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Posts Tagged ‘John 10:27-28’

BecomingMe-OFC-I will always be grateful I was able to find publishers for my six novels and my first non-fiction book, Soul Friend. Without these publishers, my writing journey would have been severely hampered. But I am also grateful I was able to produce my second non-fiction book, Becoming Me: Finding my true self in God, myself via Ingram Spark in 2016. This gave me freedom to include everything I wanted to include and also to set my own publishing time frame. Now, two years later, I still receive regular reports from Ingram Spark, detailing e-book and hard copy sales.

I love this company’s efficiency, but I often smile when I receive that professional-looking, emailed monthly report for e-book sales in particular. You see, as time has passed since the release of Becoming Me, I usually discover that just one person, someone somewhere in the world, someone I will probably never meet, has bought an e-book version of Becoming Me. Yes, that means a whole USD$2.40 my little book has earned for me as the publisher—what a fortune!

Yet I never feel disappointed with these reports. In fact, this one sale always touches me, as I try to visualise who this reader might be. I pray for them too. I pray that something in my little book might speak to their hearts and provide the word from God for them that they need. After all, I’m sure this one person matters to God.

But occasionally I receive a different sort of email about Becoming Me—one from a reader I often do not know, commenting on some aspect of the book that has been meaningful to them. Recently, a lady wrote how, while she related to so much of what I wrote, the thing that touched her most was one small paragraph where I describe how, for many years, I wrote weekly letters home to my parents interstate, keeping them up-to-date with all our family events. This lady shared how, for over fifty years, she had done the same, even when her mother became a dementia patient in a nursing home. She told me how some people thought she was strange to keep writing these letters. Yet, as she read my book, she felt she had found a companion, someone who understood. How blessed I felt that God had somehow comforted her through my book, even in this small way!

These people whose lives we touch, the ones and twos, do matter to God, don’t you think? Surely we see this in how Jesus often went out of his way to minister to just one person. Examples that come to mind readily are the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), the woman at the well (John 4), the man born blind (John 9), Lazarus (John 11) and Mary Magdalene outside the tomb (John 20).

People matter to God. You and I matter to God. In fact, God seeks each of us out, like that one lost sheep, and, once found, will never let us go. And that comforts me more than any words I may ever write.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand, John 10:27-28

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Jo 17I wonder if you like the sound of your name. Perhaps it depends on who is saying it or the context in which it is being said! If it’s someone such as a cross schoolteacher singling you out for some misdemeanour, as I well remember happening to me, your name might grate on you a little. But if it’s a good friend greeting you after not seeing or hearing from you for some time, then that might be a different matter.

I look forward to hearing my name spoken whenever I call a dear older friend. ‘Hello, Jo-Anne—how lovely to hear your voice! How are you?’ she always says, with such unfeigned joy and delight that my heart feels as if it is melting. And I remember how, many years ago, a young minister at our church went to the trouble of asking me whether I preferred to be called ‘Jo’ or ‘Jo-Anne’. Now I don’t really mind being called ‘Jo’—after all, that is what my husband and almost everyone else has called me for years! But I told him I preferred ‘Jo-Anne’, because it seems just that bit softer and more feminine to me. From then on, he tried hard to remember to call me that. And when he did, I was touched and felt respected.

I thought of this again recently when I read the story of the resurrection in John 20. As I often try to do, I imagined myself right in the middle of that scene at the tomb when Mary Magdalene discovers Jesus is no longer there. She is devastated because she believes someone has taken his body and, in her distress, does not immediately recognise Jesus when he speaks to her. But what a moment that must have been when she hears him say that one word that must have said so much to her—Mary (20:16)! Can you imagine it?

I wonder what tone of voice Jesus used when he said her name. Was it soft and tender? Was it loud and commanding, concerned to make her realise who he actually was? Did it convey joy and delight that she had come, wanting to attend to his body? Did it show something of his pride in her that she was faithful to the end? Perhaps it conveyed trust as well, because as soon as Mary realises who he is, Jesus goes on to give her a message for the other disciples:

Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:17

One thing I know for sure. Jesus spoke Mary’s name with amazing love. And today, two thousand years later, Jesus continues to speak our names with that same love, calling us back into relationship with our heavenly Father and into his own family, the family of God. How privileged we are that he knows our names and that we too can hear our Shepherd’s voice, speaking to us by his Spirit, guiding and strengthening us day by day!

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

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This is my fiftieth blog since beginning my blogging adventure almost a year ago now – and what an interesting journey it has been!  I have reconnected with various friends and acquaintances from the past as a result of these writing efforts of mine, and have also made several new friends who have bothered to write a comment on my blog.  Truly today we live in an unprecedented age of opportunity in the area of communication.

This is brought home to me every time I make or answer a call via skype on my laptop.  One minute I can be sitting writing merrily away and the next talking to my friend in Turkey and seeing her as well across the thousands of kilometres that separate us.  And we can chat and encourage each other for however long we like – after all, it’s free!  The same goes for a writer friend in Tasmania, who has in turn linked me up with various other writers across the world via the International Christian Fiction Writers blog and also the American Christian Fiction Writers website and email digests. The possibilities are endless.

And then there is Facebook and other similar online social networks, which, despite the difficulties these might cause, are nevertheless amazing ways of keeping in contact with and finding both new and old ‘friends’.  Each week, I link my current blog to Facebook, which provides me with a much wider readership than would otherwise be possible. And when the time comes, I can also let any number of people know in a second with one flick of my finger that my latest novel is released.  I can even upload in image of the cover as well – amazing stuff.

With all this ease of communication, however, why is it that many of us seem to ignore the ability we all have to talk with God whenever and wherever?  Forget the mobile phones or emails or blogs – God is everywhere and ever listening, always wanting to communicate with us.  That was the idea way back in the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and hid among the trees (Genesis 3:8).  They didn’t want to talk about what they had done – and I guess we’re not much different today.  How much we all need to step out from our hiding place of fear and shame and rebellion and into the presence of our loving God, who is good and gracious and compassionate and longs to speak to us on a daily basis!

I want to be in a place where God and I are communicating constantly, with no barriers or ‘static’ between us.  I want to be one of those ‘sheep’ Jesus talks about in John 10:27-28 who easily recognise his voice, listen intently and follow him. ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand’, Jesus says.  Through Jesus, the gap was bridged and our whole relationship with God was restored, so that we can communicate freely again.  And that would have to be the best ‘communication revolution’ ever, eclipsing email, blogs, Facebook, the lot – don’t you agree?

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