Confidence in God: A Tick Tale

by Patti Richter

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1 NLT

My adolescent niece sat cross-legged atop her grandparents’ kitchen counter. Head down and fists clenched to pull her thick hair forward, Alana tried to remain still while my father worked to remove a large tick burrowed into the back of her skull.

Dad straightened up and wiped away the beads of sweat from his forehead. The parasite, however, remained unmoved by his efforts, which included the old-school remedies of a freshly extinguished match stick and a pair of metal tweezers.             

I stood across the room that day as a quiet spectator, hoping my two young children would stay out of the way. They peered around the corner of the brick fireplace to check on their cousin, perhaps wondering if ticks had also invaded their heads while playing tag around their grandparents’ oak trees the night before.

Having raised six children, my father had experience in extracting ticks. My siblings and I all believed he could fix anything, maybe even save a sinking boat with duct tape like the suggested image on a greeting card I once gave him.

But this time I grew conflicted about Dad’s sufficiency, as I sensed that we should pause to ask for God’s help. I knew my father might not welcome the suggestion.

At that time, decades ago now, my father viewed verbal prayers as strictly for the dinner table or during responsive readings at church. After I’d become a born-again Christian some years before, I tried to discuss my faith with Dad—without success. I learned to avoid such conversations with him.

The guidance of the Holy Spirit had been a great blessing to me, and God had shown me his power and love on so many occasions. However, I was slow at learning to share my faith effectively, especially with family members.

Now, as I watched my niece’s growing distress, I wanted to boldly call on the Lord. But Dad wasn’t my only concern; young eyes were also watching. What if God didn’t answer my prayer?

When Alana suddenly cried out, my father stepped back in frustration. And I stepped up.

“Dad, I think we should pray.”

He turned his head toward me with a look of exasperation and replied, “Go ahead.”

I closed my eyes and uttered a short plea to God, something like, “Creator of all creatures, please command the tick to let go, in Jesus’ name.”

With hardly a pause and without an Amen, Dad grabbed the tweezers and bent over Alana’s head to try again. Then he abruptly straightened up and held the tweezers high to view the tick—alive and kicking.

My father passed away last year, and I never asked him if God’s very present help that day strengthened his faith; I only know it boosted my own confidence in God. But I can also report that Dad eventually came to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ, and he was happy to talk about it!

To you who believe in the Son of God…. We can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. 1 John 5:13-15 NLT

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Has God answered a prayer like that for you? Please share!

First Things First

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

But before you do anything, ask God for guidance. 2 Kings 22:5 MSG

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

It was the 4th of July. The lake we live on was packed with visitors and families happily celebrating together. We welcomed our son’s family and three grand dogs, one of which was a new rescue. As I pulled out boxes of lights, flags, banners, buntings, windsocks, and pinwheels, our three granddaughters were determined to use everything we had collected over the years on our pontoon boat. We were having a “Tacky Boat” party!

That is, until the twelve-year-old realized that Bubbie, the new rescue dog, was missing. Instantly everything changed. Their dad, shouting over his children’s hysterics, dividing us with separate routes with the reminder that Bubbie wore a harness with a tag. If someone found him, they would call his cell.

I was given the road route. As I ran to my car, our panic stricken twelve-year-old followed me. Windows down, we searched and called, even though Bubbie didn’t yet know his name.

When we reached the limits of where I felt a small terrier might have gone, we returned home. The indoor search crew was now outside, and we could hear their frantic voices. My granddaughter stopped me at the door, devastated. “Grammy, Bubbie’s gone. We’ll never get him back.”

“We don’t know that. He has a tag.”

“But Grammy…” She sobbed, “I shampooed him before we left so he would smell good for you. I didn’t put his harness back on because I didn’t want it to get wet.” With huge tears, and shaking hands, she turned and showed me his harness in her backpack.

“Sweetheart, God knows exactly where Bubbie is. And He knows how much we need His help.”

Before I could say another word, she dropped to her knees, clasped hands under her chin and sobbed as I prayed aloud, thanking God for hearing us and praising Him for being the Master of every situation.

He reminded me; this was a teachable moment. “Now we’ll just be still for a moment and let God speak to us about where to look. Instead of fear, we’ll say to ourselves, ‘God’s got this’.” After a few moments I said, “Let’s start where we are. Inside.”

We searched upstairs. Then down. “Grammy, I found him!”  Bubbie was curled in a tiny corner under the stairs. She called him and he still didn’t budge. Because Bubbie didn’t know his name. She scooped him up, and with a huge smile said, “Next time, Grammy, I’m praying first.”

Bingo. “Me too.”

I had prayed inwardly as I ran up the driveway. But why didn’t I think to teach her that the moment the dog went missing?

Recently our elderly, hard of hearing, dog did something he’s never done. Doc pushed open the gate. Yorkies are known for not being able to find their way home. Doc wouldn’t hear us calling. While hubby headed to the lakeshore, I went to my car. But this time instead of on the run prayers, I stopped and prayed. Eight minutes later hubby texted that Doc had treed a tempting squirrel.

That July 4th with Bubbie, I was taught, and got to teach, a freedom that is not celebrated with flags, decorations, or barbeques. I celebrate that God has given us freedom from control and panic. Freedom from anxiety.

Both times the dogs could not recognize my calls. And my heart is so grateful that God always does.

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Christian Book.  Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her, she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt peace in the midst of a crisis?

Stillness in the Storms of Life

by Darlene L. Turner

 Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

The waves slapped the side of the boat, rocking it gently. My sister and I listened to our surroundings. Silence. Stillness. Serenity. I wondered if this is what it felt like when Jesus calmed this same sea over two thousand years ago.

It was a beautiful evening. The captain had cut the engine, and we marveled at being out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The stars shone brightly and the lights of Tiberias, Capernaum, Tabgha and the other Galilean towns flickered in the background. Stillness.

Tears formed in my eyes as I thought about my mother and how she had planned to take this trip. It had been her dream to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. She had booked her tour and anticipated the adventure of visiting Israel’s sites. Little did she realize, it would be done through her daughters’ eyes. She would take a journey, just not the one she expected.

I held my sister’s hand as a verse popped into my head. “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s such a simple command, yet so complex.

Many times Jesus withdrew from the crowds to be still and listen to His Father. He encouraged His disciples by His example to do the same. He rebuked the wind and commanded stillness in nature. He encouraged busy Mary to be like her sister, who sat at Jesus’ feet.

This raises a question. How do we “be still” and “know God” in an age where everything moves so quickly around us? Fast-food restaurants, cell phones, text messaging, internet, credit cards, and on-line shopping all vie for our attention. We are constantly trying to keep up with the pace of everyone around us. We are over-involved in the church, our children’s school activities, sports, computer games and television. We work extremely hard to afford the biggest houses, but we’re never home to enjoy them. When will it stop?

Sometimes God allows circumstances in our lives that cause us to be still. For me, it was when our mother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Then years later, our brother discovered he had bone marrow cancer. It was like someone had punched us in the stomach. How could this be happening twice in our family?

I wrestled with God and asked Him why He would allow this to happen to individuals who only wanted to serve Him. But while I may have struggled, my mother and brother handled it entirely differently. They both chose joy through their trials. Peace radiated on their faces.

Through those hard journeys, God taught me to wait upon Him. I realized I couldn’t control what happened, and after a heart-wrenching conversation with Him, I finally gave in. He loved them more than I did. He taught me to savor every moment.

I also realized I had neglected spending the time with God I should be. I wasn’t being still. I was so busy trying to get things done, I forgot about Him. He wanted my attention. It was time for me to give it to Him.

