Kick Evil to the Curb

by Ronda Wells

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 KJV

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, I became a hypervigilant news junkie, glued to the screen for every update. Having two school-aged children, my anxiety grew. I found relief when police began to wander the halls of their schools.

Two years later, 9/11 happened. I had walked into the hospital surgical waiting room to support a friend during her mom’s surgery and wondered why everyone was huddled around the TV. Then, along with millions around the world, I watched as the second plane hit the other tower, and as each tower fell.

One woman in the waiting room never looked up nor said a word. She knitted the entire time, seemingly oblivious to the disaster in view ten feet away. She never acknowledged it. I couldn’t believe her total lack of emotional response; and I judged her for it.

Mass shootings have become part of our collective consciousness as a country, a national PTSD of sorts. Every time one has happened, I have watched in anger, frustration, helplessness, and anxiety. And now that I have a young grandson, I wonder: What if it had been his elementary school?

Of course, I know God is in control. Of course, God is not the author of evil—we are, following our nature corrupted in the Garden. Of course, Satan is behind it all.

But then came the attack on schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas. After a pandemic that took a terrible toll on us yet again. And I’d had enough.

I prayed for the victims and their families. I prayed for the family of the shooter. I prayed Jesus would again say, “It is finished” and descend through the heavens to end all this madness. Then I turned off the TV.

I realized all along I had been giving shooters and terrorists exactly what they wanted—my attention. I was also giving Satan what he wanted, too. I fell victim to his spirit of oppression after terrible evil happens in this world.

I’ve changed my mind about the lady who knitted through 9/11. For all I know, she was praying silently the entire time. She surely heard the news; but perhaps she recognized there was nothing she could do at that moment. She may have focused on her immediate concern for someone in surgery. Maybe she had the right focus.

We can’t control terrorists and sociopaths, but we can control our responses.

Will I still do what I can to spread the good news of the gospel? Certainly. Will I work for peace and health among those whose lives I touch? Absolutely. But from now on I will ban from my life any fear surrounding such evil events.

I urge everyone to put evil in its place and kick it to the curb—out of your life. The next time a mass casualty occurs, I will turn off the TV, pray to God Almighty, donate where I’m led, and move forward with my life.

Jesus already won our fight against Satan by dying on that cross. Our most powerful weapons are faith and prayer. Will you join me?

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NASB

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

About the Author: Doctor by day, writer by night, Dr. Ronda Wells is an award-winning author who has written inspirational fiction for over twenty-five years. She has helped numerous other Christian writers with creating authentic medical scenes for their books. A lifelong Hoosier, Ronda is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Mooresville, Indiana, and loves to travel. She writes fiction and non-fiction stories that illustrate extraordinary faith among the conflicts of ordinary life. Her contemporary inspirational novel, Harvest of Hope, is currently under consideration with a publisher. Visit her website to read a bonus chapter at www.rondawellsbooks.com or connect with her via Linktree at https://linktr.ee/rondawellsbooks.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with the tragedies that have become all too common in the news?

The Desert: Where Peril Meets Peace

by Sandi Banks

Did you know there are people who actually love the desert? My dear friend Susie is one of them, and she was determined to turn this mountain-stream girl into a desert-lover. She invited me on a grand adventure—a day in the Arizona desert.

Stepping out of her Volkswagen bug, Susie and I began our trek across the barren wasteland. As I gagged and dragged my body through the dry, dusty air, I envisioned ravenous vultures circling overhead. (This does happen. I’ve seen it in the movies.)

I tried putting on the proverbial rose-colored glasses, but no amount of positive thinking could hide the prickly, parched, and colorless surroundings.

“Honestly, Susie, everywhere I look I see … well … brown.”

“Ah … but consider all the shades of brown,” she countered.

I could do that. Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Fudge Dreamsicles.

Okay, so brown can be good. But when it accompanies the blistering, cracked, harsh and hostile? Not to mention the slithering, scaly and scorching? I don’t think so.

Being an optimist by nature, surely, I’d find some redeeming feature, right? Something living among the dead? A tiny rose amid the thorns?

