Use What You Have

Have you ever looked for something, not knowing exactly what that something was? A sensation of tugging and pulling in an uncertain direction, but you cannot put your finger on it. It begs for your attention and about the time you throw your hands up in defeat you discover it right under your very own nose.

I wonder if this is how the widow we read about in 2 Kings felt. We meet her as she is scrambling to figure out the situation she had been left with. She was frantically searching, knowing she had to do something, but could not put her finger on what she was looking for. Her husband had died and suddenly she was thrown into a desperate need for funds to repay a debt the man had left behind. It seems unbelievable to think her only option may be to give her own children as payment. Not willing to give up easily, she cries out to Elisha asking if he can point her in a more reasonable direction of securing the necessary means of paying the debt. I am sure she was ready to throw her hands in the air the moment he asked the question, “What do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4:2) She had nothing. There was n-o-t-h-i-n-g. The house was empty, it was simply her and her children…except that one little, tiny jar of oil, but what good would that be?

As the short seven verses continue, the woman and her sons gathered all the jars in the neighborhood as instructed by Elisha, closed the door behind them, and with great hope began to pour. The oil flowed until the last collected jar was filled to the brim. As the last drop dripped from the small jar, Elisha instructed them to sell all the oil and pay off the debt. This miracle not only paid the debt and let the children remain with their mother, but it also provided an abundance of funds for the family to live on. God knew what the cry of her heart would be, provided, and blessed her with more than she had even asked for.

I read a quote of Priscilla Shirer the other day that said, “Sometimes we wait impatiently on God when He is patiently waiting on us, waiting for us to recognize what He’s already given as part of the answer to our problem.” How quickly we are consumed with the evidence of what is not there, rather than working with the gifts and blessings He has already placed before us. Like the widow, I too am quick to search for solutions to my problems without giving a second glance at the things right under my nose. I impatiently go ahead of God and seek out my own answers and band-aids to my problems. Yet God is patiently waiting for me to recognize the things He has already gone ahead to put in place for me, even before I knew I needed them.

What is in your house? What pot of oil have you neglected to notice? Maybe the answer you have been praying for is already in plain sight. That little, humble something on the back shelf of your mind may be the beginning of the most amazing move of God you have ever witnessed.

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Becky Ossefoort

 


All The Noise!

BOY: /boi/ n. a noise with dirt on it. These words were neatly printed on a small canvas that once hung on the wall of our boys’ shared bedroom. While one of the boys has always been neat and tidy, the other will undoubtedly have dirt or mud somewhere even after a shower. What they don’t share in cleanliness, they make up for in the production of noise. A sound I will always treasure is the one produced when they would pinch their tiny lips together and make the rumble of a tractor while they pushed their tiny toys across my floor.

As they have grown, not much has changed other than the toys have progressively gotten bigger. We went from little tractors to larger Tonka trucks in the sandbox, then they graduated to a tractor they could peddle and haul lots of dirt with. Other than the varying tempos and pitches, the sound remained the same. A few years ago an old, salvaged lawnmower was brought into the shop for some modifications. Filthy little fingers came to the dining room table that afternoon but there was an absence of noise to accompany the dirt. Seemed puzzling, but very peaceful at the time. After lunch, a new racket was heard – that of a 1 ½” pipe out the hood of the previously mentioned lawnmower. You could hear that silly thing crack across the section and it had me yearning for the quieter sounds they once produced while playing in their room.

Fast forward to the present and I am still dealing with dirt and noise. We’ve taken out stock in GoJo soap, given up on blue jean stains, and learned to tune out many familiar sounds; no matter how loud they have become. That was until recently when something new beckoned for my attention. The recently licensed teenage boy has installed some “snappy” glass packs on his pickup. Since the installation there has been a lot of chatter about how cool the pickup sounds, a plethora of sarcastic Snapchats sent to mom, and lots of little spin outs in the gravel. I was granted permission to drive the noise machine to work the other day since big sister had my car. Admittedly, the noise even brought me a little smile to my face while running my errands. No, not because of the clamor it makes as I push the gas pedal, but because of the joy it brings  my silly kid.

