Monday, August 09, 2010

A beautiful heritage...

There is a question that I have asked God many times in my life. It is, quite simply, Why am I so blessed? I look at the world around me and those living in it, and I know that I have been blessed abundantly in ways too numerous to count...in all the ways that matter...in the lack of turmoil and agnst that seems to be the norm almost everywhere else. That's not to say that everything is beautiful, for the devil knows how to take something relatively minor and torture you with it until you're every bit as miserable as anyone else.

But...I have still always known I was blessed and wondered why.

I got my answer last Thursday, and it is one that contains hope for everyone. But before I share it, let me back up.

I grew up in a Christian home. When I was somewhere around the age of 7, (I think), my parents became a part of a small church full of sincere followers of Jesus. We were there until I was thirteen or fourteen, and the people there became like family...so the vast majority of my earliest memories involve those dear people. (That's me on the left, with my sister and the two brothers who existed at that time...and this is a picture that someone else we haven't heard from in 20 years put up on Facebook recently!)

Eventually, the church sort-of fell apart. I wasn't old enough to know all the details (and I don't care today)...suffice it to say that though there didn't seem to be many hard feelings, we all began drifting apart. I essentially lost touch with all but two families.

The years started going by. I heard through the grapevine that one of my parents' friends got divorced, then another. I heard that one or two of my friends got married, and assumed the others had, too. One girlfriend lost her mother to cancer, then I lost mine to the same thing.

And then last week, out of the blue, I started finding all these people on Facebook. First I began finding my parents' friends...the adults I looked up to and who loved me at the time. I found one couple and got choked up to see a recent picture of them, standing side-by-side, still smiling at me from the computer screen after more than 20 years. Then I found another...and then another...and then another.

I admit, I was a little hesitant to start clicking on profiles. In today's world, reconnecting with long lost friends quite often results in hearing sad news of divorces and the grief of knowing that an old friend has turned away from the Lord. And so my jaw began dropping and tears began streaming down my face as one couple after another after another smiled at me from joint pictures...announced 30 (and more) years of marriage...posted something showing how much they love the same spouse they loved back then and thanked God for him or her. It wasn't that I really expected any of them to get divorced or turn away from the Lord. It's just that I know what the norm is today...even among Christians.

Then I began looking up the girls who were my friends, and my smile got bigger and bigger. For each one of them has a walk with the Lord like I have...each one's Facebook profile is full of praise to God...the profile of someone who isn't just a Christian, but who also has a living, breathing walk with God. How they are blessing me now! Just by living the lives that they are!

But what really got me is how all five of the girls I was closest to there, and two in similar families that I knew outside of church...all seven of them have somewhere posted something familiar. God has blessed me so much. Several of them even phrased it as a question...wondering why.

And so I started asking God about this again, but this time I had a very specific reason for wanting to know. You see, I am now the age my parents were then. My children are creating those memories...and I want them to find the same thing when they look back, 20 years from now.

Is it even possible?

As I asked the Lord this years-old question, I finally began getting an answer. A verse came to mind, "This is the heritage of the Lord."

Heritage, I thought. Yes, that is an accurate word for what I feel I have found, in discovering the lasting depth of what those people had and still have...for those people all helped shape the woman I am today.

I looked up that verse and discovered, not only that I wasn't remembering it exactly right, but that it's at the end of a remarkable chapter of Isaiah.

Here are the parts of Isaiah 54 that spoke to me:

1 "Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman," says the LORD.
Those seven girls and I have 27 children between us...and we were only 8 out of dozens of children.
2 "Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
3 "For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.
We--the descendants of those people--are all scattered now, sharing His light and love to those around us.
4 "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
I honestly don't know the Before Christ stories of all my parents' friends. But I know my parents' walk with God began shortly before I was born. It wouldn't surprise me if many of their friends also were saved from very messy lives.
5 "For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the LORD of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
6 "For the LORD has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected,"
Says your God.
7 "For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you.
8 "In an outburst of anger
I hid My face from you for a moment,
But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,"
Says the LORD your Redeemer.
I believe that God's anger was all poured out before Jesus. We are now in days of grace, where God's anger is being held back and His grace extended to all those who will accept it.
9 "For this is like the days of Noah to Me,
When I swore that the waters of Noah
Would not flood the earth again;
So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
Nor will I rebuke you.
This is where we are now.
10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,"
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.
I am looking at the aftermath of 20 years...and I see this truth...that God's lovingkindness was not removed, and that a covenant of peace is most definitely there.
11 "O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,

