Watch the Rear

by Terri Gillespie

The prudent see danger and hide, but the naïve keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 27:12 TLV

A friend of mine is a counselor who uses horses for therapy. She has worked successfully with PTSD patients and those with developmental and emotional disabilities. A few years ago, she began working with “ordinary” folks who want to learn how to identify issues they may struggle with, in order to overcome them — to be more of the person GOD created them to be.

I like horses — from a distance. They are magnificent creatures. I respect the work she does. However, I have a fear of horses. I come by that fear from past events — my mother-in-love died of a heart attack chasing one of their horses, and my grandfather had a horse fall on top of him and subsequently died.

So, when my friend “blessed” me with a complimentary retreat, you must know that I loved her and trusted enough to consider the gift. Nevertheless, I only agreed once she assured me the session did not include riding. All exercises with the horses were with everyone’s feet on the ground.

Was I still nervous? Yes.

One of the exercises was to move a tethered horse with the light touch of your hand on their backside. The horse will only move if you were calm and gentle. I was amazed when the horse actually moved at my touch.

My friend then said to go to the other side of the horse and move the horse back to his original position.

My first thought was, “Don’t walk behind the horse. It’s dangerous.” And what did I do? I ignored that thought and proceeded to walk around his ample rump. My friend calmly stopped me and said, “I know we didn’t discuss not walking behind a horse, but it’s not a good idea for an inexperienced person to do so.”

At that point, I confessed to having had the warning thought. She asked me, “Why did you ignore your own warning?”

My friends, at that time I had no clue. Why would I deliberately ignore the warning? Not trust the wise internal counsel?

Those questions I took to my Heavenly Father, where He showed me things from my past that caused me to not trust the discernment He had given me. Mostly, the root comes from my insecurities. My default is to doubt I’m special enough to hear from Him. I mean, really, “Why me?”

But that is a lie. Over time the Holy Spirit identified the lies and helped me yank them out. Without the lies, I can better hear GOD’s truth.

The practice of doing this is part of my sanctification process.

Have you ignored those little warning messages from the Holy Spirit? Over the years I’ve learned that when I do, and there is a negative outcome, I take note—not to beat myself up about it, but to have Him help me identify the root of my inability. I need discernment to know He is showing me something to keep me from of harm.

One thing has become clear, the difference between prudence and naivety is whether we pay attention or ignore GOD’s voice of wisdom.

May we pay attention to GOD’s warnings, my friends. And no more “walking behind the horse.”

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She no longer walks behind horses.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you walked behind the horse?

Detours—No Camping Allowed

by Terri Gillespie

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 TLV

Are there scriptural passages that are painful to read for you? I have a few. The above is one of them. Why? I have several “deferred hopes” — people and situations I’ve prayed about for many years. Answers that haven’t come to fruition. These are not wants or desires—like a Christmas list—but heart hopes of an eternal nature. Salvations. Deliverances. Restoration. Family.

Sometimes, it feels like deep holes in my heart, that for whatever reason, our loving Heavenly Father has left unfulfilled. Sometimes, I feel isolated with my discouragement — out there in the dark of doubt. Do you know what I mean?

So, knowing the longings are there and not knowing when, or if, they will be fulfilled can get a bit disheartening. And there are times when I am heartsick. But I can’t “camp” there.

A painful detour . . .

When my heart takes a detour, it’s generally caused by some area in my life that is weak. Those things that remind me that my heart hope is still longing. I must be especially vigilant to not get lost but find my way back to the path of faith.

One of the ways I do this is to focus on GOD’s truths. Verses that re-direct me into His loving arms — reminders of His sovereignty and love. Reminders of His love for those I love. As I come across them, I add them to my journal.

Here are a few passages meaningful to me [emphasis mine]:

  • Looking at them, Yeshua [Hebrew for Jesus] said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God!” Mark 10:27, TLV
  • Fulfill Your word to Your servant, which leads to reverence for You. Psalm 119:38 TLV
  • I am sure of this very thing—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 1:6 TLV
  • And the shalom [peace] of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 4:7 TLV
  • Chazak [Be strong]! Let your heart take courage, all you who wait for ADONAI [the LORD]. Psalm 31:25(24) TLV
  • Never snatch out of my mouth a word of truth, for I hope in your judgments. Psalm 119:42 TLV
  • When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

I’m sure you have your own passages of hope — verses that shift the focus from waiting for an outcome to trusting in the Father, come what may.