The world is full of noise begging for our attention. The ringing of political unrest, brother hurting brother, and social injustices pierce us at the core and can often leave us completely focused on the noise coming from them. But we as Christ followers have a choice; we can continue to listen to the ear-piercing turmoil or focus on the gentle, easy listening harmony our Father in heaven has for us. I don’t know about you, but I have had to do a little extra tuning in to some of my favorite scriptures lately. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Ps. 4:8) “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)

May you find joy each day as you tune your soul to the gentle sound of your Savior in the midst of this dark, messy, and noisy world.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Show Me Your Way

Lord, show me your way. These words have been on my heart the last several weeks. Each day seems to meet a new challenge and a decision that needs to be made – ultimately His way or mine. I would be lying if I said my internal GPS always steers me towards the direction and speed God would have me go. I am notorious for wanting to run ahead of God and often feel myself having to pump the breaks a bit and ask myself if this is of Him or my own selfish desire. So, I have been working on the phrase from Psalm 25, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.”

A friend shard she thinks this year has felt like an Olympic race of constant sprints and hurdles. I was never a track star, but I immediately understood her analogy. Since this spring, we have all probably felt a bit of a shift in our lives and encountered roadblocks and obstacles we have never experienced before. I feel as though my calendar has been a mess all year with last minute cancelations and always having to be flexible with plans. Yet along the path I have also found many beautiful blessings and reminders that God is indeed faithfully walking beside me and continuing to keep His promises. I don’t understand this season or exactly what God is up to in allowing it, but I can honestly say I have found gratitude for this part of my journey and I am so thankful for the things I have learned about both God and myself.

As the Advent season has been approaching, lists of things to do, stuff to create, and deadlines to meet have been piling up and clouding my view of where God is leading me once again. I imagine many people begin to feel a little extra busy during this season as there are always special events to attend and the perfect gift to find for a friend or loved one. As our tasks pile up, we naturally begin to stress and soon we are down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with the real reason for the season; or at least I do.

A couple weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed with my pile of things to do. So much so I simply needed a breather and some time to be still before the Lord. I grabbed my Jesus Calling devotional and turned to that day’s reading. It was as though the words were written just for me and my situation and I thought I would share them with you as well:

As you look at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path, with branches going off in all directions. You wonder how you can possibly find your way through that maze. Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall My promise to guide you with My counsel, and you begin to relax. As you look again at the path ahead you notice that a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view. You can see only a few steps in front of you, so you turn your attention more fully to Me and begin to enjoy My Presence.

The fog is a protection for you, calling you back into the present moment. Although I inhabit all of space and time, you can communicate with Me only here and now. Someday the fog will no longer be necessary, for you will have learned to keep your focus on Me and on the path just ahead of you.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Psalm 73:23-24

As you are preparing your heart for Christmas allow the fog to set in and obscure your view of all the noise around you. Simply hold His hand and allow Him to show you all the beautiful things he has for you in that moment and space.

Be blessed this Advent season! And if you are looking for any gift ideas, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling book is always a great choice.

Becky Ossefoort

 


The Story We Tell

Every picture tells a story…or in this case, every family video creates conversation, reminiscing, and a lot of laughter. At least it did for my Dad’s siblings and a few of my cousins as we sat and watched old family films. Just a week prior to our family gathering, my sweet Grandma had passed away and while the family was together at the funeral my cousin suggested we dig out these old family memories. I recalled watching these precious family flicks as a child, but had not given them much thought for many years. Thankfully my grandparents had all their old 35mm films put on VHS tapes years ago which made showing the films, some sixty or so years later, a bit less challenging than it could have been.

