The Ask

by Janet Holm McHenry

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NIV

I don’t like asking for things.

I was a horrible fund-raising mom. My kids would be given the assignment to sell Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts…and I would buy all the things. All. The. Things.

I’m also not good at recruitment. I feel as though I’m imposing on others by asking them to do something for me. And what if they said no? I’d feel awful.

This mindset weirdly slips into the prayer realm. I rarely ask for myself. Perhaps I don’t feel I’m worthy or perhaps I feel I’m bothering God. Maybe you feel like that too.

But Jesus told us (in Matthew 7:7-12 NIV), “’Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

What I often forget is that I have a good Father who delights in giving good gifts. He sees me praying for other people and their hard situations. He knows this sometimes exhausts me by the end of the day. He knows that I too have challenges and hurts and burdens that are too hard for me to carry alone. I picture him saying, “Janet, you shouldn’t lift that heavy luggage all by yourself. Let me carry that for you into the house.”

I also forget God will not only help me with my hard stuff: He is also excited about showering me with blessings…answers to impossible prayers that are beyond my reach. Sometimes I’ll pray with my hands extended straight out or straight up and pray, “God, this is beyond my reach. I have a dream to do this wild and crazy thing, but You will have to step in and make it happen. And I trust you for it, because You are the God who can do the impossible.”

I can pray this because I know that if I had asked, He would have bought all the figurative Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts for me. He’s that good.

Yes, it’s okay to ask for myself. I just need to remember to include my own needs and heart’s desires as I look up each and every day and pray on behalf of the world around me.

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

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling PrayerWalk. Formerly a high school English teacher and her small school’s official basketball scorekeeper, Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Do you hesitate to ask God for yourself?

Philosophy

by Janet McHenry

My cousin Merry told me recently that when she was in high school, she had to write about her life’s philosophy. Isn’t that hilarious? As a former high school educator, I honestly can’t recall too many students who could have articulated a life philosophy. Hers was “eat, drink, and be merry.” I think most high school students would have agreed with that.

What might others say? I’m speculating, based on personal observation of teenagers for many years, but I think additional ones might be fair:

  • Work hard.
  • Be kind.
  • Enjoy life.
  • Take what you can get.
  • Figure it out as you go along.
  • Just do your best.

By the way, that last one I got from Merry, too. When I was teaching, I’d say, “As Cousin Merry would say, ‘Just do your best.'”

As I watched Olympics recently, I wondered about the philosophy those young athletes must have for themselves.

  • Work hard, then work even harder.
  • Show sportsmanship, whether you win or lose.
  • Learn something that will make you better each day.
  • Make sacrifices so you get better.
  • Do better today than yesterday’s best.
  • Just do your best.

It’s been interesting following the story of Simone Biles, the young gymnast who faltered in her vault competition and then withdrew from most of her events. She knew herself. She knew her body. She knew a weakness had crept in that could harm her. And so she sacrificed years of hard work for her life’s sake. She did her best, given all the circumstances of her health and wellness.

There are all kinds of ways we can get wisdom and gain perspective about how to best live our lives. We can read and research and observe. And we can have experiences. Personally, while I try to learn from the latter–experiences–I’d much rather learn from the former. From Simone I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to kill myself to get ahead. I can cheer from the sidelines . . . and perhaps even my sideline cheers are what God might prefer for me.

And what’s my life philosophy?

Mine stems from a directive that Joshua gave the eastern tribes after they had helped their brother tribes settle in the promised land—supporting them in battle. When things settled down, Joshua told them to observe and keep God’s commands, to love Him, to walk in His ways, to cling to God, and to serve Him with all their heart and soul.

I believe God has ordered my days. I tend to run to God when life’s situations are hard. When circumstances settle down, it’s easy to become complacent. In those times, if I step out, motivated by selfish ambitions, or if I ignore what I already know God has ordained for me, I won’t be doing my best. I want to follow Him at all times of my life.

So, since 1970, my life philosophy has been “Love God and serve Him forever.” I’ve tried other ways. They don’t work out well. So I’ll do my best, given the circumstances, and trust Him for the results.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5 ESV

The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Can Change Your Life Today by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling 50 Life Lessons for Grads. Formerly a high school English teacher, she still enjoys hanging out with young people when she serves as her school’s official basketball scorekeeper. Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What’s your life philosophy?

God Things

by Janet Holm McHenry

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 75:1 NIV

I don’t believe in serendipities. I do believe in God Things, though.

The first time I heard that expression was probably about twenty-five years ago when hanging out with a writer friend. “It was a God Thing,” she’d say . . . like a dozen times in a single conversation.

Here’s my definition for God Things: circumstances that can only be explained by God’s sovereign design and execution, resulting in the person saying, “Oh, you are wonderful, God.”

Here’s an example. A young couple I know moved to our area last year and have since lived with their six children in a travel trailer for ten months. While they had made offers on two houses, neither was accepted, much to their great disappointment.

Meanwhile, an acquaintance of mine had been trying to sell a house for many months. She and her husband got two offers that both went into escrow, only to have the potential buyers pull out of their commitment. Somehow they knew, though, that their desire for a family to buy their home would come true.

You can guess what happened. Yes, the young couple with six kids fell in love with the sellers’ home, and escrow closed this week. God Thing.

BUT . . . here’s an even greater God Thing. The young couple had sold all their things–furniture, furnishings–when they moved here. They were completely starting over. And . . . the sellers are moving to Hawaii and do not want to take any of their furniture or furnishings with them. God Thing.

Sometimes we get disappointed when our dreams and plans don’t work out. A relationship doesn’t work out. A prospective job doesn’t work out. A home sale doesn’t work out.

And then The Wait happens, all the while we’re left wondering what is going on.

I imagine that’s what the people of Israel thought the four hundred years of silence between the last books of the Old Testament and the birth of the Messiah . . . the ultimate God Thing. But oh my, wasn’t Jesus worth The Wait?

When we are in a waiting room, instead of seeing it as a painful time, we can be expectant because we know God is working behind the scenes. The Wait may just be an advent season before the God Thing becomes a reality. Years later we will recount the litany of disappointments that led up to the beautiful God Thing our Savior dropped into our lap.

Instead of grasping at straws or settling for ho-hum or jumping into Pretty Good, we can ask God to sit with us in the waiting room as we expect the God Thing. It will be worth it.

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

About the author: When Janet Holm McHenry gets itchy about waiting, she will go for a prayer walk in her small town in the Sierra Valley. A national speaker, she is a former educator and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. More about Janet, including her writing coach business, can be found at janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced what could only be called a God Thing? Please share your story!

Nine Things to Do While Waiting

by Janet Holm McHenry

You’ve heard of The Dating Game, right? How about The Waiting Game?

I’m terrible at waiting. Just one example comes from my early teaching days when I chaired our school’s accreditation review committee. If I delegated various writing sections of the report to certain teachers, I knew I’d have to wait until the last minute to put it together. Instead, I wrote those sections myself. Not good, because the report was probably not representative of our whole school.

Another example was from my role as senior class advisor. Many year-end activities fell on my shoulders–senior project presentations, senior trip, senior banquet, baccalaureate, and even the commencement ceremony program, practice, and its decor. Many details had to fall into place within a two-week time period at the time of the year when, as an English teacher, I was also grading final exams, essays, journals, and tons of makeup work.

Nonetheless, despite telling myself that I needed to let the senior class leaders take responsibility for making their activities come together, I often jumped in and put details into place. That meant for a frazzled me.

Unfortunately, I can do the same with God’s plans for my life too. Instead of waiting for Him to work or direct my steps, I jump in and manipulate a situation. Saul, the first king of Israel, did this too. Instead of waiting for the priest to offer the sacrifice, he decided to do it himself. He wanted victory against the Philistines right then and knew that giving the sacrifice was critical to having the Lord on his side. However, he had forgotten his role, which did not include taking over the priest’s duties. He wasn’t fully trusting God for the results but taking matters into his own hands (see 1 Samuel 13:1-14).

Waiting is not easy–whether it be for a phone call or while in a line at the grocery store or for news about a medical test. However, waiting teaches us to rely on God and his sovereign plan, which is always best.

There are ways to occupy our restless minds and fingers while we wait for an answer or for direction:

  • Research an idea for a project.
  • Start a much-procrastinated project. While I was waiting to hear back on a bunch of proposals, I decided to get certified as a life coach and am now finding great fulfillment in helping others move forward with their lives.  I also created an online masterclass.  
  • Clean. Do your spring cleaning.
  • Organize your desk, your filing system, your taxes, your closets, your cupboards, your drawers. Glean out things you do not need, and give them to charity.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member. Write a letter or give them a call or even visit. They actually might be waiting to know someone loves and cares about them.
  • Get some exercise. Get out of the house and go for a walk or hike.
  • Work on a craft project. I took up sourdough breadmaking this past winter, and it’s been a very therapeutic hands-on project that others are enjoying as well.
  • Text several friends and tell them you’re thinking of and praying for them.
  • Get some rest. Perhaps a daylong sabbatical is needed. Read a book. Play the piano. Take a drive to see something beautiful.

