Thursday, March 10, 2016


Those four words nestled in Genesis 12:2 came alive for me after our Illinois Week.

In Colorado:

Dinner with Jeff and Debby on Monday set the stage. The canvas rested on the pedestal ready for God to make visible what was invisible to me for y e a r s. 

Two days later we were enjoying lunch with Garry and Sandy, students in the Nav ministry during our intern year. (Remember their names ... more coming)

Saturday we flew to Illinois. During the next five days we visited with, ate with, attended church with, cheered the Illini with friends from the seventies, our University of Illinois Nav staff years.

Trees with deep roots are appearing on the canvas, bright sun and gentle rain coloring the backdrop. Names, promises, faces are floating through the picture. I'm still unaware.

Rachel Weakly***
Our first stop was Josh and Rachel's condo. The aroma of Papa Del's, an iconic pizza parlor, as well as Josh and Rachel, current Nav staff at the U of I, welcomed us.

At first I didn't realize the deep and personal significance of Rachel's words, I meet with two students and lead a Bible study on campus. (The U of I has 32,579 undergraduates.)

I got my ministry feet wet meeting with two students and leading a Bible study. 

One of those students was Sandy. We talked about God, dorm life, boys, and how to reach our friends with the gospel.

Over the next 40+ years Sandy's godly influence continued to spread through leading Bible studies, joining Garry in ministering to young couples, to their neighbors and into their extended families. One thing I LOVE about Sandy is she always has questions. She is a learner. She still wants to grow in her ability to reach her world. In her own words, Sandy describes her ministry ...
Sandy and Garry

“Through ministry I enjoy having a front row seat to all the Lord Jesus is doing in the life of another woman.  He doesn’t need my help, but he calls me to partner with him.  When Jesus raised Lazarus, He turned to Mary, Martha, and other mourners and said, “Unbind him and let him go.”  Jesus gives life; he calls me through the privilege of discipling another person to remove strip by soiled strip of the grave clothes of the one formerly dead. What a joy!”

One evening we enjoyed a new-to-us restaurant with Bryan and Pam. They too were students the years Bill and I led the U of I ministry; Pam was in one of my Bible studies. Like Sandy, Pam has had an extremely successful ministry in leadership through their local church and through the Bible study program she developed that is reaching hundreds throughout Illinois.
Pam, back row on the right. This is part of her training group.
The canvas is developing depth and beauty.

Many of our friends during our Illinois week, some on the brink of retirement (really we don't feel that old) shared their stories with us. They are all making a difference for the Lord in their spheres of influence.

I sat back in wonder. I was beginning to see the beautiful painting God had been creating all along.

Back in Colorado and reflecting on our Illinois Week, God reminded me of Genesis 12 and 17 and his promise to Abram ...

"... I will bless you ... you will be a blessing ...
I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,
that I may make my covenant between me and you,
and may multiply you greatly.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful ..."
from Genesis 12:2 and 17:1-6, bolding mine 

The Ah-Ha moment; the joy; the gift; truly overwhelmed by the beauty of God's faithfulness!

It's been almost 30 years since we moved from Illinois. And from those years, from the seeds that we scattered women are walking with God and investing in their next generations. And hundreds, no thousands of women have been and are being impacted for the Lord. 

Why did it take me so long to see this amazing work of God?

For the last many years, the lies that defined me, I'm not good enough; what do I have to offer; and other similiar whispers of the enemy were the loudest words on my radar. Yes, I know truth; and yes I've often claimed truth to defeat this evil one. But still I wasn't thinking, What is God doing through my life? How is God using me? 

Too much defense; not enough offense.

It had nothing to do with how good I was or what I had to offer. It had everything to do with God and His desires, His love for me, and for the ones he allowed me to influence.
God used this cracked pot, this human being, this willing vessel. 

Often I've said, I know God's love for me because He tells me and He created me with purpose. On our trip back to our first Navigator stomping grounds, He took me on a walk showing me illustration after illustration of His love in action. 

I am part of God's blessing to Abraham. You are too. And Sandy and Pam are two of God's blessings to me.

I WILL MAKE YOU. The "I" is God. It is his vision, his ministry. He is the one who makes us fruitful.

Do you hear the big exhale?

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands."
Psalm 138:8

*** Will you join me in praying for Rachel that she too would experience God making her     exceedingly fruitful as she ministers with The Navigators at the University of Illinois.


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