This portion God gave me is actually enough

I’m not sure that I’ve eaten more than a handful of my own meals actually on my own in over ten years.

I know maybe it’s not the absolute truth.

But it feels like the truth some days.

It’s as if whatever food I’m eating is a free-for-all for my children.

Sometimes I grab breakfast out of the cabinet and carry it to the minivan as we rush out the door. The very second I open the cereal bar, an alarm system must be triggered because children in all corners of the vehicle ask if they can have some.

Perhaps I should be grateful.  Thank you, dear children, I did not actually need the calories from this breakfast-on-the-go anyway.

But there is something so illogical about this mothering phenomenon.

As soon as my children graduate from pureed squash in a jar to their very own mini-portions of actual human food, they want to have what I am eating from my very own plate.

Even though we are eating the same food.

The same food!!!!

I may have had to cut it up into non-chokeable portions before putting it on a highchair tray; nevertheless, my lasagna did taste the same as their lasagna.

And the Cheerios in my cereal bowl are (earth-shattering announcement, here) the same Cheerios in my child’s bowl.

I know older moms are probably chuckling.  Surely my own mom is.  Because this is probably a universal mothering struggle going back generations upon generations.

Let’s face it, Eve should have gotten used to sharing her fruit with another person because once Cain and Abel came along, she’d never eat completely on her own again.

The thing is, my kids are buying into the same lie that trips us up all the time.

It’s the lie that whatever she has is better than what I have.

Maybe we’re even eating the same food.

Or maybe it really is different.  Maybe she’s sitting down to steak and potatoes while we pick at boxed macaroni and cheese.  Or maybe we’re the ones with the gourmet fare while she wolfs down some PB&J.

No matter what the dish, so often we just really want what she has.

We want the same.  And we want it to be the same quality.  And we want it to be the same amount.

We don’t trust God to care for us uniquely, personally, individually.  We don’t trust Him enough to accept what He gives with gratitude, knowing that He loves us and cares for us, knowing that anything He gives us is far more than we deserve or merit.

I read in Numbers how Moses divied up supplies to the people of Israel.

He gave two carts and four oxen to the sons of Gershon.

He gave four carts and eight oxen to the sons of Merari.

He didn’t give any carts or oxen to the sons of Kohath.

Sounds like a rip-off.  Sounds like a big, unfair, scam.

Those sons of Kohath could have raised a mighty fine protest about injustice and favoritism and the need for equal distribution of all goods.

But Moses gave out the oxen and the carts “according to their service,” and the sons of Kohath cared for “the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder” (Numbers 7:7-9).

Every one of them received what they needed for their particular, God-chosen, unique job.  He equipped them for their calling.

He does the same for us.

Some days, I’ll confess, it feels like I don’t have enough.

I don’t just mean material goods.  I mean enough patience or enough time or enough patience or enough creativity or enough patience or enough sleep—or enough patience.  Did I already mention that one?

So many others around me seem to have plates heaped full with the very gifts and traits I feel so desperately in need of.

But I take my need to Him.

Because I don’t need any thing.  I don’t need a specific gifting or a particular object.

I don’t need to be the same or have the same as anyone else.

I NEED JESUS.  HE IS ENOUGH FOR ME.

HE EQUIPS US FOR OUR CALLING.

YES, HE GIVES ME ALL I NEED TO DO WHAT HE WANTS ME TO DO RIGHT HERE IN THIS MOMENT.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24 NIV)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure (Psalm 16:5 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words (Psalm 119:57).

Originally published March 25, 2015

Why Can’t I Go to the Carnival Now?

psalm 62-1 MSG

There were tears.

Lots of them.

We’re fully immersed in end-of-the-year testing for my school-age kids, which in Virginia means taking the SOL’s (Standards of Learning).

Maybe you think that means we’re stressed or anxious.

Actually, we’re doing a lot of celebrating.

The girls get more than cereal or toast for breakfast on SOL days, and it’s not often they wake up to a hot breakfast on a Monday morning.