God’s answer may be just around the corner. As we wait for him, we are developing discipline, patience, and perspective in a looking up posture.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 ESV

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is a multi-tasking maniac who is gradually learning that waiting can be a good thing indeed. A national speaker, she is the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline (WaterBrook/RandomHouse). She would love to connect with you on social media or through her website, janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you are waiting?

Following Directions

by Janet Holm McHenry

I had a fun unit I did with my students when I was teaching them to write technical language. First, I created relevance for the unit by bringing in appliance and auto instruction manuals. Then I stood in front of the class with peanut butter, jelly, bread, a bread board, a knife, and a plate.

“Tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” 

An eager student would raise his hand. “First, put the peanut butter on the bread.” So I’d pick up the jar of peanut butter and set it on top of the loaf of bread. I was following his directions exactly, right? 

The student—and the class—quickly got the importance of being specific with directions and giving and following them exactly.

Moses started out that way. When God told him to strike the rock at Rephidim to produce water, he did just that. And water flowed out (Exodus 17:1-7). But perhaps his hearing wasn’t so good after forty years of wandering in the desert. The people were still rebellious, and he was an old man, weary of leading. “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me,” he said (Numbers 11:14 NIV).

Later, when the people again complained about lack of water, Moses and Aaron went to the Tent of Meeting, fell facedown, and found God’s glory again to guide them. “‘Take the staff,’ the Lord God said, ‘and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. SPEAK [emphasis added] to that rock before their eyes, and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink’” (Numbers 20:8 NIV). 

For whatever reason, Moses raised his arm and STRUCK the rock twice, instead of speaking to it. While Moses did not follow the Lord’s instructions, the Lord gushed water out of that rock. God is merciful, isn’t He? But Moses would pay a price for not following God’s specific directions. He would never see the Promised Land. Joshua would lead the younger generation there instead. 

It seems a harsh punishment. Moses had been faithful. He had previously followed the Lord’s instructions. He had stood before Pharaoh over and over, risking his life to ask that the king allow the Israelites to leave. He had used his staff to part the Red Sea waters and to bring about water for the thirsty people. He had dealt with the people’s unending complaints and led them through the desert. Hey, I’ve taken kids on walking tours; it’s not easy leading even just a couple dozen! 

Water. We need just enough. Not too much or we suffer flooding or icy slick roads or snow past our windows. Not enough and we suffer thirst and possible death. Moses faithfully led the people through waters and to waters so they could experience the rich abundance of watered pasture for their flocks and themselves.

Perhaps he was dry–his will all used up. Perhaps he was too old. Perhaps he was too weary. Perhaps he was just not the right man to lead millions of people into already inhabited lands of people who would not be happy about being displaced. Following directions exactly would have been the most important job requirement for leading those thirsty hordes. 

I struggle some days with listening and following. I’m weary. I’m aging. I just want to get there, you know? That Promised Land . . . whatever that looks like here on earth. And then other days I take an honest look at my life and give thanks for God’s graceful, life-nourishing Spirit rain that has faithfully quenched my thirst all these years. And I give thanks because . . . I’m already there.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descent like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

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

About the author: Janet McHenry has been called the Prayerwalking Lady, because she has been prayerwalking her small town for more than 22 years. The author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, she is the creator of the online masterclass Prayer School, which can be found through her website. She and her rancher husband Craig live in the Sierra Valley in northern California, where they raised their four children.

Join the conversation: What supplies refreshment for you when you are in a dry and thirsty place?

Looking Out for Art

by Janet Holm McHenry

People who create things are amazing to me. Like these folks I know…

Artists. My mom, 93, is a watercolorist. The youngest of seven raised during the Great Depression, she paid attention when her high school art teacher said, “You should go to art school.” So she did, even though most of her six half-siblings did not graduate from high school. I have many of her landscape paintings now and love staring at them, wondering such things as how she created smoke or water or sky.

Carpenters. My grandfather was a carpenter. Grandpa Max built homes for a living, and somehow kept food on their table, even through the 1930s. He also made furniture, mostly for family members. He made a custom desk and attached bookshelves that filled an eight-foot wall. He also made a large corner cupboard for my mom’s growing set of willow ware, as well as a large buffet for tablecloths and such.

Music-makers. My daughter Bethany and her husband Matt write music. Her first worship song stunned me: she has a way not only with words but with melodies as well. And he has incredible skills piecing and mixing multiple tracks. He made us family members sound good for a song my husband Craig wished for as his Christmas present.

Bezalel and Oholiab were true craftsmen in the Exodus story. God called them by name to create artistic designs for the tabernacle—the portable sanctuary that would house the Ten Commandments and serve as the meeting place between God and His people as they traveled from the desert to the Promised Land. But it could not be just any old tent structure. The Lord Himself provided artistic designs for the two men and their helpers to create in gold, silver, bronze, beautiful stones, and carving wood for the tabernacle and all the beautiful furniture and pieces to equip it. And others supported them in furnishing the materials needed to do their work–to an abundance so much that they had to be told to stop giving.

While man’s artwork of all kinds will never match much less exceed God’s creation around us, it is worthy of appreciating and supporting. This is such a time now to look around and help support our creatives–artists, musicians, skilled craftspeople, and even writers—many of whom are struggling financially as museums and theaters and such may be closed. We need beauty in our lives right now…and those who can create beautiful things need us. Just as God blessed the Exodus creatives, we can bless them today.

Every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence…shall work.” –Exodus 36:1 ESV

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

About the author: The only creative things Janet McHenry dabbles in are words. A national speaker, she is the author of thousands of articles, devotions, and blogs, as well as twenty-four books—including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Discipline and Strength. She is the host for the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat several times a year in her home in rural northern California and would love to connect with you through her website, https://www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: How has art blessed your life?

Note from Heaven

by Janet Holm McHenry @LookingUpFirst

Yesterday I was so frustrated.

No, it wasn’t teenagers. They’re long gone. No, it wasn’t my dear rancher husband. He’s working from 6 a.m. to close to 10 p.m. right now.

Yes, it was technology. And I started bashing myself, as I typically do. I’m not smart enough. I can’t figure this out. I’m too old for this stuff.

And then, as I turned a page on the yellow pad I was using to take notes for an online conference, a tattered little note fluttered out. It said in familiar handwriting, “Nothing can shake [You] . . . and me.”

I remembered. My friend June had written that little note to me at our favorite writers conference many years ago and slipped it to me just when I needed it. My dear friend June . . . who has been gone from this earth now for many years.

And there it was slipped to me again, seemingly from the skies, this time from God, to give me assurance, a bit of tears, a lot of smiles, and much joy.

June’s little quote on the note comes from Psalm 16:8 (GNT), which says, “I am always aware of the LORD’s presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me.” Though David was anointed king of Israel, his life consisted of one battle after another, even from his own son. It was his relationship with God, though, that saw him through the many challenges of his life, and he wrote many psalms out of his struggles and pain as worship songs.

When we are in the midst of a difficult circumstance, it can seem as though God is far away. Sometimes I allow myself to dwell in pity as though someone or something has done something to me. Sometimes I resort to self-blame because I feel inadequate. Neither place is a good spot to hang out, and neither spot reflects the truth of the situation.

The truth is three-fold. First, God is near me. He is as close as his Word or the earshot of my prayers to him. He cares, he sees me in my struggles, and he invites my running to him with my problems.

Also, my difficulty is really not too difficult. If God has set a challenge before me, he can equip me for that very task. If I do not have the particular skill to accomplish something, I could ask God for wisdom, I could research my options, and I could ask someone for help. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” My negativity about situation I think is impossible will only be an impediment. A looking up posture gets me geared for the possible.

And lastly, knowing that God will help me one way or the other means that I need not be shaken or rattled. I can approach him with confidence that he will guide me and then approach the task with confidence that the impossible will be done.

May our great God slip you a note of love today . . . and perhaps this is actually it: you are loved!

 I am always aware of the LORD’s presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me.” –Psalm 16:8

TWEETABLE
Note from Heaven – encouragement from Janet McHenry, @LookingUpFirst on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Janet McHenry

About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk, which has encouraged tens of thousands to pray for their communities while they walk. Her business name is Looking Up! because she encourages others to seek the Problem Solver, who can do the impossible. She would love to connect with you : https://www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Has God slipped you a note of love lately?

Praise: A Stone’s Throw Away

by Janet McHenry @LookingUpFirst

“I tell you,’ he replied, “’if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40 NIV

As I recently traveled through Israel with my tour group, I kept marveling at the off-white limestone rock. More than anything else there, it seemed to connect me with my Savior Jesus, who had lived within rock walls and trod on rock walkways. Every spot we visited seemed to whisper, He was here.

One day I stood at the rocky edge of the Mount of Precipice and gazed down into the Jezreel Valley near his hometown of Nazareth. That spot was where the townspeople chased him to the edge of the mountain, only to have him disappear somehow in the crowd.

Later that day we collected rocks on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he had called his disciples, preached to the multitudes, and walked on the water. Perhaps he had stood on those very stones.

A couple days later when we strolled through the stone-paved streets of Old Jerusalem, I knew that certainly somewhere I had walked where Jesus had walked.

That was not far from where his crowd of disciples had loudly praised him as he entered Jerusalem for the last time: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38 NIV). The Pharisees told him to rebuke his disciples, to which he responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40 NIV). That verse kept ringing through my ears as I took in the landscape of natural rock of the hillsides and stonework of the buildings and walls.

How many times, I wondered, had I kept quiet when I could have given him praise? When I got my teaching job, did I praise God or pat myself on the back? When I’ve heard his name cursed in public, did I speak up? When I needed surgery, did I thank him?

It may seem challenging to incorporate praise into our daily routines, but it’s not if we simply focus on one of God’s characteristics each day of the month. Some of those characteristics are loving, creative, sovereign, patient, and faithful.

For example, we can pray, Father God, your love is everlasting. I see it in the beautiful landscape of mountains and forests that circle this beautiful valley where I live. I see your love in the face of my daughter and her new baby girl. I feel your love when I realize that your provision for me is abundant: I have a cozy home and more than enough clothes to wear and food to eat. You take care of me day after day, and your love inspires me to love others well. Thank you, Lord, for loving me this much!

When our days are going smoothly, it may seem easier to spend time praising the Lord. However, when life is hard—with hurts and disappointments and downright struggles—it is challenging to remember to praise our Creator. However, we can turn negative feelings and emotions into times of praise.

For example, when we are in a time of confusion—with circumstances fighting against the grain of what we might otherwise feel is the right course to take—we can praise God for his sovereignty. That could sound like this: Lord, I praise you for your sovereignty. You have all power, dominion, and authority over all creation, all people, and all circumstances. Though I am in a crazy state of confusion, I know that I can trust you, because you are the calm in the center of that tornado. So, instead of pushing or manipulating, I can wait on you, Lord Most High, and anticipate your just-right results.

Instead of waiting for the stones around us to cry out praise to our God, we can do it ourselves.

TWEETABLE
Praise: A Stone’s Throw Away – Janet McHenry @LookingUpFirst on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Janet McHenryAbout the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. A former educator, she now writes full time from her home in the Sierra Valley, where she and her rancher husband Craig have raised four children and where she still walks and prays for her town. She may be contacted through her website, www.janetmchenry.com

Rolling Your Stones Away

by Janet McHenry

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  Mark 16:2-4

On what we now call Good Friday, Jesus suffered on a cross and died. Scripture says two Jewish council members, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then a stone was rolled against the entrance.

The finality of closing that tomb doubt signaled the end of His life on earth for them. The disciples, Jesus’ family, and those involved in His crucifixion assumed what anyone would: the past three years of His powerful ministry were over.

One earthly tasked remained, however. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary—the mother of James—and Salome headed to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. However, as they walked, a thought occurred to them. Who would roll the stone away?

That was a good question! Scholars have speculated the stone could have been either a wheel-shaped stone or a giant plug. In either case it would have been two to four thousand pounds in weight. No doubt others, maybe the guards assigned to the tomb, had helped Joseph and Nicodemus move it over the entrance on Friday night. Moving the stone would take more than the combined strength of a few women.

However, when they arrived, they saw it had already been rolled away. Jesus had resurrected from the dead. The power of heaven had come to earth and moved the stone. And Jesus had walked away.

Good Friday can be called good, because the rolled-into-place stone was not the final word. Jesus did the impossible that day. And today He is still in the business of rolling away our seemingly impossible stones.

Many women are in vulnerable positions. Maybe you’re single and pregnant. Maybe you’ve been trying to conceive. Maybe you’re a widow . . . or maybe your husband has been unfaithful. Maybe you’re just wondering how you’ll pay your next bill.

Years ago when working in a law office, I thought I’d type up my own divorce papers—just to see how they would look. I actually worked for my husband, who was often demanding and angry. I felt desperate. I could not live one more day in a hopeless marriage. After I typed up the petition, I looked at it and prayed, Lord, give me one good reason to stay in this marriage.

At that moment, Craig walked into the room holding our young son. It was like a snapshot—one that could have been put into a photo album. I began to think of the future graduations and weddings and grandbabies-to-be. What would those photos look like if we were no longer together?

I thought of the sense of hopelessness that Jesus’ followers must have felt on that Good Friday. They didn’t know Resurrection Sunday was just two dawns away. In spite of how hopeless things seemed in our home, maybe God could resurrect our relationship. So I prayed that Jesus would roll the stones in our marriage away.

And he did! We went to a marriage seminar a weekend soon after that and began to learn how to communicate our needs clearly. We even slipped away from one of the seminars to spend time walking the beach, holding hands, and telling each other what qualities we appreciated in each other.

Is our marriage perfect? Not by any means. But it does stand as a testimony to what Jesus can do for any relationship. We truly love each other more each passing day and have learned that there is always hope when you have faith in Christ.

Ask Him to roll away your stones, to make what now seems impossible possible. As God said in Jeremiah 32:27: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Janet McHenryAbout the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and author of 23 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, which will be released June 2018. A former educator, she writes from her home in the Sierra Valley, where she and her rancher husband Craig have raised four children. Janet still walks and prays for her town. She may be contacted through her website, www.janetmchenry.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a Prayer Walkwinner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Janet’s book, Prayer Walk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What in your life needs resurrecting?

 

 

From Strength to Strength

by Janet McHenry

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! . . . They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5, 7 NASB

I should have listened to my son’s knee surgeon. “Be very careful when lifting the movement and ice machines—or you’ll find yourself needing back surgery!”

At the time I laughed off his comment. I could handle anything—I was strong.

But the doctor was right. Those machines were heavy, and lifting them several times a day took a toll on my back. Sure enough, a couple weeks later I picked up a dictionary and fell to the floor in excruciating pain. The next day paramedics took me out of the house and to the hospital, where I started a regimen of pain meds and bed rest. I could not sit up. I could not walk to the bathroom. I just lay on my side trying to manage the pain.

This was not what I had planned for my spring. I had taken a semester’s leave from teaching high school to research a project and had a pile of fifty books to read. I couldn’t even lift my head.

To make matters worse, in a month I was to speak at a national prayer conference about my passion: prayer-walking. How would I ever be able to travel? How would I even be able to walk?

 Lord, I prayed, I cannot even move. I need your strength.

Because I couldn’t lift a book, my friend June kindly volunteered to read the Bible to me each evening. As she read Psalm 84, the words “strength to strength” struck a chord within me. When we lay our heart out before the Lord, he becomes our strength. Just as God provided enough manna for each day for the Israelites in the wilderness, he provides the strength we need for each of our days: exactly what we need for every challenge.

His strength could come through a word of encouragement from Scripture, a meal from a neighbor, a prayer from a friend, or flowers from family. I began looking out for those provisions of strength around me.

The first came from my mom, who came to take care of me. The next came from my husband, who delivered me on a mattress to the hospital where I underwent surgery for my herniated disk.

Two weeks later I needed strength again. I was still in pain, counting the minutes until I could take the next pill. When I called for a refill on my meds, the clerk at the doctor’s office said, “You need to get off that stuff.”

I was taken aback by her comment. Was I addicted?

 Lord, I need your strength again. Help me to face this new challenge. You’ve taken me this far—I trust you for the next step.

I made a decision. The next day I only took a half pill with each dose; a day later I stopped completely. And the pain was gone!

With every new challenge from my injury, God was faithful to provide the strength I needed. I even attended that conference, where a friend unknowingly affirmed that same scripture was for me; she said as I laid out my heart on the highways to pray for the people of my town, God would take me from one strength to the next. And he has!

Janet McHenryAbout the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and author of 23 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, which will be released June 2018. A former educator, she writes from her home in the Sierra Valley, where she and her rancher husband Craig have raised four children. Janet still walks and prays for her town. She may be contacted through her website, www.janetmchenry.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a Prayer Walkwinner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Janet’s book, Prayer Walk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you relied on God for His strength? How did He provide?