No sooner had I pondered these questions than a jumping cholla cactus latched onto my hand and, within seconds, thrust its fish-hook-like barbs into my skin. The harder we tried to remove it, the deeper it dug. We had to leave our grand adventure in the dust to seek help.

Alas, the desert was not for me. Or was it?

Years later, as I began a deeper dive into the Bible, I gained a new perspective on the desert, and its relationship to God and His people.

I learned that the Hebrew word for desert is the same basic word for speak. I discovered how often God spoke to His servants in the stillness and desolation of a desert to give them a greater vision of Himself or the work He had for them to do. And I marveled at the goodness of God toward His wayward children in the desert.

Moses’ song in Deuteronomy 32:10, 11 (NLT; bold added) reminded them and reminds us:

            He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them;             he guarded them as his most precious possession. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them in and carried them aloft on his pinions.

What a beautiful picture of their Father God, shielding them like a loving shepherd, guarding them as the apple of His eye, and protecting them like a mother eagle through the perilous desert. The Lord alone guided them. And He alone guides us today.

We may be in our own kind of “desert” right now: confined to a prison of fear or failure; suffering the devastation of a broken heart or broken home; grieving painful losses; struggling with shame or forgiveness; facing “impossible” circumstances. But no matter where we are or how we got there, God is with us. He cares. He guides. He encircles us—not like a vulture we fear, but like an eagle we trust.

I wonder. What if we were to invite our loving Shepherd into our desert, and trust Him to lead us through the barren wasteland, and to an oasis of His healing, refreshment, contentment … and life?  

I believe we could all learn to love the desert as we keep our hand in His and allow our God of Peace to guide us, especially through the prickly parts.

[From] A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah:  You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 NIV

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

About the author: Sandi Banks is an author and devotional writer for numerous publishing houses. As a storyteller, she draws upon her years of ministry and travel in 40 countries, living abroad, leading Bible studies, and hosting Summit Ministries’ worldview conferences. Her passion is bringing the hope of Christ to hurting women through writing, speaking, and mentoring. Find her at sandibanks.com

Join the conversation: What have you learned from God in the ‘desert’?

Praising God in the Dental Chair

by Heather Norman Smith

Please help me, Lord, I prayed. Please make this easy.

My dentist visits are times of fervent prayer. During even the simplest of procedures, I almost always end up crying from anxiety, at least a little, and it seemed the recent visit to fill two cavities would be no different. As the dentist came at me with the needle, I prayed harder in my mind. Please help me get through this. My prayer was desperate, pleading.

Then something life-changing happened. The dentist poked the needle into my gum, and I stopped praying. I quit begging God to help me. Instead, I began to thank God for being so good. I changed my prayers into praises, and the panic lifted—it dissolved and floated toward the heavens with my words of adoration. It was the most painless injection of Novocain ever. So, I kept praising, right through the drilling, and the result was nothing short of miraculous.     

You are magnificent, marvelous, wonderful, worthy. Magnificent, marvelous, wonderful, worthy. Over and over, I offered those words silently. At some point, I remember thanking God for a good dentist who could fix my teeth.

In a gentle voice, the dentist encouraged, “You’re doing good,” as he worked. He always says that because he’s kind and genuinely empathetic about my anxiety. But for the first time, I actually felt like I was doing okay. Not just getting by. Not just managing. I was good. 

A verse rang in my mind. “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1b KJV). Though the praises weren’t actually coming from my mouth—a little hard to do when your teeth are being drilled—they were there in my heart, thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who knew what I needed to do. God had heard my original request to make the visit easy, and He used my praises to accomplish it.  
  
I’ve visited the dentist a lot over the past year, since I finally decided to prioritize oral health over my fear, and I’ve still got a few visits left to get all the problems corrected. But if I can just remember my “secret weapon,” I don’t think I’ll dread the next appointment quite so much. Now to try praising the Lord in an elevator… 
 
What makes you panic? What causes you distress? Maybe praise is your answer, too. 

