Archive | August 2011

Be the ONE!

© 2011 Marta VanGerwen

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”  St. Augustine

 It was a fabulous summer day!  And having my granddaughter visiting from New York City was the bonus.  I took her to a local park that has a beautiful man-made lake filled with ducks.  With a bag of bread in hand we began feeding a few early arrivals.  And before I could get the next piece out we were inundated by a swarm.  Big ones, little ones, yellow and brown ones, and mean ones that nipped at you.  Emma was quickly showing signs of wishing she were elsewhere. I found myself planning our escape.  What I envisioned to be a memory making moment with Emma, was quickly turning into – what not to do when feeding ducks.

“Um Nana can we go now?”

“Oh! But Emma this is so much fun,” I proclaimed with hopes that my positive affirming words could change the situation.  And then I noticed the ONE!  Isn’t interesting how one little moment can become so significant by just pausing to observe.

Its shiny white feather coat stood out among the variety of ducks.   And I was unexpectedly captured by its predicament.   By now there were at least 30 ducks that had encircled us.  Fighting for every crumb we threw out.  It was each duck for his own.   Like a stampede. “Look out or you will die, if you get it before me” – mentality.  And there she stood in the midst of this aggression – trying to survive. I began to throw the pieces right in front of her, but the others would quickly snag them up.  By this time the sad white duck had me wrapped around its web feet.  Let me explain my fixation with this particular duck.  One of its feet was turned sideways causing it to walk very slowly.     It was helpless, lost, and isolated.

After numerous attempts to get the crumbs the special duck had given up trying.  Every attempt was a failure.   And without even looking back my new duck friend turned and purposefully walked away defeated by its scenario.

“Emma, come with me,” I yelled across the chorus of quacking.   Happily she found her way to me and held on as we made our way through the crowd.  I was now on a mission.  Out of all the ducks I wanted to reach the ONE.  I looked around to see where it had gone.  And there it lay on a bed of grass looking exhausted.

“What are we doing Nana?”

“We are going after the ONE that needs us the most. See that ONE over there” as I pointed.   “It’s hurt Emma.  It needs special attention.”

My quest now became Emma’s.  She was fully on board with our new mission.  Her circumstantial fear turned into courage for the ONE.  Just moments ago she was ready to go, but now seeing the need  – her heart shifted.  It is truly amazing what happens to us when we are taken up by the needs of others.  It’s like we were created to shine the most when our attention is on someone else.

So we slowly approached my duck.  Yes, she was now my duck.  With carefulness and tenderness we entered her world.   She stood up amidst her difficulty and welcomed the special attention.  She took bread right out of my hand.  Emma and I spent the next moments just feeding the ONE duck. No more throwing the food from a distance.  We were no longer on the outside looking in, we were now in the inside looking out.  That place in our lives where empathy and compassion overrides our human selfishness. 

It was evident that our special duck was quite hungry because it could not get enough.  After a while it stopped eating and delicately made its way down to the lake and drank water for a few minutes.  We then approached it again and fed it the remaining pieces of bread.    My heart was apprehended by this scene. The Lord would use a hurt and weary duck to paint a picture in my mind of His deep compassion and love for us.  How He leaves the crowd to go after the ONE.  How he loves us not from a distance but enters into our world.  He sees our pain.  He is acquainted with every need we have in our life.  He understands our struggles.  God’s love and compassion is HIS resounding signature upon mankind. 

For God so loved the world….that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16 

I continued to think about why this scene had impacted me so much.  And then I realized I was  like that duck.  In the crowd.   Lost.  Trying to survive.  Hurt.  Lonely.  Isolated.  Needing special attention.  I too was trying to keep up with the crowd.  Reaching for whatever morsel was thrown out by the world.  But it always fell short of reaching my need.  And then one day Jesus left the crowd, entered my world and saved me.  I was the ONE.

” What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost ONE of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the ONE which is lost until he finds it? ”  Jesus

But wait!    YOU are the ONE too!  Maybe you have your story as to how He left the crowd to come after you.  Or maybe you are in the crowd and are struggling.  Whatever our scenario may be God is looking out for the ONE.  Will we accept His unconditional love, or will we continue to rely on the emptiness the world offers.

When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.  Matthew 14:14

Where does the Lord fit into your journey?  Have you given everything else in this world a chance  but Him?  God’s love supersedes anything we could ever experience in this world.  Be the ONE!!!

