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Patricia Raybon

Patricia Raybon

Patricia Raybon writes bridge-building books that help believers move big mountains. An award-winning author and journalist, she writes to encourage people in the Word, inspiring believers to love God and each other. A supporter of Bible-translation projects worldwide, she is author of I Told the Mountain to Move, My First White Friend, her One Year® devotional, God’s Great Blessings, and Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Past to Peace. A mother and wife, she and husband Dan, a retired educator, live in her beloved home state of Colorado. Join her on the journey at patriciaraybon.com

Articles by Patricia Raybon

Simply Ask

Her doctor said her detached retinas couldn’t be repaired. But after living for fifteen years as a humble blind person—learning Braille, and using a cane and service dog—a Montana woman’s life changed when her husband asked another eye doctor a simple question: could she be helped? The answer was yes. As the doctor discovered, the woman had a common eye condition, cataracts, which the doctor removed from her right eye. When the eye patch came off the next day, her vision was 20/20. A second surgery for her left eye met with equal success.

A simple question also changed the life of Naaman, a powerful military man with leprosy. Unlike the blind woman in Montana, Naaman raged arrogantly at the prophet Elisha’s instructions to “wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored” (2 Kings 5:10). Naaman’s servants, however, asked Naaman a simple question: “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (v. 13). Persuaded, Naaman washed “and his flesh was restored and became clean” (v. 14).

In our lives, sometimes we struggle with a problem because we won’t ask God. Will You help? Should I go? Will You lead? He doesn’t require complicated questions from us to help. “Before they call, I will answer,” God promised His people (Isaiah 65:24). So today, simply ask Him.

Sweeter Than Honey

His topic was racial tension. Yet the speaker remained calm and collected. Standing on stage before a large audience, he spoke boldly—but with grace, humility, kindness, and even humor. Soon the tense audience visibly relaxed, laughing along with the speaker about the dilemma they all faced: how to resolve their hot issue, but cool down their feelings and words. Yes, how to tackle a sour topic with sweet grace.

King Solomon advised this same approach for all of us: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). In this way, “The hearts of the wise make . . . their lips promote instruction” (v. 23).

Why would a powerful king like Solomon devote time to addressing how we speak? Because words can destroy. During Solomon’s time, kings relied on messengers for information about their nations, and calm and reliable messengers were highly valued. They used prudent words and reasoned tongues, not overreacting or speaking harshly, no matter the issue.

We all can benefit by gracing our opinions and thoughts with godly and prudent sweetness. In Solomon’s words, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue” (v. 1).

A World of Provision

It’s 2 a.m. when Nadia, a farmer of sea cucumbers, walks into a roped-off pen in the ocean shallows near her Madagascar village to harvest her “crop.” The early hour doesn’t bother her. “Life was very hard before I started farming,” she says. “I didn’t have any source of income.” Now, as a member of a marine-protection program called Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea,” Nadia’s income is growing and stabilizing. “We thank God that this project appeared,” she adds.
It appeared in large part because God’s creation provided what their project needs—a natural supply of sea life. In praise of our providing God, the psalmist wrote, “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate” (Psalm 104:14). As well, “there is the sea . . . teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small” (v. 25).

It’s a wonder, indeed, how the Lord’s wondrous creation also provides for us. The humble sea cucumber, for example, helps form a healthy marine food chain. Careful harvesting of sea cucumbers, in turn, grants Nadia and her neighbors a living wage.

Nothing is random in God’s creation. He uses it all for His glory and our good. Thus, “I will sing to the LORD all my life,” says the psalmist (v. 33). We too can praise Him today as we ponder all that He provides.

From Pity to Praise

At a coat drive for children, excited kids searched gratefully for their favorite colors and proper sizes. They also gained self-esteem, an organizer said—with new coats boosting their acceptance by peers and school attendance on winter days.

The apostle Paul seemed to need a coat, as well, when he wrote Timothy, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas” (2 Timothy 4:13). Held in a cold Roman prison, Paul needed warmth but also companionship. “No one came to my support,” he lamented, “but everyone deserted me” when he faced a Roman judge (v. 16). His words pierce our hearts with the honesty of this great missionary’s pain.

Yet in these final words of Paul’s last recorded letter—his closing thoughts after an astounding ministry—Paul moves from pity to praise. “But the Lord stood with me,” he adds (v. 17), and his words rally our hearts. As Paul declared, “[God] gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death” (v. 17 nlt).

If you’re facing a crisis, lacking even the right clothing for warmth or close friends to help, remember God. He is faithful to revive, provide, and deliver. Why? For His glory and for our purpose in His kingdom.

 

Fruit Juice

A thrift-store bargain, the lamp seemed perfect for my home office—the right color, size, and price. Back at home, however, when I plugged in the cord, nothing happened. No light. No power. No juice.

No problem, my husband assured me. “I can fix that. Easy.” As he took the lamp apart, he saw the trouble immediately. The plug wasn’t connected to anything. Without wiring to a source of power, the “perfect” pretty lamp was useless.

The same is true for us. Jesus told His disciples. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” But then he added this reminder. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This illustration was given in a grape-growing region, so His disciples readily understood it. Grapevines are hardy plants and their branches tolerate vigorous pruning. Cut off from their life source, however, the branches are worthless deadwood. So it is with us.

As we remain in Jesus and let His words dwell in us, we’re wired to our life source—Christ Himself. “This is to my Father’s glory,” said Jesus, “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (v. 8). Such a fruitful outcome needs daily nourishment, however. Freely, the Lord provides it through His Word and His love. So plug in and let the juice flow!

Watched by God

Our little grandson waved goodbye, then turned back with a question. “Grandma, why do you stand on the porch and watch until we leave?” I smiled at him, finding his question “cute” because he’s so young. Seeing his concern, however, I tried to give a good answer. “Well, it’s a courtesy,” I told him. “If you’re my guest, watching until you leave shows I care.” He weighed my answer, but still looked perplexed. So, I told him the simple truth. “I watch,” I said, “because I love you. When I see your car drive away, I know you’re safely heading home.” He smiled, giving me a tender hug. Finally, he understood.

His childlike understanding reminded me what all of us should remember—that our heavenly Father is constantly watching over each of us, His precious children. As Psalm 121 says, “The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade” (v. 5).

What assurance for Israel’s pilgrims as they climbed dangerous roads to Jerusalem to worship. “The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life” (vv. 6–7). Likewise, as we each climb our life’s road, sometimes facing spiritual threat or harm, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go.” Why? His love. When? “Now and forever” (v. 8).

Rich Toward God

Growing up during the Great Depression, my parents knew deep hardship as children. As a result, they were thrifty adults—hard-working and grateful money stewards. At the same time, they were never greedy. They gave time, talent, and treasury to their church, charity groups, and the needy. Indeed, they handled their money wisely and gave cheerfully.

As believers in Jesus, my parents took to heart the apostle Paul’s warning: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Paul gave this advice in a letter to Timothy, the young pastor of the city of Ephesus, a wealthy city where riches tempted rich and poor alike.

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul warned. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10).

What, then, is the antidote to greed? Being rich toward God, said Jesus (see Luke 12:13–21). By pursuing, appreciating, and loving our heavenly Father above all, He remains our chief delight. As the psalmist wrote, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

Rejoicing in Him daily relieves us of coveting, leaving us contented. May the Lord redeem our heart’s desires, making us rich toward God!

How to Stay on Track

As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide, veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered to Brown by a string tied to their fingers, Avery guides Brown’s winning races with words and touches.

“It’s all about listening to his cues,” says Brown, who says he could “swing out wide” on 200-meter races where the track curves. “Day in and day out, we’re going over race strategies,” Brown says, “communicating with each other—not only verbal cues, but physical cues.”

In our own life’s race, we’re blessed with a Divine Guide. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, leads our steps when we follow Him. “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray,” wrote John (1 John 2:26 nlt). “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know” (v. 27).

John stressed this wisdom to the Christians of his day who faced “antichrists” who denied the Father and that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 22). We face such deniers today as well. But the Holy Spirit, our Guide, leads us in following Jesus. We can trust His guidance to touch us with truth, keeping us on track.

Friendship Bench

In the south central African country of Zimbabwe, war trauma and high unemployment can leave people in despair—until they find hope on a bench. A friendship bench. Hopeless people can go there to talk with trained “grandmothers”—elderly women taught to listen to people struggling with depression, known in that nation’s Shona language as kufungisisa, or “thinking too much.”

The Friendship Bench Project is being launched in other places, including Zanzibar, Malawi, London, and New York City. “We were thrilled to bits with the results,” said one London researcher. A New York counselor agreed. “Before you know it, you’re not on a bench, you’re just inside a warm conversation with someone who cares.”

The project evokes the warmth and wonder of talking with our Almighty God. Moses put up not a bench but a tent to commune with God, calling it the Tent of Meeting. There, “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). Joshua, his young assistant, so valued his time with God that he wouldn’t even leave the tent (v. 11).

Today we no longer need a Tent of Meeting. Jesus has brought the Father near. As He told His disciples, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Yes, our God awaits us. He’s our heart’s wisest helper, our understanding Friend. Talk with Him now.

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