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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

In Focus

Author Mark Twain suggested that whatever we look at in life—and how we see it—can influence our next steps, even our destiny. As Twain said, “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Peter, too, spoke of vision when he replied to a lame beggar, a man whom he and John encountered at the busy temple gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:2). As the man asked them for money, Peter and John looked directly at the man. “Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ ” (v. 4).

Why did he say that? As Christ’s ambassador, Peter likely wanted the beggar to stop looking at his own limitations—yes, even to stop looking at his need for money. As he looked at the apostles, he would see the reality of having faith in God.

As Peter told him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (v. 6). Then Peter “helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk” and give praise (vv. 7–8).

What happened? Faith in God, indeed, Peter said (v. 16). As evangelist Charles Spurgeon urged, “Keep your eye simply on Him.” When we do, we don’t see obstacles. We see God, the One who makes our way clear.

Making His Music

Choral director Arianne Abela spent her childhood sitting on her hands—to hide them. Born with fingers missing or fused together on both hands, she also had no left leg and was missing toes on her right foot. A music lover and lyric soprano, she’d planned to major in government at Smith College. But one day her choir teacher asked her to conduct—which made her hands quite visible. From that moment, she found her career, going on to conduct church choirs and serving now as Director of Choirs at another university. “My teachers saw something in me,” Abela explains.

Her inspiring story invites believers to ask, What does God our Holy Teacher see in us, regardless of our “limits”? More than all, He sees Himself. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 nlt).

As His glorious “image bearers,” when others see us, we should reflect Him. For Abela, that meant Jesus, not her hands—or her lack of fingers—matters most. The same is true for all believers. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image,” says 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Similar to Abela, we then can conduct our lives by Christ’s transforming power (v. 18), offering a life song that rings out to the glory of God.

God Our Rescuer

In the open sea, a rescuer positioned her kayak to assist panicked swimmers competing in a triathlon. “Don’t grab the middle of the boat!” she called to swimmers, knowing such a move would capsize her craft. Instead, she directed weary swimmers to the bow, or front, of the kayak. There, they could grab a loop, allowing the safety kayaker to help rescue them.

Whenever life or people threaten to pull us under, as believers in Jesus, we know we have a Rescuer. “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep . . . I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered” (Ezekiel 34:11–12).

This was the prophet Ezekiel’s assurance to God’s people when they were in exile. Their leaders had neglected and exploited them, plundering their lives and caring “for themselves rather than for my flock” (v. 8). As a result, the people “were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them” (v. 6).

But “I will rescue my flock,” declared the Lord (v. 10), and His promise still holds.

What do we need to do? Hold fast to almighty God and His promises. “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them,” he says (v. 11). That’s a saving promise worth holding tight.

Hope Blossoms

In the city of Philadelphia, when weedy vacant lots were cleaned up and brightened with beautiful flowers and trees, nearby residents also brightened—in overall mental health. This proved especially true for those who struggled economically.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that green space can have an impact on mental health,” said Dr. Eugenia South, “and that’s particularly important for people living in poorer neighborhoods.” South, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is coauthor of a study on the subject.

The downtrodden people of Israel and Judah found fresh hope in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of their beautiful restoration by God. Amid all the doom and judgment Isaiah foretold, this bright promise takes root: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:1–2).

No matter our situation today, we too can rejoice in the beautiful ways our heavenly Father restores us with fresh hope, including through His creation. When we feel down, reflecting on His glory and splendor will bolster us. “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way,” Isaiah encouraged (v. 3).

A few flowers can rekindle our hope? A prophet said yes. So does our hope-giving God.

Shining Light

I felt nervous about a five-week prayer class I agreed to teach at a local church. Would the students like it? Would they like me? My anxiety was ill-focused, leading me to over-prepare lesson plans, video slides, and class handouts. Yet with a week to go, I still hadn’t encouraged many people to attend.
In prayer, however, I was reminded that the class was a service that shined light on God. Because the Holy Spirit would use the class to point people to our heavenly Father, I could set aside my nervousness about public speaking. When Jesus taught His disciples in His Sermon on the Mount, He told them, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14–15).

Reading those words, I finally sent out a class announcement on social media. Almost immediately, people started registering—expressing gratitude and excitement. Seeing their reactions, I reflected more on Jesus’s teaching: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (v. 16).
With that perspective, I taught the class with joy. I pray that my simple deed becomes a beacon and encourages others to shine their light for God too.

Look Up!

When filmmaker Wylie Overstreet showed strangers a live picture of the moon as seen through his powerful telescope, they were stunned at the up-close view, reacting with whispers and awe. To see such a glorious sight, Overstreet explained, “fills us with a sense of wonder that there’s something much bigger than ourselves.”

The psalmist David also marveled at God’s heavenly light. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3–4).

David’s humbling question puts our awe in perspective when we learn that, after God creates His new heaven and earth, we will no longer need the moon or the sun. Instead, God’s shimmering glory will provide all necessary light, said John the apostle. “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. . . . for there will be no night there” (Revelation 21:23–25).

What an amazing thought! Yet we can experience His heavenly light now—simply by seeking Christ, the Light of the world. In Overstreet’s view, “We should look up more often.” As we do, may we see God.

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.

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