A Worthy Example

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.  Genesis 39:23 MSG

I really want to be like Joseph.

If you want to read his story, it’s found in Genesis 37-50. It’s not a pretty account. His jealous older brothers sold him into slavery. His life in Egypt was a series of trials, like being falsely accused and thrown into jail. But Scripture assures us: God was with him and granted favor, which extended to those around him.

He was eventually given leadership over his fellow inmates. After years, he was asked to interpret a dream for the pharaoh. The king, seeing his wisdom and personal connection with God, set him above all of Israel. As a result, he was able to save millions of people from a famine, including his entire family back in Canaan.

So why would I want to be like Joseph? The first reason is that in all of the trying circumstances, and there were many, Joseph never complained. He didn’t turn bitter, or rail against God. Ever!

It seems likely that Joseph had learned to trust God from an early age. The Bible mentions repeatedly that Joseph was a man of integrity, always choosing God’s way when tested.

The second reason I admire Joseph is explained best in Genesis 50:19-21, when Joseph told his brothers: “’Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.’ He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart” (MSG).

Joseph always focused on the big picture. Even while suffering, he kept a long-term vision. He trusted that God was in control, and all would all work out in the end for God’s glory.

Joseph held a powerful position in Egypt, but he remained humble. God worked in Joseph’s life and grew him into a man full of integrity and humility. Joseph didn’t focus on his discomfort. He trusted in God’s plan, even when he didn’t know the whole journey. He merely walked in obedience, content to be doing his part to bring God glory.

I have always liked the story of Joseph, but after realizing the above, I’m inspired to emulate this biblical character. I want my focus to remain on God and others instead of turning inward when faced with a trial. I want to trust in His plan for my life and His power to make it happen.

God blesses a humble heart. We need to stop focusing on our own desires and instead seek ways we can serve Him with a humble heart. He is the same God who watched carefully over Joseph and rewarded his faithfulness.

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A Worthy Example – encouragement from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. Cheri’s devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, and two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Cheri’s latest release, Marriage Matters, features eleven couples’ marriage stories. You will find wisdom and encouragement from their experiences and help for living out your own marriage.

Join the conversation: What biblical character stands out as a example for you to follow?

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Go … and Wait

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”                                                                                    Genesis 12:1-4 NIV

Always in the past, when I’ve read the story of Abraham, I focused on the promise God gave him: that he would be the father of a nation. My take-away was that God does keep His promises. But it was 25 years between His promising and fulfilling it. Rarely do I remember God called Abraham to take action first (leave your country and relocate to a foreign land) … and then grew silent while He made Abraham wait … for a long time.

Maybe this story has touched my heart lately because it seems to parallel the journey I’m on right now. Approximately six years ago, God started our family on a path which began with preparation. I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and one day, while typing away at home, God whispered to me, “Finish your book.” Unlike Abraham, who didn’t question God’s authority but promptly obeyed without any details, I argued.

“What do You mean finish my book? I’m not a writer, this book is just something I do as a form of therapy, in my spare time. And,” I continued, “while we’re on the topic of spare time, with three kids under the age of 12, I don’t have any of that in which to write.”

God, in His infinite patience, and knowing I wasn’t (really) back-talking, but more mirroring the insecurities of Moses, answered with three simple words, “Finish your book.”

his time I obeyed. Without knowing what exactly God wanted me to do, I did the next thing. I “finished my book” … which led to attending a writer’s conference … which led to creating a blog … which led to joining some writer’s groups … which led to a job for a book club … which led to the elimination of my medical transcription job … which led to where I am today. I’ve published over 20 nonfiction books on a variety of topics, and am currently working on writing and publishing in the fiction realm in this year.

Just like with Abraham, the direction God wanted me to go hasn’t been a straight line. I have taken a few detours (rushing ahead in trying to find employment when God instructed me to rest) and have suffered a few lasting consequences for them (much like Abraham did by having Isaac to “help” God.)

