March 11, 2012

The Impact of One

This past week our eldest daughter and first grand baby traveled to Louisiana
 and he got to meet his great, great aunt Bobbie! :)
Approximately twenty-seven years ago, Keith and I, newly married and backslidden as can be, landed in Hawaii to begin his three year tour of duty with the Navy. For this immature girl who had hardly ever been out of the South, it was a dream come true. I had always wanted to travel and Hawaii was definitely on my bucket list.

So here we were, on the other side of the world from home. But as God would have it, He had a divine connection planned for us. As it turned out, Keith’s uncle, Andrew Herbert Johnson (Uncle Herb to us), who was a Navy chaplain, Commander and former fighter pilot and his wife, Aunt Bobbie, were also stationed there the exact same time as we were. And this ‘coincidence’ changed the course of our lives forever.
Keith and I had been raised in church and when we were young we had both made a ‘profession of faith’. But as adults, we weren’t living it. Actually most of the Christians we had known hadn’t seemed to be very happy and there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘Life’ in their Christianity to attract us. So we had sort of unconsciously resolved to have as much fun as we could while we were young and we figured that we’d settle down and act responsibly when we were older.

Then we met Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Herb. There was something different about them. At the time, I was 21 years old and Aunt Bobbie was 50-something yet I looked for every opportunity to be around her. I know I must have gotten on her nerves sometimes tagging along but if I did she never once showed it. She just loved me, short skirts and all. Yes she just accepted me. She spent time with me. She invited me along shopping with her. She welcomed us into her home every Sunday and any time in between. She cooked delicious meals for us. (Her rolls themselves were reason enough to keep coming back!) But she spent hours of time with me. Just letting me hang out with her. She and Uncle Herb were there for us. They made us feel like we mattered.

It wasn’t so much of what she said, yes she would answer my many questions, but it was mostly just what she lived. She and Uncle Herb just lived love. They reached out to some of the most unlovable people on the base and invited them into their home. I would sometimes feel jealous at not having them all to myself. But it just flowed out of them. And when Aunt Bobbie or Uncle Herb prayed, we felt something we’d never felt before. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it at the time, but for some reason we were drawn to them. We just felt Good when we were with them. A hunger began growing in my heart. I had seen LIFE, and I wanted it too. They weren’t just Christians in word, they had someONE living in them. I knew this because I felt Him every time I was with them. And I wanted what they had. For the first time in my life I realized, there was more. Christianity as I’d experienced it wasn’t all there was. Jesus was really real. He was current. He wasn’t boring. He was fun. But nobody TOLD me this, I just KNEW it, because I knew Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Herb.

Now Aunt Bobbie wasn’t perfect. But she was real. And what a sense of humor she had! She would sometimes get tickled in church and couldn’t stop giggling. This was my kind of lady! She had fun and joy just bubbled out of her. Almost more than anything, this intrigued me. I guess I had thought Christians were dour, boring old sourpusses. But Aunt Bobbie was a hoot! That, I could relate to!

She and Uncle Herb invested in me and Keith. They didn’t preach at us, they just loved us and lived an authentic life, full of LIFE in front of us. We didn’t change right away. A lot of what was sown into our lives at that time didn't  bear fruit for years. Actually it was so gradual that I don’t know if they were even aware of the impact they were making then. But something was definitely taking root in us. And it literally changed the course of our lives.

Now years later, we have raised four children and our family has grown to include a son-in-law and a new grandbaby. I am very proud of my family. I look at my husband and children and how they love and serve the Lord and I am so grateful. Actually that doesn’t even come close to expressing how I feel. I am BEYOND grateful if there is such a thing. We’ve had people say how much they admire our family and they ask us what we’ve done. And I find that astounding. I really do. I’m not bragging, it’s just one of those things that happens repeatedly and I’m always left, like Mary, amazed and pondering these things in my heart. Because I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was doing 24 years ago when I became a mom. And 24 years later its still a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation. I guess all I had was an intense desire- stronger than anything I’d ever felt before holding my firstborn in my arms- to do this thing right. And a revelation that I didn’t have what it took to do it. But I did have a God who did. There are no formulas and I don’t understand it, but God has blessed our family.

But one thing I do know- the blessing on our family today can be traced back approximately 27 years ago to a little speck of an island in the vast Pacific Ocean. The fact that my children are serving God today and impacting the Kingdom can be traced back to the influence of one simple couple, who saw value in two disillusioned, immature twenty-somethings and who chose to sow time, love and life into us. I will be forever grateful to them for the harvest we now enjoy. As I look into the face of my precious grandson, knowing how his parents will raise him in the presence of the Lord, I just want to weep with gratitude and to somehow repay them for what they gave us. But I know one day, that their reward will be handed to them by the Lord Himself and it will be eternal.

