My daughter announced at the breakfast table that if we wanted to go to Disney World we all needed to eat a particular cereal.
“You want to go to Disney, right?”
She asked her five-year-old sister. Such an unfair question. Of course, the five-year-old nodded, ‘yes.’
“Then you need to eat this cereal, see?”
I peek over my shoulder to see what she found: a contest on the back of the cereal box. One grand prize winner. Yada yada yada.
Not exactly the reality she was trying to spin for her siblings: Eat this box of cereal = a free trip to Disney for the family.
But my children feel they have a deprived existence because:
(A) We do not own a dog.
(B) We have never been to Disney.
I promise her that I’ve entered plenty of Free Trip to Disney contests before yet I’ve still never been there. It’s because I never win anything.
(Well, once I won a drawing at the public library for the adult summer reading program. The nice librarian called and told me I had won and could come pick up my prize. I was ecstatic with joy. So much so that he felt the need to assure me that it was just a tiny little prize and not to expect anything big. He didn’t want me to be disappointed. It didn’t matter. I had WON something.)
But as I try to protect my dear daughter from the inevitable disappointment of finding that eating this particular cereal did not by default mean we’d be standing outside Cinderella’s castle next summer, I remember my prize from last week.
We made our annual family trek to the pumpkin patch. When I paid to get in, the nice lady at the farm handed me a jar of homemade pumpkin butter.
She said the first 25 families that visited the farm that day were receiving a gift.
We had won!
In fact, she didn’t have any more jars there on the shelf behind her, so I’m pretty sure we were number 25, making this all the more reason to celebrate.
And all I had to do was show up.
Oh, we love to complicate things don’t we?
I think how difficult I can make this sometimes, asking what I need to do to win God’s affection or attention and earn His favor.
I can know it in my head. It’s grace. It’s mercy. He doesn’t need me to perform elaborate rituals or scream and shout for the prize of His divine attention.
Still I forget.
I think surely I must have let Him down and disappointed Him or missed a step and messed things up along the way. Maybe He’d have blessed me, but I did something wrong and now He can’t. Or I made a wrong decision somewhere and stumbled out of His perfect plan for me.
It makes it seem so fickle. Like I’m playing some guessing game and the prize for guessing correctly is His favor and affection. But one wrong answer and I’m out.
Yet, James 4:8a says:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I read about the resurrection appearance of Jesus, how He appeared first to Mary Magdaelene and then to the other women who had visited the tomb that morning.
In her devotional, Revealing Jesus, Darlene Zschech asks:
Why did Jesus appear first to two women? The answer is so simple. They were the ones who showed up first.
We won’t always get it right. Sometimes just ‘showing up’ begins with that first humble act of repentance, of praying in earnest that the Holy Spirit do His work, search our hearts, purify and refine.
But showing up also means just coming as we are. Not trying to figure out some complicated formula in order to gain admittance to see Jesus. We don’t have to delay coming to Him because we’re not ready yet or worry that He’ll send us back because we’re so unworthy.
We just. Come.
And we ask: Lord, I long for Your presence and I’m drawing near to You today. I’m resting here at Your feet and I’m desperate to spend time with You. Forgive me, cleanse me. Please draw near to me. ~Amen~
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King