A Holy Moment

by Terri Gillespie

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:2 TLV

It was after the second time I felt the tapping on my shoulder that I turned around. Behind me was a young man holding a gun.

This month marks five years since my friend Cathy and I were held up at gunpoint at a New Jersey mall. After all these years, I still unpack lessons and revelations that keep me in awe of that holy moment.

Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to make an impromptu stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and a little shopping at the mall. My vehicle was loaded with bags and computers from the week-long retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat car rack like a curtain over the door.

Since we were running late, I wanted to call my husband to let him know we were on our way home. I opened the back-passenger door to place my purse on top of a suitcase, then leaned over to search for my cell. Something tapped me on my back, but I thought that it was the clothes hangers. As I searched for the phone, I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was the young man with a gun.

He motioned toward my purse. I reached for my wallet, then remembered a scene from the movie War Room. I faced him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”

I heard Cathy asking me if I had found my phone—she was oblivious to what was going on because of the wall of hanging clothes! She later said she only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation and thought I was ministering to a beggar.

I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized that it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and demanded my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”

He pointed the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.

I pleaded, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” I handed him the keys. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then lowered his eyes.

Miraculously, he returned the keys! He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.” He walked away.

Once he walked away, my whole body began to shake. Cathy asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t speak. I thought the kid would change his mind and come back blazing, so I wanted to get out of there fast.

Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what happened. We prayed the whole way home. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed that God would touch the young man’s heart and change his life from that moment on.

People have called me brave. I wasn’t brave. I was covered in the shadow of my Heavenly Father’s wings—all three of us were. The moment the young man walked away His wings lifted—the moment gone. At that point, you would call me anything but brave.

I am so grateful that God called me for such a time. Grateful for His protection, and that my friend did not have to see a gun pointed at her. Grateful to be able to go home to our husbands. Grateful for the young man’s mercy.

Every January, I pray for him. My hope is that we will see one another again, in heaven.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 TLV

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

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a Holy Moment?

Who Knows

 by Susie Crosby 

“…Who knows? Maybe you were made for such a time as this.”  Esther 4:14 MSG

 Who knows?

I guess nobody does.

Right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, there is overwhelming uncertainty. I have so many questions, and I keep looking for answers from government leaders and scientists and doctors. I watch the news and search on my phone, but no one can tell me for sure if school will open in the fall, if the groceries I pick up at the store are safe, how long I have to stay 6 feet away from everyone, and if the people I love are going to be okay.

But then I remember that God knows. God knows every single thing. He knew this was going to happen, He knows how our lives have changed, He knows what it’s going to look like on the other side.

People keep saying this is “unprecedented.” On a huge scale, yes, it is. But if we think about it, we experience unprecedented things in our lives all the time.

The first time we live independently and earn our own money.

The first time a disease or injury affects our family in life-altering ways.

The first time we experience loss.

The first time we create or grow or try something new.

The first time our life takes a turn that wasn’t planned.

The first time we fail publicly and have to figure out how to come back.

The first time we step out in faith and trust our hearts to Jesus.

We grieve, we delight, and we grow profoundly through the “firsts”.

The book of Esther is the story of a brave and thoughtful Jewish woman who found herself experiencing one of these “firsts”.  For a Jewish woman–especially an orphaned, captive Jewish woman like Esther– to become Queen was completely unprecedented. I imagine that being part of a king’s harem and living in a palace together with all of his concubines was not what Esther had expected her life would look like. And risking her life to save her people by standing up to the king was not something she would have ever dreamed of doing.

But in chapter 4 of her story, we find her in this unexpected situation. She is experiencing something that she really can’t control, and she doesn’t know whether it will end well or not.

Sound familiar?

At the crisis point, her father-figure Mordecai encourages her by saying, “…Who knows? Maybe you were made for such a time as this.”

Esther dared to believe that God’s plan included her. She prayed and fasted for three days before approaching the king on behalf of her people. And God honored her faith and her bravery. Through a series of surprising and unpredictable events, King Xerxes reversed the death sentence he had ordered against the Jews and gave them freedom and power over their enemies.

We can’t possibly imagine what amazing things God is growing and changing and working in the midst of this pandemic. We don’t think the way He thinks or work the way he works, and we don’t always get to know His plans ahead of time.

But we do know that He loves us unconditionally, that He makes all things new, and that He works all things together for good. We know that He does unexpected and surprising work through unlikely people and unfamiliar circumstances all the time. And we know that He is listening to our prayers and holding us in His strong and gentle hands through such a time as this.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

TWEETABLE
Who Knows – encouragement on #FollowingGod from Susie Crosby on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

susie crosbyAbout the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How can you imagine God using you in such a time as this?

