July 31, 2020

Guest Post - The Clarity of God's Whisper by Wally Pohlmann

Walking the game trails in the hills of the Okanagan valley, I had “jumped” several deer. I was only able to gain a glimpse of my prey as they casually sauntered away.

There was no indication they were there, no sound that I heard before they decided to leave my presence. They had been aware of me for a while, I was sure, staying put until I got too close.

I had a problem. I was loud, and the trails were covered with small broken branches, dry pine needles, and leaves from the low bush. On some of the hillsides, the rocks seemed to constantly fall down the slope, gathering friends along the way, loudly welcoming my arrival. I was so loud I wondered if I could ever get close enough to the game I chased when all I heard were my own footsteps and the scrape of branches on my clothes. It was true the rocks and trees can cry out. They shouted about my presence to every deer in the area as I walked, climbed, and stumbled my way along the hillside.

Mid-morning, I took some time to sit on an old stump for a breather in the middle of an old clearing, cut many years before. While having a drink from the thermos I carried and a bit of cheese to eat, I watched a fog rise from the valley. The mist slowly climbed the hill towards the clearing, and I remember thinking it looked thicker than the proverbial pea soup.

As I sat on my stump this fog continued up the hill towards me until I was enveloped in the milky white of some of the thickest cloud I have ever been in. I could see, possibly, eight feet of the ground before it disappeared into the white nothingness. To move would not be wise, as I was aware of the slope and the sheer drops that accompanied my noisy walk when I could see, and at that moment I could not. So, I had another cup of coffee.

While I sat, I noticed the sounds of the morning which had followed me seemed louder, more distinct. I could not only hear the squirrel that seemed to dog my footsteps all morning, I could almost point out the branch he presently watched me from, even in the state of blindness I found myself in.

Minutes into this forced interlude I heard the footsteps of a deer coming in my direction, and even though I knew it would need to come within the eight-foot radius where I could see, I still prepared my rifle. On the steps came. My prey came closer and closer. I listened as the mule deer hesitated, then took a few more steps. I thought that if I just had arms that were ten feet long, I would be able to touch it. I did not have the arms, and I did not get a shot at the deer, as the sound of his footsteps receded. The fog lifted slowly, and I found myself once again alone in the middle of the clearing. The tracks of the deer were right there in front of me at about fifteen feet, and I had seen nothing.

This is how God has spoken to me as I have stumbled and staggered through life, as much a rookie Christian as I was a rookie hunter then. I make too much noise as I stumble around in blindness.

When I was fired, the polite term is laid off, for the first time in my life, we had two mortgages, teenage kids, and even when we cut every expense we could, we were still giving out more than we were taking in. I spent a time or two in the garage making more noise, again.  I tromped around in my self-pity, frustration, and anger. “Why me?” I prayed, loudly. “I considered, and I took the risk I thought you were asking me to take, and now what will I do?” I yelled a lot, and then I fell into a deep, dark hole. I stopped yelling in the garage and began the noisy outcry called depression. The noise I speak of is the constant buzz of a mosquito in one’s ear. It was made up of whining, crying, bargaining, and negotiating with God about what I thought should now happen since God hadn’t held up His part of the bargain I thought we had entered into, all wrapped up in a neat package called “What now?”

I was once again on the hunt, but everything I tried was spooked before I could even get my sights on it as I traipsed around in my mind. And then it happened. I sat on another stump and watched the fog once again roll in until I could no longer see anything, but it was then that the noises became defined. I could no longer move. I simply had to sit quietly until this fog lifted and I could once again proceed on my journey. But it was also in that moment that I heard God’s voice. He approached, just as the sound of that deer’s footfalls suddenly made their appearance and grew louder and clearer until I felt I could reach out and touch Him.

I still make too much noise. I walk too loudly and scrape through the bushes of life, announcing where I am. The stones I kick still rattle down the incline of life as I struggle to climb up. But I stop more now than I ever have, and I listen more. I find my voice is also still too loud while my whispering thoughts must sound like a prairie freight train rolling past God’s ears. So, he waits. He waits until I stop talking, stop walking with my purpose, stop stumbling around in my life so certain I know the path He has for me. That is when I can hear God give me the direction I so desperately need.

