My name is Anna Smit. I am a dual New Zealand – Dutch citizen, who was born and partly raised in Aotearoa / New Zealand, but has been living in the Netherlands since 2003. I left the Land of the Long White Cloud in 2000 to become an au pair in Germany, but never came “home”. Falling in love, I followed my Dutchie to make a new home for myself in the land of the clogs, where we still live, with our two dual citizen girls.
I remember my early days in Germany, as the eldest daughter of New Zealand missionaries, filled with love: with the life and presence of Jesus.
Tragically, as a preteen and teen, I began to believe the enemy’s accusations that God had abandoned me and someone I loved, as I saw no physical evidence that He had heard my repeated cries, as I thumbed the pages of His Word with tears streaming. I began to turn away from Him, piece by piece. I stopped reading His Word and turned to sinful distractions to numb my pain, rather than persevering in the truth.
Even so, God’s Spirit poured out upon me at various times, leading me to repentance. I remember crying and crying, confessing one sin after another before God and others. But then, one day, I committed the sin of masturbation that I was too ashamed to confess to anyone. Blinded by pride, I didn’t see that every other time it was the Holy Spirit and not me who had made it possible for me to confess my sins so openly, as I had sought God’s face. All God wanted was for me to finally realize that I could never clean myself up, but He could.
From then on, I went through life believing that I was too far gone for God to save. In my early years as a Prodigal, I was even afraid that one day God would strike me with lightning and kill me. I was biding my time until He would get rid of me completely.
And yet, strangely, deep down there was also always this deep, deep yearning for someone to just reach out to me – to uncover my secret sin and bring me home. I even plucked up the courage to visit churches overseas, but each time walked away believing I didn’t matter enough to God for someone to reach out to me. Then, one day, someone plucked up the courage to give me a book about Jesus. But at that point, all those years later, when I had given up on Christians, rather than it exciting me, it angered me. It made me feel unseen and like I was their little project.
What I now know looking back is that God wanted me to realize that the only One who truly sees me, loves me, knows me and has the power to save me is – HIM. Now, I can look back and see that God never ever left me. His hands lovingly guided me, protected me and kept me all those years I believed He had abandoned me and was out to hurt me. Every place I moved to, He remained with me, surrounding me with people in whom I now recognize His love for me: including the young woman who gave me that book.
When my Mum was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer in 2013, God’s peace descended in power upon me. At the time, I was a mother of two young children (1 and 3 years old), living in the Netherlands with my Dutch husband and visiting my very ill mother in New Zealand. I wasn’t looking for God, because I inherently believed He didn’t want me, but He came running for me. Like the little lost lamb caught in the thorn bush, He came to rescue me and bring me home.
I felt that same palpable peace again upon my Mum, in her final weeks. I was absolutely astounded at the beauty and kindness of this God, that I now recall from my younger years, before I let sin chain me to unbelief. God’s kindness toward me and the peace He covered me and my Mum in, compelled me to begin to seek Him and His Word afresh, like never before.
I will never forget those last few weeks with my Mum and watching God humble her and lead her to repentance and such rest and peace in Him. And I don’t think it is a coincidence that during that time God answered the tear-filled prayers I had lifted up to Him as a little girl, more than twenty years later. I didn’t see that at the time, but I now know He wanted me to take notice and to deep down know that no prayer we lift up in Him goes unanswered.
My Savior is now giving me a hunger and thirst to know Him, as I seek His face. I wake up hearing Him call to me and He continually interrupts my plans to lead me into His. He is teaching me to slow, recognize and savor His Presence with me.
He is patiently leading me, piece by piece, to shed my pride, my striving and my worship of man for an intimate relationship with Him. Much repentance is flowing, as my heart aches to walk in His holy Way. I am slowly (re)awakening to the childlike awe and wonder of Him I had growing up as a little girl, before I let sin blind me to God’s love for me and others.
May God bless us here, as we gather to read and share the stories, poems and heart stirrings He awakens in us. May we see His face in each other, in our past and present and future that He may make firm the paths beneath our feet, as He lifts away every accusation of the enemy in the light of His love and grace. And may the word of our testimony to His love and grace in our lives and His blood shed for us all at the Cross overcome the accuser of our brethren, just as He has promised us in His Word.