 

A Time Like This

by Christina Rose

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14 NIV

When young Esther became queen, she may have felt like she won the lotto with life in a beautiful palace and all the fancy clothes and food she could ever want. But she was soon faced with a life-saving decision. She needed to go before the king and plead for the lives of her people. If she chose to approach him without a summons, he could kill her. Her courage to speak up spared her life and that of many thousands across the land.  

The Bible tells us “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Our tongue can save people, or it can tear them down. Most of us live with the regret of saying what we shouldn’t have, or not saying something we wished we had. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV).

Writing our thoughts down can often help formulate what we want to say. As the ink flows across the paper, subconscious thoughts come to the surface, revealing secrets we may have kept from ourselves. This happened to me recently as memories of a hurtful betrayal from many years ago flooded me with rage. As I sat there stewing, the still small voice said, “Speak up,” but I pouted, “No, I will never forgive them!” With God you can run, but you can’t hide. I thought I had buried this long ago, but He knew it was still festering. 

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV).

I suddenly realized that Satan had trapped me in my anger and refusal to forgive. He may have fooled me for a while, but now his game was over. I went on a brisk walk by the lake to consider how I would speak to my friend. The good Father counts His kids, and when anyone is missing, He relentlessly pursues them until they are safely back in the flock. As my thoughts unfolded, I saw that God’s promptings were not only about forgiving my friend, but He also wanted to use me in saving His lost child, my friend who did not know Him.

At a time like this, when the world has been put on pause by the pandemic, there is a lot of fear and loss. Those who don’t know God may be feeling everything is spinning out of control. Just as Esther spoke up to save her people, this is a perfect time to speak up to those who are lost, to help them find comfort and peace in the Father who is waiting with open loving arms to welcome them into the fold.

As for my friend? I spoke up, and we are friends once again.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15:4-6 NIV)

TWEETABLE
A Time Like This – insight and encouragement from Christian 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What is God calling you to do at a time like this?

Big Faith

by Christina Rose

He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20 NIV

My niece gave birth to her first child in a fierce whiteout blizzard in South Dakota.  It was impossible to reach the hospital as they lived in a remote area. Tica settled into the bathtub with towels while Dusty called her mother Karla, a labor and delivery nurse.  Dusty stayed on the phone while Karla coached the young couple through labor.  After several hours little Faith was brought into the world, perfectly healthy, while the swirling wind and snow continued to rage outside.

A few years later, I was visiting and passed three year-old Faith on the stairway.  “Oh my,” I said, “There’s little Faith!”

She climbed a few stairs to reach my height, and her big blue eyes stared directly into mine. “I’m not little Faith, I’m big Faith!” she boldly announced. She continued to march up the stairs and glanced back at me as if to say, “Don’t ever call me little Faith again!” In that moment Faith taught me that there is nothing small about faith of any size, we just have to own it and declare it.

David, the scrawny shepherd boy, declared his faith when he defeated the giant Goliath with merely a small stone and slingshot. It looked impossible that he could slay him, yet he did.  “ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ ” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).

Moses led the Israelites to safety by faith in following God’s commands. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground’” (Exodus 14:15-16 NIV). Once they were safely through, Moses faithfully followed God’s command to raise his hand over the sea, and it swallowed up the Egyptians who were trying to kill them.

Queen Esther risked her life when she dared to request an audience before the king. She had faith that her purpose was to boldly step forward on behalf of her people, and they were spared.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14 NIV).

There was a woman who could not stop bleeding for twelve years, and no one could heal her.  She knew that Jesus was passing by, and although the crowd was overwhelming, she believed that if she could just touch him she would be healed. She fought through the crowds, came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. Instantly her bleeding stopped and she was healed. “Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from  your suffering.’”  Mark 5:34 NIV.

The Bible is full of testimonies of faith. Jesus told His disciples that trusting God was the key to tapping into His power. “Have faith in God…truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”(Mark 11:22-24 NIV).

Life throws us tests that we would never have imagined. Some days it feels as though we’re slaying giants and crossing stormy seas. But as Jesus tells us, faith as small as a mustard seed is big enough to enable us to do whatever God asks of us in serving Him and His perfect plan. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1.

TWEETABLE
Big Faith – inspiration from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Do you have a story of when God carried you through a challenge? Please share!