An invitation for those who thirst

Just when I needed it most, my friend invited me to “come have a cup of tea.”  It was fifteen years ago, but I still remember, and not because the tea was fancy or the venue impressive. Not at all.  She was a fellow teacher who saw me about to have a mega-meltdown in the school office one day.  I was a young newlywed making my first out-of-state move and just when everything seemed to fall apart with our moving plans, she asked me to tea.

She gently took my hand and led me to her classroom where she had a “peace corner” set up with a small electric kettle, pretty cups and saucers, a variety of tea choices and sugar all laid out on top of her filing cabinet.

The tiny cup of tea she poured for me helped me pause enough to breathe and breathe enough to remember God could handle my need.

Now, I’m the one pouring cups of tea.

When a friend messages me because she’s scared, this is what I ask: Can we meet for tea (or coffee if you choose, but tea for me!)?

When my tween daughter stresses over a bad day, I put the kettle on the stove and set out the teacups.

It’s not the tea, of course, that soothes the soul.  It’s the invitation to be still, to breathe and rest and refresh.  It’s drinking in slowly and sharing it with someone who cares, someone who will listen, pray, and just be there, fully present in the moment, not scattered, distracted, rushed, and busy.

The beauty is in the offer itself:   Come as you are.   Come weary and come thirsty.  Come overwhelmed and beaten down.  Come frightened and anxious.

Just come, rest here, and drink.

It’s an invitation that echoes God’s heart for us.  After all, our God is an inviting God. He beckons us and draws us in when we’re broken, emptyhanded, exhausted, and when we’re thirsty.

The prophet Isaiah shares God’s invitation:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

When we’re filled with fear that nothing is going to work out because all our plans have fallen apart and when it feels like perhaps God has forgotten or abandoned us, we might wonder if God is even listening.  It can feel as if we’re banging uselessly on heaven’s door with our prayers, shouting in desperation, “God, hear me!  See me!  Answer me!”

Right in that place of emptiness and need, we can take comfort because we don’t have to fight for God’s attention.  He has already invited us to come, to bring that parched, dry, and empty soul right to Him.  He is the One, the only One who could fill us anyway.

So we can stop frantically doing.  Stop searching for the perfect solution and attacking the problem with all our personal might and resources.  Stop trying to make it all work out on paper or Google-searching our way out of the mess we’re in.

Isaiah tells us the invitation is for those who have no resources of their own anyway.  It’s for those who “have no money” and it’s the same invitation in Revelation:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 ESV

Let the one who is thirsty come but also let us drink.

Max Lucado writes:

“You can stand waist deep in the Colorado River and still die of thirst. Until you scoop and swallow, the water does your system no good. Until we gulp Christ, the same is true” (Come Thirsty, p.  14).

So, when He invites us to come and drink, let His peace seep down into the cracked places in our heart.  Let it saturate our fearfulness and drench our worry with the reminder of His might, His goodness, and His salvation.

Why I Am Blaming Gloves for Missing the Bus Twice in One Week

We missed the bus two days in a row this week.

Yes, we did.

I think we typically only miss the bus once or maybe twice in a whole school year.  If that.

So, twice in a week like this?

That’s crazy talk.

I know what you’re thinking—-that mom is seriously failing at getting her kids out the door.psalm 62

Maybe so.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the bus showed up early.

Or that it’s absolutely beyond all limits of seriously c-c-c-c-cold here in Virginia for November (all those of you from the north can pick on me for whining later), so it takes us like 20 minutes longer to get ready in the morning than it did when the kids could just pick up their backpacks and head out the door in short-sleeved shirts.

We missed the bus the first day because, after just a few times of needing to wear gloves this year, my kids had already lost every pair of gloves we possessed.

I drove them to school and then spent the rest of the day digging out purple, teal, black, white, and pink gloves from every crevice, cranny, and pocket of my home.

So the next day, I laid out their hats, coats, and gloves in advance.   That’s wisdom: learning from your mistakes when your kids missed the bus last time (as in yesterday).

Then we had a miss-hap with the gloves.

Seriously, who designed these things and why do children’s fingers always stick together like they’ve been drizzled with crazy glue when they need to go into gloves?

The bus drove past our house while I stood at the front door trying to push my five-year-old’s fingers apart so they would fit into the frustrating finger holes.

Please can it just be spring already?

The truth is, I am a slave to the bus route.

And I am a slave to the school bells.

Also, the after school activity schedule, the church service and meeting times, my infant son’s naps, my kids’ bedtime, the alarm clock, doctor’s appointments and meetings.

My life is shackled and chained by the calendar, the agenda, the to-do list and the daily schedule.

I’m a slave to the expectations and needs of others.

I’ve spent this month studying about the Sabbath, reading about the Sabbath, and changing my life so I actually keep the Sabbath.

I’ve focused completely on how God created the Sabbath on the seventh day.  Rest is part of the perfection and completion of His creation.  It is a way for us to re-connect with our Creator God.  That’s what God said in Exodus 20:8-11.

But I read this also and find there’s something more:

“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.  That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15).