So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle Blowing.                                                          1 Kings 19:11-12 (NASB)
Just as Elijah found that God is not in the windstorm, the earthquake, or the fire, but He was in the quiet whisper meant for Elijah’s ears, so too, I have found myself back on that hillside from so long ago, wrapped in the silent white of God’s presence, listening to His voice as He draws ever closer to me. When I stop to listen, and when I write, I hear, and I realize I am the windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire.

Wally Pohlmann pastors a small-town church in northern British Columbia. He enjoys hunting, golf, motorcycles, and always has time to share a coffee.

July 30, 2020

Extra Ordinary - Guest Post by Brenda J. Wood

Our goal this month is to write about a time God gave us extraordinary directions. I see the words like this.; Extra Ordinary. God directs us moment by moment in a million ordinary things, but we don’t bother with them because they seem so teeny-tiny.  If we paid close attention, we would notice the multiple possibilities that God sets ahead of all of us.
Instead we missed them or even worse, we flat out disobeyed them. We waited for that big moment when thunder rolled and angels fluttered overhead, dropping scrolls of wisdom at our feet. Until then we refused to even flutter an eyelash in his direction.
King David who wrote: Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my keen and firm Strength, who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight. (Psalm 144;1, AMP)
Now he might have been worried about his next big battle with Saul. But from my point of view, he’s talking about my fingers with pen or keyboard at hand. And so, I write; the big epic block buster of the year? Nope, at least not yet!
Over the years, I’ve written multiple smaller pieces, several books and blogs. They aren’t necessarily earth shattering, but they stay true to one goal and one goal only. My one goal is to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Was that a stargazer moment of extraordinary? I can’t say that it was, really. I can honestly say that every time an opportunity presented itself, I moved forward.
Did they all work out? No. However, I learned to say yes in spite of fear. Because of that, I’ve written, produced and hosted numerous television and radio shows, acted, guest blogged, taught, preached and presented at conferences.
Did I know how to do all that? No, not at first. But I did and still do believe that if God opens a door, it’s my job to walk through it, or at least step in the right direction.
Perhaps you think your fingers aren't doing anything worthwhile. You yearn for children to grow up or you struggle with a job you thoroughly dislike.  You crave time for that big epic you intend to write.
Take heart. God knows what our fingers are up to. He's teaching them how to do their job the best way possible. He trains us up to do our best for His glory. When we live with that in mind, every one of our fighting fingers will win the war. Our job is to walk through the doors he sets before us.
Call that ordinary if you like, but the truth is that the ordinary is quite extraordinary when Christ is in charge.
Brenda J Wood 
Author, speaker and Hopestreamradio.com contributor, Brenda J Wood has been an author and motivational speaker for more years than she cares to admit. She is known for her common sense wisdom, sense of humour and quirky comments. She calls herself the ‘ABC girl’ because she’s survived and written about the ‘ABC’s of abuse, bulimia, cancer, death, entertainment, food, gluttony and humour. Since she’s written books on each of these topics, she hopes the ‘E’ word of her next book stands for something like Energy or Entertainment, but definitely not Exams or Epsom salts!

A few of her favourite things include grandchildren, guest speaking, writing, sewing, a warm fire, a good book, and pounding the pavement on early morning walks. Brenda has authored many books but is very excited about the upcoming - My Affair with Cancer, a fund raiser for the Georgian Bay Cancer Centre in Penetanguishene. Her other books include:
The Food Lover’s Devotional, food for both body and soul
Gentle Humour with Jesus, devotions for the light-hearted
The Pregnant Pause of Grief, the first trimester of widowhood
Meeting Myself, snippets from a binging and bulging mind.
Heartfelt Devotionals, 366 devotions for common sense living.
God, Gluttony & You
Brenda’s Children’s books include:
The Big Red Chair –a book for grieving children
Mother Peebles Problem Pebbles
The Plate Family Dishes Up

July 29, 2020

Enter Fall Contest!

Have you submitted your entry yet? 

Our members only Fall Contest is for all writers, regardless of experience. It’s a safe place to try a new genre and get professional feedback on your unpublished work.

