My Addiction

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1, MSG).

I love routine.

I plod around my house each morning with my eyes barely open, doing the same tasks I did the day before. I follow a schedule day by day, week by week with shopping days, volunteering days, writing days, cleaning days, and such.

Each night, I drink a cup of hot tea in one of my favorite mugs before I go to bed.  Every night.  Summer, winter, makes no difference.

So, a few weeks ago when my whole schedule was off and it was far too late for a reasonable cup of tea before I climbed into bed, I felt a little shaky and definitely a little off.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t settle in under the covers and turn out the light without at least a few sips from my teacup.

It’s not that I’m a tea addict.  I’m a routine addict.

It was late.  It was silly and ludicrous. I should have just plopped my head on the pillow and been done with it, but instead I stayed up an extra 15 minutes so I could sip at my tea just like I do every night.  It was wonderful, peaceful, calming, just right.

Given my love for the routine of daily life, I was not at all surprised when my six-year-old brought me a neon orange paper that read (and I quote):

Lauren:
eat Breckfest
Brush teeth
Go to school
Play Victoria’s games
Play hide and seek
eat lunch
watch TV
take a Nap
eat Dinnr.
Brush teeth
Go to bed

The basic reality of daily life, of routine, and of the mundane is that we all live it in some way or another—me in my adult world, my daughter in her child world.  We commute to work.  We go to school.  We walk the dog.  We make phone calls.  We volunteer.  We give baths and make dinners.  We run errands.  We clock in; we clock out.

What I love about the resurrection appearances of Jesus is that He surprised the disciples by inviting Himself into their daily routine.  Sure He appeared to them in the upper room, where they were gathered for worship and prayer. That’s to be expected.

But then He did something totally different.  He showed up on the side of the Sea of Galilee and watched them wrestle with fishing nets and bring nothing up from the water.

He went to work with them.

Early in the morning, maybe as the first flickers of sunlight skipped over the Galilean waters, Jesus called out to his tired friends.  They didn’t recognize his voice; he was just some curious bystander sticking his nose into their own personal business, giving them instructions as if He knew more about fishing than they did—a bunch of expert fisherman.

He told them to “‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:6).

That’s when they recognized the Lord.

In A Year With Jesus, Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Work that was futile apart from Christ becomes successful in His presence . .. Your resurrection life, Lord Jesus, is like a sunrise in work that has lost meaning and in routines that have become pointless.  Whatever my work today, I will do it in the recognition of Your presence and under Your command” (p. 594).

and

“The resurrection transforms Monday work as much as Sunday worship” (p. 596).

Jesus made it clear in those 40 days following His resurrection that He wasn’t just looking to be part of our sacred lives and in the religious moments we schedule on the calendar.  He wanted us to live with a curious mesh and entwining of sacred and secular, where He’s with us during every part of our day.

He sets our routine.  He is our routine.  He shakes up our routine.  He designs our routine. He redesigns our routine.

You’d think we fairly intelligent people could get by on our own living out our daily lives.  But, I’ve decided that I can’t and I’m okay with that.

That’s why you’ll find me in the Wal-Mart parking lot once a week with my head bent low in the few minutes before I exit my car.  It’s because I’m a mess on my own—making stupid decisions about what to buy and what not to buy, forgetting what I need, falling for advertising gimmicks and sales tricks, traveling back and forth across the whole store because I forgot something on my list, making a list and then leaving it in my car or at home, trying to use outdated coupons and failing to use perfectly good coupons that I spent perfectly good time cutting out.

Why should God care about my budget and my meal plan for the week and for the items on my list and my own personal sanity?  Because He loves me, that’s why.  Because the grocery store is where I lay out my nets and hope for an abundance of fish.

You have your own Galilean place, where Jesus is trying to invite Himself and where He’s waiting to give you input and advice.   Perhaps it’s the routine that makes you feel so comfortable and that you think you can handle all on your own.  Perhaps it’s the place you feel most capable and expert.  Maybe it’s a place where you experience failure and emptiness.

You haven’t seen abundance until you’ve felt the blessing of His presence in the midst of your routine.  It’s time to invite Him into the boat with you.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.

For Your Name’s Sake

This morning, I filled my minivan up with gas and about choked on my bottled water when I saw the little rolling numbers climbing higher and higher.  I started imagining the what-if’s of our future like not being able to afford food for my children and my husband having to sleep at his office because we couldn’t afford the gas for him to commute.  Within a few seconds, I had my family out on the street with one pair of clothes each and no food.

So, I took one look at my total gas bill and marched inside the store and bought myself a caramel cream doughnut with chocolate frosting and a double chocolate milk.   I almost bought two doughnuts, but a little Holy Spirit self-control kicked in—thank goodness.

Many of the storms in our lives are simply the result of living in this sinful, messed up, broken world.  We can’t blame God for the crises we face.  It’s not God’s fault my gas bill each month is about half my mortgage.  Sometimes the storms we face are because we’ve sinned or have chosen to disobey God and now we’re facing the consequences.  Other times, Satan is at work, trying to discourage and defeat us with trial after trial.

Regardless of whether our difficulties are God-caused or God-allowed, we can trust that He’s always at work for our benefit and for His glory.

In the case of the disciples in Mark 6:45-52, just because they were in a storm, didn’t mean they were out of God’s will or that they had sinned.   It says, “Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida” (verse 45, NIV).  He intended for them to be out on that sea, facing the wind and waves.  Clearly, this particular storm served a purpose in their lives–two of the same purposes that God often has for our life storms.   He uses them to prepare us for our future and to show His glory.

Lessons for the Future

When the disciples faced their first storm on the sea in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus was in the boat with them the whole time, sleeping on a cushion in the stern.  At any time during the storm, they could reach over and wake Him up and that’s what they finally did.  The disciples exhausted their own resources and acknowledged that the storm was too much for them, so they “woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'” (Mark 4:35-41).

But, this second storm in Mark 6:45-52 was different.  Jesus wasn’t physically in the boat with them.  He had stayed on the other shore and went off by Himself to pray.  So, when the storm got too much for the disciples this time, they couldn’t just do what they did before.   In this storm, they were physically alone.

Jesus uses this second storm to teach them that just because He wasn’t physically in the boat, doesn’t mean He was unaware of what they were facing or unable to save them.  This was a vital lesson for their future!  Every day brought them one step closer to the cross, to His resurrection and His ascension—to a time when they would have to live out everyday life without Jesus talking, walking and eating with them.  Without this lesson in this boat in the storm on the sea, the disciples wouldn’t have survived a single trial after Jesus left them.  They wouldn’t know how to withstand a storm without Jesus physically in their boat.

God doesn’t waste the experiences in our lives–the storms, the trials, the bad days, the annoyances, the interruptions.  All of it.  He can be at work in our lives, teaching us and growing our faith, transforming us to be more like Christ, comforting us so we can later comfort others, as long as we yield those moments to Him and willingly receive the lessons.

For His Glory

Not only can God use our every experience to teach and prepare us for the future, but He is also intentional about being glorified in our every circumstance.

In the case of the disciples, when Jesus walked across the water in the middle of the night and climbed into the boat with them, the storm ceased.  As you can imagine, the disciples “were completely amazed.”  I’d be amazed, too!  In the companion passage in Matthew 14:33, it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”

When God gives us too much to handle, it’s not so we feel defeated or broken or ashamed.  It’s not to humble us or make us fall.  God gives us too much so that we give everything to Him. Then, when He carries the burdens that force us to the ground, He is glorified.  People stand in amazement and see God in us and at work in our lives.  There is no question of whether “Heather did this amazing thing”—No, it can only be God.

That means that instead of praying for the miracles I think I need, I can tell God my problems and simply pray for Him to be glorified in every situation.  That’s not natural for an in-control, planning person like myself.  I am so tempted to pray for specific miracles when I go through tough times and tell the God of the Universe exactly how He can provide for my need.

Praise God that He shows me enough grace not to give me what I ask for!

I’ve slowly learned not to pray for the miracle I think I need, but to pray for God’s glory instead.  When David was surrounded by enemies and running for his life, he so often prayed for God to rescue him or save him for God’s glory and for the honor of God’s name.  In Psalm 31:3, he prayed, “For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.”

Whatever you are facing, you can trust God to know the perfect way to provide for you and to rescue you.  Give your problems to Him and ask Him, “Lord, be glorified in this situation.  Be amazing.  Be awesome.  For Your name’s sake, take me through this storm.  For the glory of Your name, rescue me.  Whatever brings You glory, Lord, that’s what I ask for.”

Today, I saw this kind of faith in a prayer from another family.  I don’t personally know the little girl, Kate McCrae, who is fighting metastatic brain cancer for the second time in her young life.  But, her story has touched my heart.  I pray for her all the time and I follow her family’s updates and prayer requests.  At the end of her post today, Kate’s mom wrote, “We continue to pray that Kate would be healed of this disease, and that Jesus would be glorified through our heartbreak.

What an example of faith for us.  Not many of us will face a crisis in this life as big as this family is facing and yet this hurting mom is willing to place everything in God’s hands and just ask that He be glorified.

Is my daily life too much for me to handle?  All the time.  Is Kate’s cancer too much for her family to handle?  It’s too much for any of us on this earth.  But absolutely nothing is too much for God, and so we hoist the burdens that are too heavy for our shoulders onto His back and let Him carry them and us as well—and then we give Him all the glory.

Please join me in praying for Kate McCrae as she begins radiation treatments for her cancer.  You can follow this link to learn more about her story.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King

Water Without a Bucket

Every Thursday, I sit for 1-1/2 hours at the ballet studio while two of my daughters take lessons.  At first, I was totally convinced this would be a disaster for my 1-1/2 year-old daughter, who gets to tag along for the ride.  There really isn’t that much in that little waiting room to hold her attention and keep us both from going crazy.

But, there is one thoroughly exciting thing in that ballet studio waiting room that has saved the day — the water cooler.

I can’t explain why this water cooler amazes my daughter, but it does.  And, it’s not just her.  The little girls in their leotards and tights seem to think that nothing is so wonderful as water from this water cooler.  Clearly, it’s better than Mommy’s bottled water or the water we can get at home.  The ballet water is special and I feel sorry for the ballet studio and all the money they have to invest in supplying the plastic cups these girls go through every week.

It reminds me of the woman at the well in John 4:1-26.   There is something about this Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus that captures my heart.   She’s just so practical.

Jesus says to her: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (verse 10, NIV).

And this precious woman looks up at Jesus and says, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” (verse 11, NIV).  To rephrase—-“Mister, I don’t know how you think you could give me any ‘living water’—you don’t even have a bucket!”

I’ve done that to God.  He’s offered to give me provision, healing, comfort, direction and peace and I’ve turned to Him and said, “God, what You offer sounds so great, but it’s impossible.  You don’t even have a bucket!”

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest wrote, “My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says .”  We think God is confined to what we have to offer and what we are capable of doing in this practical, physical, fleshly reality of ours.  We forget that God is bigger than that.

It reminds me of the passage from yesterday’s post, when the disciples faced the storm out on the sea in Mark 6:45-52.   In the middle of this tempest, Jesus “saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (NIV).  These were expert fisherman,who had probably faced many storms on the sea.   They knew what to do in a storm and they spent hours employing all their skill and expertise, trying to stay alive.

But, the storm was too much for them. 

We say all the time as Christians—“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Do you know that isn’t in Scripture?  It’s a misquote of  “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

I think God gives us more than we can handle all the time.  I know He does for me!  Whether it’s a big life crisis or just my kids fighting for the 20th time in one morning, it’s too much for me.  I can use all my expertise and ability to try to rescue me from a storm of circumstances, but the bottom line is I am not enough.

The Psalmist wrote, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7, NLT). Don’t place your hope in what you have or who you are.  Don’t look at your circumstances and discount God’s ability to care for you in the midst of them.  He is God.  He doesn’t need a bucket to give you living water.  He isn’t confined by the expertise and ability of professional fishermen to save you from life’s storms.

Oswald Chambers also wrote, “We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. . . .”  Place your hope to survive the daily annoyances and the huge life storms in the Almighty God and leave it to Him to figure out how to save you.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King

Bad Dreams

” The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:8

The other night I was startled awake at 3 a.m. by a child’s nose touching my nose and two eyes staring intently into my sleeping face.  Then, in the loudest whisper possible, my daughter announced, “Mom, I had a bad dream!”

We can write nightmares off as a “kid thing,” but in the darkness, when we don’t have the busyness of the day to distract us, our fears can overpower us and our thoughts run wild.

In the daytime, I’m fairly good at “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).  I know the Scriptures and God’s promises to provide for me, to care for me, to help me, to be with me.

But at night, my defenses are down.  So, it’s easy to lie awake pursuing “what if’s,” prepare speeches, imagine conversations, and make plans.

That’s why it’s not surprising to me that when Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask questions about his faith, “he came to Jesus at night” (John 3:2, NIV).  I know Nicodemus wanted to hide his interest in Jesus from the other Pharisees, but I also wonder if something else was at work.

Could it be that Nicodemus tossed and turned at night, wondering who this Jesus was?  Could it be that he couldn’t stop the questions and just wanted some answers?

I’ve been meditating this week on Mark 6:45-52.  In that passage, Jesus had sent the disciples away on a boat while he went off by Himself to pray.  It says: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.  Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.”

This is the second of two occasions where Jesus calmed the wind and waves for the disciples.  This time, the event is miraculous even before the storm is calmed—-because Jesus “saw them.” He saw them in the middle of the night, from the other side of the shore, even with the wind and waves at their worst.

He saw them in the darkness.

Not only did he see where they were on the sea, but he saw the horrible storm they were facing and he saw their every effort to overcome it.  “He saw them straining at rowing for the wind was against them.”

When things are dark for us—either literally at night when we’re tossing in bed unable to sleep or just in times when we can’t sense the Lord’s presence or light in our circumstances—He sees us.  He knows everything we are facing and all of our efforts to overcome.  He knows what thoughts steal our sleep.

For the disciples in that storm, Jesus’s presence alone brought them peace.  He walked to them on the water and comforted them, saying: “Do not be afraid.’  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased” (verses 50 and 51).  It didn’t take magical formulas or even speaking to the storm.  Jesus was present with them, and the tempest ended.

It is the same with us.  No matter our storm or the darkness we face, we can have peace in His presence.  As the Psalmist wrote, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NIV).

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King