Grace to you…and peace from God…

More to come from Risen Dreams…as always I welcome your comments…


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Don’t worry…I GOT IT!!!


© 2011 By Marta VanGerwen

I can’t make it through another day!  The pain is unbearable!  I feel like my life is over!  I have no hope!  I can’t keep up this façade.  Why did this happen?   It’s so unfair!  These statements have been uncovered during many coffee times with precious women that are going through difficult times in their lives.  And some represent the cry of my own heart.   The older I get the more I realize that life is mostly hard, but…..God is good.   There are days when I am so saddened by the burdens that family and friends are walking through that all I can do is –  cry out to Jesus for a miracle.  Some may wonder where God is, and why does He allow so much pain?  Does He really care?   It seems the hardships appear to be escalating whether it be financial, physical or emotional.   So what are we to do with so much pain?  What do we say to one another as we face the daily challenges that come our way?  Can we trust that God’s got it?   Or is it easier to worry and wonder?  Is there comfort found in resting in the goodness and faithfulness of God, or is it more assuring to try and figure it all out?

I remember the day that I found out my daughter was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Waiting for the MRI results had proven to be agonizing.   I spent hours online looking up the possibilities of what it could be based on her very abnormal eye activity.  The doctor suspected a brain tumor.  And while the wealth of information afforded us online is truly amazing, in moments like these it can be overwhelming.  At my fingertips I found every imaginable thing it could be.  By the time we went to the doctor to get the results I was convinced my daughter had a brain tumor. 

“Well,” said the doctor, “I have good news.  It is not a brain tumor.”  “Yes!”  I was overjoyed.  But I have other news.” continued the doctor.  “ Your daughter has MS.”   What?   It was like someone punched my stomach and knocked the air out of me.  More like the life out of me.  I wanted to scream.  Amidst the turmoil quickly brewing in my heart I thought,  No this is my daughter!  It can’t be!  I just brought her in because her eyes were doing strange things.  She will be fine.  She does not have MS.  This is just like the other visits where she has a virus and she will be better in a few days.  But the stark reality of the moment seized my attention, and I was forced to face what was unfolding.   I was overtaken with crippling fear.  What did this unexpected turn mean for my daughter?  How would we face this trial?

The doctor waited while I gained my composure and my sweet daughter sat there staring at the wall wondering what in the world just happened.  Thinking, “ Im 12 years old and you are telling me that I have an adult disease.”   I always knew she was an extraordinary girl but it was completely confirmed on that day.  She sat there with the poise of a champion listening to her doctor explain what her future held with this invasive disease.   Only 2% to 5% of children have MS.  And my daughter was now calculated in that small percentage.  Like an arrow striking her out of millions of children.

I am thankful the trials that come into our lives don’t come with complete enlightenment, but only with what is needed for the moment.  For if on that day the window to the future would have been opened,  unveiling what was ahead for my daughter it would have been seemingly too much to handle.  But that is the gift of grace provided by our Lord, that He only gives us the strength we need for each day to get through whatever may come   – moment by moment.

And while it is often hard to understand why the hardships come, I am moving into a deeper understanding that the storms of life truly do point us to a loving God who holds our lives strategically in His care.  Nothing goes unnoticed by Him.  And while the doubts shout with potency throughout our minds,  there is a calm in the storm that can be counted on.  There is a peace that settles in our hearts like a trusted friend.  While our situation may seem to be coming undone God is anchoring every broken piece with certainty.   A surety that no matter what… “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall ABIDE  under the shadow of the almighty.  Psalm 91:1

My darkest moments have been drenched with the radiance of a nurturing and loving God who not only holds us,  but guides us through the unexpected storms of life.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”  1 Peter 4:12-13

Most of life is sprinkled with uncertainty and lacking the WHY answers.  We are not to know everything.  And I imagine there are profound reasons why our view on this side of eternity is limited.    “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;  now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”    1 Corinthians 13:12      And so while we may not have the answers we do have the assurance that the God who fashioned this world can and will most certainly bring us through anything that comes our way.    One thing is for sure and you can bank on this  – “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all…Psalm 34:17-19a

Somehow I can visualize God declaring from heaven….Don’t worry…I GOT IT!!!     

More to come on RisenDreams…as always I welcome your comments….


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.