                  Poetry (any style, up to 40 lines)
                  Devotional – 300 words or less including Scripture
                  Adult Fiction – 1500 words or less
                  Nonfiction to Conference Theme – 1500 words or less  “Writing with Unflinching Boldness” (Acts 28:31)

Deadline: Entries must be emailed to contests@inscribe..org by midnight, September 1st, your local time.  See website for specific email instructions. 

Prizes: $100 for first; $50 for second; $30 for third
(InScribe may require a minimum of four entries per category to award 1st; a minimum of five to award 2nd; a minimum of six to award 3rd. The more entries that come in, the more prizes that will be awarded. We do not want to close any categories due to insufficient entries! Encourage other members to enter!)

$30 per entry, which includes professional commentary on each piece.

Free entry for ages 18 and under

Publication in FellowScript or online for award-winning pieces

All winners will be announced at the Conference September 25-26th  and in FellowScript.

Cheques, commentaries, and certificates will be sent after Conference.

For more detailed guidelines, rubrics and payment, please go to website:)  https://inscribe.org/contests/fall-contest/

July 28, 2020

Get Out of Town! - Bruce Atchison

I heard no voice nor felt a powerful compulsion. Leaving Edmonton's noise and rude neighbours behind made logical sense after suffering seven years of churlish neighbours and flatulent vehicles ruining my repose.

Of course it was God who arranged everything. My mother was in the mall one day in April of 2000. Seeing a new real estate office, she began chatting with a woman there.

I happened to be talking to Mom on the phone about my perennial neighbour problems when she mentioned her conversation with the realtor. That's when I asked her for the agent's name and phone number.

The woman I contacted showed me around several little towns. The houses there were either too expensive or not what I needed.

In the interim, I prayed that if God wanted me to buy a house in a small town, I would also need access to a grocery store and post office. I also asked for a house with no nearby neighbours.

Radway was the perfect place for me. The house I toured had no neighbours close by and it sat across the railway tracks. It had been on the market with no offers put on it since 1997.

Another of the Father's plans fell into place when I received a large payment from Ottawa. The union filed a court case against the federal government because clerical workers weren't paid as much as similar workers. The court ruled in their favour and I immediately put the money in my account.

And since nobody put an offer on the house after a few days, I bought it. Most of the money paid for my down payment and I also put in a septic field so the tank wouldn't need pumping every two weeks.

After twenty wonderful years, I still love this little house. I can write and rest without noisy neighbours and city traffic assaulting my ears. Like Abram, I found my "promised land."

July 27, 2020

Every Day Extraordinary by Lorilee Guenter

At what point does the ordinary become extraordinary? A prompting to send an encouragement note to a friend may be an ordinary event until you hear it was just what she needed to hear at that point in time. Then there are the promptings to pray specifically for someone or something unrelated to the activity you are engaged in - including sleeping. Many individual events that appear ordinary at first glance are anything but. Instead they are evidences of recognising and listening to the voice of the Great Shepherd's guiding.
Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that something needs to be big to be extraordinary. The stories of the people recorded in Hebrews eleven's hall of faith fuel this idea. Once I dig in and study them the picture shifts. Daniel didn't shut the lion's mouths. No, he prayed following his normal pattern even once it became illegal. God provided the rescue. Elijah prayed for rain to stop  and then for fire from heaven but he also hid in a cave afraid for his life. These were ordinary men who recognised the power and prompting of God. In both cases the commonality is prayer.
When I consider how God has led me or used me in extraordinary ways, I place myself in the camp of the ordinary. Then I recall the time I was reading my Bible outside and the wind caught the pages. I turned back to where I had been reading only to have the same thing happen again. When I read the passage the wind turned to, there was encouragement and challenge the I needed at that time. Then I think of the times words are as clear as if I am reading them off the page that I recognise as words of encouragement to share with a friend, or words for a story I am compelled to write. Most often, I see the Father's direction in the everyday events that are surrounded by prayer and by listening.
My response should be to follow and see what God has planned. Unfortunately, like Elijah did in fear, I tend to hide in a cave of my own making. It takes risk and faith to put words on paper and even more to let others read them. Risk and faith are themes that show themselves in my writing and I know the only way out of the cave I have been in is through the extraordinary tool of prayer God has given us. It is through prayer I have the faith to take the risks. now I need to remember that every time I am tempted to retreat to the cave.

