Photo by Samuel Lopes on Unsplash

This was written as part of a writing challenge I participated in to stretch my writing:  Five Minute Friday’s 31 DAYS OF FIVE MINUTE FREE WRITES. This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes, though for this one, I did not limit myself to 5 minutes, because this is my story. The word for the day was “Memory.”

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2

The memory is just as clear as if it happened yesterday. I had just finished reading yet another Christian novel. I had only selected the book in the first place because I had accompanied my mother to a Christian bookstore, and she had generously offered to purchase any two books I wanted. 

She was a new believer in Jesus, and being a voracious reader herself, was overjoyed to find bookstores filled with books from authors who shared the same belief. I would have considered myself a believer as well. I believed in God, after all.

The first time we entered the store, I gravitated toward the fiction section, surprised to find an extensive selection. It became a routine, visiting this bookstore every few weeks, always with her offer to purchase any two books that I desired.

I was immediately both skeptical and intrigued. I believed in God, in Jesus even, but books about Him? In a fictional setting? What kind of craziness was this? Was God okay with it? Even more astonishing, the characters who called themselves Christians prayed, and it was as if they were actually talking to God, face to face. Who had ever heard of talking to Him like that, like He was a real person, almost like He was near and could hear us? And who had ever heard of talking to Jesus as if He was their best friend?  

I loved reading, especially if there was a little romance thrown in, so I continued reading. On this particular day, I put the book away, perplexed. What would make anyone so audacious as to believe they could actually talk to God, and believe that He would answer, as if He really cared? Ah, that must be the answer then. It was just fiction. Still, were there people who really prayed like that, I wondered?

I looked around my small apartment, where I lived alone, and my eyes landed on the television that my father had given me. It seldom worked when his boss gave it to him, worked even less when I received it, and it barely worked now. It hadn’t even turned on in months. Nevertheless, I pushed the power button on this old television, and to my surprised delight, the screen lit up and figures appeared before my eyes. 

It was Easter week, and the station was broadcasting a movie about the life of Jesus, Yeshua. Actors brought the story from the Bible to life. It was difficult to understand the words Jesus spoke as He taught the people who followed Him. I was intrigued by how He challenged the Jewish leaders who tried to trap Him and turn the people against Him. I was awed and amazed at the miracles Jesus performed everywhere He went. He seemed like a man, a human, like us. The man in the books I had been reading was there in front of me, and I was captivated. 

I watched as they falsely accused Him, and then beaten. It wasn’t real, though, I told myself. It was like the novels I had been reading, fictional stories about Jesus. I believed He had died for people’s sin, sure, and I supposed He had gone to heaven afterwards, but I had never really thought about it, nor had I ever heard about Him suffering. No, it wasn’t real, I declared.

My eyes were drawn back to the television. The man on the screen was being nailed to a cross made of rough wood. Huge spikes were being pounded through His hands. I watched Him cry out in excruciating pain, as the hammer blows continued. This man, who was innocent and had helped so many people, was suffering agonizing pain. And then, He turned His head and looked at me, and time froze.

As I stared back, I was undone, because I knew. I knew it was true, every bit of it. I knew He had suffered willingly, painfully taking the punishment that my sin deserved.

I fell to the floor in a heap, weeping uncontrollably. The weight of this knowledge was more than I could bear. I had caused Him to suffer. Me. I, who had believed that I could do anything I wanted because God just wanted me to be happy. I had caused this. The burden of my sin would not allow me to do other than lay on the floor, prostrate, as I wept in grief and remorse. I could not undo the wrongs I had committed, knowingly or unknowingly. Through tears, I begged for forgiveness, over and over. I thanked Him for taking my place, for taking the punishment that I now knew I deserved. I lay there, a sobbing mess, until there were no more tears to cry. Gradually, my regret gave way to gratitude for what He had endured for me, and I knew I had been forgiven. Grief gave way to peace, and I got up from the floor a changed person.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

I was different after that day, and those books that had started it all became a kind of example for me as I learned how to talk to Him and walk with Him. The books may have been fiction, but they were based on truth, and that truth set me free.

That television never turned on again.

“And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

The Power of a Testimony

Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

“I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I will not restrain my lips, O LORD, You know. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.” Psalm 40:9-10

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor asked me to give a testimony in both the traditional and contemporary services in our church. Gulp! 

Years ago, I was set free from a lifetime of fear (you can read about that here), and I told the Lord then that I would give a testimony anytime the opportunity presented itself. After all, doesn’t scripture say in 1 Peter, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence”?

To say that speaking in front of both congregations was taking me outside of my comfort zone is an understatement. I prefer writing my testimonies on a keyboard than voicing them, but how could I not share what He had done for me? This is the testimony I gave, though I am providing more details than I shared in church because of the allotted time I had.

“I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” Psalm 22:22

Our family, like many others, experienced Covid first-hand during the recent holidays. The symptoms were relatively minor, but it left a few of us with lingering issues. Two of my adult children sometimes had difficulty breathing, getting winded easily with the slightest physical exertion. For me, it was daily headaches, ranging from mild to migraine, and nothing relieved the pain.

A couple of weeks ago, the prayer team assembled at the front of the church after the service as usual, but I did not go forward. The thought just didn’t cross my mind. 

Parishioners began leaving, and it surprised me when one of the prayer team members approached me and said the Lord had nudged him to ask me how he could pray for me. The Lord had nudged him? For me? I contemplated his words, and then asked for prayer for my two children with Covid issues, not thinking about my headaches. As this servant of God began praying, the Lord prompted me to mention my headaches. When I did, he called another prayer team member over and they placed their hands on me and prayed for my family and me. I thanked them and left.

The following day, for the first time in over a month, I awoke without a headache, and I have had no headaches since that time. Praise God! 

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15

God is so good, isn’t He? Pray. Pray often. Pray for your family, your friends, your community… but don’t forget to pray for yourself!

“And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalm 103:1-5

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

He is Enough

Ethiopian Church.jpg

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 36:7

I so long for the simpler, easier days.  I long for the days when my house didn’t need repairing.  I long for the days when the floors were easier to keep clean (though we love them all, we had fewer pets).  I long for the days before my youngest son went to live with his father in another country.  I long for the days when I was debt-free.

Those days were good.  After the emotional roller coaster of divorce and the slow but steady re-building of our lives, it was good…peaceful…and as I clung to the Lord, our relationship grew deeper and sweeter.

I look around me now, still in the midst of a house renovation that seems to be taking forever, missing my son more than I ever thought possible, and I have to wonder…what happened to my peace, and my joy, and my contentment?  When did they leave, and how had I not noticed their absence before?

Pondering this, I cry out to the Lord, “When did You stop being enough?”

The answer comes swiftly.  It was when my focus shifted from Him to my circumstances.


Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31

Peter went from walking on the water…walking on the water…to looking at his surroundings.  He saw Jesus, Yeshua, walking on the water, and he did the same…until he looked away, and his eyes told him that what he was doing wasn’t possible under those conditions.

Did you catch what happened next?  When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began sinking, and when he called out for help, Jesus immediately reached out for him.  Immediately.

Isn’t that so reassuring?  What He did for Peter, He will surely do for us.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5

The Lord fills our lives with good things.  Family, friends, pets, jobs, and homes are good.  We enjoy these gifts, and thank Him for them. If we’re not careful, though, we can allow them to become idols without even realizing it.

You don’t think that can happen?  I didn’t, either, until the word divorce came up and I was suddenly faced with the possibility of separation from my youngest child.  The Lord was so gracious to me.  He showed me my heart, and it wasn’t pretty, even though it already belonged to Him.  I had to give my son completely to the Lord, even if it meant separation from him.  It wasn’t easy, and I cried many tears, but I felt such freedom afterwards, and peace like I had never known before.  In His mercy and kindness, the Lord allowed my son to live with me for the next five years.

When we allow anything to take the place of our Savior, when we hold on to anything tighter than we hold on to Him, we err.

The Lord allows it, too.  He allows us to fret and fuss and become miserable until one day we reach the end of ourselves and know we cannot continue down this path any longer.  And so we repent.  We return to the lover of our souls, no matter what we have to let go of in the process.  His peace, joy, and contentment then return.

For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. Psalm 131:2

Is there anything you’re holding onto tighter than you should?  Is your focus on your surroundings or someone other than the Lord?  May I encourage you to let it go, and readjust your focus?

Jesus, Yeshua, is enough.  He is more than enough.  He is truly all we need, and in the end, our relationship with Him is what will matter.  Truly.  Call out to Him, and He will come, immediately, and stretch out His hand to you and rescue you.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Lord, thank You for Your patience with us.  Please keep a tight grip on us so that we won’t wander, but when we do, thank You for bringing us back and reminding us how deeply loved we are, and how freely You forgive us when we ask.  Help us to let go of the things that hinder us, or keep us from fully following You.  Help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You, for You are more than enough.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30