Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I called my friend Nikki, anticipating her lively voice and was shaken to hear her sob, “Debbie, we just found out our son died.”

I’d called in response to an earlier text. That was not why she’d texted me. But God had timed my call perfectly. Even though I couldn’t take away my friend’s pain, I could share in those initial moments of shock and grief.

Nikki felt the need to contact Justin’s birth mother. The woman was devastated. She’d never be able to meet her son on earth. She wanted to fly across the country for the service. With Nikki’s permission I share what she wrote about their meeting.

For the first time ever, we met on Thursday. Both of us felt extreme emotions about this meeting, but together we walked, and together our hearts connected in ways only God could have worked. We saw each other, our hug was 33 years long, our embrace was extreme in love, joy and compassion for each other. This Holy moment that God ordained since the beginning of time, was fragrant and beautiful, pure and Holy. Nothing could ever surpass the delight that came from our hearts in those first moments.

Justin’s memorial service was Saturday. Nikki shared that not long after having their daughter, she had to have a hysterectomy. “I asked God one time for a child we could adopt. But then I left it in His hands. I thought, How could I ask for another woman’s child?”

Thirty-three years ago, God completed their family with Justin. Nikki told us, “Justin came just in time.”

Pastor Chuck recalled funny and poignant stories of Justin’s escapades. Then he shared the hope those who know Jesus have of heaven. He invited all who didn’t know Jesus to receive Him as their Lord and Savior. As he closed, he asked those who’d invited Jesus into their hearts to stand.

“I’ll count to three,” he smiled. “One, two, three.”

One person stood—Justin’s birth mother.

Overcome, Pastor Chuck covered his face and turned aside. Because of Justin’s untimely death, the woman who’d chosen life for the son she could not keep will enjoy him for eternity.

Texts to Nikki and her husband revealed two internet attenders who also stood and gave their lives to Jesus—including a ninety-year-old cherished friend!

So much in our world is broken. Untimely death, pain, and loss have marred 2020 for many. We need to remember, this is not our home. And as Pastor Chuck proclaimed after he’d recovered his composure, “If it ain’t good, it ain’t over.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

TWEETABLE
Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever witnessed God changing tragedy into good?

Secret Petitions of the Heart

by Christina Rose

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.”                                                                                                              Psalm 37:4 AMP

One summer day many years ago I planted a secret petition in my heart. A thunderstorm had sent me and my cousin Susan racing from the pool to the cozy den where we plopped down with bowls of ice cream to watch a movie. “The Sandpiper” was filmed on the wild, central coast of California. I was overcome with awe by the spectacular Pacific coast. As I watched actress Elizabeth Taylor paint a canvas of sandpipers by the ocean, a bold dream was born in my heart. I knew I belonged there on that beautiful wild coast and that somehow and someday I would find my way there. For a little ten-year old girl who had never traveled west of Maryland, this dream seemed so big and impossible that I kept it to myself.

As years went by I forgot this dream amid the busyness of life. After college, I moved to San Francisco where I was married and had two children. Each summer we would drive down the coast to camp under the redwoods in Big Sur. We would spend hours on the beach, exploring tide pools and enjoying the surf. We would often stop by Nepenthe restaurant for an early dinner on the way back to camp.

One afternoon, as I was exploring the gift shop at Nepenthe, I noticed a huge poster of  “The Sandpiper” movie. Further inquisition revealed that the movie had been shot on the very beach I had been taking my children to every year. I learned that the stars in the movie often came to Nepenthe after filming for dinner. As the wonder of God’s grace in fulfilling a child’s secret dream from more than 30 years ago flooded me, I was filled with awe at how great God is. He never gives up on us or our dreams. He knows our every secret, even if we have buried them so deep, they have become secrets to ourselves. God actualized my childhood dream in a way far greater than I had imagined. He blessed me with a beautiful family with which to enjoy it all.

God’s greatness in restoring dreams is evidenced throughout the Bible.

Elisha was a prophet in the Bible who often traveled through the town of Shunem. A local woman wanted to honor him as a man of God, so she and her husband built a room for him in their home. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her generosity, but she insisted there was nothing she needed. When Elisha discovered she had no children, he promised her that she would have a son within one year. She had kept her dream of having a child a secret, as she had given up on it many years ago. While she dared not hope again, the secret petition of her heart was granted when Elisha’s promise came true; she was blessed with a baby boy within the year. (2 Kings 4:8-17)

As a young teenager, Joseph had a great dream of being a powerful leader. When his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, he may have felt that this dream was just an illusion. For all the years he toiled in prison, there may have been moments when he wondered if his dream would ever be realized. All the while, God was not punishing Joseph, he was merely preparing him. Joseph’s dream came true, and he became the leader God called him to be. (Genesis 37, 41:38-43)

Have you given up on a dream that seems impossible? With God all things are possible, including granting the secret petitions of our hearts.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

TWEETABLE
Secret Petitions of the Heart – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God fulfilled a secret dream of yours? Please share!

What God Does with Our Dreams

by Sheri Schofield

Jesus told his disciples,Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…” (Mark 16:15 NLT).  So from the moment I gave my heart to Jesus, I dreamed of becoming a missionary. I wanted to go to Latin America. Years later, my husband, Tim, and I went to Central America. But after only one year, our family had to return to the States because of Tim’s health.

My heart was broken. I cried out to God, “This is the death of our dreams!”

Tim found work in Montana, far from the Latin American children I wanted to reach for Jesus. I was devastated. After a year, though, I began to regroup. I asked God to give me the children of our city for Jesus. Sound impossible? Many God-given dreams are.

I took the ministry God made available: teaching the children in a relatively small church for the next twenty-plus years. It seemed as though my second dream, too, would never find fulfillment.

Then one day, early in my teaching work, I asked God to give me the ability to paint pictures of the children in my class on the classroom wall, with Jesus, by the Sea of Galilee. I had not painted for over sixteen years and had no significant experience with portrait work. But God granted my request. It blew me away!  I began painting people’s portraits when opportunities arose, practicing the art. It felt like a diamond necklace-kind of gift from God, one that I could simply enjoy, with no purpose other than pleasure.

Years later, I began writing. That’s when God gave me HIS assignment: I was to write the lessons on the plan of salvation that I had developed while teaching, and publish them in a book — and illustrate it, using people of all races so it could be used in Latin America, too! So I did. The book contained ninety-nine full page, full color illustrations with lots of people of all races.

When the first 2,000 copies of the book came off the press, I discovered that the printer had mistakenly printed the interior in black and white! I was stunned. But God said, “Sheri, this is not a mistake. You are to give these books to the pastors working on the Montana Native American reservations. They have no resources.” Tim agreed, so we did.

The next batch of books were fine, so I began selling them. Then the Lord said, “Sheri, it’s time to start giving these books away to the children of Helena. You’ve asked for a way to reach them for Jesus: I have now given you a way to do that!” So Tim and I began. There are currently about a thousand books floating around this city.

Now the Lord has finally opened the door for us to reach Latin America: He has brought thousands from Central America to our USA southern border, and they cannot cross it.

“Translate that book into Spanish now,” the Lord said. So we did. This week, we will place an order for 1,000 translated books. When they are printed, there are churches at the border ready to take them across to the immigrant families.

God has brought us full-circle to that first dream that we thought had died! By replacing our dreams with His, God has greatly expanded our reach and effectiveness. He has given us the desires of our heart.

What dreams do you have for God? Can you give those dreams to Him? Trust Him: He’s got a terrific plan!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.    Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

TWEETABLE
What God Does with Our Dreams – insight from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. 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: What dreams has God given you?