Who Am I in this Divided Universe?

Photo by Lycaon Nabla.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

After years of being a Christian, and learning that I could do nothing truly good without Jesus, I wondered then wo I was in the mix of good and evil.

The Bible says we are slaves to sin. Slaves have no choice to be a slave or not.

 “We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

So, I thought, “If, when I am born, I am a slave to sin, which I believe is true, and then become a slave or servant of God, then who am I really?

I read something recently that I think has answered this question. Someone wrote, “God will make you into the person he created you to be.” The Bible also says that he created me in the womb of my mother.

So, God created me as a beautiful, innocent baby. I was also a unique baby. There was none other like me. He looked on me with love and compassion. He gave me certain gifts and abilities.

But after I was born, my mind and heart were slowly shaped by the world I was in. And because there was evil, because of the first sin, then my mind was bent towards evil. Then my parents made mistakes, my father abused me, my sister was jealous of me, kids at school were mean to me, I attended a church that shaped my thinking about who God was, and I was afraid of him.

So, there I was, an adult with warped thinking. Was that who God created me to be? No. He created me to walk with him and be his child. He created me to have joy, peace and love. He created me to love and help others.

He also gave me freedom to choose him as my father or to say, “No, thanks.” He put his light inside me so that I knew what was right or wrong and let me choose what I wanted in my life. He never forced me, but he called me:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you with loving kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3

“The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  John 1:9

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

“Look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Revelation 3:20

I understand who I am now and am content. More than content, I am thrilled to be God’s child. It isn’t easy for those who are afraid of God to learn a new way of thinking about him; but it is possible through prayer and Bible study. Learning about God and why we are here is a life-long journey, but such a wonderful one.

A Little Girl and God.

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This is a picture of me at 6 years old. My mother used to cut my hair. Lol  I thought I looked like the Dutch Boy on the paint cans. I remember being a bit embarrassed and by the time I was 8 I had a nice pony tail like the other girls.

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I’m not sure if I’ve written this story before, but I feel compelled to tell it so you’ll have to forgive me if you have already read it. It was 1956 and I was six years old when my parents decided to leave Canada and move me, my sister and brother to a drier climate. My brother had severe asthma and the doctors said he wouldn’t survive another winter.

So, they applied to move to the United States and my father got a job in Loma Linda, California at a hospital working in the accounting office. We packed up and took off in our roomy car. On the way, my father would break into song, “California here we come; right back where we started from…” I was very excited since I knew about Hollywood where all the movie stars worked and the TV shows were made. I imagined it was beautiful. (At the time, it was definitely not beautiful and we were terribly disappointed.)

The drive down south was certainly beautiful. We took Highway 101, which is famous for its fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and the giant Redwood trees. We stopped at the Trees of Mystery, drove through a hole in a tree and had our picture taken in front of a huge sculpture of Paul Bunyan. We also stopped at the Sea Lion Caves, which were wonderful. Then we came to San Francisco, where we got out of the car and walked on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was all very exciting for me and I suppose that trip is the reason I have loved to travel.

The day we left the bridge and came back to the hotel was a day I will never forget. We entered our room and my father said, “My wallet is gone.” We looked all over the room, but Dad figured he must have lost it in the car or at the bridge. One of my parents said, “Let’s pray.”

We all knelt down on the carpet and my father prayed. I guess I prayed too, I don’t remember. But I do remember one of them saying, “All the money we have in the world is in that wallet.” I would guess it was the first time I had ever seen my parents afraid., so I was afraid too.

We drove to the bridge. Dad got out of the car to retrace our steps. We waited, feeling very nervous. He came back with the wallet. He said it was lying open on the sidewalk. The money was sticking out for all to see. Yet though people were walking by, no one saw it or picked it up. I believe the Lord put his hand over it.

From that moment until now, sixty-two years later, I have never once doubted the existence of God. I don’t know what that answered prayer did for my brother and sister, but for me – I knew there was a God who hears us. And come to think of it, they never had doubts about God’s existence either. None of us were Christians when we were teenagers, but as adults we all came to him. My brother died of asthma at age 21. Before he died he wrote an article about how he was ready to meet Jesus. My older sister has become very close to God in the last 15 years. I became a Christian when I was 19.

I’m so thankful to God for showing us kids his mercy and kindness when the whole family needed him. I’m not sure what we would have done back then to keep traveling and staying in motels and eating. Actually, I’m sure the Lord would have provided in a different way. I just want to say a big, “Thank you,” to God for showing a 6- year-old girl what you can do.

 

 

Love as A Sacrifice.

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Lene, over at songofvirginity.wordpress.com  asked me to join a challenge to write about three quotes. This one is the last of the three. Thanks Lene. There is nothing better to write about than love.

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”  Isaiah 53:6

Every good parent loves their children more than themselves. I remember the day my daughter, Sandy, was born. I held her in my arms and was overwhelmed by a feeling of love and responsibility. I realized I could not just live for myself any longer.

