It’s Your Turn

by Christina Rose

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. Isaiah 61:7 ESV

Young Joseph was greatly favored by his father Jacob, who gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. His older brothers were extremely jealous of him, and when Joseph began sharing visions of someday becoming a powerful leader that would rule over all of them, the brothers were enraged. They sold Joseph into slavery, where he was severely tested for years. Ultimately, the visions God had shown him were realized. Joseph became a powerful leader that ruled over the land and his family, and he never went back to the pit again. The trials he had been through had led him to triumph. It was his turn.

My coat of many colors hung in the closet, waiting for me to head out into the world again. It was a beautiful, hand-stitched silk coat of lavender, blue, rose, gold and green that I had chanced upon a few years prior when I was going through harsh trials. Like Joseph’s story, I liked to think finding this coat was a sign that I would also overcome the trials I was going through and that the visions I continually had of great success and joy would be realized.  

Now, as my 60th birthday approached, I was on disability while recovering from hip surgery and the realization of those visions seemed distant. On top of this, my home and marriage were gone. With my children away at college, I was alone and discouraged. I was living in a tiny expensive apartment, clinging to hope, working long hours until I fell ill and needed surgery.

My daughters came home for my birthday with take-out Chinese food. While I was grateful for their company, it was hard for me to hear that their dad had just thrown an extravagant birthday party for himself at the Yacht Club, while I was struggling on disability. The girls shared that many of the guests had attended our wedding had asked about me.  

“I hope you lied,” I said. “I hope you told them that I inherited a fortune and was happily traveling the world with my new husband.”  I then silently said a prayer to keep my mouth shut until I had a better attitude. “If you keep talking, it won’t be long before you’re saying something really wrong, prove you’re wise from the very start – just bite your tongue and be strong!” (Proverbs 10:19 TPT)

After dinner, we opened our fortune cookies. Mine read, “You have a charming way with words, and you should write a book.”  I stared at this fortune for hours, and later that night, I began writing.  Within a few months I had written my first book.  It was the beginning of many articles, blogs, books, travels, adventures and meeting new friends.  It was my turn.

Esther was a young orphan who went through great preparation to become queen. She then risked death by acting to save her people from destruction. She succeeded with glory. It was her turn.  Ruth stood by her mother-in-law’s side when they were both widowed.  She worked in the fields to provide for them. The owner was so impressed, he asked for her hand in marriage. Ruth went from working the fields to owning the fields. It was her turn. 

God’s ways are higher than ours, so at times we may not understand His plan and timing. When we draw on the wisdom of the Bible, we see many examples where what the enemy uses to harm, God uses for good. He can turn the most challenging situation around and give us a fresh start and hope. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV).

Every day is a new day to make new friends, write a book, learn new languages, travel around the world and to speak to someone or even a crowd to encourage them. Today it’s your turn to try something new to glorify God and to testify to His faithfulness. “ For all of God’s promises find their “yes” of fulfillment in him. And as his “yes” and our amen” ascend to God, we bring him glory!(2 Corinthians 1:20 TPT).

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever shown you it was your turn? Please share!

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?

Waiting with Hope

by Dena Dyer

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4 ESV

The people of Israel had not heard from their prophets in over 400 years. In the midst of cruel taxation laws and heavy religious burdens, the long-awaited Messiah became a distant hope, a flicker of promise almost extinguished by doubt and fatigue.

Then a star appeared over a smelly manger in Bethlehem, and rumors began to surface about a child-king who’d been born to a poor man from Nazareth and his young bride. Angels sang to sweaty shepherds, who bowed in worship at a trough housing a promise kept. Some Jews—such as Anna, Simeon, and Elizabeth–worshipped; others stayed mired in confusion.

Thirty long years passed before Jesus began his public ministry. He healed the infirm, emptied graves, and forgave sins. And still, doubts persisted. After a very public trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, thousands of skeptics believed.

Even so, many people still await the Messiah.

Because we as humans are temporal beings in an ever-decaying world, we have a hard time waiting. We have an even more difficult time believing in promises.

My youngest son prayed like this for years: “God, I hope that Dad has a good day at work. I hope I can go to Morgan’s this weekend. I hope Uncle Marty’s cancer gets better.”

I wondered whether I should correct him when he said “hope,” because I was only familiar with the Webster’s Dictionary definition: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.”

Then I learned the biblical definition of hope. In the Old Testament, hope is often translated from the Hebrew word yachal meaning “trust.” In the New Testament, the word hope is used for elpis, which can be translated “to expect or anticipate with pleasure.”

Therefore, hope–in the biblical sense–equals trust and faith. Paul wrote in Romans 8:24-25 (ESV), “In this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

As our world groans from a pandemic, political division, injustice, and terrorism; as we slog through financial and familial stress, job changes, and health crises; as our children face temptations we could have never imagined—let’s not forget that we trust in what we do not see.

Let’s wait for Jesus with patience, encouraging one another to expect and anticipate with pleasure his second Advent, when he will set all things right.

Let’s wait in peace.

Lord, my spirit grows weak at the thought of my children inheriting a world that we haven’t stewarded well…a faith that we haven’t lived out the way we should. Father, you’re our hope and peace. You can comfort us with your presence and your Word. Let us not neglect it, or you, when we are afraid, but instead run to you with open minds and hearts. And Jesus? Thank you for your ridiculous love. Give me assurance that you are still at work in this world

*This devotional was originally posted as a part of The High Calling devotional series.

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

About the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Book Cover

You’re invited to download a free copy of Dena’s devotional book, Grace for the Race, which uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled moms. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help women realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: For what do you hope during this difficult season of uncertainty?

Gift Wrapped…for You

by Shirley Brosius

Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.                                                                                James 1:17 NKJV

My grandson Scott gave me two bugs. Oh, not real ones. They are ornamental bugs with a terracotta look. One is dark red; the other, orange. Both sport bulging eyes, multicolored spots, springy metal antenna, and hooks for feet.

One bug hangs on the handle of a mason jar filled with clear yellow balls with a solar lid that lights at night; the other sits by the jar.

The bugs warm my heart because Scott picked them out for me himself. He knows my love of nature and wanted to give me something that his little boy heart loved as well.

I love the gifts I get from grandchildren that reflect their knowledge of who I am.

Perhaps we might view the people, things, and situations in our lives as special gifts God has picked out just for us. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV). God loves us and is for us. He wants nothing less than His best for us. So we can look around with His eyes, from His perspective. We may not expect certain circumstances, but we can accept them as permitted by God, Who loves us and walks with us through them.

We may take people for granted. Our spouses will always be there to bring home the bread and milk, to take out the trash. Our children may annoy us with antics more often than delight us with cuteness. Our neighbors may be ordinary people whom we rarely see and make little effort to do so. After all, we don’t have that much in common.

Then there are the people with whom we work. Do we know anything about their families? Their cares and their concerns? Their joys and their pleasures?

People in our churches come and go Sunday after Sunday. We say “Hi” and “See you next week.” We may offer friendly greetings, but do we ever invite them into our homes?

But what if God brings people into our lives for specific purposes? What if He means for them to enrich our lives and for us to enrich theirs? We may be missing out by failing to appreciate or get to know them.

We might also look at situations in our lives as provided by a loving God. That burnt dinner. That challenge at work. That car that won’t start.

Challenges bless us with the gift of patience, one of the spiritual fruits listed in Scripture (Galatians 5:22). Challenges force us to rely on others, to work together to solve a problem. And as we do, we serve as God’s image-bearer to a watching world.

Take a second at the people and situations that touch your life. They are God’s gifts to you. How do you feel about them? Is there anything you might do to enhance that relationship?

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). Perhaps that means we shall stop wanting what’s on the other side of the street and accept what’s in our own backyards as God’s gift.

TWEETABLE
Gift Wrapped…for You – encouragement from Shirley Brosius on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Shirley BrosiusAbout the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys pass

51zEKWNLLkL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_

ing on her faith—and cookies—to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with accepting certain people or situations in your life as God’s gift to you?

 

How To A Hit Curve Ball

by Stacy Sanchez

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 ESV

Hot and exhausted, fourteen sweaty (and may I say stinky?) baseball players and I sat in the outfield grass, eating orange slices and guzzling fruit juice drinks while regurgitating the details of our game.

“Wow! That was ugly.” The team’s shortstop blurted out.

“Yeah! We sucked!” The words spat out of my catcher’s mouth along with the orange seed he launched across the field.

I tried to encourage them in their accomplishments. “Yeah… that was a tough game. You boys just played your hearts out against a team that is way more experienced than you. They are older and have played as a team longer. I’m seriously proud of you all though. You guys just went up against a pitcher that knows how to throw a nasty curve ball. Until today, you haven’t even seen one. You were swinging at those pitches like you were swatting flies, but you didn’t give up.”

“How the heck are you supposed to hit a curve ball, anyway?” my youngest player mumbled, trying to mask a quivering lip.

“You wait on it,” I explained. “You can’t react to the pitch and swing as soon as you think you should, because the ball will break on you, and you’ll miss it. Don’t worry. I’ll teach you. It’s only the beginning of the season. You will get it, but it will take patience to learn, young grasshoppers. You will have to learn to wait.”

The curve ball is a difficult pitch to hit. When thrown correctly, the spinning of the seams tricks a hitter’s brain into thinking the ball is diving at a steeper angle than it is. The art of hitting a round ball with a round bat is already one of the hardest things for a young player to do, but add a spinning breaking ball into the mix? Forget about it.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV).

I don’t know about you, but waiting isn’t the easiest thing for me. When an out-of-the-blue problem comes hurling at me at eighty miles an hour, I want to jump on it right away and either fix it, finish it, or feed my face with food until it passes. Waiting is not at the top of my to-do list. I’ve had to be trained to wait.

The night Jesus was arrested, he told his disciples to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NIV).

With his arrest and crucifixion at hand, Jesus knew the boys were about to be thrown a curve ball. The disciples were going to experience the most gut-wrenching experience of their lives and needed to watch Jesus so he could train them how to handle it. What were they to do? Wait. Not react. Wait on the Lord for direction. (As it turned out, Peter would need a bit more practice with this one.)    

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7 ESV). What should we do when an unexpected crisis is thrown at us? Wait. The enemy would like us to panic and react right away. He would love nothing more than to see a child of God in a state of worry and confusion. God has taught us a better way–to wait. Don’t react, but watch, pray, listen, and wait on Him for what to do next.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

Like my young baseball team learning to hit a curve ball, we need to practice waiting until it becomes second nature. So when a curve ball is pitched at us we will know how to knock the snot out of it. (That’s baseball-ese. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.)

Father, we know that we will be thrown curve balls in life. Whether it be an unexpected divorce, an illness, the death of a loved one, a rejection, a prodigal child, and now this viral epidemic, crises will come. Help us, Lord to not react right away, but, to wait on you for direction. Maybe you will have us do nothing but rest. Maybe you will have us swing for the fences. We won’t know until we wait on You for the call. Help us to wait.

TWEETABLE
How To A Hit Curve Ball – encouragement from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

stacy sanchez

About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: When was the last time God called you to wait?

Disturbing the Peace

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.     Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Every single morning, he stood right outside my window at precisely 5:40 a.m. and crowed—loudly. Uganda, situated on the equator, where the sun always rises at 6:00 a.m., provides consistency for roosters. For the better part of my stay, at the first hint of daylight, this annoying bird sounded the alarm. The only break from this strutting rooster’s morning routine were the days we were away on mission.

After returning to the U.S., I almost missed him—but not really. I still got to hear him occasionally though, because my friend and host, Monique, planned our phone conversations to discuss ministry when it was late at night here, but early in Uganda, just about rooster crowing time.

On one of our conversations, something seemed off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized I hadn’t heard the rooster crowing in the background. Distracted, I just had to ask. “Monique, where is the rooster? I don’t hear him.”

She simply replied, “I don’t have a rooster.”

Confused, I laughed and said, “What do you mean? Of course, you do! He woke me up every morning like an alarm clock.” We went back and forth about it a few times, with her Insisting she didn’t have a rooster, until I finally pressed her, “What happened to him, Monique?”

