Protection in the Storm

by Melissa Heiland

Our son, Josh, was stationed in Minot, North Dakota and so we packed up the younger children, left our home in sunny Florida, and flew north for a visit.

When we landed in North Dakota, we were met with ice and snow and temperatures colder than we had ever experienced. Josh met us at the airport, and we all piled into his truck for a three-hour trip to his home.

The roads were treacherous, but Josh seemed confident as he braved the storm. Suddenly, Josh lost control of the vehicle, and we began to spin on the highway. The truck turned 360 degrees and crashed into a snowbank.

As we were spinning, in what seemed like slow motion, Josh remained calm and my husband quietly repeated, “We’re ok. We’re ok.” When the truck hit the snowbank, we took a collective breath and realized that we were, in fact, ok.

A highway patrolman quickly came to our aid and got us out of the snowbank. We told him where we were headed, and he advised us to get off at the next exit, because the roads were too dangerous to navigate. We heeded his advice, took the next exit and found a hotel to spend the night.

Later that evening, we were watching the news and learned that a 100 car pile-up occurred minutes after we had exited the highway at the very place where we would have been had we not listened to the advice of the officer. We thanked the Lord for His protection.

So often when our plans are thwarted, we become frustrated. We fail to recognize that God is often protecting us from unknown dangers. He is a good Father, always loving, guiding, protecting. I am thankful that He protected my family that fateful winter day, and that He continues to protect us each day.

He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

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

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: Have you ever discovered that you have been protected from an unknown danger? Please share!

Stalked by a Mountain Lion

by Linda Evans Shepherd

One summer afternoon, I found myself hiking up a mountain road alone. My young husband and friend had run ahead to secure a spot for our tents in an upper mountain valley. Paul assured me that he would return shortly.

But as the shadows stretched, I begin to worry. Where was my husband? Why hadn’t he come back for me? Had something happened to Him? At first, I was mad that he left me alone in the wilderness. But after a few hours ticked past, my anger melted into fear.

That’s when the lengthening shadows taunted me with the growl of a mountain lion, hidden in the boulders a few yards above me.

I knew I couldn’t outrun the beast, and any attempt I made to flee would tempt him to believe I was easy prey. So I did the only thing I could: I continued walking with my hands above my head, trying to look like a large, scary creature. Even though I was dizzy with fear, I added a deep growling yell to let the cat know my creature persona was not to be messed with.

At my sound, the mountain lion stopped growling, and I kept moving forward, hiking with hands up as though I was a bear. But where was my husband?

I soon found myself surrounded by darkness in a grove of trees and I was too tired to go on.  I had no idea if the lion was still stalking me and my husband still nowhere to be found.

I sat down, leaning against a tree.

That’s when someone call my name!  “Linda?” I had made it to the edge of basecamp, where I found my husband doubled over with altitude sickness, too sick to hike back down the trail to search for me. Our friend had recovered enough from this same illness to find me.

As I think about this story, I can’t help but compare it to what we are going through today. We clearly understand the dangers around us; wars, rumors of war, sky high gas prices, inflation at the grocery store, and dips in the stock market. 

Fear growls at us at every turn.  And we can’t help but wonder, Where’s Jesus?  Isn’t our bridegroom coming back to rescue us? Is He leaving us to face the darkness alone? 

In times like these we should lift our hands above our heads and use our voice to sing praises to God. As we resist the enemy in this way, he will not devour us but will flee.

Even when the darkness blinds us, God’s presence is with us. And one day, we’ll be with Him forever. In the meantime, it’s time to replace the batteries in our flashlights, because we don’t know how long this dark night will be. When His light is with us, we can always see our way to take our next step in the growing shadows.

“Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.”  I Peter 5:8 GW

About the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 38 books, including her latest, Prayers for Every Need, and is the publisher of Arise Daily and Leading Hearts magazine. She’s the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries.

Join the conversation: How are you handling all the fears of this decade?

Miracle Seeds

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.  Luke 8:23-25 (NIV)

I’ve heard so many messages on this passage. I’ve always wondered: after witnessing Jesus perform so many miracles, how in the world did his disciples still doubt?

