Remembering: Silly Mom, School Buses are for Kids

Originally posted on September 9, 2011
I dropped my three-year-old off for her first day of preschool today and it reminded me of this lesson last year on my older girls’ first day of school.  Enjoy!

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall”
(Psalm 18:29).

We went out early on the first day of school, so full of excitement about the big day that we couldn’t stand in the house a moment longer.  My girls had been wearing their backpacks for a full five minutes before I finally opened the door and we stepped outside.

And there we stood, dad, mom, and three girls waiting, waiting, and waiting for the big yellow bus.

When it came, the girls climbed up the steps, the doors shut, and the bus pulled away.

And I wasn’t on it with them.

Because school buses aren’t for moms.

At the end of the day, my baby and I watched for the bus to return.  After it was five minutes late, I gripped my cell phone tightly waiting for a call.

After ten minutes of being late, I knew my daughters had gotten lost and placed on the wrong bus.

After fifteen minutes of being late, I thought they must have been so lost in the school, they would be locked in all night.  No one would ever find them.  My girls would simply be missing in the halls of the school forever  . . . all because I wasn’t there to speak for them!

But eighteen minutes after the bus was supposed to arrive, it finally stopped in front of our home.  And guess what?

The girls were on it.  They were safe and cheerful.  They hadn’t gotten lost for a moment

What’s more . . . they knew their room numbers and their teacher’s names and yes, even how to use the school bathroom.

I guess they survived without me.

Maybe there will be times when they struggle and feel a little lost.  Then I’ll need to to decide when to step in and rescue them and when to trust that we’ve trained them well enough to manage on their own.

Even God, the Perfect Father, navigates this fine parental balance between deliverance and training.

In Psalm 18, the writer declares that God:

“reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

(Psalm 18:16-17).

God yanked the Psalmist out of the drowning waves and rescued him from overwhelming foes.

Not only that, the poet tells God, “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way” (Psalm 18:36).

Sometimes God knows we can’t handle this foe and we need rescue.  On other days, He gives us easy circumstances, a broad path, a relaxing walk, rather than a treacherous mountain climb up a narrow rock-filled pathway because He knows our feet are tender and uncertain.

But life isn’t always easy and our journey isn’t always a Sunday stroll on a bright and cheerful day.  God doesn’t always carry us out of tough times; sometimes He asks us to rely on all the training He has poured into our hearts and minds so that we will overcome.

Thus, in that same Psalm, we see: “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

And why can we perform these feats of wonder with God’s help?  Because He has trained us in times of peace so that we can battle through times of war.

The Psalmist says:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze (Psalm 18:32-34).

God has exercised our limbs of faith and traveled with us in paths both broad and narrow.  Our feet have grown accustomed to the journey, becoming sure-footed like a deer’s and able to scale great mountainous heights.

And while God is always with us, never abandoning us for a moment, sometimes He chooses to walk alongside us through difficult circumstances rather than lifting us up and carrying us through them.

Maybe God is asking you to walk rather than be carried today. Perhaps you’ve tapped your feet impatiently at God, waiting for Him to place you on His shoulders and make all of these hard times just disappear.

But instead of offering you an escape route, maybe your Father God, knowing full well what is best for you, is asking you to walk through the difficult road, at least a little farther.  He will provide all that you need, the training, the strength, the energy, the patience and perseverance.  And when He sees that your “foot is slipping,” like the Psalmist, you can say, “your unfailing love, Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Filling Out The Form

“I’m your servant—help me understand what that means, the inner meaning of your instruction”  (Psalm 119:125 MSG).

“What do you want to see your child learn during this school year?”

I tapped the eraser end of my pencil on the table.

It’s not a new question.  I’ve been answering it for years.  The first time I registered my oldest daughter for preschool, I sat in a child-sized chair and hunched over a child-sized table and completed the “Help Me Get to Know Your Child” form.

Some questions were easy.  What does she like?  What are her strengths? I scribbled away for a while, trying to sum up my precious daughter in a few sentences on blank lines.

But when it came to that one question—What do you want her to learn?—-tap, tap, tap went the top of the pen on the preschool table.

Tap, tap, tap goes my pencil after Open House for second grade.  Some things never change.

What am I supposed to put on this form?  Multiplication?  Cursive?  Powerful writing skills? 

Truly, I want her to know in a deep-down, unquestioning way that God loves her.

This was Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

I’m not talking about being able to rattle off John 3:16 or sing Jesus Loves Me.

In her book A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes notes that the first word for know here is gnosis or ginosko:  “This word is not simply a head knowledge but an intimate heart knowledge,” like the “relationship between a husband and a wife.” (p. 173).

Yes! I want her to love God with that passion and to be filled up with all that God has for her because she trusts and fully knows His love.

And I want her to understand that growing in Christ takes time, a lifetime of time.  There are no shortcuts to faith. 

Rick Warren wrote:

Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither
instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the
rest of your life.

I don’t want her to settle for a safe amount of faith, a reasonable amount of Bible knowledge, a decent prayer life, an appropriate amount of service to God.  I don’t want her to declare, “I’m finished.  This much is enough.  No need for more of God.”

