Giving God Room to Redirect Our Steps

by Mel Tavares

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

I left for work one morning last week and didn’t even make it to the end of the street before I saw the “road closed” sign and a police officer pointing me to a new route. I groaned and turned left. About two blocks up, I encountered another road closure. Each time I started down one of our crowded city streets, the police redirected me around a natural gas crew who were laying new lines. I arrived late at the office located less than four miles from my house—frustrated and in desperate need of a cup of coffee. Then I found out the reason for the detour, and realized I would need to leave my house ten minutes earlier for a bit in coming mornings while the pipeline project continued.

Life is like that some days, isn’t it? In fact, there are entire seasons of life that seem to be a daily redirection of what we assumed. It is during these times that we should remember Proverbs 16:9. We can and should pray and seek the Lord before making plans for the day, week, month, or year. Doing so allows us to press forward in doing kingdom work and expand our tent pegs. If we make no plans, we might well drift aimlessly, waiting for life to happen to us.

However, we sometimes still hit roadblocks and have to come up with a Plan B even after we consult the Lord. We might have a book release scheduled but end up sick and cannot attend. Or we sign up for a conference, but the flight is canceled. We plan a vacation with the family, but then a diagnosis comes.

Plans that are seemingly shipwrecked are the essence of Proverbs 16:9. We must allow room in our plans for God to redirect our steps. A flight delay may put us next to someone in the airport who needs encouragement, or perhaps next to someone divinely appointed to bring us the next opportunity for writing or speaking.

“The secret things belong to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV). He doesn’t always answer the why questions regarding redirection. We may never get the answer as to why things couldn’t just move forward as planned, but often the revelation comes as we are redirected, and the new path unfolds before us.

Just as I did not initially know why I was being rerouted on my way to the office, then later discovering there were natural gas lines being laid, the purpose of the new path sometimes becomes clearer as we go.

Are you willing to give God room to redirect your steps? Will you press in and continue praying and seeking as He nudges you to tweak your schedule and plans?

Dear Lord, thank you for your constant watch care. I acknowledge that my plans are not your plans, and your ways are not my ways. Sometimes I think I hear your voice, but I don’t get it quite right. I yield my plans to yours today. Thank you for redirecting my steps, when necessary, whether for my protection or another opportunity. Give me the strength and patience and grace I need to adjust to the steps you set before me. Amen.

This article brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Mel Tavares is an accomplished writer and speaker/teacher, both in ministry and in her career. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching writers. Her target market is women who are hurting and in need of Biblical hope. In addition to ghost writing and authoring her own books, Mel is a contributing author to several books, including the recently released DaySpring “Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comfort for Grieving Hearts.”  She writes for several online Christian communities, teaches classes online, conducts Facebook Live series, and is a podcast guest as opportunities arise. She is a wife, mom to seven, and grandma to ten.

Join the conversation. How has God redirected your plans in the past?

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An Army of Angels

by Crystal Bowman

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 NIV

For more than a decade, my husband and I were snowbirds, flying from Michigan to Florida when the temperatures dropped. My husband had business in both locations and traveled back and forth more often than I did.

Since our Florida home was in a safe neighborhood, I was not afraid to be alone at night when he was gone. But sometimes, if I had trouble falling asleep, I would ask God to send His angels to surround our house and keep me safe. I visualized an army of angels standing side by side around the perimeter of our house. I imagined them holding swords and shields as they stood guard. This mental picture comforted me and helped me get a good night of sleep.

One afternoon as I went for a walk, I ran into our next-door neighbor. We stood on the sidewalk and chatted for a while. Then she made a comment I didn’t understand. “Boy, you sure stay up late,” she said.

“No, I really don’t,” I explained. “I actually go to bed early.”

“Well, then, you must leave all your lights on,” she replied.

“No, I don’t. I only leave on one outdoor light by the garage door.” (It was a light she could not see from her house.)

I was getting more confused as she added, “Well, I got up the other night and looked out the window and it looked like every light in your house was on. Your house was lit up inside and out.”

It wasn’t until the next day that I thought more about her comments. I realized the lights she saw did not come from light bulbs but rather from the angels surrounding my house.

The Bible has many stories about angels. God often used them as messengers. He used angels to rescue and protect His people. He sent them to comfort and minister to His prophets—and even to His own Son! And sometimes he sent an entire army of angels.

In 2 Kings 6, we read the story of Elisha’s servant who was afraid when the king of Aram sent his army to fight the Israelites. When the servant got up early in the morning, he saw that enemy horses and chariots had surrounded the city. He asked Elisha, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (v. 15 NIV).

“Don’t be afraid,” Elisha answered, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16 NIV). Then Elisha prayed for God to open the servant’s eyes, and the servant “saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v. 17). God’s army of angels.

One day at my son’s house, I shared my angel story with my grandkids. That night as I tucked my eight-year-old grandson into bed, he said, “Gigi, will you pray for those angels to come around our house tonight?” It touched my heart to know he wanted the comfort and protection God’s angels give us.

The next time you desire God’s comfort and protection, ask Him to send His angels to surround you. But don’t be surprised by what the neighbors might say.

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation. Have you an angelic experience to share?

Homesick for Heaven

by Mabel Ninan

Rain reminds me of home.

It’s been raining almost incessantly where I live in northern California. The gentle pitter patter of rain and the sweet smell of wet earth fires neurons in my brains. Rain floods my mind with memories of India, my old and first homeland where I was born and raised.

The monsoon season in India lasts four months in a year. Rain permeates every aspect of our lives during this season, determining what we eat and wear, how we travel, and where we gather with friends. As a young girl, I remember eating hot samosas (a savory Indian snack) and drinking steaming cups of chai after school. When power outages made it harder to sleep sometimes at night, Dad would tell us stories. Or, we would gather with neighbors to play games and sing songs. Rain triggers homesickness, even after fourteen years of leaving India.

We experience a longing for home when we are away from home. A particular food dish, an old tune, a familiar scent, or a chance meeting with someone from our hometown can bring back memories of home. The pining for home is referred to as home-sickness probably because our hearts ache when we miss the comfort and familiarity of home.

I’ve come to embrace homesickness as an important and even beneficial part of my immigrant experience. It keeps my former home alive in my mind and increases anticipation for my next visit to India.

The apostle Paul also longed for home but not an earthly one.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4 NIV).

Our human bodies are weak and fragile. We struggle to keep our thoughts fixed on God and to love Him with our whole hearts. Sin, suffering, and worldliness can keep us from experiencing perfect fellowship with God. We crave release from our earthly tents and look forward to our new, resurrected bodies so we can love God freely and fully. Like Paul, we can feel homesick for our eternal house in heaven when our desire for intimacy with God grows with each passing day.

Rain can make me homesick for an earthly homeland. But I experience homesickness for my future home whenever I pray for and with others, discover new truths about God through the study of the Bible, enjoy the gifts God has given me, feel His love and comfort during times of grief, or see Him at work in the everyday details of my life.

Keeping eternity on our minds can fuel our love for God and encourage us to live intentionally on earth. To be homesick for heaven is a gift that we can enjoy on earth even as we await the gift of heaven itself.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5: 6-8 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Mabel Ninan is an author, speaker, Bible teacher, and host of the YouTube podcast, Immigrant Faith Stories. Her first book, Far from Home: Discovering Your Identity as Foreigners on Earth, reveals her self-discovery as a sojourner on earth as well as a citizen of heaven. An award-winning writer, Mabel’s writings have appeared in Upper Room, CBN.com, LeadingHearts.com, (in)courage.me and the YouVersion app.

Join the conversation: Do you experience homesickness? How do you deal with that?

Hoping and Waiting

by Dyann Shepard

Do you ever get tired of waiting? I do. I am impatient once I know what I want and when I want it. Not one of my admirable qualities.