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

About the author: Heather Norman Smith is an author of Christian Fiction set in her home state of North Carolina. Her goal is to entertain and encourage while illuminating the redemptive love of God. Learn more about her work at www.heathernormansmith.com and her Amazon author page.

Join the conversation: What brings on anxiety for you? How do you manage it?

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?

Walk in Wisdom

by Shirley Mozena

Lord, what fools these mortals be!  Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 NIV

I’m a reader. I love the printed word and can’t get enough of it. When I want to escape into another world, I pick up a novel. Sometimes I read one more than once if the writer is good. One book, I always return to is—you guessed it, the Bible. There is much richness and comfort in those ancient words.

It seems to me our world is going crazy. Every day, something new is taking place. What you believed would never happen, happens. Sometimes, I get afraid. Will our country last? Will we be safe? Then I get on my knees and ask God to give me strength. I ask God to give me wisdom. I ask God to help me not to fear.

Do you ever get in a crowd and wonder if you will get out? How about a traffic jam? Do you feel that you will be there forever? I imagine that’s how Jesus felt when He was constantly pressed on from every side.

While studying the book of Mark with a friend, we read about the incident where Jesus calmed the storm after a long day among crowds. He and the disciples went out onto the lake to get away. As they traveled, Jesus lay back and took a nap. He was God, but also human, and He was tired! But then a storm came up and “nearly swamped” the boat. The disciples, who as fishermen were very familiar with boats and water, were very afraid and woke up Jesus. And even though they had witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles, He now did something astounding that terrified them in another way.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 NIV).

Can you imagine this? I know about being in a boat and being scared by waves. I’ve crossed the Columbia River Bar, entered the ocean in a small boat and felt fear. The waves were sometimes enormous and seemed like they would crash right into our boat. But the boat just rose up on the swell and came down on the other side.

The disciples were afraid too, but the rough water did not scare them as much as the power of Jesus’ words. They now understood He had power over nature. I believe they realized, yet again, Who was with them.

God.

Wow! Does that bring you back to our world like it did me? The wild waves of crazy leadership. Despots desiring more power? Lies everywhere? It brings me back to Proverbs 28:26 (NIV), which tells us “Those who trust in themselves are fools…”

Last night, I was disconcerted. Restless. I couldn’t put my finger on my emotions. I guess I’ll admit it: I was afraid. Afraid for my country. For our world. For the powerless against the powerful. And then, I reflected on the story of Jesus stopping the storm. I prayed for strength. For more belief in my unbelief. And for my fears to be banished.

Lord Jesus, help me to not fear. To remember Who is in control of our world. Who is never afraid. Who controls the wind and waves. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joyand recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to RemarriageHer work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with fear?

Walk in Wisdom

by Shirley Mozena

Lord, what fools these mortals be!  Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 NIV

I’m a reader. I love the printed word and can’t get enough of it. When I want to escape into another world, I pick up a novel. Sometimes I read one more than once if the writer is good. One book, I always return to is—you guessed it, the Bible. There is much richness and comfort in those ancient words.

It seems to me our world is going crazy. Every day, something new is taking place. What you believed would never happen, happens. Sometimes, I get afraid. Will our country last? Will we be safe? Then I get on my knees and ask God to give me strength. I ask God to give me wisdom. I ask God to help me not to fear.

Do you ever get in a crowd and wonder if you will get out? How about a traffic jam? Do you feel that you will be there forever? I imagine that’s how Jesus felt when He was constantly pressed on every side.

As I studied the book of Mark with a friend, we read about the incident where Jesus calms the storm after a long day among crowds, so He and the disciples went out onto the lake to get away. The story goes on that Jesus lay back and took a nap. He was God, but also human, and He was tired! But then a storm came up and “nearly swamped” the boat. The disciples, who as fishermen were very familiar with boats and water, were very afraid and woke up Jesus. And even though they had witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles, He now did something astounding that terrified them in another way.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 NIV).

Can you imagine this? I’ve been in a boat and was scared by the waves. I’ve crossed the Columbia River Bar, entered the ocean in a small boat and felt fear. The waves were sometimes enormous and seemed like they would crash right into our boat. But the boat just rose up on the swell and came down on the other side.

The disciples were afraid too, but the rough water did not scare them as much as the power of Jesus’ words. The fact that He had power over nature. I believe they realized, yet again, Who was with them. God.

Wow! Does that bring you back to our world like it did me? The wild waves of crazy leadership. Despots desiring more power? Lies everywhere? It brings me back to Proverbs 28:26 (NIV), “Those who trust in themselves are fools…”

Last night, I was disconcerted. Restless. I couldn’t put my finger on my emotions. I’ll admit it: I was afraid. Afraid for my country. For our world. For the powerless against the powerful. And then, I reflected on the story of Jesus stopping the storm. I prayed for strength. For more belief in my unbelief. And for my fears to be banished.

Lord Jesus, help me to not fear. To remember Who is in control of our world. Who is never afraid. Who controls the wind and waves. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joyand recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to RemarriageHer work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with fear?

The Fight

by Fran Caffey Sandin

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? How do they work out for you?

January initiates a fresh year, an opportunity for setting goals, and making changes. Unfortunately, my resolutions only last a few days. So, I make plans and take one day at a time, keeping in mind that God is with me, helping me to be flexible and aware of the needs of others while working toward personal goals.  

The book of Nehemiah describes how, following captivity and wanderings, the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem. Having viewed the destruction, and inspired by God, Nehemiah challenged the people to rebuild the broken walls and the gates destroyed by fire. The people responded favorably and replied, “Let us rise up and build” (Neh. 2:18 ESV). They began the good work, looking to the future.

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah, the Ammonite, and Geshem, the Arab, heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed them. Nehemiah responded to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper” (Neh. 2:20 ESV).

This was an opportunity to start something new, but already opposition had arisen against the enormous project as, one by one, the gates were being replaced and the stone wall gradually gained height. When Sanballat heard about their continuing progress, he was furious and doubted the Jews could restore the wall from all the rubble. Tobiah joined in the mocking.

Meanwhile, the priests and men were working with all their hearts, but Sanballat and Tobiah plotted together to cause trouble and fight against Jerusalem. These enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work” (Neh. 4:11 ESV).

When that news reached Nehemiah, he expressed faith to his workers, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Neh. 4:14 ESV). He had stationed some families with their swords, spears, and bows at the most vulnerable areas of the wall. Aware of the constant danger, Nehemiah ordered half of the men to do the work and the other half to protect them with their swords and weapons. Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. The wall was completed in 52 days.

Victorious God! When the enemies saw what happened, they were afraid and lost their confidence.

As believers in Jesus Christ, our sword, the sword of the Spirit, is the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Our adversary, the devil, Satan, is a liar, deceiver, and makes plans for our destruction. Jesus used the Word of God to defy the devil’s schemes (Matthew 4: 1-11), and so can we.

We see the evil around us, but we fight for our families, our children, our brothers, sisters, our homes. Let us learn from Nehemiah and face adversity by expressing faith in Almighty God. We can use our spiritual sword, His Word, to defeat the evil one whose goal is to discourage and silence us. Let us stand firm in 2022. Now that’s a resolution worth making!

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

About the author: Fran is a retired nurse, organist, mother, and grandmother living in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, Touching the Clouds, and has contributed to thirty books. She and her husband, Jim, have traveled to many countries and states. Her latest book, HOPE on the Way, Devotions to Go— contains 52 devotionals for those who love to combine faith and adventure. HOPE on the Way was acknowledged for outstanding Christian Literature both in the Devotional and Christian Living sections by Joy and Company in Arlington, Texas. Visit Fran’s website at www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What adversity have you faced recently?

Facing and Chasing the Lurker

by Shirley Brosius

Fear lurks in the shadows of my life. As a child, I was afraid of the dark. Fortunately, I shared a bedroom with an older sister. Unfortunately, she liked a radio program called “Inner Sanctum.” When I heard the ominous tones introducing horror stories, I huddled under the covers—and listened.

At bedtime, my father sometimes read ghost stories to us. My four older siblings loved hearing about chains rattling on staircases. But those sounds echoed in my head, and I refused to go upstairs alone.

So how do I prevent The Lurker from grabbing me by the throat like the ghost story villains of my childhood? Scripture helps me focus on The Lord and paralyzes The Lurker: “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear. . .  He will be as a sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:13-14a NKJV).

God is in Control

Moses sent 12 men to scout out Canaan, the land which God had promised to the Israelites after leading them from bondage in Egypt. They found a country with clusters of grapes so huge it took two men to carry them. But Joshua and Caleb were the only men who encouraged the Israelites to forge ahead and conquer the land.

The ten other men were afraid of the giants inhabiting the land. They didn’t trust God to do what He had promised (Numbers 13). And their disobedience started them on a 40-year journey through the wilderness. Except for Joshua and Caleb, only the Israelite children got to enter the Promised Land.

Joshua and Caleb trusted God to live up to His Word, and I am learning to do the same when faced with giants of fear. So, when I’m up in the middle of the night because of physical distress and I fear becoming hospitalized, I turn on a television station that offers scripture and songs throughout the night. I’ve memorized the hymn “Be Still My Soul,” and when worried, I sing it to myself.

I read the book of Philippians. These verses remind me to settle down, talk to God about my worries, and wait for His answers. While that answer may include hospitalization, I know that God controls even this experience.

God is with Me

After Moses’ death, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Since he had scouted the land, he knew they faced giants. But God guaranteed Joshua success: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV).

God is our powerful ally. God’s presence inhabited the ark of the covenant, so the Israelites knew God was with them. We don’t have that ark, and when we face giants of fear, we often want someone with skin on. So God may touch us through Christian spouses and friends, through caregivers and pastors.

God is for Me

The Lurker is an unwelcome intruder. But God is stronger than our fears. We know He is in control even of world affairs. We know He walks with us. And we know He is for us. Knowing this doesn’t change our circumstances, but it does change us. We learn to rely on God rather than cower under the covers as I once did.

In Romans, Paul reminds me God is on my side (8:31). God loves me so much He sent His Son to die for my sin (John 3:16). Nothing. . . nothing. . . “shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39 NKJV).

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

About the author: Shirley Brosius is a writer from Millersburg, PA. She loves to read, write, watch the flowers grow, and keep up with five young adult grandchildren. She is the author of Sisterhood of Faith and coauthor of Turning Guilt Trips into Joy RidesWebsite: shirleybrosius.com and friendsoftheheart.us.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with fear?

In the Dark and Loving It!

by Penelope Kaye

Fear. We have all experienced it with various levels of trepidation. Regardless of the particular phobia, it can cripple us and keep us from enjoying life, enriching our community, and embracing our future. Not the abundant life Jesus promised.

My fear of the dark began as a child watching scary movies at the local theater. Later, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” resulted in complete terror of the night. Even during my marriage, I wouldn’t let my husband turn the lights off until I was in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Taking the garbage out, reading past midnight, using the bathroom in the middle of the night—no matter what activity—darkness caused a pounding heart, sky-high anxiety, and a racing pulse. I knew someone or something waited around the corner to do me in!

Not until after I committed my life to the Lord did I receive deliverance from fear, especially the dark. However, being free from fear of the midnight sky did not leave me enamored with it. That all changed one August night. A night orchestrated by God.

I had driven to Portland, Oregon for a writers conference and was on my way home. My plan? Cross the treacherous Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho border before dark. But the day had started early and was ending long. Unfortunately, pinpoints of light dotted an inky sky by the time I reached it.John 8:12

Slowing to maneuver yet another curve, I suddenly realized I had no fear. The headlight beams allowed me to see only the path ahead, not the dangers around me. With a laser focus on the light, I was totally oblivious of any risk.

In a flash, God dropped a revelation into my spirit. As long as I focused on Jesus and His light, I didn’t have to fear regardless of how much darkness surrounded me. Joy bubbled up and I started to laugh—I was in the dark and loving it!

