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About Patricia Raybon

Patricia Raybon, a former Sunday Magazine editor at The Denver Post and former associate professor of journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder, now writes bridge-building books “to inspire people to love God and each other.” Passionate for God’s Word, she also supports Bible-translation projects worldwide. Her award-winning books include My First White Friend and I Told the Mountain to Move. A mother of two and grandmother of five, she and husband Dan live in Colorado where they enjoy movies, popcorn, cozy mysteries, and soapy PBS dramas. Find her at patriciaraybon.com or on Facebook or Twitter @patriciaraybon.

Brave Your Storm

By |2022-01-17T08:06:03-05:00January 17th, 2022|

A fierce thunderstorm lashed Memphis, Tennessee, on the evening of April 3, 1968. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided not to give his planned speech for striking sanitation workers at a church hall. He was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people that they’ll “get to the Promised Land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urged, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (v. 12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, they were called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (vv. 1–2). The writer encouraged them: “You will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

Hearing Us from Heaven

By |2022-01-12T08:06:02-05:00January 12th, 2022|

At eighteen months old, little Maison had never heard his mother’s voice. Then doctors fitted him with his first hearing aids and his mom Lauryn asked Maison, “Can you hear me?” The child’s eyes lit up. “Hi Baby!” his mom added. A smiling Maison softly replied, “Hi!” In tears, the mother knew she’d witnessed a miracle. She’d given birth to Maison prematurely after gunmen shot her three times during a random home invasion. Weighing just one pound, Maison spent 158 days in intensive care and wasn’t expected to survive, let alone be able to hear.

That heart-warming story reminds me of the God who hears us. King Solomon prayed fervently for God’s attuned ear, especially during troubling times. When “there is no rain ” (1 Kings 8:35), during “famine or plague,” disaster or disease (v. 37), war (v. 44), and even sin, “hear from heaven their prayer and their plea,” Solomon prayed, “and uphold their cause” (v. 45).

In His goodness, God responded with a promise that still stirs our hearts. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Heaven may seem a long way off. Yet Christ is with those who believe in Him. God hears our prayers, and He answers them.

Better Than Gold

By |2021-12-30T08:06:03-05:00December 30th, 2021|

When gold seeker Edward Jackson set out for California during the Great Gold Rush in the US, his diary entry on May 20, 1849, lamented his grueling wagon journey, marked by disease and death. “O do not leave my bones here,” he wrote. “If possible let them lay at home.” Another gold-seeker named John Walker penned, “It is the most complete lottery that you can imagine . . . I cannot advise any person to come.”

Walker, in fact, returned home and succeeded at farming, ranching, and state politics. When a family member took Walker’s yellowing letters to the American TV program Antiques Roadshow, they were valued at several thousand dollars. Said the TV host, “So he did get something valuable out of the Gold Rush. The letters.”

Even more, both Walker and Jackson returned home after gaining wisdom that caused them to take hold of a more practical life. Consider these words about wisdom from King Solomon, “Blessed are those who find wisdom . . . she is a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverbs 3:13, 18). A wise choice is  “more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (v. 14)—making wisdom more precious than any earthly desire (v. 15.)

“Long life is in her right hand . . . and all her paths are peace” (vv. 16–17). Our challenge, therefore, is to hold tight to wisdom not shiny wishes. It’s a path God will bless.

Remembered in Prayer

By |2021-12-19T08:06:03-05:00December 19th, 2021|

In the large African church, the pastor fell to his knees, praying to God. “Remember us!” As the pastor pleaded, the crowd responded, crying, “Remember us, Lord!” Watching this moment on YouTube, I was surprised that I shed tears, too. The prayer was recorded months earlier. Yet it recalled childhood times when I heard our family’s pastor make the same plea to God. “Remember us, Lord!”

Hearing that prayer as a child, I’d wrongly assumed that God sometimes forgets about us. But God is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20), He always see us (Psalm 33:13–15), and He loves us beyond measure (Ephesians 3:17–19).

Even more, as we see in the Hebrew word zakar, meaning “remember,” when God “remembers” us, He acts for us. Zakar also means to act on a person’s behalf. Thus, when God “remembered” Noah and “all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark,” He then “sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Genesis 8:1). When God “remembered” barren Rachel, He “listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son” (Genesis 30:22–23).

What a great plea of trust to ask God in prayer to remember us! He will decide how He answers. We can pray knowing, however, that our humble request asks God to move.

Our True Identity

By |2021-11-16T12:12:05-05:00November 16th, 2021|

First, the man selected a tackle box. Standing in his town’s small bait shop, he then filled a shopping cart with hooks, lures, bobbers, line, and weights. Finally, he added live bait and selected a new rod and reel. “Ever fished before?” the shop owner asked. The man said no. “Better add this,” said the owner. It was a first-aid kit. The man agreed and paid, then headed off to a day of not catching a thing—except snags on his fingers from his hooks and gear.

That wasn’t Simon Peter’s problem. An experienced fisherman, he was surprised one dawn when Jesus told him to push his boat into deep water and “let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Despite a long night of catching nothing, Simon and his crew let down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” In fact, his two boats started to sink from the haul (v. 6).

Seeing this, Simon Peter “fell at Jesus’ knees,” urging Him to “go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (v. 8). Jesus, however, knew Simon’s true identity. He told His disciple, “From now on you will fish for people.” Hearing that, Simon “left everything and followed” Christ (vv. 10–11). When we follow Him, He helps us learn who we are and what we’re called to do as His own.

You’re Not Alone

By |2021-11-16T12:08:53-05:00November 10th, 2021|

“So great to see you!” “You, too!” “So glad you’re here!” The greetings were warm and welcoming. Members of a ministry in Southern California gathered online before their evening program. As their speaker, calling in from Colorado, I watched silently as the others gathered on the video call—not knowing anyone and, as an introvert, feeling like a social outsider. Then suddenly, a screen opened and there was my pastor. Then another screen opened. A longtime church friend was joining the call, too. Seeing them, I no longer felt alone. God, it seemed, had sent support.

Elijah wasn’t alone either, despite feeling like “the only [prophet] left” after fleeing the wrath of Jezebel and Ahab (1 Kings 19:10). Journeying through desert wilderness for forty days and forty nights, Elijah hid in a cave on Mount Horeb. But God called him back into service, telling him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet” (vv. 15–16).

God then assured him, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18). As Elijah learned, while serving God we don’t serve alone. As God brings help, we’ll serve together.

A Time to Speak

By |2021-10-18T09:06:09-04:00October 18th, 2021|

For thirty long years, the African American woman worked faithfully for a large global ministry. Yet when she sought to talk with co-workers about racial injustice, she was met with silence. Finally, however, in the spring of 2020—as open discussions about racism expanded around the world—her ministry friends “started having some open dialogue.” With mixed feelings and pain, she was grateful discussions began, but wondered why it took her colleagues so long to speak up.

Silence can be a virtue in some situations. As King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).

Silence in the face of bigotry and injustice, however, only enables harm and hurt. Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoeller, jailed in Nazi Germany, confessed that in a poem he penned after the war. “First they came for the Communists,” he wrote, “but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.” He added, “then they came for” the Jews, the Catholics, and others, “but I didn’t speak up.” Then finally “they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

It takes courage—and love—to speak up against racism and injustice. Seeking God’s help, however, we recognize the time to speak is now.

Move Your Fence

By |2021-09-17T09:06:09-04:00September 17th, 2021|

The village vicar couldn’t sleep. As World War II raged, he’d told a small group of American soldiers they couldn’t bury their fallen comrade inside the fenced cemetery next to his church. Only burials for church members were allowed. So the men buried their beloved friend just outside the fence.

The next morning, however, the soldiers couldn’t find the grave. “What happened? The grave is gone,” one soldier told the reverend. “Oh, it’s still there,” he told him. The soldier was confused, but the churchman explained. “I regretted telling you no. So, last night, I got up—and I moved the fence.”

God may give fresh perspective for our life challenges too—if we look for it. That was the prophet Isaiah’s message to the downtrodden people of Israel. Instead of looking back with longing at their Red Sea rescue, they needed to shift their sight, seeing God doing new miracles, blazing new paths. “Do not dwell on the past,” He urged them. “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18–19). He is our source of hope during doubts and battles. “I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”—providing “drink to my people, my chosen . . . people” (vv. 20–21). 

Refreshed with new vision, we too can see God’s fresh direction in our lives. May we look with new ways to see His new paths. Then, with courage, may we step onto new ground, bravely following Him.

From Wisdom to Joy

By |2021-09-11T09:06:02-04:00September 11th, 2021|

The phone rang and I picked it up without delay. Calling was the oldest member of our church family—a vibrant, hard-working woman who was nearly 100 years old. Putting the final touches on her latest book, she asked some writing questions to help her cross the finish line. As always, however, I soon was asking her questions—about life, work, love, family. Her many lessons from a long life sparkled with wisdom. She told me, “Pace yourself.” And soon we were laughing about times she’d forgotten to do that—her wonderful stories all seasoned with true joy.

Wisdom leads to joy, the Bible teaches. “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding” (Proverbs 3:13 nlt). We find that this path—from wisdom to joy—is a biblical virtue, indeed. “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy” (Proverbs 2:10 nlt). “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26 nlt). Wisdom “will guide you down delightful paths,” adds Proverbs 3:17 nlt.

Reflecting on life matters, author C. S. Lewis declared that “joy is the serious business of Heaven.” The path there, however, is paved with wisdom. My church friend, who lived to 107, would agree. She walked a wise, joyful pace to the King.

Trusting the Bible

By |2021-08-17T09:06:04-04:00August 17th, 2021|

Billy Graham, the renowned American evangelist, once described his struggle to accept the Bible as  completely true. One night as he walked alone in the moonlight at a retreat center in the San Bernardino Mountains, he dropped to his knees and placed his Bible on a tree stump, able only to “stutter” a prayer: “Oh God! There are many things in this book I do not understand.”

By confessing his confusion, Graham said the Holy Spirit finally “freed me to say it. ‘Father, I am going to accept this as thy Word—by faith!’” When he stood up, he still had questions. But “I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.”

The young prophet Jeremiah fought spiritual battles too. Yet he consistently sought answers in Scripture. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16). As he declared, “the word of the Lord . . . is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:8–9). Nineteenth-century evangelist Charles Spurgeon wrote, “[Jeremiah] lets us into a secret. His outer life, especially his faithful ministry, was due to his inward love of the word which he preached.”

We too can shape our life through the words of Scripture despite our struggles. We can keep studying, as always, by faith.

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