So never under-estimate the value of investing into one person's life. You may not see the fruit immediately. But it could have eternal and generational impact. Our family is proof of that. My children can thank Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Herb (and God of course ;) that they know Jesus. One life impacting generations and the Kingdom of God.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!

January 1, 2012

Pursuing The Uncreated in 2012

Last night as I saw 2011 draw to a close, I listed to the Lord, my desires for myself and my loved ones in 2012.

To begin with- More of Jesus and less of me
  • To be more in the Word and for the Word to be more in me
  • To trust more
  • To love more
  • To have wisdom and revelation
  • To see more healing and to have more freedom
  • To walk more in the fear of the Lord
  • To have less fear of man
  • To carry more of the presence of the Lord wherever I go
  • To recognize and invest in God-ordained relationships and for them to be defined by God
  • To truly pursue and to diligently seek God
  • To be less distracted and more focused
  • To have more discipline
  • More fruitfulness
  • More faithfulness
  • More selflessness
To end with- Again...More of Jesus and less of me. Everything in my list is summed up in that one desire. And what more could we ask for?

As we seek first His Kingdom, all these things will be added… Everything we need is found, when we get our eyes off the thing that we need and instead we seek… Him.  He is more than enough. Everything we need, we will find when finding Him. Whatever you are facing, you will find the answer in more of Jesus. And the more we know of Him, the more we want Him. We could spend eternity exploring the many facets and glories of Jesus and never fully exhaust them. He is infinitely beautiful.

I recently found this that I had written a few years ago and thought it worthy of a repost.  

As I've been reading Tozer, I have had this thought mulling about in my head today- the self-existence of God. Have you ever thought of that? Children do, when they ask, “where does God come from?” Whoa! It really staggers me to the core and twists my brain into knots when I think of this. It’s an uncomfortable thought.

Like eternity.

This concept used to scare me as a child. With our human existence dictated by time, by beginnings and ends; the thought of no end, of eternity, was (and still can be) overwhelming and unsettling. No time; no beginning, and no end. Unfathomable!

Yet we are created in His image. In HIS image- the Uncreated, Eternal One. No other creature has this distinction. What an honor. Definitely we are the created and not the Creator since we have a beginning- but what a staggering thought. Those who had the privilege of gazing into heaven and beholding His throne and likeness (Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, John the Revelator, etc), described Him as best they could using words based on their experience… “He was LIKE this or that”, “in the likeness of…” Yet their experience of Him was still so far above anything they'd known in the created realm. Finite human words could not express the exactness of Him. Although He was similar to this or that, still He was not EXACTLY like anything their human senses had ever experienced or could put into words.

A.W. Tozer says in THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY (which I highly recommend), “’What is God like?' If by that question we mean ‘ What is God like in Himself?' There is no answer. If we mean ‘What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent reason can comprehend?' There is, I believe, an answer both full and satisfying ...That God can be known by the soul in tender personal experience while remaining infinitely aloof from the curious eyes of reason constitutes a paradox best described as, ‘Darkness to the intellect but sunshine to the heart’.”

But doesn't the self-existence of God just take your breath away? Does that not just cause Him to be magnified in your mind? The more I think on this, the more I want to worship Him. Not because I understand it, but because I do not! He is SO far above what I can even imagine. As high as the heavens are above me, His ways and His Being are just so much higher! Who am I to question such a God. He is no god, He is GOD! Who am I to doubt Him, to not trust Him, to not walk in complete confidence and security. He is GOD! He is MY God! And oh the wonder of it, I am His beloved child. Whoa! The Uncreated One…! May we, His children, bow before Him in holy fear; with amazement and gratitude. Wonder of wonders- He, the Uncreated, loves us; and we who have believed on Him, who have called on His name, the created, will live eternally with Him. Unfathomable, unthinkable! Yet gloriously beautiful!

I wrote this song several years ago with the thought of the Uncreated majesty of Jesus in mind: If you'd like to hear the song click on the "View My Complete Profile" link  and then click on the audio clip there.

“Here we are gathered in Your name.
We long for more, to never be the same
Moving towards the Uncreated One

Overwhelmed as You invade our space
Take us in, to that Holy place
Purify, consuming flame
We love Your name

You are awesome and frightening
Beautiful God
Consuming fire and lightning
Holy One
Enthroned, eternal Love
You are Good; and we bow
We bow down”

May God bless you with more of Himself in 2012. Draw near to Him and He promises to draw near to you. The Uncreated delights to draw near to His creation. How beautiful. Happy New Year!