Life in Abundance

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The 12-Year Old Prayer

by Iris Eastwood

Twelve years ago, my brother’s relationship came to a bitter end when his girlfriend left him and took with her their twin sons. The boys were five years old.

For various reasons, my brother got no visitation rights and we had no connection with the boys. My mother and I did the only obvious thing we could—We prayed every day for little David and Austin.

Two years later, we heard the boys’ mother had died and that the boys were in state custody. Quickly, we contacted social services and began processing the paperwork to find a way to bring them home. But, for whatever reason, we did not succeed. So we just continued praying every day.

We sent letters, birthday cards and even money orders for the boys through their caseworker. Still we never heard from the boys or about them. Years went by with absolutely no contact. 2011 was Year 12. The boys would be adults soon. The chances of finding them seemed almost zero.

And then one day came an unexpected phone call from the social service office. The lady introduced herself as the new caseworker assigned to David and Austin. She then proceeded to tell me of how she found a box of letters and cards and money orders. It was obvious to her that David and Austin had a family who loved them. And she wanted to bring us back together!

Since that day 12 years ago, I have moved a lot. I was now 3000+ miles away from where my nephews were. I wished I could hang up the phone and be miraculously transported across the country to see my precious boys. But not only was I too far away, I was also unemployed and had a sick husband at home. There was no way I could visit them. —These were my thoughts as I talked to the social worker.

It was a bitter sweet moment—I was so glad to have finally found my boys, yet so sad that I was so far away from them. Just then, I heard her tell me the state would pay my expenses to travel to see them!

My cup was more than running over. I was drowning in the joy of answered prayers. But God’s goodness did not stop there. When I looked up at the tall and strong David and Austin from my petite frame, I could tell that God had been their protector all along.

David told me of how he wants to be an evangelist and Austin said he planned to work beside his brother to provide music and songs for their ministry.

It may have been 12 long years, but God knew what was best for my boys!

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Part of the Puzzle

I woke up this morning to an email from Joe, my childhood friend. Every now and then, I get a note from him that’s timely and inspiring. This one, he says, is from Max Lucado’s writings.

Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.

The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us. They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community.They kept “going over all these things that had happened” (Luke 24:14 MSG). Isn’t this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits? And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matt. 18:20)

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Life in the Fast Lane

“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness: I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” Psalm 17:15

We all do it from time to time. Intentions become mislaid and life gets busy with stuff. As I write, I pause to reflect upon my use of each day. I have mentally conjured up a t-chart. One side reads FOR ME, and the other side reads FOR GOD. Since I am not working right now, one would surely expect to see God’s side brimming with activity. Worship, church activities, and the occasional helping of others all made the list; sadly, though, they use a small space on the t-chart. The other side, however, is overflowing with selfish endeavors.

As I read David’s prayer in Psalm 17, I was drawn into God’s presence. While fleeing from Saul, David went through many ordeals. The perils around him forced him to live minute by minute. Despite all of the danger and strife, he was able to keep his focus on God during this time.

I want to lift up the same prayer as David. My life will still be inundated with stuff, but I want everything that I do, say, and breathe to be about becoming like Him. Moment by moment, I want to reflect Jesus in all that I do.

By: Tonya Mechling

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A New Year Challenge

It began as an ordinary appeal. The pastor had just concluded his testimony when he announced, “Stand if you will commit to leading one person to Christ this year!” Unlike many other appeals, the pastor added a caveat to his request. He proclaimed, “Only stand if you really mean it and will take action.” Without hesitation, I stood.

This week, while pondering how I was going to fulfill my commitment, I read Deuteronomy 32:2. The words let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants tugged at my heart. God had sent me an exact blueprint for leading others to Christ! In order to fulfill my commitment, I need to move beyond my customary approach to witnessing. My methods of generic friendliness and broad testimony are not what God is looking for.

God is calling people to stand for Him. He wants our lives to bubble over with His light. It should be apparent to everyone that Jesus lives in us! Rain is dynamic and dew encompasses all. If we follow His promptings, our words and teachings will be exactly what each person needs.

Dear God, I want to lead someone to you this year. Use me today. Help my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew on each person.

by Tonya Mechling