Category Archives: devotional

Wading Through by Shelia Stovall

Does he not see my ways And number all my steps? Job 31:4

Photo by Barry Freas (www.barryfreas.com) Used with permission.

I love the long days of summer. When the June Solstice passed last week, my heart dipped a little with the knowledge the days will begin to shorten. We spent the last hour of sunlight floating the creek on kayaks and were entertained by the sight of a doe with twin fawns, a beaver slapping his tail at us, while a rookery of blue herons screeched like teenagers partying. It was a glorious evening, and we lingered on the water through the long twilight. Big mistake.

We put our kayaks into the water at a small branch of the creek that divides our farm. It’s the only place for us to exit safely. Usually, we have to wade out the last twenty yards which is not a big deal, but at one place, you’ll sink to thigh-deep water if you’re not careful. When it’s daylight, it’s easy to avoid the deeper water, but we’d let time slip away, and with leafy sycamore branches hanging over us, we waded through blackness.

There’s nothing in the water to harm me, but my imagination became my enemy. With each step, I imagined a snapping turtle, a water snake, or stepping into the deep hole. The limestone bank glowed in the dim light, and it looked appealing. I stepped out of the water onto the slick rock. Within two seconds, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed with a thud. Then, I said a word a good Baptist would never utter. Go ahead, laugh. My husband did and I joined him. There was nothing to do but wade through the water with my kayak, and yes, I stepped into the big hole, but by this time, I was muddy, wet and hardly noticed.

Life is like that. Sometimes darkness comes upon us, and we allow fear to hinder us, but we can’t avoid the difficult terrain, and we must wade through it. Maybe you’ve received a worrisome diagnosis from the doctor, lost a job, or a loved one is suffering. I’ve learned, it helps to have a guide. We have a little Schnauzer, Lucy, and she’s almost blind. When we take our daily walks, she’s right on my heels. On our daily rambles, our Labrador, Bamboo, is in the lead, Bertie, out little mutt, is on her trail, but Lucy stays close to me. More than once, I’ve stopped and called her, only to discover she’s sitting right behind me in my shadow. My little companion trusts me to lead her home. And that’s what we need to do, stay close to the Master, and trust Him to lead us through the darkness while we wade through the holes that almost drown us. If we follow Jesus, someday, we’ll reach our forever home.

 

 

Reflecting His Light

(21) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times.” (22) Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

A creek borders our property, and I often cross the road to sit on a little platform overlooking the water. It’s about a hundred yards from my front door to the porch, but something mysterious happens when I rest here. I’m able to forget my to-do list.

There’s a special time in the evening, when the sunlight makes the water shimmer, That’s when I’m filled with peace that truly surpasses all understanding.

When I considering how this reflection of light fills me with serenity, I’m reminded  I can offer the same blessing to others by sharing the love of Jesus. He is my comforter. He is my joy. He is my peace.

An angry person crossed my path last week. He behaved in an unreasonable manner, and later I learned his son died the previous week. Please keep this person in your prayers. I often pray for him because he’s rude and surly on a regular basis, and I’m tempted to reflect his unpleasant behavior.

It’s only by controlling my actions through the help of Jesus I have any hope of leading others to Christ. I don’t think it a coincidence our pastor reminded us Jesus instructed Peter, ” to forgive seventy-seven times.” Who can keep track of that? Right. So maybe, we should just forgive.

Anger is all around us. Our only hope is Jesus, and I pray we will remember we Christians are to act differently than the lost. After all, the fruit of His spirit is, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and self-control.’

Let’s surprise people and love them, and forgive them, no matter how badly they treat us. I pray we can offer forgiveness, as Jesus forgives us. I’m sure He’s forgiven me more then seventy-seven times. I pray I can reflect the light of Jesus on everyone…especially my enemies.

 

In Everything Give Thanks

Tomorrow is my daddy’s birthday in heaven. In remembrance of him and the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, I’m re-posting a story I shared a few years ago about parents.

It had been a weekend of celebrations, my niece’s graduation from nursing school and Mother’s Day.  If only I’d known it was to be the last Mother’s Day with Mom. Would I have done things differently?  On Tuesday, Mom fell and broke her leg. People don’t usually die from a broken leg, but a week later, a blood clot ended her life.

I remember little of the next few days other than standing for hours greeting those who loved Mom while smelling the scent of roses behind me. We buried her on the Saturday before Memorial Day in 2003.

