Wake Up Call

See if this sounds at all familiar where you are. A family member blows up at another family member, and an onslaught of phone calls to the rest of the family ensues, each presenting their side of the encounter and trying to garner support.

A frustrated teenager slams her laptop closed and storms out of the kitchen because her younger siblings are chewing too loudly.

A friend gets angry, failing to recognize that the unreasonable response of his friend is because the guy is actually having a panic attack.

Overwhelmed spouses bicker to the point of silliness over kitchen duties.

Any time God’s children encounter a great deal of stress, we have two choices. We can let the situation bring out the worst in us, or we can take a deep breath and ask God to help us to be a light in the darkness.

The difference between the two choices is focus, intention, and a deep desire to do what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 4 (New International Version)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 

11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

What if this season of great stress is an opportunity for us to discover Christ’s light in a new and more visible way? What if this time could result in many more seeing and following his light?

And what is your part in it, if not to wake up and be the light?

These are challenging thoughts for challenging days. Listen, it never hurts to take that deep breath BEFORE you react, and ask God to use you as a light in someone else’s darkness. When this season finally turns into the next, won’t you want to look back at the many ways Christ shone through you?

Let us seize this opportunity to live as children of the light and do the things that please God the most. Let us reject the fruitless deeds of darkness and turn on the high beams of God’s mercy, grace, and HOPE in this dark time. I believe that people, like moths, are always attracted to the Light.

And guess what? Today, we are one day closer to the end of this thing.

Wake Up and Be the Light. By Michelle Robertson

Clear Lenses

Every contact lens wearer knows the joy of “new contacts day.“ Oh, the delight of opening that sterile, sealed container and slipping new, pristine contacts onto our weary eyeballs! The clarity, the comfort, the EASE!

For those of you who don’t wear them, contacts deteriorate with each wearing. I am supposed to change mine once a month, but with dust, eye makeup, and normal every day living, I don’t even make it three weeks before the need for new ones becomes overwhelming. And it’s shorter in pollen season! Dirty contacts hurt the eyes, compromise your eyesight, and are ineffective in their mission of correcting your vision.

Jesus has much to teach us about keeping our vision clear:

John 9 (The Message)

 1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

Jesus chose to heal the man’s blindness as a testimony to God’s power. But the townspeople and Pharisees refused to see what was right before their eyes. The tried to claim the man was never actually blind. They even interrogated his parents. The real issue?

Jesus had healed the blind man on the sabbath, breaking the law. The Pharisees felt it was their privilege and their position to sit in judgement and ignore the miracle in front of them. In their spiritual blindness, they couldn’t see Jesus for who he was. They judged him according to their rules, and found him to be inadequate.

Have you ever been guilty of judging someone?

The reaction of the Pharisees reminds us that being judgmental is akin to leaving dirty contacts in our eyes and then looking in the mirror and not seeing our own flaws. That is how the Pharisees see things…through the dirty lens of bias and entitlement.

39 Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

40 Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”

Be careful of your own lenses. God calls us see our brother in the same way that he looks upon us: with the lens of mercy, grace, equality, and acceptance. With that clarity, we will learn to love as God loves, and accept one another as he accepts us. Lord, open our eyes!

I can see clearly now…

No Time for Goodbye

A girl I love is a few months away from graduating from High School. We met a few weeks ago in the “before-time” at a local coffee shop and talked about colleges, scholarships, growing up, and life in general. The sun illuminated her strawberry blond hair as we sat at an outside table with not a care in the world. As I said, it was in The Before.

Now that we have arrived in The After, I can only see pictures of her on FaceBook. She just had her senior pictures taken. What I probably won’t get to see is her dressed in a cap and gown walking across the stage. I won’t see a hundred shots of her in her prom dress with her boyfriend in a matching tie. I won’t see beach pictures of her running in the waves on a rare day off from her summer restaurant job. And we had no time to say goodbye.

Teachers who miraculously scrambled to put their lessons online with one day‘s notice are just now allowing themselves to grieve the loss of being with their kids in person. Healthcare workers are having to quarantine themselves in their garages or at the hospital for fear of infecting their children at the end of work. My Alma Mater just announced that Spring Semester is over. The students moved out weeks ago, thinking they would be back after an extended Spring Break. Now it’s over, don’t come back. It was so unexpected, they had no time for goodbyes.

I miss my congregation so much it stings my eyes every time I think of them. I miss Miss Jean’s sweet bent-over hug. I miss Bonnie’s grin. I miss Jonny’s laughter. I MISS SINGING TOGETHER. God, I miss singing together. I miss them all. I didn’t know that the last time I saw them would be the last time I would see them. No time for goodbye.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus reminds us that we are blessed when we mourn:

Matthew 5 (The Message)

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

When everything you know and love gets stripped away, there is God. For such a time as this, we were made to seek him out for comfort and companionship. Blessings WILL happen in The After.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

This is especially poignant for The After. Being stuck inside allows us to get our inside world put right.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

The After is a time of no goodbyes, but also a time of saying hello to a whole new set of blessings we never would have discovered in The Before. God is with us. We are with each other.

And the good news is, we are one day closer to the end of this thing. Thanks be to God.

One Day Closer by Wende Pritchard

Quenchable Thirst

Have you ever been thirsty? Like, really, really thirsty, where your mouth is sticking together for lack of hydration? If you’ve had surgery, you might remember that the first sensation upon coming out of anesthesia is thirst. Nurses are talking to you and giving you all kinds of instructions, and all you can think is “WHERE IS MY MOUNTAIN DEW, WOMAN??”

Our souls thirst in the same way. God created us with a “lack-mechanism” where we experience a pervasive feeling of lacking for something. C.S. Lewis once said that he created us with a hole in our hearts that only he can fill. God wants us to feel a need for him. This lack-mechanism prompts us to go out and find what we need to quench our soul-thirst.

Too often we try to quench it with worldly ”sody-pop.” The first bottle of empty sugar and fizz that we find is consumed in great quantities. Sometimes sody-pop comes in the form of alcohol or drugs. Sometimes it comes dressed in heels or the well-cut suit of someone we aren’t married to. Maybe it comes in the form of “retail therapy.” Often it comes through your screen as you greedily binge a full weekend away in a sugar coma of Netflix distraction. But it’s like your grandma told you…sody-pop is not good for you. It is too easy to get addicted to sugary fizz, and before you know it, months or years have passed since you had a good drink of real living water.

John 4 (The Message)

4-6 Jesus came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

A couple of footnotes before we go on.

1. Jesus stopped his journey in a Samaritan village, a place where Jews such as himself were not welcome. He was in the middle of going somewhere else when this beautiful exchange happened.

2. It was noon. The village ladies all drew their water together in the early morning so that they could visit and gossip. This lady came alone at noon, indicating that she lived a life of too much sody-pop.

3. Jesus asked her to draw water for him with her bucket. Her bucket was unclean for a Jew. It would be like asking a coronavirus patient to share their glass of water with you.

13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

The water that Jesus offered her that day, and offers us as well, is the gushing artesian spring of endless life. It is the forgiveness, hope, reconciliation, and peace that comes from finally finding that thing that satisfies our lack-mechanism, and we are sated for once and for all.

The water he offers is effervescent. It bubbles. It jumps from the glass and tickles your nose. It is so filled with joy that you can’t stop drinking it until you are full enough to never want sody-pop again.

So drink. Drink again and again and again. Drink in Jesus until your thirst is quenched. His well is deep and endless, so fill up your bucket and LIVE.

Living Water by Kathy Schumacher

Endurance

Who remembers the television show Endurance? It was one of our favorite family programs. It was shown on the Discovery Kids cable network, and was a kind of “teenage Survivor” program. Kids would arrive on an exotic island and strategize and compete in physical and mental challenges for the ultimate prize of a trip to some amazing location like the Galápagos Islands. Through the season of challenges and hardships, a boy/girl team would eventually endure and take it all.

Life surely is a series of challenges and hardships, especially today. God calls us to endure it to obtain the prize that Jesus has already won for us. Take a look at this passage and note the progression of problems>trouble>endurance>character>hope:

Romans 5 (Common English Version)

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Hope never fails us. Paul once reminded us that faith, hope, and love endure. This passage promises us that the love of God has already been poured out in our hearts by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 

The worst thing that anyone could possibly endure is permanent and final separation from God. But this has been already been eliminated by Christ’s dying for us. This is how God showed his love for us! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Love is the final product of endurance. Faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love.

And so in love, we have separated ourselves from one another. In love, we aren’t gathering as a church or in communities so that our fragile members are protected. In love, we have canceled the world so that this hideous virus will end. In love, we submit to this new world order that will surely bear a price of loneliness, isolation, cabin fever, and stir-craziness to an extent we have never experienced before. But we do it, in love.

What to do? Go check on your neighbor (from 6 feet away.) Make a grocery run for an elderly friend (and leave it on their porch.) Call three people today who need to hear your voice. Do an online workout with your dog. Write a letter or send a card everyday until this is over.

READ A BOOK.

This season of endurance will surely produce character. I guarantee we will all look back at these weeks and months are realize we discovered new strengths in each other. And that newfound character will give birth to a new hope. We will realize how strong we are as individuals, families, communities, and as a nation. Life will never be the same because we will have endured something TOGETHER. Hang in there. And guess what? We are one day closer to the end of this thing.

This olive tree in Jerusalem has endured for centuries. Photo by Faye Gardner

The Testing Place

Have you ever been severely tested by your child? Have you had one of those days/weeks/months (years??) where your beloved kid is so totally WORKING YOUR LAST NERVE that you wonder why you even had kids in the first place? We’ve all been there, and we’re certainly there now that the entire country has become homeschool families overnight with the school closures.

We are one day into this thing and parents are realizing the enormous challenge of what lies ahead. A celebrity posted yesterday on Facebook that she had been homeschooling her two elementary-age kids for an hour and 11 minutes, and she proposed that all teachers get a million dollar raise when schools open again.

Parents are understanding the struggle in a new way today. A child’s normal development includes defiance stages that they eventually outgrow. But we aren’t equipped to deal with it 24/7. We just have to pray that we survive. We’ll survive the pandemic…pray we survive our kids!

So imagine being in the presence of adults who acted like toddlers and teenagers for 40 years as you led them through the wilderness into a land God had prepared and promised for you. I don’t believe there is anything in scripture that mentions whether or not Moses was bald, but I would bet my life that he was. Surely he tore his hair out with all the pestering!

Exodus 17 (The Message)

 1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”

But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”

I can hear our teenagers saying, “Why do you DRAG me to church every Sunday? Church is so boring. I don’t get anything out of it.” Unfortunately, parents who give into this end up with young adults who’ve been taught that it’s OK to stop going to church if it isn’t up to their liking. Don’t make that mistake. We drag them to church because God deserves their presence, sullen or not. And making church attendance a non-negotiation reinforces the priority we put on worship as a family. Would you let your kid skip their school lessons because they’re “boring?” Probably not…

Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”

5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”

6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”

Kids will test you like it’s their JOB, just as the Israelites tested Moses and God. Even after their miraculous delivery from slavery and hardship in Egypt, they still complained.

But Moses kept his head, knowing God would provide. When we test God to see if he is with us, the answer is always yes. Water flows from his grace and mercy, and we are allowed to drink freely of its effervescence. The people of God never go thirsty.

So the next time you are tested, remember Moses. Keep your hair on and pray. Stand your ground on the important things and look to God to refresh you in the wilderness of schooling and raising children. You are not alone! God indeed is with us. Thanks be to God.

God’s People Never Go Thirsty Photo by Greg Whittle

Call to Worship

It’s worse in the morning.

Before you’re fully awake, before the first cup of coffee has had a chance to take root in your soul and your system, before the cobwebs fall from your brain, the worst moment of the day is when you wake up but you aren’t quite fully awake. Because some how overnight, you forgot. You forgot that something very bad happened. Then as waking-awareness comes, you suddenly remember.