But God forgave my mistakes and allowed me to experience blessings as well. For instance, God used my 10 years of medical transcription work to teach me grammar and typing skills (which come in handy with my current employment, not to mention with writing itself). In addition, He has used various jobs in the past three years to teach me skills and give me certain experiences. There’s no doubt in my mind that He has been equipping me for whatever future He has planned for me, which seems to be something in the world of writing.

Rereading Abraham’s story in Genesis recently, it was encouraging to see God first commanding Abraham to take a step of faith, then give him a 25-year waiting period before fulfilling His promise. Despite the many detours he and Sarah took, and the times they went off on their own to make things happen more quickly, God still fulfilled the promise—but  in His way, His time.

I’m do glad I did what God asked me to do: I finished the book. In light of Abraham’s story, I am now determined to patiently wait for Him for the rest. I can wait with a sense of purpose for Him to clearly reveal the ministry or purpose He has for my life. I continue to take each next step He commands, whenever He chooses to speak. One step at a time.

It’s something I’m getting better at as time moves on—this waiting patiently thing. Just like my latest manuscript, I’m still a work in progress. But what I will be in the end will be worth the wait.

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Go … and Wait – insight on #FollowingGod from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She writes regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart. You can connect with her on Facebook.

Her newest release, Journey of Complete Surrender, delves into the freedom that comes with giving God your whole heart and taking your hands completely off to give Him the chance to move as only He can.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made you wait? How did He use the time in you?

 

Endure

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” Hebrews 10:39 (MSG)

When I used to think about the word endure, I have to admit, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It brought to mind all these horrible things I had to do because they were good for me: choking down cooked spinach, exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day,  cleaning the house; ____ (you fill in the blank).

After attending a women’s conference at my church, the word “endure” has now become more palatable. I would even venture to say I’ve changed my whole perspective. I learned that if God tells me to do something, even when I know it will be anything but easy, when I choose to remain faithful and obedient to His calling, God will bless that choice. That’s endurance.

Enduring doesn’t have to be painful. It can be a simple choice every day to ask God to help me in those painful moments, so that I can fulfill the assignment He has given me to do. For however long He chooses for me to do it.

A great example of endurance is Noah – he persevered for 100 years building the ark God called him to build. He followed God’s instructions even when his region had never seen the kinds of rains that God promised. He completed the assignment God gave him, and his family was saved from death.

And then there was Moses. He 2-4 describes how he lived in exile in the desert with his father-in-law and wife for 40 years before his encounter with God. Moses didn’t know it at the time, but it was all preparation for his big assignment: leading a mass of complaining, rebellious people through the desert. God was getting him ready to lead His chosen people out of Egypt into freedom.

Six years ago, I surrendered my life to God. Three years ago, I began specifically praying for something that still has not come to fruition. This past September, I surrendered even those dreams to God and asked Him to replace my desires with His.

While on the outside it may look like I’m still merely enduring, my perspective about the journey has changed. I am choosing joy. I am choosing to be faithful. I am choosing to look for and see God in the little and the big. I am choosing to endure because I know, in His time, if I continue to obey and be faithful, God will bless that obedience and faithfulness.

Do you think Noah envisioned as a teenager that one day God would use him to replenish the world and to save his family by building a giant boat? Do you think Moses, while wandering around in the desert, exiled from Egypt, had any inkling God was using that preparation to save His chosen people from bondage and lead them into freedom? God chose to use both of those men to fulfill His purpose, one much greater than any they could have imagined.

And, my friends, I’m believing God is going to use this time of preparation I’ve been in to fulfill His desire for my life, no matter how He wants it to look. I am choosing to endure, so I can give Him all the glory for when His plans for my life are fulfilled.

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Learning that Endurance isn’t the same as a call to suffer – from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She writes regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart. You can connect with her on Facebook.

Her newest release, Journey of Complete Surrender, delves into the freedom that comes with giving God your whole heart and taking your hands completely off to give Him the chance to move as only He can.

