08 Sep The Almond Tree
It’s a bright, warm Friday afternoon – the kind that ushers in the weekend most beautifully.
I’ve left the office early – it’s barely 1pm but I’m heading straight to the hair salon.
I need to get there early enough, so that I can be home in time for the kids.
I’m thinking about this now, when a picture flits quietly through my mind.
It’s a picture of my friend – a very close friend, whom I haven’t seen for some weeks. I wonder briefly how she’s doing – I’m newly born-again and I know that, though she has a fear of the things of God, she’s been quite the party girl lately.
“You need to go and see her,” I hear, deep in my spirit. That still, small voice. “Now.”
What about the salon, Lord?
The kind you get when your parent issues a decree, and will brook no argument.
I try all kinds of pleas, but no.
So I turn my car in the direction of her apartment and head there. And as I drive, the Lord lets me know what I’m to say to her.
I find her at home and she ushers me in, with her characteristically boisterous welcome. She’s a vivacious, warm-hearted gal, Kathleen*, and eats life with a spoon the size of a mountain. She simply loves everyone and has the rare gift of making life-long friends in an instant.
Kathleen has really been more like a sister to me, particularly in the years since I got married. For one, she gorged faithfully with me on matoke, that delicious traditional dish, when I was expecting my first baby. I still remember that meal – nice succulent, bananas, fried in juicy ripe tomatoes and just the right amount of organic spice. I don’t know if they grow bananas in Machakos – in Eastern Kenya – but my house-keeper at the time came from there, and could whip up this most delicious dish from a simple bunch of green bananas.
We grew fat on those bananas, me and Kathleen. She was a true friend. Stuck with me through thick, thicker and thickest. And even more thick. And then came to hospital with me and shed an emotional tear or two, when my baby was born.
But enough meandering..
Kathleen and I now settle in her living-room and share a few laughs over coffee, a shared addiction.
But I soon have to deliver the word that the Lord has sent.
“Kathleen,” I say gently, “the Lord says that you will soon be born again.”
“What?! Me? No Mugzy. Not me,” she laughs.
We chat some more about this and that, but I soon sense the Lord’s leading to say those words again.
So I do.
“You will soon be born again, Kathleen.”
She laughs again, but I catch a glimpse of something in her eye. Perhaps a tear. Perhaps a longing, deep inside, for something she cannot quite explain.
She lights up a cigarette, takes a long drag and exhales.
“Not me, Mugzy. Not me.”
But I hear it, that catch in her voice.
We move on and are soon laughing our lungs out. It’s always a joy to be with Kathleen – such a warm, loving soul. A true gem.
When the time comes, I take my leave, but I know we’ll soon be in touch again.
The following week, the Lord graciously allows me some time at the salon. But then one evening, something curious happens, on my way home from work.
As I steer my car around a corner, my house just a few meters away, that still small voice interrupts my thoughts once again.
“Kathleen will be saved by this time next year,” I hear.
This piece of news catches me completely off guard. But it’s a long way away, I figure. There’s more than enough time for the Lord to orchestrate this feat.
“Say it out loud,” I hear.
I’m alone in my car, but I feel a little sheepish as I do.
“Kathleen will be saved by this time next year,” I manage feebly.
“Kathleen will be saved by this time next year,” I say a little louder.
The Lord has me declare these words three times. Being a new Believer, I don’t quite understand why, but I do it anyway. And within a few days, the now-familiar instruction comes again.
“Go and see Kathleen and declare those words in her presence.”
So I do.
But this time, Brethren, when I deliver the Lord’s word, neither of us laughs. Somehow, deep within our spirits, we have begun to sense the seriousness of this matter.
The Lord is in earnest pursuit of His daughter.
And almost exactly four months later, a few weeks into February, Kathleen surprises me one sunny afternoon, when she passes by my house with some news.
“Guess what Mugzy,” she declares excitedly, “I’ve done it! I’m born again. I’m saved..!”
A prophetic word, it is said, is like the beautiful Almond tree. When you see it burst forth in flower, Brethren, know that a fresh new season is near..
Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.”
Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” Jeremiah 1:11-12
*Kathleen’s name has been changed