I leave them extra notes of love and encouragement in their lunch bags and slip in treats as well.

They don’t have their regular homework load (hurray!) and we can spend the afternoons playing, relaxing and occasionally running out for ice cream to reward them for their labors.

We celebrate every day they finish a test because we’re one step closer to summer.

So for my first grader—who is too young to take the SOLs (they start in third grade)—all this celebrating seems suspiciously unfair.

Even if she also gets hot breakfasts, ice cream treats, and fun nights just like her older sisters, she’s pretty sure she’s missing out.

That’s why she was bawling at bedtime last week, because her older sisters get to go to the SOL carnival and she can’t.

This carnival is for all the kids at school who take the SOL’s, which means third graders and up.

My first grader has a problem with that.

No water slide?  No games with prizes?  No cotton candy?  No face painting?  No popcorn?

She’s pretty sure she can’t wait until she’s in third grade to experience the joys of the SOL carnival.  Why should she wait, after all, when the older girls are having all the fun now?

We try to reason with her.

How the SOLs are hard work and this is their reward.  Would she want to take those tests now when she hasn’t learned what she needs to know?

We explain how her sisters didn’t get to go to the carnival in first grade either.  They also were first graders who didn’t get to go once upon a time.

Why rush these things?  Sure, there are incentives to growing up.  But there are responsibilities, too.  There are drawbacks and hard jobs and lots of work.

We want her to enjoy now.

She wants to rush on to what she imagines is the glorious future.  She overlooks the hard and longs for the ultimate reward.

We’re asking her to wait.

And waiting is tough.  Waiting requires trusting God’s timing.  Waiting demands patience.  Waiting wearies us because even though we’re moving forward on this journey, sometimes we just feel stuck.

Waiting means lingering with God in the here and now instead of wanting the end already, can we just skip to the end?!

Waiting tugs at our faith and nudges us with doubts because we wonder if God has abandoned us and forgotten us along the way.

I wonder how much I’m like my little girl, so obsessed with future blessing that I want to skip to the end?

And what would that truly mean?  It would mean missing the journey.  It would mean receiving blessings I’m unprepared for and responsibilities I can’t carry.

In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel the prophet anointed the teenage shepherd boy, David, to be king of Israel after Saul.

But that doesn’t mean they held a coronation ceremony right away.

No, Saul was still the king at  the time, so David just went right back to the fields to tend sheep.

Then he defeated Goliath and went to live in Saul’s palace a while.

Then Saul’s jealousy became rage and David spent 13 years running for his life.

Then Saul died.

Even then, David didn’t rush to take the throne. Instead, he spent another 7-1/2 years reigning over Judah alone from a city called Hebron.

Sheila Walsh writes:

“David was content to stay where God told him to stay for as long as it took” (The Longing in Me, p. 93).

All those years of waiting (more than 20 !) between the moment that oil poured down on his head to anoint him as king and the moment when he settled into the Jerusalem palace, David didn’t seem to push ahead.

He didn’t kill Saul.  He didn’t start public opinion campaigns to sway the populace to his side.  He didn’t connive or contrive, plot or plan a way to skip to the end.

He trusted God “for as long as it took.”

Can we trust God like that?

What a day it must have been when David finally sat on that throne in Jerusalem.  King.  After all those years.

God had done the work.  David hadn’t pushed it along or made it happen.  God had done it.  All God and only God.

May that be our testimony too when God completes the work He’s doing in us.

 

10 Bible Verses about God Fulfilling His Promises (and my One Word for 2016)

verses-fulfilled

“Fulfilled.”

I prayed in those last few weeks of 2015 over my “one word” for 2016.  It’s not a prophecy or a magic trick.  It’s just a way to quiet the noise and ask God what He wants to do in the new year.  How can I join Him?  How can I prepare my heart for His intentions?

While I knew the idea of what I wanted, I couldn’t find that One Word to pull it all together

I wanted it to be about seeing God complete His work.  He’s stirred my heart in new directions, turned over soil, planted new seeds.  He’s closed doors and asked me to step down from long-term commitments.  He’s begun the work, and now I long to see the fulfilment of His promises, His plans, and the desires He’s placed on my heart.

Completion.  Fruition.  Harvest.

But there’s more.

I want to be fulfilled in Him, not always longing for more or discontent with what He’s already given.  He is enough for me.  I am sated and satisfied in Christ.  I am humble and grateful and overcome by His goodness.

Then I read one of my favorite verses in the Christmas story and I knew in that one breathless moment that this was it, where I needed to fix my attention in 2016:

And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. Luke 1:45 NET

Amen.

Here are 10 other verses to remind us that God fulfills His promises, He completes His work, and He does not abandon His plans for us.

  • Joshua 21:45 NIV
    Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
  • Joshua 23:14 NIV
    “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
  • Proverbs 13:12 NIV
  • Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
        but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
  • Proverbs 13:19 NIV
    A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.
  • Jeremiah 1:12 NIV
    The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
  • Lamentations 2:17a NIV
    The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago…
  • Ezekiel 12:28 NIV
    “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
  • Luke 1:38 NIV
    “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
  • Philippians 1:6 NIV
    being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • Galatians 6:9 NIV
    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

My past “One Word” choices for the year:

Did you choose One Word for the new year?  What word or theme verse did you choose?

21 Bible Verses on Cultivating Contentment

verses-contentment

  • Exodus 20:17 ESV
    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
  • Psalm 23:1 NKJV
    The Lord is my shepherd;
    I shall not want.
  • Psalm 37:16 ESV
    Better is the little that the righteous has
        than the abundance of many wicked.
  • Psalm 73:1-5 MSG
    No doubt about it! God is good
        good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
    But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness.
    I was looking the other way, looking up to the people
    At the top, envying the wicked who have it made,
    Who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.
  • Proverbs 14:30 HCSB
    A tranquil heart is life to the body,
    but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.
  • Proverbs 27:4 NIV
    Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
        but who can stand before jealousy?
  • Ecclesiastes 4:6 ESV
    Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
  • Matthew 6:33 ESV
    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • Luke 3:14 NIV
    Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
    He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
  • Luke 12:15 HCSB
    He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”
  • Romans 12:6 MSG
    So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
  • Romans 13:13 NIV
    Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
  • Romans 14:17 NASB
    for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:3 NIV
    You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
  • Galatians 5:26 NASB
    Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
  • Philippians 2:3-4 MSG
     If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
  • Philippians 4:11-12 ESV
    Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-7 NIV
    But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
  • Hebrews 13:5 HCSB
    Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you
  • James 4:14-16 NIV
     But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Dear Tailgating Driver

1 corinthians 13-4

Dear Tailgating Driver,

I get it.  You have somewhere to be.  And you needed to be there 5 minutes ago.

And, obviously, you getting there is more important than traffic laws or the personal safety of everyone in my minivan.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not going to speed up.

You may ride close enough for me to see your sunglasses and hair-style in my rear-view mirror….

You may honk in annoyance…..

Or weave back and forth like you would pass me in a second if that solid yellow line just had a few dots in it…

But I won’t be pushed along faster than I intend to go.  I don’t want to be pulled into some mysterious competition to see who gets ahead and I won’t let you set the pace of our little road trip.

So, I’ll purposefully hang right at the speed limit and not go any faster.

And, you know what, I’ll even pull over and let you go by.

That’s right. I will step aside and simply conceded defeat.

Yes, Mr. Impatient Driver, congratulations. You are faster than me. You are speedier and sportier.

If you want so badly to get where you are going, be my guest. I’ll just continue along behind you without all the stress and bother.

The inner voice of justice might be screaming at me to do otherwise.

I was there first, after all. I have important places to go, too.

I was going the speed limit and not plodding along at 15 MPH or anything, so what’s the big deal?

Someone needs to teach you a lesson!

