My two youngest sons were recently home on a school break. They decided to kayak down a small river near our home. It was a pleasant day, warm for the winter month. It sounded like a great idea.
They gathered their kayaks and other stuff necessary for young men who want to kayak: snacks, bottled water, and a Bluetooth speaker for tunes. My youngest took his digital camera.
I drove with them to the drop off spot. The afternoon was quickly passing and they were beginning their trip a little later than anticipated. Still, they had made this trip numerous times; they had experience. They had a cell phone to keep me updated. I would see them in a couple of hours. They got into their kayaks and I went home to bake cookies for their return.
Two hours passed; my husband got home from work. I told him about the kayak trip. He looked concerned. He reminded me that it had rained the previous night and the river was up. I had forgotten about the rain, and also about the effects that hurricane Michael had on our area in recent months, lots of rainfall, lots of downed trees.
The daylight faded into twilight with no word from our sons. We tried calling them. No answer. My husband decided to wait for them at the landing spot. An hour later, the phone rang. An unfamiliar voice had news about our sons. He and his hunting buddies had found them calling for help across the river. The hunters helped our boys find their way out of the forest, a five-hour hike.
Unbeknownst to me, as I baked cookies, our sons had both capsized in the fast current of the river as they had approached a downed tree 20 minutes into their trip. My youngest had tried to hold on to his kayak. His big brother wisely counseled him to give it up. Both boys made it safely to the bank. Thick underbrush cut their bodies as they tediously hiked. Thanks to the hunters, they made it through the woods and back to the road.
Six hours after leaving home, our boys walked through our back door. Both kayaks were lost. My youngest lost his phone, his camera and that Bluetooth speaker. They were scratched, worn and cold.
It alarmed me to think that while my sons faced peril, I was happily baking cookies in my kitchen. I did not know to plead with God for their safety. I didn’t realize they were in need of rescue. But, my Heavenly Father did. He is the Heavenly Father of my sons as well. They prayed for their own safety and prayed to find their way home. And that Heavenly Father was working on their behalf. He is always working; Jesus told us so in John 5:17:“My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.”
God is always at work even when we have no idea that He is working. He is working in impossible situations. He is working in homes, in hearts, next door and across oceans. God is a big God and He is always at work. He is worthy of our complete trust.
Weekly Memory Verse
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Recently I was cheering on my granddaughter as she filled in a “connect the dots” activity sheet. For myself and probably anyone beyond preschool age the design was apparent; but for my young granddaughter, this was a fun challenge. As she was drawing the line between the final dots, she squealed the answer in delight. It was the sound of revelation and excitement! My response was quite similar when the Lord brought to light an answer to my prayer, “Lord teach me to pray!”
The request had come at a time when I was feeling that my prayer life was far less than powerful and effective. (James 5:16) I truly wanted His guidance; but in the days to follow, I didn’t feel like I was getting a definitive answer. So I heeded advice that a Christian mentor had once given me; keep doing what you know you are supposed to do. In this case, I kept praying! During the months that passed, my “connect the dots” design was still rather unrecognizable, yet I was moving forward slowly. Then the day arrived that the dots were connected.
The Lord began to speak to my heart as I read Mark 14:36, “And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” We know this is the prayer of our Lord as He was getting ready to go to the cross for you and for me. As I read and meditated on this verse, the Holy Spirit guided me to look at the parts of His request. In this time of great anguish, Jesus shared three things with God the Father. He acknowledged that God the Father can do anything, He shared what was on His heart, and then submitted His thoughts and desires to the Father’s will.
On that day; I realized that it wasn’t just any design, but it was God’s design for me. God’s design was to bring me to the cross. I needed to be reminded that it is because of Jesus’s finished work at the cross that I can talk to God in prayer. The Holy Spirit also opened my eyes to see what was missing in my prayer life. It’s hard to verbalize, but the best way I can describe it is that I needed to learn to bow my heart with each request. I know that many of us don’t typically go to our knees when we pray; but for analogy sake, think of bowing our knees as the act of lifting up your requests. I picture a bowed heart as the spiritual act of awe and trust; a heart that joins the voice of prayer.
A bowed heart says...
Nothing is impossible for God
God desires to hear what I ask of Him
God’s will be done
With great joy my, heart squealed in delight that day. The Lord answered my request so specifically and beyond what I asked and imagined.
My prayer for you and me, as found in Mark 14:36, is that we will have God’s heart in prayer!
I will instruct you and teach
Several months ago, my husband and I were driving on the interstate and the traffic was heavy but flowing smoothly. In fact, all three lanes were traveling the same speed with no one in the left lane passing. This was highly unusual and we couldn’t figure out what everyone was doing. Then, I spotted the State Trooper traveling at the posted speed limit. Every driver was on their best behavior and traveling at a safe speed behind the officer. No one was zooming past the officer and risking the consequences.
The Lord brought this experience to mind when I was reading Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will guide you with my eye” (NKJV). This is a promise that the Lord gives us. He will instruct us; He will teach us; He will guide us. My actions show that I believe this promise when I stay behind the Lord; wait for His instruction; follow Him closely, and not anxiously speed past Him. He desires to instruct us in the way of wisdom and lead us along straight paths (Proverbs, 4:11, NIV). Following Him is my desire, not only for my safety but also, for His perfect will to be accomplished.
As I was reflecting on this truth, I remembered another driving experience. Several years ago, I was traveling with a coworker to a convention. We were caravanning with two other co-workers. They were several cars in front of us when they unexpectedly took a wrong exit onto a toll road. We called them and asked where they were going. They replied that they were following me and thought that I was taking that exit. My incredulous response was, “How were you following me when YOU were in FRONT of me.” Sadly, this also describes my tendencies with the Lord. I desire to follow the Lord, I intend to follow the Lord, but oftentimes, I get in front of the Lord - looking back and trying to guess which way He wants me to go. Or, maybe, I go the way I want to go and ask Him to follow me! (That doesn't go well!) I thank the Lord that in His mercies and unfailing love, He lovingly leads me when I take wrong turns.
The Lord desires to lead, instruct and guide - for His glory and because that is what’s best for us. I must choose to stay behind him, watch Him closely and allow Him to lead. He is a good, good father and only wants the very best for His children.
“For I am the LORD, your God,
While I was in Colorado a couple of weeks ago during my quiet time I read Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” I just got stuck on this verse and the phrase “takes hold of your right hand”. I wondered, “Why does it say right hand, why is it so specific?” Then I wondered, “What the percentage of the world is left handed?” It turns out only that 10-12% of the people in the world are left handed. So for most people who read this, the right hand is their strong hand. So, if someone takes hold of your strong hand that leaves you with your weak hand to work with.
Walking anywhere in Colorado was an adventure, I was continually coming across an ice patch and if I wasn’t paying attention and hit the ice just right I would get a quick heart dropping slide that made me feel I was about to land on my rump. (I had had an unfortunate incident with falling off a shuttle while I was there and I just didn’t want to find myself on the ground again.) So my husband Sean and I held hands while we walked, I admit it wasn’t about romance it was about survival.
Sean is a firefighter, his job is to protect people from danger and 99% of the time I trust his ability to protect me. But he’s lived in Florida for 40 years, and I’ve witnessed his ice walking ability, it is only slightly better than mine. Because of this, I just couldn’t walk with him holding my right hand because that left me to use my weak side to protect myself if we started to slip.
This reminds me of Isaiah 41:13, we all have a “strong side” these are the gifts and abilities God has given us that we feel confident in. But that is not where He wants us to stay. The Lord “takes us by the right hand” because he doesn’t want us to trust in our abilities. . Rather He wants us to step out in our weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says, “My power is made perfect in your weakness”. It is in this weakness we learn to trust and depend on the Lord for so much more than only doing the things we have confidence we can do ourselves.
When we are too confident in ourselves this leads to pride, thinking we can do it all on our own. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” He want us to step out in our weakness because then His power is magnified, we show the world how amazingly powerful, faithful and trustworthy He is.
I love the last part of Isaiah 41:13 “Do not fear, I will help you”. That is a promise I want to cling to when I want to shrink back into the safe place of my abilities instead of stepping out in my weakness and magnifying “God’s all-surpassing power”.
Weekly Memory Verse
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.