June 25, 2007

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. "Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, " Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."

"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land- against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:4-10, 17-19

A couple of days ago, Gwen gave me another one of Jeff's journals to read through. There is just something about reading someone's thoughts. Even using my entries on this website as an example:  It is mainly comprised of my thoughts on given days. It is my journal and I publish it for anyone to read. I love reading though Jeff's entries because they are all handwritten. He did not have spell check on paper (even though he was a very good speller). The penmanship on some entries is neater than others, some entries longer than others, etc. I feel like it is a small part of him left behind... something tangible and meaningful for us to keep. This particular journal was kept from January 1994- December 1995. A lot happened in this timeframe for Jeff. 1994 was the year he graduated from Malone, and was hired for his first year of teaching at Valley Christian Academy. He married Gwen on December 17, 1994. Some of these words were written more than 13 years ago, and even then, God seemed to be calling Jeff to something bigger than he or I, or anyone else could have imagined.

I wanted to share an entry written on June 26, 1994.... exactly 13 years ago tomorrow. I would have been only 13 at the time, enjoying my summer break before I entered the eighth grade... I am sure without a care in the world. This is what was on Jeff's mind:

Sunday June 26, 1994

I am beginning tonight to examine the book of Jeremiah. I don't know much about it so far, so it seems like a good thing to do. I believe the Lord has led me here, and that his Spirit has a special message for me. Jeremiah seems to be a little bit like me. I am interested to know his story.

Chapter 1 is easy for me to relate to. Jeremiah had a big job to do. Before he was even born, God had everything all planned out for him. God told Jeremiah that He would be with him no matter what. Jeremiah felt that he was too young and inexperienced to do such a big job.

How often I feel too young. It seems that God expects so much from me. He has given me more ability than I can handle right now. At 23, I still feel like a child. It's not that I don't want to serve God, I just didn't expect so much so soon. It is difficult. Jeremiah felt like this too. I claim God's promise to Jeremiah as my own. "Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land."

As much as I write and talk about how influential Jeff has been spiritually in my life, I know that Jeff himself was not perfect. None of us are. Just because we have a relationship with Jesus does not make us exempt from feeling overwhelmed sometimes. Jeff knew very early on that he would not be able to rely on his own strength to get him through what God had planned for him. He held onto God's promise that He would not let Jeff be overcome. He would be able to stand strong in the Lord and God would rescue him. Some could argue that Jeff was not rescued, as well as the rest of us because of what we have all had to endure. But I will continue to tell people that God has never left us; we have not been defeated. I am willing to say whatever God wants me to. Perhaps my only joy through this situation, other than the fact that my brother made it to Heaven and is enjoying himself there, is knowing that what Satan meant for harm, God will use for good. Although we are young, we are a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall that will continue to stand.

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