After all, He always leads us forward, perpetually changing us, incessantly maturing us.  His passion is transformation.

It takes hard work.  It takes discipline.  It takes yielding.  It takes willingness to be taught and to change.  As it says in Romans:

… fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:2)

This is my prayer for her.

Not head knowledge or wisdom gained through book study and our teacher in these matters has to be more than human.  Paul assures us that, “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”  (vs.10).

The deep things of God.  Is that what I’m asking?

Or as Paul puts it later, “We have the mind of Christ.

He says it with such confidence.  Not we want to have, we will have, someday we’ll have, or if we work hard enough we’ll have.  God has given us His Spirit and with that, “we have the mind of Christ” (vs. 16).

This is what I want my daughters to learn.  This is what I want to learn.  I want every day to know Him more, to be filled by His Spirit, responsive to His promptings, and for my mind not to be filled with self and with world, but with Christ.

I look at the form from her teacher.  How to answer this question?  I decide that being vague is the way to go.  “I want her to fulfill her potential, growing in her strengths even more and improving any weaknesses.”

That’s what I write.  But I pray for so much more.

I pray for the deep things of God.  I pray for the mind of Christ.

How would you answer this question?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: Back to School Lesson #1: How to Use the Bathroom

Originally posted on September 5, 2011

On the first day of preschool for my oldest daughter, her teacher leaned in to open the car door and greeted my beaming girl, who had her hair done up sweetly and her clothes picked out special.

Other children had been lifted out of the car, screaming for mom as the teacher carried them down the hallway.

Not my daughter.  She bounced out the door and practically sprinted down to the classroom.  So much for separation anxiety.

I, on the other hand, wiped away tears.

At the end of the day, I wanted a full report on all her activities.  Instead, the teacher helped her back into the car and said, “She had a good day!”

A whole two hours of her life spent without me there even to watch.

Truly, it’s the difficult goal of parenthood—to train our children so they function independently.  Teach them what they need to know now so that they succeed tomorrow.

While God never trains us for independence, He is forever building into our lives, hearts, and minds today what we will need the next day and the day after that. 

And sometimes we miss it.

Sometimes we denounce the study of God’s Word in favor of what is “practical” and “relevant” to our needs right now.  We want to learn “how to” rather than learn who God is.  We shrug off discipleship in favor of temporary spiritual programs built around a single verse or two.

Now, personal application matters.  The holy words on these pages aren’t there for amusement, or intellectual stimulation, or comfort alone.  If we read without change, we are missing all that Scripture was intended to be for us.

But, how are we to know now what will matter in our lives tomorrow?  If we seek only that which has immediate application to our lives today, here, now, in this situation, the Bible becomes nothing more than a Band-Aid for life’s boo-boos or a pocket map for our life’s journey.

To celebrate the last day of summer vacation, I sat down with my girls today and had a heart-to-heart about the beginning of school.

I looked them in the eyes made bright by excitement about school and making new friends and opening new crayons and learning new ideas . . . and I gave them the most important instructions I could think of for the year:

  1. Do not wait to go to the bathroom until it’s an emergency.
  2. Go to the bathroom before you go to the playground for recess and before you get on the bus at the end of the day.
  3. Raise your hand and ask your teacher permission to go to the restroom.
  4. Close the door behind you.
  5. Flush when you are done.
  6. Wash your hands.

To me, these seemed like essential words of wisdom.  To them, they seemed banal and unimaginative.

Just wait until they have to go to the bathroom tomorrow . . .

God so often is giving us the training we need for the future, and we in similar fashion, roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders, and avert our gaze at anything so boring, so unnecessary, so impractical.

How could David know that days spent in the fields watching boring, stinky sheep would train him to be a warrior king?

How could Moses know that a childhood in an Egyptian palace and 40 years in the wilderness moving sheep around would prepare him to be the deliverer of the Hebrew nation from 400 years of slavery and then the leader of that nomadic people for another 40 years?

How could Joseph know how years spent managing Potiphar’s house as a slave and another season managing his fellow convicts in a prison would prepare him to save the entire Egyptian nation and the surrounding countries from a 7-year famine?

How could they know?  How do you know as you read your Bible what verse you will need to whisper in the night a year from now or the passage you’ll need to cling to even a decade later?

We don’t know.  But God does.

So, we open up His Word and we dig deep.  We search passionately—not just for the solution to our current problem or the manual for our present situation—but we search for Him, God Himself, and who He is.  We sit attentive in His classroom and become the student of God’s character through the study of His Word.

The Psalmist wrote:

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:10-16).

The Psalmist was a dedicated student of Scripture and he tells us how to be the same in this passage:

  • Seek God—not what He can do for you, but God Himself, with all your heart.
  • Memorize Scripture and call it to mind during moments of temptation.
  • Give God praise.
  • Ask Him to teach you.
  • Talk to others about what you’re learning from time spent in His Word.
  • Treat God’s Word like it’s a treasure chest filled to the brim with the most magnificent jewels imaginable.
  • Spend time meditating, contemplating, and praying through the Bible and what it reveals about Him.

And more than anything else, do not neglect His word.  You’re guaranteed to need it, if not today then tomorrow.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.