Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I am totally embracing our fall season!  In the past, due to our relatively brief summers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I was not ready to give up on summer as we approached the end of August .  This summer brought warmer than usual temperatures and a bit more humidity, which may be why I am so enthusiastic about fall.  

Summer is now in the rear view mirror but I have one last reflection, specifically about my “grandchildren time”.  My oldest grandson (Henry) is six and he has such wisdom, mixed with the innocence of childhood.  I love experiencing life from his perspective.  As an adult I sometimes complicate issues.  Sound familiar?

Last July was so special because I had more time than usual with Henry.  I spent a few days with him in his home; then he and I flew back to Michigan where Cha Cha (my husband), Henry and I filled up a week with love, joy and lots of activity. 

We three headed back to Oregon via airplane to return him to his parents and brother (Gus).  Another wonderful week was spent with him, Mom, Dad and Gus in Oregon.

Conversations with Henry were life giving, joy producing and often filled with great insights.   Following are a couple of examples:

·        I told Henry, multiple times, that I loved him.  On one of those occasions I reminded him that Jesus loved him too; we also talked about us loving Jesus.  Without missing a beat Henry said, “Why wouldn’t someone love Jesus?”

Isn’t that the question of the century?  I pray his faith is deep and mature before he discovers the painful and sad truth, that not everyone loves Jesus.  I believe God has great plans for Henry; his mommy shared with me that Henry loves to teach his friends about prayer and he will recite his memorized Bible verses to anyone who will listen.

·        In one of our conversations, I told this wonderful grandson that I believe it is important to tell people we love them.  Henry’s response: “God too.”  (meaning we should tell God we love Him).  Me: “I talk to God all day.”  Henry: “It’s like texting Him.”  Truth!

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Many Bible scholars believe Jesus was using this example to teach us to come to Him with receptive and trusting hearts, just as children do.

How is your prayer life?  Your walk with Jesus?  Your study time in the Word?  Does it feel bogged down? Complicated? 

Maybe….just maybe…it’s time to get back to that childlike faith, to open your heart to the simplicity of the gospel message.  In that brief conversation with Henry, I believe God was calling me to view Him through the eyes of my grandson’s faith.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Child-like Faith

September has arrived and summer is already behind us.  This past summer was such a full one.  It included 2 trips to the west coast when I retrieved (and then returned) our 6 year old grandson so Nana and Cha Cha could have him to ourselves for a week at our home in the U.P.

On the first trip, my daughter-in-love suggested a day at the beach with her two little dudes. Since the Pacific Ocean was no more than an hour’s drive, it sounded like a great plan!

What an adventure!  We chose to park ourselves at Cannon Beach, a rather well known area.  The natural beauty was breathtaking; we loved the broad beach area and Haystack Rock stood tall and formidable looking.  It may have been July but the air was brisk and the Pacific Ocean was mysterious, cold and a bit on the wild side.

Henry (age 6) was ready to enjoy everything the beach had to offer.  Didn’t matter that it was an overcast and cool-ish day.  The water beckoned him and the pattern of the shallow waves made for a grand wading experience.

Mom (Kerry) wasn’t surprised by Henry’s daring attitude.  At the ripe old age of 6 he has conquered a few challenges (gymnastics, swim lessons, martial arts, to name a few) and all have helped him acquire skills and confidence.

Gus (age 2) however, surprised his mother with a show of bravery that had not been present the last time they were at the beach.  Perhaps we saw a bit of Henry’s influence?  Whatever it was, Gus would walk into the waves with mom, let go of her hand and venture out a few feet.  Then a small wave would roll in and he would run back to the safety of mommy’s welcoming hand.

Gus repeated this experience again and again.  In time, as his confidence and courage surged, he would be less intimidated.  Gus was getting soaking wet! (They did not have bathing suits on because we thought it would be too chilly….silly us! They are boys, after all!)  Those scary waves became less frightening because Mom was nearby. 

As I watched Gus go through this process, I saw a beautiful analogy.  Don’t we learn to trust God in the same way?  As we go into unknown territory, as we face the big waves of life, as we go into challenges that threaten to pull us under – we are safe if we take our Heavenly Father’s hand in total trust.

So what does that actually look like?  I mentally chewed on that question for a time and came up with 3 specifics:
1.     I must spend time (daily) reading and studying my Bible, meditating on specific verses or even a chapter or whole book.
2.     It’s important to spend time talking to and listening to God through prayer.  It’s nothing weird or magical; I hear Him speak to me through His Word, through fellowship with other believers and through Christian music.
3.     And I claim His promises, the ones He wrote using human hands, from what we call “the Bible”.

I love the story of Moses; at the end of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness the whole bunch was on the cusp of arriving at their destination.  Moses had been selected by God to lead the Israelites (this far, anyway) but at the very end, Joshua was to take them into the land itself. 
Moses gave Joshua instructions in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (enemies) for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
 Just as little 2 year old Gus had confidence to venture into the unknown because his mommy was nearby with that available hand, we also can have that same confidence in our Lord.    

Every time we venture into our unknowns, we can lean into the love, strength, courage and promises of God.  Grab His hand and take a step of faith.  If you want to learn more about trusting the only One Who is totally trustworthy, please send me an email at jmvader45@gmail.com.  I would love to encourage you.