Scripture is full of hoping and waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited 40 years for Isaac. The Israelites waited 430 years for freedom from Egypt, then another 40 years to see the Promised Land.

What are you waiting for? Are you tempted to assist God in fulfilling His promises when He is too slow? Abraham tried to bring about God’s promise of a son by impregnating Hagar. The Israelites tried to realize their hope with the golden calf when Moses seemed to linger too long at Mount Sinai. We live in an impatient world, expecting things to be resolved quickly and cleanly without rough edges. When life does not cooperate, we lose our patience and hope, often taking events into our own hands to “help” God fulfill His promises more quickly.

I want to be like Jesus. But I forget this requires presenting myself daily to God as a living and holy sacrifice, as my spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). It requires renewing my mind and conforming to His will. God is the potter who does the molding and transforming.

I want to be the potter without the kiln’s fire, the hand’s pressure, and the palm’s kneading. I fancy the shortcut version with the long-term effect. My hope is misplaced as I depend on my abilities rather than God. I must allow the Lord to work in me to will and to do His good pleasure. He will complete the work. Again, I must wait.

So we live as the Israelites did, waiting expectantly, participating with God but with the tension of not taking steps to fulfill the promise before the appointed time; a fine and delicate balance. God knows me well. My loving Father also waits. He waits for me to turn back, give up control and see the work and glory of God, in His time, in His way.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 9:6: For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The wait was almost 700 years before Messiah Jesus was born.

We are in good company as we wait with hope.  Waiting was modeled for us by Mary and Joseph after the angels promised that Mary would birth the Messiah. Elizabeth and Zacharias waited for the son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Simeon waited after the Holy Spirit revealed that he would not see death until he saw the Lord’s Christ.

God gave each a word and a promise. Each waited to experience fulfillment. Mary and Joseph trusted God in a way I cannot fathom. When Simeon’s hope was fulfilled, he held the baby Jesus in his arms and declared with praise to God, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations” (Luke 2:28–31).

It is easy to fix our eyes on the baby in the manger: quiet, sweet, peaceful, and uncomplicated. We must look past the manager and to the cross: loud, painful, tumultuous, and complicated. Look up, and give glory to God, our creator. He chose to take on the form of a vulnerable human being for our salvation. Jesus is our hope, the hope of our salvation.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Dyann Shepard is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, Bible teacher, former staff member of CRU,  Stephen’s Minister and retired CPA. Her passion is writing about God’s transforming power in our daily lives as we open our hearts to Him. Her Bible study “Wisdom: Capturing the Power of our Words” was released in 2022.  She is a contributing writer for Just Between Us magazine and writes a monthly blog.

Join the conversation: For what are you waiting today?

Where’s The Beef? Assessing Your Spiritual Growth

by Debbie Wilson

A friend introduced me to Burger Fi. I love their grass-fed cheeseburgers. I’d clobber my husband if he promised to bring me one and showed up with a carton of milk. Oops, that attitude kept the church in Corinth on milk and hindered their spiritual growth!

Paul wanted to serve the Corinthians filet mignon, but they could handle only milk. Their quarreling and jealousy showed their lack of maturity and inability to digest deeper truths.

“And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as spiritual people, but only as fleshly, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to consume it. But even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like ordinary people?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-1 NASB).

God has given believers His own Spirit “so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians. 2:12 NLT). Those who walk by the Spirit have access to the mind of Christ. But those who continue to live powered by the flesh (their old nature) can’t understand the things of God.

Steak would have been wasted on this church. They had no spiritual teeth.

This group of believers argued over worldly matters. (Of course, that never happens in our homes and churches.) Their mindset effectively shut down their ability to receive deeper spiritual truths.

Unfortunately, they weren’t an isolated case.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the actual words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB).

Adults who live on just milk end up weak and malnourished and unable to feed others. Thankfully, God has provided a better way.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NASB).

Sadly, the flesh didn’t lay down and die when we became Christians. It continues to crave the worldly cotton candy that hinders spiritual growth. We must consider ourselves “dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11 NLT). Only the Holy Spirit provides the power to overcome the controlling drive of the flesh.