July 26, 2020

Conversations with God - Marnie Pohlmann

“People who say they hear God’s voice are crazy!”
I looked up from my desk and responded to my co-worker, who had come in from dealing with a drug-abusing client.
“Um, some are, yeah. God speaks to me all the time.”
“But not in an audible voice.”
“Well,” I said hesitantly, “Sure. In a lot of ways. Sometimes with a hit upside the head.”
“But he doesn’t tell you to do crazy things.”
“God guides me, and some people might think the path is crazy. I am married to a pastor, you know, and I do work here.”
We laughed. He turned to go back on the road.
“Remind me sometime to tell you about when I met God,” I called after him.

That conversation was a while ago now, but I have often pondered how I would respond should the subject come up again. Has God audibly spoken to me? How does God speak to me? The evil one tries to imitate God, and I sometimes act like I am God, so do I know what I hear is God’s voice, God’s direction?

My memory of salvation at a summer Bible camp includes the form of a man sitting beside me, explaining this was my choice, and if I chose to follow Him, He would never leave me. I understood during that conversation the choice did not mean a change in my situation, but I knew I would somehow be protected with His presence in my life.

Jesus? An angel? Perhaps just the imagination of a child creating a memory among so many missing memories? Whatever your theology on the matter, God’s invitation was and is clear. Follow Him. He will never leave you, and His presence makes all the difference.

I’ve also heard God speak to me through songs. Even when I strayed down a stony path, God reminded me through an often-played song, of His presence as He waited for me to follow Him once again.

Many years later the words of a different song began a conversation between God and me about what the song meant at that moment. “It is Well with My Soul.” One of my husband’s favourite hymns began to play as I drove along.

“So, God,” I asked anxiously, “does that song mean the ambulance I just saw is for Wally? Is it well with his soul? Because he is now with you or because he’s alright and not hurt?”
“What did I tell the disciples?”
“That the other disciple’s story is none of their concern.”
“So, Wally’s wellness is none of my business?”
“Right. Is it well with your soul?”
Comfort washed away my anxiety (most of it). Yes, no matter what happened to Wally on that motorcycle, my soul was well because God was ever-present with me.

Three years later, I sat alone in the hospital waiting room. I hadn’t read that day’s devotional, so I opened the app on my phone.
            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. (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)
“So, after the mammogram and the magnified mammogram, this ultrasound will confirm they are looking for cancer?” I asked.
“Yes, there is cancer.”
“Okay. As long as you are holding my hand.”
The peace at that moment was beyond anything I have known since. God was with me and that would make all the difference.

The story was different after another three years as I stood beside a hospital bed, weeping.
“God, please don’t take my man. I need him. I don’t know how to live without him.”
“This choice is not yours.”
“I know. But I’m not strong enough to handle this,” I argued.
“Am I with you?”
“Am I with him?”
“Will you trust me?”
“I can’t fight you. If you want him now, I know it will be right whether I like it or not.” That was as far as I was willing to go at that moment, but I felt the Lord’s arms wrap around me as He stood beside me once again.

It took a long time, years, to give in to God on this. Even though Wally’s cancer and complications did not kill him, and I still enjoy life with him beside me, (40 years next spring!) I was almost resentful that God would treat him - no, me - like that. The fear of abandonment was deep and brought up all sorts of hidden emotions and thoughts; unhealthy thoughts that were buried deep that I once again needed to work through to separate the lies from the Truth. It’s not an easy battle, and it continues to wage on.

Isn’t that the point, though? God is with me and will walk beside me, and even carry me, through this earthly life. Jesus has saved me, so my soul is well. The Spirit does teach me Truth. Yet the question remains and is probably the most important aspect of hearing God’s voice.

How can we be sure we are hearing God’s voice?

We are very good at wanting to go our own way, finding any justification to convince ourselves it is God’s guidance. However, God has provided practical tests that will confirm or deny that we are in God’s will, responding to His guidance, and hearing His voice.