A couple days after Grandma’s funeral, my family gathered in our shop for supper. As the meal was wrapping up and everyone’s belly was full, my cousin and I rolled out an old VCR and projector. We got a few strange looks as we were pulling out our surprise, especially when the vintage projector screen was set up. Once everyone was settled in we hit play and the laughter and sharing of good times began. I was able to watch my dad blow out his candles on his third birthday, see my beautiful grandma smiling as her young children opened their Christmas gifts, and catch a glimpse of an uncle I was never able to meet. One detail I had forgotten about these tapes was my Grandpa narrating the videos, and the sound of his voice made my heart smile even more. I was a little sad when the last tape ended, but I am thankful we have these special memories to treasure for a lifetime.

My Grandpa was notorious for lugging his huge video camera around on his shoulder when I was young. Why? I’m not really sure, but maybe it was his unique way of documenting our family for future generations. Not only did my grandparents leave behind some wonderful family films, they also left behind a legacy of teaching their children and grandchildren about their Savior and King. Honestly, if you had met my Grandma you would think Proverbs 31 was written about her. Each stanza seems to speak of her character perfectly and her actions always mimicked the scriptures she would read to us. Each in their own way, Grandpa and Grandma told us of God’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and love throughout their entire life.

In Psalm 78 the author retells the history of the Jewish nation to the people of King David’s time. The stories were told over and over again to each generation so each would know how God had cared for their ancestors. Perhaps my Grandpa filmed many events so we would not forget pieces of our history and the faithfulness of God through the hills and valleys of life, much like the writer of this chapter. 4We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Psalm 78)

I pray the same may be true of my generation as my cousins and I raise our children to remember and tell Grandpa and Grandma’s stories of God’s love and faithfulness. Children are a gift entrusted to us by God Himself and with it comes the responsibility of teaching of our Father’s love, commands, and promises in all we do. Not for happy videos to watch one day, but so the story of God’s love and faithfulness will reach generation after generation. So while you walk down the path of life, be diligent in teaching your children of their Savior in all you do. Not teaching them to simply be good little humans, but rather to live a godly life of noble character, loving all they encounter as they mimic their Savior’s footsteps in this dark and broken world.

May it also be so of all of us as we joyfully raise our children and our children’s children to love and serve our God and Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Be Still

One step forward, two steps back… Add a little tune to this phrase and you could have a depressing country western song. You may even have a greatest hit on your hands because it seems to sum up the way many feel these days. This short phrase has been playing like a broken record in my head lately as I have adjusted my plans to meet the reality of each new day.

I’m a planner and this year has not been an ideal year for planning much of anything. Scheduling any type of event has involved thinking outside the box, being creative, and always having a contingency plan. (And writing in pencil, not pen.) I handled it pretty well at first and found my energy in being creative and trying new things. When Plan A wouldn’t work as smoothly as I had thought, I quickly opened the playbook for Plan B…then Plan C…Plan Q…

I had navigated all the twists and turns this season has had to offer fairly well until a few weeks ago. As I was washing the dishes one afternoon, in the quiet of my kitchen, my heart was burdened with sadness and defeat. My mind had been drifting through the many emotions swirling through me when I looked up to see a small scripture card hanging on my window. The gentle whisper printed on the card said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14.” The words punctured my soul as I considered the fact I had perhaps been trying to fight a battle myself in the days prior.

Moses confidently spoke these words to the Israelites as they stood on the bank of the Red Sea. After leaving Egypt they had found themselves caught between an army who wanted to do great harm and a raging sea without a bridge. Instead of holding fast to the Word of God and remembering all His promises, the Israelites were fixated on the obstacles surrounding them. Perhaps we feel some of the same fears and anxieties now as we stand here wondering how we will ever cross this sea of division and virus talk. I don’t know about you, but I have heard and done my fair share of whining and grumbling, much like the Israelites. Energy all wasted on complaining about the problems around us, rather than simply being still; faithfully trusting our Sovereign God’s timing. As the Israelites anxiously waited on the shoreline for what was next, the Lord spoke and Moses obediently reached out his hands. As he stretched his arms over the water, God fought the battle as the sea opened and a path to freedom was given. Step by step the Israelites put one foot in front of the other all the way to the other side – on dry ground, no less!

