“So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim took their Inheritance.”
I recently took a trip with my two youngest daughters to my small hometown in Southern Wisconsin. Each May my hometown celebrates what is called Syttende Mai — a folk festival held each year to celebrate the official day Norway signed its constitution in 1814. My small town was established as many Norwegian immigrants flooded the area in the late 1800’s, including my great grandparents on both sides of my family. Each of my great grandparents purchased family farms and settled in the area, passing on their Norwegian heritage, strong work ethic, and traditional faith down to my parents who grew up there as well. My parents married shortly after high school and moved away for a few short years, only to return once my brother and I were born. Our rich Norwegian heritage was deeply ingrained in us and we looked forward to the annual celebration, which included ethnic food, traditional dancing and other activities. I have very fond memories of this annual event and I wanted to share it with our two youngest daughters. For years I have wanted to run the annual 10 miler associated with the event. The run passes over the familiar, rolling farm land surrounding my little town and finishes with a run through our quaint Main Street. This year my daughter Ellie volunteered to run it with me, as I ran in honor of my mom. It was one of many memorable moments from our trip. I had not been home in over eight years, and I have never gone back for a high school reunion. Our life as a military family did not allow for an easy trip back to celebrate and reconnect over the years. My Mom and Dad have both passed away and so going home is actually a bittersweet event. However, this visit was actually one I will cherish and always remember.
God used my trip home to teach me more about His heart and who I am in Him.
In Joshua 16:4, it says the children of Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim took their inheritance. Their inheritance was represented by land God had chosen for them. This is a powerful example for us, as we must choose to accept God’s inheritance offered to each one of us. Our inheritance is His gift of salvation that brings new life, hope and purpose to our lives. God has the best plan for each of us and with Him as our constant guide we will have all we need to navigate whatever happens in our lives.
Shortly after arriving in my hometown, the girls and I headed downtown to eat bratwurst, cheese curds and catch the annual canoe race in 50 degree weather!! As we cheered on the teams, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to a face from my past and a voice that said, “Diana, is that you?” It was the younger sister of a dear friend from my high school years. Minutes later she pointed behind me and another old friend came over and said, “You have not changed a bit!” That statement began my journey of wonderful reminders and lessons God had for me to learn while visiting.
The truth is I have changed so much! I was raised in a very traditional church and we never missed a Sunday service and yet I was a selfish, unwise, young teenager until a life changing event happened in my life.
At the beginning of my Junior year, at the age of 16, my Dad suddenly died. Even though our relationship was distant and strained, this set me on a quest to find the real meaning to life. Gone was the young teen who just followed the crowd, doing unwise things with no real plans for my future. I made a new commitment to buckle down in my schoolwork, and I spent a lot more time at home instead of running around with my friends. I also made the decision to pursue the path to serve my nation through ROTC in college. These were all good changes in my life, but it took me six years to find the answer to my question. “What is the true meaning of life?” God began to reveal the answer in the setting of a Sunday school class in Southern Alabama. It did not take long to realize these young adults had something I did not and I desperately wanted it to be as real in my life. They had a love about them and for others I had never experienced. I quickly found out this love came from their relationship with Jesus Christ. It was with many tears and seeking the answer that God revealed Himself to me. It was this defining moment in my life that brought the lasting change God had always intended. It was in that moment I took hold of the inheritance God had planned for me! Forgiven and set free I no longer wanted to live my life without His guiding hand and plan for my life. As I began my journey of faith, the Lord began to transform my heart. No longer was I the quiet, shy teenager, searching for the meaning of life. My inheritance in Christ included a new heart and love for others as He had loved me.
All I had to do was surrender and receive this inheritance straight from the Father’s heart. It has been 34 years since I was overwhelmed by the love of the Lord for me. It has been 34 years of His transforming power in my life. I am definitely NOT the same person I was in high school! I may look a lot like I did on the outside but my heart is forever change.
My trip to Wisconsin taught me that even though my heart still longs for a touch of my immediate family as I visit my hometown, true joy does not come from people, things or places but from a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives us purpose and the true love our hearts desire. Our relationship with Jesus is our inheritance.
My trip home was so special as I reconnected with school friends and extended family. But most importantly it reminded me that God is faithful. His hand has been on my life even when I didn’t know it. He taught me no matter how meager my beginnings as a quiet, uncertain girl, He had and still has SO much more for me. How exciting to live a life experiencing and sharing my inheritance with the guiding presence of the Lord.
May we all reflect on our beginnings and be reminded of God’s hand on our lives. He is in constant pursuit of our heart.
Have you accepted the gift of your inheritance from your Heavenly Father.? All you have to do is surrender your heart, admit your need for His forgiveness and then walk in His love for you.
I encourage you to trust the Lord, receive your inheritance, and watch what He does.
“Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
My meager beginnings – standing outside my childhood home.