The Freefall of Jesus

By Vicki Johnson

“One more step, Michael. When you’re ready, let go. I’m here. I’ll catch you.”

My husband, David, who was speaking at a summer camp, got our 6 year old to help him in a visual aid during his message. The plan was for Michael to climb up a 6’ ladder, one rung at a time, and freefall backward into his daddy’s arms. As Michael advanced to the next height, he could hear his dad’s voice behind him encouraging him to “let go” and trust. For a short time, Michael couldn’t see or hear David, but he knew what the plan was. Don’t goof off, get silly, or switch things up and there would be a happy ending. Michael was obedient and held true to the plan. His confidence in David’s trustworthiness was a wonderful example.

It’s been a long time since I thought of this story.

Three things stand out to me:

  1. Michael and David knew the plan from the beginning.
  2. Michael took the steps needed to fulfill the plan.
  3. Michael finished the plan, relinquishing all control for the final outcome to David.

When the world began, a Father and a Son knew a plan. The Son took the steps needed to fulfill the plan. The Son finished the plan, relinquishing all control for the final outcome to His Father. Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human, came into this sin-sick world and lived a life of perfect trust in His Heavenly Father. There was never a time when Jesus would be out of fellowship with his Dad, except for the cross. On the cross, Jesus would need to experience that devastating sin-separation from the Father. There was no other way for the plan to be completed.

Jesus, nailed to a cross, is raised up for all to see. The sun is obscured. He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He has been abandoned; left alone. Then John writes in chapter 19 verse 28, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, ‘I am thirsty.’” The price is paid. The plan is complete. His parched lips are wet with sour wine and he affirms, “It is finished!”

With one last act of trust Jesus,”… crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46) Jesus freefell into the gracious hands of God. May I live each day in that way.

My Heavenly Father knows the plan; I can trust Him with my life.

My Savior lived a life of trust in God, the Father, to the point of death; I can also, in Jesus’ strength.

The best outcome is when I relinquish control and allow God to work in me and through me to accomplish His plan, to His praise and glory.

All I Want for Christmas

 By Jonni Sliver

Almost exactly 1 year ago a precious little girl came in to our lives. Emily was two years old, a simply adorable little lady who was terrified of everyone and everything. For days the only time she wasn’t crying was when she was sleeping. Bit by bit we won her over. First it was Odette and Neyde, who spent the most time with her, feeding her, bathing her, comforting her wounded heart. Next came two other house moms, and before long all of the Miriam Home family entered her list of people she trusted.

It was pure joy to see Emily grow. We discovered that she is a very bright little girl, with a wonderful sense of humor and an enormous heart. During this last year we saw God restoring Emily’s ability to trust and causing her confidence to grow.

About a month ago I began to hear “the” question being asked of the children in the Miriam Home –“what do you want for Christmas?” It is the same question asked all over the world, and I am guessing most of the answers are pretty similar – a toy, a game, jeans, tennis, music or even (can you imagine) books. But some of the answers are different.  When one of our staff asked Emily what she wanted for Christmas she said “ a mommy and daddy and home of my own”.  She had just turned 3 years old and I thought that was a pretty deep thought for such a little girl! Even though we have known that Emily would eventually go up for adoption, she wasn’t available for adoption yet, and we didn’t know when she would be.

Just two weeks later the judge advised us that he had put Emily on the list available to families waiting for children. A week later we were told that a couple was coming to visit the Miriam Home, to get to know Emily. During the visit they didn’t tell the children why they were there, they just visited with all of the little ones. They came back a few days later, for another visit. This time they asked Emily if she would like to visit them over the week-end. Emily said yes! This precious little lady, who just a year earlier was terrified of everyone, went with this couple for a week-end all by herself!

Emily returned Monday morning telling us she had a wonderful time with her mommy and daddy. She was happy to be back with the people she loves in the Miriam Home but she reminded us daily that this week-end she would be going to her mommy and daddy’s house, and she did. She will be staying for a month with this lovely couple, and the judge will then officially ask if they want to adopt her. The couple has waited five years to adopt. They are in their early 30’s, love the Lord and want a child to complete their family.

Seeing God’s faithfulness in restoring this sweet little girl and answering her prayers may be the best gift I have received all year!

Committedly Crazy

by Sarah Langness

As I wrote once before, I love to walk. Almost every day, Ezekiel and I head out on a four-mile walk. Even during the cold days of winter, we walked – as long as the temperature was above zero. I’ve gotten looks of disapproval from older ladies, countless offers for rides, and even made some friends on that walking path. I’ve been called determined and committed to my face; behind my back, I’m sure I’ve been called crazy and foolish. Today was probably one of those days I would be called either committed or crazy – take your pick. But at least it was just rain. And don’t worry – Zeke stays warm and dry. In fact, I think he’s wetter some mornings when he overflows his diaper than he is on days like today when we hit the walking path.

Today, with my hood soaked, falling over my face and making me look like some Star Wars character, I contemplated whether I was committed or crazy. And I couldn’t help but wish my walk with Christ was as much of an obvious commitment as my daily physical walk is. I mean, these people I meet out on our walk, whether they are on foot themselves or in a car, they see me nearly every day. Just the other day, a woman at a garage sale told me I was her “hero” because she drove past me every day.

