Forward! Crawl!

September 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –

“It’s a girl!”

I glanced up and searched my husband’s eyes. Joy shined through his tears. “She’s beautiful,” he whispered.

The nurse placed our newborn in my arms. My daughter’s bright eyes gazed at me. Though I doubt she knew what she was looking at, she seemed to be taking in everything.

Our precious daughter filled our lives with joy and awe. Sleeping was her nemesis. She fought us every time we laid her down for a nap. My husband would swaddle her and place his hand over her eyes, and at the same time he would massage her eyebrows. This process sometimes took an hour, and for his effort she would sleep for an hour or less.

We spent hours on the floor playing, rolling around, singing and engaging our daughter. When she began to coo at us, we would talk and read to her. During the early years of her life our schedules and focus seemed to revolve around her.

When the magical day came for her to leave the rug and venture forth, we were ready with camera in hand. Up on her knees she started rocking back and forth. Our world would never be the same again. Then the unthinkable happened. Our cute girl went backwards. For months we heard her scream out her frustration, as once again she had backed herself into a corner.

Spiritually, I too find myself crawling backwards. Sometimes I scream out my frustrations. Instead of listening to what God says about me, I fall into the old trap of caring and believing in what others say about me. This straying from God’s word causes my focus to veer from God’s truth. I begin to rely on other’s opinions of who I am and what I am worth.

At times I allow my focus to stray completely away from God. It is then that I have a sense of being backed into a corner, surrounded by doubt and self-loathing. I cry out for God to rescue me and surrender to Him these false beliefs.

Time and time again, God’s word carries me out of the corner of despair. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV).

I rediscover that I am loved. I am a conqueror not a quitter and I matter to God. The chapter goes on to say that nothing can separate me from God’s love.

Like my daughter, I need to practice keeping my eyes trained forward on God and His truth. Inch by inch becoming proficient at crawling forward toward my Heavenly Father and away from the snare of depending on others for my self-worth. God’s word is truth, and He created and called me to be His own. Focused on Him, I can move forward with confidence knowing that I belong to the Creator of the universe, and He loves me. I am one of His precious girls.

Who-What-Where-Why?

September 3, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –

Sweat rolled down my back as I watched my daughter, Moriah, give commands to Dasher, our three- year-old golden retriever mix, during her 4-H dog obedience class. They have worked together for two years training for the county and state fairs. Moriah’s teacher often uses Dasher as an example for different maneuvers and techniques to the other 4-H members.

One night during practice I sat on the sidewalk with the other 4-H mothers and watched our children train. Long shadows from the surrounding fir trees offered little escape from the sweltering heat.

Moriah and her class stopped to guzzle down water. Dasher flopped to the ground, his chest heaving. “He’s doing good today, isn’t he Mom?” Moriah asked.

“He’s too hot to do anything else,” I told Moriah as Dasher gazed at me with dark brown eyes.

“Here boy.” Moriah tried to get Dasher to drink, but he wouldn’t budge. “You’re right Mom, he’s too hot.” She lifted Dasher’s water bowl above his head and doused him with water.

Dasher jumped to his feet, eyes wide with wonder. I could just hear his poor puppy mind yelling, “Who? What? Where? Why?”

His mini soaking didn’t scar Dasher for life, but he definitely shied away from his water dish the rest of the night.

God is also in the dousing business, saturating me with His words. There are times in my life when I feel run down and exhausted. When I want to flop on the ground and pant like my dog, God pours out His word from heaven. I may be at church, or listening to the radio or talking with a friend, when God’s Spirit pours over me like water from a heavenly watering dish. During these moments all I can do is stop and sputter in amazement. The God of the universe, creator of all that is, has taken a minute to reach out to me and pour His love on my tired thirsty soul.

I praise the Lord that I live in America where I can go to a Bible-teaching church. I thank God I live in a society that currently allows Christian broadcasts to be aired daily. I am grateful for all my friends who have spoken God’s truth into my life. Each of these avenues are ways in which Isaiah 44:3 comes to fruition, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.” (NIV)

Like Dasher, I wonder, “Who? What? Where? Why?” And then I see my loving Heavenly Father (who) speaking his words (what) wherever I am (where) to show me His love (why). May God never stop dousing me with His words, and may I always be attentive to His subtle showers of love when my body and soul are thirsty.

Rainy Day Prayer

July 21, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –

Rain poured down like water gushing over Niagara Falls. A shiver ran down my spine as I glanced at the truck’s digital thermometer, 38 degrees. One last stop and we would be done with our chore list. Oh, why did I have to procrastinate and leave the dreaded weekly grocery shopping ‘till last? If only I had done the shopping first, then I wouldn’t have to get out of the car at all, just drive through at the bank, pharmacy and library. Now I had to hustle two small children and myself into the store in a freezing deluge. Great.

I glanced in the back seat, the kids were quietly examining their new library books. The umbrellas that often clutter up the floor of the car were AWOL. Figures, why do I have to be so neat and tidy and put things away in their proper place?

Frustration mounted in my heart. As I drove up and down the parking lot aisles I allowed a loud sigh to escape.

“Well, I guess we could shop later,” I grumbled.

“Why, Mommy?” my daughter asked. “All you have to do is pray for a spot.”

I snickered, “Yeah, for a spot close to the front door, right?”

“Amen,” my two children said in unison.

As I came to the head of the aisle, a car backed out of the first stall right in front of me. I pulled in, dumfounded. From the back seat my children said, “Thank-you, Jesus.”

“See, Mommy, God does listen to and answer our prayers,” my son offered.

“I guess Jesus doesn’t want us to get soaked,” said my daughter.

“Neither do I,” I laughed. “And children, thanks for reminding me to pray, even for the silly things.”

When I became a mom I knew I would do a lot of teaching, but today was my turn to be taught. God showed me through my children, how much He cares about even the little things in life. That night as we snuggled on my son’s bed to say our prayers, we thanked God again for the great parking space.

Funny when a parking space can bring to life that verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Climb On

May 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –

 

I sat in the lobby of our motel in Estes Park Colorado. The view of the mountains was glorious. I couldn’t believe this was the last day of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference I had been attending. For three days, I led a group of conferees in an early morning devotional. However, this morning I had a strange butterfly feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t nervous, rather, unsure. I didn’t think the topic I had prepared to share about was correct. I asked my thirteen-year-old daughter, Moriah, and my nine-year-old son, Christopher, to pray for me.

 

Twelve conferees found their seats in the lobby and after a moment of greetings, we prayed. One of my cherished friends, adopted Grandma Louise, began praying. I offered my own silent prayer.

 

“Amen.” As my mouth repeated the words, my mind went blank. Help me Father, I don’t know what you want me to share.

 

During the week I explained how J.O.Y. ought to be a Christian’s perspective in life. “J” stands for the journey we all take; the good and the bad. “O” stands for an optimistic outlook, because as a Christian, we are Heaven Bound. So no matter what happens in life we should look ahead eagerly. “Y” stands simply for “Yes.” We are to say, “Yes, God. Your way and not mine.”

 

I stared at those gathered around me. My tongue felt weighted down as if stuck in a pair of cement galoshes. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my son’s hand raise into the air. Oh boy. I don’t needs this. I can’t even focus on what to say, and now this.

 

The butterfly feeling returned, and a wave of reassurance washed over me. “Yes, Christopher,” I said.

 

“Well,” he began, “I was just thinking how our Christian life is like rock climbing on a steep mountain cliff.”

 

“How so?” I asked. All eyes turned toward him as I watched in awe as God used my son to convey the morning’s message.

 

“When you start climbing, you have a harness and rope on that give you a sense of security. But in fact, these things are the sins in our lives that we hold to instead of trusting fully in Jesus. To say, “Yes to Jesus,” we need to be willing to take the rope and harness off. When we do, we fall down to the bottom of the mountain and land in a pool of Jesus’ blood. We are washed clean by His blood, forgiven and strengthened by His grace to take the next step and climb on.”

 

Christopher paused and looked around. All eyes were on him. Some people nodded, others smiled. Grandma Louise encouraged him, “Go on.”

 

“As we begin our climb with Jesus as our harness, the rocks that we are stepping and grabbing onto become little Bibles. When we falter or feel lost or weary, we can pull out God’s word and get His advice or strategy or strength for continuing.”

 

More nods of understanding. Christopher shared how reading scripture daily was needed to strengthen our spiritual climbing muscles. He also said during the tough, scary, unsure times, we need to grab hold of God’s word and submerge ourselves in His presence. The Bible becomes a spiritual energy bar.

Christopher received hugs and encouragement from those gathered in the lobby. Wrapping the week up, I prayed that everyone would walk optimistically through their lives’ journey and never give up but continue to “Climb On.”

 

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV).

God’s Ways

May 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne Johnson –

 

I ran to find the ringing phone and breathlessly answered. “Hey sweetie,” my mom said. “Is Matt home?” It was an odd question. My husband Matt and my mother get along well, but in the ten years we had been married, she had never called to talk to him.

“Yeah, why?” I asked.

“I want to talk to both of you,” she said.

We continued our conversation as I searched around the house for Matt. When I couldn’t find him inside, I headed to the garden. “Here he is,” I declared, “playing in the dirt.”

Matt looked up from the row he was weeding. “What’s up?”

“My mom wants to talk to both of us.”

I put the phone on speaker, “Okay Mom, we’re both here.”

I heard my mom clear her throat before she started. “I just received news from the doctor. He found a cancerous lump in my breast. I need to have surgery and radiation soon.”

My eyes teared. I felt Matt’s arms encircle me. Leaning against him I found the strength to ask my mom the myriad of questions that rolled like a tumbleweed through my mind. We talked for a while.

That night Matt and I discussed my mom’s condition. The next morning I called and invited her to come and do her radiation and recuperating at my house. Apparently, she had thoroughly talked the situation over with my dad and older sister. They had discussed many options, and reasoned that mom should go to Seattle and stay with my older sister, Maria.

I attempted to persuade my mom to change her mind, “Maria’s not a nurse,” I said.

“No, but you have two small children,” Mom replied.

“Maria has two kids,” I countered.

“They aren’t toddlers.”

“But…” I tried to protest.

“Sweetie, are you really worried about where I’ll be, or about the fact that I have cancer?” Mom asked.

I felt like a cyclone had sucked all the air out of my lungs. My chest hurt, and no words could escape. I bawled.

“Annie,” Mom said softly, “God’s ways are different than ours. I don’t like that I have cancer either, but we must have faith and trust God.”

“I know.”

“Listen, I really think that being in Seattle is the right thing. Everything is going to be okay,” Mom stated.

Her confidence and faith strengthened me. After I hung up, I grabbed my Bible and found the scripture in Isaiah 55:8 that my mom had referenced. I prayed that God would grant me His peace and assurance, and that through this His perfect way would be revealed. Seven years later, when Maria lost her husband to bladder cancer, my niece and nephew turned to my mom for support. If she hadn’t spent those three months with my sister, the deep connection between grandma and grandchildren wouldn’t have happened.

God didn’t cause these events, but through them His good and perfect will shone through. In the middle of the battle it is hard to see the path ahead, but knowing God’s ways are best, I find strength to face life’s challenges.

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