Perfect Plans

God has had a plan from the very beginning of time. His plan included a beautiful creation and, what I imagine to be, an unexplainable union of love with His people. When sin entered the world, it separated us from Him. While sin may have affected God’s plan, He continued with the plan of Salvation to reunite the perfect companionship with His people once again. We are all pieces of His plan and within it, He has a plan for each of us as well.

Plans. Life is full of them. Academic plans, health care plans, house plans, emergency plans, exercise plans, strategic plans, short-term and long-term plans, diet plans, contingency plans…the list is endless. We each have a plan for our day, our week, and our life. As hard as we try to carry out our plans, inevitably we run into snags, interruptions, and often detours.

I’ve been pouring my heart into a project for a while now; a plan I’ve been working towards for nearly a decade. I invited God to be a part of the planning process from the beginning and asked Him to not allow me to go ahead of Him as I worked steadily towards it. As the project has continued to come together, friends have been invited to help in the process. My friends have invested a lot of time, talents and advice into it, all for me. I’ve prayed over my project and with each step found clarity and peace in moving to the next step, instead of over analyzing every detail as I tend to do. The project was coming together beautifully when suddenly I felt God close the door – *click* – just like that. I wasn’t prepared for the door to shut and as it did there wasn’t a loud slam or a painful blow to the face, rather a soft, gentle close. One may think I would be very discouraged and disappointed, but in reality, I have actually found greater peace, joy and even excitement in my project since the door closed. I know and trust God’s plan is far greater than anything I could ever imagine and as beautiful as my project was coming together – I’m very excited to see how lovely it will become in His timing.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the speaker said “Life gets out of balance when we quit before God moves,” meaning when we veer off the tracks of His plan we won’t experience the immense blessing of following His perfect plan. In other words, when we invite God to lead and direct us and then take over with what we think is best; we may still end up with something good, but not great. So knowing my future may hold some turmoil and trouble or simply a lesson in patience, I am thankful for God’s provision and protection, because in the end it will be worth every second of the wait.

Lamentations chapter 3 offered me this word, it goes like this:

22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

True contentment and peace won’t come by chasing our dreams; rather it comes from the willingness to chase the one who gave us the ability to dream.

Be blessed, my friends, as you wait on the Lord God and Creator of all good and perfect plans,

Becky Ossefoort

 


The Lord Himself Goes Before You

Many of the Bible stories we first learned about as children are tucked within the pages of the Old Testament. From the first verses of Genesis we learn about God’s Creation and beginning of the plan for His people. Most will recall the story of Joseph. How his dad, Jacob, favored him just a bit more than all the other sons. His brothers loathed his special treatment and their anger was fueled when Joseph was gifted a beautiful robe. Adding to the jealousy, Joseph shares about the dream he has one night, and how the brothers sheaves of grain bowed to his sheave. This, of course, infuriates the brothers and they eventually develop a plan to leave him for dead and toss him in a cistern. While all this is happening, a caravan of Ishmaelites pass nearby and a new plan is made. After quickly changing their minds, his brothers not only get rid of their brother, they profit by selling him into slavery. As the years pass, Joseph’s life looks much different than fist imagined. From slavery, to accusation, to prison, eventually Joseph found himself in one of the most powerful chairs in all of Egypt. Through it all Joseph did not give up and instead of wallowing in self-pity, he sought God with each move he made. Like us, from the moment Joseph was born God wanted to use him and with every circumstance in His life, God used it to develop and grow him.

We continue to read, after several years a famine hits the land and Joseph’s brothers show up in Egypt. He recognizes his brothers immediately. Without revealing himself to them, Joseph asks questions about his family back home and even has some silver placed in their sacks in an attempt to have them return. When the brothers discover the silver, they return immediately begging for mercy. Eventually Joseph cannot control himself and he reveals his identity to the brothers and they fear what he may do to them. Instead of getting angry or punishing them for what they did to him, Joseph shows nothing but love and forgiveness. He tells the brothers to not fear him or be angry with them “because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you….But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen. 45:5 & 7) You see in it all God had already gone ahead of Joseph and all the difficulties he and his family had. No matter the situation, God was providing a way to care for both Joseph and his family. Even in the most difficult situations throughout all their lives, God was at work.

