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321. Celebrating God’s Grace, Is This It?

By julie

Today’s Podcast is “Gospel Grace” taken from Voice of Truth January 2022 edition 7, titled “Is This It?” by author Anita Setran.   May you know the meaning of Jesus in your life and that there is way more to life than what you see right now.   ****   

I wonder what I am going to be when I grow up.

 

Did you ever think or say this when you were young? Or maybe, like me, you have continued to say it year after year, through your teens, twenties, thirties, forties, and now, for me, knocking on fifty’s door.

 

Jesus has always been the center of my world. At the age of 16, I dedicated my life to full-time ministry and have now served in full-time missions for 24 years. I brought up my children in full-time ministry.  Very similar to how I was raised. I’ve had the privilege of leading young men and women, training and sending people on outreaches, and investing in new ministries. I am grateful for the life I’ve lived, and yet through it all, I still found myself thinking, I wonder what I am going to be when I grow up. So, I prayed, God, have your way in my life.

 

It’s not that I haven’t lived a full life. I got married at 20 to my best friend, and we will celebrate our 30th anniversary in September. We have three beautiful children. Our eldest son is now married to a beautiful, Christian young lady. Our middle daughter has just graduated from college, making the Dean’s List every semester. And our youngest daughter, Kiersten, is our very special gift that we get to keep forever! Our precious baby girl just turned 18, and she has Down Syndrome.

 

In the depths of my heart, I always knew, yet also feared, that I would have a child with special needs. You see, I had three precious uncles who each had special needs and learning disabilities. They were not diagnosed during their childhood, but it was evident that they were different. However, they were special. And they were mine. They loved me unconditionally, and I loved them. I knew that my childhood years of living near them, caring for them, and protecting them had prepared me for this divine task of special needs motherhood.

 

Kiersten needed open-heart surgery at nine weeks old to repair a very large hole in her heart. Just days after the surgery, while still in the hospital, she split open her sternum bone due to severe vomiting, requiring a second surgery to open her chest and repair the sternum. In the months to come, her heart healed perfectly. Over the next eight years, however, Kiersten would require seven additional surgeries for her hearing and other needs. It felt like the doctor appointments, lab work, and hospital visits would never end. Eventually, however, things settled down, and life continued. I wondered, Is this it? Is this my calling, my purpose?? We prayed, God’s will be done.

 

Years later, we marched as a family in Washington DC at the March For Life with a group called KIDS, Keep Infants With Down Syndrome. It was wonderful and fulfilling. We participated in this event a few consecutive years, and I wondered, Is this it? Is this what I have been waiting for? We prayed and trusted God with each open door.

 

In 1992, my father, Nick Savoca, founded a new ministry called Prayer Stations. It is a profoundly simple concept. A red and white banner printed with the words “Prayer Station” is hung above a white table and displayed on a sidewalk so that pedestrians approaching from either direction can see it. We started this ministry in New York City to provide free prayer to anyone in need. It’s disarming – who doesn’t need prayer? After all, prayer and God’s faithfulness were the themes of our lives.

 

Immediately following the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City by terrorists on 9/11/2001, Prayer Stations expanded its ministry to rally Christians from around the country and the world to come and pray for our fellow New Yorkers. We set up as many as 14 Prayer Stations around the perimeter of Ground Zero and had them available six days a week for a full year following the devastating events. As a ministry, we prayed for over 50,000 people in that year alone and saw more than 3,000 individuals give their lives to Christ. Miracles happened on the streets. Prayer really does change things.

 

In the years that followed, we continued to use this amazing tool of Prayer Stations in New York City, praying for the needs of people and witnessing salvations and other miracles that happened before our very own eyes. In addition, churches and ministries that had served with us during the year following 9/11 began to reach out and ask if they could purchase a Prayer Station for their own communities. At that point, we began to manufacture Prayer Stations to send around the country. We also had the banners translated into 12 different languages as requests came in from around the world.

 

As a leader in our ministry, I trained young people and sent them out on the mission field all over the globe. It was beautiful, yet often challenging. I was honored to mentor young men and women and see lives transformed. And I wondered, Is this it? Is this my life’s calling? So I prayed and asked the Lord, Is this the thing? Is this what I have been praying for?

 

Then this past summer, 2021, my husband and I almost lost our lives to Covid. People were praying for us all over the world. It’s a long and miraculous story, which you can read about by going to our website, www.sparknewlife.com. Through it, God opened more doors for ministry – only this time, instead of asking my usual question (Is this it?), I finally began to see how it was ALL IT! I saw how God had woven this beautiful pattern of lessons and experiences into my life. I had been fulfilling my purpose all along.

 

He carried me when I was weak. He opened new doors of opportunities when I least expected it. He healed our daughter’s heart. He challenged us to trust His faithfulness and step out into new avenues of ministry. He gave us back our lives, and in turn, we will spend every day to our last breath living for Him and doing whatever the next assignment happens to be. We have been living out His purposes every single day!

 

This is what I know: God has a purpose for your life. My favorite life scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (NIV)

 

The Bible also says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NIV)

 

Wow! The God of the universe loves you so much and has a purpose for your life – whether you have been aware of Him throughout your life or have been running from Him for as long as you can remember. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.” (NIV)

 

Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that God created us in His image and likeness. Webster’s Dictionary says that an image is a duplicate of something else, and that to be made in the likeness of someone else means you possess many, but not all, the characteristics of that person. Only humans are created in God’s image and likeness. We are daughters of the creator of the universe, and we possess His characteristics. He has given us a soul, a spirit, the desire for relationship, free will, reign over the earth, wisdom, knowledge, and the ability to discern between right and wrong. He’s given us hearts of love and compassion.

 

It’s easy to look around our world today and wonder whether or not these giftings are really given to everyone. The truth is that they are, but unfortunately, people have chosen, with their God-given free will, to turn from God and His purpose for their life. We have an enemy, and his name is Satan. Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (NIV) Our enemy desires to destroy us, to take us off course from God’s beautiful purpose for our lives. But don’t forget about the end of that verse, which says that He came that we might have life – abundant life!!

 

I have good news! It’s never too late for you – whether you are young or have been around for a while – God is a loving and redemptive God. He loves His kids, and you are welcome into His family because of the gift of His perfect and precious son, Jesus, who laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. We are told in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV) We only need to accept His love and forgiveness, and He will make us whole and set us on a path of true purpose, one where you will never have to ask again, Is this it? Isn’t our God awesome?!