Where are the state police when you need them? Doesn’t anybody see how right I am and how wrong you are?

But is it worth it?

Seems pretty pointless to fight over who gets to the red light or the stop sign first.

So, you win.

And thanks really, for reminding me that there’s no point to any of the seemingly endless competitions we get pushed into by people tailgating our lives.

Do we need to vie for the position as the Best Mom, Best Wife, Most Stylish, Smartest, Most Used by God, Best Blogger, Best Cake Baker and Craft Maker, Most Professional, Most Educated, Most Awarded?

Does any of that really matter?

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the middle of a competition and we’re not even sure how we got there. Someone just seems determined to show us up and put us down.

Maybe they are criticizing us behind our back and spreading rumors.

Maybe they’ve taken credit for our ideas at work or covered over our contribution to a project.

Maybe they’ve courted the attention of the boss and now receive special privileges and honor at the expense of others.

Maybe they never cease to brag about their life while making us feel insignificant and inferior.

I’ll admit it. Some part of me wants to fight back to defend my honor and my worth.  Might as well throw down the gauntlet and just compete already. After all, “she started it.”

Even in ministry, the struggle is there.

Our motives seem so pure, like wanting to share this message God has given us and bring Him glory, but somehow pride sneaks in. We feel like people need to hear what we have to say, so it’s okay to shove others aside and muscle our way to the front.

According to Paul, though, that’s not what love does.

He says, love:

“does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV).

Love is a humble serving, a self-sacrificing consideration of others, a putting other people first and letting them pass by to sit in a seat of honor or be the first to cross the finish line.

I love The Message paraphrase of Philippians 2:3-4 also:

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:3-4 MSG).

So, in love, we may choose to step aside.  Let someone else pass.

Love says, “Here, be my guest.”

Because, for all their pushing and shoving to get ahead, and all their tailgating, honking efforts to pass you by, here’s the bottom line:

God loves the humble.

Only He chooses whom to put down and whom to exalt.

For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.  Psalm 75:6-7 NKJV

We can leave it to Him and trust Him with our ministry, our calling, our work, our reputation.  All of it.

Sincerely,

~Me~

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.

When I Grow Up, I Want to Eat My Own Dinner

psalm 73

I’m not sure that I’ve eaten more than a handful of my own meals actually on my own in over ten years.

I know maybe it’s not the absolute truth.

But it feels like the truth some days.

It’s as if whatever food I’m eating is a free-for-all for my children.

Sometimes I grab breakfast out of the cabinet and carry it to the minivan as we rush out the door. The very second I open the cereal bar, an alarm system must be triggered because children in all corners of the vehicle ask if they can have some.

Perhaps I should be grateful.  Thank you, dear children, I did not actually need the calories from this breakfast-on-the-go anyway.

But there is something so illogical about this mothering phenomenon.

As soon as my children graduate from pureed squash in a jar to their very own mini-portions of actual human food, they want to have what I am eating from my very own plate.

Even though we are eating the same food.

The same food!!!!

I may have cut it up into non-chokeable portions before putting it on the highchair tray; nevertheless, my lasagna will taste the same as their lasagna.

And the Cheerios in my cereal bowl are (earth-shattering announcement, here) the same Cheerios that I put in my child’s bowl.

I know older moms are probably chuckling.  Surely my own mom is.  Because this is probably a universal mothering struggle going back generations upon generations.

Let’s face it, Eve should have gotten used to sharing her fruit with another person because once Cain and Abel came along, she’d never eat completely on her own again.

The thing is, my kids are buying into the same lie that trips us up all the time.

It’s the lie that whatever she has is better than what I have.

Maybe we’re even eating the same food.

Or maybe it really is different.  Maybe she’s sitting down to steak and potatoes while we pick at boxed macaroni and cheese.  Or maybe we’re the ones with the gourmet fare while she wolfs down some PB&J.

No matter what the dish, so often we just really want what she has.

We want the same.  And we want it to be the same quality.  And we want it to be the same amount.