For weeks, I instinctively reached for the phone to call her. The patterns of my life had shifted, and I was off balance. While reading scripture, I ran across 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I pondered this scripture and became angry. “Give thanks! Give thanks for everything. I’m supposed to give thanks to God for Mom dying.” In a rage, I threw my Bible across the room. I was a forty-two-year-old woman having a temper tantrum like a three-year-old. Later, I picked up the Bible and noticed the broken spine. Ashamed, I hid the Bible in my closet. If Mom had witnessed this, she would have sent me to the willow tree for a switch.

It was rare for me to find time to read the Bible, much less to study it, but I didn’t know where else to turn. Mom looked to scripture for comfort. Through her life, she battled illness, she nursed a father with tuberculosis, buried my infant twin, lost everything in a house fire, nursed two sisters through cancer and lost both. Through every trial, she sang praise songs and spent time studying His word. The joy, peace, and hope in the scriptures she embraced were elusive to me.

I’d never endured a tragedy, and discovered I had a shallow faith. I’ve learned that to have a deep faith, you must “Love the Lord, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5. But to do that, you have to know the Lord. And to know the Lord, you must spend time with him through prayer and studying His word. I’d counted on Mom to pray for me. I’d leaned on her faith, instead of building my own.

God would not let go of me and the scripture “In everything give thanks.” continued to haunt me. What could I possibly find in the loss of Mom for which to be thankful?

Lonesome and depressed, Daddy began to lose weight. I started calling each evening. He’d never been one to talk on the phone, and it surprised me how long we talked. One night, I smiled when I disconnected and it occurred to me, I’d always communicated with Daddy through Mom. Whenever I called their home, I  talked to her. Even if Daddy answered the phone, he would pass the receiver to Mom. Daddy, and I spent more time talking in the months following Mom’s death than the other forty-two years of my life combined. He told me stories about his boyhood and shared suggestions for dealing with my teenagers, but most important, he became my friend. I realized that had Daddy died before Mom, I  would not have truly known him. “In everything give thanks.”  I’d been taught that there is a blessing in every difficult circumstance, and here was the blessing I’d missed. Because Mom died first, I developed a deeper relationship with Daddy. And today I know, if I can discover a blessing in the death of my mom, then I can find a blessing in every trial.

During our last conversation, Daddy and I talked about death. That same weekend, a young man had been killed in a senseless car accident and I worried about my own son’s driving skills. Daddy shared his wisdom. “If you are born, you are going to die, and no one can do that for you. The only hope we have is to have things right with the Lord.” These words have stayed with me and I thought of them as I stood over his grave on the next weekend…Memorial Day weekend. Daddy died of a sudden heart attack exactly a year after Mom’s funeral.

“In everything give thanks.” I pondered these words and discovered I could give thanks. I was thankful his days of mourning were over, thankful that he no longer feared being ill and lingering attached to machines as his own father had suffered. And I was grateful l for his wisdom that I could pass on to my children as I grew older.

After Mom’s unexpected death, I never left Daddy without hugging him and telling him that I loved him. “I love you” were the last words I spoke to him. “In everything give thanks.”

It was to be another difficult year. My younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. My older sister had a strange abscess on her thyroid and almost died in an emergency surgery. My brother suffered a back injury and didn’t know if he’d be able to return to work. With each crisis I realized how much I could lose and that I was dependent upon God. “In everything give thanks.”

On the weekend before the next Memorial Day holiday, I visited with my younger sister who had completed twelve weeks of radiation treatments. I studied the sparkling water in her backyard pool on a perfect spring day and said, “If no one I love dies this week, then I’ll be happy.”

The next day at work, the CEO informed me that he’d decided to outsource my department and they no longer needed me. I remembered what I’d said  and tried to smile. “In everything give thanks.”  But I struggled to give  thanks for losing my job?

I went through the festivities of my son’s high school graduation that week. When I study the pictures of me smiling with him in his cap and gown, I look happy, but I was numb and broken. A good description might be “the walking wounded.” But no one could see my wounds. As I recall those long summer days, I see the blessings. I had always worked outside of my home and spending the summer with my children was a gift. But I was still hurt and angry about my uncertain career.

