Lily Neve is a full-time volunteer with the Family International in South Asia, where she has lived for over 16 years, working with disabled and disadvantaged children.
About two years ago it dawned on me that I was seriously out of shape. My work had become more sedentary, and I hadn’t made up for that. I enjoyed exercise, but never seemed to find the time or motivation to stick with it, day after day. Part of the problem, I realize now, was that I put accomplishments in my work ahead of my health.
Then I read a newspaper article about the local annual marathon. Perfect! There was a goal to strive for, a reason to exercise. I’d train hard and enter next year’s marathon.
I read once that a good father prepares us for our relationship with our heavenly Father, God.
My father may not realize it, but one thing that shaped my life was a conversation he and I had sitting on a hill overlooking our home the summer I was 18. He probably doesn’t even remember it—so simple and yet so typical of him and his wise and loving way of advising without overtly giving advice.
When I sat down to write an article about prayer for this magazine, I heard a little inner voice say, “You can’t do that. You don’t pray enough!”
That set me back a bit, and I had to think about it. It’s certainly true that I don’t pray as much as I could and probably should. So instead of writing, I closed my laptop and went to the kitchen to prepare the dough and start slicing toppings for a pizza dinner. Meanwhile, I couldn’t shake that thought. Do I pray enough?
A friend of mine has extensively studied a number of religions, and we regularly enjoy deep discussions about variousbelief systems—discussions that invariably come around to our own beliefs.
“I respect those who believe in God, but I can’t manage to myself,” my friend once said. “I don’t feel it. I also can’t understand all that spiritual and supernatural stuff.”
I could relate. Not the part about not believing in God, but the part about not feeling or understanding the supernatural, which is what many people equate with faith.
“I don’t feel it either,” I told him. “I believe because I choose to. For me, faith is a choice.”
It never ceases to amaze me how much Jesus wants to be a part of our lives by giving us practical, tangible help. When I was discouraged about my inability to get organized, I took the problem to Jesus during my quiet time with Him. “There is no way that I will be able to meet my life goals with this serious state of disorganization,” I told Him. “I try to change, but I need Your help, because without it I keep slipping into my old pattern of doing nothing because I cannot do everything. How can I overcome this problem?”
As I was walking this evening on the country roads in the hills behind my house, I realized that next week it will be five years since I last saw you, since you left us.
At first I was saddened by the thought, but suddenly it struck me differently. Five years in heaven. You’ve spent five years in heaven. What that must be like!
Rounding a bend, a spectacular sunset came into view. The sky was awash in pinks and blues, amplified by a pre-monsoon day that had alternated, sometimes suddenly, between sunny, brilliant blue skies and rain clouds.
Three years ago, I began writing Christmas cards to Jesus—or rather, birthday cards.
I got the idea after reading an article about giving birthday gifts to Jesus, either directly or indirectly. Examples included the gift of praise for His love and unfailing care, the gift of faith, and gifts to others of service, kindness, forgiveness, and a listening ear.