Join the conversation: What do you struggle to surrender completely to God?

 

Hating it with the Right Attitude

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV

God has been working on my attitude for the past six years. Okay, let me be completely honest. God has been working on my attitude my whole life. One of my most vivid memories is being called out in fifth grade by my music teacher for rolling my eyes after he gave a direction. I didn’t even realize I had done it, but I did and still feel guilty about it some 35 years later.

Even though I don’t mean to, I have a tendency to grumble and complain, and at times, my memory can be so short that even if God came through in a miraculous way last week, I’m only focused on how He is not resolving my current issue right now.

But, while I am a slow learner, I’m starting to see progress. I’m continually reminded from Bible story after Bible story that miracles or breakthroughs happen after the thanksgiving. For example, Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison after staying up all night praying and singing hymns. Even though God had loosed their chains, they chose to stay. As a result, the jailer and his household all became part of God’s family that night (Acts 16:22-33).

There has been a certain situation in my life, one of my own doing, that I have asked God to release me from for the past three years. Three long years. I’ve begged, pleaded, thanked Him ahead of time (hoping to cause His answer to come a little faster), all while nurturing and feeding my miserable attitude and spirit.

I’m not sure the exact moment it happened, but sometime this past fall, all that God has been teaching me for the past three years about this situation clicked into place. I realized, “This is where I am in life right now. My situation may change in the future, but for now, this is where God has placed me. I have a choice. I can be miserable and choose to wake up every morning dreading the day … or I can choose joy despite my circumstances and find the blessings in living life for Him.” No one else can choose for me … it’s my choice.

The next day I made a decision to praise God for every circumstance. If He closed a door of opportunity, I would thank Him for the closed door. I would look for the blessings in my life and choose to praise Him for those, even when I continued to struggle with that exasperating situation.

A few days after that decision, I was exercising with a friend and telling her what God had been teaching me. I shared that when I chose the right attitude, it truly did change my inward spirit, and I was feeling more joy despite my situation.

Wanting to encourage me, she replied, “So you’re enjoying your situation now?”

“Oh no,” was my quick response, “I’m still hating it, but now I’m hating it with the right attitude!”

For me, head knowledge about my need to be thankful had finally reached my heart. I would choose to trust God even when my circumstances are downright miserable. Submitting myself to the Holy Spirit resulted in His fruit of joy. It makes all the difference in the world in how I feel while He is asking me to wait.

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Hating it with the right attitude – thoughts from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What have you learned to hate with the right attitude?

Choosing Endurance with Joy

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” Hebrews 10:39 (MSG)

When I used to think about the word endure, I have to admit, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I would invariably think of these horrible things I had to do because they were good for me, but for which I had absolutely no desire: choking down cooked spinach because it’s healthy, exercising for 30 minutes a day, cleaning the house, ____ (you fill in the blank!)

However, a September women’s conference at my church changed my perspective on enduring. I learned that when God directs me to do something, even when (or maybe especially when) I know that the assignment is going to be anything but easy, if I choose to remain faithful and obedient, God will bless that choice. That’s endurance.

Enduring doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be torture. It can be choosing every day to ask God to help me in the difficult moments, so that I can fulfill the assignment He has given me to do, for however long He chooses to keep me there.

I’m reminded of Noah—he endured building an ark year after year— even when the world had never seen rain like that before. He completed the assignment God gave him, and his family was saved from death. Do you think he enjoyed coming home from his day job only to put in hours into his ark assignment? With the dimensions that were given in Genesis 6, this was one assignment that couldn’t be knocked out in a weekend!

And then there was Moses. Exodus 2-4 describes his life as a shepherd in the desert with his father-in-law and wife for forty years, before his encounter with God at the burning bush. His assignment: to lead a bunch of complaining, grumbling people through the desert for another forty years. I’m thinking the first forty years were less painful and definitely less effort for him than the latter forty. Yet because he chose to obey, he was used to lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt into freedom.

