wife and her brother. The drive was long – no breaks setting off at 11pm and driving until the middle of the afternoon the following day, only stopping for fuel. I can’t sleep in a car – not for lack of trying – so by the time we arrived on Friday I was exhausted and had been awake for 36 hours straight. I slept for a couple of hours then we had what for our Namibian family was the third memorial service in a week. I didn’t follow most of it as the talks were all in Afrikaans, however although limited in speaking, I did manage to glean some of what was spoken as the minister spoke from Romans 8:18-39. It was a deeply moving service, for all my lack of understanding the language, the spirit of the service was as clear as crystal.

Saturday saw the funeral itself. Six hours in Afrikaans in the church and at the graveside. Didn’t understand the words, but the spirit was again completely clear. It was a beautiful and moving experience for a very special lady.

We set off to drive home on the Sunday, arriving Monday evening. I drove the majority of the homeward leg. While driving through the night is a stressful experience in itself, having a large bird of prey eating carrion on the road as you come round a corner, take off and fly head first into the bonnet of the car. It certainly woke me up. Hitting something big enough to disable a car at 140kph is a disturbing experience. Stopping and looking at the damage and realising God was protecting us from the impact is humbling. Just 1cm either way and the car would be undriveable. Closer to the passenger side and it would have ripped into the headlight and wing, crushing the wing into the wheel and causing the car to spin out of control. Closer to the driver’s side would have destroyed the radiator which would cause the engine to seize in short order. The only impact point where there would be nothing but superficial damage was the exact point of the impact.

I went to work on Tuesday, but was wrecked by the end of the day. On Wednesday I apparently called my manager, although I don’t remember doing so, I woke up in the afternoon. Thursday I went in again, and only got through the day by my wife bringing me bioplus caffeine tablets. I made the decision at that point that I was not fit to work and made an appointment for the following day to see my GP.

As we were settling down to rest in the evening we got a call from my sister-in-law. My wife’s brother had been taken seriously ill. We went through to their home where she assessed him and made the arrangement that she would sort out hospitalisation the following morning.

Friday saw my brother-in-law admitted to hospital and my doctor sign me out of work until the following Wednesday – officially diagnosed with stress and burnout. I thank God for the support he has placed around me. That His Grace has proven sufficient in strength to carry me this far, and to allow me to give support to my wife and her mother at this time.

I went back on Wednesday as planned, and although tired at the end of the day I had peace about being back. Thursday was a normal day, and then Friday…

Friday was raining. I suited up – anyone who knows me knows I’m a biker. Have been for 20 years. The problem with being a biker is on a wet road you’re vulnerable. For the second time in 12 months the bike slid out from under me – fortunately this time it was a low-speed fall.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.
 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12

My wife, understandably given the firestorm she’s been through in the last few weeks, is not thrilled at me riding any longer.

I see something different. I have bruises, not broken bones. I have mild headache, not concussion. My rainsuit is undamaged, and the bike runs as though nothing was wrong. The most damage is one slightly bent footrest, which doesn’t interfere with the running of the bike at all.

The point of the story for me?

God keeps His promises. He never promised we would not know heartache, loss and suffering. He promised He would hold us through them.

Or as Paul put it:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,<sup class="crossreference" value="(CD)”> nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God<sup class="crossreference" value="(CF)”> that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39

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