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Patricia Raybon

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.

Articles by Patricia Raybon

Strengthened in Song

When French villagers helped Jewish refugees hide from Nazis during World War II, some sang songs in the dense forest surrounding their town—letting the refugees know it was safe to come out from hiding. These brave townspeople of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon had answered the call of local pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, to offer wartime refuge to Jews on their windswept plateau known as “La Montagne Protestante.” Their musical signal became just one feature of the villagers’ bravery that helped save up to 3,000 Jews from almost certain death.

In another dangerous time, David sang when his enemy Saul sent nighttime assassins to his house. His use of music wasn’t a signal; rather, it was his song of gratitude to God his refuge. David rejoiced, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Such singing isn’t “whistling in the dark” during danger. Instead, David’s singing conveyed his trust in almighty God. “You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely” (v. 17).

David’s praise, and the villagers’ singing in Le Chambon, offer an invitation to bless God today with our singing, making melody to Him despite worries. His loving presence will respond, strengthening our hearts.

Guiding Light

The restaurant was lovely but dark. Only one small candle flickered on every table. To create light, diners used their smartphones to read their menus, look to their tablemates, and even to see what they were eating.

Finally, a patron quietly pushed back his chair, walked over to a waiter, and asked a simple question. “Could you turn on the lights?” Before long, a warm ceiling light flashed on and the room erupted with applause. But also with laughter. And happy chatter. And thank-yous. My friend’s husband turned off his phone, picked up his utensils, and spoke for us all. “Let there be light! Now, let’s eat!”

Our gloomy evening turned festive with the flick of a switch. But how much more important to know the real source of true light. God Himself spoke those astonishing words, “Let there be light,” on the first day that He created the universe, “and there was light” (Genesis 1:2). Then “God saw that the light was good” (v. 4).

Light expresses God’s great love for us. His light points us to Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12), who guides us from the gloom of sin. Walking in His light, we find the bright path to a life that glorifies the Son. He is the world’s brightest gift. As He shines, may we walk His way.

Another Chance

At the Second Chance Bike Shop near our neighborhood, volunteers rebuild cast-off bicycles and donate them to needy kids. Shop founder Ernie Clark also donates bikes to needy adults, including the homeless, the disabled, and military veterans struggling to make it in civilian life. Not only do the bicycles get a second chance but sometimes the recipients get a new start too. One veteran used his new bike to get to a job interview.

Second chances can transform a person’s destiny, especially when the second chance comes from God. The prophet Micah extoled such grace during a time the nation of Israel groveled in bribery, fraud, and other despicable sins. As Micah lamented, “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth” (Micah 7:2 nlt).

The Lord would rightly punish evil, Micah knew. But as a loving God, He would give those who repented another chance. Humbled by such love, Micah asked, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?” (v. 18 nlt).

We too can rejoice that God doesn’t abandon us for our sins if we repent. As Micah declared of God, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (v. 19 nlt).

God’s love gives second chances to all who seek Him.

 

From Trash to Treasure

The trash man’s house sits atop a steep street in a poor Bogota neighborhood. Not one thing about it looks special. Yet the unassuming abode in Colombia’s capital is home to a free library of 25,000 books—discarded literature that Jose Alberto Gutierrez collected to share with poor children in his community.

Local kids crowd into the house during weekend “library hours.” Prowling through every room, each packed with books, the children recognize the humble home is more than Señor Jose’s house—it’s a priceless treasury.

The same is true for every follower of Christ. We are made of humble clay—marred by cracks and easily broken. But we’re entrusted by God as a home for His empowering Spirit, who enables us to carry the good news of Christ into a hurting, broken world. It’s a big job for ordinary, fragile people.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (v. 7), the apostle Paul told his congregation in the ancient city of Corinth. A cross section of people from across this region, many might have been tempted to “go around preaching about ourselves,” Paul said (v. 5 nlt).

Instead, Paul said, tell others about the priceless One living inside of us. It is Him and His all-surpassing power that turns our ordinary lives into a priceless treasury.

 

Son Followers

Sunflowers sprout in a carefree manner all over the world. Pollinated by bees, the plants spring up on the sides of highways, under bird feeders, and across fields, meadows, and prairies. To produce a harvest, however, sunflowers need good soil. Well-drained, slightly acidic, nutrient rich “with organic matter or composted,” says the Farmer’s Almanac—such good soil finally produces tasty sunflower seeds, pure oil, and also a livelihood for hard-working sunflower growers.

We also need “good soil” for spiritual growth (Luke 8:15). As Jesus taught in His Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed, God’s Word can sprout even in rocky or thorny soil (see vv. 6–7). It only thrives, however, in the soil of “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (v. 15 nlt).

Young sunflowers are just as patient in their growth. Following the sun’s movement throughout the day, they turn sunward daily in a process called heliotropism. Mature sunflowers are just as deliberate. They turn eastward permanently, warming the face of the flower and increasing visits from pollinator bees. This in turn produces a greater harvest.

As with those who care for sunflowers, we can provide a rich medium for God’s Word to grow by clinging to His Word and following after His Son—developing honesty and a good heart for God’s Word to mature us. It’s a daily process. May we follow the Son and grow.

Ending Envy

The famous French artist Edgar Degas is remembered worldwide for his paintings of ballerinas. Less known is the envy he expressed of his friend and artistic rival Édouard Manet, another master painter. Said Degas of Manet: “Everything he does he always hits off straightaway, while I take endless pains and never get it right.”

It’s a curious emotion, envy—listed by the apostle Paul among the worst passions, as bad “as every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip” (Romans 1:29 nlt). It results from “foolish thinking,” Paul writes—the result of worshiping idols instead of worshiping God (v. 28 nlt).

Author Christina Fox says that among believers envy develops “because our hearts have turned from our one true love.” In our envy, she said, “we are chasing after the inferior pleasures of this world instead of looking to Jesus. In effect, we’ve forgotten whose we are.”

Yet there’s a remedy. Turn back to God. “Offer every part of yourself to him,” Paul wrote (Romans 6:13)—your work and life especially. In another of his letters Paul wrote, “Everyone should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).

Thank God for His blessings—not just things, but for the freedom of His grace. Seeing our own God-given gifts, we find contentment again.

In God’s Image

When her beautiful brown skin started losing its color, a young woman felt frightened, as if she were disappearing, losing her “self.” With heavy makeup, she covered up “my spots,” as she called them—patches of lighter skin caused by a condition called vitiligo. It’s a loss of skin pigment, melanin, which gives skin its tone.

Then one day, she asked herself: Why hide? Relying on God’s strength to accept herself, she stopped wearing heavy makeup, gaining attention for her self-confidence. Eventually she became the first spokesmodel with vitiligo for a global cosmetics brand.

“It’s such a blessing,” she told a TV news host, adding that her faith, family, and friends are the ways she finds encouragement.

This woman’s story invites us to remember we each are created in God’s image. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). No matter what we look like on the outside, we each are image bearers of God. As His created persons, we reflect His glory, and as believers in Jesus we are being transformed to represent Him in the world.

Do you struggle to love the skin you’re in? Today, look in the mirror and smile for God. He created you in His image.

Never Alone

While writing a Bible guide for pastors in Indonesia, a writer friend grew fascinated with that nation’s culture of togetherness. Called gotong royong—meaning “mutual assistance”—the concept is practiced in villages, where neighbors may work together to repair someone’s roof or rebuild a bridge or path. In cities too my friend said, “People always go places with someone else—to a doctor’s appointment, for example. It’s the cultural norm. So you’re never alone.”

Worldwide, believers in Jesus rejoice in knowing we also are never alone. Our constant and forever companion is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Far more than a loyal friend, the Spirit of God is given to every follower of Christ by our heavenly Father to “help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).

Jesus promised God’s Spirit would come after His own time on Earth ended. “I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus said (v. 18). Instead, the Holy Spirit—“the Spirit of Truth” who “lives with you and will be in you”—indwells each of us who accepts the Lord as Savior (v. 17).

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, Comforter, Encourager, and Counselor—a constant companion in a world where loneliness can afflict even connected people. May we forever abide in His comforting love and help.

Enjoying Beauty

The painting caught my eye like a beacon. Displayed along a long hallway in a big city hospital, its deep pastel hues and Navajo Indian figures were so arresting I stopped to marvel and stare. “Look at that,” I said to my husband Dan.

He was walking ahead, trying to find the elevator to a doctor’s office. But I hesitated, bypassing other paintings on the wall to gaze only at that one. “Beautiful,” I whispered.

Many things in life are beautiful, indeed. Master paintings. Scenic vistas. Inspired crafts. But so is a child’s smile. A friend’s hello. A robin’s blue egg. A sea shell’s strong ridges. To relieve the burdens life can bring,  “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In such beauty, Bible scholars explain, we get a glimpse of the perfection of God’s creation—including the glory of His perfect rule to come. 

We can only imagine such perfection, so God grants us a foretaste through life’s beauty. In this way, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, God “has also set eternity in the human heart” (v. 11). Some days life looks drab and futile. But God mercifully shows us moments of beauty to ponder.

The artist of the painting I admired, Gerard Curtis Delano, understood that.  “God had given me a talent to create beauty,” he once said, “and this is what He wanted me to do.”

Seeing such beauty, how can we respond? Thank God for eternity to come. But let’s also pause today and enjoy the glory we already see.

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