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My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

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This Month's Message

By Fran Caffey Sandin

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”…James 4: 8a

Taxi-yellow motorized- monsters roared along the roadside while workers in hard hats and orange vests dotted the horizon. “Oh no!” I moaned to my husband, Jim, “Is the whole world under construction? Since we recently experienced a huge highway project near our Texas home, it didn’t seem fair to stretch our patience with it again in North Carolina. Our red rental car zig-zagged through the maze as we noted the signs: CAUTION, Road Work Ahead, Soft Shoulders, BE PREPARED TO STOP. The Big Mack truck ahead of us gradually swerved from three lanes to two and finally squeezed into one narrow passage. We followed. However, after many starts and stops we welcomed generous smooth lanes and finally reached our vacation destination near the colorful Blue Ridge Parkway.

Now, as we begin a new year, it occurred to me that our lives are often like road construction. We start out easily, and then something happens we didn’t expect. Sometimes it can alter or completely change our future. We begin the year with excitement, set goals, and dream of reaching each one. We look toward to what lies ahead, But…because we live in a fallen world we may hit a rough spot, have a delay, or be redirected to a place we do not want to go. Then how should we respond?

One of the most positive life examples is Joni Eareckson Tada whose diving accident left her a quadriplegic at the age of 17. At first she wanted to die but when that didn’t happen, Joni prayed: “God, if you won’t let me die, then show me how to live.” In a recent interview Joni openly talks about her weaknesses, her battle with chronic pain, and her dependence daily upon God’s grace. She says, “It sounds incredible, but I really would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus as I do than be on my feet without Him.” When Joni embraced God’s sovereignty in her suffering, she was able to paint pictures beautifully using a mouth stick brush, has written many books, sings hymns of praise to God, has accompanied Billy Graham in at least a dozen crusades, and has founded Joni and Friends, a world-wide ministry helping thousands of people with disabilities. For 50 years of exalting Christ in suffering and offering compassionate help and gospel-based hope to the needy, the weak, and the vulnerable, Joni Eareckson Tada has been named as World Magazine’s 2017 Daniel of the Year.

In 1967 Joni took a drastic detour to a place she initially resisted, but eventually came to accept. In seeking God’s will and drawing near to Him, she has exhibited principles that will encourage us in our own life journeys. Just as a roadway needs a solid foundation, Joni had placed her faith and trust in the Rock of Ages who has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13; 5). She also realized that like the roadway workers, she had a responsibility to do her best with what she had. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men” (Colossians 3: 23). Then she believes as Paul wrote: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1: 6).

Dear Heavenly Father, We pray not that we will always have a smooth path but for your provision of grace and courage to face the challenges that we may encounter this year. Help us draw near to you because we have known your love through your son, Jesus. Help us cling to the Scripture promises you have provided and kneel at the cross. In Jesus’s name, Amen.