And in her lovely East African accent, she replied simply, “He was disturbing me, so I ate him.”

Thinking back on that conversation, I can’t help but chuckle at my friend’s solution to an annoying problem. But it also makes me think about how we deal with our own crowing roosters—and I’m not talking about the feathered variety.

Most of us have at least one person strutting around disturbing our peace. We might not serve them up on our dinner table like Monique, but we can be just as biting in our responses. In the blink of an eye, we can verbally chew someone up, spit them out and then find a way to justify it by pointing to their incessant crowing.

But God has a better way for us to deal our roosters, especially if we want to live a life that glorifies our God. It’s found in the Bible: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).

This sounds like an easy answer—“Just be kind”. But when you have someone crowing in your ear, it’s a lot easier said than done.

The verse just before the one I quoted says: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” God knows it’s hard, but when we hold anger, bitterness and malice in our hearts, especially after we have been forgiven of similar things (and even worse), it grieves the Holy Spirit.

Today, when your peace is disturbed by that crowing rooster, instead of serving him/her up for dinner, take a moment, remind yourself of the price that was paid for you. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead, look for a way to respond with kindness and forgive.

TWEETABLE
Disturbing the Peace – insight from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How do you cope when you are angry?

Mix, Knead, Rise, and Roll!

by Delores Liesner @DLiesner

Our Prussian Grandma Minnie’s bread was legendary. Every meal was enhanced by her  delicious bread. She never let a bit of food go to waste. To make leftovers more palatable, she rolled out her favorite bread dough, covered it with chopped up bits from previous meals, and served the freshly baked treat with gravy. Her dough could also hold jelly for breakfast or be filled with ground meats for a savory bread. My favorite kind of rolls were the ones that held sweetened walnut or poppy seed filling. Everything was better when served with Grandma Minnie’s bread.

The filled bread’s original name, Potica, meant rolled up. Her children nicknamed it Roly-Poly, because to feed her family of 16, Grandma’s original recipe produced two long chubby rolls equal to six loaves of bread! Her dough took much of the day to mix, knead, rise, and finally roll out before baking. Lots of time to pray and to thank God for the abundance from left-over bits, Grandma always said.

Grandma taught by example, much as the disciples did. The generations that followed her continued an appreciation of abundance by topping weekend baked potatoes with a week’s worth of meal left-overs. We also considered a long wait anywhere to be a prayer opportunity.

Wait a minute – what was that last one?  Believe it or not, Grandma’s bread baking taught me that having to wait is an unexpected form of abundance! If we have to wait for a light to change, the person ahead of us in line to make up their mind, or a machine to complete a transaction, we’ve been given a gift!

Next time you find yourself waiting, look up and around you. Pray for those in proximity to you and ask God how you can cheerfully show patience in the wait. There’s a great example in Grandma’s baking routine:

Mix – Accept all the ingredients in your life right now as God’s recipe for growth. A mouthful of flour or cocoa may not be too appetizing, but when combined with other ingredients, can be more than palatable – and even becomes desirable!

Knead – Work those life ingredients together with a prayer of patience and hope – these two ingredients are the sugar and yeast of life – without them, the results will be flat and unappetizing.

Rise – While you are required to wait, ask God to show you how to turn what you have into an abundance. Knowing God can use it all to give you something good can change your attitude.

Roll – Use what you have been given to create something new. How can you turn your moments into mementoes?

As for the bake: thank God for the heat of your situation and be ready to learn from it. This response can become a habit.

What have you learned and received while waiting that you can put into practice today?

 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.             Romans 12:12 NIV

TWEETABLE
Mix, Knead, Rise, and Roll! – insight on #GodsLove from @DLiesner on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

delores liesnerAbout the author: Delores Liesner loves to reveal the dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI., is a CLASS graduate, 21st Century Grandma and Life Tales columnist. She has published hundreds of stories and articles. Check out her Amazon Author page!

Delores’ book, Be the Miracle, will Be the Miracle by [Liesner, Delores]deepen your walk with God, help you to notice others’ needs, and give you practice hearing and answering His call.

Join the conversation: How do you use waiting as a positive opportunity?

When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”                                                                                                            Hebrews 11:36-40 ESV

Don’t you just love Charlie Brown?

His big, old, round head, and his black dot eyes. His sober approach to the trials of daily life and his wise but innocent perspective? Charlie seems to exist in a dimension just one degree apart from all the other kids – separated by an invisible shield. One that keeps him from kicking footballs, but also helps him see what others cannot.

Remember Charlie Brown on Halloween? He is trick-or-treating with his friends, but when comparing their candy sacks after each house the other kids exclaim, I got a popcorn ball! I got a chocolate bar! I got gumdrops!

Then, poor Charlie – I got a rock. I can relate to Charlie Brown.

It’s hard to stand by while others receive exactly what they are requesting or hoping to find or need while you’re holding a sack full of rocks. But sometimes, that’s how life works – even when we love Jesus.

When disasters strike, there are stories of miracles, people who should have been harmed, but were somehow delivered. Praise God for that!

But there are also stories of those who fell victim to tragedy, were caught in the crossfire, lost precious loved ones in the storm. And how hard is it to praise God when the miracle passed over the one you love only to land on another? It’s hard as rock.

Or, perhaps you’ve worked towards a dream, knowing it’s a dream from God – a vision, a goal, a ministry, an art. And you thought you knew where it was going. Believed it was blessed – prayed over – inspired. And you have poured everything into the endeavor.

But the finish line eludes you, or worse, it seems to be disappearing all together. You find yourself on the sidelines watching others called out onto the field, crossing the finish line, achieving the dream while you sit by holding a bag of rocks. How hard is that? Hard as rock.

But, what gift does Charlie Brown give us? This little cartoon with a soul. His story makes us feel less alone in a crazy world. His perseverance inspires us to carry on. His disappointments help us see that often there is more to life than getting exactly what we want.

Through Charlie Brown, we are drawn to the mystery of grace. The grace of a God who pours out His love in ways we sometimes miss while we’re standing at His door asking for what we want.

And Charlie Brown reminds us that there is a bigger story. While the other children were busy about their lives, Charlie stands there with a sack full of rocks and moves us to ask the greater questions.

It’s hard to be Charlie Brown. It’s painful to watch others rejoice or receive while we stand there wanting, grieving, lacking, struggling, waiting. The temptation is to become bitter or to assume we’ve been rejected or that we are unseen. When really, God has simply written us a role that moves us – and others – to ask the greater questions. It’s a role that is hard as rock.

But Jesus was the first rock – the cornerstone – and on Peter the rock, Christ built His church, and we are all living stones. So, we are not alone.

Did you get a rock? I know it’s hard – but take it to Jesus who has held that same rock and praise God, dear Charlie Brown, praise God.

TWEETABLE
When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag – encouragement from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been given a rock? What deeper issues did it lead you to question?

 

 

All in Good Time

by Nan Corbitt Allen

My times are in Your hand…Psalm 31:15 NIV

I did a double take this morning.

As I was passing a window that leads to my back yard, I noticed something that wasn’t there yesterday. And it wasn’t there the day before or even several weeks before.

Back in the spring, I had planted some lovely, colorful flowers in a box that hangs on the railing of my back porch. I watered those flowers, I fed them, I nurtured them, and gave them plenty of sunlight. However, within a week or so they all died. Just like that. So I plucked them out of the soil and tossed them into the trash. What else could I do? I vowed to plant another batch later, so I just left the soil in the box and forgot about it.

This morning, however, a lone bloom caught my eye. Right where I had plucked his (or her) mates, there stood a gorgeous, perfect, proud little flower! I immediately started writing a dialogue for him (or her). “Hey guys, where’d everybody go? Guys?” OR “Hey, what do ya think of me now?”

I was a late bloomer myself so I understand.

I entered school in a state that had different age eligibility laws than where I finished school. I have a late fall birthday, and so when I transferred to another state, there were classmates who were a whole year older than I was. A lot of my school years I played catch-up—and with that came a lot of waiting: waiting to be old enough to date, to drive, to have certain privileges.

You’d think I’d learn patience with all the waiting, but I didn’t. I strained against the days, months, and years often trying to make things happen out of sequence. Usually my efforts were in vain. It’s taken me this long to realize that God’s timing is so much better than mine (even though I still sometimes struggle to accept it).

When I was a young teen, there was a song titled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” on the radio recorded by a popular group called The Birds. To my surprise the lyrics were straight out of the Bible—the third chapter of Ecclesiastes—which, according to my parents, made it appropriate for me to listen to. They even bought me the record!

Ecclesiastes 3 is a lesson in timing:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV).

 Even my lone flower knows this. It waited patiently for the perfect moment, and when no one was looking, decided to bloom. When no one was looking. That was the message I took away from this morning’s random bloom. God is constantly at work and often I am too busy to see it, and then I am surprised to see that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (NIV Ecclesiastes 3: 11). When no one was looking.

I have a friend who often reminds me that God is sometimes slow, but He’s never late.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV Romans 8:28).

All in good time.

TWEETABLE
All in Good Time – insight from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Has God’s timing for you ever proved way better than your expected time frame?

Go … and Wait

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”                                                                                    Genesis 12:1-4 NIV

Always in the past, when I’ve read the story of Abraham, I focused on the promise God gave him: that he would be the father of a nation. My take-away was that God does keep His promises. But it was 25 years between His promising and fulfilling it. Rarely do I remember God called Abraham to take action first (leave your country and relocate to a foreign land) … and then grew silent while He made Abraham wait … for a long time.

Maybe this story has touched my heart lately because it seems to parallel the journey I’m on right now. Approximately six years ago, God started our family on a path which began with preparation. I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and one day, while typing away at home, God whispered to me, “Finish your book.” Unlike Abraham, who didn’t question God’s authority but promptly obeyed without any details, I argued.

“What do You mean finish my book? I’m not a writer, this book is just something I do as a form of therapy, in my spare time. And,” I continued, “while we’re on the topic of spare time, with three kids under the age of 12, I don’t have any of that in which to write.”

God, in His infinite patience, and knowing I wasn’t (really) back-talking, but more mirroring the insecurities of Moses, answered with three simple words, “Finish your book.”

his time I obeyed. Without knowing what exactly God wanted me to do, I did the next thing. I “finished my book” … which led to attending a writer’s conference … which led to creating a blog … which led to joining some writer’s groups … which led to a job for a book club … which led to the elimination of my medical transcription job … which led to where I am today. I’ve published over 20 nonfiction books on a variety of topics, and am currently working on writing and publishing in the fiction realm in this year.

Just like with Abraham, the direction God wanted me to go hasn’t been a straight line. I have taken a few detours (rushing ahead in trying to find employment when God instructed me to rest) and have suffered a few lasting consequences for them (much like Abraham did by having Isaac to “help” God.)

But God forgave my mistakes and allowed me to experience blessings as well. For instance, God used my 10 years of medical transcription work to teach me grammar and typing skills (which come in handy with my current employment, not to mention with writing itself). In addition, He has used various jobs in the past three years to teach me skills and give me certain experiences. There’s no doubt in my mind that He has been equipping me for whatever future He has planned for me, which seems to be something in the world of writing.

Rereading Abraham’s story in Genesis recently, it was encouraging to see God first commanding Abraham to take a step of faith, then give him a 25-year waiting period before fulfilling His promise. Despite the many detours he and Sarah took, and the times they went off on their own to make things happen more quickly, God still fulfilled the promise—but  in His way, His time.

I’m do glad I did what God asked me to do: I finished the book. In light of Abraham’s story, I am now determined to patiently wait for Him for the rest. I can wait with a sense of purpose for Him to clearly reveal the ministry or purpose He has for my life. I continue to take each next step He commands, whenever He chooses to speak. One step at a time.

It’s something I’m getting better at as time moves on—this waiting patiently thing. Just like my latest manuscript, I’m still a work in progress. But what I will be in the end will be worth the wait.

TWEETABLE
Go … and Wait – insight on #FollowingGod from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She writes regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart. You can connect with her on Facebook.

Her newest release, Journey of Complete Surrender, delves into the freedom that comes with giving God your whole heart and taking your hands completely off to give Him the chance to move as only He can.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made you wait? How did He use the time in you?