Chapter 1: Where do I start?

Marilyn Riggien

Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you.

It was in May 2020 when I understood that I needed to write this journey as a memorial. I had been journaling since 2004 so I had collected many notes over the years. It took me until October 2021 to actually officially start. Because there was so much to write down I felt overwhelmed by it and then procrastinated. I did not know where to start and had no direction. Today, the 20th of October 2021, I went out for my usual walk early in the morning and I prayed, asking G_d to help me. I said, 'just give me the start of it and I will be able to get on with it.' As faithful as He is, I received my starting point; a beautiful phrase from 2008, and in all these months this one never even came to mind, but this morning, it was given life again in my heart and I had peace.


"Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you."


Before I write more about this beautiful phrase, I think it would be best to start from the beginning, but just before we start I want to say that this story is not really mine. I am just a 'guest on the set', a character in G_d's story. He is the main character and I just happened to be chosen as this particular vessel in His hands. There is nothing whatsoever special about this piece of clay. For reasons I do not understand He picked this clay for His plans and purposes; a piece of clay I myself would have overlooked, for sure.

My goal is not to write about myself, but about G_d's miracles and goodness along the way. Of course, I cannot write this without bringing myself into the story, but I want the focus to be on G_d. I want to testify how much He desires to communicate with us and have a relationship with us, and even here already, I need to stress the fact that I fall ridiculously short, and will probably be embarrassed to see how much G_d does from His side and how little I do to keep this relationship flourishing; G_d does it all. Thank you, my heavenly Father, for this amazing journey!

I was born in 1971, into a loving Christian home. My parents were devoted to G_d and gave me the biggest gift that any parent could give their child; the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ. Because they knew Christ, I was taught and guided by them to eventually also form my own relationship with Him. (Dankie, Moeksie en my Pa, vir allles wat jul vir my gedoen het, vir jul liefde en ondersteuning, en vir die saad van Lig wat jul vir my gegee het! Ek is oneindig baie lief vir jul!)

The first time I experienced G_d as a reality in my life is when I was in Primary School. Not sure of my age at the time, I must have been in Standard 4, but my parents bought my sister and me each a Casio electronic watch. This was hi-tech at the time and very special, and it was my first watch. One afternoon I went to a building site two houses down and played amongst the bricks and rubble. I did not want to damage my watch, so I placed it on the heap of bricks. Just before sunset, I ran back home, and in the middle of the night, I realized that I left my watch out there! I think this was the first time I actually asked G_d for something, and I asked Him to please take care of my watch and have it be there in the morning for me to collect.

Early that morning, I was up, and without telling my parents anything about it, I ran as fast as I could, with hope in my heart that it would still be there. Well, it was and I thanked G_d for keeping my watch safe for me through the night!

To fast track, I got married in 1998, our first child was born in 1999, and our second child in 2002. It was a very difficult first few years of marriage but G_d brought us through, and happy to say that we are devoted to one another and still married after almost 23 years now, all by the grace of G_d! Perhaps in the future when I have permission from my husband I hope to write about this difficult path and share with you more about G_d's wonderful faithfulness.

[Healing my back pain: Three weeks after my daughter's birth I could not get out of bed. I had excruciating pain in my back. This turned out to be a 15-year battle! You can read more about the testimony on that here.]

More or less two years after the birth of our first child, we moved to Krugersdorp, a small town on the outskirts of Johannesburg and most often considered 'off the map'. It must have been in the year 2000/2001. I was not too happy to move from a more upmarket area to this little backdrop, but I met the most amazing people and soon realized that I loved the town and the people, and would never want to move away from there!

During 2003, being in a new community, I desired to connect with other women and specifically Christian women. I found a notice in the local paper and there was a group of ladies who invited women to join their home prayer and care group. I phoned Beulah who was overseeing this group and not long after I joined them at her home. (Thank you Beulah for opening your home to me and introducing me to a group of wonderful new friends.)

I met Gwen and Anthia, and Cath, who played a big part in my life and helped me grow in my relationship with G_d. We often got together to share our hearts, problems, victories, and growth over the years. We organised 'praise parties' where we would get together in the evenings and spent the time praising and praying. I will always look back at those years with great fondness and appreciation for each woman who helped lit a fire in my heart for G_d!



 

During 2004 G_d started speaking to me a lot through trees. Many things came up about trees as I walked through my days and I knew G_d was telling me that I was like a tree, planted in the West (Krugerdorp), and I needed to grow and be strong like an oak tree.


One morning when I was doubting myself again. I was talking to G_d saying that I am not good enough and I couldn't do what He needed me to do, and I felt that I was too weak in my faith and Christian walk.


I started work that morning, and an email came through from a venue called "Thaba Ya Batswana" who notified all their clients that they were planting trees on their site and every client has an opportunity to buy a tree and have their company name plague on the tree for the rest of that tree's life.


I opened my diary on that day's page (and how I wish I kept that diary) - each page had an encouragement piece written at the bottom - and I read:


“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

But the strange thing is, when I started reading I heard in my heart: Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you.


I knew that whatever G_d has called me for, and whatever He wanted to do through me, He would be the one doing it and even though I fall terribly short, and would probably never feel 'ready', He would do it.


Needless to say, I bought a tree!