What Happens When the Door Closes and you are in the Storm?

This is the post excerpt.

The brainchild of two Registered Nurses, ages 50 plus, who asked the question, “What happens when the door closes and you are in the storm?” After a lengthy discussion, we identified that maturing through the lifespan can be a difficult process for many women. Historically, we have overcome many obstacles; however, for reasons which are not easily identified, we are feeling quite overwhelmed with the present-unexpected life event.

When we perceive that we are overwhelmed; fear, worry, and anxiety escalate at disproportionate levels. As a result, we become spiritually disoriented, and gradually we become fixated on the closed-door. When we begin to communicate with God through prayer, we will realize that God has allowed the door or chapter in our lives to close. He is protecting us as only a Heavenly Father can do. As we draw closer to God, He will allow us to see his wonderful plan for our lives-many open doors.

Praise Him!

Do not dishonor God by words of disbelief, but praise Him with heart and soul and voice. Look on the bright side of everything. Do not bring a cloud or shadow into your home. Praise Him who is the light of your countenance and your God. Do this, and see how smoothly everything will go. 2SM 267. Ellen G. White

Good Morning! It is a brand new day. I am sharing an excerpt by one of my favorite writers-Ellen G. White regarding gratitude. After contemplating on what I read, I realize that I am not thinking correctly. How do you measure up? Do you mean that all we need to do is have faith and trust in God? And then fulfill our part by living a faith-based life filled with joy, praise, and thanksgiving?

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NLT

After the Children’s story at church on Sabbath, I looked at the little ones and the happiness that I saw in their faces, and it made me wish that I had that type of joy. Children who are nurtured in love possess optimism; in their minds, they anticipate that only good things will happen. Not even two days later, God allowed the passage from Sister White to appear on my Facebook memory posts from six years ago. This is how much God loves us, He granted my wish, even though I failed to ask for it in prayer. He reminded me that it is a simple act on my part to honor Him through praise.

It will take a conscious effort to remind myself daily that I am God’s child and there is no reason for me not to possess His wonderful joy. I am not referring to a fleeting, happy feeling based on having a great day. No, I am referring to changing my mindset from “woe is me” to always acknowledging that I am not alone or on my own to resolve the vicissitudes of life. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me above all others. It is time for me to receive the blessings of belonging to a most loving God.

“…The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Prayer for today: Dear God, I acknowledge you as my Heavenly Father. Please help me to change my mindset and to possess a heart of praise and gratitude for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

No Gray Areas

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

I admit that race cars have always fascinated me because of the thrill of the high speed. The runway speed that is required for a jet to leave the ground makes my adrenaline flow. So you can imagine that it is tough for me to drive within the speed limits on the open Texas highways. Often it is the things that excite us that push us into the area between right and wrong. The area of compromise-the gray area-where we easily fall into the abyss of wrongdoing.

As I thought about the questionable gray areas that Christian believers succumb to, I struggled to comprehend how we get ourselves into the predicament of adjusting God’s standards to fit our own desires. In Genesis 3, we read about “The Fall of Adam and Eve. Eve disobeyed God and made the decision to explore the Garden of Eden alone. During her solo adventure, she was amazed to find a serpent who spoke. In fact, Eve was so mesmerized that she had discovered an animal with the ability to communicate, she readily entered into a dialogue of deception with Satan disguised as a serpent.

“The serpent was the shrewdest of all of the animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say You must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” Genesis 3:1

When we allow ourselves to drift into gray areas, we are asking the same question that the serpent asked Eve: “Did God really say?” The next time that your mind begins to waver and you begin to travel into the gray area, ask yourself these questions:

1. Will it glorify God?

2. Will it benefit me spiritually?

3. Will it cause me to sin and have negative consequences?

Entering the realm of the gray area will cause us to either break God’s law or society’s law. Ask God to reveal your areas of compromise and to take away the desire to question His standards of right vs wrong. Just remember, God would never place the burden of using our imagination or interpretation of His perfect way for our lives. By the way, God does not have a gray area; His yes is yes, and His no is no.

Yes, I will drive within the speed limits (it’s the law), and patiently wait for my next plane ride.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I find myself slipping into the world’s gray areas of life. Please help me to bring all of my questionable decisions to you in prayer for guidance. Mold my mind, my thoughts, and my behaviors according to your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Conflict Resolution

Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong…Trust in the Lord and do good…Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:1,3,5 NLT

The dread of conflict; who does not wish that it was nonexistent? There are various definitions, but the one that provides the most impact is simply “to clash.” For many of us when we think of clashing, it is a strong disagreement with another individual. However, there are two types of conflict: Internal Conflict and External Conflict. Internal conflict presents itself as a battle within the mind and thought processes. External conflict is with other individuals, ideas, or interests.

It is surprising to learn that conflict began in heaven. How could this have occurred in a spiritual place where God himself resided? Isaiah 14 provides us with an account of “The Fall of Lucifer.” The conflict began in heaven when Lucifer allowed pride to flourish and he desired to exalt himself above God. It is unfortunate that our disobedience and sinful natures are a result of one Angel’s desire to rise above God his Creator.

Even so, before we judge Lucifer, let us perform an analysis of his character. He is described as “Son of the Morning” which tells us that God had placed him in an exalted position. It is also obvious that he was a respected leader because he convinced other angels to fall along with him. Do these character traits remind us of ourselves? Although we were created in the image of God to worship Him, we have also exalted ourselves above God through acts of disobedience, stubborn willfulness, and pride (not to be confused with being proud of oneself or others).

The conflict occurred because God created the angels and human beings with freewill-the ability to serve Him because of a personal choice. As a result of love, God chose to create us with the ability to rise above the internal conflict of right vs wrong. It is this same agape love that provides us with ongoing Conflict Resolution. From Genesis to Revelation, love is an ongoing theme of the Bible. One of my favorite biblical descriptions of agape love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2: If I speak in the languages of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of Prophecy and can fathom all Mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute Faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

God equipped us with love, the powerful emotion that keeps us connected and gives us the willingness to serve an Almighty God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

We have the answer to resolving internal and external conflict: Love God, and commit yourself and everything you do to Him. Thank you, Heavenly Father.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please remove the conflict from my mind and give me peace, so that I may serve you with the same love that you created me from. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Always and Forever

Faithful is our God

Hear me as I pray, oh Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, Lord, I am coming. Psalm 27:7-8 NLT

When I was a student nurse, one of the most important aspects of clinical practice was knowing how to prioritize patient care and the duties for that shift. The Nursing Instructor had carefully selected the appropriate patients according to our skill level and the area of the clinical rotation. At the beginning of Nursing 1, my focus was on administering physical care such as bathing, making the bed, and knowing the names of the medications along with the possible side effects for only one patient. By the end of the Nursing 1 semester, I was responsible for developing complete care plans and rendering care for three patients. Although I carefully planned my day, the challenge of constant change paved the way for me to use astute judgment in readjusting my duties throughout the shift.

The rigorous training and molding which occurred during my professional career should have been the gateway for the prioritizing of my personal life. Don’t get me wrong, organization, flexibility, and handling change are my strengths; but I did not apply prioritization to my spiritual journey with God. When I ceased clinical practice and worked a 9-5 schedule, I would awaken and say a quick prayer in the morning, and in the evening, I was so tired that I would relax by playing an online game or engaged in light reading. Prior to falling asleep, I always prayed and thanked God for His blessings. However, the time spent with God was so minimal that it became a routine instead of a time to cultivate a relationship and spiritual growth.

Serve the Lord with reverent fear and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11

Last year while I was visiting my cousin in West Virginia, the Holy Spirit used her to teach me the importance of spending “quality and quantity” time with God. During our time of worship, we sang, prayed and studied God’s Word. There was no hurry, no rush, and no interruptions. We have become spiritual Sisters-in-Christ, always encouraging each other through tears, prayers, laughter, and discussions on God’s love, grace, and mercy.

I have learned the importance of prioritizing my spiritual life above and beyond all of my other duties. My mind is being molded as I learn more and more about who God really is. The time that I spend with God is my top priority. I have incorporated praise and worship throughout my entire day. At times, it is simply saying, “Thank you God” or lifting my voice in a praise song. Today, if I was asked to list my strengths, the spiritual component of my life would be first on the list. I heard His call and I said, “Lord, I am here.”

God desires for us to come and talk with Him. He has provided the tools-the Bible and prayer, for us to deepen our spiritual relationship. Prioritize your life to include time with God. I can promise you that when you respond to His call, your life will gain strength that you never imagined possible.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I have heard your call to spend time with you. Please help me to always place you first in my life. I need you to make my life complete. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Dare to be Different

There are certain Jews that you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O King, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up. Daniel 3:12 NKJV

Looking at our multifaceted society reveals that we have the freedom to express ourselves to the fullest; according to whatever we desire or enjoy doing, saying or being. The exterior body is decorated with various hair colors, hairstyles, tattoos, piercings, updated color palettes in clothing, and the list is endless. Although most employers have dress codes, the workplace is not monochromatic; take a look at the various ways that employees individualize their appearances even when uniforms are the standard. Our voices are heard through social media, news commentaries, open forums, rallies, marches, etc. It is a wonderful world. We have come to rely on the freedom to choose without experiencing direct repercussion.

For many, it is the most desirable time in earth’s history because we can set our own standards; however, our ability to live as we choose comes with a very expensive price. The declining morals, values, and ethical standards continue to plummet downward. Marriage has been devalued by the freedom to choose polygamous activities over the ill-conceived boring expectation of a monogamous relationship. Parents are required to monitor internet activities as the rate of human trafficking, sex crimes, and pedophilia plague our society. Even in biblical times, we read of subsequent generations of the Israelites (who chose to disregard God) sacrificing their children to pagan gods because they relished the freedom of choice. There is no limit to what we can and will do when the restraints on our imaginations are lifted.

God had already foreseen the decline of our society and the consequences we would face when we dared to be different as evidenced by John 15:19: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

As believers, our freedom of choice coincides with God’s standards. When we dare to be different, we will suffer repercussions, and the consequences may be severe. Are you prepared to take the stance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego? Even when faced with death and the possibility of God not delivering them from execution, they refused to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue. When we choose God, we are unable to follow the majority or compromise truth for error. There will come a time when each of us will face our individual fiery furnaces. Will you dare to be different? I encourage you to read Daniel 3 for preparation when you will stand before your “King Nebuchadnezzar”.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I know the time will come when I have to face my fiery furnace. Please help me to dare to be different and always choose you and truth, even if you choose not to deliver me from the consequences that I may face. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Letting Go

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Revelation 22:12-13

Yesterday, I made a mental list of the things that I am willing and must give up to be a Christian-Christ like. The reality is that I have to let go of my sinful desires if I expect to receive the greatest reward of eternal life. Letting go of persons, places, and things is a requirement to becoming a “new creature in Christ.”

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

What really surprised me was the size of my list! Using Galatians 5:22-23 as a tool for the self-evaluation process gave me the harsh reality that I was not measuring up to what Christ expects of me. Oh yes, it was very overwhelming to realize that I had so many things wrong with my character, and my life.

But then I read and believed that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

I received comfort and confidence from Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your GOD goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I reflected on Job’s proclamation: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the Earth. (19:25)

My willingness to change was the requisite for God to dispatch His heavenly army to direct my steps according to His Word. I am sounding the alert to all of my friends and family: I can not talk about the things that I used to talk about, or watch the movies that I used to love, or listen to the smooth sounds of the R&B and Jazz that put me in the mood. I will continue to use my creative gifts, possess laughter, and love to talk; however, I will strive to honor God in all that I do and say from this point moving forward.

“If you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; call him up and tell him what you want.”

Prayer for today: Dear God: I am ready and willing to let go of the things which are displeasing to you. I want to be more like you; therefore, I need your help in this journey. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz