I Am Clean
It all started at a daycare. The position I got wasn’t the one I expected, but I loved it — playing with, feeding, consoling children. At this time in my life, I had good friends, a great job, a wonderful husband. Life was good. So it was a big surprise when suddenly my healthy body started feeling ill.
I noticed I was getting sick much more frequently than my co-workers and the kids. I’d always been able to resist viruses before. I couldn’t figure it out. I would find myself nauseated at random hours of the day. My friends assured me it was stress or asked if I was pregnant, but I knew these weren’t the reasons. I finally went to the doctor.
That visit started a chain of events that led me through the most difficult year of my life. I was medicated and tested, saw multiple specialists, but I only got worse. I lost 20 pounds and the ability to eat most everything. With my energy depleted, I started getting desperate.
One night at my lowest point I started praying for healing. I knew God could heal, but would He? I’d been sick for ten months now. Still praying, I opened my Bible:
Behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12, 13).
I can’t describe the joy and relief I felt reading these words. I believed God had spoken directly to me. “Would You heal me?” I prayed. He responded in my spirit, I am willing; be cleansed.
Not long after that, God led me to two knowledgeable women who helped me find health solutions and set me on the road to recovery. Over two years later, I still have a ways to go, but I happily sit here writing after eating a nourishing dinner, with no pain or nausea. I’m stronger now than I’ve been in a long time and stronger still in my love of and trust in the Lord. He was willing and now, I am clean.
— Stefanie Kraus
Time With God
How much time do we spend with God praying, meditating, and reading His Word? He created us; doesn’t He deserve our every breath? God does, but that’s not possible for humans. Still, this is not an excuse to hold back. Let’s give Him everything we can.
Spending time with God in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading requires discipline and commitment. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it: “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you” (Psalm 37:5, NLT throughout).
Prayer isn’t just asking God for what you want; it is talking to God. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us how to pray: “Our Father in heaven . . .” (Matthew 6:9-13). Prayer is a time to get to know God and learn His plans. Luke 5:16 says that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Withdraw from the daily grind and pray. Give Him your undivided attention.
Meditation can be focusing on God in silence. Consider the enormity of all He is. Meditation is pleasing to God, as the psalmist says: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Often we think about what needs to be done today. Meditation is stopping to give God our worries and reminding ourselves that He’s in control.
Reading the Bible is another way to spend time with God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” There are answers to our questions in the Bible, if we will study it. Sometimes God doesn’t answer our questions in prayer because He’s already given us the answer in His Word. If we’re not reading it, how can we know the answer is there?
If you want to know God more, spend more time with Him. Read the Word, meditate, and pray, as Jesus showed us. We were created to worship and glorify our King, so let’s get to know Him better.
— Kara Caswell
Spring Vale Christian School Journalism Student
We just moved into a new house — one we can truly call our own! As I settled into my bedroom amid stacks of clothing and boxes, I stopped to admire the cute half-shuttered windows in my room. It was a feature unique to my room, from another era. Charming! Not the boring white window frames of yet another rental house.
As the days went by, I looked at those windows again — up close this time. To my dismay, I realized the curtains were filthy. They probably hadn’t been washed in ten years, so I took them down and hand washed them. Twice. The grime that came out was truly shocking.
A thought struck me: This is how we are. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV throughout). To the casual observer, we look good — charming, desirable! However, on closer examination, our souls need Christ’s cleansing. Perhaps the dust of complacency or pride has left our curtains filthy with “respectable” sins.
Yet the Master makes us aware of this, puts us in His holy washtub, and cleans us up. How gently He does it, too! Not a rip in our “curtain,” not a piece of it tossed out: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (42:3). Purifying may be unsettling, but it is part of God’s kind, cleansing work in us to make us whole.
This is sanctification — our cleansing in the blood of Jesus by faith:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4, 5).
Hallelujah! Open every corner of your heart, and let Him clean those unnoticed places today. He will be gentle.
— Melody Manwell
Battle Creek, MI
We record miracles God has done for us in a “miracles book.” We have found that when God’s people tell their miracle stories, everyone’s faith is strengthened. Here is a small sampling of those miracles.
God – our healer (Psalm 103:3). Our daughter, Sarah, had open-heart surgery when she was four years old. During recovery she was more susceptible to infections. A couple of weeks after surgery, she was exposed to meningitis. One day while we were driving, Sarah started crying with a headache. Her fever was at least 104, and she could not bend her head forward. As a nurse, I knew all of these signs could indicate meningitis. We stopped the car and prayed. While praying, I could feel Sarah’s skin cool. All symptoms were gone!
God – our protector (Psalm 91:2). One day when our youngest daughter, Heidi, was 2, she was sitting at a table with a lit kerosene lamp. Someone bumped the table, and it tipped over. The lamp and Heidi fell to the floor together. Her aunt “happened” to be close by and picked up Heidi just as the lamp burst into flames. Heidi had kerosene on her clothes and hair and only a small burn on her arm, which quickly healed.
We are blessed with an amazing spiritual heritage spanning multiple generations. We grew up on stories of answers to their prayers. God has not changed. Our “miracles book” includes amazing stories of God’s leading, warning, and providing regarding us, our pets, and our possessions. We do this to share with future generations:
We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. . . . That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments (Psalm 78:4, 7).
Miracles happen for us every day. Some are large; some are small. All build up our faith as we go through the days exclaiming, “Thank You, Lord!”
— Lois Lemley
Behind the Veil
Can you see the shadows people hide in today? They don’t appear suddenly but develop over time, walling off our relationships. Shadows become so common, we forget they’re even present. They are a modern day veil we shroud ourselves in, unseen.
In Exodus, God put the veil up between Himself and His people. Even Moses could see only a small glimpse of God’s glory. The necessity for a veil changed after Christ died for us. Matthew 27:50, 51 describes this shift: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” The presence of God was revealed as it had never been before. A personal bond with the Father was now possible through Christ.
Why do we hide? Why do we veil our hearts? I think it’s because we are afraid to be known. This fear controls our lives, dictating our thoughts, actions, and speech. We’re afraid that if we open up, people won’t like what they see. We’re petrified of what others may think about us.
Are there things you’re not proud of, that you keep in the shadows instead of talking about them? It is normal to feel nervous about sharing, but we can’t let this fear stop us from being relational, especially with God. As Hebrews 10:19, 20 says, thanks to the blood of Jesus, we can come out of the shadows and into His presence.
— Danielle Endecott
Spring Vale Christian School Journalism Student
Faith of a Child
Sometimes as adults we struggle with our faith when life’s troubles come our way. But the faith of a little child is so sure and absolute.
Years ago, when one of my sons was about five years old, he discovered grasshoppers eating up our green beans. Running into the house to tell me all about it, he assured me I didn’t have anything to worry about. “Mommy, I prayed!” That year the grasshoppers devoured everything in the garden except the green beans. We ate and canned all the green beans we wanted, plus shared them with church members.
Jesus tells us, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).
Oh, let us have the faith of a little child!
— Joy Miller Walter
St. Joseph, MO