I took in the words on the small card as I continued my task in the kitchen. Shortly after, my mind turned to praise and thanking God for the many battles He has fought on my behalf, even the ones I’m unaware of. The burdens weighing me down were lifted from my heart and I was reassured all would work out in His perfect timing. The next several days I stayed focused on what God was doing in this situation and did my best to be obedient to His leading – step by step. As I did I still encountered obstacles and doubt, but I surrendered it all to Him. Want to know what happened next? God fought the battle and not only did He take care of the situation, He provided in abundance!

May this be so of us today as we faithfully trust God’s plan in this time and place. May we hold steadfast to His promises and find our hope and strength in Him alone.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

Becky Ossefoort

 


A Servant’s Heart

Life has a way of turning on a dime, doesn’t it? All week I’ve been meaning to begin this little article for our Sunday publication but somehow kid’s events, work, and a driver’s test scheduled in Marshall kept me from getting it done. (Marshall is not convenient, but he did pass!) I did, however, take the time to start a new Bible study and was sure my article would focus on Genesis 1. But as I said, life has a way of turning on a dime. Early Thursday I was startled awake when Josh’s phone began to ring. We all know a phone ringing before the rooster crows is usually sad news, and it was. My mother-in-law had called to deliver the news of Josh’s sweet Grandma Ossefoort passing away during the night – just shy of her 96th birthday. As my day went on I knew I had to get this little message written so I could get it turned into the office on time, but all I had on my mind were sweet memories of Grandma O.

The first time I met this little gem of a woman was at a Christmas party when Josh and I were dating. She was busy in the kitchen making her famous chicken and there were swarms of people I had never met. The size of the crowd was a bit intimidating and it had everything to do with the nine children she had raised. I could tell each person meant the world to her just by the beaming smile on her face. Her welcome made me feel very special, but over the years I learned it was nothing out of the ordinary rather, just the way Grandma O treated everyone. As the years continued Josh and I were married and soon lived a short block away from her. Some of Kaylie’s first words were ‘Bamma O and our children were spoiled and loved with every encounter. From time-to-time she would watch them for an hour or two, each Sunday she hosted after church coffee for crowds of people, and she worked every day serving lunch at the elementary school until she officially “retired” at the ripe age of 85. After her retirement, she had a little more time to relax but you knew to call before you visited to make sure she was home. She stayed busy visiting and helping friends around town and serving coffee to the “old folks” at the nursing home – many who were younger than her. Grandma O was a very simple and humble woman who never had much, but trusted there would be enough. She worked hard her whole life, found great joy in serving others, and loved well. In turn, she was loved well by many and she will be missed.

As I said, the topic of my article this week changed from my original thoughts and ponderings. It was supposed to be based on Genesis 1 where we find the story of Creation and my focus would have been on the gift of rest after a good, honest week’s work. The timing could not have been any better – after all, it is Labor Day weekend. But instead, God’s reminder of Grandma O’s servant heart among her daily work seemed to speak louder to me today. (Her apple bars she made each fall come to mind as well. ☺) I’m reminded of several scriptures as I reminisce of her beautiful, kind heart, but perhaps Philippians 2:1-4 fits her life the best. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

May it be so of us too, as we go about our daily tasks and routines that the humble and gentle love of our Savior would pour from us as we look to serve those around us with a true servant’s heart.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Heads Up

Our family was able to escape to the Black Hills for a little getaway in July. Instead of the normal sights and busy tourist traps, we decided to pull a couple ATVs out with us and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We rode through bumpy terrain, trees, and cliffs for two full days. Each of the 200 plus miles ridden was spectacular, but there was one area of trail that left my stomach in knots. The trail itself was not steep, bumpy, or on the side of a cliff. In fact, it was quite the opposite; a nice, gentle, flat, gravel path through the bottom of a canyon. What created the uneasy feeling in my gut were the devastating effects of a tornado that had ripped through the forest about 10 days prior to our adventure. The evergreen canopy which had once dressed the top of the steep canyon walls was now laying on the floor of the canyon. In addition to the splintered trunks left at the top of the walls, thousands of dainty birch trees on the lower slopes were bent on their sides doing everything in their strength to reach for the sun once again.

