This week has been one of encounters with God which has set me on a course of reflections. Several weeks ago now the Lord woke me up with the image from Exodus 12, when Moses put a bronze snake on a pole to stop the snakes from killing the Israelites in the desert. The thing the Lord was highlighting to me was not the snake or how to stop the snakes but the fact that they were told to fix their eyes on the snake on the pole, not the snakes biting all around them and if they would do that, they would be saved.

So my personal journey began as He led me back to Himself, back to the beginning. Over the last several years I lost my focus, we have had lots of major life events happen during the last 10 years that seemed to pile on. Interestingly, none of them happened directly to me but they were happening to people I love and they were happening all around me. Not all of these events were negative but they were major and they were distracting. We have had weddings, babies being born, funerals, travel, shifting of positions and people who I have known for decades move out of my life and in looking back over these events, very slowly, without my consent, pieces of me were falling away. I began a new normal which was not normal for me at all.

My husband trains people in Critical Incident Stress Management. I have sat in on his classes and heard him discuss how stress has an effect on people but I did not realize how it was affecting me, until that morning when God began to peel back the layers and reveal what was going on in me. With each major life event I began to retreat. I realized that my focus was shifting. We talk often about what is in our tool boxes, what tools we grab that are familiar to us, knee jerk reactions to circumstances, whether they are the best tool for the situation, we grab what is familiar. I did the same when life was throwing me curve balls. Some of my tools were not working. 

Jesus was my first love. I met Him when I was 9 years old when 2 women came to my neighborhood and held a 5 day vacation bible school for the kids on my street. Meeting Him truly changed my life. I began talking to Jesus every day, I believed He was with me all the time and I told Him everything. He walked me through new schools, adolescence, first crushes and high school graduation; He came with me to MSU and spring break and led me to ministry school when I was only 18 years old. He introduced me to Oz and attended our wedding; He walked with me in ministry giving me courage to face my first pulpit, my first mission trip, my first time leading worship and every counseling session along the way. He was in the delivery room when each of our children were born and walked me through their adolescence, their marriages and now the blessings of grandchildren. He was there when we began this church, bought this property and the day we laid my mom to rest. He is my closest friend and for a while I lost my focus. I allowed my disappointments to cloud my truth. 

There is only one Truth and His name is Jesus. I have tremendous grace and empathy for people of all races, backgrounds, beliefs and genders. I love people and I understand better today, the human condition. What is happening in our world leaves us full of questions that have yet to be answered but I have a renewed focus, a reset, reconciliation with my first love. My eyes are on Him not on the snakes, He is my answer, He always has been and He always will be. 

I invite you to shift your focus back to your first love with me and if you don’t know Him yet, allow me to introduce you to the only answer, Jesus.