Friday, October 30, 2009

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

There is a time in each of our lives where we feel that we are completely overwhelmed with our responsibilities. You may feel swamped by life, but by turning your eyes on Jesus, things come into a better focus. Follow Anna as she makes some important decisions.

Anna slid out the door of her travel trailer, closing the door softly behind her. She walked across the church’s grass, away from the incessant sound of the trailer’s air conditioners, away from the noise of all the children, and away from the constant stream of work. The misty darkness perfectly fit her despondency.

She needed to be alone.

Walking over the church’s yard, she came to a tree and fingered its leaves. Anna was painfully aware that everywhere she looked was new and unfamiliar, and nothing she touched was hers. She thought of her husband’s ministry as an evangelist and remembered that only the day before they came to this church, and in two days they would leave for another one. Another week, another yard, she thought ruefully. Or maybe next week it will be a parking lot. She knew that many times, churches allowed them to hook up their travel trailer in the church parking lot. She was always thankful for the Lord’s provision, but sometimes the constant moving was hard.

The days were so very packed with travelling, school, meals, cleanup, and the ever-present laundry. It seemed to Anna that she was running as soon as her feet hit the floor every morning to the time she pulled them up into her bed late at night. Added to her family responsibilities were the perpetual pressures of ministry: the need to be a blessing everywhere they went. Anna so desired to be an encouragement to others, but sometimes, like tonight, she felt there was simply no more of her left to bless with.

Tears mingled with her prayers as she cried out to God for help and strength. For a long time, she stood by the fence in the church yard, looking out into the mist sending her burdens to the Lord. She winced as she remembered the words that a kind lady spoke to her earlier that day. “It seems to me that it must take someone special to do what you do,” she remarked, referring to Anna’s unusual lifestyle. Anna prayed, But God, I don’t know that I want to be special! All I wanted was to raise a family for You, with my house and a few animals on a ten-acre homestead! Glancing back at her silhouetted trailer, she thought of how very different life had become. She didn’t hate her life, she just wasn’t sure she had the strength to do it all.

She was reminded of her family, who were so precious to her. Soon her thoughts and prayers turned to thanksgiving, as she remembered her beloved husband and her many children. Thank You, God, for my family. Thank You for the many miles of safety. Thank you for saving me! Thank You for being so good to me! Before long, tears of thankfulness slid down her cheeks, mingling with her tears of frustration.

Like a gentle prod in her heart, an old saying crossed her mind: “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, than no sacrifice could be too great for me to make for Him.” Anna remembered that Jesus had paid the ultimate price for her, and now she was His. God, she prayed, I’m not worthy to serve You. I’m not worthy to have these children, this family, this ministry. No, it is no sacrifice that I make for You. It is merely a yielding service. Please help me to yield to You. I am Yours.

The gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit led her on.

(3) Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
(4) And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
(5) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
(6) O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Jer 18:3-6

Yes, Lord, her heart responded, You can do with me as this potter. You have every right to do with me what You Will.

Soon, another verse flooded her mind:

“Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

Quickly, Anna’s tender heart yielded to the promptings of the sweet Holy Spirit. Lord, if it is Your Will that I live this unusual lifestyle, then I am content to do that. I don’t really want to be ‘special,’ but if that’s Your Will for me, give me the strength to be what You want me to be. You have bought me with a price, and You can do what you will with Your own.

Peace filled her heart, and a joy she hadn’t had in a long time swept over her soul. Anna knew that the Lord would strengthen her to meet the daily demands of life on the road with a large family. With her trust in God, She understood that His loving-kindness would give her rest when she really needed it, for He takes care of His own.

“Oh, soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His Wonderful Face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!!

I had no idea whether we were going to have a boy or a girl, but I knew I would be thankful for whoever the Lord gave us.

I was twenty three at the time, and my husband was pastoring his first church. We were looking for a house in the area of the church, and had found what we wanted: a nice, big old farmhouse that would welcome our expanding family. But before we could close on the house, it was time to have our second baby.

We dropped our little nineteen-month old daughter off at Grammy’s house, and headed for the hospital. Thankfully, it was a storybook labor, and at 6:47pm our firstborn son, Jonathan Edward Raub, was born. It was October 23, 1987.

Now, twenty-two years later, Jonathan is a mature, kind, hard-working young man who is ready and willing to do whatever God wants him to do. I may be a bit biased, but I think he’s one of the finest young men I’ve ever known.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan! We are so proud of you!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Are All the Children In?

While visiting in Washington DC this week, we put many miles under our feet walking from one museum or memorial to the next. We had a tremendous time, enjoying every minute of our visit, and I owe most of the success of our time to how well everyone stayed together and kept up with Dad.