A paradigm shift had taken place.

Laughter took over. The joy of the Lord became my strength. I rejoiced in a new-found delight of my former terror.  What key led me to laughing at the enemy of fear? A change of focus from my darkness to His light.

You can experience the same freedom, whether it’s fear of spiders, fear of heights, or any other phobia. Make the shift to look to Jesus, the Light of the World. He’s the only one who can turn quivering dread into a celebration of praise—something He delights to do!! He, more than anyone, wants us to walk out of darkness into His marvelous light. Regardless of the phobia, when we move our focus to Jesus, the Light of the World, the victory belongs to us.

Trust Him to make the paradigm shift. And then let joy bubble out as you laugh in the face of your fear.

“. . .I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12, NKJV

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

Making Crooked Places Straight: A Spiritual Warfare Journey to Become Shining Stars in a Corrupt World by [Penelope Kaye]

About the author: Author of the award-winning book, Making Crooked Places Straight, Penelope Kaye’s new book, Land Media Interviews Without a Publicist releases in October. A teacher who loves to write, she pens poetry, picture books, and adult non-fiction. Her teaching career spans decades, including writing courses for the local adult community education center. Her devotional, In the Dark and Loving It won “Best Devotional” for the Oregon Writers Cascade Awards.

Join the conversation: Has God delivered you from a fear?

Life with Jesus—Travel Light with Arms Linked

by Jennifer Slattery

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s this: Life will be tough, and you can’t plan for everything. We can wear ourselves out trying by filling our brains with information we hope will help us stand firm through the next recession or global pandemic. Or we can travel light and alert, releasing our fear and expectations, with our arms linked and our hearts set on Christ.

That second option is the only way we can truly run this race well, and we’ll need God’s help to do it. May He inform our prayers and our steps.

Like many of you, I’m anticipating a busy fall, and honestly, I’m feeling a bit nervous. I know God is leading me and is more than sufficient for all I and my team might need. But I also know I’m going to be more dependent on Him, and potentially, others, than ever before. I know, if He doesn’t “come through,” I’ll fail–in so many areas.

And yet, I’m determined not to evaluate my time and assignments through my abilities and limited perspective. Instead, I’m trusting God to lead me step by step and to give me all that I need.

He’s been so faithful. Each morning, as I open my Bible, He lovingly, gently, speaks to my soul, encouraging and preparing me for all that’s ahead. Alerting me to challenges, those obstacles and storms I can’t yet see but He can.

And in response, He urges me to unite myself with His mission-minded children, and to pray, as He instructed His disciples when He sent them out in pairs to preach His truth.

Scripture says, “Now after this,” (“this” is likely referring to when He sent out the 12 in the chapter prior), “the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves.Carry no money belt, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one along the way’” (Luke 10:1-4, NASB).

Jesus wanted His disciples to travel light and remain dependent on Him, but He didn’t want them to journey alone. Not only did He pair them up, thus providing them the support they’d need to stand confident and firm when surrounded by “wolves.” But He also told them to ask God to raise others up to help further His mission.

I’m struck by how often I get this backwards. When I see a large assignment, I tend to take off running, recruiting people to help along the way. But notice, Jesus told His disciples to pray first, and not just to pray but to “plead” with God that He would raise up allies and coworkers. This reminds me of the importance of the mission and how much I need co-laborers. I’m to pray for them with the same desperation as if I was praying for myself.

I’m left wrestling with this: When was the last time I felt that level of urgency for those who don’t know Jesus? When did I last surround myself with those brought to tears over the condition of someone’s soul?

How might you answer those same questions?

Lord, help us to live with deeper dependence: dependence on You and one another, because we know this mission of breaking through darkness with light is too big and too important for us to race forward alone. Touch our hearts afresh. Draw us so close to Yourself that our hearts and prayers resembles Yours. Raise up Your children. Ignite our souls, link our arms, and mobilize our feet. 

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Are you working in tandem with others?