While I would love to see my heart hope fulfilled in my lifetime (Psalm 27:13), but like Abraham and the fathers and mothers of Scriptures, not all lived to see their promises fulfilled (Hebrews 11:13). And, I must be okay with that.

Once I return to that understanding, I’ve exited the detour and am back on the right path.

Have all your heart hopes been fulfilled? Or are some still deferred? Just know we don’t have to take the detour of discouragement, and camp alone in the darkness—at least not for very long. Because He gives us plenty of reminders of that love, we just need to pay attention.

May we trust and remember the goodness of our Father, my friends—and may our detours be avoided or brief.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She tries to avoid spiritual detours.

Terri’s weekly devotional, Making Eye Contact with God, for women only, enables you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see God.

Join the conversation: What passages are your go-to when you are discouraged?

A Holy Moment

by Terri Gillespie

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:2 TLV

It was after the second time I felt the tapping on my shoulder that I turned around. Behind me was a young man holding a gun.

This month marks five years since my friend Cathy and I were held up at gunpoint at a New Jersey mall. After all these years, I still unpack lessons and revelations that keep me in awe of that holy moment.

Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to make an impromptu stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and a little shopping at the mall. My vehicle was loaded with bags and computers from the week-long retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat car rack like a curtain over the door.

Since we were running late, I wanted to call my husband to let him know we were on our way home. I opened the back-passenger door to place my purse on top of a suitcase, then leaned over to search for my cell. Something tapped me on my back, but I thought that it was the clothes hangers. As I searched for the phone, I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was the young man with a gun.

He motioned toward my purse. I reached for my wallet, then remembered a scene from the movie War Room. I faced him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”

I heard Cathy asking me if I had found my phone—she was oblivious to what was going on because of the wall of hanging clothes! She later said she only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation and thought I was ministering to a beggar.

I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized that it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and demanded my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”

He pointed the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.

I pleaded, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” I handed him the keys. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then lowered his eyes.

Miraculously, he returned the keys! He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.” He walked away.

Once he walked away, my whole body began to shake. Cathy asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t speak. I thought the kid would change his mind and come back blazing, so I wanted to get out of there fast.

Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what happened. We prayed the whole way home. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed that God would touch the young man’s heart and change his life from that moment on.

People have called me brave. I wasn’t brave. I was covered in the shadow of my Heavenly Father’s wings—all three of us were. The moment the young man walked away His wings lifted—the moment gone. At that point, you would call me anything but brave.

I am so grateful that God called me for such a time. Grateful for His protection, and that my friend did not have to see a gun pointed at her. Grateful to be able to go home to our husbands. Grateful for the young man’s mercy.

Every January, I pray for him. My hope is that we will see one another again, in heaven.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 TLV

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

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a Holy Moment?

Idleness or Rest?

 by Terri Gillespie

She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 TLV

What does idleness mean? Possible definitions include: avoiding work, lazy, without purpose or effect, or spending time doing nothing. There’s also an idle like a car’s engine, running slowly while disconnected from a load or out of gear. Hmmm. There’s something about that last definition. Disconnected…

For a long time, I thought rest was the same as being idle. And when I compared myself with the woman in Proverbs 31, I began to believe I was really idle. As a result, I was in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Over time I noticed that because of that fatigue, I began neglecting my highest priorities— my family, spending time with the Lord, friends, and church.

I’m thinking that the difference between idleness and rest has a lot to do with a lack of connection. Could idleness actually be the result of disconnecting from our God-given purpose? Then that would make rest the act of reconnecting to God, in order to recharge ourselves for the journey ahead.

Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, completed His work and rested on the seventh day. Why would an all-powerful God need to rest? Our answer lies in Genesis 2:1-3 (TLV): “Now at last the heavens and earth were successfully completed, with all that they contained. So on the seventh day, having finished his task, God ceased from this work he had been doing, and God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he ceased this work of creation.”

Our Father knows we are dust; we aren’t super beings (Psalm 103:14). Just so we are clear, rest is important for us.

How do we rest? Especially as Thanksgiving approaches—which is the second most stressful holiday of the year? Let’s take our cue from God.

God didn’t only make honoring the Sabbath a commandment (Exodus 20:8), but He appointed the Sabbath as a festival (Leviticus 23:3). Every week we get to commemorate and rest; celebrate and reconnect with loved ones and Him.

The British Statesman John Lubbock (1834-1913) once said, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

Is it possible to rest and connect in light of all the preparations during this holiday season? Yes. If we chose to.