We wound our way through the shattered canyon and selected a path to take us to an active fire lookout station. The view from the top of the peak is breathtaking and you can see four states in the distance as you scan the terrain. As I was taking in the view I heard a woman’s voice from the fire tower above me ask if I knew what I was looking at. After a short conversation about different landmarks miles away, the forest ranger and I started talking about the tornado that created so much destruction along the trails. She had been at the tower all day observing the storm, but once the wind picked up and there were lightning strikes all around, she headed down the mountain to seek shelter. Thinking about what that must be like up there, higher than the mountain itself, in a small shack built in 1941, I can’t say I blame her!

In the days following the storm, her job from the tower was not only to watch for fire in the distance, she was also the emergency crews “eye in the sky.” She said it was critical for someone to be up there on the peak watching for approaching storms as the crews worked “heads down” in the canyon. Because of the tall canyon walls, one working with their head down (or up for that matter!) would not know what weather was approaching until it was directly overhead, making her job essential for their safety in the event of a severe storm.

Just a few days after the tornado there was another storm and without her in the tower, crews would have been left in great danger. As rain and lightning moved in she reported to crews, “Lightning approaching 8 miles from my location.” As she prepared to move down the mountain to safety, she made the call. “Heads up. Heads up. Move out and seek shelter immediately. Strong thunderstorm approaching 2 miles from my location.” was sent over the radio waves, giving crews ample time to move out of harm’s way.

I found our conversation fascinating and could have listened to her all day, but there were miles of trails to explore. In the days following our trip, I’ve thought about what she shared with me and it has reminded me of the active role the Holy Spirit has in my life. All too often I meander through this life with my head down participating in the things of this world and unaware of what is coming at me, yet the Holy Spirit will send me a warning message, much like the sweet woman at the tower, saying, “Heads up! Pay attention to what Jesus is doing!”

The last several weeks we have been exploring the Holy Spirit with Mike during our Sunday morning worship. As I have done some of my own studying I was reminded in John 16 of Jesus teaching of the Holy Spirit with His disciples. Jesus pointed out to them that after his death they were scared, lost, and “filled with grief.” (vs. 6) Then he shared He would be leaving again, but this time He would send a helper to them. I suppose I was like that in the past. As a child I had grown to know who Jesus was, but when faced with realities of this life, I was scared and full of fear because I felt lost and didn’t have a relationship with Him. Then, one day, I caught a glimpse of Him at work in my life and decided to trust all those words I had heard long ago. Now I live with Him in my heart and His Spirit guiding my steps just as He promised. “13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; he will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

May it be so of each of us as we walk through this journey, with our heads raised, that we may trust the Spirit’s leading each and every moment of our life, sharing His Kingdom with all we encounter along our trail.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Swamp Monster

If someone offers you a free pool, you take it! At least I did a few years ago. My husband would argue the silly swim hole is anything but free, but he knows better than to say anything negative about “my pool”. He has learned when I come home after a long day and take fifteen minutes to float in silence things will go better for all involved. I sometimes feel a little guilty as I float around, but I can actually stop and be still when I’m not looking at laundry, dishes, and the couch pillows everyone seems to think belong on the living room floor. The worries and struggles of the day seem to disappear as I listen to the birds chirp, a pig or two squeal in the distance, and breathe in the fresh country (cattle yard) air.

A few weeks ago the crazy, tornado like winds we experienced threw my water balance off and I soon had a pool with green water. Because of commitments to organizing and helping with the mission week in town, work duties, baseball practice, serving as the executive of mom’s taxi service, and less than ideal weather other days, algae began to grow and I didn’t have the time to get it cleaned up before it got a little out of control.

The Service Over Self week filled me and created a great sense of joy and accomplishment within and I actually forgot about my murky tank of water for a little while. Watching students give up their summer vacation to love on others, expecting nothing in return, is incredible to witness and be a part of. But when the devil sees joy, he seems to work overtime to destroy. I’m not sure he even had to work overtime because by Tuesday morning I was a crabby mess. My pool was a swamp, I had a full schedule for the week, someone had aired their concern over a situation, and not to mention the other day-to-day hiccups of life. By the end of the day I had had it, so I got out some pool equipment to get my retreat in tip-top shape. Once again, the pool turned out to be more of a place of therapy than activity.

In order to get the gunk off the bottom of my pool, I first need to raise the water level with fresh water. The newly added water ensures there is ample water to suck the yucky stuff off the bottom through a brush and hose and out of the pool. The pool guy calls this very simple device a vacuum and it does wonders in just a matter of a few minutes. Once it was all hooked up and ready to go, I climbed in the pool and started vacuuming. As I went about my work, I thought about the things that had me down and crabbed to myself in my head. When I was about half done vacuuming, I looked up to check the water level and heard a voice say, “Remember, you need to put the good stuff in to get the bad stuff out.” I froze as guilt flooded my body and I recognized my lack of filling up with God’s goodness over the last few days. The things I had been so frustrated with caused me to shift my focus away from the eyes of my Savior and my heart had quickly become a green, smelly swamp just like my pool.

While I did quick finish the vacuuming, as soon as I got out of the pool I sat down and filled up on the words God had for me in His scriptures. My little retreat on the patio was just what my soul thirsted for and I’m happy to report the condition of my heart looks a lot less gross than it did just a few days ago.

How about you? Do the things of this world have your heart turning into a green slime monster? I beg you to stop and feel God’s presence today. Find a place to retreat in silence and just be still before Him. God’s voice will speak and be a comfort to you.

I’m out of space to share the verses I read on my patio, but below is a list of a few to help get you started. While it may feel easier and a little faster to simply read the scripture from this page, I can promise digging into the Bible and seeking God for yourself is way more fulfilling than anything I can retype!

Exodus 15:2; Deuteronomy 20:4; Psalm 19; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 46; Psalm 51:13-17; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:16; Acts 3:19-20; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 6:10-12

Enjoy your retreat!  Becky Ossefoort

 


Whoomp, There It Is!

“Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka” If you are a ninety’s child like myself, you are probably singing this chorus in your head as you read. (You’re welcome!) It was a catchy tune and now nearly thirty years later I honestly had to look up the lyrics before writing this little article. I’m sad to report the lyrics aren’t the most wholesome and I found much more comfort in the Kidz Bop version! My young, naive self probably had no clue what the original lyrics meant and the other half of the lyrics, well I’ve never been able to understand rap music. Regardless of what I heard or didn’t hear, it was a catchy tune and was played on the Discman connected to the cassette player in our cars as we cruised the loop in Edgerton. (Students, you’ll have to ask your parents to explain this entire paragraph to you. J)

While I haven’t heard the song in years, I often say, “Whoomp, there it is!” in my head or occasionally out loud. We all have our quirks, right? I usually save it for special occasions like a grand slam hit in a baseball game, a dramatic breakup scene in a movie, or I even once uttered it out loud when my husband grounded our daughter. (Oops!) It’s my 90’s version of the more modern “Mic Drop” moment.

So what does this have to do with anything for our church Archive Article? Well, nothing really other than I have now cleared 200 words which will help me fill this page. I’ll get to the point – The other day I heard myself say this little phrase in my head when I saw the verse Micah 6:8 for like the hundredth time in just a few days. Growing up Micah 6:8 was our theme verse at Calvenettes and at each meeting our leader would prompt us with “What does the Lord require of us?” and in unison the group of girls would say, “to act justly and to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah six verse eight.” It’s just one of the many verses I hid in my heart as a young girl. But, as I said, it’s a verse I have seen repeatedly lately as I have read my devotions, scrolled through my Facebook feed, and the familiar words even caught my eye as I was looking at wall decor the other day. “Whoomp, there it is! Again!” I thought to myself.