Our challenges today may look a little different than Joseph’s, but we have the same choices he did. We can give up when the weather forecast is wet and soggy or we can trust God to provide. When a child is scheduled to undergo a lifesaving surgery, one can live in fear or trust God has already gone ahead and is walking alongside us every step of the way no matter what happens. When life seems as though all is going wrong and sadness surrounds us, we can be upset and angry or we can hope in the one who created us. We can trust in Him because He has been faithful not only throughout our lives, but in those we read about in His Word.

As we enter this new decade, I pray we will continue to recall and reflect on the many times God has been at work in our lives. May we share our testimony with all we encounter so God’s love and faithfulness might be revealed to them. May this be the decade we each grow deeper in our faith, fully trusting our Heavenly Father as He goes ahead of us on this journey of life.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)

Becky Ossefoort

 


Journey to Jesus

“Journey to Bethlehem” is the name of the children’s Christmas Program this year. In our lessons and preparations, we have been discussing the journey of all who traveled that first Christmas. The lessons got me to thinking about the word “journey” as I was preparing. There are a couple ways to define it; one definition is: “an act or instance of traveling from one place to another.” In our lessons, the students have been helping me plan a trip for my Christmas break. We discussed what I should pack in my luggage and even where I should go. I showed a highway map to the students as we talked about the journey I was planning to take. Several looked at it funny and suggested I simply use the map app on my phone to guide me. The map gives clear direction, the symbols all make sense, and I could follow the thin lines on the paper to arrive at my destination in a timely manner. The paper map would be sufficient to plan my route if I were going to travel through the state of Wisconsin, but not a trip to Hawaii.

Another definition of journey is: “a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.” I am sure many of you would agree life is certainly a little different than using a simple highway map. On our trip of life, we find many detours due to our own insecurities and sin. Other times we keep driving, only to find out we took a wrong turn. We often times blame the invisible GPS system for our mistake, or quickly hit the off switch because of the constant bellow of “recalculating” we would rather ignore. There are even moments we are forced to stop because the pavement has ceased to exist. Perhaps there were warnings of the road closure we disregarded along the way, but we are forced to ask ourselves, “what now?”

This Advent season I have taken gentle note of the wise men and their journey. They didn’t have a road map or a modern app to tell them where to turn or set the cruise control. They simply noticed something different and turned their complete focus to the bright object in the sky, following it day and night. While they were not sure of the exact destination, they knew it led to something of great importance and did not want to miss out. The journey was long and it actually took a couple years to reach their destination, but they continued on completely focused on the star. While some may say they simply followed a star and asked for a few directions along the way, we know it was God’s provision that lead them to Jesus.

Our lives are similar. While my life has not included any deep teachings in astrophysics or the means to afford extravagant gifts, it has included the best direction giver. For many years I trusted my own GPS, but one day, as I was wandering, God caught my eye through the words of a friend. I knew from that moment I wanted to focus on Him and Him alone. The journey of my life changed that day and my focus shifted from my way to discovering my path by seeking my Savior through prayer and studying scripture.

While our journeys are all different, we are all invited to focus on our Father in Heaven. And like the star, we can look to Him to lead and guide each of us. God calls us to trust him and follow the lead of our Savior who joined us here on earth as a little baby. This same sweet, little bundle would grow up and pay our ransom as his body would hang from a cross and defeat death three days later. This was all done for me, and it was all done for you.

Is God calling you to Him? Grab hold of the greatest gift ever given – for He was given for you.

“‘Then you will call on me and come and pray with all your heart. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” Jeremiah 29:12-13

May your Christmas be blessed as you put your focus on the gift of a little baby lying in the manger.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Jesus is Our All!

A friend and I were reflecting on our faith journey a while back while we were enjoying each other’s company on the patio. Our faith stories started very different; mine being part of a church family all my life, hers not till she was much farther along in life. The journey to knowing Christ for my friend has a sharp contrast from her old life. Not as much for me because I do not recall ever not knowing Jesus. I grew up attending church faithfully with my family. My great-grandma, both sets of grandparents, and even aunts and uncles attended church with me each week. After weekly Sunday School and Catechism classes my cousins and I would walk to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for lunch. The Bible was read in our home and we were taught right from wrong according to God’s Word. Even as a little tot I knew Jesus loved me, had paid a price for my life, and if I loved Him I would spend eternity in Heaven with Him one day.

As we continued our chat, I stated in some ways I wish my story was a little more like hers. Had that been the case, maybe I wouldn’t have taken the gift my parents had shared with me for granted for so long. My friend was less than impressed with my statement and told me I was crazy. She was maybe right.

