My oldest granddaughter, RyLeigh, along with her little sister, Gracie, plays on the Florien High School Varsity Softball team. Bill and I watched them as they competed in the regional rounds of the state playoffs last Thursday afternoon. They both played their positions well, never faltering, never hesitating, never second guessing themselves, never doubting their ability, never giving up. They played the game as aggressive, confident, determined, competitive, talented, fearless young athletes. They understand the game, they know what they need to do to win, they know what is expected of them and they give it their best shot. Always striving for that perfect play, that perfect game, or that perfect season. Always dreaming and striving to be the best. Setting their goals and then continuously working to make sure they reach those goals.
This morning, I watched another granddaughter, Taylor, and her teammates, who are just now starting their journeys as softball players. As I watched these excited, scared, energetic young seven and eight year olds play, I was reminded of just how much our older girls have learned and how far they have progressed with their athletic skills. Many hours of work and practice have been put into this game called softball. Our granddaughters have grown from babies in softball who knew hardly anything about the game into players who are confident in themselves. They have learned the rules and they have mastered the skills. They have matured into players who know how to react to every ball that comes their way, whether in the field or at the plate.
Our walk with Christ is much the same way. When we are babes in Christ, we lack knowledge and skills. We lack self-confidence. We struggle to make the right decisions. We make mistakes. We seek guidance and instruction from fellow Christians. We look for people to be our mentors, to teach us right from wrong. We study God’s word to learn the rules of life. And as the result, we mature into confident, knowledgeable Christians who know how to be successful in our walk with Christ. We learn right from wrong. We learn how to handle all of the difficult situations that life throws at us. We now can play this game of life with confidence that we will be successful.
Our softball girls have set their goal as winning the state championship trophy, and they are working diligently to accomplish this goal. As Christians our goal should be set on pleasing Christ, and then we should be working diligently to reach this goal. We should always be striving for the prize that Paul writes about in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
NEVER, NEVER QUIT!
This is Nana Nancy, Let Jesus Be YOUR Guide as you enjoy YOUR ride!
Bill traveled back to Springfield Missouri last week to continue his search for chaplains to minister at the Flying J Truck Stop. I stayed at home to attend some school activities with my grandchildren. And since I am home, I am also getting to spend some extra time with my mother. My 86 year old mom lives alone and for the most part is very independent. However, there are a few tasks that she just cannot physically attend to anymore. Therefore, she has to ask for help. So this morning, she needed all of her many pot plants moved from her front porch, which she has set up as a green house, to her back porch so that she can enjoy them all spring and summer.
My brother, sister, and I carefully moved these plants for Momma. But she was there to tell us exactly where she wanted each plant. She remembered every plant that she had stored away last fall, and she knew exactly where each plant was to be placed. She kept telling us that she knew she had too many plants and that she probably should get rid of some of them. But then, she would say, “I just can’t stand to let them die, and nobody else wants them.” We moved plants from place to place until we had them just the way Momma wanted them. Then we watched as Momma, carefully and patiently, went to each plant, cut off all the dead leaves, and then gave each plant a refreshing drink of water. As I observed, Momma taking care of her plants, I thought about how Jesus is our caregiver and how he feels the same way about his children.
Jesus wants us to be right there with him, in that perfect place that he has chosen for our life. But even if we drift off, or get lost, for a little while, he doesn’t forget about us and he always wants us back. To me, some of Momma’s plants were not worthy of being saved. They had lost most of their leaves, and as far as I was concerned, they could have been thrown away. But not to Momma, she knew she could revive them. Once again, God is the same way. He knows that it is never too late for one of his children. No matter how ugly, damaged, or broken his children are never too far gone to be saved and brought back to life. While no one else may think they are worthy and no one else may want to put forth the effort to revive them, God does. God can help rid us of all our sins and then he can give us a drink from that everlasting fountain. He can take that broken, damaged, ugly life and turn it into a beautiful child of God; just the same way that Momma takes those ugly, lifeless stems and turns them into strong, healthy, beautiful plants.
I Peter 2:24-25 says, “Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed. You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls. “ God watches after us and protects us. He will never forget about us. When we feel that we are not worthy or that no one cares about us, we need to remember that just as Momma loves and takes care of her plants; God will take care of us.
Last Sunday, I watched and listened as Bill explained to Blakeleigh, our 5 year old granddaughter, about our involvement withTruck Stop Ministries. He used the map to show her where we live in Louisiana. Then he showed her the path that we had already traveled and where we would be traveling next. She just accepted it all and was glad to know that we weren’t going out of the country. And she was also excited to take the atlas home with her so that she can follow us on our next trip.
As I watched, I was reminded of what Jesus said about the little children and how we needed to have the faith of a little child. Matthew 18:13-14 says, “Verily, I say unto you. Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Luke 18:17 says. “Verily, I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
But what if, not only with faith we became as little children, but also with love? Blakeleigh was not quite a year old when her Papa passed away. Her Papa loved her and she loved him. In fact, I always say that God sent Blakeleigh to us when he did because he knew we were going to need some happiness in our lives. Will she remember her Papa? Yes; because we will tell her stories and show her pictures. She will always know how much her Papa loved her. But in the meantime, she loves Bro. Bill. And she loves him unconditionally. She doesn’t think of him as a replacement for her Papa. She just simply loves him.
In fact, if you know Blakeleigh, you know that she finds someone to love everywhere she goes. Blakeleigh doesn’t judge people by the way they look, she doesn’t hold grudges against people, she doesn’t dislike people just because someone else does, and she doesn’t wait for people to do something for her before she decides that she likes them. Actually, Blakeleigh is usually the one who initiates the contact with a new person. What if, we all loved as quickly and as unconditionally as a child? Can you imagine how much better our world would be?
God gives us all an infinite amount of love, yet, sometimes we act as if we are afraid to show love to certain people. What are we afraid of? And why would we be afraid to show love? Especially since Jesus, when questioned, told the multitude that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second was to love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
So the next time you are struggling to love someone, ask yourself this question. What would a child do?
Anyone that knows anything about me knows that I love watching my grandchildren participate in sports, especially baseball and softball. Now that Bill and I are on the road a lot, I watch baseball and softball games on my iphone using a program called GameChanger. I would say it is the next best thing to actually being there. However, it is not the same. I can’t share the excitement with the other fans. I can’t see the proud smile on a parent’s face as their child makes an outstanding play. The players can’t hear me clapping and cheering for them. I can’t hug the player who is upset because of losing the game and encourage him/her to keep on giving 100%. In other words, I really can’t get into the spirit of the game.
I think listening to preaching on television or radio is a lot like watching a ballgame on GameChanger. You hear the message, you sing along with the choir, you may even pray when they pray; but you are still missing out on so much. You can’t fellowship with the other believers, you can’t encourage each other with prayer, you can’t hug someone’s neck that may need a friend. You can’t really be a part of the church. It’s simple not the same.
So, listen to those sermons on television, just as I watch my games on GameChanger. They are a great source for hearing the gospel when you can’t attend church. They are an excellent method of getting in extra study time; but, don’t let these television services take the place of worshipping at a local church. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” As Christians we need to fellowship with other Christians so that we can lift up and encourage one another.
As you can see, it’s not the same.