Life in Abundance

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Judy McJudge

by Valarie DeLaVega

“Hey, excuse me?” The words were spat out more like a command than a question. I looked up from my desk and into the eyes of an angry woman, her hands balled into tight fists on the counter. Of all the women who exercised at the health club, she was the most peculiar. She dressed like a pioneer, yet chatted on an iPhone. Her face wore a permanent scowl, making her look older than she was. She always came in clutching church literature to hand out.

Through gritted teeth, she hissed, “You put on some Christian music this instant. I don’t pay to come and get a headache from this worldly garbage.” Thrusting her finger in my face, she continued, “Change it right now. This unholy music is really getting to me!”

I was shocked. The songs played were instrumental aerobics beats. The volume was even below moderate. I managed to smile while searching for words with which to respond. But it didn’t matter; she was already stomping away, shaking her head. I simply changed the CD to praise music and then fell back into my chair to think.

Was it hypocrisy? Had I made wrongful assumptions based on her appearance? Was our music really not appropriate for a Christian gym? I wanted to be fair, but my natural inclination was to judge. Later, I opened my Bible expressly to find texts justifying my indignation. The first text I turned to was Matthew 7:3—“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”

I was looking down on the woman because she wanted to hear Christian music and because she was rude about it. How were my sins any less? My self-righteousness and contempt were greater.

The next time I saw her coming, I changed the music before she could ask. She smiled and even thanked me. Over months, this simple ritual evolved to small talk to conversations. And I now have a better understanding of who she is.

Thank God for His lessons and for a new friend.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.

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Enveloped in His Arms

by Valarie DeLaVega Morse

You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:12, New International Version.

When I was a little girl, we lived near a large park that had a wide stream running through it. In the Summer, we would spend nearly every afternoon there, wading in the shallows and sunbathing on the banks.

One day I was playing with some older children. They were strong swimmers and powered themselves against the current to get the rope swing onto the other side. Soon I began to feel left out because I was only allowed to stay where the water reached my waist. Being five years old, that wasn’t very deep and the whole situation just didn’t seem fair.

My parents were chatting with friends, so I ventured out a few more inches. Noticing that I was getting bored standing in the water by myself, the older kids encouraged me to swim with them to the middle of the stream. They were so kind, they even offered me a pair of water wings.

I didn’t want them to know I was just a beginner, so I said I was waiting to get used to the cold water. They smiled and struck out for the opposite shore. Slowly, I inched forward until the water lapped at my shoulders. My toes searched for traction on the slippery rocks as I gingerly moved forward. Then, suddenly I lost my footing. The rocks ended in a drop and I fell under with a sharp scream. Under the deceivingly placid water, was a swift current. And when I surfaced, I saw I was being carried downstream. As I struggled to keep my head above water, I heard the older children shouting to my father. The cold took my breath away and I was too tired to fight towards the surface.

Almost in an instant, I felt his large hand grip my forearm. And in that instant, I knew my father was going to save me. The water rushed against my face as I shot upwards. I broke the surface and was surrounded by my daddy’s strong arms.

Whenever I think of how Christ saves me, I remember that day. Because that’s exactly how it feels.