But is my dedication to Christ as evident?

Do I follow Jesus with such obvious commitment?
Do those I meet in the grocery store or pharmacy know that I am not living for myself?
Do I get head-shakes from others who see me living as Jesus commanded?

And following Jesus? That happens in the little things, as well as the big. Following Jesus happens when I clamp my mouth shut when I want to participate in gossip about that person. Following Jesus happens when I respond in grace to my husband, instead of snapping back. Following Jesus happens when I go without the “extras” and the “nice” so that someone else can be given a meal.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for the edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear . . . Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:29, 31-32, NASB

“Let love be without hypocrisy . . .” – Romans 12:9, NASB

We don’t do it for ourselves, for our glory and praise. But for Him and for His.

“‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.‘” – Matthew 5:16, NASB

Filled With Joy

by Sarah Langness

You know what I love? I love the sound of my baby boy’s giggle when he rides on his daddy’s shoulders. I love the pure joy that lights up his face after I round the kitchen island in a game of peek-a-boo chase. I love hearing him make truck sounds as he pushes anything with a wheel. As a mom, hearing those sounds – as well as the countless other babbles, screeches, and songs – fills my heart with joy. I never get tired of it. And I can’t help but think that maybe the Lord feels the same way.

Maybe the same joy that I experience as I watch my son explore, giggle, learn and grow is the same joy that fills the Lord’s heart as we follow Him – as we truly follow Him. As we put feet to our faith. As we love on those who go unnoticed. As we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I know we don’t do good deeds to earn God’s favor. We can’t earn our salvation based on the number of times we made Him smile. His love for us isn’t based upon such things. But I can’t help but think His heart is filled with joy as we carry the love of Jesus to the world. As we live as His hands and feet. As we obey even when it’s difficult.

So, how about we put a smile on our Father’s face today?

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth . . .” – 1 John 3:18-19

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4

Count It All Joy

by Sarah Nelson

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:22-24

Life has been a bit rough and bumpy lately.  I’ve been trying to navigate my way around potholes of health issues, loneliness, parenting challenges,  uncertain addresses, and other life situations.   There have been moments where I have felt like giving up and not pressing on to what I have been called and equipped to do on my life’s journey.   It’s been too tempting to stay in my pajamas while teaching math and science to my children, to heat up the umpteenth can of soup and call it a meal.

Yesterday morning was a tough one.  My natural inclination was to stay home from church, cocoon myself away from others, and try to grab some extra hours of sleep that have been in short supply the past few weeks.  I made it through the morning, albeit sans make-up, and almost got through a yummy potluck dinner at church before Micah experienced another of his massive nosebleeds.   After Dave got it somewhat under control, I took Micah home to get him cleaned up.  He was pale and not his usual zippy self, but he was determined to play in his basketball game.

While Micah was getting his team’s tee shirt on, and tying up his basketball shoes,  I gathered wipes and hand towels to bring a long in case another bloody nose came upon Micah.   We got to the gym full of enthusiastic first and second graders, parents, and grandparents.   Thankfully I had remembered to take some pain reliever for my already throbbing head.  An hour, I could make it through.

Finally Micah’s game began.  A game that is supposed to be basketball, but in actuality looks like a combination of football, wrestling and soccer, with some foundation of basketball underneath it all.  It’s entertaining.  It’s precious.   My son is not the fastest on the court, he has yet to make a basket, and he likes to guard his own teammates who are trying to make baskets.   He does it all with a smile and zeal. It doesn’t discourage him when others say, “What ARE you doing?”  He doesn’t give up when he is playing at half strength and looking pale as a glass of milk.   The loud buzz of the signal causes him anxiety, so he wears his bright orange earplugs and doesn’t care when other children stare at him.  He lives.  He goes on.  He presses forward.  He doesn’t let his different style and abilities hinder him.  He finds solutions, gets the assistance he needs, and continues on.   He is my little hero with a big heart and a giant love for life.  He is my teacher.  He is my son.

Let’s not lose hope, sisters, when trials come.  They are allowed by the Lord to make us more and more like Him.  It is so often during the times in life where we feel ill-equipped, inadequate, and out of our comfort zone, that Jesus shines most brightly through our lives.  This past week I’ve found myself singing, “Hide it under a bush, NO!  I’m going to let it shine!”   Let’s press on together, bringing the light of Jesus to a world who needs Him.

Praying for Your Pastor’s Wife – Day 29

Pray that your pastor’s wife will be a woman of faith and passionate love for God, not
giving in to worries, fears, or an uptight and anxious spirit.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  1 John 4:18

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
And He will make your paths straight.  Prov 3:5-6

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Praying for Your Pastor – Day 29

Pray that your pastor will be a man of faith and passionate love for God, not giving in to
worries, fears, or an uptight and anxious spirit.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  1 John 4:18

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
And He will make your paths straight.  Prov 3:5-6

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Praying for Your Pastor-Day 12

Pray that your pastor will be humble and authentic in his faith, not given to pride or
hypocrisy. Pray that he will have pure motives and give God glory for every gain or victory.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  John 7:17-18

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Gal 6:14

Taken from Revive Our Hearts