Test 1.
Does what we are hearing line up with Scripture? First and foremost, do we know what God has said in His Word so the Spirit of God can remind us of God’s view? The Bible has been preserved throughout time for a reason.

Test 2.
Have we prayed? Have we opened a conversation with God, believing He will respond to us? How God responds may look different for each of us. Am I listening for how He might talk to me?

Test 3.
Only after talking to God and considering His Word do we go to others for their opinion. And not just any other. This is not a time to collect a team of yes-men, but to seek out other Believers who you respect and trust to ask discerning questions about what you are hearing.

Test 4.
The last test - not to be used before the others - is circumstance. Have you laid out a fleece, and perhaps even laid it out again, as Gideon did in Judges 6? God can use our situation to lead us, to open and close doors, but I reiterate, do not depend on your circumstances to be God’s voice. Know His voice, first.

“Only crazy people hear God’s voice.”
Call me crazy, then. 
Do you hear God calling your name? 

I hear God’s voice. Do you?

Marnie Pohlmann writes to share the difference made in the life of one who listens to God's voice. Hard of hearing at times, she continues to learn Truth.

July 25, 2020

God and the Goldfinch by Sharon Heagy

Image result for goldfinch pictures
While picking saskatoon berries one morning, a unique birdsong captured my attention. I could hear the bird but was unable to spot it.  Its song soothed my senses and blessed away my stress.

Birds have always had a special place in my heart and I watch them with keen interest. How do they fly? How do they sing? How they can eat their own weight each day and not gain an ounce? How can a sparrow stand outside in minus 53C windchill eating seeds and not turn into a ‘sparrowcicle’? They are miraculous. Perhaps it is my fascination with birds that led me to my request of God.

It was at a significant low point in my life.  Terrible circumstances surrounded me.  The passing of a two-year-old girl, a family friend who died in her mother’s arms, was particularly crushing. 

In my own family I was struggling as my kids were making destructive choices despite fervent prayers, leading me to believe I was a lousy mother and an ineffective follower of Christ rather than realizing they had free will.  Spiralling down I crashed into a crisis of faith.  There was no light. There was no hope. I questioned everything I believed, even to the existence of God himself. Was I just nuts? Had He ever spoken to me? 

            Sitting on my deck, weeping and crying I called out to God from the depths of despair, not even knowing if I knew Him anymore. “Are you there?” I railed. “Do you care? Please, God, show me. Right or wrong I am asking for a sign. I’m desperate, Lord. Please. Please just send one goldfinch to the yard right now and I will know the truth.”

            In the receding wake of shuddering sobs, I waited. Waited as the sky grew dark and the birds went to bed. No goldfinch. No promise. No answer. I went to bed devastated and exhausted, feeling deserted and alone. Sleep was elusive and when it did come it was restless and short.

Dawn greeted me with puffy eyes and a groggy head.  Leaden feet padded their way into the kitchen where I leaned weakly on the counter. Blankly my gaze came to rest over the windowsill.

I froze for a moment, then started to melt. There, outside my window, was not one goldfinch but an entire flock! They covered the feeders, the hedges, the guy wire on the power pole. It was an explosion of yellow. Never have I seen so many goldfinches in one place and never have I seen that many since. 

            In that moment I knew without a doubt that God had answered my prayer.  Hope was restored, faith was resurrected and I knew the truth.

            Now when circumstances challenge and test my faith I know He is with me. The following verse girds me and gives me hope:

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 19-23NIV)

     This is the direction I received to find my way out of the pit and I want you to know that if you too find yourself looking for a pinpoint of light in the darkness, be encouraged. He is right there beside you and will help you find your way. And if there is any way that I can pray for you, let me know. It would be an honour and a privilege. We are in this journey together.

July 24, 2020

Shrinking Violet, Shouting Stone ~ Valerie Ronald

One of my earliest childhood memories is the scent of clean cotton warmed by my mother’s skin. Her full skirts offered a shy little girl a safe place to hide from inquisitive adults trying to engage her in conversation. I remember being just the right height to grasp the fullest part of her skirt and roll myself into her side. Childish logic told me if I couldn’t see the person trying to speak to me then I wouldn’t have to answer. If I was particularly reticent, my mother had to disentangle me from her skirt before she could move.