Six years ago, I surrendered my life to God to use however He chose. Three years ago, I began praying specifically for an answer to a prayer that still has not come to fruition. This past September I surrendered my dreams to God (fully this time with no hidden agenda) and asked Him to replace my desires with His.

While on the outside it may look like I’m still “enduring,” my perspective about the journey has changed. I am choosing joy. I am choosing to be faithful. I am choosing to look for and see God in the little and the big. I am choosing to endure because I know, in His time, if I continue to obey and remain faithful and endure the present circumstances, God will bless that faithful obedience by carrying out His dreams for my life.

Do you think Noah envisioned as a teenager that one day God would use him to replenish the world and to save his family by building a giant boat? Do you think Moses, while wandering around in the desert, exiled from Egypt, had any inkling God was using that preparation to eventually use him to free His people from bondage and lead them into freedom?

God used both these men to carry out His purposes, intentions much greater than anything they could have thought up in their wildest dreams.

And, my friends, I’m believing God is going to use my time of preparation to fulfill His dream for my life, no matter how He wants it to look. I am choosing to endure so I can give Him all the glory for the answer when He chooses to fulfill his purposes for me.

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Choosing to endure doesn’t mean a choice of hardship, surrendering to endurance often brings joy – @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What dream has God called you to? Do you feel this time (while you endure) could be His preparation for what lies ahead?

Sitting in Silence with God

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.   Psalm 37:4-5 NIV

In December 2006, I found myself sitting in the Christmas Eve service alone. I was recovering from a recent miscarriage and subsequent surgery, my husband was sick at home with the flu, and I was feeling sorry for myself. The image I was anticipating not even one week prior was definitely not what had played out in reality.

The following February, I found myself back in the same emergency room, this time with my husband as the patient, with questions as to what was causing his pain, symptoms and rapid weight loss. We finally received the first of several diagnoses that May and began a difficult 10-year journey toward healing.

However, throughout the physical and emotional upheaval, what weighed most heavily on me was grief for our unborn child. My arms were empty. My heart ached. Yet still, it felt selfish to pray for another child, because of the demands and uncertainty in our lives.

My thoughts kept being drawn to Psalm 37:4-5 (NIV) “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:” I didn’t quite know how that specifically fit my situation, so I looked to Jesus as my example.

In Matthew 26, Jesus went away from his disciples and got really honest with God. First, He asked that this cup (dying on the cross) be taken from Him if possible; but then He followed that request with “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (26:42 NIV).

While my unmet desire didn’t begin to compare with facing death on the cross, it felt right to approach God in the same way. First, I poured out my heart to my Father – all my fears about my husband’s illness, the grief over the loss of our child, and how desperately empty my arms felt. Then I prayed: “Lord, please either give me the desires of my heart (another chance to be a mom again)” OR “Change my desires to match Yours for my life and take away this deep longing that is consuming me.”

I prayed that prayer faithfully, every day, for almost a year. Every day leading up the one-year anniversary of our child’s death was difficult as we worked on my husband’s recovery simultaneously while still grieving. Each day I meant it more and more: “Please, God, either bring my husband and I into agreement about trying for another child, or take this desire away from me and allow me to be content with the blessings You have chosen to give.”

Almost to the year, we discovered we were pregnant with our “bonus blessing.” God once again delighted our family with another child, when we were not even actively trying to conceive.

Sitting in silence, during that difficult time, meant initiating conversation and pouring out gut-wrenching, honest feelings with my Father. I prayed over Scripture on what I was facing, and spent time being quiet to allow God time to work. Every day I sat quietly with God and waited on Him time to change my heart. I wanted Him to line my will up with His.

While that season was incredibly difficult, I wouldn’t change what I experienced and the resulting closeness I felt to God during that time. This time He chose to heal our family with another child, one who continues to bring laughter and joy; but I also know that whatever God chose to do would have been the perfect choice.