Over the years, I have learned to watch my husband’s face and body language. If all my scurrying from pot to pan to table décor has him looking like a worn-out dishtowel, I must stop and reevaluate. What is important? That everything looks perfect? Or that our home is an environment of peace and joy and gratitude for all—guests and husbands and our children.

Sometimes the rest is where I reassess my priorities and let God give me direction and peace. If the weather permits, go outside, breathe. Or one of my favorite escape locales is the bathroom. Shut the door and breathe. Listen. See if God has been trying to tell us something, and we have been too busy to notice.

Whether it’s an hour or a few minutes, reconnecting with the Lord can make a difference when we feel overwhelmed with activity. Just as God chose a whole day out of seven for rest, we can also add purposeful moments to connect more deeply with God and family anytime.

Rest has purpose. Probably even more than we realize. May we watch over our rest, my friends.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: These are just a few ideas to help reconnect in our rest. I would love to hear what you do when things are chaotic—where do you go for rest?

The Spirit is Willing . . .

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“Then [Jesus] comes to the disciples and finds them sleeping; and He tells Peter, “So couldn’t you keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 TLV

I saw a post on Facebook months ago that still comes to mind and prickles my soul. The post posed the question, “Could you wash the feet of someone who hurt you?” As I thought about it, I tried to picture myself actually doing it — you know, getting on my creaky knees, staring up at them, trying not to remember the harm they did . . .

If the opportunity presented itself, I want to be able to do it as an act of service in Jesus’ name. I hope I would be able to do it without gritting my teeth—that I have truly forgiven them, and nothing tethers me to the past. Sigh.

Perhaps even though my spirit is willing, my flesh cringes at my weakness. Apparently, I am in good company. The disciples wanted to support Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but they had just eaten a huge feast—with several cups of wine—and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Jesus had, only a few hours earlier, washed their feet (John 13:4-16). What is significant about this act was that it happened during the Passover meal (John 13:4), which means prior to reclining for the celebration, everyone would have already washed their feet. It was customary to do so, especially since they were guests. So, Jesus performed this task for another reason.

I wonder on that night, with everything that Jesus knew would happen, how difficult it was to wash those feet. Betrayal—not only from Judas, but the other disciples. Was this humble act also a work of forgiveness?

Jesus looked up at those men who would soon fall asleep as He wept in sorrow and prayer. His friends would run in fear and hide. Peter would deny Him three times.

Jesus did it for them because He knew at some point, they would remember this act of humility, and it would both convict and comfort them. They would be grateful that during the culmination of the Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption, He thought of their wellbeing. And in their gratitude, they would emulate His humility.

So, maybe humility is about gratitude. Gratitude for all He has done for us, because we didn’t earn one tiny deed. Gratitude that even before we sin, He was already there to wash our feet.

As we approach the day marked for us to give thanks, prepare our favorite dishes, and coordinate all the details, gratitude can get lost. Our busyness can cause us to overlook those subtle opportunities to “wash the feet” of others.

Perhaps we can make time to deliver a plate of cookies to someone who lives alone, or bring in our neighbor’s trashcans, or offer to drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment.

What about those folks who have hurt us, and we have forgiven? Let’s pray today that should the occasion arise we will “wash the feet” of that person—that we would have the courage and gratitude to emulate our Savior in spite of what they may have done.

“And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40, TLV

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

TWEETABLE
The Spirit is Willing . . . – insight on #FollowingGod from TerriGMaven on AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a way to “wash someone’s feet” during this holiday season?

Watch How You Twirl

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“. . . so that there may be no division in the body, but so that the parts may have the same care for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer together. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together. Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, TLV

My friend twirled in her long gauzy skirt. Her curly hair extended like dreadlocks. Arms outstretched toward the heavens, she giggled, then shouted, “I love You, Jesus!” All this in a crowded church parking lot.

People stared. Some shook their heads. I was embarrassed for her. I think I said something clever to the onlookers, attempting to distract their focus from her.

Thinking about that moment today makes me cringe. Not because I’m still uncomfortable thinking about my friend “making a fool” of herself. I cringe because I am ashamed that I even thought that way.

We live in a confusing world. There are cries for diversity, and cries by those who long for unity. But what if they’re not mutually exclusive?

For most of my life I longed to be accepted. I believed if I mimicked others—abided in the status quo—people would see that I was like them. And, well, they would like me. If they liked me, I therefore reasoned, God would like me.