Nowadays I prefer to call myself an introvert rather than shy, although I still find it difficult to extend myself to strangers and social gatherings often exhaust me rather than energize. I am quite content with my own company much of the time. Deliberate socialization is something I need to work at. I admit when COVID-19 hit, I secretly rejoiced in having permission to stay at home. Not to say I don’t enjoy people but prefer a few close friends or family to unfamiliar crowds. 

How did I end up here? I asked myself the first time I stepped up to a microphone to address a large group of women. That question and the memory of hiding in my mother’s skirts often comes to mind before I speak publicly. The response to the question is what gives me courage to unroll from the skirt of shyness and speak with confidence. Not confidence in myself, for like Moses, I am not eloquent and my shyness often makes me slow of speech and tongue. My confidence is in God, whose promise to Moses is the same to me, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Ex.3:12)

 God has chosen to place me in opportune situations to share His good news.

 ~ Good news too important to keep to myself. 

~ Good news emboldening me to look each person in the eye with a holy joy bubbling up inside as I tell what it means to me.

~ Good news able to make all the difference in the lives of my listeners. 

I speak about the Gospel - the good news of forgiveness, hope, joy and new life found in a relationship with Jesus, my living Savior. God’s extraordinary direction comes through opportunities to tell His story and mine to guests at Christian Women’s Clubs throughout Canada and the United States.

 In Luke 19 the Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing His disciples to shout accolades of praise to Him as made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 
“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40 NIV) 

 If God can use inanimate stones to proclaim the deity of His Son, I know He can use a reticent introvert like myself. He is the only reason this shrinking violet has become a shouting stone. No cause or campaign could stir me to speak like I love to speak about Jesus. When I speak about Him I feel His passion giving strength to my voice, His truth enlivening my words, His love shining from my eyes upon the people listening. I am no preacher, but I know intimately what He has done for me and what He means to me and I cannot help but share it. Occasionally God gives me the gift of hearing how some part of my story was influential in a woman giving her heart to Him. This fills me with abundant joy and praise for the One who saved her. 

 Sometimes when I am giving a talk I experience a sort of “out-of-body” view of the whole scene and have an internal laugh. It reminds me of the story of someone finding a turtle on a fence post. How did a creature unable to climb vertically arrive atop a fence post except by someone putting it there? Only God could take a shy introvert, flood her with exciting news about Himself and then put her on multiple “fence posts” from which to share it with many others needing to hear. 

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus.” 
- 2 Corinthians 4:13 - 14 NIV 

 Valerie Ronald lives in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. She is a graduate of Vancouver's Langara College journalism program, and has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, public speaker and bookstore employee. Valerie finds being a member of the Manitoba Christian Writers Association has honed her writing skill and confidence. She writes devotionals for her home church bulletins and her online blog. Her current book project chronicles how God's faithfulness saw her through the dark valleys of divorce and cancer. Along with her husband, Valerie enjoys spending time with their blended family and six grandchildren. She is a nature photographer, water colorist, cat lover and Scrabble addict.

More of her devotionals can be read on her blog   https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com

July 23, 2020

I Have Only to Listen by Joylene M. Bailey

Photo from Pixabay

You will be in an accident today.

These are the words I heard as I left our country driveway to spend a long day in the city running errands. Our three little girls were strapped in the back seat of my van. 

We had much to accomplish that day and I had lists upon lists doing loops in my head as I paused by our black mailbox at the end of the gravel driveway. 

In the middle of all that brain clutter, and just as I started to pull forward, the words you will be in an accident today zapped like lightning on a perfectly clear day. I put on the brakes.

Did I hear that right? Surely that was just a weird random thought.

Nevertheless, I prayed for God’s protection, then triple checked both ways and eased onto the highway. All through the day I was hyper vigilant; double checking left and right before making a turn, waiting a few seconds longer when the traffic light turned green, scanning side roads, checking and rechecking the rear-view mirror, and rubbernecking to see past blind spots.

As we neared the end of our day and our errands, I began to think that the morning’s thought must have been my wild imagination after all. Then, as I slowly ventured into an uncontrolled intersection on a residential street, a red sportscar came barreling towards us from the right. I slammed on my brakes as he sped by, scraping his driver’s side quarter panel across my front bumper. He never stopped.