Sandy was so little, vulnerable and innocent. I was not a Christian when that day began, but I became one as I looked on her face. I asked God to help me raise this tiny human. I knew I would mess it up if he didn’t help me. So, it was my baby daughter who brought me to Christ. I’ve always told her this. 

Her, and her sister’s happiness was always more important to me than mine. Sometimes when they were very sick, I would ask God to take their sickness and give it to me. He did that only once and I remember being so grateful to have the pain off of them and put on to me.

When I have sinned and feel bad about myself and guilty, I remember God feels the same love for me as I do for my children and grandchildren. No matter what they do, I love them. 

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”  Isaiah 49:15,16

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   Hebrews 12:2

What was the “joy set before him”?  It was knowing his suffering and death would save billions of people who would come with him to heaven when he returned. It was joy because he loves people. He loves you and he loves me. He loves us more than he loves himself. 

Jesus was willing to go through terrible physical pain and humiliation. but not only that, he took sin upon himself and the Bible says, “he became sin.” How that felt, we do not know, except that he sweat drops of blood and in his agony, he said to his father, “Why have you forsaken me?” 

His father had not forsaken him, for the Bible says that God was in Christ on the cross. But Jesus felt forsaken – all alone. He did not know if he would see his beloved father again. 

I remember once, my grandson told me that God couldn’t love him because he had done so many bad things. I said, “Craig, God loves you even more than I do.”  He knew the depth of my love for him, and I think he took to heart what I said because he began to pray to God after that.

The Greatest People in Heaven.

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Me, my brother, Kim and my sister, Chloe.

 This morning, I was reading through Matthew 18 and came upon the time Jesus told his friends who was the greatest in heaven. 
 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

I looked up this verse on Bible Hub to see what commentators would say about it. I was really moved; one reason is probably that I adore little children. Another reason is the Presidential election in the U.S.  All the fighting, the name-calling, and the grasping for power is disheartening. I’m glad God’s kingdom is backwards and upside-down compared to our kingdoms here on earth.

“Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents.” 

 

I remember when I was 11 yrs. old, my mother drove the family from California up to Canada for a wedding. There were 6 of us in the car. Dad couldn’t come. We hit a blizzard in Montana and Mom couldn’t see the edges of the road. Everyone was scared except me. I trusted my mother implicitly; she drove us everywhere all through my childhood. She had never been in an accident. I just knew inside me we wouldn’t crash or go off the road down to who-knows-where. We didn’t crash – we came to a little town and spent the night. In the morning, we could see there was no steep precipice to plunge down; the ground was flat as a pancake so even if we had gone off the road we would have been fine.

 This is how I would like to trust God. Absolute calmness in any situation because I know him. I know how he leads and I know whatever happens, even if it seems bad, it will be good; good for me, and good for God.

 “Except ye be converted,” does not imply, of necessity, that they (Jesus’ friends) were not Christians before, or had not been born again. It means that their opinions and feelings about the kingdom of the Messiah must be changed. They had supposed that he was to be a temporal prince. They expected he would reign as other kings did. They supposed he would have his great officers of state, as other monarchs had, and they were ambitiously inquiring who should hold the highest offices. Jesus told them that they were wrong in their views and expectations. No such things would take place. From these notions they must be turned, changed or converted, or they could have no part in his kingdom. These ideas did not fit at all the nature of his kingdom.”

 

“And become as little children – Children are, to a great extent, destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness They are characteristically humble and teachable. By requiring his disciples to be like them, he did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of children, but simply that in these respects they must become like them. They must lay aside their ambitious views and their pride, and be willing to occupy their proper station – a very lowly one.”

A Little Bug.

I was out on my balcony this morning and heard a little boy talking with his mother. He said, “Look, there’s a bug!” He was silent for awhile and then said, “I love him.”

I thought how beautiful children are and how beautiful love is. I remembered how the Bible says, “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”  Psalm 33:5

I am sometimes discouraged and often sad when I read the news online. But lately, after reading this verse, I’ve thought about all the love there is in the world and how many good things are being done. The earth is full of God’s love, especially in the hearts of children.

My family is full of love for each other. I see love working when disaster strikes; so many people are willing to help others. A few weeks ago I watched a man save a bear (an adult bear) that was drowning. He could have been killed, but his love for that bear’s life took over in his heart. He dragged the bear to the shore and the bear looked at him and walked away into the forest.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable.”  Other people have said, “Love is the strongest force in the universe.” God is love, so I believe it.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And that is what he did.

When asked what was the greatest commandment from God, Jesus answered, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30

So, God commands us to love. Is that logical? Can one command a feeling like love? All I know, is that when I feel anger at someone, I pray to love them. I pray to love God with all my heart and to love every person I meet. When God commands us to do something we think we cannot do, we just have to pray and he will do it in us and for us.