A Beautiful Reminder

by Melissa Heiland

This morning, I went down to the beach to worship and study and spend time alone with my Jesus. It was very early, and I listened to the crashing of the waves as read and pondered and worried. Disturbing thoughts came unbidden to my mind bringing feelings of sorrow.

I thought about friends who had left without warning or explanation, family members who seemed uncaring. My mind was racing thinking about all the things that were on my list and all the people I wanted to please. I was listening to whispers of the enemy telling me that I was alone and unloved.

And then I looked up.

Sitting very still and incredibly close, was a beautiful snowy egret, a shore bird, spectacular in her beauty and glorious in her nearness to me. If I had extended my arm, I would have touched her.

In that moment, I remembered. I remembered the nearness of my Lord. He is always near, always close, always loving. In that moment, everything changed. My heart and mind were flooded with peace at the nearness of my Savior. How marvelous that my Jesus would love me so much, to send a bird to remind me that He is always with me.

All the issues that were consuming me still existed, but there was a shift in my spirit. In Psalm 46:10, we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am still in my heart and my mind, I can focus on the love and power of God. He sees me, loves me, and will take care of me. All my fretting is futile and even harmful.

1 Peter 5:6,7 teaches us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” We can cast all our anxious thoughts on Jesus because he cares for us. We do not need to hold them, to nurture them, to replay them endlessly in our minds. We have a Savior, a Savior who cares enough to die on the cross for us and to send me an unexpected messenger as a reminder of His love and care.

In John 14:27, we read, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is a gift given to us. Today, and every day, I want to live in His precious peace. I pray that you and I will be still and know.

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

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: What do you do to bring down high anxiety?

Look Up, Child!

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head.                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 3:3 NASB

I was having trouble sleeping at night. Over the past several weeks, the world had become a very dark place. Headlines continually warned of thousands dying and the crumbling economy. Anger aimed from one side of the related issues toward the other was rampant all over the internet. How would this all end?

At one point in his life, King David struggled with grim circumstances. His son, Absalom, had staged a coup in an effort to take the throne. He’d rallied tens of thousands of citizens to his support and was now a viable threat to David’s reign and life.

Upon hearing the news, David gathered his household and fled the city. Among them were the Levites, carrying the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle.

When they came to the natural border at the Brook Kidron, David sent the Ark back into the city. The rest of the group passed over the water and started up the mountainside on their way to the wilderness, where they would go into hiding and wait for word from sympathizers remaining behind.

Upon seeing David’s entourage pass by, a man named Shemei came out of his house, shouting curses and throwing stones in disgust. “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless scum! The Lord has returned on you all of the bloodshed you caused the house of Saul and has given the kingdom into the hand of your son. You are only getting what you deserve!” (my paraphrase of 2 Samuel 16:7-8).

David no longer had the Ark, the physical representation of the presence of the Lord.  The malevolence of his son (whom he still loved), the rejection of his countrymen, and the loss of his throne was completely devastating. David and his entourage wept in despair as they continued to trudge up the mountainside, with heads covered and feet bare.

He was sick with grief and fear. In desperation, he called out to God with Psalm 3. “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:1-3 NASB)

As David looked around at ground level, there was no hope to be found. His adversaries were increasing. People were saying that God was not on David’s side. But that was only what David could see. So he called to the Lifter of his head.

In response, God lifted David’s gaze to the many times He had previously come through for David. Many times in the wilderness, God had protected him from King Saul, who sought to destroy him. He’d rescued David from invading enemies during his reign as king.

it was a needed reminder: God blesses the people who take refuge in Him.

As David raised his gaze, he also remembered the character and power of God. With that reassurance, he then knew there was no reason to doubt God now. So on that terrible night, as he lay down his head, David was able to sleep in peace.

As I struggled to sleep, I thought about Psalm 3. I decided to make a list of the things I continued to fret over while in quarantine, things I had not yet surrendered to God. When I did, I found every item on my list of concerns was fear-based: insecurity about family members and their situations, money issues, concern about the future of our country and way of life. How could I let it all go?

I needed to appeal to the lifter of my head. And put my gaze where it belonged. Not on what I could see, but on the unseen powerful and merciful God.

What is keeping you up at night? Covid-19 fears? Insecurity about your financial future? Concern for the health and safety of your loved ones? What do you think the Lord would say to you?

Look up, child. When we look up, we remember what’s temporary and what eternal glory we will one day see. We remember a God who is powerful, working every situation to further His plan for the world. We remember the big picture.

We don’t need to fear. We just need to keep looking up.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB 

Look Up, Child! – encouragement when life is hard from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What is weighing you down today?