Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Near To The Heart Of God"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 8:28 – 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. (NIV)
Last year, upon learning the fascinating ancestral background of my friend Parise Arakelian, I became interested in discovering more about the Armenian people — their culture, religious history, and beautiful land, including Mount Ararat, where it is believed that Noah's ark still rests. According to ancient boundaries, this mountain is situated in the very heart of Armenia. So, with this sentiment in mind, I began a search to find a rare book published in 1939 entitled Under a New Banner, a narrative which tells the life story of Parise's father, Armen John Arakelian, who was a young survivor of the Armenian genocide which took place in Turkey during the year 1915. Fortunately for me, my library in southern Delaware was able to locate the book on the west coast in Fresno, California, USA.
During the course of my reading, I closely traced the path that God prepared in leading Armen out of danger: from Neshver, Turkey, across the Syrian Desert to the ancient city of Mosul in northern Iraq, then toward the beautiful metropolis of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), before finally arriving at the port of liberty — Ellis Island, New York, USA. Following his steps, I was inspired by the divine trail of people, places, and events that God put forward in order to save Armen's life. Consequently, I wrote one of my first short stories, called Journey to Freedom, based on this miraculous story.
Indeed, it was an incredible journey to experience. I could not help but marvel at the extraordinary measures God provided in helping His child reach safety. For instance, the Lord even supplied the enemy's camel as a means of transportation. Amazingly, Armen hid for days in a huge bag of foul-smelling camel hides, hanging from the camel's back. Nevertheless, despite tragedy and loss, some situations were quite endearing and light-hearted, reminding me that God never gives us any more than we are able to bear. Lastly, after much hardship and grief, God's plan for Armen was to go to America where he was called for ministry; as a result, many have been blessed by his legacy of faith.
Years have come and gone since the Armenian genocide, yet, as if it were yesterday, I was deeply moved by this amazing testimony. Furthermore, as I considered the spiritual parallels in my own life, I thought about the various people who have crossed my path, places that have affected my journey, as well as certain events God has ordained for a specific time and purpose. Therefore, may we, too, be encouraged to follow the path that God has laid out for our lives, as we trust in His awesome power to deliver us from any harm. Regardless of our circumstances, let us continue to watch as His plan unfolds in ways that we could never imagine.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for always keeping our best interests at heart. We acknowledge that it is Your will to guide us safely through our earthly journey until our work for Christ has been fulfilled. We praise You for Your awesome power and tender care. Open our ears to Your Spirit's leading so that we may experience Your good and perfect will for our lives. Help us today to take another step of faith toward Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose precious name, we pray. Amen.