The thing is, I’m not like everyone else. My friend is not. You’re not. And that’s a good thing.

Finding our unique identity as children of the Creator of the Universe and followers of His Son, Jesus, is our lifelong struggle—or perhaps it’s better to say, goal. Our Heavenly Father created us to be distinctive, and His Son prayed that we would be one as He and His Father were One (John 17:6-23).

I struggled with this. At first, I wanted everyone to be like me. Which is what I did to my creative friend. When that didn’t work, I tried to be like people I thought God liked best.

This went on for years until one day a woman walked into our congregation’s bookstore. Within a few minutes of meeting me she pronounced, “You need to be writing.” I instantly broke into tears. She had no idea that thirty years before she set foot in that little store, I had given up writing. I had laid that part of me in a grave and buried it alive—not realizing it was a gift God had given me.

As she spoke those words, that gift awoke.

Since that time, I have gradually learned how to appreciate others’ God-inspired uniqueness.

What if the piercings, skin color, tattoos, style of music, and other uncomfortable differences are all part of who He created others to be? What if the reason we’re embarrassed by our brothers and sisters’ uniqueness is because we haven’t embraced our own?

The unity Jesus prayed for wasn’t about being the same. We don’t want a nose to be the same as an ear, right? What if trying to make others more like us, we cripple the Body of Messiah?

We are designed to be joined together—but we’re not designed to be the same. If we struggle with being critical of others who are different, we need to seek our Father. There may be a gift He has for us that we have buried or not revealed. A gift made for us.

Division makes us weak. Conformity will limit us. But holy diversity means we each do what God calls us to and rejoice with anyone fulfilling their God-given destiny.

So, twirl, my friends. Twirl all you want.

TWEETABLE
Watch How You Twirl – encouragement from Terri Gillespie @TerriGMaven on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Have you embraced what makes you unique?

Let Go

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

For the earth will be filled with knowing the glory of ADONAI [the LORD], as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14, TLV

We thought it was safe. The Missouri River had a long sandbar that was invisible from the shore. A group of people ran over it making them appear to be walking on water. Of course, we wanted to do it, too. So, my daughter, three of my nieces, and my sister-in-law and I skipped and laughed all the way to the end—which dropped off suddenly, in the middle of the rushing river current!

I was the last person to hit the undertow. I tried to swim back to the shallows but went nowhere. All I could do was keep myself from being dragged under the water. Within seconds I was exhausted from fighting to stay afloat. Part of me wanted to just give up—until I watched in horror as my daughter and nieces frantically tried to keep from going under.

Finally, I screamed for my brother on the shore. He ran in and stopped at the edge of the sandbar. Since I was the closest, he grabbed for me.

Have you ever heard the stories of rescuers being drowned by the victims they tried to save? I had. Still, I panicked and nearly pulled my brother in. He rebuked me—yelled at me to stop or I would drown us both.

In seconds I did the most counterintuitive thing I could do given my fear—I let go. I chose to trust that my brother would help me.

Once I did this, he was able to easily pull me to safety. Then, we both rescued the rest of our family. Had I not let go, the outcome could have been tragic.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from that experience had nothing to do with water safety. I learned what it felt like to want to give up, and how that is different from letting go.

Today’s passage is a prophecy. The prophet Habakkuk had witnessed another round of disappointing behaviors by Israel. Discouraged, he questioned why God had allowed all this. Amid this whirlpool of despair, Habakkuk proclaims that one day the earth would be filled with knowing the glory of the LORD.

The prophet continues with one of the most beautiful psalms of letting go—letting go because he trusted in the Most High God:

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and there is no yield on the vines,
Though the olive crop fail,
and the fields produce no food,
the flock is cut off from the fold,
and there is no cattle in the stalls.
Yet will I triumph in Adonai,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Adonai my Lord, is my strength.
He has made my feet like a deer’s,
and will make me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19, TLV

Giving up is wrapped in despair. Letting go is supported by faith and trust.

It can be discouraging to see the disappointing behavior all around us—sometimes within our own families. We may want to give up—to not be engaged in our calling. We wonder how we can let go of our fear, anger, disappointment, and choose to rejoice and speak words of faith: that one day all the earth will recognize the glory of our Heavenly Father, and acknowledge the hard-won salvation by His Son, Jesus.

We may wonder, but it is possible. All we need to do is let go.

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Let Go – insight on #FollowingGod from Terri Gillespie, @TerriGMavens on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Do you need to let go?