Footsteps Worth Following

by Cherie Denna

My common prayer is, “Lord, please just show me the way.”

Normally, the risk-taker in me would just go for it, taking the unpaved road that leads me straight out to a bluff, hanging over the edge of the ocean with camera in hand. (Not so much right now while navigating through a pandemic. There are other lives to consider.)

Over the past several months, a team of us took a leap of faith in planning a fall women’s retreat, which had been canceled last year due to county lockdowns. Yet here we were again; everything was a go until health guidelines tightened.

So many questions flooded my mind. Is it too risky? Should we make financial adjustments? Do we cancel the event for the second year in a row? I found myself standing at this directional sign with no clear arrow pointing the way.

Ruth found herself in a similar place. After losing her husband, where was she to go? The Bible shows her devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi: “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God’” (Ruth 1:16 AMP).

I admire Ruth’s courage and unwavering allegiance to not only Naomi, but to God. It was as if she was so drawn to God that she knew she must remain close to Naomi. I imagine she heard a word behind her pointing her in the right direction, step by step.

There was great reward for Ruth as she sought refuge in God and followed Naomi. For God had gone ahead of them with plans of merciful providence (Ruth 1:1-7).

As our team discussed the direction of the retreat, I realized it was God’s direction that mattered most: leading this ministry is a calling; the women who have already registered need this retreat; God has already provided along the way; He wants us together in this season of isolation.

“Abide in Christ” was the chosen theme for our silent retreat. Abide is my one word for this year. He’s calling us to come and abide. A word of encouragement came from a friend, “God will work it out.” Minutes later, a song by the same name played on the radio.

Our plans for the retreat nearly crumbled as we considered the risks. It took faith to put the brakes on and recount how God had already directed our steps (Proverbs 16:9). We moved forward with God’s plan, knowing His provision and protection were with us.

We can expect Jesus to steer us the right way. He is faithful to guide us. At times, the signs are clear. Other times require us to pay extra attention to the steps He has already purposed. We must listen for His voice. Like Ruth, if our desire is to move where the Lord is moving, we will experience His divine providence.

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21 AMP

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

About the author: Cherie Denna is an award-winning author, speaker, and blogger who writes with grit and grace. It is Cherie’s desire for all to believe, belong, and be loved through revelation of God’s redeeming love. She has served in various forms of women’s ministry leadership for over a dozen years.

Her story, Biker Blood: An Outcast’s Quest for Justice and Belonging (Redemption Press, 2022), is a testimony to the rebranding of the soul that leads to true belonging. Publications include the 2021 Selah Award-winning collaboration, She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope, and other contributions and online devotionals.

You can find Cherie off writing somewhere on the seashore with camera in hand. Visit https://www.cheriedenna.com to sign up for her monthly Footsteps Worth Following devotional newsletter or to have her speak at your next event. Connect with Cherie on social media @cheriedenna.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you felt directly led by the Lord?

Are We There Yet?

by Michele McCarthy

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

It’s summer. Vacations abound. Travel ensues. What family on this planet, having traveled with children, hasn’t heard the excited cries, “Are we there yet”? 

Three. Minutes. Into. Twelve hours.

Who isn’t anxious to arrive to their desired destination? When several directions to “recalculate” finally lead to the announcement, “You have arrived” collective sighs buzz. A balm soothes the traveling soul.

God is all about movement. Being called followers of Christ is all about moving forward—our journey on earth will be in motion until we reach heaven. Scripture is replete with here-to-there stories. Moses turned to look at God in the burning bush and replied, “Here I am,” though he protested he was unqualified. But God qualified him and sent Moses to his there place—Egypt (Exodus 3:4).

There, Elijah learned, was the place God redirected him for provision after Elijah told King Ahab no rain or dew would come except by his word. God told Elijah to go to the brook Cherith (see 1 Kings 17:1, 1 Kings 17:3). There God commanded the ravens to provide for Elijah. Later God asked Elijah to go to a widow, who would provide for him there, at Zarephath.

Elisha was determined to stick with his mentor, Elijah. In his book, Lessons from Elijah, Andrew Wommack notes, “He [Elisha] was going to be where God wanted him to be. He was going to be ‘there.’ Elisha knew what was going to happen to Elijah, and he refused to stay ‘here.’ He went ‘there.’ He knew his place was with Elijah, not somewhere else. Therefore, he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Elisha was a faithful guy.”

God directed Abraham from Haran to Canaan. There Abraham and all the world were blessed.

David ducked, zig zagged, ducked, and zigged again from the sheepfold to the palace. There David became king.

Any one of these people could have ignored God’s directions to go.

God is always moving forward. Change is inevitable. God called. These and countless others chose to answer in obedience. None of their paths were comfortable or easy. But obedience brings great reward. And sometimes those rewards are felt for generations to come.

Each unique calling was from God. Every individual had to take the first step. And the second step and the third. Forge ahead. God didn’t do it for them. None of us arrive there without hearing God’s call and making strides to see it through.

Tune into God’s instructions. He is the original GPS—the God Positioning System.

Take the next step. Do your part. He is not going to airdrop you.

Will we respond as Isaiah responded to the Lord, Here am I. Send me! (Isaiah 6:8)?

Each and every there becomes the next here when we are willing to say “Speak, for I am listening,” followed by “Here I am, send me.” It is after walking forward in obedience, that we receive our next there word from the Lord. This here to there process continues until we reach home.

Where is your there? What step has God called you to take? Write a blog? Go on a mission trip? Volunteer? Get involved in politics in your city? Open a business? Be a stay at home mom?

Take the first step. God delights in feeding the hungry, but He rarely gives the whole meal at once. As you make headway, God opens the door to show you the next course of action.

Book your trip. Move from here to there. Let God plan your course. His is always a beautiful, exciting, messy adventure you don’t want to miss.

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

michele mccarthy

About the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

In Michele’s new book Aunt Ida Clare, Rosalina is not quite sure what to think of their new babysitter. Aunt Ida is quite the sight. Rosalina’s Daddy calls her flamboyant. Aunt Ida Clare shares the purpose behind speaking life-giving words to an unsuspecting brother and sister. She is positively the best thing to happen to these impressionable children.

Join the conversation: Where is your there? What step has God called you to take?

Are You Worried You’ll Make the Wrong Decision?

by Debbie Wilson

Did you ever play blindfold games when you were a child? I remember one in which the blindfolded partner navigated through a maze by following instructions from a trusted partner. “Three steps forward. Stop. Sidestep right.” Success depended on a trustworthy guide and a trusting listener.

Sometimes, trying to discern God’s will in a decision feels like playing blindfolded.

When I pray, I hope to receive clear directives like: Go with this doctor. Attend this conference. Send your child to this school. Move to this neighborhood. Instead, like the childhood game, God often says, “Take two steps forward; stop.”

It seems more efficient to say, “Put your child in this school,” than to say, “Call Sarah; see how her children did there. Sidestep. Attend a homeschool convention. Turn around; visit your public school.”

As in the blindfold game, God wants my full attention. He wants me to trust Him instead of trying to figure out the straightest route.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV). This Scripture indicates God doesn’t hide His will from us. However, instead of lighting up the path with a floodlight, He walks behind me whispering His directions as I go. My heavenly Father wants me to enjoy His company on the journey.

When I’m predicting everything that might happen or hurrying and worrying through to a decision, I miss the pleasure of His presence.

I’ve realized some of the stress I experience while trying to make the best decision comes from my effort to maintain an illusion of control. Like Eve, I want to be like God—in control.

God created us to need Him. Psalm 23:3 (NIV) promises that our good Shepherd guides us “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” His reputation is on the line. He watches over my every step. Providing for my needs is His job. Trusting Him is mine.

Here are some questions to consider to help take the angst out of a decision.

  • Why does this matter to me?
  • What am I trying to attain or avoid?
  • Do I feel my well-being (physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial) or someone else’s rests on this decision?
  • Does my perspective change if I shift my view from making the right decision to trusting God to be my provider, healer, source of joy, and strength?

For example, if you’re in the process of choosing the right place for your child’s education, why does that decision matter so much to you? Are you afraid for your child’s safety, career future, the influence of peers, or something else? Are you trying to avoid pain or regret? Do you believe God wants the best for your child? Do you feel your child’s welfare is up to you?

When I identify what I fear a wrong decision could cost, I am able to bring that concern to God.

Even when God gives a clear answer, it doesn’t eliminate the need for faith (Heb. 10:38). Ask Gideon. Having God personally tell him His will for his life didn’t erase all of Gideon’s doubts. A wise decision won’t eliminate the need for trust, either. So whether in making a decision or trusting Him with how a choice turns out, we must exercise our faith muscles.

Look at that decision again. How can you turn this into an opportunity to experience God? Perhaps the first step is to thank Him that He already knows your needs and praise Him for being your good shepherd.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.  Romans 8:6 NASB

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

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 God and 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 experienced God’s direction? How did He show you the path you were to take? Please share!

Sitting With My Savior

by Cindy Martin

I find myself wrestling with a new twist on an old issue. I posed a couple of questions to God a while back, “What do You really want me to be doing with my life? How should I actually be spending my time here on earth?” After seeking His heart on a day I’d set aside to ponder these questions with Him, His answer was clear….well sort of. His inaudible, but unmistakable response to my query was, “Be available.”

What does “be available” actually look like? That day, I was at a crossroads, asking God which of the many options before me He wanted me to pursue and He asked me to BE available. (Notice that He didn’t ask me to “do available”, but rather to “be available.”)

Herein lies the wrestle – the age old wrestle – how do we BE available? How do we live in the tension between being and doing? After all, the incessant doer in me knows that things still need to get done. Yet my heart knows there is more to it.

The writer of Ecclesiastes articulates my frustration but also brings some clarity to the issue. What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 NLT).

Work was God’s idea and is His gift to us. ‘Doing’ and ‘being’ both originated with Him. They were not intended to be in opposition to each other. Rather, their kingdom design was to complement each other. The fact that God “planted eternity in the human heart” means that our spirits know that we were created for something more than mere physical labor and existence. But, because we can never understand all that God is up to in our lives, we spend a lot time ‘doing’ in an effort to figure out ‘being’.

I’m learning that ‘being’ is not the cessation of activity so I can engage in monk style meditation, but rather making space in my mind and in my schedule for Him to have full access to my undivided attention. I call this time, “sitting with my Savior”. I’m not reading Scripture, I’m not praying, I’m not even engaging in worship. I’m simply sitting still with my palms turned up in a posture to receive from Him, giving Him opportunity to pour into me what I need from His divine hand.

Sometimes it’s encouragement for my soul; other times, it’s wisdom for a circumstance I’m facing or direction for the road ahead. I’m amazed by His attentiveness to me. The more time I spend “being” with God, the more He informs my “doing”. Sitting with my Savior deepens my trust in Him and sweetens our relationship. The posture of my heart is changed, and I leave our time together renewed, refocused, and ready to “do” His will!

Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go’, Whether to the right or to the left.  Isaiah 30:21 NLT

TWEETABLE
Sitting With My Savior – encouragement from Cindy Martin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cindy MartinAbout the author: Cindy is a writer, speaker and certified personality trainer who has a heart for helping people to get unstuck. She is passionate about teaching others how to live beyond their circumstances. She lives with her husband Walter on an acreage near Calgary, Alberta (Canada). They have two adult children.

If you feel angry, impatient, or overwhelmed and feel unable to stop the relentless internal revving, there is a better way to live. Living With Your Heart At Rest invites you to step out of the blender and into deep soul rest. Cindy shares with passionate conviction and authentic experience that it is possible to live with your heart at rest … before you’re laid to rest.

Join the conversation: When is the last time God had your undivided attention?