Monday, October 31, 2016

Nana, Come Home!

Those words (in my title) were so precious to me, so inviting, so sweet to hear.  Those words came from the mouth of my 2 ½ year old grandson, said in the charming way of a child learning to express himself.

Gus’ mommy works in the world of speech and language development; her passion is centered on helping people of all ages, with communication challenges. So it’s no surprise that her own children would get great coaching as they develop their communication skills.

Sometime ago Gus’ daddy (my son) called me to arrange some FaceTime and I was delighted. Between busy schedules on both ends and the challenge of the three hour time difference, we don’t get as much opportunity to connect as I would like.

We made our connection and as I watched Gus on camera, it was obvious he was totally enthralled with his cars and trucks.  His daddy persisted in asking Gus, “who do you see?” It took a couple of times asking that question to get Gus to refocus.  Finally I saw that precious grin as Gus looked straight into the camera and he answered his dad, “Nana”.

But what came next totally melted my heart….he said, “Nana, come home.”  I knew in that instant that my developing relationship with Gus (after not seeing each other for several months), was intact and growing.  He was inviting his Nana to come to his home!  Because Gus and his brother live so far away, I want to everything possible to love on them.  I want to be a presence in their lives.  I literally praise God for that computer when it becomes an instrument of connection.

As wonderful as it is to hear my sweet grandson invite me to “come home”, how much more amazing is it to hear God say “Judy, come home”?  His Word says that this earth isn’t really our home; we are just passing through this life.  Our time here is very important but a heavenly destination/home is awaiting all of us who have placed our trust in Christ.

In Philippians 3:20 we are told that our citizenship is in heaven.  And that very well-known scripture, John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  What does that mean?  It means Jesus is the way home.

I am so thankful to know…. to be assured by God’s promises…  that because I have trusted Christ to bring me home, this world’s problems are just temporary.  God has blessed me with a life on earth that I love, but when the time comes to “go home”, I can be certain that He has provided the way and I will live with my Creator forever.

Can you claim that assurance?  My friends, God has his arms wide open.  He is ready to welcome you home.  If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you do not have to wait a moment longer.  You can pray a simple prayer: A – admit you are a sinner; C – confess that sin and ask Jesus into your life; T – thank Him for His gift of your salvation.  And then one day you will hear those wonderful words, “Welcome home.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Big Picture or Laser-Like Focus?

According to my mother, I was blessed (?) with the “gift of gab” since I was a wee little girl.  My aunt relishes the story of a blueberry picking adventure with me when I was little; ants crawled all over me as I perched myself on an ant hill.  I was oblivious as I gabbed on about whatever was on my mind at the moment.

It should be no surprise that I am now in a “speaking ministry”!  I mean, how many women get legitimate reasons to talk and share….with people actually listening?  God called me to this wonderful place but He has also equipped me; I have learned what to say, how to say and when to NOT “say”! 
Recently I set out on a speaking trip that involved five events in three days.  We took routes through the back roads of a beautiful area of Wisconsin and enjoyed two overnights in the homes of gracious women.

A dear friend accompanied me and I especially appreciated Linda’s navigation skills.  With the help of her smart phone app, we determined best routes and times needed to get from one event to the next.

Speaking five times at five different locations required a laser-like focus.  It meant  pin-pointing specific turns, focusing on the names of key women who had been my contacts and remembering what materials I needed each time.

Something strange happened, though. After speaking, then heading to the next one…. and then the next, etc.…along the way, someone would ask, “And where were you yesterday?”  Or maybe I would hear, “which club did you speak at on Monday?” The “strange” part of this was, I couldn’t always remember!

Later, as I shared this dilemma with my husband, he made a statement that was spot on:  “It’s like looking through a keyhole”. Bingo!  That’s exactly what was happening.  My focus for each event was so strong that my mind shoved aside what had already come to be.

Linda and I eventually looked at my larger atlas and we were able to put each destination, each stop and each adventure into a bigger picture.  The Wisconsin map showed us how it all came together.

I believe my journey with Jesus is comparable to that. There are times He wants me to totally focus on Him, or perhaps on a specific scripture, or possibly on a special moment/time/event.  When I am meeting with someone who needs encouragement, it is imperative that I use that laser-like focus to listen, think and speak thoughtfully.

On the other hand, when I headed up a women’s ministry team at my church, it was critical that I see the big picture of how all the sub teams fit within the mission of the women’s team….and to take that a step further, how this team complemented the larger picture of the mission of our local church.

I like the King James Version of Proverbs 29:18a, “Where there is no vision, the people perish;” this scripture refers to the big picture of where God is taking us.  But unless we break that vision down into goals and strategies, it goes nowhere. 

The book of Acts describes a focus on the “nitty gritty/the components needed to organize that first church.   Acts chapter 6 describes the choosing of elders and the formation of the first board of deacons.  The larger picture/vision had emerged through the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus.  It was time to get the believers organized to fulfill Christ’s mission.
God has designed each of us with His purpose for our lives.  We get to be a part of that grand vision by living out our own God-given purposes.  He calls, gifts and equips us.  Isn’t that exciting?  We all share the same purpose/big vision (think gospel message here) but we live out that purpose within our individual life circumstances. 

What exciting journey are you on?  Is it challenging?  Is it fulfilling?  Is it fun? Busy?  One thing I know for certain: Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Amen!