Monday, October 16, 2017

Getting Over the Hurdles

By Andrea Merrell

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, 
for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

“It’s always something!”

I’ve found myself saying that a lot to my husband lately. We get over one hurdle—sickness, financial difficulty, job issues, or family problems—and here comes another. There seems to be, as they say, no rest for the weary.

My attitude changed recently while reading from a devotional during my quiet time. According to the author, these constant hurdles are being used to test and grow my faith.

The Bible tells us that we can’t please God without faith. Actually, it’s impossible. That means our entire journey through this life is learning to trust God and believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Pastor and author Bob Gass puts it this way: “The key to momentum is always having something to look forward to and believe God for. You either venture or vegetate.”

In other words, if we don’t use our faith, it won’t develop—just like muscles will atrophy when not used. Every situation the disciples faced—no fish after fishing all night, getting caught in a terrible storm, and facing opposition at every turn—increased their capacity to believe and trust. They continually had opportunities to see exactly what God could do.

An old song says if we never had problems, we’d never know God could solve them. Nineteenth-century preacher Phillip Brooks said, “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power; pray for power equal to your tasks.”

As long as our faith is being tested, we are growing wiser, stronger, and more resilient. When we see each hurdle as an opportunity that matures us and brings us closer to God, we just might get over them a little faster and easier. In fact, we might even learn to appreciate them.

(Photo courtesy of Miles.)


To read in browser, click here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Loving the Good, the Bad, and Even the Ugly

By Andrea Merrell

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, 
and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind;
for the Lord searches all hearts and understands
all the intent of the thoughts.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you;
but if you forsake Him,
He will cast you off forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9 NKJV

There I was in all my glory—no make-up and a plastic cap on my head, tied securely around my chin. Pieces of hair had been pulled through the holes in the cap and were sticking out like porcupine quills. I looked like a cartoon character with my finger stuck in an electrical socket.

In walked my fiancĂ©. I fully expected him to take one look and run for the hills. He didn’t. Actually, he found the situation quite comical.

In reality, I’m glad he saw me at my worst before we got married. I’m not one for pretense. What you see is what you get. I actually know a woman who—at least for the first few years of her marriage—would go to bed with make-up on, get up and wash it off after her husband fell asleep, then get up early and put on fresh make-up before her husband woke up. Too much pressure for this gal.

Over the past forty-plus years, my husband has seen the good, the bad, and even the ugly—and loved me through it all. Because of his unconditional love, I learned early on that I didn’t have to hide anything from him.

In the same way, I don’t have to try and hide anything from God. As David said to Solomon, the Lord knows our thoughts and searches our heart. Nothing is hidden from Him. How comforting to know that I can be myself—even with all my faults and failures—knowing God’s love is unconditional and never fails.

He accepts me no matter what … the good, the bad, and—yes—even the ugly.

(Photo courtesy of


To read in browser, click here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Shadow of the Almighty

By Andrea Merrell

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 NLT

“You’re a scaredy cat … afraid of your own shadow!”

As a child who was a bit timid and shy, I heard this a lot and spent much of my time dealing with fear. But most of the things I was afraid of were not real. They were vain imaginations. Shadows.

Funny thing about shadows, they’re only images with no substance. They’re created by some type of light. No light, no shadow. The more light, the less shadow. When light completely dispels the darkness, shadows disappear.

The psalmist said that when we “dwell in the secret place of the Most High,” we will “abide (live, dwell, reside) under the shadow of the Almighty.” Now there’s a shadow with substance. But how can that be?

The psalmist goes on to say that God is our refuge and fortress. He is our shield and buckler. He is our dwelling place. He will give His angels charge over us and keep us in all our ways.

When living under the shadow of the Almighty, I never have to fear ... and neither do you.

(Photo courtesy of Kankliang.)


To read in browser, click here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Watch Out for the Curve

By Andrea Merrell

As we prepared to take off, my husband said, “The control tower threw me a curve.” That didn’t sound good to me, and my anxiety began to rise. 

Fortunately, my husband knew exactly what to do. He made a few minor adjustments, and our small airplane took off, heading toward our destination with only a slightly different flight plan.

Life throws curves at us all the time. I’ve learned that the only constant in this world is change. Nothing is set in stone apart from God’s love and His Word. Since change is going to happen whether we like it or not—and whether we’re ready for it or not—the key is in how we handle it.

For someone like me who loves structure and lives by lists and schedules, it’s not easy to go with the flow and be willing to change everything around to accommodate an unwelcome interruption to my perfectly planned day. I’m much better at this than I used to be, but I’m still a work in progress. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes the curve—the abrupt change in timing or destination—is God’s way of protecting us from potential disaster, or redirecting our steps to a brand-new destination and a blessing we would have otherwise missed.

When a baseball player is thrown a curve, he can either duck, try to swing, or let the ball smack him in the head and knock him out of the game. Flexibility is essential in sports and every aspect of life. Maybe we could add something to the list of Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who are flexible and bend with the winds of change, for they shall not break.”

I’m watching out for the curve. Are you?

(Photo courtesy of


To read in browser, click here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dare to Be Different

By Andrea Merrell

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV

The colors were vibrant, and I was captivated by the beauty as I drove down the winding country road. Then an unusual image caught my eye. In the midst of all the incredible red, yellow, orange, and gold, was something that seemed strangely out of place. 

The little evergreen stood in stark contrast to the color all around it. Never changing, always the same, ever … green.

 I thought about this world and how life is always moving, always evolving, ever … changing. That’s when I realized that the little evergreen represents us as Christians in a society where nothing is constant, and there is no stability.

Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men. The truth is our life should stand in stark contrast to everything around us. We should never be hard to spot, blending in with our surroundings. The Bible calls us a “peculiar people,” so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t fit in with the crowd.

Dare to be different.

(Photo courtesy of    


To read in browser, click here.