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February-March 2021

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Three Perspectives

The following brief articles reflect the perspectives of a talented and thoughtful new generation of Free Will Baptist writers. Find similar articles at



He Has Gone Before Me

He has gone before me.

There are times I sit on the back porch, simply to take in the beauty of creation. The sky is so blue, the grass so green, and the birds so talkative. They warble melodies back and forth, as if trying to outdo one another. Each song is prettier than the last. Nature is alive.

Pawpaw and I enjoy watching the deer. A doe and her two fawns like to roam the back woods, sometimes venturing beyond the edge of the forest into human territory. The fawns are always curious, frolicking into the unknown and experiencing the newness of life. However, when it comes to being out in the open, with no trees for coverage, they are timid. Perhaps their mother taught them the dangers of exposure. Or, maybe, it’s an instinctive knowledge.

The mother deer knows all too well the dangers they may face, so, taking charge, she leads the trot away from the forest. Her babies watch from further back, uncertain. Eventually, curiosity wins out, and they join her, drawing strength from their mother’s courage. They trust her fully. If a problem arises, they believe she will protect them.

Trust. It isn’t always easy. It requires giving up control. When I stop and consider that truth, I am quickly reminded nothing has ever truly been in my control. I have the freedom to make my own decisions, but God ultimately determines the direction of my life.

Life can be really scary, unknown, a daunting prospect, especially during 2020. When I see those baby deer staring anxiously after their mother, sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. I am tiptoeing on the edge of my forest, looking out into the large, open world. So many dangers lurk there, especially as a Christian. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 we will face trials and tribulations in this life; however, He is our blessed hope. We can take heart; we can rest in Him, because He has overcome the world. Like that doe going before her babies, bravely marching outside of their comfort zone, Jesus takes me by the hand and leads me into the open fields of this dangerous world. He will never abandon me but protect me in His perfect way.

Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us the Lord goes before us. He is with us and will never leave or forsake us. So, we should never be afraid or discouraged.

He has gone before me.

About the Writer: Claire Ryan lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and teaches 7th grade English at Shafer Middle School. She is the assistant women's basketball coach at Welch College. Claire enjoys reading, writing, sports, spending time with family and friends, coffee, and cheering Alabama Crimson Tide athletics.



Does God Care About Me?

One day during college I was listening—or at least trying to listen—to a chapel speaker. My mind was filled with all kinds of distractions, and I allowed them to overtake my mind for most of the sermon. I was going through a particularly hard time in my life. I was battling hopelessness, loneliness, and depression. Honestly, chapel was the last place I wanted to be.

First Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I had heard that passage many times before. The speaker paused after he read it, looked up, and said, “Do you know that?” I leaned in. “Do you know that He cares for you?” he said. It woke me and pulled me out of my thoughts. “Do I know God cares for me?” I asked myself.

God loves you more than anyone in this world ever could. He created you intentionally and purposefully in your mother’s womb. He sent his beloved Son to die a sinner’s death on a cross for you. He cares for you.

In these dark days, it is easy to isolate ourselves. We think no one cares about us, or what we are going through. It’s easy to pretend we are okay and hide behind a mask. It’s easy to cling to our pain, regret, struggles, and sins.

The beginning of verse 6 says we must humble ourselves. Holding onto our burdens is an issue of pride. Grasping our problems and not giving them to God is saying we are strong enough to fight our battles alone. Or, even worse, that God is not big enough to fight our battles. The truth is God is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him.

Verse 6 refers to the “mighty hand” of God. The verse is referencing God’s mighty hand saving His people the Israelites from Egypt. His hand is still mighty, and if He can bring a whole nation out of bondage thousands of years ago, He still can handle your burdens today. Christ calls us to cast our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us (verse 7). Bring all of your sin, all of your hurt, all of your day-to-day struggles to Him. No load is too heavy for Him to carry.

I pray today you can turn from yourself and your problems and turn to God, giving Him all the burdens you are carrying, because He cares for you.

About the Writer: Karah Grooms is a senior at Welch College in Gallatin, Tennessee, studying Intercultural Studies and Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling. She hopes to one day become a missionary and use her knowledge of psychology on the field. In her free time, she loves making earrings, watching Gilmore Girls, and thrift shopping.





You may be wondering, “What are S.U.Ds.?” S.U.Ds. stands for Seemingly Unimportant Decisions. My very intelligent mom and Sunday School teacher taught a lesson on this one time. The lesson not only impacted my life, but also the lives of others in the class.

S.U.Ds. are the small choices we make in daily life that seem minor, but over time, can end up snowballing us, and can have major, long-term impacts. Some examples of S.U.Ds. are:

  • I will skip church tonight because I would rather hang out with a friend, play a ballgame, or just don’t feel like going.

  • I will go to a party I shouldn’t because I am in control. I will be fine, and I can resist temptation.

  • I will lie about what I did, so I don’t get into trouble.

These examples may seem silly, but that is the point.

Seemingly unimportant decisions still have consequences. Skipping church once can lead to skipping church more often, until you eventually quit going at all. Going to parties with a bad environment can lead to needless temptation, and you can fall away or hurt your testimony. Lying to get out of trouble may seem beneficial at first, because you get out of a punishment, but you are likely to find yourself lying more often and becoming more deceptive.

The book of Proverbs has always been my favorite book of the Bible, because it gives great wisdom on how to make good choices in life. Proverbs 2:11-13 says, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.” Maybe this seems extreme, but it is so true: small decisions make big impacts on our lives.

About the Writer: Caitlin Hayes is from Columbus, Ohio. She has a Master of Science in Psychology from Tiffin University, and has served as a facilitator for Impulse International Missions for the past nine years. She has taught Sunday School for many age groups, and is currently the nursery leader for her church. In her free time, Caitlin likes to travel, watch documentaries, and spend time with her two awesome nephews.


©2021 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists