The two Disciples walking the road to Emmaus walked for the equivalent of 11.1 kilometres and for most of that time Christ walked with them; even teaching them about himself: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27) yet they did not know who he was until later that evening when at Emmaus they sat and ate together: “as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.” (v. 30 &31) This account is a parallel to my life in Christ.
One of my earliest memories (I was probably 4 years old) is of being in church with my family. The six of us filled a whole pew—it seemed a long row of people to me. I was on the ground, picking up something like a hymn book whilst being very quiet and well behaved (as we always were), yet I became suddenly very aware of what the minister was saying. At that moment a question popped in to my mind and I had to ask it, right then and there, very loudly, “IS THAT GOD, MUMMY?” As you may imagine, there were ripples of laughter, which did not deter me from further seeking an answer from my mother.
What sparked that question at that moment? It may have had something to do with the fact that the Presbyterian minister stood there in a raised pulpit, dressed in a great black robe, reading from the Scriptures in a very respectful tone. Whatever the spark, the desire to know who God was, was awakened that day in my little heart and a few years later, as my ninth Christmas approached, I remember distinctly asking for a Bible for Christmas. (Normally, we did not ask for anything, but I must have guessed that it would be okay to ask for a Bible!) Somewhere in between these years, I remember getting ready for bed one evening and asking God if I would feel any different if He made me clean, but I was not sure from what it was that I was to be made clean...?
My mother was a Ladies Bible Study teacher, and in the 1970s she began to teach on the Holy Spirit. She would always teach us at home what she taught her ladies. I loved these lessons so much. I was younger than 10 then, but I knew that I needed a church which believed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Around this time, our family left the Presbyterian Church and we started to attend a new church Charismatic church. I went to a youth group at the Baptist church, then later a youth group at the Methodist church, until I was at University where I attended the College Christian Union. I went everywhere looking for God. I had much zeal. Paul writes, (and please allow me to replace the word ‘Israel’ with Charismatic Christians) “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Charismatic Christians is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Rom 10:1-2). I did not yet ‘know’ Christ, according to the knowledge of the written scriptures—intimacy.
When I went to first year of University, after we had written assessment tests, I was told not to bother to attend most of the lectures, but to simply write the exams at the end of the year, so I had a lot of free time. By that time our church had a Bible College, so I gave all that free study time (when I wasn’t practising the violin, piano or oboe) to attend courses in the Bible College. But I was, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Tim 3:7)
One vital, fundamental piece was missing from my theological puzzle. I had basically grown up around a strong Christian influence all these years thinking I was basically good. It was stamped on my very being. I received the impression that I did not need to be radically ‘saved’ like sinners out in the world because I was raised in a Christian home, and by the world’s standards I was a good girl. I was a very diligent, self-disciplined, dedicated, hard-working student who gave up much for the demands of learning several musical instruments, and several other ‘extra-mural’ activities. The fact that I was a sinner with a desperately wicked heart in need of a Saviour, did not seem to apply to me personally. That was only for thieves and murderers. Nevertheless, like the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus I walked on. I walked faithfully to Sunday School and to church. I walked faithfully to Student Christian Association (SCA) at school, no matter how much I was teased or mocked for attending. When school friends invited me to questionable parties, I walked away. I walked faithfully to Worship groups. I walked to any
youth group or Bible study I could find where I thought I might learn more about God. I used to sit with my Bible and cry, “Why can’t I understand what this is saying, God? Please teach me.” But He would seem so far away. If you had met me in my 20s you would have been given the strong impression that I was a good Christian. I particularly loved Proverbs and it was often said of me that ‘she has wisdom beyond her years’. I saw many answers to prayer and took my musical gifts and life’s privileges very seriously and prayerfully. When still in High School I was earning money from playing music and I tithed very faithfully on all my earnings. I was granted a scholarship to study at University which basically paid me to go to University for an Honours Degree in Music, and during these years I built up thriving music ventures and businesses. All the while, God came first. I gave all my Sundays to the church and was faithfully at every worship team practice on time. Paul writing to the Corinthians says, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (1Co 9:25) I was that temperate person. I had striven for the mastery in music and had obtained many, many worldly crowns, but that most important incorruptible crown was not mine yet.
By my late 20s most of my friends had immigrated, two of my brothers had immigrated, and a third brother had tried the UK for 5 years, but had returned. Immigration was the order of our age, yet I was content and happy to stay in South Africa. I had conducted the first multi-racial Girls Choir at 19 years of age, I was an orchestral Concert Master at 19 and by 24 I had founded the very first multi-racial Orchestra for Youth, in the country. I had been involved in some amazing projects involving music for the disadvantaged and had even been sponsored by the US government to talk about these projects in Washington and Chicago, so it was not in my thoughts to move from South Africa. Until one evening when I received a call from a British man, recommending me to a job in Cork, Ireland. This gentleman had heard about my work and had been out to SA to spend a day with me. He had been asked to help a Music College in Cork, find a new Head of Strings. I put the phone down from him and phoned my mother straight away. “Mum, where’s Cork?” That was 16 years ago, and all I can say is I certainly know where Cork is, but more certainly I know that at the time it seemed that I was moving to Ireland for a career move, but really God was moving me, to position me to be in a place where I could really meet Him and have my life’s long walk come ‘to Emmaus’—a place where my eyes would be opened.
I found a church to attend in Cork and one day a man came to teach a course called, The School of Christ, at the church which ran daily from 7a.m. through until the evening time. My work place was right next door to the church, so in between lectures and orchestra practices, I would pop in to the church to hear what was being taught. The Director of this school was using some DVDs of a man called B.H. Clendennen, who was teaching, and all I can tell you is that I wept from start to finish of most of those lessons. I knew, that I knew, that I knew, I was hearing Truth for the very first time. That spark became a burning, just as those disciples on the road to Emmaus. “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) so I booked in to the very next full time School (and the next, and the next…) that I could attend during my holidays. As it happens, I was a student at every SOC ever run in Ireland.
It was at a February School, in Limerick, in 2006 that is now marked as my Emmaus moment. It was the second day of the week, and we had just had a day of teaching on The Blood of Jesus. We went down to evening prayer meeting and my heart was burdened and heavy with the weight of what I had learned that day. For the first time God showed me my heart. He showed me the reality of what a dark and stinking heart I had. Not the pure and lovely heart of which I had always had the impression, or given the impression, but the true nature of my heart. As Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) I can tell you that the carpet where I knelt to pray was sodden with my tears, because for the very first time in my life, I saw that desperate wickedness and I met the Man of Calvary. In those moments (it was actually over an hour but seemed like a brief moment) it was just God and me. I knew for the first time that it was MY sin that had “held Him there”. At the close of the prayer meeting the Director said that there were some students who were looking for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and some who were looking for a fresh touch of God, and if that were the case we should stand up or step forward and he would come and pray with us. Now I did not think I needed the Baptism, because I had learnt (incorrectly) that we ‘receive the baptism of the Spirit’ when we were baptized in water. I was baptized in water in my teens, and I had ‘spoken in tongues’—so I thought—for years. But I did want a fresh touch from the Lord, so I stood straight away, lifted my hands and continued to worship the Lord. I was so filled with Him. I had just met Him. My heart was full and my lips were overflowing with praise.
Unexpectedly the Director came over to me and laid his hands on my head and began to pray. He prayed some things that only the Lord knew. I knew it was the Lord speaking in the prayer. Then he began to ask God to baptize me in the Spirit and I thought, “He doesn’t know I am already baptized, but I will take whatever the Lord has for me.” But in the next minute, I experienced a true Biblical baptism in the Holy Ghost. It was as if someone had poured oil over my head and out of my mouth a language began to pour out! It was not like the ‘tongue’ I had previously when I had just a few words, which rather sounded like familiar Latin to me, but it was a language which poured out of my belly (my inner being). I knew I was adoring my Lord and Saviour. Little did I realize that this was God giving me the very vital power for service I would need, because within the next 4 months, my life was to change direction totally, as that School of Christ Director, Keith Malcomson, was to ask me to be his bride and walk by his side, which meant leaving my career, my town, my very special house which I had built, my friends and my worldly dreams. But HE IS NO FOOL WHO GIVES WHAT HE CANNOT KEEP TO GAIN WHAT HE CANNOT LOSE—none of those things are a loss in the light of what I have gained in Christ and this walk with Him. I thank God for bringing me to Ireland, not just because it is where I met the love of my life (Keith), but chiefly because it is where I met the Man of Calvary. Now my heart burns to see others who are walking that long Emmaus road, have their eyes opened too.