Our friend searched the better part of Dublin on foot for hours before he finally found us. We were lost, we were late, we were in a foreign country, our cell phones didn't work, we had the wrong kind of currency, and hadn't a friend in the world except for Dr. Stephen Bridgett. Big Dan and I meandered aimlessly through the city streets with Daniel, Christiana and Angelica-all three of them complaining about the cold, tired of walking and hungry. To make matters worse, the sky threatened rain and my headache was erupting into a full-blown migraine. I'm not exaggerating for dramatic effect, this was our situation.
We thought for certain Stephen would've given up on us since we were more than four hours late. Nevertheless, we needed a friend. We hadn't even dared to hope we'd get one. As it turns out, Stephen's pursuit of us was relentless and tenacious. He had never given up the search for us.
How can I adequately describe the rejoicing when he found us? To see our friend standing there..in Dublin, and the joy, relief and wonder on his face when he saw us. Restaurant workers who he had told to look out for us smiled and congratulated him on finding his friends. The curators at the Trinity College Museum let Stephen take us in to see the book of Kells (the world famous ancient illustrated Bible) free of charge to celebrate the finding of his lost friends. (They were also on the lookout for us) It seemed throughout the city of Dublin , people were saying "Glad you found your friends!"
Being the Lost Lamb
What an example of the parable about the lost coin or the lost lamb. Until that day, I thought those Bible stories were strictly metaphor. Now I know first-hand that the Spirit of the Lord moves and directs His followers, God is relentless and tenacious in His pursuit of us, and can and will find us and take care of us when we are lost and helpless.
INTO THE FAMILY
In his rich baritone voice, Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, read the final chapter of "The Last Battle" to Daniel and Christiana on the morning we returned to the States. Merrie and Douglas Gresham welcomed us into their home, gave us run of the house, fed us, and shared their laundry room, phones, computers, gardens, maps, books, electricity and time. Merrie made lunch and dinner for our family every day-for an entire week. Despite my desire not to be a burden, she and Deborah Brinson set the table, cleaned up spills, washed dishes, did the grocery shopping, kept the children entertained (without TV mind you) and more. We were like long awaited relatives, like a beloved part of the family.
The Greshams observed our parenting styles, our relationships with God and with one another, got to know our kids and shared their wisdom with us, all while covering us in prayer. Merrie and Douglas later told me the reason they welcomed us into their home and into their lives. They sensed the Lord calling them to....for whatever reason, the Lord laid it on their hearts to mentor us, show us hospitality, pray for us, and let us experience a measure of the love and tender care of Christ.
The Treasure Trove
It moves me to tears every time I think about God's power and love tangibly reaching out to find and love me and my family like that.
- Not as an academic exercise,
- Not as a learning experience,
- Not as a reward or performance incentive,
- But a LOVING experience.
Stephen and the Greshams gave us a tour of a portion of our inheritance in Christ I never even knew existed. God's tender mercies poured out, His transforming power, His relentless pursuit crossing cultures, continents, oceans
-even the passage of time is no barrier to His love. And I know I've only seen a glimpse of the richness and depth of the love of God. It's already far bigger than my mind can fathom.
Extravagant, unwavering, relentless, unconditional love like this is difficult for me to embrace or take in. Like most of us, I've grown accustomed to rewards and penalties based upon my output. In this case, it would be natural to expect God's approval based upon: the number of people treated kindly, giving to the needy, or even the number of commandments kept, etc.
But what on earth could prepare a soul for Jesus Christ's, all consuming, expressive, action-oriented and tangible love?
Walking by Faith
The roads you'll travel are completely cloaked in the mystery called the future. The very act of combining motherhood with a career keeps you walking by faith, not by sight. When it comes to the future, none of us can see a thing. We have no gift of foresight. In fact, even in the here and now we only see God's plan dimly.
Every earthly sense beckons "Follow the path of least resistance, live in pursuit of self-pleasure." Yet the simple act of faith, checking with God in prayer, loving others as you love yourself, reading God's word and seeking to please the Lord reaches beyond this world, ascending to heavens bringing joy to the Father, touching the very heart of God..
Let it touch your heart to know the Lord loves you. Yes, I'm talking about you. Experiencing God's love is not something reserved for a select few. The family inheritance and access to the family treasures are as much yours as they are mine. Jesus seeks and saves the lost, heals the brokenhearted, gives rest to the weary and places the lonely in families.
You know, if you let God open your eyes, you begin to see Him expanding the scope of your everyday life: Working at your job, raising your children, being a faithful friend.
Healing the Brokenhearted
One of the things that strikes me about our Savior is that His love does not increase and decrease based on how hard you work for Him, or how much you praise Him or the quantity and quality of the good deeds you perform. He doesn't just forgive your sins, save you and then leave you to your own devices.
No, this is the Savior who actually saves you! Gets you out of the fix you've gotten into due to sin, saves your soul, grants you eternal life, and still there's more..He sets about healing, and completely restoring you, inside and out. He cares deeply about the condition of your heart and mind, and He has the power to make things right in you. Even after you enter into the family of God by placing your faith and trust in Him, you still exercise your free will. Make no mistake about it, you're no robot, you retain the ability to refuse to let the Lord work in areas of your life.
I know you have a broken heart.
Any amount of time spent on this earth will break your heart. And a broken heart can't carry love any better than a broken vase could carry water. God Himself is intent on healing your broken heart. It is the only way you can fully receive His outpouring of love for you.
This is not a religion, it is a relationship.
My advice is this: Choose to let Jesus into your whole heart, ask Him to heal you where you are broken, and then be amazed by the power of the Holy Spirit to transform.
He has so much love and so many gifts to pour out into your heart. But as long as your heart remains broken, the capacity to accept or give love is limited. Walls of defense put up to protect your feelings from being hurt actually imprison you. By faith, make the choice to have The Lord as your protector, ask Him to tear down your self-made protective walls and ask Him to be your Fortress and Strength. The cracks and fissures in a broken heart from the hammer-blows of life need His miraculous healing touch. When you try to heal it yourself, you will only grow calluses..making a hard-hearted person out of you. And a hard-hearted person has a difficult time loving others or feeling loved.
God has a richer, better plan for you. You have a great destiny. He has plans to give you a future, to prosper you and not harm you.
And know that He is God.
Seek His face.
Talk to Him.
Listen to Him.
Abide with Him.
This is a relationship like no other.
Let Jesus' love break down the walls around you. Give Him your heart. All of it.
It isn't about what you can do for Him..It's about what He can to do for you. He laid it on my heart to tell you that.
ARTWORK IS COURTESY OF TAPESTRY PRODUCTIONS;
Any picture can "make you look"
Exceptional Art "makes you SEE"
Study these paintings. Once you have the overall theme, discover related messages that expand your appreciation for the things of God .
In His Service,
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