The remnants of hurricane Dennis dumped a week of rain on our farm. When the skies cleared, I went to work in the garden. I hadn’t had the time for a garden in years. My childhood summers had been filled working with my family in our abundant garden. I studied the rows filled with weeds in my own pitiful plot. I wanted to give up, but I knew that would have disappointed my Daddy, the farmer. I’d had hard rows to hoe in my childhood, and Daddy would say “Just keep your head down and before you know it, you’ll get through it.”

I knew the hoe was going to be useless. In my fight with those thick weeds, I had to get on my hands and knees. As I smelled the loamy soil, I was taken back to my childhood. I had to smile as I thought of the elegant boardrooms I’d had the privilege to sit in. If they could see me now on my hands and knees in the dirt! In the back of my mind, I could hear Mom saying “Looks like someone got too big for her britches.” With each weed I pulled through my ‘long road to hoe,’ I thought of my parents and my love for them. A cardinal’s song reminded me of Mama singing as she worked. As squirrels ran above me in the trees, I reminisced of my brother and sisters playing in the woods as children. A robin pulled a worm and fed her babies and I remembered to thank God for being able to provide for my family. With each weed I pulled, I thanked God and started singing. When I got to the end of the last row, I sat back and looked at the wilted weeds strewn to the side, and I could see the beautiful garden. “In everything give thanks.”

I keep the Bible with the broken spine to remind me of the valleys I’ve crossed. It reminds me of Jesus and his broken body. There have been more trials in my life, and I wish I could say that “in everything I give thanks,” but I’m stubborn. I’ve learned to try to look for the blessing in each hardship because I know that if I can find blessings in the deaths my parents, then I have the hope of finding a blessing in most any circumstance. The other lesson I learned is that when I want to give up, the place to be is on my knees thanking God. It could be that He needs to pull the weeds that are choking me. It may be painful, but it is His will that must be done, not mine. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

 

Signatures By Donna Hix Bewley

And His Mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50 NKJV

“Signatures”

By Donna Hix Bewley

There’s a large closet in my house with many shelves. In the top is a square box that I found one day while cleaning. I opened it eagerly, not remembering what was inside. However, I knew whatever it was; years had passed since the box was placed up high.

It was such a surprise to find wedding shower cards and gift cards. Each had a different signature from our wedding shower. It would have been held the summer of 1978, 39 years ago this year.

The signatures belonged to so many people that had already passed. Great aunts and grandmothers that are missed so much. Dear friends that I don’t see except maybe every 10 years.  

I could smell the scents of the old cards and see the unique designs. Picturing the person along with the cards was such a special treat. I treasure the cards and the memories they bring back. When you get older you find yourself trying to grasp anything to make those memories come alive.

About the Author:

Donna Hix Bewley is a retired Registered Nurse. In 2010, the Lord inspired her to begin writing poetry. Two years later, she stepped out in faith and retired from her nursing career, and responded to the call to write. Today, a collection of her poems are compiled in a book, How He Touched My Soul:  A Collection of the Lord’s Poems.

Note to Readers:

Donna Hix Bewley will be at the Allen County Public Library, 106 W. Public Square on Saturday, April 22, 2017, during the Jacksonian festival.  I hope you’ll stop by and visit her and consider purchasing her book of poetry.  All proceeds from her book sales go to Living Hope Baptist Church’s missions’ fund. “Signatures” is included in her book showing how old cards and notes hold a message from the past.

The Importance of Little Things

(15) Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

Yesterday, small things held me up. I had an eight o’clock appointment, but when I arrived, the person wasn’t available. A hint of frustration crossed my mind, but I shrugged and left.  Later, I checked the email confirming the appointment, and discovered the request to change our meeting to Wednesday. Sigh.

I entered the drive-through at a restaurant to pick up an unsweet tea. When I parked my car and sipped the drink, I gagged—sweet tea.  Too lazy to get out of the car, I entered the drive-through line again, and waited. The window clerk passed me another drink, and I tested it—sweet tea. The worker smiled and said, “I guess someone put sweet tea in the wrong container. Do you want a soda?”

“No, thank you. Is unsweet tea not available today?”

Her shoulders dropped. “It will take about ten minutes to brew. Do you want to wait?”

I nodded and pulled to the side. The sun shined on me as I drummed my fingers on my knee. Then I stopped. The temperature was perfect, and it was book club day, one of my favorite days of the month. Few people get paid to do what they love. Years ago, I worked at a drive-through window, and it’s not easy. I lifted a prayer repentance and thanks.

Later, I considered what my failure to pay attention to the little things costs me and calculated. An unsweet tea costs $1.06 x 365 days a year  = $386.90, plus the frustration of spending at least five minutes in line equals about 31 hours a year. That figure caught my attention.

Do you spend too much time waiting in the drive-through  too? I picked up a box of tea last night and brewed a pitcher full this morning.  It took me about thirty seconds to prepare the kettle, and another twenty seconds to put ice in the cup.

My new goal is to pay attention to the little ways I’m wasting this precious gift of time.  I’m not saying I’m giving up the drive-through all the time, but I am going to brew tea in the morning. Maybe I’ll waste that thirty-one hours enjoying the sunrise, or perhaps I’ll  spend five more minutes a day writing something I hope encourages someone.  Whatever I do, I’m sure it will be better than waiting in line, and I’ll have an extra three-hundred dollars for my travel fund.

Are there daily habits costing you precious time and money? Don’t worry. Jesus is the only one who ever got it right.

#timemanagement

Love Yourself Valentine

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:31-31 NLT

I highlighted “as yourself” because I missed it for years. Many of my friends are self-critical. Perhaps we feel inadequate because of the home-improvement shows featuring beautiful people living in flawless homes. We are bombarded with advice on how to live the best life. Maybe we feel insufficient because others seem to have it all. Believe me. They don’t.  None of us do.

A friend recently said she feels defeated because she’s already days behind on her schedule to read the entire Bible in a year. Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to read the entire Bible within a year? Sometimes, all I have time to do is meditate on one verse. I can rush through reading a chapter to meet a daily goal, but if I don’t take the time for the words to filter to my heart, I’m wasting my time. This woman is a doctor, a mom, and she writes in her spare time. I pray she will LOVE herself because I know God loves her.  I think she’s comparable to Wonder Woman and doesn’t realize it.

Another friend berated herself because she didn’t work on her manuscript. She’s a mother, a teacher, and suffers from a serious medical condition. God has blessed her with two of the most important jobs on earth – being a mom and a teacher. I know God planted a story in her heart, and she will find time to put it on paper, in His time. I pray she will look in the mirror today and say, “I love you.”

Consider the most unpleasant person you know. Do you think this person loves themselves?  I believe there’s a direct correlation between how much we love ourselves and our ability to love God and others. Please take a moment and consider how wonderful, talented, and unique you are. You are precious in His sight.

Today is Valentines Day and my love message to you is to LOVE yourself.  If you feel unloved, consider God loves you so much He sent His son to die for you.  My prayer and hope for you today is you feel His love and it’s reflected in all  you do.

Hugs and love from me. Happy Valentines Day!

 

Birthday Blessings

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

January is a special month for my family because we celebrate birthdays on January 4, 5, 18, and 25.  January 11 is a bittersweet day because it was my mother-in-law Judy’s birthday.  She is still loved, and I have the hope we will be reunited in heaven.

I’ve been especially thankful as we celebrate each birthday this year because I am surrounded by family and friends who are enduring a season of loss. One is mourning the sudden death of her husband, another friend’s child died, and someone else had to say goodbye to his mom.  Please lift a prayer for them.  Most of us take days for granted and believe there’s plenty of time to do all the things  we want to do. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. Only God knows.

The month is close to an end, so if you made a New Year’s resolution, you’re planning to be around for a while.  I’m hoping to travel to Israel with my sister later this year. Friends have commented, “It’s not safe to go to Israel.” I agree, because it’s  not safe to go anywhere. But there is nothing for me to fear because I have Jesus as my savior, and I hope, you do too. Sometimes I am afraid, but that’s my brain talking. As I grow in faith, and make more room for Jesus in my heart, it’s filled with more love, more joy and more peace. Sometimes worry sneaks into my thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to spend daily time studying scripture and in prayer.

What are your plans for the coming year?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution? My resolution is that I’m going to try to draw closer to God and be open to whatever He wants me to do. I’d hoped to be planning a return trip to Kenya, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I trust him.

I’m so very thankful for Jesus and the price He paid to redeem me and you. I’m grateful for my family, my health and the ability to work and travel.  Someday, my heart and flesh will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I pray God is the strength of your heart too. If He’s not, I’d like to review a lesson I use with children to teach them the ABC’s of becoming a Christian.

 A – Admit that you are a sinner and repent. (If you know what sin is and are genuinely               heartbroken for the things you’ve done, just admit it to God.)