Eventually, all those times I pondered on this message became the foundation for my own miracle. Because I too would doubt when scared out of my wits.

Hubby and I used to sail for weeks at a time on the Chesapeake Bay. We fished from the back, pulled into islands like Tangier and became tourists, and anchored out in front of billionaire homes. Our small sailboat was a holiday on water several weeks a year.

We were cautious sailors. We never put out if small craft warnings were advised, wore life jackets if the seas grew rough and tied ourselves to lifelines if the need arose with the threat of getting swept overboard. Our sailing days came before small crafts had weather radar, GPS, or depth finders. We used old fashioned charts and radio.

To reach destinations, we had to cross shipping lanes where huge cargo vessels traveled to other countries or back to ours. Our small sailboat would look like a flea on an elephant compared to these ships.

One clear bright day, we sat out to cross the shipping lanes and unexpectedly we were confronted with a “Flash Fog”: a phenomenon we had prepared for but hoped never to experience. Suddenly, a dense fog surrounded us like a thick blanket. Sitting in the back of the boat, we could not see our own bow. Visibility was less than six feet.

With not a breath of breeze, sails were useless. Hubby could not start the auxiliary motor. We were dead in the water.  There was no choice but to sit in the stillness while those massive vessels were still able to navigate.

Praying, I crawled to the bow to begin the recommended emergency procedure: one prolonged and two short blasts of an air horn, ring a large bell for one minute (which seemed like an hour) then listen for a minute, meanwhile praying that we wouldn’t hear the huge groan of a cargo vessel.

But we did.

In the blanket of fog, the sound grew closer. I prayed with panic as I continued the protocol.

There we sat. Unseen at sea. Bobbing like a cork. Waiting for a massive ship to collide with us or it’s huge waves to swamp us.

While I prayed God spoke. I needed to recall the passage above and all the times I wondered why the disciples doubted when they had witnessed miracles.

Because I too had witnessed miracles.  From early childhood I had memories of knowing without any doubt, “That was God.”

I began to recall them while I continued the protocol. And peace that passes understanding descended on me. Thicker than the fog. I knew we were in the palm of His hands. After all, I reminded myself. He rescues His beloved from the seas.

As suddenly as the fog descended it lifted. A ship had passed close by. A bit further on we saw the buoy that we had been sailing towards. We had not even veered off course.

So many miracles. The fog, safety, and cleared skies. But best of all was the miracle that was seeded well in advance of the emergency. I had pondered on His Word and He brought my own insight back to me, reminding me that I could harvest peace in the midst of crisis by recalling his faithfulness.

Yet another miracle to chronicle. Panic lifted with faith, long before fog.

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website https://deborahmaxey.com that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is newly released! Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: What miracles have you experienced?

Fear No Evil

by Sheri Schofield

Snow and ice covered Montana. It was 40 degrees below zero when my plane took off and headed for Texas two years ago this March. From there, our mission team traveled by van into the Sierra Madres of Mexico. Only a few months earlier, the cartel had killed a large number of American women and children on the other side of the mountains from our destination. It was not a safe time to be traveling in that region.

Toward the end of that week, the pastors and I led seminars for the Mexican pastors and their wives in Pena Blanca, a small town. While I taught the wives a class on multisensory teaching, our pastors conducted educational classes for the Mexican pastors.

That Friday, as I was teaching, I heard a big boom followed by what sounded like fireworks. A few blocks away, La Lenia drug cartel had blown up a state trooper car containing three troopers. The “fireworks” were machine guns. The battle raged back and forth between other troopers and La Linea cartel throughout the day, sometimes coming as close as a block away from us.

When the noise became too loud, I would pause until it passed. There were adobe walls between the battle and us, but it was still dangerous. However, I did not feel afraid. I had a strong sense the Lord was with us.

Saturday night, our pastor asked for volunteers to go with him on Sunday to a church located on the other side of La Linea’s territory, where Sinaloa cartel operated. I knew we would be stopped by the cartel on one or both sides of the line. Only two young men reluctantly volunteered. Neither of them knew Spanish, nor did my pastor. I did not volunteer that night, though I did speak some Spanish. I wanted to pray about it first and find out what God wanted. Sure enough, God said, “Go with them.”

I did. Our trip to the next town was uneventful. But on our way back, we were stopped by about fifteen machine-gun toting cartel members. They wanted to know who we were and where we were going.

Pastor simply said, “No Espanol. Iglesia?” (“No Spanish. Church?”) I remained silent. If needed, I was available, but I would wait to be asked. The cartel checked the VIN on our car then let us go.

At no time was I even a tiny bit afraid. Why?

First, I have been face-to-face with death a few times, and I found that Jesus was there. Live or die, to be with Jesus is to be at peace.

Second, I knew that God had sent me on this mission trip to help those Mexican church leaders. Being in the center of His will is always the best place to be.

David knew this same peace. He wrote about it in Psalm 23:4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (KJV).

The times in which we are living are filled with anxiety and fear as we battle a pandemic and job losses. As I write, a record-breaking snowstorm has hit the United States, creating more stress. Isolation. Loneliness. Fear. Financial insecurity. These are the enemies we face—Satan’s cartel.

How do we cope? We don’t look at the enemy—We look at Jesus. He is with us. We can trust Him completely.

Whatever else God is doing, He is certainly getting our nation’s attention. Maybe He will send revival! Wouldn’t that be a great outcome?

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: Have you had to trust the Lord in a dangerous situation?

How to Find Courage in the Face of Danger

by Karen DeArmond Gardner

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.                                                                                                                          2 Timothy 1:7 NASB

God rarely answers why questions, especially when we are in pain. But every once in a while, when we’re not even asking, He answers one of our why questions when we least expect it.

This was one of those moments. I was sitting with hundreds of women at my church listening to Pastor Debbie teach on 2 Timothy 1:7. On the outside, I may have appeared cool, calm, and collected, but on the inside, I was stunned. God had just shown me why I’d stayed in an abusive marriage for 30 years.

I’d spent years beating myself up for staying as long as I did. The NLT version of Jeremiah 31:19 expressed how I often felt: “I kicked myself for my stupidity!”

Now, I suddenly realized being stupid wasn’t my problem. Instead, I’d been conditioned to live in fear… of my husband, of his retribution, of not pleasing him. The brainwashing was so gradual, I didn’t realize that fear had changed me into a timid mouse.

It turns out fear and love are opposites; you can have one or the other, but not both at the same time. In my situation, fear had permeated every part of my spirit. There was no room for love.

Fear had such a hold on me, I couldn’t leave. I believed my marriage was my lot in life, since I had chosen to marry him. My understanding of Scripture had gotten all twisted around: I thought God wanted me to suffer for Jesus and would one day reward me with a crown for enduring it. I was responding to another kind of fear: I was afraid that leaving my marriage would displease God.

So I looked into the meaning of the words in 2 Timothy 1:7.

  • Power is the capability to act or do something dangerous.
  • Love describes the commitment God has for us, always wanting our good.
  • Discipline is the ability to think in a sound or sane manner.

The enemy had tricked me into giving up my power, love, and ability to think soundly. I wrote out what I had learned from 2 Timothy 1:7: God has breathed courage into my spirit and has given me the ability to act in the face of fear and danger, to experience His extravagant love, and to walk in His wisdom, so I can be the woman He called me to be.

I’m so grateful that God answered why that night and set me free from the lies of fear.

Are you trapped in your circumstances? Is fear preventing you from making healthy decisions? Are you ready for the secret to being able to kick fear to the curb?

Look up all the ways God’s love is described in Scripture. Immerse yourself in His pure, powerful, and glorious love; soak in it, embrace it, then share His love with everyone you encounter. Living in God’s love will give you the courage to confront whatever difficulty you’re stuck in, as well as provide wisdom and understanding to know what action He would have you take.

Are you ready to exchange fear for love? “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…the one who fears is not complete in love” (1 John 4:12 CSB).

TWEETABLE
How to Find Courage in the Face of Danger – encouragement from Daren DeArmond Gardner on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

karen dearmond gardnerAbout the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.

Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.

Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.

Join the conversation: In what ways has fear trapped you?