We don’t trust God to care for us uniquely, personally, individually.  We don’t trust Him enough to accept what He gives with gratitude, knowing that He loves us and cares for us, knowing that anything He gives us is far more than we deserve or merit.

I read in Numbers how Moses divied up supplies to the people of Israel.

He gave two carts and four oxen to the sons of Gershon.

He gave four carts and eight oxen to the sons of Merari.

He didn’t give any carts or oxen to the sons of Kohath.

Sounds like a rip-off.  Sounds like a big, unfair, scam.

Those sons of Kohath could have raised a mighty fine protest about injustice and favoritism and the need for equal distribution of all goods.

But Moses gave out the oxen and the carts “according to their service,” and the sons of Kohath cared for “the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder” (Numbers 7:7-9).

Every one of them received what they needed for their particular, God-chosen, unique job.  He equipped them for their calling.

He does the same for us.

Some days, I’ll confess, it feels like I don’t have enough.

I don’t just mean material goods.  I mean enough patience or enough time or enough patience or enough creativity or enough patience or enough sleep—or enough patience.  Did I already mention that one?

So many others around me seem to have plates heaped full with the very gifts and traits I feel so desperately in need of.

But I take my need to Him.

Because I don’t need any thing.  I don’t need a specific gifting or a particular object.

I don’t need to be the same or have the same as anyone else.

I need Jesus.  He is enough for me.

He equips us for our calling.

Yes, He gives me all I need to do what He wants me to do right here in this moment.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24 NIV)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure (Psalm 16:5 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words (Psalm 119:57).

 

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.

 

Why won’t anyone sit in the back of the minivan?

The middle seat in our minivan is prime vehicular real estate.

My daughters make mad dashes to the minivan in order to hop in that prize seat first.  No one, after all, wants to sit in the back.

And, nothing gets these girls ready to rumble like one sister hogging middle seat privileges.  They have some sort of tracking sense, a radar for what’s “fair” or “unfair.”

Their memory tangles up with rhetoric.  I don’t think they really keep accurate records of seating assignments every time we drive in the minivan, but somehow they sound like they are testifying in a court of law:

“I have not gotten to ride in the middle seat for one whole week!  You have had 6 turns more than me and now you cannot sit in the middle seat again until I have gotten to sit there 6 times.”

There are tears and the occasional meltdown.  Sister pits herself against sister.  They take sides and form alliances to gang up on the offending sibling and rain down minivan justice.

Let’s be honest.  It’s a whole ugly mess sometimes.

And maybe the ugly comes out in us some days, too, as we fearfully try to scramble into the ‘best place’ or grab our own chance at God’s favor and blessing.

I’m not exactly sure how Abraham did it, but I want to learn from him how to stop fretting over my position and start rejoicing in my relationship with Christ.

He and his nephew Lot stood high enough to overlook the land.  Their employees had been fighting.  Abraham and Lot were both too wealthy to travel together any longer.  They needed separate space and well-defined territory.

So, there they stood, preparing to divvy it all up:  “This is mine.  That is yours.”

Abraham let Lot choose first.

Maybe I’d be a mess of worries and desperation in that moment, wanting to protect my blessing, hope, and future.  I’d probably be praying under my breath: “Please don’t choose the best spot.  Please don’t choose the best spot.”

Or, at the most, I’d offer to flip a coin to make the whole process more fair.

But Abraham trusted.

Abraham knew that nothing Lot did in that moment could hinder, interrupt or destroy God’s perfect plan for his life.

He didn’t have to push or shove his way to the front of any line.  He didn’t have to fight or rumble in order to stake out prime territory.  He didn’t grab for the ‘biggest slice of the pie’ or scramble ahead of everyone to try to ‘get the best seat.’

Maybe we’re worried about that sometimes.  We see the blessings of God as if there’s a limited supply.  If He blesses her, then that leaves less blessing for me.

Or maybe this world seems like such a noisy place and social media has only turned up the volume.  Sometimes it feels like we need to shout in order to be heard.

But I want to be Abraham.

I want to trust God enough not to fret or worry over territorial choices or the fear that someone will end up with a better plot of land or a greater blessing.

I want to be able to extend my hand and say, “You first…..”psalm 18

I want to stop pushing and striving to get ahead and simply trust God to take me where He wants me to go.

Lot chose the best looking land, of course.  He snatched up the prime real estate in a selfish effort to look out for himself.

He couldn’t see the corruption and enmity and culture of sin that ruled the land he was choosing: Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sometimes, the blessing we’re so sure we want is the worst possible future God could give us.  

He sees.  He knows.  He loves us.  Sometimes loving us means telling us “no” in the moment.

We can trust Him.

Instead, the Psalmist said,

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me (Psalm 18:19 NIV).

When we trust Him, He delights in us indeed.

When we choose humility over pride, He sees and takes joy.

He will bring us to that spacious place, and it will be perfect, just right, hand-picked and God-designed for you.

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 © 2015 Heather King

 

 

 

 

Christmas Devotions: How to lose at Candy Land

“Congratulations.”

That’s the word we taught our daughters to say when they lost at Candy Land.

Maybe around 2 years old when they could first maneuver those colored gingerbread men around that candy-covered game board, we taught them this massive word.

Mastering the vocabulary came difficult.  They lisped out ‘congratulations’ and we’d smile over the cuteness of a tinchristmas8y person tackling the syllables.

But more difficult than that, harder than the language itself, was the heart uprising at having to spill out “congratulations” to someone else.

Because we all want to win…all the time.  And when someone else’s gingerbread man landed on that last rainbow square right at the candy castle, that wrecked little hearts in all their innate selfishness and self-centered ways.

Oh, how the wrestling match with our enemy pride begins so young and does it ever actually end?  Will we ever slam that opponent down on that mat and claim victory over such a foe?

If Christmas is about anything, though, it’s about God coming low.

Paul writes:

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).

He made himself nothing.  Our God chose to be man, born all bloody and small in a stable of dust and grime, straw, animal feed, and manure.

“Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” that’s what Paul wrote.

Yet, still pride and envy destroy us, destroy our churches, our friendships, and our ministries because we scramble and shove for the spotlight, the glory and the prize.

We may no longer be counting the squares on a Candy Land board, and yet saying that word, ‘congratulations’ with genuine joy at another’s success may come difficult.

When their ministry takes off….
When they buy that huge new house….
When they book that dream vacation…
When their kids bring home that report card….

Yet, there’s John the Baptist.

Before Jesus came along preaching and healing, John gathered crowds by the river and baptized them into repentance and renewal.  He was the long-awaited prophet, the voice crying out in the wilderness.

So, John’s followers didn’t appreciate the attention the upstart Jesus was stealing away from John’s long-term ministry. But John wasn’t bothered at all, saying, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30 NIV).

In that familiar old Christmas story, I see where this began.

I see how John learned young to step aside humbly and worship the One who is greater.  I see how he didn’t strive for his own glory or stake his own claim to attention and praise.

His mama taught him.

Elizabeth was about six months pregnant with her own miracle baby when Mary came for a surprise visit.

For six months, Elizabeth treasured the joy of a son-to-be, a prophecy spoken over her very own baby.  How she had longed for a child during those years of barrenness, and now she was truly expectant.  And not just any baby.  But the forerunner of the Messiah in her very own womb.

Yet, when Mary walked into Elizabeth’s house unexpectedly, Elizabeth didn’t give way to jealousy or territorial cattyness.  She didn’t rush to tell her own story or pridefully demand any attention for herself

She stepped aside.

She extended a joyful and genuine ‘Congratulations’ to the young woman before her.

And she worshiped.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”  (Luke 1:41-45 NIV).

Pride chains us down to a captivity of our own creation.

Looking past ourselves sets us free.

It’s the freedom of making this life less about us and all about Him and serving others.

And the lesson begins here at Christmas as Elizabeth humbly congratulates and blesses the teenage girl before her.

