[accordion] [accordion_section title=”Out Of The Darkness” active=”true”] Rustic quaint cabins nestled next to the river … the perfect place to spend a peaceful weekend with close friends.  That sunny day stretched long and lazy as we sat perched in our folding chairs, sipping cold soda from the ice chest and watching the kids splash in ankle deep play at the river’s edge.   Good friends, family time and beautiful scenery…all the elements of a a memory-making day.

As the sun began to set, we folded chairs, toweled up kids and hauled ice chests back to camp, that was not too far of a walk away.  The kids were wiped out but the exhausted troop made the trek without complaint.  Thankful that the cabins had running water and indoor bathrooms, we made good use of them.

Our friend’s cabin was next to ours so we decided to combine our dinner plans for one big meal together.  Filling our stomachs with grilled burgers and the air with great conversation– it seemed a great ending to this beautiful day.  When dinner was over, the guys went outside with the little ones scooting out the door right behind them. My girlfriend ran a sink full of hot sudsy water as I cleared the table.  We chatted about the day’s events and how much the kids loved the water play.  Then, after putting away the last clean dish, we headed outside to enjoy this first night around the campfire with our families.

The crisp night air caught my breath.  Shoving my hands in the pockets, I snuggled deeper into my jacket.   I glanced around  the campsite locating my family.  Standing by the cabin next door was my husband, chatting with my friend’s husband and nearby I spotted my 5 year old daughter giggling with my friend’s girls.  But, where was my 18 month old daughter, Kristen?

My heart was pounding faster with every second that I couldn’t see her… WHERE WAS KRISTEN?  Trying not to panic, I yelled to my husband, “Where’s Kristen?  Isn’t she with you?”

“No. I thought she stayed in the cabin with you…” He replied back with concern.

My head was spinning as I looked  around me into the darkness of the campsite and beyond into blackness.  Fear snatched my heart in one suffocating moment.   How this perfect day had suddenly turned into a nightmare.  Racing from cabin to cabin I screamed out her name.  I didn’t care if I looked foolish.  My child was missing! “ Kristen, Kristen!!!”   No reply.  No sound of her voice. Silence. It was if time were standing still.

I pleaded with everyone around me, “Please search for my daughter.  She’s lost.   It’s so dark and the river is so close.  She loved it there today–”  I frantically tried to push away the terrifying thoughts of what if she had tried to go back to the river to play?  She’s just a little child.  She doesn’t know the danger.

I pleaded with God, “Please help us. Please keep her safe until she’s found.”

And then, as if an angel straight from heaven, a woman appeared.  She walked out the darkness holding the hand of my precious little girl.  Tears of gratitude burst from my eyes as I raced to her as fast as I could.   I scooped up my baby, drowned her in kisses and hugged her for what seemed like an eternity.

Amazingly, this woman was from a campsite several cabins away.  It was incredible how, in such a short time, my daughter had wandered so far.  The woman explained how she had noticed my daughter walking all alone in the dark.  She said Kristen wasn’t crying, in fact, she didn’t seem to even know she was lost.  But this precious woman did.  Gently, she went to my little girl and thank goodness she did.  She reached out her hand and thankfully Kristen reached back and took hold of it.  This woman led my child safely back to us and out of the darkness.

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Have you ever felt lost? I’m not talking about the kind of lost that happens when you don’t read the road signs or listen to your navigation system’s dictating voice.  I mean, have you ever had an experience when you looked around at your life and wondered, “How did I get here?”  It was as if you woke up one day to find yourself in a place you never wanted to be, never planned on going to nor really even knew how you got there?

Did you know that no matter where you are in life right now, you are not alone?  No matter where you are, God sees you.  His eyes are always on you and He cares about you and where you are right now.

How does the thought that “God cares about you” resonate with you?  Do you believe that statement?  Do you think God actually knows and cares where you are and that He wants to help you?

It’s okay if that thought is difficult to grasp or to believe…just let it hang out in your head for a while…

Scripture Consideration

We all are lost.  Isaiah 53:6 – We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. (NIV)

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Do you feel alone and that no one really understands your situation?  Does it seem like everyone else’s life is moving along while yours is stuck?

Yesterday, we introduced the idea that God not only sees you, but that he cares about you and your situation.  You were asked to let that thought hang out for a while, without dismissing the idea too quickly.

Today, will you visit that thought again and perhaps add to it?  What if He does care and He does see you and He is concerned about your situation?  If that were true, how would it change the way you see your situation or circumstances?

As you go through this day, each time a hopeless thought comes your way, remind yourself of what you read these past two days.  Let these new thoughts come in and sit with the negative ones.  Ask God to help you hang onto these new thoughts.   And don’t worry if your emotions don’t cooperate with all this head stuff.  That’s perfectly normal.  It’s a process.

Scripture Consideration:
I prayed for my daughter to be safe.  Jesus prayed for Peter.  Luke 22:32 – But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And that when you have turned back, strengthen and encourage your brothers.  (NIV)

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Do you feel like all the responsibilities of life are on your shoulders?  Do you feel like you are juggling all the balls and at any moment they all will come crashing down?  So many people are depending on you and you can’t afford to make any mistakes or take any breaks.  But who is there for you?  Who is noticing that you are about to break?  Or maybe everything has already come crashing down and you find yourself now sitting in the pile of rubble.

Where do you go from here?

Have you considered talking to God about it?  Have you considered praying?  I don’t mean the “now I lay me down to sleep” kind of prayer or the printed prewritten type either.  As long as you are stuck anyway, why not try it?  What have you got to lose?

Start by simply looking into your heart and telling God exactly what you’re feeling inside.  Be honest with Him.  He already knows it anyway. He’s waiting to hear you speak your heart to Him.  Just an honest connection between the two of you.  An intimate, honest  conversation just between you and God.  Prayer.

Scripture Consideration:
Though I didn’t know where my daughter was, God did.  Romans 8:26 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (NIV)

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So did you try it?  Did you try praying yesterday? If you didn’t, that’s okay.  Maybe consider trying it today? (if you need help in this area, consider checking out the PRAYER tab on our site.)

If you did choose to pray, what happened after?  Did you feel any relief at all?  Even a little?  If not, that’s okay too.  It certainly doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. The indicator of your prayer being heard isn’t whether or not you felt anything.  God promises that He hears our cries when we humbly and honestly come before him in Jesus name.

Did you know that God sent Jesus to come to find you in the dark? And Jesus actually promised to send you a comforter to help you in your affliction.  Your connection, like this woman taking my daughter’s hand, requires cooperation on your part.  If my little girl had decided to run away from the woman or had refused to hold her hand,  how would she have gotten back to us?  What might have happened to her that night?  I can’t even think about that!

God sent Jesus here to bring you home and His Spirit wants to walk with you every single step of the way.  Does that seem strange to you?  Or too good to be true?  You’ll have to decide if you ‘re willing to take the risk of faith.  He’s holding out His hand to you…

Scripture Consideration:
The woman saw my daughter there alone in the darkness and went to her, taking her hand and led her back to us.  John 16:13- But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  (NIV)

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Have you considered how God feels about what you have done this week with your Five for Five?  Be encouraged, my friend.  You’ve just invested 25 minutes into a brand new way of thinking, and possibly a brand new life!  You are intelligently designed to thrive and live in healthy happy relationships.  This includes, most importantly, your relationship with your Creator.  And when you are brought back to Him, He wants to scoop you up in His arms and kiss you with grace and mercy.  Do you believe this?  If not, what do you think is the biggest obstacle in your way?  What’s preventing you from believing this is true for you?

Now that you are beginning to pray, why not talk to God about what’s in your path?  Do you think He is strong enough to overcome any obstacle to reach you?  How awesome that we have such an amazing Father!  Remember you are His child. Stop to consider this; if we love our kids the way we do, how much more do you think He will respond to us when we come to him?

Scripture Consideration:When I saw her come out of the darkness, I ran to her and scooped her up in my arms and kissed her.  Luke 15:20 But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  (NIV)

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