Do you ever see or hear something repeatedly and finally realize maybe God is trying to get your attention? For me it means it’s time to pause and listen carefully because God is about to say something. I trust God has something for me with this scripture just as he has before. Maybe it’s a simple reminder to stay calm in this ever changing and challenging time we find ourselves in. What started as precaution a few months ago has turned to frustration, loneliness, and lots of opinions. The last couple weeks we have watched protests and riots reveal what seems like an even greater divide among many and deepening heartache within our world. So what is it the Lord requires of us when times get tough like this?

I’ve been asking myself what it means to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly each day. Not just what it means, but rather what it means for Becky. Whatever I am doing, I wonder if I could do it with a more generous and honest heart, love more deeply with no strings attached, and how to simply be a brighter reflection of my Savior to everyone I encounter. And I pray, as I shine my Savior’s light in this ever darkening world, I may do it in complete obedience and humility.

Are you up for the challenge? Let’s all keep our eyes and hearts open to grow in how we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. After all, what does the Lord require of us? (Whoomp, there it is!)

Becky Ossefoort

 


What Are You Learning?

I started a study on 1 Corinthians a while back and let me tell you, for such a time as this. As I’ve read about the culture of Corinth in Paul’s day, I see so many similarities to our modern-day culture – highlighted even more because of the current reality in our world. The city of Corinth had many travelers and businesses because of the location on the water route through the country of Greece. The people were proud of their city and you could find anything your heart desired because the Corinthian culture was full of indulgence, idolatry, and immoral living. It was a culture that thrived on self-importance, ambition, and status. Sound at all familiar?

In the book of Acts, we read Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth, “teaching them the word of God.” (18:11) I imagine Paul spent countless hours sharing the Gospel and gently correcting their habits and patterns of life in contrast to the Good News. A few years after Paul’s departure from Corinth, he receives word the Christian Corinthians have fallen into their old destructive habits in his absence. Instead of a good old fashioned written lecture, Paul simply affirms their identity in Christ and reminds them of God’s truth. Once again we see Paul’s gentle teaching and correcting as we read the words penned in his correspondence we have come to know as the book of 1 Corinthians.

As I think of the things God has been teaching me during this pandemic season, I can’t help but think of the things I have been learning in my studies as well. Paul spent a lot of time teaching the Christian Corinthians about the Messiah and living as part of God’s kingdom. But, after Paul departed on his next journey, the people quickly turned to their old habits. As we slowly begin to turn the corner of our social distancing, sheltering in place, and homemade mask-wearing, I wonder how quickly I may fall back into my old and regular patterns of life pre-Covid. Will I begin to fill my schedule with the things I didn’t miss or that lack real value for my life? When classes resume, will my children’s schoolwork turn into more of the teacher’s responsibility, rather than my own? This slower pace of life has allowed for an extended quiet time at my Saviors’ feet each day; will I continue to crave the time spent with Him or will extra time fade into what once was, as well?

See, deep down there is a part of me that hopes we never fully return to “normal”. No, I don’t mean keep things locked up tight downtown; those are my friends and it is good for us all to work and make a living. I am just as excited as everyone else to see friends and the smiles of our church family, but I am going to miss some of this season as well. I feel as though I am entering this new season of familiarity with a much different concern than when we entered the unknown – shelter in place way of life. During this time, God has shown me ways to minister in a fashion I never imagined and many blessings in the slower pace. I have found a deeper passion for worship, a greater desire for less, and patience I didn’t know I had just six short weeks ago. I don’t want to fall into the old habits and patterns of life before Covid like the Corinthians did as they waved goodbye to Paul.

We would likely all agree the lasting effects of this time will continue to be felt for many months to come. For some, this season has or will bring great heartache and loss. Perhaps it’s a time of life we wish we could simply erase. Yet I also believe God never leaves a season without revealing Himself to His people. In this time, may it be true of each of us that we lean into our Father fully trusting Him and all He has for us – both the good and painful – each and every day.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. [While maintaining a distance of 6 feet.] All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 11-14

Missing each of you, Becky Ossefoort