Just like the captain cut the engine on the boat that night, and we swayed back and forth before feeling tranquility, God uses circumstances in our lives to rock us before we can learn to be still. But when we do, He gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Even in a storm.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 KJV

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

Abducted in Alaska (Love Inspired Suspense) by [Darlene L. Turner]

About the author: Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning and best-selling author. She lives with her husband, Jeff, in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. Her debut book, Border Breach, released in April 2020 with Love Inspired Suspense. She has two books releasing in 2021: Abducted in Alaska and Lethal Cover-Up. You can connect with Darlene at http://www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders

Join the conversation: Has God ever rocked you into being still?

Stop, Look, and Listen

by Sandra Julian Barker

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

People often call the traffic signal in the middle of the intersection a “stoplight.” Even though the green for “go” light and the amber for “slow and be prepared to stop” are important lights, the red for “stop” is the most important of the three. If we don’t stop when the light is red, we run the danger of a deadly crash with harm to ourselves and those around us. I guess that’s why we so often call it a stoplight.

I’m reminded of a verse in Job where Elihu says to his friend, “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders…God comes in awesome majesty” (Job 37:14, 22 NIV). Elihu was basically saying, “Job, you need to stop, look and listen — consider all the wonders God has created. He’s so awesome!”

Too often, we tend to zip through life without stopping to appreciate the beauty God has placed in the world around us. Stopping to smell the roses is not just an indulgence, it makes life more beautiful, enjoyable and worthwhile.

Then there are times we need to stop what we’re doing and reassess our lives. Does God want you to continue on this road, or does He want you to go in another direction? In the book of Jeremiah, God told His people to “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16 IV). Don’t we all want rest for our souls? A soul at rest is able to think more clearly – to see the path in front of her and examine what the next step should be.

It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life – do what has to be done and then push on to the next thing, because if you don’t do it, no one else will.

But sometimes, we need to stop and peek around the corner before we plunge ahead. Be still and whisper a prayer before taking that next step. You may need an extra dose of God’s guidance and strength to face whatever lies beyond that corner.

In Matthew 20:32-33 NIV, there’s a story of two blind men who called out to Jesus. Scripture tells us, “Jesus stopped…” and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” I love that question, because I believe He stands at our heart’s door and asks us that same question: “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The two blind men answered, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” And what did Jesus do? Of course He had compassion on the men and healed them – He opened their eyes so that they could see.

What better answer can we give to Jesus when He asks what we want than to answer, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened!” I’m reminded of the first line of an old hymn, “Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me” (written by Clara H. Scott in 1895). 

Oh, to have our eyes opened to the love of Jesus, the wonder of who He is, the good ways He wants to show us and help us walk, and the joy, peace and rest He offers us along the way.

Lord, help us to stop, look and listen. Help us be still and know that you are wonderful God!

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

About the author: Sandra Julian Barker is the author of more than a dozen books, numerous magazine articles and a story in the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.” She has a passion for sharing the love of Christ, encouraging hope and helping others seek God’s path of purpose in their lives.

Sandra’s latest book includes her own story of God’s grace in the face of great tragedy. She blogs at sandra-ramblingrose.blogspot.com/ and is in ministry with womenvictorious.com.

Join the conversation: What have you noticed lately when you took the time to stop, look, and listen?

Silent Love

by Kelly Wilson Mize

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

“The silence was deafening.” 

There is great truth in that ironic expression.  Silence is powerful. Sometimes the sound of silence can be a difficult state of existence, awkward and unwelcome. Quiet can imply sadness, loneliness, or boredom. Silence can also be wonderful–even “golden,” as they say. But when communicating with others, most of us would prefer at least some actual noise. In our fast-paced world, we deal in quick information, and want unmistakable (sometimes loud!) confirmation–We want our voices heard, so we can get the answers we think we need. And we want those answers RIGHT NOW.

While waiting on God, the last thing we usually want to be is silent. Instead, we want to clearly express our feelings to Him in a way that ensures there is no doubt that He understands. And God does welcome our words. But He can also work mightily when we choose not to use any.

I used to teach middle school, and one of my pet peeves as an educator was being interrupted while giving instructions to the class. Many times, while I was talking, a hand would go up (or not) and a voice would impatiently call out:

What if?Can we?But what about?