This was my painful reality when my father and mother died. This was how I woke up every morning when my kids left for college. This happened to me every day when my daughter had just been diagnosed with cancer. If you have experienced loss of any kind, you know what I am talking about.

It goes like this: You wake up in your normal fog and immediately your brain goes through its usual check-list: I need coffee…what day is it…must get coffee…what do I have to do today…where is the coffee…is it really time to get up already…why am I not drinking coffee…can I hit the snooze button for another 10 minutes…then BAM. Oh, yes. I remember now. The Pandemic.

The scale and scope of this thing are still building toward some unknown peak. The economic trickle-down will be devastating.

Here on the Outer Banks we are spinning with angst. Will we have visitors this season? What if they bring the virus with them? Will we lose our foreign students who come every spring and fill important jobs that help our economy survive? Will our tiny little hospital be able to handle what’s about to happen?

Churches are closed. Financially, we will never recover. If we have just one snow day a year, we don’t make our budget for that year. This…well, this is something else entirely. What will we do?

ENOUGH. We can only take so much of this endless speculation and worry. It is grinding us down, and the truth is, we can’t control what comes next. So why let it control us?

Psalm 95 (New King James Version)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.


For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

Whenever the people of God have struggled, they have always known the remedy…to sing. Sing of God’s greatness, sing of his provision, sing choruses that remind us that he holds the deep places of the earth and the heights of the hills are in his hand. Just sing!

When we enter into worship, our minds are focused on God. Maybe this can be a time of perpetual worship, and that may be the one thing that gets us through it. On a normal day, our minds would be focused on getting tasks done, going to work, figuring out the kid’s schedules, making dinner, and getting the laundry and shopping done. Much of that is altered now. God is not.

The unchangeable nature of God is where we need to focus right now. Worship has to become a daily (hourly) thing, rather than once a week on Sunday. We can’t control our circumstances, but we can control our reactions and responses. When we worship, we hasten the joy. Now is the time to worship.

So when you wake up tomorrow and remember, do this. Sing in your mind. Enter into a moment of thanksgiving that WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS. Consider the ways that God is the King of all creation. Give praise to the Rock of our salvation. Bow down your fears and kneel before our Maker. REMEMBER WHO GOD IS. And pray through your tears.

Then get up, and realize that you are now one day closer to the end of this. Thanks be to God.

This reminder was brought to you by the Dunwoody Police, Dunwoody, Georgia..

The Sky is Falling

International travel is suspended.

March Madness is canceled.

Broadway is dark.

Disney is closed.

The stock market is down over 20%.

Colleges aren’t returning after Spring Break.

Collegiate sports are suspended.

Schools are closed.

Worship services are canceled.

Was Chicken Little right?

The threat of the coronavirus and the decisions that are forthcoming from the CDC and the WHO regarding gathering in large groups have brought an air of “the sky is falling” to our community. With breathtaking speed, twenty-four hours of announcement after announcement came pummeling though our devices and each one seemed worse than the last. The health of our nation and the economic impact of these decisions are unsure at this time, and we all feel the anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear that come with watching everything you know turn upside down in the span of a day.

Hebrews 12 (New International Version)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

PERSEVERANCE. It is good to remember on days like these that WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS. We will run this race together. We’ll fix our eyes on Jesus as we throw off the hinderance of fear and misinformation. And we will submit to authorities who are making the best decisions they can based on their studies and information, like it or not.

In what I think is a remarkable show of national unity, everything is shutting down so that we can collectively slow down and eventually stop the course of this virus until the last case has been reported. We’re doing this TOGETHER.

It will help us if we recall what Jesus endured, and realize that he is running this race with us. Even in our exhaustion, we can remember Jesus’ pain and suffering and find the strength to continue. Consider this:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

And don’t forget what happened to Chicken Little. She got bonked on the head by an acorn and concluded that the sky was falling. In her hysteria, she convinced Goosey Loosey, Henny Penny, and Ducky Lucky to join her in running around yelling that the sky was falling. Then came Foxy Loxy, who offered to take them to the King to report about the sky. So he took them one at a time into his fox den, where loud squawks and flying feathers ensued. They never returned. Pretty foxy, wouldn’t you say?

