by Karla Swart
“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24)
In my case it’s daughter instead of son, everything else in this scripture, however, is fitting to my story. In 2011 I moved to Cape Town and ended up in Joshua Generation Church through a cousin of mine. At the first service I ever attended the Lord saved me, and giving my life to Jesus was the best decision I ever made.
In the first few months after being saved God’s faithfulness and plan for my life started to become evident to me. On this journey of knowing Him He blessed me with a sponsor to finish school, I got my driver’s license, I had an amazing job, and God surrounded me with people who helped me grow and be stretched in His Kingdom. I cannot even start to explain and mention all the blessings He poured out over my life.
A few years have passed since then and a lot has changed. One year on my birthday, I got a phone call from a friend (my very first and only boyfriend), and he asked if he could see me. Knowing that if I wanted to not fall into sin, the best decision was to ask a leader to join me in meeting him. I saw him for the first time in years and all the emotions came running back and it was then that it all started to change for me. Jesus had filled many holes in my life, and He had healed me from many, many things but I did not know at the time that my “fleshly” need to be loved by another person was a weakness and to add the cherry on the cake, I was not living in the light.
My journey and life with my now husband started. Knowing very well I was living in sin, I still thought I was close to Jesus and that He would never leave me. (He never did, even though His heart was breaking). Throughout the years that I was walking in disobedience and sin, God had tried many times to win me back but my heart was as stone; I was angry.
Out of nowhere an old friend from church messaged me on Instagram. We set up a video chat with him and his wife and he explained how he had woken up with an urgency to find me. That was the first step in my return to Jesus and His church. By the end of the week I had done the unthinkable; I was joining Zoom church meetings and community groups.
When I came back, I repented and God immediately started working in my life again. The colours were brighter; I was living in the light. I was convicted of a few things and I felt the Lord say I needed to be baptised again and I was. About two months after I came back to God and church, my mom passed away suddenly. It felt like my entire world fell apart in a moment. Before I knew it my community was there encouraging me with words, prayer, a meal train and ALSO funds for her funeral. My community did not even blink when I needed help. I could feel God’s presence the entire time and I know it was because of their prayers. I felt so safe, safe in God’s Kingdom.
So where am I now?
Nearly a year later, I am happily married and my husband is still my best friend. We have grown stronger as a couple as I have been in warfare for our marriage. He has told me something in me is different, I look different and act differently. We laugh together, we cry together and even pray together! Yes, he has asked me a few times to pray for certain things! I got a new job and I have also been able to bring a few of my friends and my husband’s cousin to the Lord. I have shaken off all the feelings of guilt, shame, and heartbreak. My mistakes no longer define who I am. I am who Jesus says I am – worthy, loved, and chosen.
One of my overseeing elders back in the day said to me; “Karla, if you feel like your boat is sinking, allow us to help you stay afloat. Don’t jump off and try to swim by yourself.” I tried to swim on my own, and I drowned. Thank goodness my Saviour walks on water, right? 😉 Let me encourage you; God has a plan and a purpose for your life. No matter how far you run, how deep you dive into sin, how much you try to tell yourself “you are OK without Him!” He wants you under His wing and He will fight for you, He will keep coming after you. Jesus leaves the ninety-nine to find the one…
I can vouch for this.