Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Monday, July 1 - Floods & Flames

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” — Isaiah 43:2

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The Cleveland Browns haven’t been known to make the playoffs often, but they recently had a veteran quarterback on the team who has playoff experience. Joe Flacco was signed as an insurance policy in case the starter got injured, even though Flacco didn’t find much success in recent years. After leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012-13, Flacco’s career took a lot of twists and turns. In the salary cap era, even franchise quarterbacks sometimes get traded or released. Flacco was traded to several teams, including the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, and wasn’t always sure where he’d land. But he made the most of his opportunity last season with the Browns and won the 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

When people go through tough times, sometimes they reach greater heights than they could have if life was easy.

For example, Gerald Crabb grew up in Kentucky. His father was not a believer, but his mother had him in church most Sundays. He sang a solo in church for the first time at age 5 and learned to play the guitar when he was 11 years old. Since his father drank heavily and struggled to keep a job, the family had to move in with grandparents several times. Gerald’s childhood was like a roller-coaster. He enjoyed some good times in church but also went through several disasters related to his father’s addiction. In the eighth grade, Gerald quit school. However, he wrote phrases that eventually became songs and continued to develop his musical talents.

Crabb married young and opened a car wash business and preached. He and his first wife had several children, but Gerald started doing something he said he wouldn’t do. He started drinking excessively like his father and it contributed to the breakup of his marriage. At a low point, he wrote the song, “Please Forgive Me.” It is a heartfelt testimony song that uplifts and inspires. It’s relatable, as everybody disappoints the Lord sometimes. In a surprising way, God can bring wonderful words and music out of heartaches and misery.

Even though God never pushes us toward sin and we shouldn’t ever blame God for any wrongdoing, the Lord brings forth something meaningful out of the worst chapters of our lives. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God forgave all of Gerald’s sin in an instant when Gerald surrendered his life fully to the Lord. Soon he remarried a Christian woman and several of their children became a powerhouse in gospel music. The Crabb family is well known across the country and in many parts of the world, and Gerald has penned more than 500 songs, with 27 resulting in No. 1 positions on radio charts.

When we listen to Gerald Crabb’s songs, we’re reminded we can make it through the deepest waters and the hottest flames. As the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).

Sometimes we will even see beauty come from ashes. Though Gerald surely wouldn’t want to repeat some of the worst times of his life, the Lord used the floods and flames to turn him into one of the best songwriters with songs that give hope to many struggling people. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). His “gold” is a blessing that looks like the songs that came to be from a long, hard process.

Thank you, Jesus, that our mess-ups can be the very things You use in us to reach others.

— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia

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