In her book, Breathe, Priscilla Shirer writes that:

The Israelites had never developed the discipline of declining.  They had been trained to acquiesce and comply.  But now the Sabbath would help them remember they were free.  Free to say ‘no.’  Free to rest.  Free to no longer be controlled by that which they were previously mastered.  Free to enjoy their relationship with Yahweh.

The Sabbath reminds me that Christ also has set me free from slavery.

For one day a week, I choose to please Him and Him only.  I remember that my value isn’t based on productivity.  I am not what I do.  I am who He created me to be.

Priscille Shirer also writes:

He loved them simply because they were His.  He had chosen them.  That was enough.

Egypt demanded performance.

God offered rest.

It doesn’t matter how many times my kids missed the bus this week.  Or whether I caved in and bought my child mittens instead of gloves.

I will never perform enough, produce enough, or be enough to earn His love and affection; but He gives it to me abundantly anyway.

Sabbath reminds me of this: He loves me.

Sabbath speaks to a weary heart and says, “You’re free.  You don’t have to do and do and do. Just rest in Him.”

Do you ever feel like a slave to the to-do list, the calendar, the schedule or other people’s expectations?

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Practice Sabbath-Keeping’?

 

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

 

I’m Desperate For You

I don’t know if I’m desperate enough yet.

This past Sunday, the speaker for our church’s upcoming special services asked us to unite in prayer to prepare our hearts for next week.  He asked us to pray with celebration, desperation, expectation and anticipation.

It’s catchy.  It’s Biblical.  I’m happy to pray those prayers.

So, I begin by praying with celebration, thanking God in advance for the work He’s going to do in our lives, for inhabiting our praise, and for answering us when we cry out to Him.

I pray with anticipation and expectation.  That’s easy.  Surely I don’t take a night off from my regularly scheduled activities to tune in to God and expect nothing.  So, with excitement, I tell God, “I can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned!”

But that prayer of desperation, the idea of it, the challenge of it, has been on my mind and heart for days.  It’s branded there and I can feel the aching of burnt flesh as it digs deep, pushing past my outer self and past my complacency and knocking over my bad attitudes, religiosity, and pride.

What does it really mean for us to pray with desperation?  Can I say that I’m there as I sit at my kitchen table with my hot tea during my comfortable afternoon quiet time?  Is this desperation, this polite bowing of the head and subdued entwining of the fingers?

I know I can go through the motions of it all.  I can mutter the magic words, “Lord, we’re desperate for you and your presence.”  Then, duty done, I can roll right on to the easier prayers, the ones that don’t require me to empty myself, care about others and place my utter dependence on God.

I refuse to let myself off that easy.

The truth is we are in desperate need of God.  I am.  Others are.  I look to my right and see my prayer journal open with an overwhelming list of requests.  They knock the air right out of me and I can’t pray for these people without my prayers becoming breathless words and tearful pleas before a God so able and so worthy of our praise.

This world, its sin and evil, its divorces and separations, unemployment and bankruptcy, abuse and neglect, cancer and death, car accidents and inexplicable illnesses wrecking people with pain, is choking the very breath out of me.

Oh yes, I’m desperate for Him.  I’m frantic for His salvation, just as David was when he declared:

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not?  He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG).

At least for a moment, I am praying with desperation, and yet it’s so easy to bounce back to an everyday blindness.  I don’t see the needs.  I don’t see the pain.  I don’t see the lostness of people who need a Savior.  It is, after all, a life or death matter that I shrug off so effortlessly.

Years ago, my husband and I served under a worship leader who hated the song, Breathe.  It made no sense to her.  She thought it was silly to sing, “This is the air I breathe . . . this is my daily bread.”

“What on earth does that mean anyway?” she always asked.

It means that Christ gives us the very air we suck into our lungs.  He has become for us the Bread of Life and the Living Water.  Nothing else can satisfy our most basic needs for sustenance, nutrition, air, for life.

It means without His grace, we wouldn’t survive one second on this killer planet.  We’d be dead where we stand.  That is why we sing, “I’m desperate for You.  I’m lost without You.”

I’ve decided that prayers of desperation simply can’t be desperate enough sitting up at my table.  They require time on my knees.  More truly, they require some time with my face to the floor.

How else can I come to God humbly enough, confessing that He alone is why I live now and why I have hope for eternity?  How else can I lay these requests at His feet with needs so burdensome and heavy they’ve pushed my shoulders to the ground?

This is how desperate prayers are prayed.  It’s clawing through the dust of a vast desert, panting and exhausted, searching for the only One who can satisfy us and sustain us.

That’s how David prayed when he was in the desert of Judah, cut off from worship in Jerusalem:

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water
Psalm 63:1 (ESV).

There’s no water in this world that we live in, none at all, that can quench the deep-down thirst of our Spirit for God.  We’re desert hikers abandoned among miles of sand without even a canteen in this “dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”

That’s why it’s so important to fight against the blahs of the rigid schedule and the humdrums of daily life.
It’s so necessary to push aside the frantic pace of activities and meetings, responsibilities and the endless line of people who want just a tiny sliver of our pie of time.
It’s imperative that we stop being satisfied with a Sunday morning faith and we start fighting for time in God’s presence.

It’s because we only find God in the desert when we’re looking for Him, really looking, desperately looking.  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).

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 © 2012 Heather King