Though we walked probably five miles a day, we took lots of breaks and carried lots of food and water, so no one got completely (well, …maybe not too completely!) worn out. We kept up a pace that would have withered most six-year-olds, but Jason kept up with us all. Even in the subway station (the Metro), we all kept together and kept up a strenuous speed.

I, as always, worry the most about someone getting left behind, lost, or straying from the pack in a place like that. So, years ago, we adopted the policy that my husband would lead the group, and I would take up the rear, making sure that there were no stragglers. That way, if someone had to stop and tie a shoe, I could always be there to help, if needed, or at least make sure he or she didn’t get separated from the crowd.

Several times during our excursions I had to encourage a lagger to speed up, or a gawker to “get with the program.” Once, while running across a road on a crosswalk (we seemed to run much of the time, as we were trying to beat one deadline or another…), Jason lost his shoe at the curb. Of course, I was there to help him grab it and run to catch up with the others.

As we were walking in our line, with Dad up front, the guys close behind, and me at the rear with the little kids, I couldn’t help but think about my role as a mother.

My goal is to make sure all of my children get to where God wants them to in life. I do whatever I have to do to keep them from getting distracted and being left behind. Pulling and yelling would never do; I need to encourage, praise, and help them as they get tired and lag behind. “Just a little bit longer,” I told one of my kids, “and then we can rest a bit. You’re doing great!” Keeping my children on the straight and narrow path is never easy, but the alternative is something I simply don’t know that I could live with.

The hymn, Are All the Children In? speaks of a mother who waits for her children, making sure they come in when darkness falls, but the most important moment comes when eternity rolls around, and mother wonders, Are all the children in?

Last night, as I went to bed, I once again begged God to work in the hearts of my children. I don’t want one of them to be left behind, or simply get distracted. Are All the Children In?

When I'm alone I often think of an old house on the hill
Of a big yard hedged in roses where we ran and played at will,
And when the night time brought us home hushing our merry din,
Mother would look around and ask, “Are all the children in?”

Well, it's been many a year now and the old house on the hill
No longer has my mother's care and the yard is still so still,
But if I listen I can hear it all, no matter how long it's been.
I seem to hear my mother ask, “Are all the children in?”

And I wonder when the curtain falls on that last earthly day
When we say goodbye to all of this to our pain and work and play
When we step across the river where mother so long has been
Will we hear ask her a final time, “Are all the children in?”

Mom, your work has the value of eternity attached to it. Keep a diligent eye on the children, and make sure that all of them are in!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Been Twenty Years....

Twenty years ago, I felt the Lord's prompting me to write as a ministry. Ever since then, I've been honing my skill, reading about writing, and desiring to write. I've even written! But I think mostly I've been gaining life experience. I've spent many a day with a thought or story burning in my heart that I couldn't write because of the greater desire to spend time with my family.

Sometimes, however, the Lord allows a story to leak out.

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, my story was accepted by a publisher!!!!!!

To say I'm excited would be an understatement!!

Remember that story I needed an illustrator for?? It looks like the Lord answered that prayer!! The publisher also has an illustrator that works for them who may be able to do the art work.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm Right Behind You!

Since we are travelling so much lately, my “back yard” is always changing. This morning I was able to do my morning jog along a lake in Hanover, PA. It is a beautiful little lake, lined with many trees, and stocked with fish. (It was also stocked with fishermen!) After my exercise, I walked along the shore, praying. Since it is difficult to get time alone to pray in our bus, sometimes it is good to take a bit of extra time while I am out to pray.

God’s marvelous creation presents a breathtaking backdrop for worship of the Creator. My time there was filled with appreciation of His Goodness, thankfulness for His Love, and petitions for His Presence.

Suddenly my reverie was broken by the persistent honking of geese. As I looked across the lake, I could see no sign of the large birds. Within seconds however, they came into view: two large geese gliding merely inches above the water! They seemed to be talking to each other, encouraging each other, as they flew across the lake.

My vivid imagination takes me all kinds of places. But today, as I watched those geese flying across the lake, I thought, I wonder if they are mates? Since they say that geese mate for life, I figured that these geese were probably mates on their way south. It seemed to me that the goose in the back was saying, “Keep going! Don’t give up! Come on, let’s go! I'm right behind you!” And the goose on the front was forging a path through the air, making it easier for his mate to fly.

Oh, Lord, I prayed. Make me like that goose in the back. Help me to always be an encouragement to my husband, encouraging him to continue forging a path for the family. Help me to keep strengthening him with my words as he seeks to serve God!

“A wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1

May we all be like that wise woman! "I'm right behind you, Beloved!"