As Elizabeth’s own unborn son becomes the first person to worship the still unborn Savior.

And as God Himself grew within the confines of a womb, our God of light couched for a time in darkness waiting to be born.

Originally posted 12/16/2013

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

 

On the Air: A Radio Interview About Ask Me Anything, Lord

He asked me which question was the hardest to write about….

I sat across from the morning show host of the radio station WXGM (99.1 FM) and was chatting about my new book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions.

It’s a book about how I, the queen of all question-askers, learned to stop talking so much and started letting God ask me questions.

God asked other people questions throughout Scripture.DSCF2165

To Adam and Eve, He asked, “Where are you?”

To Elijah, He asked, “What are you doing here?”

To Peter, He asked, “Do you love me?”

Our God is a relation-builder, a reconciler.  Right from the beginning, Adam and Eve made a mess of things, disobeyed Him, and hid in the garden.  How could they be so foolish, thinking a few fig leaves could hide their whereabouts from an omniscient, all-powerful God who had made them just days before?

But God didn’t lecture, chastise, yell, or rain down fire on them.

Instead, He sought them out with a simple stroll in the garden and this asking:  Where are you?

He didn’t ask because He didn’t know.  He didn’t ask for His own benefit.

He asked to show two wayward children who trembled in fear and hid in shame among the foliage that He loved them.  He still desperately wanted relationship with them, and He would go to great lengths and make the ultimate sacrifice in order to draw all of us back to Him.

These questions of God’s are all through the Bible, and when we let Him ask them of us they root out fear, help us overcome shame and insecurity, and promise God’s presence and faithful provision in whatever circumstance we face.

So I sat across from the radio host last week, a copy of my book about God’s questions sitting on the desk in front of him.  That’s when he asked me, “Which one was the hardest to write about?”

I knew right away what to answer.

It was God’s question to Cain: “Where is your brother?”

When I wrote the book, I had so many questions in Scripture to choose from.  God is such a question-asker.  He fills Scripture with His patient pursuit of His people.  So, I had to leave some out.  I couldn’t cover them all, not in one book anyway.

I didn’t want to write about Cain.  What could we have in common, after all?  The first murderer and a middle class minivan mom like me?

It seemed like an easy topic to skip over, too irrelevant to my life to pay it any mind.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Yet, even though I wanted to skip God’s question to Cain, I couldn’t.  I knew God wanted me to write about it, and once I started typing on that blank word processor all about it, I couldn’t stop.

Community, after all, can be messy.  Relationships are prone to failure.  They trip us up with their pits and obstacles and shaky ground.  We shove into each other’s space, stepping on toes, bruising egos, making assumptions and getting it wrong.

That’s what Cain’s story is about, really, about how his discontentment, jealousy and unforgiveness grew to disastrous levels until he exploded in rage and destroyed another person….and himself.

Over time, I realized just how much God needed to ask me the same question that he asked this first murderer in history.

Heather, where’s your brother?  Where’s your sister?

It turns out that Cain and I have far more in common than I realized…surely far more than I wanted to admit.

Jealousy….anger….comparing the ministry of someone else to my own meager-looking offerings….defensiveness….whining….broken relationships….needing to forgive others….needing to be forgiven.

That was Cain.

It’s me sometimes, too.

Maybe you’ve been there also.  Maybe you’ve been Cain.

Or, perhaps you’ve even been Abel, subject to the cruel lashing out of someone who’s been hurt or overlooked.

I don’t know who needed the reminder that day while I chatted on the radio or even who needs to know this today, but God created us for community with Him and community with others.  When that’s broken, it rips apart our testimony, it distracts us from ministry purposes, and it taints our offering with bitterness.

So, God asks us this question:  Where is your brother?  Where is your sister?

And He reminds us that He loved people…messy, sinful, broken people…enough to die for them.

Enough to die for me.

Enough to die for you.