The moral? Keep your head about you. The sky is not falling. The fox den is a place of fear, so don’t go there. You’ll get entangled. Instead, follow the hygiene guidelines, don’t go into large crowds if you are in the vulnerable demographic, and just wait it out. And practice patience, perseverance, and love for one another.

This is bad, and it will get worse before it gets better. But it won’t last forever. Don’t lose heart! This too shall pass.

Calming Waves by Michelle Robertson

New-Born

I was (finally) cleaning out some old storage containers and I came upon a onesie that both my daughters wore. I saved it because it was my favorite. The puppy-flying-an-airplane motif seemed just right for a family of dog lovers whose Daddy is a pilot. I was glad to find it, because it made a perfect object for my children’s sermon last Sunday.

John 3 (The Message)

1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”

“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

This is a confusing story. We are confused, just as Nicodemus was confused. Explaining to the children on Sunday that my 5’10” daughter would never fit into this onesie again was pretty easy to understand. Obviously we aren’t meant to take a literal view of born again. So what was Jesus trying to get at?

When you think about it, becoming a new-born makes sense in the context of setting aside your adult preconceptions and seeing your relationship with God the way a newborn looks at her mother. Newborns are totally reliant on their parents for food, nurturing, learning, and life. Jesus is telling us to be new-born and rely solely on God for those things. We are to depend on him, not ourselves, for our daily needs. We are to look to him for what we need to learn, and not lean on our own understanding. We are to look to him to feed us both physically and spiritually.

5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

How can you look at your relationship with God through new eyes today? What is he trying to teach you?

God invites us to be formed by something we can’t see and touch…the Holy Spirit. When we submit to his power and authority in everything, when we put ourselves under the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, we can be born anew. Only then can we enter God’s kingdom. May the invisible move the visible in us toward new life.

New Born

The Trust Clause

We sat in a waiting room at the Mount Nittany hospital, waiting for the doctor to let us know that our daughter’s fibroid removal was complete and she was in Recovery. It was a relatively simple procedure, made a little more complicated due to the fact that the fibroid was just a tad too big to be removed laparoscopically, and so surgery was necessary. I had taken a week off of work to stay with her while she recovered from the incision, and planned to return home when she returned back to classes. Her Dad planned to return a few days after the surgery to go home to our other teenage daughter.

Then the words “cancerous tumor” came out of the doctor’s mouth, followed by “months of chemo” and “she’ll have to drop out of college indefinitely.” As my mind swirled with this unexpected horror, I suddenly heard a voice in my ear saying, “It’s OK, Bets. I’ve got this. You and Sarah are going to go on a journey that will teach you many things about me.” The peace that passes all understanding came over me, and I felt equipped for what came next.

God had offered us a trust clause in that moment. An unbreakable contract, a promise that was iron-clad, and a guarantee that our daughter would not only survive, but thrive. We grew closer to each other as a family and to God in those months of cancer treatment, and we learned how to TRUST, even when the things that were right in front of us (extreme nausea, hair loss, weight loss, isolation, additional surgeries) suggested otherwise.

Today Sarah has beautiful long hair, an amazing husband, two degrees, and three kids. God blessed us in abundance.

Romans 4 (The Message)

16 This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions andthose who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.

Not everyone gets to hear God speak words of reassurance in the moment of crisis. This is why developing a life of faith-based trust is so important.

In our scripture today, Paul is reminiscing about Abraham’s call to leave the unknown and settle his family in a land far away. In faith, Abraham agreed. With no evidence that it would turn out all right, he simply was obedient to the strange and disconcerting instruction. God spoke, and Abraham trusted. In doing so, he became the father of all nations, and was blessed to be a blessing.

Where is God calling you to trust him in the absence of any real evidence that doing so will work out well for you? Where is acting on faith rather than by guarantees the response he is looking for?

God’s promise comes as a gift. One promise we can all stand on is his promise to prosper us and not harm us, as he offers us a future with HOPE. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Whatever you are facing today, remember this: when we step out in faith, we never step out alone. Thanks be to God.

Survivor! by Sarah Haas Callahan