It’s not too late to add a juicy steak to the menu. We can shed our worldly mindset and fleshy impulses by choosing to live moment by moment yielding to God’s Holy Spirit. Then we will be able to receive all God has for us and become all that He intended.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  Galatians. 5:16 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie writes and speaks to connect sojourners to the heart of Christ. She and her husband Larry founded Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit ministry offering life and relationship counseling and Bible studies. Despite time in Boston, the Midwest, and Southern California, she still says y’all. Her family, which includes two mischievous standard poodles, calls North Carolina home. Find free resources to refresh your faith and connect with Debbie at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Are you living on milk or solid food? What steps can you take to ensure your growth into maturity?

The God of Much More

by Sue Likkel

Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?” The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”  2 Chronicles 25:9 NLT

Somewhere between being a naturally frugal person and struggling with financial fear, I sit snuggly. Not deviating from those two spaces, I weigh purchases carefully—sometimes with trepidation. Growing up, I wasn’t poor, but I remember things being tight and the anxiety it caused my parents.

Our third child’s birth necessitated my taking time off work, and at the same time, a job opportunity came for my husband that he couldn’t pass up. However, this meant our checking account was dangerously low for years. I watched my spending even more closely, and many times the Lord provided just what we needed on the very day we needed it.

During that time, my gas tank was once on fumes and I didn’t know where the money was going to come from to fill it, but then I was asked to make something for someone who was willing to pay more than it was worth. (My gas tank was filled because of a quiche that day.) Many times, my debit card was declined at the grocery store, yet we never were without food. Sometimes a friend just showed up with gallons of milk. Thankfully my kids could wear hand-me-downs from relatives, and my boys were blissfully unaware of the brand of shoes they wore.

I can relate to Amaziah having spent lots of money but getting no return. Seems a reasonable question to ask: What about the money I spent? But the response is so beautiful: You have no idea how much more God can give you.

In my lean years, I often visualized an enormous heavenly warehouse. The floor of the warehouse had a huge trapdoor and frequently God would rain down material needs. I saw it in real time, not just with me but with others, too. He is a God of bounty.

I admit that every once in a while, I forget that visual. It’s true that I don’t always need to “get.” The Lord knows when a “no” is the best answer, but He also knows that I think too small most of the time. He is able to give “much more” than I expect.

Authors and speakers encourage us to dream big! It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s awfully scary, isn’t it? I mean, what if we fail? Or we’re rejected? Maybe these things will happen, but God has our back there, too. Mostly, we think too small, and God is wanting to give us the world.

A lovely image has floated around the Internet for years. A little boy is clutching his teddy bear, face down, saddened that the man kneeling in front of him wants to take it. But we can see this is Jesus, and behind His back is a bigger, newer teddy bear, one of great value.

Jesus stretches out His hand to us, too. He has something wonderful for us, if only we’ll trust that what we are clutching isn’t all He has in store for us. Maybe it’s not raining teddy bears, but certainly, whatever it is that we’re clinging to, He wants to give us much more.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Sue Likkel is a reader, writer, speaker, and teacher. A lover of words, she has spent decades in the classroom teaching English to middle and high schoolers. A child of God, she’s humbled and grateful for all He has done for her, like guiding her through challenges and blessing her with rich experiences. Native to Michigan but residing most of her life in the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys both the beaches and mountains with her husband, kids, and grandkids.

Join the conversation: What can you turn over to the Lord, so He can do exceedingly more than we can think to ask?

Wrestling for Blessings in the Dark

by Tina Yeager

A sentry of pines and brush obscure my view of the horizon from home. If I wanted to rise early enough to observe the sunrise, my shrouded lot would not allow it. Rather than greeting the morning, I’m more inclined to pull the covers over my head, telling myself I might as well put off my futile struggles for purpose until noon.