If He loved us that much, surely we should love others, too, even when it’s hard and requires repentance or forgiveness, admitting we’re wrong or trampling our own pride.

In the end, the hardest of God’s questions to write about became one of the questions that taught me the most.

To read more about the questions God asks, click here for information about Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions.

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 © 2013 Heather King

Projected Images and Pretend Lives

The regimental surgeon made us squirm as he held up what could have been medieval torture devices, but were really medical tools used in the Revolutionary War.

A farmer’s wife rolled a slightly wrinkled potato in a barrel of sand, lifted the lid to a jar of pickled eggs, and ran her hand through the dried fruit and beans she had prepared.

The cloth maker laid wool and linen socks out to dry after dipping them in a natural yellow dye of onion skin. IMG_3442

At the encampment, the soldiers drilled us on firing a cannon before shouting out, “make ready” and signaling us all to cover our ears for the blast.

This summer we’ve toured two of the three major historic sites in our area, asked all the usual questions about 17th and 18th century life, and chatted about whether we would want to live before refrigeration, air conditioning, indoor plumbing, voting rights for women, the abolition of slavery, the discovery of antibiotics, and the creation of Wal-Mart and Target.

We think not.

But we happily visit to see how people lived in other times without experiencing extreme levels of discomfort ourselves.

Sure, we might be losing ten pounds a day sweating in the middle of July while listening to the interpreters talk about cooking in clay ovens and fighting the British army.  But, we’re wearing short sleeves and shorts and we retreat to air conditioning as soon as the tour ends.

And really, aren’t we always prevented from fully experiencing life as another person?  We might glance over someone’s life, making judgments and assumptions from a safe distance, but we’ll never fully know what it feels like to be her.

It’s a lesson I just never seem to learn, one that trips me into pits of envy and then shocks me into disappointment just as quickly over and over again.

These women I’ve thought were perfect, the ones I envied, had the houses, the marriages, the kids, the finances, the vacations, the looks and style I wanted–everything just exactly right.

I made my assumptions based on superficial evidence and my envy grew based on inaccurate and unfair comparisons between what her life appeared to be and what I knew my life was.

Yet, inevitably the façade collapses.  The truth is no one’s life is perfect.  Too often the closed doors of her pristine home concealed struggles and strife no one expected or knew existed.

If we’re ever to overcome envy, we have to stop being duped by projected images and pretend lives and choose contentment in our own real lives with our real husbands in our real homes with our real kids.

Because the endless comparisons cost us contentment, rob us of peace, and steal joy right out of our hearts.

Kay Warren writes:

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right and the determined choice to praise God in all things (Choose Joy)

In a similar way, George Fox wrote this prayer:

Grant us, O Lord, the blessing of those whose minds are stayed on You, so that we may be kept in perfect peace: a peace which cannot be broken.  Let not our minds rest upon any creature, but only in the Creator; not upon goods, things, houses, lands, inventions of vanities, or foolish fashions, lest, our peace being broken, we become cross and brittle and given over to envy.  From all such, deliver us, O God, and grant us Your peace  (Yours is the Day, Lord; Yours is the Night, 42).

We choose peace when we discipline our mind to be content with what God has given us. 

More than this.  We don’t just accept the gifts God gives; we are grateful for them.  We find ways to give thanks even when it’s hard.  We redirect our mind whenever we focus on what we don’t have and choose instead to praise God for what He’s done and how He’s blessed us.

Proverbs tells us:

“A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:30 HCSB).

Envy can eat us up like cancer, destroying us from the inside out.  It’s crippling, devastating, and, if left untreated, all-consuming.

But that tranquil heart is a heart at peace, content with God’s gifts, certain that God uniquely designed you for these blessings and this life.  Yes, His gifts to us are good.

It’s a heart quietly and purposefully thankful for what is real rather than fooled into wanting imagined perfections, fictional ideals, faulty perceptions, and mistaken judgments.  Contentment requires getting real and getting grateful, recognizing that we don’t need perfection in order to have joy; we just need Jesus.

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 upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King