Storms still come.
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
12 "Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
But what He gives is greater.
13 "All your sons will be taught of the LORD;
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
It brings me such joy to know there are at least 27 other children out there being raised as my children are! And this is such a small percentage of how many there really are, for I did not count any farther than my closest friends.
14 "In righteousness you will be established;
"Established" is such a remarkable word...especially when looking at this particular foundation from today's perspective.
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you.
15 "If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
Notice...those things that come against us are not from God now! Therefore, they are destined to fail!
Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
16 "Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
17 "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;

This is a famous verse that almost everyone knows. I've often tried to rest in it. And yet...how different is my perspective of it now! I am looking at a reality. For yes, weapons were formed against us many times over the years. And yet...those weapons obviously were not prosperous. Oh how glorious is it to see the fulfillment of this promise!
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD.


I am in awe, for this is why I have been so blessed. I am one of those descendants, and God is merely showing Himself faithful to promises He made to my parents.

This is my heritage. And it is beautiful to me.

Perhaps you did not receive a heritage from your parents like I did. I know most did not, and it saddens me. But this is why I think God is telling me to share this testimony here.

You may be in the position my parents were in...not having grown up in a home like mine. Perhaps, instead of wondering why you were so blessed, you have wondered why others are so blessed.

Take a look at what that second-to-last line really says. It does not say what I remembered... that "this is the heritage of the Lord." It says, "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord." It is not the heritage for anyone who claims His name. Nor it is the heritage of those who do great miracles in His name...who memorize the entire Bible...who lead thousands to Christ. Yes, you can do those things...but you don't have to, to receive the heritage. It is as simple and as complete and difficult as making the choice to be His servant.

This heritage is available to you now. You can have what my parents and their friends found, and you can begin what they began...a heritage that can be passed on to your children, and your children's children. Proverbs 13:22 says, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children." Trust me...the inheritance that my parents left for me is so much more precious than what Donald Trump will leave his children. For mine comes with a covenant of peace.


And if you are someone who is already a servant of the Lord, and you're looking at your current circumstances, and doubt is hammering away at your heart, know that your heritage is still there. Weapons will still be formed against us. Storms still come. Two of us lost our mothers. Several lost babies. I'm sure the others had some huge marriage struggles, just like I did. And your heritage might not look exactly like mine.

But that does not invalidate the covenant that God has made with you
. If all eight of us can stand where we are today, in awe of blessings that far outweigh what has come against us, then so will my children, and so will you and your children. For we serve a God who will never break His covenant.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ...be the glory forever. Amen! (Romans 16:25-27)

holy experience

My gifts--both received and discovered last week for today's Multitude Monday, are:

389-395. Those seven friends and finding them...

396. And that they were all just as happy to find me.

391. Seeing so many of my parents old friends still married

392. Whatever reason God is bringing us all together again

393. This revelation of my heritage

394. This increase in my testimony of God’s greatness and goodness

395. The trust this births in me for my own children’s inheritance

396. Proverbs 16:6

397. Isaiah 54:17

398. And the privilege of offering this hope to everyone.

5 comments:

  • Annie says:
    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Wow, Katie. I cried the whole way through it. Such true words. I am so blessed! And I never, ever know why. It all only comes down to being truly loved by the Lord. We are of a lineage that loves the Lord with ALL of their hearts ... and we reap from what they sowed. We are so blessed!

  • Donna says:
    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Wonderful truth, beautifully written. Katie, we are truly blessed!

  • Traci Michele says:
    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    So beautifully written! So glad I found your little place here.

    Stopping by to follow and say hello! Lovely blog you have!

    Love Your Sister In Christ,
    Traci

    http://www.ordinaryinspirations.blogspot.com

  • Colleen: says:
    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Katie, this is a beautiful treasure of a post. I enjoyed it so much and it touches on thoughts I often have...how do I pass on this "heritage", (although I didn't think to call it that but it is exactly what I mean!:), within the walls of my own home, to my son and any other children we are blessed with? I want a family who worships the Lord and puts Him first in all things. This reminds me once again that I want to pass on a heritage of prayer and belief...so thank you so much for such an encouraging post!
    Love Colleen

  • Crown of Beauty says:
    Friday, September 17, 2010

    What a lovely post, Katie. I savored reading through every word. Heritage... yes indeed.

    Isaiah 54 is the passage that was prayed over me on the day my dear husband's earthly remains were buried.

    I will always treasure that passage.

    Thank you so much for taking time to write these words. You are very thorough, and you are a thinker.

    Want you to know that I treasure and appreciate you.

    Love
    Lidj

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