Wednesday, January 18, 2017
When your past suddenly impacts your today....
Have you ever thought about some of your ancestors and thought, "boy, would I love to meet them." When I look at this picture, that thought is in the forefront of my mind. I try to imagine what their life was like in Germany in the early part of the nineteenth century. It is only from the stories I heard from my mom, that I can piece together a bit about who they were and how they lived. The most important fact I know about them, was that they were willing to send their children off to distant lands, with the purpose of spreading the message of Jesus. My great grandfather and his brother came to the United States, not only for a new life and an adventure. They came to start new churches and to spread their faith in Jesus. At the same time, their sister and her husband set off to minister to the Zulu tribes in what is now South Africa. Just this past week, I was contacted by an online ancestor search company with information that connects my family tree with an extensive tree from South Africa. And Marie Elizabeth Tonsing Otte is that connector person. Marie is the daughter of these people in this picture, who long ago settled in South Africa.
So today, my small group welcomed a visitor, who lives in our area. His name is George Miller and he is originally from South Africa. It was certainly one of those divine appointments and we were so blessed to hear a bit of his story. He has connections to so many of the respected leaders that our group follows, reads, and listens to and he is such a powerful man of God. He and his wife have been in the United States for 27 years and during those years served with many ministries. Sadly, his wife passed away about 2 years ago and he is currently in a time of transition. But when you meet a man like this, you can just feel the wisdom and strength that his life journey has birthed into him. Many, many times today he shared that his wife had really been the spiritual powerhouse and he just sort of followed along. I believe that he was really selling himself short with that statement. After the meeting, I mentioned my family connection to South Africa. We had a great discussion about the power of those spiritual seeds sown in our generations.
I asked George what he was feeling for 2017 and he said two things. CHANGE and we must CHANGE OUR THINKING! Isn't that a large chunk to chew on? Of course the message was that with all the changes happening around us, we must be open to change. But more than that, we must change our thinking and understand that our thoughts are not God's thoughts. On the way home from group, I was reflecting on these two things. And I was thinking about Johan and Anna. They had to accept change and encourage and allow their children to set off of the "ends of the earth". They had no way of really knowing what that would mean - for them or their children. They read and believed the Bible and knew the great commission - Matthew 28:19 - "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" And so they did that, having the mind of Christ.
And then I was thinking about how hard change is for me. Also, how difficult it is being in times of transition - when you just really don't know what is ahead. It was good to have the reminder today, that God has a really big plan for each of us. Even if we can't see how the pieces might connect today, there will be a time when we will finally see the big picture. Having George with our group today reminded us that there are connections for each of us that bring us closer together. It is really amazing when you get a glimpse of how God works, when you hear someone elses story. It builds your own confidence that your story has a purpose. Be encouraged today to tell someone your story! We need each other so much. Let God make those connections and then change won't feel so scary and so BIG. Ask Jesus to change your thinking - to add wisdom and knowledge and creative thinking into your day. Together we can all face 2017 with joy and peace and confidence in Jesus!
Jesus, thank you for bringing George to our group today. Continue to meet his needs and bless him as he seeks a new path with you. Thank you Holy Spirit, for reminding me of the spiritual heritage of my past generations. Give us all courage to face changes and the wisdom to change our thinking. Thank you Jesus for good friends who stand with us. Amen