All while I was in the process of explaining everything completely!  The students would sometimes be so eager to find out what they were supposed to be doing that they would jump ahead. In a classroom setting, only when the class is “tuned in” and listening, can it collectively arrive at a place of true understanding.  And effective listening usually involves being quiet.

There is definitely a time for questioning, but preceding those important questions, there is silence.

Waiting on God is sometimes so difficult. We want to KNOW exactly what he wants from us, what He plans to do for us (if anything at all), and when and where He’s going to do it. But sometimes while we wait quietly, a beautiful thing happens: We begin to feel God’s presence in a fresh, new way.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) describes the beauty of it: “Be still and know that I am God…”

Most versions of that passage say “Be still.” Other translations have a slightly different explanation:

Stop Your Striving, and recognize that I am God…” (NET)

Be in awe and know that I am God…” (ISV)

Stop your fighting–and know that I am God…” (HCSB)

And perhaps my new favorite:

Let go [of your concerns]! Then you will know that I am God.” (GW)

Each variation ends with a reassuring promise: IF you do this–You will know, without a doubt, that God is exactly who He says He is.

Sometimes, as much as we want to jump ahead and ask question after question, like restless middle school students, we should instead be still– respectfully in tune with God’s presence and listening attentively for His direction. Only when we are silent before God (physically, mentally, and spiritually), can we truly hear what He has to say. The stillness provides an environment where we can experience His authentic presence, allow Him to minister to our spirits, and feel His LOVE for us.

We know that love is patient, kind, and never-failing. But sometimes, that perfect love is also silent. 

  • Think of a time you felt God’s presence. Most likely it was at a point where you had “let go” of your own agenda and surrendered to His leading. Even amidst your busy schedule, make every effort to include that invaluable quiet time. 
  • Are you waiting on an answer from God?  Take the time to “Be still and know.”

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

About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two young adults, and former educator with a master’s degree in education. In 20 years as a published writer, she he has composed numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to eight traditionally published books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts, (in)courage, and others. 

Join the conversation: When is the last time you stopped striving?

When You Don’t Know What To Do

by Sheri Schofield

Yogi Berra, All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees, once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Don’t you wish it were that simple? Each of us comes to many forks in the road of life. Which way should we go? How will we know which path is God’s plan for us? Does God have an absolute plan for our lives? If we take the wrong road, will we miss out on God’s blessing?

I used to think that God’s will for my life was linear—like a map on paper. I would do my best to discover his will, but I did not always choose correctly. I made the best decision I could on the information I had. Sometimes I could not get full information about the choices available to me because my leaders would not tell me. No details… not even the basics!

As the years progressed, I learned that God’s will is not linear. It is not like a flat map or a board game of Scrabble. It is more like the game Upward, which is like three-dimensional Scrabble. One can build any word up from the one already formed, so long as the new word is a legitimate word going both upward and across.

I learned that God is not bound by my mistakes! As long as my eyes are on him, he will put me back on the right path if I miss it.

The prophet Isaiah wrote to the rebellious Jews, who had made some very, very bad mistakes, “People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you! Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it,”” (Isaiah 30:19, 21 NIV).

Sometimes I don’t hear that voice telling me which way to turn, though. I sometimes find myself feeling like a squirrel halfway across the road with a car bearing down on me! (I often identify strongly with squirrels, which is why I watch out for them.) As creatures near the bottom of the food chain, squirrels behave in a predator-avoidance manner. The squirrels freeze when they see a predator approaching, then dash away at an angle as the predator closes in. This works for avoiding big animals charging at them, but it really stinks for avoiding cars!

I’m like that. I freeze when I’m afraid and then sometimes make decisions to avoid trouble at the last moment, dashing toward what I feel is safe. This is not always a good move! But God is good to me anyway. He’s always looking out for me, and if he sees that I am afraid, and I call out to him, he will slow down and patiently wait for me as I try to discover his will. He does not allow me to be devastated or crushed by his displeasure.

Eventually, if I wait and listen for God’s voice, he will make his directions clear. I just need to be still and wait on him. As a squirrel-type, I find that this isn’t easy! I want to dash out into the road to get away from fear. So when I must make decisions, I ask the Lord to hold me still in his mighty hand and to calm my fearful heart while I wait.

He is faithful. He will speak.

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10, NLT

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When You Don’t Know What To Do – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God guided your mistakes into opportunity?

The Listening Walk

by Nancy Kay Grace @NancyKayGrace

He says, “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

One of the pleasures in my life is reading to my grandchildren. At a recent visit, I noticed a library book on the coffee table entitled The Listening Walk, by Paul Showers. The back-cover copy reads, “Put on your socks and shoes—and don’t forget your ears!  We’re going on a listening Walk. Shhhhhh. Do not talk, do not hurry. Get ready to fill your ears with a world of wonderful and surprising sounds.”

After reading the book to my three young grandsons, we put on our shoes and headed out on our own listening walk.

It was hard for the brothers not to talk, but when they did, they mentioned the sound of birds cawing in the trees, the wind whistling around the houses, our footsteps, and the cars on the street.

When I returned home, I decided to go on my own listening walk. In the sky, the geese honked in chorus as they headed south for winter. Feet crunched through leaves on the sidewalk. The wind swirled the leaves in the air as they fell from trees.

The beautiful sounds of creation inspired me. The listening walk calmed my soul.

 Each day, I pray to hear God’s voice, listening to His words for my soul. I’m reminded of Elijah desiring to hear from God, waiting for the presence of the Lord to pass by. While waiting, the powers of nature nearly overtook him. Scripture says, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 NIV). Elijah heard the whisper of God and responded to His voice.

Stillness goes against our noisy culture. The blaring world sidetracks us from hearing the truths of God’s Word. The family, the job, and other responsibilities pull us in a thousand different directions with the next call to urgency.

Intentional effort is needed to turn off the sounds of the world—television, computers, phones, social media, music, the opinions of others—and tune our hearts to the still small voice of God.

God gives us a reminder to pause and refocus on Him, breathing the Holy Spirit into us in the fast pace of life.

Every day presents its own battle for us to listen to God. It’s easy to look at daily cares or problems and be discouraged. Yet, we have God’s powerful word that helps us remember he is fighting for us. The promise in Exodus 14:14 offers us this encouragement: “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (NIV) We can hear God’s voice whisper his strength.

Casting my cares on the Lord, he calms my anxious heart with his peace.  

A child’s book and a simple listening walk showed me the value of listening to the God of creation and my life. I desire a listening life, leaning in for God’s still small voice in the daily chaos, knowing that God is sovereign over the confusion.

TWEETABLE
The Listening Walk – encouragement on listening for God from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace enjoys the outdoors and zip lining. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Upper Room devotional, as well as online and print magazine articles. Nancy loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. Please visit http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for the monthly GraceNotes devotional newsletter.

Join the conversation: Is it time for you to go on a listening walk?

 

The Almighty Shadow of Rest

by Christina Rose

Whoever 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.”                                                                                                                                          Psalm 91:1-2 NIV

We were happily married and joyfully expecting our first baby. We enjoyed a carefree life on San Francisco bay and never imagined anything could go wrong. I still remember the day a notice arrived from the lab showing abnormal test results. When my husband came home, I was too overcome by grief to speak and just handed him the notice. Further testing revealed that our baby was thriving, but I had to quit working, rest often, and notify my doctor with any problems.

There were many sleepless nights as I constantly prayed that our baby would survive and be healthy. In the early hours of dawn, I would head to my rocking chair by the fireplace and look out over the twinkling lights of San Francisco to the south. To the west was our lush green lawn and a view of the mountains. Deer would arrive in those early morning hours to feed on the grass before the sun came up. Their peaceful presence would calm me as I prayed. They had no worries, and I decided that neither should I.  I learned to rest and find peace in the shadow of the Almighty.  Months later, our beautiful little daughter arrived, perfectly healthy.