B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He paid our sin debt.  (This is the most difficult for most, believing is having FAITH)

C – Confess and tell others that Jesus is Lord of your life.

Scriptures to support the ABC’s of becoming a Christian:

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NIV

 For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him      shall not perish be have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NKJV

If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart, I pray you will seek Him and ask Him to speak to you. Just close your eyes and talk to Jesus like He’s your best friend, because He is. It’s not the words that save you, it’s the condition of you heart.

You must have FAITH to receive God’s GRACE.

Someone will  win a free copy of  The Wonders of Nature this week. I’ll draw  a name from my subscribers on Saturday, January 28, 2017 and announce the winner. Thank you for stopping by today. I pray you will have a blessed week.

 

Be Still and Wait

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret no yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices. Psalm 37:7 ESV

For the first time in five years, I don’t have a mission trip scheduled on the calendar. I’m waiting and praying for guidance, which is the first step to planning any mission trip. There are so many in Africa who have never heard the name of Jesus, and this burdens me. But plans have not worked out (yet) for me to return to the dark continent this year.

Cedar Street, Franklin, KY. Used with permission of Barry Freas.

Maybe I’m supposed to stay home for a change. On any given Sunday, there are about 14,000 in my community, who stay home on Sunday mornings. There are empty pews in my home church every week. But my goal isn’t to fill a pew. It’s to point people to Jesus, so lives and hearts will be changed.

It’s not necessary to go to Africa to discover the lost. Every day people who don’t know Jesus cross my path. But it’s so much more difficult to share the gospel in America (a Christian nation) than in Niger (a Muslim nation). In Niger and Kenya, I’m treated as an honored guest because the people know I’ve traveled far so I must have something significant to tell them.  In America, I’m afraid to knock on a stranger’s door.

Perhaps I’m to spend my spare time working on my writing instead of planning a mission trip. While attending a conference last year, one of the guest speakers said that she feels the Christian novel is the most effective evangelical tool to reach the lost.

In the meantime. I’m going to attempt to do something that’s difficult for me. I’m going to wait on the Lord to direct me and try to be as bold a witness in my hometown as I am in Africa.

It seems to me the world is spiraling out of control and I feel helpless. But I’m not, because I have Jesus, who is always with me. He is the one with the power to change lives, and He blesses me by allowing me to be a part of His plan.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts. You’ll never know how much your encouragement lifts me and keep me rising early each morning to write. Please let me know if you have a special prayer request for 2017. Happy New Year!

 

While My Soldier Serves

edie-melsonBy Edie Melson

There are times when life is lived in the dark. Everywhere we turn—inside and out—the landscape is bleak and barren. God seems a million miles away and our prayers—when we can find the words to pray—feel like they go no farther than the ceiling.

I’ve been through the those times—and come out on the other side. With pride, I’ve sent my son off to war twice. As proud as I was to have a son willing to sacrifice to serve his country, I was just scared that he’d be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

When our sons were small, I used to image their lives ahead—learning to drive, beginning to date, and going to college. Like most parents, I’d always assumed I’d have our sons’ college years as a sort of grace period between childhood and adulthood. More than I realized, I’d counted on that time of transition.

When our oldest chose to go from high school graduation straight to Marine Corps boot camp that transition time evaporated. One minute I was hugging goodbye to my child, my oldest son. The next time I saw him, he was a fully formed man—still my son, but without any trace of the child I’d hugged goodbye.

Before that year was out, he was half a world away, deployed in a war zone as a frontline infantry Marine.

It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him, I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I couldn’t. So I did the one thing I could do. It began as my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength.

I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

I searched for books of prayers that would help give voice to the emotions welling up in my heart, but found nothing. So I began to journal my own prayers. I learned how to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. And that old deployment journal I kept is dog-eared and tear-stained.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew was just beyond the darkness.

And my course of last resort became my strength, and the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself.

On May 12,  just after Mother’s Day 2015, the final harvest of that time of darkness has come to fruition. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. I’ve written the book that I searched so hard to find. God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war.

Never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now.

While My Soldier Serveswhile_my_soldier_serves

by Edie Melson

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

Her newest book

Alonealone

After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.

Author Bio:

edie-melsonFind your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s writing for fiction readers, parents, military families, fiction readers or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.

As a leading professional within the publishing industry, she travels to numerous conferences as a popular keynote, writing instructor and mentor. Her top-ranked blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine. She’s also the Social Media Mentor for My Book Therapy, Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com, and regular columnist for Guideposts.org, Just18Summers.com and PuttingOnTheNew.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

The Promise that Comes with the Command

By Liz Johnson

“Now be sure to put Vaseline on that every day and cover it with a Band-Aid.”

I stared at the nurse like she was a little bit ridiculous. After all, the spot she was referring to was in the middle of my back. I couldn’t see it with two mirrors and selfie-stick, let alone manage keep it moisturized and covered by myself.

But the mole had had to be removed, and the resulting spot—what I dubbed “the mole hole”—had to be cared for. I did the best I could. A single woman, living alone, I employed the help of friends to apply bandages and generally suffered through the irritating itching as it healed. After all, the problematic mole, which my dermatologist deemed “troubling,” was gone. All was well.

Until I received a call from the dermatologist’s office a week later. “The pathology results from your mole are in,” said the nurse.

“Great.” I assumed the best. After all, it was just a little mole. No big deal.

“It’s not benign.”

I heard only ringing in my ears for a moment. Not benign? Benign meant harmless, right? So this was not harmless? My brain was working at the speed of sloth as I tried to sort her words into something I could understand.

And then she said what she should have started with. “But it’s not malignant either.”

“Huh?” I wasn’t feeling particularly sharp as she explained that my mole fell into a shady gray area between everything-is-great and this-could-be-trouble. The problematic cells were right along the base of the mole. If they hadn’t removed all of the problem, it would grow back, much nastier than before.

“We need you to come back in in three months,” she said.

Three months? Seriously? I had to wait three whole months to see if those little cells were still multiplying in my back? I nearly asked if they could just remove a crater from my back and be done with it. But there was nothing to be done but wait.

It’s incredible the stories that a mind can conjure as it waits for the truth. This is true in relationships—when we don’t hear from a friend, our minds fill in all the worst reasons. It’s true in families—when the person who said they’d call after their road trip doesn’t, our minds picture terrible car accidents.

I tend to be a fairly imaginative person. It’s a hazard of being a novelist, I suppose. So I immediately pictured the very worst. Facing the big C while living 2000 miles away from my family and those I love most.

friends_walkingFear settled in, heavy and oppressive. And I knew I couldn’t spend three months picturing the worst. On a walk with my best friend, I shared my fears, and she reminded me that the Bible is filled with reminders not to be afraid. She was right—per usual.

So I got home and opened my Bible. And I discovered something pretty incredible.

You see, I’d known about the many commands in scripture. “Do not be afraid.” “Fear not.” “Do not worry about tomorrow.” These are important. And they’re commands. They’re not suggestions.

But it’s one thing to know them and another entirely to do them. But as I was reading some of these key verses—the ones on postcards and wall art—something hit me. Like in Joshua 1:9, which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I thought that was where the verse ended. It’s not. The whole verse reads “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Did you catch that? “For the LORD your God will be with you.”

Joshua 1:9 isn’t just a command. It’s a promise. God is with us.

And the more verses I found, the more promises came with them.

Isaiah 43:1 – “But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’”

Psalm 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We don’t have to be unafraid in our own strength. God tells us how to conquer fear. With Him. Remembering that He is always with us.

The command is not to fear. The promise is that we have a God who cares about the things that scare us, and He’ll walk through them with us.

I clung to that promise for three months. (Still do, for that matter.) And you know what? God was with me. He was by my side every step of the way through my mole scare. Which turned out to be nothing to worry about.

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where-two-hearts-meet-cover-finalIf you love romantic novels placed in beautiful surrounding, you won’t want to miss Liz’s new book,  Where Two Hearts Meet. It is the second book in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series and released last week.

Caden is a talented chef employed at the beautiful Red Door Inn. When Adam, a journalist shows up looking for a story, there’s a misunderstanding.

I hope you’ll treat yourself to an afternoon get-away to the beautiful setting of Prince Edward Island to see what happens “when two hearts meet.” Click on the book cover for a direct link to Amazon. I’ll draw a name from my subscribers on Sunday, October 30th and give away a free copy. To subscribe, scroll to the top of the page and add your email address in the “subscribe” box.

Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she is the director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of several novels including Red Door Inn cover - FINALThe Red Door Inn and Where Two Hearts Meet, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.