I’m truly grateful for our three blessings here on earth and can’t imagine life without them. I’m also excited to meet the one I’ve been patiently waiting to meet for 11 years now. What a reunion for our family of six that will be!

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Sitting in Silence with God – @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine, her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartacheand Caring for the Caregiver . Cheri would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. 

Join the conversation: Do you have a desire that you are waiting on God to fulfill?

Conquering Fear by Learning to Trust

by  Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  Psalm 56:4

I lived 40+ years gripped in fear. To me, my anxiety was absolutely rational. Anyone with a brain must surely be as frightened as I about having an accident while driving in the snow. Who didn’t worry for their family’s safety? Fear touched every part of my life. I was tortured with the idea I would die and leave my children motherless, or that my husband would die and make me a widow. There was nothing that seemed unreasonable about any of it.

It was a miserable way to live.

I’ve been a Christian since I was six, but that didn’t eliminate the oppression I lived under. For many years, God invited me into a deeper relationship with Him and finally I decided to jump in with both feet.

With that choice, God didn’t automatically eliminate my fear. He didn’t start by addressing my depression or anxiety. He began with a simple invitation. Trust Him. Not my job. Not my employers. Not my bank account. Not my family. God knew I first needed to learn how to trust Him before I’d have the tools to eliminate the stronghold of fear from my life.

My journey to trust involved a miscarriage, my husband’s chronic illness, a job loss and subsequent financial issues. As I learned to trust God with these overwhelming circumstances, I began to see that He could deal with my fears as well. I asked Him to  pinpoint exactly when fear attached itself to my spirit. I prayed God would reveal the lie I was believing and His truth to replace it.

He took me back to the night it happened. I was driving home on the highway, at night, when in the blink of an eye rain turned into a blinding blizzard. After spinning out in a little Mirage, I found myself staring at the grill of a semi-truck which had stopped a mere two feet from the hood of my car. Fear entered when I believed I was mere inches from being crushed by that hulk of a machine.

Then God left me with a question: Maybe, just maybe, God had strategically placed the 80,000 pounds of steel as a barrier to protect me from injury or death from other vehicles coming around the curve who could have hit me head on. What had been a terror-filled night 17 years ago became God’s loving protection of His child. My fear of winter driving was healed.

It’s hard to trust Someone you don’t know very well. Learning to trust is a process. I had to choose to get to know God on a deeper level, and it was only then He could start the process of healing me of my long-entrenched fear. I needed to communicate all of my feelings with Him, holding nothing back. But, the more I grew to know Him, the easier it became to trust Him.

Because our God is so personal, your experience may look very different from mine, but the result will be just as complete. Then, when storms come into our lives (such as my crippling fears), there is a history shared with Him that enables us to trust even when life looks overwhelming. It is during those times when true growth occurs and freedom is achieved. 

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) reinforces this concept: “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Finding a way out of all that fear has been a long process. God has released its grip on me through a deeper relationship with Him. As I continually make the choice to put my trust in Him, He continues to heal different areas of my life that need His attention. As a result, I’m now able to step into His calling on my life. Because when I’m doing His will, I have nothing to fear.

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We all experience fear – author @CheriSwalwell shares how to conquer it on @AriseDailyDevos (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine, her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver . Cheri would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: Have you had to overcome fear? Tell us about your experience.

 

 

God Answers While We Live Life

by Cheri Swalwell

“The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12 (NIV)

I’ve been struggling spiritually for a while. God has been speaking dreams and desires into my life. Passions and dreams that include writing, speaking, and something more I can’t name. Passions planted eight years ago by God after a sincere prayer of wanting my life to matter for Him, however He chose. Passions which have now become my passions and longings and gifts and talents to offer back to Him. Passions I don’t want to let go because they excite me.

A few years ago, God moved me to give those dreams and desires back to Him. In a small way, I felt it was much like when God asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac, the son of promise he’d waited so long to receive (Genesis 22). In my “Isaac moment,” I chose to believe that in giving back the dreams God had planted in my heart, He would  either give those desires back in His time or replace them with something better than I could ever imagine.