The dawn of a new year approaches during a similar wrestling match with the darkness. Despair over past disappointments fights the calling in my heart. Risk of another failure threatens to overtake my desire to serve the light. The shadows behind me declare I don’t have what it takes to succeed. I shield myself from the dangers of hope and avoid facing the unseen future as long as possible.

Only a power greater than my emotions can wrangle my soul to move forward.

Like Jacob in Genesis 32, I find myself wrestling with the Lord at the threshold of a new land. I cannot see whether peril or potential await. I want a word, prophecy, or some sign I will succeed this time. Yet memories of unmet goals, profitless work, and deferred dreams beat back my motivation.

Flawed like that patriarch, I worry the Lord has lost patience with me. Perhaps the next part of my journey holds consequences for my frailty instead of hope. The threshold of 2023 terrifies me. So, I dig in my anxious heels and refuse to budge until Christ promises to bless me.

My demand could result in a limp. I might lose everything, even myself, in the struggle. Yet I also realize I have nothing of true worth to hoard when facing the presence of Almighty God. Just as Jacob released all of his belongings to the Lord’s will, so must I.

With all laid out before Jesus, I ask for his mercy. I plead for a measure of hope he will bless me to fulfill the calling he put on my heart. His response to my struggle differs from the ways he has answered others. I do not receive a word of the year, a prophecy, or a clear sign.

Instead of signs or prophecies, the Lord offers an end to the wrestling match. Like he did for Israel, he can permanently change my walk and identity. The Holy Spirit declares his covenant with me by reminding me of the promise in his word. In Ephesians 1:3, the Lord reveals he has no need to give me a blessing when he has already given “every spiritual blessing.” It is up to me to live in the power he has already granted to me.

I had assumed success meant income or outcomes. Neither are measures of a faithful heart or accomplishing the will of Christ. My worldly perspective on achievement had limited my faith potential. It’s time to let go of my old battle strategies. No more shrinking back or striving for the wrong things and calling them goals for God to bless.

Instead, I will rise to meet the dawn of 2023 with confident peace. Though I cannot see what lies ahead, I believe in the heart of the Father who called me to meet my destiny. This year, I move forth in victory over the darkness. Abundantly blessed.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author, speaker, and life coach, Tina Yeager hosts the Flourish-Meant podcast and Flourish Today on Christian Mix 106 and publishes Inkspirations Online, a weekly writers’ devotional. She has been licensed as a counselor since 2005.

Her book, Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You, helps women fulfill their Christ-centered purpose. Check out her newest release, Upcycled: Crafted for a Purpose (Bold Vision Books).

For life coaching tips or to book her as an event speaker, check out tinayeager.com.

Join the conversation: How is God changing your walk and identity?

Choosing to Trust God in Tough Situations

by Grace Fox

The blizzard that swept across the continent at Christmastime paralyzed the international airport near my home. My husband and I had purchased airline tickets to travel to our youngest daughter’s home for the holidays, but as the news told of countless delayed and canceled flights, we began to wonder whether we would be able to go.

We went to the airport on the morning of our scheduled departure, checked in, and seated ourselves near our gate. Hundreds of other passengers waited for their flights, too. One by one, those flights were either delayed or canceled.

One woman, stranded for five days, shrugged her shoulders and said, “There’s nothing I can do.” Her eyes brimmed with tears.

A young man said, “I’m going to charter a bus and fill it up with other passengers trying to get to the same destination.”

Many people handled their disappointment and stress well. Others, not so much. They expressed frustration with the airlines and accused gate attendants and crew members of being irresponsible.

Life being what it is, we encounter tough situations over which we have no control. We observe the goings-on around us and make judgments. Trouble is, we can’t see or know everything that’s happening behind the scenes to affect our situation. So, based on incomplete information, we develop incorrect assumptions that lead to bad conclusions. Worse, in the stress of the moment, we forget that God is sovereign over every detail of our lives. We focus only on our immediate circumstances that are not going well, and we end up frustrated, angry, dejected, or hopeless.

This happened in the Bible story about Jairus, the father of a little girl who became ill and died. When faced with tragic loss, Jairus’ family and friends focused only on the circumstances beyond their control and lost hope. But Jesus had a different perspective. Here’s what the passage says:

“While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.’ But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ‘Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.’

“And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child.And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.’

And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, ‘Child, arise.’ And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.” (Luke 8:49-55 ESV)

Jairus’ friends and family focused on the facts as they saw and understood them. The little girl was dead. End of story.

But Jesus knew what the people didn’t. He knew every behind-the-scenes detail involved in this situation, and He had a plan.

The next time we face difficult circumstances, let’s pause to remember that God knows infinitely more about them than we do. He knows what’s happening behind-the-scenes in the spiritual realm, and He has a plan. Nothing can thwart His purposes. He is wise, good, and sovereign over every detail of our lives, and we can trust Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)ber of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-host of the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” Her new devotional Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey is available wherever Christian books are sold.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Grace Fox is a career missionary, the award-winning author of 13 books, and a popular Bible teacher at international women’s events. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and co-hosts the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” Her new devotional, Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journeyis available wherever Christian books are sold. Visit Grace’s website to subscribe to her monthly update and receive free printables to enhance your Bible reading and prayer time at gracefox.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever made incorrect assumptions about a difficult situation? What did you find out later the helped you make sense of it all?

God Goes Ahead of Us

by Susie Crosby

Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

(Part one of this story is titled: HELP, God. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here:

In HELP, God, I shared how my husband and I were recently rescued from a rip current in Kauai. The memory is still fresh, my heart is still tender, and I’m still discovering things through all that happened about the way God takes care of his people.

Whenever I think about how differently our near-drowning story could have ended, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and relief. And a bit of guilt, too. Hundreds of people have drowned in rip currents–several even at that very beach. Why some people get a miracle rescue and others do not is always going to be a hard question for me.

And angels? Aren’t they supposed to have a bright or holy aura about them? I just don’t know what to think anymore. I refer to Jeff as our “angel,” but he seemed like an ordinary (yet heroic) kind of guy. He even had a beer and went back to reading his book after it was all over.

As I reflect and question and share about our experience, I’m learning that God is so much more involved, so much more powerful and creative and compassionate than I let myself imagine most of the time. Everything that happened shocked me into realizing (once again) that God is in control, and I am not.

You see, I like to worry about things quite a bit. I’m pretty good at thinking about all the things that might possibly go wrong so that I can prevent them. My kids tease me, but I know I’m not alone in this struggle (and its almost debilitating anxiety) to keep everyone I love safe and close. It’s my job to keep everything in control, right?

I’m learning (often the hard way) that it is actually God’s job–not mine. My worrying, my planning, and my own strength is never going to be enough. When Bob and I were in those waves that day, there was nothing I could do to save us. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I should worry about needing to be rescued from a rip current, but God knew ahead of time. He knew we were going to end up in trouble, and he prepared a rescuer in advance for us. God went to that spot before we did, and I absolutely believe that his presence was further out and deeper down in the water than we ever were.

He had everything under control, and He always will.

As He told the prophet Jeremiah: “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NASB). The loftiest ideas, the greatest thing we can imagine about God, are woefully inadequate to describe Him. He is able to focus on the big things yet pay attention to small seemingly insignificant details. 

So when we get anxious about the people we love or worried about all the things that might go wrong, we can remember that God is going ahead of us. He knows what is going to happen, and he knows exactly what we are going to need. The above promise reminds us, too, that God will never leave us on our own. We really can count on him.

Thank you, Jesus, that everything ahead of us is in your hands, and you are already there. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Susie Crosby has loved books and Jesus for as long as she can remember. She writes because life is often harder than she’d like it to be, and faith can sometimes be a struggle. By sharing God’s Word in simple and relatable ways, Susie pours refreshment nd hope into discouraged hearts.

Susie has taught children in grades Pre-K through 8 for over 33 years. She currently teaches music, physical education, art, and technology at an all-kindergarten school. She is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In (Harvest House, 2018), and the children’s poem Moon Wonder (Mighty Kind Magazine, Issue 2, 2020).

Together with her ministry friend Angie Baughman, of Steady On Ministries, Susie enjoys co-hosting Bible Talk, a monthly podcast where they have way too much fun discussing one word and one verse at a time. Susie is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and the Red House Writers Collective. Her weekly blog and more encouragement can be found at   www.susiecrosby.com. Instagram:  @susiecrosby, Facebook: /susiecrosbyauthor

Join the conversation: How has God exceeded what you have imagined about Him?

HELP, God! (Part 1)

by Susie Crosby

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. Psalm 107:6 NLT

I gasped as my eyes found my husband. The look on his face sent a lightning bolt of fear from my head to my toes. The waves were getting bigger and rougher; and as we both struggled to stay afloat, he was drifting farther and farther away from me and out to sea.

“I’m not going to make it,” he said. His voice was weak and resigned, and I knew he meant it. My best friend, the love of my life, the father of my boys was drowning, and I could not save him.

In a frozen moment of terror, a million thoughts raced through my mind:

I should try to get to him and hold him up, but I don’t have the strength. We will both go under.

I should try to swim to shore and call 911, but he won’t be able to last that long.

I cannot watch him drown. If he dies, I don’t want to live.

How had we gotten into such a desperate situation?

I was sure it was my fault. I wanted to swim one last time before we flew home. But something was different—I could tell right away. After a couple of waves had crashed over our heads, my feet couldn’t touch the sand. We were moving rapidly away from the beach, and we couldn’t get back. I turned to tell Bob I was getting scared, and that’s when I realized how far out he was and how exhausted he had become.

Panic took over and my body went completely weak. I had only seconds to make the hardest decision of my life, and both choices led to tragedy.

All of a sudden, a burst of strength came from somewhere deep inside of me. With an energy and volume that I didn’t know I had, I yelled, “HELP! HELP!” toward the shore. There were no lifeguards at this spot, and I couldn’t see the beach; but I was daring to hope that some of the people we had seen earlier were still there. Maybe someone would call 911?

That’s when God sent “Angel Jeff.” He got to us in what seemed like an instant, put Bob on his back, and swam us at an angle out of the rip current and back to shore. He saved us both.

Jeff, a snorkeler with years of experience swimming in strong currents, was a selfless guy who wasn’t afraid to jump in and help. At first, I wondered why he had chosen that particular beach to set up his chair and read his book that afternoon. But I believe with all my heart that it was no coincidence. God knew that we were going to get caught in that dangerous rip current at that exact time. And he knew that we would desperately need someone to rescue us from that very spot. This loving God of ours put his “Angel Jeff” in the right place at the right time to answer my desperate screams for help.

Psalm 107 reminds us:

He hears and helps us when we are lost–not sure what the next step is.

He hears and helps us when we are alone, in trouble, and bound by things that hurt us.

He hears and helps us when we are knocked off our feet and deeply afraid.

Sometimes, HELP is the only word we can say.

And sometimes, it is the only word we have to say.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Susie Crosby has loved books and Jesus for as long as she can remember. She writes because life is often harder than she’d like it to be, and faith can sometimes be a struggle. By sharing God’s Word in simple and relatable ways, Susie pours refreshment nd hope into discouraged hearts.

Susie has taught children in grades Pre-K through 8 for over 33 years. She currently teaches music, physical education, art, and technology at an all-kindergarten school. She is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In (Harvest House, 2018), and the children’s poem Moon Wonder (Mighty Kind Magazine, Issue 2, 2020).

Together with her ministry friend Angie Baughman, of Steady On Ministries, Susie enjoys co-hosting Bible Talk, a monthly podcast where they have way too much fun discussing one word and one verse at a time. Susie is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and the Red House Writers Collective. Her weekly blog and more encouragement can be found at   www.susiecrosby.com. Instagram:  @susiecrosby, Facebook: /susiecrosbyauthor

Join the conversation: Have you ever desperately called for help?