I remember sitting there stunned. If I had been going at regular speed, we would likely have been hit broadside. But the words that morning had made me cautious all day. And for many weeks after, the streak of red paint on my black bumper reminded me of God’s extraordinary direction and protection.

Like others who have written here, I’ve had multiple experiences when I’ve felt God’s extraordinary direction. Not all of them have been as dramatic as this story. Some have been a quiet obedience to the still small voice, with nobody to witness it but Him. But all of them together have affected my writing, because they have taught me how important it is to listen. 

These days, more than ever before, I try to listen for His direction before I sit down to write. What is it that He wants me to say? Sometimes I head into my writing day with a clear idea of what that is, and other times it’s not until I actually begin that it becomes clearer.

Then, I try to listen while I write. As the words and ideas flow onto the page, some feel right and some don’t. I take that as God's direction.  

Finally, after it’s written, I “listen” for a sense of peace about it. When peace is there, then I’m pretty sure it has His okay.

This “listening” for His direction in my writing is a practice I’m still trying to make a habit. Many days I forget and fail to do it. It's a conscious act that I regularly need to remind myself to do. 

I really think God directs us all the time but we - at least, I - don't always recognize it. My responsibility is to listen.  

One more story to reinforce that thought ...

This is a true account of how my daughter received God's extraordinary direction through her four-year-old son. She’d been misrepresented and falsely accused by a superior in her business and was enraged and upset as she headed out for a walk, pushing her one-year-old twins in the stroller. Little Man, walking beside her and completely oblivious to her feelings, suddenly asked, “Mommy, can you tell me a story about a little girl named Grace?” 

We have only to listen.


Joy lives in Edmonton with The Cowboy and Babe. Find her joy infused view of the world at Scraps of Joy.

July 22, 2020

Extraordinary Love by Alan Anderson

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, Revised Standard)

The writing prompt for July caused me to ponder a lot. Ideas of how to approach this post did not come to me like others have. With only a day to go until the date for this post, even now I ponder. Now I must write and put a message together.

Since the Covid-19 virus invaded our world I have not written too much about it. Other writers have done a superb job of offering their perspectives on an enemy none of us are familiar with.

In my May 22, 2020 post I included thoughts on the virus in my message, “Writing in the Cracks of Life.” Until now this has been the only piece I have written on this crisis. 

Since governments began to “lockdown” cities and countries because of the virus a lot has happened. The crisis has shown the evil, cruel, mean, uncivilized, and criminal side of people. This time of a worldwide pandemic has also shown the beautiful, good, and compassionate side of people.

As a Christian man, my attitude has not always been sympathetic to the experiences of people during this time. Time to be silent, to ponder (I love to ponder), to pray, to listen, and to ask a question became a need. My question, where is God in all this craziness and disruption?

The answer or, “extraordinary directions,” came through the well-known, John 3:16 passage of the Bible. God loves the world. God is in the love all around. This is never to be ignored or forgotten. While in the past months evil for a time has gone mad, God still loves people. The media played up the riots that broke out after a man was murdered. Some people seem to have used this tragedy as an excuse to show their angry and destructive side. God’s love still became clear.

I read an article about two buddies. One man is Black, and the other is Caucasian. Both men see beyond their colour. Instead of rioting or protesting these guys sat outside and offered to give people an opportunity to talk. They set up chairs and a cooler with beer and waited for people to drop by. All they wanted to do was care for people amidst a troubled time. They reached out to their neighbours. This is love in action.

One question in my mind and heart is this. Have we as God’s people forgotten His love for the world? Can it be when we behold the evil of the day we neglect the fact God still loves people? I wonder how our world would change if instead of being overwhelmed by it we loved the world instead.

On our own we cannot change the world. We can, however, reach out to our neighbours. The Covid-19 virus does not seem in a hurry to leave. We have time to show love to those in our part of the world. Instead of being overwhelmed we can overcome. The love of God can overcome us as we reach out to people around us.  God loves the world and so must we.

My friends, what can you do to show this extraordinary love to the world? I ask myself the same question.