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Remembering Marge Johnson: A Life of “Jabez Moments”

April 22, 2012

Gospel: John 14:1-7

Several years ago at Church we had a study group on the book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. It comes from I Chronicles 4 and is about an obscure character whom God draws from a painful childhood into a life of joy and blessing.

“Lord, oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” (And God granted his request.) I Chronicles 4:10

One of the key tenets of the “Jabez Prayer” is the concept of “enlarging my territory.” It means asking God to broaden your life, to widen your perspective, to refuse to settle for the status quo.

The Lord refers to this when He tells us that He has gone on to Heaven, to a place with “many mansions” prepared just for us – just for Marge. We have just celebrated this with His glorious Resurrection and the conquest of sin and death. Heaven is enlarged beyond our capacity to understand it – God’s territory is unlimited, even by death.

It’s an ironic twist that as much as Marge prayed for God to enlarge her territory, she found her true joy and love in her home and family. She was one of those rare mothers and grandmothers who is blessed to have most her family close by… and even those who are not close by are always on her heart.

How large can be someone’s tent whose whole life was spent in or near Miami County?

  • Marge’s territory was enlarged by what she called her “Jabez moments.” These were unexpected encounters with people she met wherever she went. She loved to meet people and she loved to share the stories they created together.
  • I learned that Marge’s life was built on Jabez moments long before she ever read Wilkinson’s book. Look at the scrapbooks. Recall her stories. Study her pictures, especially the sunsets. Jabez moments were her life-long lifestyle. [A side note about the notebooks and stories – these were not idle projects to keep an old woman busy. These are priceless treasures for your family. There is no inheritance more valuable for anyone than these books.]
  • From the Great Depression years through her adulthood, Marge enlarged her territory by helping people at Fletcher’s Lake, in the jail, in county offices, on her truck runs, in her travels with Bob. Whether they were confrontations with rough types or prayer concerns with the Peoria Church Women, everyone she met helped make her territory vast. She met them with kindness and humility, grace and great acceptance.

Having an “enlarged territory” requires an enlarged soul.

  • Marge’s soul was enlarged from her childhood through the Churches at Waupecong and Fletcher’s Lake. She was sensitive to the Lord’s leading from early in her life.
  • It was at a revival meeting at Peoria Church in the late 1950’s where Marge had a soul-changing experience with God. She always kept the notice about the meetings with Evangelist Woody Shields in her Bible as a reminder of those days. For the last 60 plus years, God has walked with Marge through an ever increasing territory.
  • Marge’s territory grew and grew because:

–      She accepted people for who they are, not for what she wanted them to be

–      She loved the diversity of her family

–      She loved her “barefoot preacher”

–      She fleshed out her love when she allowed Kalene’s family to move in with her

–      She gave time, talent and money to the Peoria Church Women, missions, and the Church

  • Jesus Christ was and is her Lord and she walked with Him in the wide world she lived in here on earth and she walks with Him today in that wide world we call Heaven

The largest territory is Heaven and Marge’s life on earth prepared her for her life with God on high.

  • She was ready – her body was done and her soul was ready to soar. She knew what lay ahead for her – the place with many mansions, God’s enlarged territory for all who put their faith in Him
  • She has been ready since Dec. 31, 1997 when Bob preceded her into God’s Heavenly territory – one of my first conversations, one she repeated many times over the years, “Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him”
  • The way was made for her, as is has been made for all of us, by Jesus Christ, who has gone there ahead of her – ahead of you and me – to expand out territory to those many mansions.

This was Marge – the simple woman of Wawpecong, whose life on earth was greatly enlarged by her faith in Christ, the love of her family, and the moments where God’s hand was on her in joy and pain.

And God granted her request.

In loving memory of Marjorie R. Johnson, Jan. 21, 1922- April 17, 2012. Below: Marge (seated) with good friend Peggy AdamsImage

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