Then recently, God started whispering that I should get ready because change was coming. And I keep hearing that whisper, but nothing beyond that, which has me feeling like I’m in a sort of limbo. Have I missed something? Lost out on an opportunity? Or should I assume God is working in the background and just hasn’t given the signal to “move” yet?

Sometimes I get so fixated on the unseen future that it almost paralyzes me in the here and now.

But this week, God gave impressed a new truth on me as I read about Gideon in the book of Judges. Judges 6:11-12 states, “The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

It was while Gideon was living ordinary life, actually hiding away from the enemy, the angel appeared to give him an assignment.

God then reminded me about others: Noah, Esther, and Mary. The Bible isn’t specific about what Noah was doing when God approached him, so that makes me think he was busy with life, working to provide for his family. Esther was living in the palace with her eunuchs and female attendants when God called her to step up into her assignment. God announced His plan for Mary, the future mother of Jesus, while she lived with her family, quietly preparing for her wedding.

Each of these people was living in the here and now, simply determining each day to be faithful to Him in the ordinary.

No one missed the message, not one blew their calling. He was kind of hard to miss.

Bottom line? When I’m fully surrendered to Him, I’m living to fulfill His purpose, no matter how seemingly mundane it may be. And what better way to be ready to hear when a call for new service comes? When I keep my focus on Him, my heart is attuned to His. And no matter where He has me in any given moment, He will use me for His glory.

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What has been your experience in hearing God’s calling?

Photo by Mesut Kaya on Unsplash

Risk-Taker Wannabe

by Cheri Swalwell

Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.”                                                                                                                        Exodus 4:10 The Message

I’m a risk taker wannabe. I was a tomboy growing up who loved to climb trees … until I got stuck and needed help getting down. I played football with my church youth group … until my nose broke for the second time. With a success rate like that, I’m far less prone to take risks now.

So it was a bit of a stretch for me, when five years ago, I asked God to use my family however He chose. My desire was to leave a spiritual legacy. His answer came with the downsizing of my job and its ultimate elimination six months later. I panicked, but God provided two new positions. A few years later, God continued my trust-adventure by asking me to resign from one of those positions. I was afraid to take that step, not knowing how I would pay the bills but knew obedience to God’s direction was the only choice. One week after I resigned, God provided another job.

I’m not the only one who avoids the scary unknown. Risk-taking didn’t come naturally to Moses, either. While living in exile after killing an Egyptian, Moses was approached by the Great I Am from within a burning bush in the middle of the wilderness. God had a job for Moses to do. He would go as God’s spokesperson to Pharaoh, demanding the release of one and a half million slaves.

Moses responded with grave misgivings. First, he questioned God’s wisdom, then he resorted to excuses. “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NASB)

In response, God patiently worked with him, promising to be with Him and explaining the big picture of His plan for His people. He even gave Moses several miraculous signs to prove He was really God.

Moses then reminded God that he was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10, NIV).

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say”” (Exodus 4:11-12 NIV).

Back when I had asked God to use my family and me, as He began removing things to make space for His plan, like Moses, I panicked. I asked for clarification. I fasted and waited two additional weeks to “know that I knew that I knew.” I was so afraid of making a mistake and missing His blessing.

And, just like with Moses, God continued to patiently, gently, and lovingly meet me where I am. He understands me and is not surprised when I need one more sign, knowing my need to prepare before I jump into something scary or life-altering.

By saying yes and walking in obedience one step at a time, even when timid or scared, I am fulfilling the passion God has placed in my heart. He reveals His glory, for any progress made in advancing God’s kingdom isn’t because of something I did but simply because I obeyed when God said to walk. He did the rest.

I’ll admit it: I’m a lousy risk-taker. But when I choose simple obedience, God gives me the adventure of a lifetime and blesses me for my faith and obedience.

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: When has God called you to step out in faith?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash