I was six years old. Grandma and Grandpa had come to visit from Iowa, so I’d been displaced to a sleeping bag on the living room floor. I remember they came to “spend some time” after Grandma had had a major stroke that had affected her more physically than mentally. What I remember most about this visit is it was when my Journey began.
Were you at IF Gathering this past weekend?
Did you think about who helped you say “Yes” to Jesus?
Grandma and Grandpa brought me two gifts: a children’s bible and a four inch glow in the dark plastic statue of a little girl kneeling in prayer behind these words: GOD IS LOVE. I remember staring at it as I fell asleep that first night.
It must’ve been summertime because Grandpa and I spent several days hand pulling the Creeping Charlie from the rose garden and the side yard of our house. But yardwork was just the vehicle for what really transpired. Grandpa spent the time telling me his life story; how he got saved at a tent meeting and God told him it was time to leave home. How God told him which train to hop on and where to hop off to get the work he needed, to find the school he needed…it was his story of listening, following, and of God’s provision. As a six year old, what I heard him saying was, “GOD IS REAL”. That summer in the creeping Charlie is when my spark got lit.
“Fan into flame the gift of God.” 2 Tim1:6
I took the statue to school for show and tell; the words got broken and I thought I’d never get over it. My dad gingerly glued them back together and reinforced them with a toothpick. I wonder what it was like for him to work on that little “GOD IS LOVE” to mend my heart when he had turned his heart away from God in that season (the first Easter I remember attending church it was at a Unitarian church - now THAT makes no sense whatsoever!). Such was the circumstance when the little statue came into my home.
A couple years later my family moved back to Iowa from the east coast; not far from where my grandparents were living in assisted care. My grandpa continued to fan the little spark he had lit. So did the rest of the family: my aunt, my great aunts, my cousins; they kept feeding the little spark that had been lit. It was nothing dramatic; it was simply a way of life for them. They knew how to fan their flame so that it would draw others to want “the gift of God” for themselves. They talked about what Jesus was teaching them, what He was asking them to do, what they were reading in the bible in their daily devotional time. They invited me to pray with them while they prayed. They kept fanning their flame and inviting me into it, and that made me want the gift they had. A few years of that and when Grandpa asked me at twelve years old if I believed I needed a Savior, my answer was yes because I knew everything they had told me was true and I desperately wanted the very alive and active relationship they had.
So it all started for me with a little glow in the dark statue.
Over the years I’ve stared at it, wanting the truth of it’s simple statement to sink deeper and deeper into me and make my feelings stop screaming for so much attention (2 Cor 10:5). It was there for everything: the pet that didn’t come home one night never to be seen again, the failed recital piece I didn’t practice enough, the D in algebra and science in the same semester, the voices that were too loud and too strained over too many evening meals. But I didn’t just see a little statue; I saw the faith of the people behind the statue. I knew where it came from and I knew the faith of those it had been given by. I knew the Gift it represented. And over and over I knew I wanted that Gift for my life too (Phil 2:12-13).
That little statue is still on my dresser. It still has Dad’s toothpick and when I see it, I am blessed by the memory of him turning back to Jesus when I was in middle school. Our Journeys say something; what is yours saying? Are you telling your Story? Are you fanning your flame enough that others are being drawn by it?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:1-2
Are we running our race well?
Am I fanning the gift into a roaring flame that draws others to its warmth? I know from firsthand experience it’s not a complicated process but it can mean so much to someone else’s eternity!
I pray we all look around us to see to whom He is asking us to help proclaim His call to.
“Fan into flame the gift of God.” 2 Tim1:6