Who Are You?
From the heart of Dr. Rexella Van Impe
I grew up with a healthy appreciation of the arts. All through my school years, I learned to recognize the genius of the great masters of painting, sculpture, architectural design and, of course, music. As a singer at school and in church, I was in awe of the classical composers who could hear, create, and capture such glorious melodies and rich harmonies, making them come alive again and again in different places and times.
So when Jack and I were married and made our first trip to Belgium to meet all his relatives, it was an unbelievable joy to me. In addition to the welcoming and wonderful fellowship with the extended Van Impe family, the history and culture of old Europe was everywhere-the food, the traditions, the sights, sounds, and smells-the very atmosphere itself. Except for being seasick on the voyage over (we decided to fly on future trips), I loved every moment of our adventure.
When we strolled through the streets of Brussels and suddenly came upon the Grote Markt/Grand-Place, the amazing marketplace and celebration center of the capital city, my mouth flew open in amazement. There were flowers everywhere surrounding little booths and open-air shops that offered fresh produce, baked goods, candies, handicrafts of all kinds, and wandering troupes of street entertainers. There was color, sound, and life as far as the eye could see in every direction! And surrounding it all, framing the pulsing heart of the inner city, were the great, historic seventeenth century buildings with elaborate facades of brick and stone and glass, filled with shops, offices, and apartment flats. Amazing!
To this day, Brussels’ Grand-Place is one of my favorite spots in all the world, an ever-changing spectacle of vitality and excitement. But on my first trip to Europe as a young bride, the experience was almost overwhelming.
To further highlight my first visit to Europe, Jack and I got a car and drove from Brussels to Paris! I don’t have the words to describe my excitement at seeing the countryside, villages, and towns-most of them with their own marketplaces bustling with life-and soaking up the sounds of old languages accented with laughter and shouts. The people were real, live characters from folk literature, with costumes that would have seemed too elaborate even for my active imagination.
And then we were in Paris, standing outside perhaps the most famous art museum in the world, the Louvre! Could this really be happening to me? I’d always loved great art, and enjoyed visiting fine museums during family outings and school field trips. But the Louvre? As we walked through galleries filled with some of the most famous works of art in the world, I was literally overwhelmed. My mind could barely take in the reality of seeing the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Aphrodite, and works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Renoir, Mondrian, Monet, Cézanne, El Greco, and scores of other great masters from the past. Too soon my brief visit was ended-I could have spent days there.
Fortunately, Jack and I got to go back to Europe to spend time with his relatives about every other year, and on each trip we tried to take in some notable or worthwhile place. I learned so much each time we went for a visit.
Life is all around you-don’t miss it!
Here at home, my husband and I also try to keep up with significant news developments and often visit historically important places. Connected with our ministry on our trips abroad-we’ve been in about fifty countries-we’ve explored noteworthy local sites and sought to better understand the people and cultures. Of course, Jack is always aware and sensitive to people, places, and events around the world with prophetic significance.
So many times as we’ve visited some historic site or an area with prophetic importance, suddenly the realization would hit me that I was seeing something important...that I was literally part of something significant or noteworthy. I felt a little nudge that I should pay special attention to what was around me at that moment-as if the Holy Spirit was whispering, "He that hath an ear, let him hear..." (see Revelation 2-3).
That happened to me again just this week! While Jack was getting his hair cut, I wandered through a little antique shop nearby and soon found myself browsing a small art exhibit. I’d never heard of the artist before, but he was extremely talented-I’d put him in the category of a great master-painter. I was drawn to a powerful work he had done that captured the images of two young girls. As I looked at them, it seemed they took on a life of their own as they laughed together and looked out on the vista before them.
The girls seemed so much more real than just a painting. They seemed so relaxed, so comfortable, so real. I felt that I should know them...that I’d like to know them. As I stood there for several long moments, I actually said aloud, "Who are you?"
It was the kind of deeply introspective moment a person may have in his life on occasion when he looks into a mirror and wonders, "Does anybody know who I am? Do I even know? Does God know that I’m here?"
As I looked into the skillfully created faces of those two youngsters in the painting, I whispered again, "Who are you?" And I thought in response, "I know Someone who knows you better than this artist, and that is the Lord. No matter where you are today, He knows you!"
I didn’t see anybody else in the quietness of that little gallery, but in that instant I became keenly aware that the "Someone" I’d just thought about had seen me...and recognized me...and knew me!
God knows us even before we are born
God spoke to Jeremiah and said, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee (Jeremiah 1:5). What a phenomenal statement. When did Jeremiah become a "viable," individual person? At conception? At some point in the prenatal process? At birth? According to the Lord God, He knew Jeremiah long before.
When Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me" (Mark 10:14), the Greek word used for "children"-brephos-can refer to born and unborn, I’m told. This would mean that Jesus was not just saying, "let these children come unto me, but all children-those who have been born...and those who are not yet born."
I have a little sister in heaven who was miscarried. I have a brother in heaven who was born but lived only three hours. I will see them both in heaven someday! Every child who was ever conceived is known of God. He declared that before a child is formed in the belly or is born, He knew that baby! Before I was completely developed in my mother’s womb, God knew that I would be born and called Rexella Shelton. He knew who I was before I was!
I know He knows our names because in Revelation 3:5 He declares that He will not blot our name out of the book of life. Every name is in the book-it can only be blotted out if a person rejects the Lord. That’s why every child goes to heaven, no matter what. Jesus himself said that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20).
What a great promise! So many children’s lives have been snuffed out in wars, epidemics, and famines. Millions more have been destroyed by abortion. But, thank God, how wonderful to know that every child is safe with Him...and He knows them all by name! Every single one of these precious lives is now with the Lord. Oh, that blesses me!
God walks with us in life
Have you ever needed to know that you were not walking life’s road all alone? Did you ever need the strong shoulder of the Lord to lean on in life’s hard places?
Thank God, the Word says, For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee (Deuteronomy 23:14).
I believe all of us have plenty of occasions when we need to be delivered. The longer I serve the Lord, the more times I recognize His presence in my camp, walking close beside me to deliver me from all harm and danger.
I remember getting up to sing one night to an audience of eight thousand people. As I looked over the crowd, I saw four men in the fifth row with stockings over their heads. God gave me peace so I was not afraid to go ahead and minister although it was obvious the men were there to try and disrupt the service or intimidate Jack and me. We later learned there was great turmoil in that city because a number of drug dealers had been converted, and the drug bosses wanted to threaten our lives. But God protected us from violence.
Another time in South America, we were on our way to the airport when a huge riot broke out. We were trapped in the middle of the violence, but God’s hand kept us safe.
Over the years we’ve received threats in the mail and over the phone, but Jack and I never were afraid, knowing that: There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:10-11).
More recently, I was not afraid when Jack was attacked by a serious, life-threatening physical illness. Somehow the Holy Spirit reminded me that God was in control and that my husband would be delivered. And he was!
How sad when people-even believers-lose contact with the presence of the Lord who is always with us. How tragic when they can no longer see the hand of God at work in their lives and are overwhelmed by despair. Thinking that nobody cares for them or is looking out for them, they try walking alone through the dark valleys of this world and are overwhelmed. The sad statistics reveal that more and more people are committing suicide, taking matters into their own hands.
Recently our long-time friend and team member, Chuck Ohman, told us of a friend of his who committed suicide. Some time ago, a pastor friend of our family in Detroit, took his own life. Another Detroit pastor we knew well had lunch with his daughter, kissed her and sent her on her way, then went into his office bathroom and hanged himself.
How sad to see these precious souls reach such a state of futility that they ended it all. Oh, if we had known their need! It hurts so much to see people destroy themselves in despair. Oh, if they had just come to us-or some other believer-for encouragement and help. Perhaps someone could have helped them find the answer to the question, Who are you? The answer for them-and for all of us-is: "I am the beloved child of my Father, God almighty!" If we know who we are, then we know there is help for the helpless and hope for the hopeless in Jesus. Nothing or no one is more powerful than God, and no one cares more than the Lord.
God remembers us in death
Several years ago I was in Israel interviewing some of the more influential members of the Israeli government, including members of the Knesset and various other leaders. One person I was to interview was the heroic military leader, General Moshe Dayan.
He was standing on a staircase, in uniform, complete with his trademark eye patch, ready to begin. As I greeted him, he suddenly said brusquely, "I am not going to do this interview!"
I was stunned because I had worked hard to make all the necessary arrangements, and politely inquired what had happened to change his mind. "Oh, it’s nothing you have done," he said. "I’ve just realized that this is pointless because no one will remember me when I am dead anyway!" And he walked away.
I believe General Dayan was wrong. A great many people knew and cared about him. They appreciated his patriotism, and his heroic efforts to preserve the nation of Israel in the face of overwhelming odds. To this day, his name is remembered and revered as a great soldier and leader.
But even if no one on earth remembered Dayan after his career and his life were ended, there is Someone who will not-who cannot-forget who you are in birth, in life, and in death. This friend is aware of even the most minute details of our lives-He is the Lord!
The Bible says, But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).
I have interviewed some 250 outstanding leaders and world figures, and I made it a practice to try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to share something uplifting with them as well as seeking information and comments from them. I wish I’d had the opportunity to witness to General Dayan. I’d love to have been able to tell him that, indeed, someone would remember him-and walk with him-after death. Someone would remember, and walk with him through the valley of the shadow of death. He is God almighty!
Perhaps you think your life has been less distinguished and noteworthy than someone like General Dayan. But you are not less important to God. He has been with you before birth, and throughout life. And He will not desert you when you come to the end of life in this world. Who are you? You are God’s child...and one of His favorite traveling companions!
The time will come for all of us when it is time to cross over from this world to the next. And the Lord will walk with us, faithful to the end, until the shadows of life are illuminated by the light of heaven. So we can make that final walk in confidence.
The Bible says, We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). My husband, Jack, says that the phrases "absent from the body, present with the Lord" in the Greek are both instantaneous and simultaneous! When the time comes, just as you close your eyes-you’re there!
And He will have been with you all the way!
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Nichole Nordeman - Legacy
I don't mind if you've got
Something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture
And hang it in a gallery
Of all the Who's Who's and So and So's
That used to be the best at such and such
It wouldn't matter much
I won't lie it feels alright
To see your name in lights
We all need an atta boy or atta girl
But in the end
I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough?
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust thieves and such
Will soon enough destroy
Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do or well-bred
Just want to hear instead
Well done good and faithful one