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?

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Caring for the Caregivers

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NASB

Voices penetrated the heavy shroud of sleep. I checked my phone. Two o’clock in the morning. I could hear the anxiety in Mom and Dad’s conversation, but I couldn’t make out the words.

I threw back the covers and stumbled across the hall to their room. Dad lay on the floor beside the bed. I managed to get him sitting, but no matter how much I tried, I could not get him off the floor and back in the bed.

My husband Wayne was stirring in the other room, so I called for help. Together we got Dad up and settled back in bed. Thankfully, Dad only suffered a few bumps and bruises. But his fall was a dramatic reminder that I can’t care for my parents without help.

And neither can any of the millions of women in America caring for aging parents. They need community, help, and support.

No matter the exact situation, there is nothing easy about caring for aging parents. No matter how much we love them, the task often demands more than the caregiver has to give – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. God can and will supply everything caregivers lack, but He often chooses to work through other people to meet those needs.

If you aren’t a caregiver yourself, you probably know someone who is. You may have even wanted to help them, but you simply weren’t sure how. My personal experience has given me some insight on how ministry leaders and friends can offer practical help to those in our lives who care for family members at any level. Here are three things you can try:

  1. Ask – Every time a friend asks me about my mom and dad my spirits lift. The simple act of asking shows concern for my parents and love for me. I feel less alone in the journey. If someone you know or minister to cares for a parent, periodically ask how their parents are doing. And ask how you can pray for them and their parents specifically.
  2. Offer – So often we say, “Let me know if I can do anything!” And although we are sincere, the offer is too general. Instead, offer specific practical help. Before we moved my parents, my friend Kayleen offered to make the trip with me from Texas to Tennessee to unpack the boxes and get the house ready for them. Although this offer was huge, our help does not have to be this big to go a long way in providing comfort and relief to the caregiver. Just be specific and practical.
  3. Encourage – Caregiving is an emotional and spiritual journey. Caregivers need a shoulder to cry on, someone to pray with, and someone to laugh with. Bring her coffee and chocolate. Text her a link to a devotional that encouraged you. Send her flowers.

February 21, 2020 is National Caregivers Day! To celebrate, offer a helping hand to a caregiver you know. Although we can’t change her circumstances, we can ease her burden by extending practical care and loving concern for her.

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Caring for the Caregivers – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Are you a caregiver? Have you ever been a caregiver? Please share what would be encouraging for those who are currently in the trenches!