I love when I receive notes from folks that start out with, "Hello Victoria. Boy, do I have a story for you..." or "OK, you have to hear this one..." While attending my Grandmother's memorial service yesterday, I received a few such emails and texts. Also, this morning I opened my inbox for a few more scrumptious bites of love! Usually when folks send me such notes, it means that someone is writing to share a story of good news and encouragement... a story of how God has provided for them in some momentous way. Yep, those are the best stories to read, and I soooo love when people share them with me! What an honor!
Also, I love that God puts no limitation on the number of our friendships. That we can get to know and love as many people as He so generously places before us. That we can identify every single living soul as a reflection of Jesus... choosing to bless and return care to God's most loved creation in real time. I mostly love friendships with those who are in my Savior's eternal family - who live covered in the blessings of His life-saving sacrifice, and live each day with His Kingdom in mind. Those are the believers who have received Christ's gift and now also love me - not as passing travelers that may never be encountered again, but as dear brothers/sisters in the Lord! I will be rejoicing and singing side-by-side with them forever in The Almighty's presence. Those friends are indeed family to me and the most special. They are my peeps!
This morning my beautiful friend, Renee, wrote me. What makes Renee beautiful is that she gives. She gives of her time, gives of her own personal resources, and gives of her heart to help lost animals in need. I met Renee a few years ago when Chuck and I chose to adopt another dog. She was fostering our sweet Rocky - a chocolate lab who had been rescued out of an abusive environment. To adopt Rocky... Chuck, Momba, and I had to drive many hours in difficult weather to pick him up from Renee's home (located in another state). After the initial pleasantries and introductory hand shakes, Renee warmly welcomed me and my family into her home. There, she introduced us to her lovely family (and many thankful pets), and shared with us a glimpse of her heart's mission to help both people and animals care for one another. I instantly fell in love with her. Who couldn't!?!! Of course, since that first meeting, we have kept in touch. Frequently I lift up Renee in prayer as I watch her updates online - taking in another lost animal, finding a loving person to care for said animal, and then selflessly letting the animal go (with a piece of her heart) to thrive in it's new forever home. Renee gives. Renee loves.
Here is a snapshot of what Renee wrote me this morning:
Long few weeks. As I was placing yet another sweet puppy (yes!), I was so tired of the Facebook thing and the drama I saw, that I shut the computer down and sat back and looked at the black screen. What I saw flashing was "No Greater Love than Jesus!" I looked again, and realized it was your Christmas card you sent me on my fridge!! "No Greater Love than Jesus!" Went and got my son and told him to look at the screen. He said, "What?" Then I said, "Do you see something flashing?" He said, "Yes... 'No Greater love than Jesus.'" I turned and looked at the card! Hugs!
I love when God reveals Himself in strange, simple ways! I mean, come on(!)... a shiny Christmas card that I sent months ago stuck to a refrigerator door situated behind Renee somehow reflects itself off her shut down computer screen at the exact moment she needs a lift!!!? Really, that zap of love could only come directly from the Throne of God! (Hallelujah to the King!) And there is so much to appreciate in the details of the story: My friendship with Renee, causing me to even send the card in the first place. Renee's spiritual eyes opened enough to actually see and receive God's message. Renee's big heart to then share the blessing with her son, as well as myself - taking a few seconds of her day to acknowledge The Master's goodness. And so on... Oh, how I love when God uses His peeps to uplift and encourage one another in His Name. There is nothing more beautiful than Jesus giving to us! And there is nothing more important than us sharing Jesus with others! WOO HOO! What a great and loving God we serve!
I have another friend, Shelene, who recently reminded me about something through her writing concerning the message of John 3:16-17. Its funny how you hear a key, life-changing Bible verse your whole life. Of course, you know it is important. And yet through the faithfulness of a friend, God makes the verse's message new and inspiring again. This week, Shelene reminded me about John 3:16-17... how God loves us! How does God love us, you may ask? The answer is: God loves us by giving. "For God so loved the world THAT HE GAVE..." What does He give? He gives us Jesus!!! He give us the opportunity of a new life in Christ! A life that overcomes toxic sin and death! A life that allows us the joy to love and give Jesus to others over, and over, and over again! WOO HOO! With Jesus, God gives us a love that cannot be topped. A hope that cannot be outdone. A future... a home in His Kingdom! God soooo loved us "that He gave"... so that we could also give of Him, for Him, and because of Him. God is love, and love is giving. And ohhhh, how I love to give His message! Again, what an honor!!!
This got me thinking. Renee gives Jesus by caring for lost and abused animals. Shelene gives Jesus by writing, speaking, networking, and raising funds to help the homeless. My late grandmother gave Jesus by tickling my arm with her soft hands, by singing, and by living a modest, frugal lifestyle that benefitted others with resources she chose to live without. My dentist, Dr. Wambaugh, gives Jesus by utilizing his skills to repair broken teeth. My Life Group from church gives Jesus by praying and encouraging one another via text and email. My friend, Kim, gives Jesus by being a terrific wife and mother. My husband, Chuck, gives Jesus by working hard and providing for our family while always remaining available to help and listen to others. On the surface, all these folks live their lives just like anyone else... but what matters is that each of them chooses to do so under the grace of God and for His glory! Each has faithfully chosen to trust Jesus to teach them how to love as He loves! Each has proclaimed their allegiance to His Eternal Kingdom!
In this life there are infinite ways Christians can give and minister to those God generously puts before us. There are so many relationships to be developed as we reflect the Savior to others in our words and deeds. In fact, in God's economy, our whole life will be considered the biggest success if we choose to do these two simple things... love God, and love others. To give and receive Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength! That's it! No matter what our occupation, our interests, our activities, or even our bank roll... there is nothing greater than the love of Jesus, and our sharing Him in every capacity we are able! There is nothing better or more fulfilling than receiving, and knowing, and sharing the Lord! Yes, God is love... and love is giving.
So today, I encourage you to think about giving Jesus. Give His gift in your home, your work, your words, your actions. Give His future, His hope, His promises to those who need Him. (And, we all need Him, don't we?) Give His care through the gifts and abilities He has blessed you with. And as you give, keep your eyes open. Keep your heart focused to see, and know, and receive more of His great love. For He delights in surprising His people with generous, encouraging blessings. Seek out His love, my friends! For God sooo loves every person in this world... For God soooo loves YOU that He gives!!! What a blessing!
Happy Monday, May 5th, y'all!
© 2014 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson