Who to Believe

by Linda Rooks

When I read an article in the newspaper saying certain foods we had all considered nutritious for years were now considered toxic, I was alarmed. The scientific certainty of former studies had been undisputed. We had relied on their veracity. Now they were saying the exact opposite.

At breakfast, I reasserted my confusion. “I don’t know what to use in my cooking now,” I said to my husband. “I don’t know what is healthy and what is not.  They’ve always said . . . .”

“Who is they?” he said.  “They say this. They say that.  But then it all changes. They change.” Even who we consider to be experts – that changes too. “

I said, “Yes, I guess there’s only one thing that we can always count on as being true: God’s Word in the Bible. It doesn’t change.”

As I thought about his comment and my response, I realized how that applied to all of life. It’s so easy for us to rely on common beliefs, the current thinking about something, scientific findings, and “what they say . . . .”

But there is only one thing we can always count on as being absolutely true, and that is God and His Word.  When we see one kind of truth coming from the world and another truth coming from God’s Word, which one should we believe?

Paul is clear about the answer. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (I Corinthians 3:18-19 NKJV).

Even the evidence in archaeological findings attests to the truth of God’s Word and triumphs over doubters of its accuracy. In the early 20th century, critics mistrusted the Bible’s historical reliability, regarding much of the Bible as myth. But little by little, archaeologists began to discover cities and artifacts that proved the existence of previously disputed biblical accounts and locations. The Hittite Empire, referenced 40 times in the Bible, was generally considered a myth by critics until 1906 when Hugo Winckler uncovered 10,000 clay tablets that documented the lost Hittite Empire. With each new revelation, critics have been forced to seriously reevaluate criticism of the Bible’s historical reliability.

Whether it is about morality, how to live life, who God is, history, or even science, the Bible trumps the world’s wisdom. The world with its changing theories, beliefs, histories, morals, and philosophies cannot be depended on. But God’s Word “is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV).  If we build our life on the world’s theories alone, there may come a time when we look back to see we have built our life on sand. But when we build our life on the rock of God’s truth, everything we build will stand.

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete” (Luke 6:47-49 NIV).

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

About the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, and Home Life. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: What do you count on to keep your world in order?

First Things First

by Linda W. Rooks

When the world thrusts a new challenge of monumental proportions in our path, and we feel unprepared to deal with it, what is your first inclination? Usually for me, it’s to try to figure out all the angles, so I can understand it better. But if we’re in crisis, with no prospects for immediate solutions, our minds spin in confusion. How do we make wise choices when we can’t understand what’s happening? Where do we go? How do we start?

Do we do a Google search? Call a friend? Visit the gym to work off our anxiety? Go to bed and sleep, hoping it will all go away?  Try to numb our minds through alcohol or drugs?

What do we do? Where do we start?

In our marriage classes, I often sit with women whose marriages have spiraled out of control. They have no idea how to even begin to make good decisions. As I’ve gone through the lessons with different groups through the years, surprisingly, many of these women have landed on the same verse to help them start to find direction:

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10 (NIV)

Yes, the first thing that helps to steer them in a new direction is stopping to look up to the Living God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Once they grasp hold of the one thing they know to be true and real and lasting, they can move forward, because they know our loving Father God is near.

This revelation was given to me one morning long ago while still a teenager, and it changed my life. I was experiencing a time of heartache, and as I opened my Bible and read Matthew 6:33, God revealed the answer to my yearning and the secret to the new beginnings I needed. “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS shall be added to you” (NKJV). The words jumped out at me and came alive in my spirit. I knew God was speaking to me, telling me to seek Him first, to come close to Him, and then I would find what I was looking for. That scripture became engraved on my heart. From that day forward, I began to see Him unfold good things in my life as long as seeking Him has remained my priority.

If we first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, these other things come to us in His timing and His sovereignty. We might be surprised at the good things He has in store for us when we let Him direct our paths.

Our Father God is the ultimate reality, the only truth we can always depend on. When we start with Him—when we are “still” and acknowledge that He is God—He will lead us along paths of victory.

If you are struggling for answers and need direction, grab hold of Jesus’ hand, so He can lift you up. Let your mind be taken captive by the Word of God. Seek His wisdom and ask Him to show you the next best step and then the next. He will show you the direction to take. He is your loving Father. And He knows the way. Acknowledge Him as your Lord and Savior who saves you out of all your worries.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3 NIV

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

linda rooks

About the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her (life-changing) earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: How has God directed you out of a challenging situation?

God Speaks from a Coffee Cup

by Linda W. Rooks @linda_rooks

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.                                               1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

I was not happy with my husband. The night before, when I started talking about wanting to get some insurance papers off in the mail, he was unresponsive. I continued to prod him, and when he finally replied, his answer seemed dismissive. I felt offended. The rest of the evening, I busied myself with cleaning up the kitchen and avoided spending time with him.

Now it was morning, and a new problem had surfaced in his work. My husband needed to resolve it, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me about it, but I still felt miffed. I took a sip of coffee and looked down at the 1 Corinthians 13 love cup in my hands. My eyes immediately rested on a phrase inscribed on the side, which read, “Love endures all things.”

Humph. I didn’t feel very loving . . .

But I knew what God was saying in this Scripture, and that God was not asking me how I felt. God was just asking me to love. And my coffee cup stated love “endures.”  In other words, love keeps loving even when it’s hard, even when we don’t feel like loving. So I listened to my husband and responded. I was polite.

After we spent some time talking about his work situation, I looked at my husband and sighed.  “I’m still not very happy with you, you know.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling well last night and had so much on my mind. I thought you were referring to the medical insurance forms I’d just received yesterday. I didn’t understand you were talking about the insurance for our trip.”

Oh my – miscommunication unmasked – a familiar marital theme!

Thankfully, however, God ripped away its destructive potential with a gentle reminder. Our misunderstanding could have gone on for quite awhile without resolution—but for my coffee cup reminding me about what it means to love.

I picked up my Bible and read 1 Corinthians 13 again, thinking about loving my husband God’s way—even when I feel offended.

By following God’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 13 on how to love, even when conflict arises we can work through the confusion that often threatens to divide a couple during confrontations and quarrels. When we are patient, we wait to hear what the other person has to say without judging. By being kind and gentle with our words, we show that we care and give the other person confidence that they are being heard. By rejoicing in truth, we work together as a team to find the best answer rather than merely insisting on our own way.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us what to avoid as well. If we are boastful, conceited, or selfish when disagreements arise, we will pull further apart rather than finding resolution. When we get angry or begin bringing up past offenses, we muddy the waters, cause tensions to rise, and thrust what may have begun as a simple misunderstanding into thorny and dangerous new areas of offense.

However, by protecting the hearts of one another, hoping to find resolution, trusting each other’s motives, and persevering until we come to an understanding, love can reign and hurts can mend.

God can steer us through many disagreements in the home when we follow the instructions He gives us in His Word. And sometimes it may help to start the day with the right kind of coffee cup.

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God Speaks from a Coffee Cup – encouragement from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: What have you found to be helpful in your relationship with your spouse?

The Hope of Today

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks  

In my upstairs hall, family pictures line the wall, photos tracing our genealogies into past decades. I stand looking at a picture of my great-great-great grandmother. I try to recall her name, but must refer to the big family Bible to remind me of it. In another photograph, of my husband’s ancestors, I gaze upon a large family grouping of young and old. As was common in that era, no one sports a smile. But on the inside that day, they were alive with hopes, disappointments, and ambitions, with their future stretching out ahead of them.

Their future has now become our past, and I look upon their likenesses to us and wonder what their lives were like. Did they ever achieved their dreams? They lived and breathed from year to year in a world that was palpable and real . . . in an expanse of time that was THEIR time. They probably felt it would go on forever. It was their generation. But eventually their lives ended and a new generation took its place.

Now it’s our turn. And it’s our time. But like every generation that came before us, our lives have a beginning and an end.

When we are in our prime, we feel we will live forever. There is so much life to live and so much to achieve. Dreams rise up before us and beckon us to follow into the future. But time marches on, and before long, we wake to find new aches and pains and realize we are getting older. Whether or not we manage to surmount our obstacles and attain our dreams, another generation is coming along behind, dreaming new dreams and looking to conquer fresh frontiers.

“All people are like grass,” says Isaiah, “and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever”  (Isaiah 40: 6, 8 NIV.)

In this finite window of eternity that we call our lives, each of our days is brand new, beginning with a sunrise unlike the one before. Regardless of whether these are happy or difficult days, each one is a gift that God has given to grow us and enlarge our vision of who He is.

Sometimes we will praise Him in the happy, glorious days of success and fulfillment, and other times we will seek him from the valleys of despair; but whichever place we find ourselves on any particular day, it is a part of the journey of our life God gives us for TODAY. And it’s a gift.

When we live today to the fullest, not in fleeting pleasures or empty and futile worry, but by submitting our lives to God’s bigger picture, today can become a jewel in our crown. Our challenge is to seek God each and every day as a gift from Him and let Him use our time on earth to the utmost of His highest calling.

Perhaps, one day in the future, a great, great grandchild will find my picture in a photo album and not recall my name. But even though our names may eventually be forgotten on this earth, our hope transcends this temporary world. For on a future day, as God’s children before the throne, we will find our names remembered and recorded in a living book, the Lamb’s Book of Life. We will join with past and future generations to celebrate God’s bigger story, the story we can choose to be part of today as we make choices now to live the part He created us to play.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”                                                                                  Isaiah 40:5 NIV

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The Hope of Today – encouragement from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning books walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry.

Linda’s recent release, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, dives into topics such as relationship dynamics and healing, protecting children, and praying for restoration, to deciding on boundaries and learning to live with the same spouse in a new marriage, Rooks illustrates what reconciling and rebuilding a marriage looks like—and how the sweet intimacy of Christ is in the waiting.

Join the conversation: What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

 

The Wildness of the Great I AM

by Linda Rooks @linda_rooks

Christmas music peeled through the interior of the car as I made my final shopping rounds on the day before Christmas. Just a few more presents to get before I made my way home to do some wrapping then head to the Christmas Eve service. On the radio, the song, “Mary Did You Know” was playing. As my car rounded a corner, I heard that stirring question posed to the mother of Jesus—and us. Did she truly know who that baby in her arms was? Did she fully understand that He was actually the God of creation, come to earth to save us?

The song came to its climactic conclusion, reminding Mary that the small child asleep in her arms was the all-powerful God of the universe — the “GREAT I AM.”

As these moving words hit my ears, I stared in surprise at the license plate on the car in front of me. The first three letters on the plate read, “I AM!”

“Ha,” I thought. “Okay, God you got my attention. You want me to focus on who You ARE! Christmas shopping is fine, but you don’t want me to lose sight of the fact that the Great I AM, the powerful God of the universe, came to us at Christmas.

About an hour later, after picking up my last few gifts, I drove out of the parking lot and was stunned when I again pulled up behind another car with a license plate with lettering that began with “I AM.”

Wow! Was God trying to tell me something or what? It’s not about Christmas shopping. It’s about who Jesus is!

Later that evening, as I wrapped the last presents and went to Christmas Eve service, I continued thinking about the wild coincidences of that afternoon.

Then it dawned on me: doing something “wild” is actually not all that unusual for God. For instance, the story of Christmas is pretty wild. The all-powerful God discarded His power and glory for a time and came to earth as a baby, so that we could know and receive Him.

So, yes indeed, God can do wild things like putting a car with a certain license plate before me to remind me what He wants me to focus on at Christmas. He can do something wild like impregnating a woman, so she can give birth to His son. He did do the craziest, wildest thing of all, when thirty-something years later, that baby died in our place.

That’s what I want to keep at the center of my Christmas this year. I want to focus on His incredible love, remembering that it led Him to come so we could know Him and the salvation He offers. Because as wild as all that is…it is the truth.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:6-11 NLT

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The Wildness of the Great I AM – encouragement from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning books walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry.

Linda’s recent release, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, dives into topics such as relationship dynamics and healing, protecting children, and praying for restoration, to deciding on boundaries and learning to live with the same spouse in a new marriage, Rooks illustrates what reconciling and rebuilding a marriage looks like—and how the sweet intimacy of Christ is in the waiting.

Join the conversation: Has God ever done something “wild” for you?

 

 

Peace Like a Frog

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

One day while pulling weeds and overgrown vines in my large Florida backyard, I squeezed through the hedges to grab a vine and spied a small frog clinging to a leaf. Instead of jumping down and hopping off to find a calmer location where the plants were not being jostled and shaken, he didn’t budge.

For the next hour, I continued pushing past the frog as I pulled on vines and drug them back through the hedges to deposit them in the trash can. But despite the disturbance I was making, the frog didn’t move. Seemingly unfazed by any potential danger, he sat peacefully and unflustered on the side of the leaf.

I was surprised at his cool composure. Why was he so calm in the midst of so much chaos around him?

With my hands busy with the task of pulling out the vines, my mind was free to ponder things like how a frog could stay so peaceful, and I realized God’s provision of a suit of camouflage made him feel safe. His reaction to danger was to “hide” in God’s provision for him. The frog was able to be quiet and at peace in the midst of the mayhem going on around him, because he knew that while remaining still he’s invisible to predators. He’s camouflaged. He’s hidden.

The frog inspired me to think about my own reactions in life, for when uncertainties surround me and life seems chaotic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

But when life gets out of hand and we don’t know how to untangle ourselves from the chaos surrounding us, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV) Like a frog that doesn’t move when danger lurks, God asks us to be still.

For when we are still, we can find that hiding place in the arms of our loving Father. When we quiet our minds and rest in His care, He can give us His peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7) In Psalm 32:7, David says, “You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (NIV) And Psalm 91:4 tells us, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart“ (NIV).

When we’re still and look to God in our troubles, we can recognize that God has the answers for us. He is our security, and He is our refuge.

When we look at nature, we see how God protects all His creatures, sometimes by giving a frog the protection of camouflage, sometimes by giving a porcupine prickly spines or a bird the ability to fly away. For each of his creatures, He is a loving creator.  But for us, His people, He is also a loving father. God’s amazing love is our protection. He is our hiding place and our refuge. When we’re scurrying around trying to find answers, He stands with His arms out to us, telling us to come to Him. He is faithful and has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He himself is our protection and refuge.

When you feel fear stalking you, when your mind swirls around with fears, imaginations, and unanswerable questions, when fear creeps up on you and is about to pull you under, remember you have a hiding place in a God who loves you with an everlasting love. His protective camouflage will hide you from the enemy’s snares. And under the shadow of his wings you can find refuge.

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Peace Like a Frog – insight from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, will release in February 2019, to offer practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: When has God been a refuge for you?

When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.                                                                                                                                         Colossians 4:2 NASB

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us excitedly anticipate the day, rejoicing in thoughts of reuniting with family, feasting on turkey, and remembering the blessings of the past year. But others may feel empty; their problems seem to envelop them and their circumstances look bleak. With the holiday approaching, they may wonder if they have anything for which to be thankful.

I remember such a time, when my marriage was on the point of collapse. My husband and I were separated. Confusion and fear gripped my heart, and I had no idea what the future held. It was hard to be thankful that year.

During this difficult time, however, I discovered an amazing irony. While I struggled with painful circumstances, I found that when I raised my eyes toward heaven and simply thanked God for being my Lord and Father, my heart grew lighter, and I felt at peace.

As I praised Him, the clutter of doubt and fear cleared from my mind, and my perspective changed. God appeared larger, and I became more aware of His awesome power and majesty. As a result, my painful circumstances seemed less weighty and prominent. I saw only God, only His love, only His comforting presence. Thanking and praising God was a salve to my aching heart. In the midst of praise I knew I would be alright.

The irony I discovered is that thanking God—even when it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for—actually gave me something for which to be thankful.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, and praise His name” (NIV).

It is when we are thankful–when we praise His name—that we can enter into the very presence of God. And when we do, we find that His majesty and power is greater than any problem we encounter. In the light of His almighty presence and power, the darkness in our lives pales. God’s glory washes away the dross of the world around us.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (KJV).

If you are struggling to feel thankful, when you wake up on Thanksgiving Day, begin by praising God. Thank Him for His love, which never ceases. Thank Him for being a big God that nothing can defeat. Thank Him that you have the incredible privilege of coming before the God of the universe and offering up your heart.  When you do, He will pour His strength into your weakness. He will fill your heart with Himself and the forever love He has for you. And with the tenderness of God’s presence so near, you might find this to be the most meaningful Thanksgiving of all.

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God will fill up your heart when you don’t feel thankful – @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Having traveled a difficult three-year journey from separation to reconciliation in her own marriage, Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation, brings strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital Broken Heart on Hold: Surviving Separation by [Rooks, Linda]breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, takes the next step by offering practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. It releases in February 2019.  Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: Our God never changes, no matter what our circumstances might  at times tempt us to believe. What things about God can you praise Him today?

Calling 911

by Linda Rooks

When a hurricane was bearing down upon us in Florida a couple of years ago, my daughter in California texted me a comforting Psalm about God’s protection. A year later, when fires raged not far from her California home, I texted that same Psalm to her to reassure her that God was watching over her.

That Psalm became our go-to scripture whenever we needed peace to face frightening circumstances.

Months later while we were again dealing with a worrisome situation, my daughter shared an encouraging insight to me from this powerful Scripture. When we pray over this Psalm, it is like we are dialing 911, not to our neighborhood rescue, but to God. Psalm 91 is full of God’s promises. Its words can calm our fears and comfort our hearts with reassurance of God’s loving protection.

Psalm 91:1 begins:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:1-4 NIV).

Life can be scary at times. Recently our world has been besieged with natural disasters. But sometimes a threat can be personally threatening. Things like a life-threatening physical ailment, relationship issues, or financial hardship cause us to fear as well.

Just as we dial 911 to bring the ambulance to our doorstep, when we call out to God, we summon the resources of heaven to our rescue. And just as we need to trust the paramedics to skillfully handle our medical situation, so we must trust our heavenly Father’s command of our circumstances. When we do, His peace will quiet our hearts and assure us that He is in control.

Later in the psalm, it says, “If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:10-11 NIV).

When we ask God to abide with us as our Lord and Savior, He will walk with us through our troubles, and we need only to call on Him to bring Him to our rescue. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91: 14-15 NIV).

Whenever you feel overwhelmed with fear, call God’s 911 hotline by turning to Psalm 91. His promises will calm your heart and remind you that you have a mighty God who loves you and watches over you. All you have to do is call on His name.

It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.  Isaiah 65:24 NASB

linda rooksLinda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: Has God ever rescued you when you have called out to Him?

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Good, Better, Best

by Linda Rooks

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.” Psalm 25:4 NKJV

Each time I prayed for Marsha, I remembered her last words to me when we spoke on the phone. “I just went to Moffitt and they’re letting me try an experimental treatment,” she said.

I felt encouraged. She sounded encouraged.

But, of course, that was Marsha’s nature—always positive. Even though doctors said her cancer was too advanced and there was nothing more they could do for her. Even though they gave her only a few months to live . . . .

In the midst of my busy schedule I thought often about calling and checking up on her. But as my to-do list grew longer and more urgent, time slipped away. I’d even been too busy to check my Facebook notifications. Wow!

A few weeks after my last conversation with her, I finally got around to checking in with Facebook. At the top of my news feed, I spied a post from Marsha’s daughter. I caught my breath and felt my heart constricting.

Marsha had died the day before.

In addition, Marsha herself had posted a week earlier, telling her friends about her deteriorating condition and encouraging us not to fear for her. “I have my hand on the doorknob of heaven,” she said. She had posted, and I had missed it.

I cried. I grieved. My heart was broken. Recognizing my failure to follow up on those nagging reminders to call Marsha, I was filled with regret.  But I could not change what happened.

Thankfully, I knew she was now safely home with our loving heavenly Father and free from pain, but the incident caused me to reevaluate my priorities.

What was more important? My projects? Or my relationships?

Sometimes, the good things we choose to do in life multiply to such an extent that what is good begins to crowd out what is better—or best. We fail to realize that for everything we choose to do, we simultaneously choose not to do something else. In our twenty-four-hour day, time is limited. We can’t do everything.

When we routinely concentrate on what seems urgent, things that don’t cry out with insistence or immediate deadlines are put to the side. For me, keeping up with friendships is often the first casualty. Family relationships can take a backseat too. We can be so busy trying to do our best at work, helping at church, or working on a project, we neglect to give our children the attention they need. Or we may be so engrossed in solving our children’s problems, we forget our husband has needs too. One day, however, those innocent oversights may transform into grief and regret.

Perhaps that’s why we need to start each day in prayer. One of my friends recently told me that before she gets out of bed each morning she asks God not to let her miss whatever He has for her that day. Now, as part of my morning prayers, her plea to God has become mine as well.

Staying sensitive to God’s leading at the beginning of each day, throughout the day, and before making commitments can help us shed the frustration of crowded schedules, depleted energy, and mediocre or even heart-rending outcomes. Most importantly, when we stay tuned into the promptings of our Living God, He can keep us on a clear path of His intended purposes.

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17 NKJV.

linda rooksLinda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: In this crazy-busy life, how do you set priorities?

Photo by Nicolas Prieto on Unsplash