Now, many years later, sleepless nights have led to more rocking chair prayer in the early hours of dawn. My trip home to California was cancelled due to the pandemic of the corona virus. As I sit in the silent, dark hours, in Denver looking west towards my family in California, I choose to rest and trust in God’s perfect plan.

While this pandemic has seemingly paralyzed the world, it is instilling humility, compassion, and gratitude for many things we took for granted. This is a time of great harvest, as formerly self-reliant people are now turning to God for guidance. We will emerge from this global reset with a greater appreciation for our families, jobs, health, food, shelter, and most importantly, more trust in the God who has provided these things.

Not being able to see or hug our loved ones, especially in times of sickness and death, is something we have never known. But the silver lining is, once the crisis is over, we will embrace each other with greater love and affection. We will joyfully celebrate the simple pleasures that were temporarily taken away from us. We will have a greater appreciation for one another and all of life itself, realizing that each day is a gift from above.

As I watch the sunrise casting pink shadows over the snow-capped Rockies, I think of all the magnificent wildlife that is stirring in the mountains. I think of the vast beauty of the majestic mountains, lakes, streams and wildflowers that are starting to bloom. I think of my family on the California coast and pray that I will see them soon.  When we learn to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, we learn to find the peace that surpasses all understanding. We learn that while we may seem to be in the middle of a dark storm, it is merely a pause to reflect while God is birthing something new and wonderful.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

TWEETABLE
The Almighty Shadow of Rest – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What have you been learning through the corona virus crisis?

Learning to Listen Well

by Natalie Flake Ford @tearstojoy

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Panic. Dread. Unprecedented Fear. These words describe the emotional turmoil in the car just moments before my daughter’s first driving lesson. After a quick prayer, I gently instructed her on keeping between the lines as well as knowing when to brake and when to speed up. As I did this, my anxious feelings slowly began to dissipate. Peace and calm gradually replaced my fear and anxiety.

In order for my daughter to drive well, we had to turn off distractions (cell phones and radio). As she listened intently to my voice and worked diligently to obey my commands, she gradually learned to drive.

God wants the same for us in our daily lives. Too often distractions drown out his still, quiet voice until we are consumed with doing what the world deems important. The result is becoming preoccupied with worry. Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

If we want to walk in obedience to Christ, we have to remove distractions so that we can focus on His voice. This is easier said than done. Silence can be uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I get quiet, my mind starts to race. I obsess over my to-do list and struggle with the urge to “do something.” If I am quiet long enough, anxieties, fears, hurtful memories, anger, and pain threaten to consume me.

Uncomfortable with these feelings, I want to stop this “inner chat” and hide in busyness. But to do so would mean missing God’s voice and the peace He offers. When we are still before Him, the Holy Spirit does a healing work in the deep recesses of our heart and soul.

One of my seminary professors required that we spend three hours alone with the Lord. Honestly, I dreaded this assignment and thought it to be a waste of time. But out of obligation, I gathered my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and my guitar and headed for a local state park.

In the beginning, it felt awkward. My mind wandered, and I continually fought to bring it back to the Word. But as I disciplined myself to be still, I experienced one of the sweetest, most intimate times with the Lord that I’ve ever had. I left that park different than when I arrived. I was filled with contentment, peace, and joy, even though my circumstances remained the same.

Spending three hours alone with God daily is not realistic for most of us. But we can make finding quiet moments a priority, whether it be the few minutes before we get out of bed, turning off the radio in the car, or meditating on the Word during our quiet times.

Consider scheduling time in your calendar for solitude and don’t let anything change that appointment. Get up early on Sundays and spend time preparing your heart for worship — maybe even go to the Church and find a quiet place to pray and listen.

Solitude is not easy. It is awkward at first, but it has the potential to radically sanctify us and make us more like Christ. If Jesus was always intently listening to the Father, how much more do we need to do the same?

TWEETABLE
Learning to Listen Well – insight from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to incorporate solitude into your life?

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.

TWEETABLE
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?