Something happened this week at Pioneer Club that reminded me of this chat we had on the patio some time ago. We have a student who was eager to get their Bible at Awards Night on Wednesday night. The student is very excited to be learning about Jesus and asks lots of questions about what is being taught. Prior to the awards, the child asked if they would be getting a Pioneer Club bag in addition to the Bible. The teacher replied that she wasn’t sure so they would just have to wait and see. When I read the child’s name off, the enthusiasm was apparent as they approached the stage. I saw a face glow with great delight as I handed the new Bible and crisp, black Pioneer Club bag to them. The excitement continued as the club leader presented the badges and applause from the crowd was heard. (You should each be very jealous of my job!)

After all the excitement settled down and the last guests had left, I was chatting with the leader of this student. She is so excited by the eagerness she sees in this child who just wants to drink in the goodness of Christ. In our conversation she shared that when they all returned to their seats, the child came up to her and said, “I got it ALL!” What a profound statement! The child is right, because when you know Christ and He lives and dwells in your heart, you really do have it ALL!

Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:2-4 (NLT)

Friends, we have the absolute best gift ever given and all we are truly asked to do is share it with others. May it not be so of any of us that we didn’t share the great Gospel story with all we encountered in this life – both young and old. You just never know who hasn’t heard the Good News yet.

What a gift to be able to share the love and joy of Christ with others!

Becky Ossefoort

 


Mistaken Identity

I recently ran across an interesting article that went like this:

‘Missing’ Woman Mystery Solved

A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.

The group was traveling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near a volcanic canyon. Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, didn’t recognize the description of herself, and joined in the search.

But the search was called off at about 3 a.m., when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself. –QMI Agency

I actually read the story twice because it seemed so absurd. How in the world would someone not know it was them everyone was looking for after just a few minutes? I thought about bus trips I’ve taken with students and how we count every time we board the bus – who was in charge of counting for crying out loud?

As I sat and pondered the scene I imagined the tension, fear, and chaos that was likely present as everyone searched. It would be my assumption being part of a search party on your vacation would be a bit of a downer as well. I continued to think about the events taking place in this short article when I suddenly saw myself in the story. After all, my life before being born again wasn’t much different than what unfolded above. I was searching, but had no idea of the real identity of who I needed to find.

For many years I was enticed by the glitz and glamor of this world. I could have renamed the familiar country lyrics to “Looking for peace in all the wrong places.” I searched for happiness, but never found true joy. I pursued who I wanted to be, rather than seeking who I was created to be. When something didn’t quench the desire for pleasure, I switched paths and looked to the next thing to find delight in. Yet, each trail led to the same dead end of emptiness and disappointment.

Thankfully I found my true peace and joy when I completely surrendered everything to Jesus. After my life changed, the material items I had once sought after didn’t seem as important and the life I had set out to make suddenly wasn’t even attractive anymore. While some from my past may feel I live with less, the truth is I have so much more than I ever imagined possible. No, not material things, but simply knowing my every need will be provided for always, peace in my heart no matter what life throws my way, and pure joy in knowing that I serve the Savior of the entire world and He calls me His child! When words or ill actions are tossed at me by others, I feel a barrier of protection surrounding me. And perhaps best of all, when I’m lonely, sad, or full of excitement, I have a friend who I can talk with at all times.

You see the story above is about all of us at one point in our life. We wander around this earth trying to find contentment, but we fail to see we won’t find it without knowing the real identity of our Heavenly Father. Sadly, this story is still true for those who are not in Christ. For many, life is a constant act of seeking, but never finding. The work is exhausting and often times life circumstances continues to erode around them only to lead to more disappointment. There are many who are still searching and it’s up to us, God’s Search Party, to help point them to Him.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Becky Ossefoort

 


Devoted to One Another

A young man I used to babysit got married recently to a gal from another community. They decided to get married at his church since they wanted to have the reception celebration out at his family farm. The evening before the wedding, the couple stood under the beautiful lights strung through the trees above the dance floor in expectation of the next day’s events. The reception tent for the guests was set up and looked more beautiful than they had ever imagined. In the morning all the hustle and bustle of a wedding began at the bride’s home. When the phone rang, the bride answered and heard the groom share some devastating news. He informed her of a wind storm that had passed through the farm and the mess it left behind. The reception tent had been completely destroyed, leaving the linens and other décor soaked and muddy. As she hung up the phone, with tears in her eyes, she told her mom, “God has a plan.” And that He did…

News of the destroyed reception site spread quickly in the small community and soon everything from the farm had been hauled to a shed by the elevator in town. The day went on and as the bridal party prepared for the ceremony, friends and family, and even a few individuals who were practically strangers, got to work. Someone took all the table linens home to wash and press them, chairs and tables were cleaned at the fire department, a local farmer dropped off a couple massive tarps to create walls like a tent inside the shed. It was truly all hands on deck, and at one time someone counted over eighty people at the site helping. There were others who were out and about gathering items and a woman who was folding and pressing table linens. When the newlyweds arrived at the reception, the groom covered his new bride’s face with his cowboy hat only to reveal the reception looking exactly how it had been left the evening before.

I had heard some of this story on Facebook through the groom’s mom, but was blessed to hear it first hand from the bride’s parents while we were at the fair. I stopped by their show box in the cattle barn to congratulate them on their daughter’s marriage and shared how I knew the family. The bride’s mom couldn’t help but share how complete strangers had helped them in their time of need and she was completely overwhelmed by the love and generosity they had experienced in my little hometown community. As she shared, it reminded me of the community of believers we read about in Acts 2. “42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The early church did everything together and for one another; they sacrificed what they had so everyone’s needs were met, they worshiped God together, and led a life filled with joy – together.

After some reflection, it caused me to wonder how well I’ve been participating in the community I am part of. Have I offered help with an outstretched hand to those in need? How do I welcome a stranger into my community to share in the joys and sorrows of life? I’d encourage you to do the same. Maybe even stop and wonder how we as a congregation are doing. How well have we welcomed the stranger into our community so we can praise God together? Are we a community that shares life with others, no matter the cost, all for the Kingdom of God? This scripture is one of my favorites because it is a beautiful picture of God’s people sharing Christ’s love with all they encounter. I want to be like that, and I pray it would be so of our church family as well.

Blessed to be part of this community,

Becky Ossefoort

PS – The woman who washed the linens lost her house in a fire several years ago. Completely overwhelmed by love and generosity she experienced, she wanted to pay it forward. After some conversation at the reception, it turns out the bride had anonymously sent a few of her favorite toys to this woman’s children after the fire. Neither of the ladies had any idea of this and had never met until they were at the reception and the bride’s mom wanted to thank the kind lady who had washed the linens. Wow! I just love those little stories God leaves for his faithful servants to find!

 


Talk About Them…

It was very quiet at our house a week ago. Kaylie was on her trip to Florida with the Luverne Cardinal Marching Band (Go Band!) and Austin was at Inspiration Hills Bible Camp with a friend experiencing God’s richness among the rolling hills. This left the youngest, Evan, at home alone with Mom and Dad’s undivided attention – and he loved every minute of it.

One of the highlights of Evan’s week was Josh cutting hay in the field south of our farm. While Evan may be the littlest farmer at our place, he is more than happy to help with the big jobs. I was doing some landscaping one evening when Evan emerged from the barn after feeding his freshly weened bottle calves. From the barn door he naturally fell into step behind Josh who was walking across the yard. They both walked past me and continued several yards out into the hay field looking as though they were on some type of mission. I continued with my work, but kept an eye on the two of them for the sake of curiosity. The big farmer bent down and grabbed a handful of drying grass and just like that the small farmer did the same. When the big farmer bent and twisted the bundle, the small farmer mimicked every move. Eventually the big farmer threw all but one blade down, stripped a piece off and stuck the end in his mouth; and in the blink of an eye, the little one followed suit. As they chewed on their grass they strolled towards me in perfect step with each other. I just smiled as my heart was blessed watching the precious moment. It was as though Josh was teaching Evan the trick of the trade just like he had been taught by his father and grandfather many years ago.

I was reminded of this scene above while I was listening to Ken’s message this past Sunday. We as parents have much to teach and share with our children. As we do this, it is very important we show our children the world through the lens of the Bible. Ken encouraged parents to check out Christian Research Institute to find biblical perspective on science. I, too, recently ran across a little hidden gem on a webpage I have visited several times. On the page is a small, nearly unnoticeable tab about “Creation Vacations” (https://answersingenesis.org/creation-vacations/). The beginning of the page reads this “Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us we are to talk about God’s Word everywhere we go. Vacations should be no exception. Opportunities to see and explore God’s amazing creation abound, whether at a national park, a Christian-themed venue, or a natural history museum. Places with secular propaganda can easily be turned into learning opportunities, as we learn to separate truth from error. With some preparation, you and your family can enjoy a purpose-filled vacation as you gain a better appreciation for the Creator who made all things.” Listed on the same page you will find many articles with information about places to visit right here in the United States – some are even relatively close to home!

So if you find yourself preparing for a little adventure this summer, be sure to do a little research before you leave so you can point out God’s great creation and truth as you travel. Kids are full of questions about all sorts of topics and soak in what they learn. If you do not plan to travel this summer do a little research on one of their interests (i.e. dinosaurs) “from a biblical perspective”. I promise your child’s eyes will light up as you learn together and connect the dots back to the Creator of all things.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Happy Exploring! Becky Ossefoort

 


Influence

May of 2019 has arrived. Over the years, with each flip of the calendar, I knew this month would come and now – it’s here. Kaylie’s High School Graduation will be here in just a few short days. Like any parent has experienced before me, this day is bittersweet. There is no greater excitement than watching your child grow, mature, and seek the path God is leading them to. Some days it is hard to contain the joy that flows out of my heart as I watch her, but there are also days I realize I have so much I want to teach her yet. Thankfully we have a lifetime to share together and she’s not wandering too far from home this fall.

The ARC Class of 2019 holds a special place in my heart, not only because my daughter is in it, but because many special people in my life are part of it. This class is one of the first groups of students I taught here at ARC. Our journey together has taken us through Sunday School classes, Christmas Programs, the very first year of Pioneer Clubs, VBS, RCYF, mission trips, Power Connection, Rocky Mountain High, and countless other encounters. A few of the girls have lovingly called me “Mama Becky” for several years and I, too, count them as my honorary daughters whom I love very much. I have prayed for each of these students, I have cried with many of them, I have watched mistakes be made, and I have witnessed them surrender their life to Christ. A special group of kids I will never forget.

I think we would all agree raising kids in this broken world of chaos is difficult. Eighteen years sounds like a healthy amount of time and yet a lot has to be taught within them. We not only teach with words, but our actions as well. The things we give our time and energy to are all evidence of what is important and valuable to us. Naturally, over time, our children begin to mimic our actions and values. When I think of discipling a child, I often think of Timothy in the Bible. While he grew up with a Gentile father, his mother  and grandmother were believers and loved Jesus. Eunice and Lois were both great examples of influencing a child to be a Christ follower, yet there are few details of the ladies actually discipling him. In fact, what we know of Timothy is mostly found through Paul’s writing. In one letter, Paul writes to Timothy “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15) Evidence of loved ones modeling Christ in all they did and taught, from the   very beginning.

The words of Paul cause me to consider how I am influencing my own children. Do my actions and words speak of Christ or show my heart is really after the things of this world? Each morning when I rise, am I witness to seeking the Father’s face before I start my daily list of tasks and appointments? It also causes me to wonder about our church family within the ministry here at ARC. Are we preparing our Sunday School and other youth lessons with great joy and anticipation of the Lord speaking to the hearts of our students, or merely passing on a story that happens to be found in God’s Word. What about our regular practices and church activities; are we giving our whole selves in worship and praise to our Creator and Master, or simply participating and marking ourselves present each Sunday?

You see, I don’t believe Timothy’s mother and grandmother simply taught him the scriptures and complacently lived out their faith halfheartedly. I believe they were very purposeful and talked about their faith as they sought God with each and every breath. I pray that this too, may be our discipleship strategy both in our homes and here within our church family.

Congratulations Class of 2019! Thank you for the memories, the love, and all they ways you have influenced me by shining Christ’s light in this dark and broken world.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Grandma’s Cookies

A month or so ago, my cousin had a post on Facebook about her child requesting our Grandma’s molasses cookies. My mouth instantly watered and a smile spread across my face as I remembered the delicious treats. Grandma always had a variety of special sweets, and if those were not enough, her molasses cookies always adorned her special silver cookie tray. Grandma doesn’t recognize her faithful cookie eaters anymore and has not mixed up a batch in many years. A stroke has left her body frail and dementia has overtaken her mind. But I am so thankful for treasured memories, a simple recipe card, and a very special cookie tray in my hutch.

After reading my cousin’s post, I decided I should at least try my hand at making these cherished cookies once. Unlike my Grandma, I am not a master baker and I especially loathe making cookies. I do, however, enjoy a little challenge. To begin I got out the copy of her neatly typed (on a typewriter) recipe and read through the ingredients – simple enough. When I reached the instructions, I knew I was in trouble. “Mix. Roll in sugar. Flatten. Bake.” Maybe it was just me, but I was certain there were some missing details. Thankfully next to the faded, typed letters “365°” was scribbled in her handwriting. Somewhat blindly I began; I mixed, rolled, flattened, and baked at 365° having faith I’d have something resembling the cookie I remembered. Several batches later, I’m finally getting close.

One day I allowed a batch to cool and placed a few on Grandma’s silver tray. I proudly snapped a picture on my phone and sent it to my sister. She immediately replied with her plea for me to share. A few days later I surprised her with several dozen in a package on her doorstep. Later that evening I received a text message saying, “Never in my life have I eaten something that so quickly took me back to an exact place and time. Those are so good!” I must admit – they really are about as good as I remember them.

Her text reminded me of my study of the Israelites leaving Egypt. When Pharaoh finally released the Israelites, the instructions were not exactly clear either. Perhaps somewhat out of desperation the Israelites trusted God had a plan and set out on a journey like no other. Each day God led them and provided for their needs. They continued to whine and complain, but God stuck with them just as He had promised. Eventually God instructed Moses to have the Israelites celebrate the Passover out in the desert. (Numbers 9) This would be the first time commemorating the Israelites’ escape from Egypt by God’s power. Do you suppose the Israelites were swept back to a moment in time as they prepared the celebration, remembering that night and all God had done for them since?

It’s good for us to remember. When we look at our past we can more clearly see God at work protecting and carrying us through dark valleys in our life. The blessings He has provided us with become more evidence of His hand at work in our daily routines. It is almost as though we are able to dive into our past and better understand our present as we remember different times and events in our life.

As I have been preparing for Easter, remembering all God has brought me through in the last year has been a gift. Sure there were times I would like to remove from my memory, but I’ve realized that is where His power was the strongest. I pray the same is true for you as you prepare your heart for the resurrection of your Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Healing Touch

Sometimes the timing of things makes me stop and just smile. This week on my way into town I spotted a bald eagle swooping around near the ground. Just as I passed by, the eagle pinned down a pheasant, grabbed the hen’s body with its talons and took flight. Pretty incredible timing! The same was true last week as I read Mike’s article in the Archive. As I read about Dr. Pimple Popper’s “mashed potato” moment I both gagged and remembered what I had read in my morning devotions a few days prior. Leviticus 13 and 14 is full of God’s very detailed instructions to Israel of what is clean and unclean in regards to their skin afflictions and diseases. It’s not for the faint of heart and the reason I skipped breakfast that morning!

The Bible reading plan I follow takes me through a variety of selections from both the Old and New Testament each morning. My recent Leviticus readings have included several topics and instructions God gave the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. It has been interesting watching these same instructions tie into the culture of the New Testament as I read through them each day.

I was particularly struck when I read about the woman who needed healing in Mark 5. Jesus had been called by a distressed Father whose daughter was very sick and near death. The man begged Jesus to come quick and heal his daughter so she would live. (vs. 23) Being swarmed by a large crowd, Jesus agrees to follow the man. As he turns to go, Jesus feels someone touch his coat. When he asks the question, “Who touched my clothes?” (vs. 30) the followers thought he was crazy saying, “Who touched you? Look at all these people around you. Yet you wonder who has touched you? Seriously?” (my paraphrase from vs. 31). I don’t know about you, but I like my own space – my own personal bubble if you will. Jesus didn’t seem to mind, or perhaps even notice, the crowd pushing against him. The only contact he felt was the power of faith touching his coat.

The fifteenth chapter of Leviticus would reveal to us this woman was unclean due to her condition. This nameless lady had been bleeding for twelve years and would have likely been separated from everyone for that time. Twelve years is a long time to be alone, likely without any kind of financial support. Yet she had a hunch if she could just reach out and touch Jesus’ coat hem she would be healed.

The amazing part of this story for me that morning was not the healing. It was the idea that the woman didn’t let the “clean” crowd block her view of the Savior. There were years in my life where I didn’t feel clean and therefore didn’t think I could get near Jesus. What faith she had!

I also think we as Christians can innocently get caught up in our cleanliness of doing good and church busyness that it causes us to miss those who are desperately seeking Jesus; ultimately blocking their view of the Savior. May that not be so of us, friends. We were all dirty and unclean from our sin at one point in our life. Yet we reached out in faith, knowing we had no other choice than to trust, and grab hold of the hem of our Savior’s robe. Instead may we be more like Jesus who was always on a mission but always aware of the needs around him. May we ourselves reach out to those we encounter and help them step forward in faith to find the healing touch of their Savior.

Becky Ossefoort