Christmas Devotions: Easy Bake Faith

Last year during the week before her birthday, my oldest girl was asked one question repeatedly by friends and family alike.

What do you want for your birthday?

I grimaced every time I heard her answer, which was exactly the same for everyone who asked.

An Easy Bake Oven.

It was the one true desire of her little girl heart, an oven all her own to create delicious treats, host tea parties and open restaurants.

This mystified me.  I am a baking mom.  We often huddle around the kitchen table taking turns pouring ingredients from a recipe into a bowl, mixing and stirring, filling trays and pans and then licking spoons.  We’re the four musketeers of cooking, a team of kitchen queens.

Why, I asked my girl, did she need a mini oven of her own?  Why did we need to spend $6 on a mix that produced two sugar cookies of doubtful quality when we could bake dozens of scrumptious cookies for less money in our own regular oven?

My logic was impeccable, unanswerable, indisputable.

But the commercial conspiracy defeated me.  Any time the television was on, advertisements sang the praises of the Easy Bake Oven and she plead with me for the one gift that would please her little heart.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy the Easy Bake for her, but a sweet friend did. It made my daughter’s day and proudly assumed its place on our kitchen counter.

I know what you’re thinking.

How long before the precious Easy Bake Oven joined the rank of unused toys shoved in the closet?

Never.

She still loves her oven and is inspired to create with it as often as I give into the whining request to use it.

It still confuses me.  Yet, all I have to do is provide some safety supervision and guide the creating process.  She pours in her teaspoonful of water.  She eases the cookie tray into the oven.  She pushes it out the other side when the timer goes off.  Fortunately, she also eats the cookie since I consider them inedible.  Then she declares that it is in fact the best thing she’s ever eaten.

I try not to be offended.

So why does this Easy Bake Oven bring her so much joy?

It’s the independence of it.  The feeling that she made this cookie herself.  The power of self-determination and personal creation.

It’s the speed of it.  The longest amount of time is simply spent warming up the light bulb.  Mix in a little water, plop the batter on the tray, push the tray into the oven.  It’s a matter of minutes before her own personal cookie emerges fully cooked.

And who can blame her for loving this?  Aren’t we so often entranced by advertisements for the perfect “toy” that will bring us independence and speed?

In just two easy steps you can have fantastic creations just like this!  You can look like this!  You can make your own!

Anna and Simeon, though, knew that God mostly desires dependence and patience.

Simeon was “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25) and he spent his life waiting for “the consolation of Israel”—the Messiah.  Even more amazing to me, is that “the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25).

Pause there for a moment.  The Holy Spirit didn’t live in each and every Christian on the earth at that time—because Christians didn’t exist yet.  Jesus was still being rocked to sleep at night by a doting mother.

Yet, Simeon walked so closely with God that the Holy Spirit found a unique dwelling place in him and revealed that Simeon wouldn’t die without seeing the Messiah’s face.  Then, “moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts” (Luke 2:26).

Most of us would be honored by a special, intimate relationship with the Lord, but we might balk at surrendering all of our independence in order to receive the fulfillment of His promises to us.

Simeon did just that.  He moved into the temple and, as a result, was in exactly the right place at the right time when Mary and Joseph carried Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.

Anna, a prophetess, had moved into the temple also.  She had been a young widow after only seven years of marriage, but instead of remarrying and settling into the busy life of a wife and mom, she instead “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Luke 2:37).

Anna surrendered everything in order to devote herself to her relationship with God.  And He blessed her willful dependence on Him.

She was there that day also when Jesus entered the temple for the first time.  Simeon lifted baby Jesus into his own arms and praised him and prophesied over him. Anna walked over to them just at that moment and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

Just like Anna and Simeon, we can devote ourselves to seeing God, but we can’t pursue our own independent, quick-solution agendas in order to achieve spiritual growth, answers to prayer, fulfilled promises, or the revelation of His will.

We can’t have Easy Bake faith.

Instead, we must abandon our own course and commit ourselves to a patient and passionate pursuit of Him.

That’s what Anna and Simeon did.  They didn’t run after every false Messiah that the world touted and promoted.  They fasted, prayed, and worshiped in the night and in the day for decades.  They made their relationship with God their highest priority and their only true desire and thus they saw God.

How is God urging you to be both dependent and patient in your faith for the new year?

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.

The Lord is My Portion

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

This morning, I was a woman with a plan.  I envisioned reaching new heights of productivity and speed, accomplishing my work goals for the day, getting in a quiet time, cleaning, exercising, checking off all of the phone calls and appointments on my to-do list—all with joy and energy.

And then.

Then, I used the last slices of bread for toast and lunches.  I used one of the last diapers to change my baby girl.   I pulled out the ingredients for my crockpot dinner and realized it’s pretty hard to make salsa chicken with tortillas when you actually don’t have any tortillas or cheese.

Change of plans.  I rushed around the house throwing into the diaper bag the supplies needed for a grocery store trip with children—goldfish crackers, notebook and crayons, books, juice.

Normally, I like to plan out my shopping trips the night before, pulling out all the coupons I think I’ll use and discarding ones that are 3 months out-of-date.  Then, I like to prepare my list while going about my day, making sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Not this time.  I grabbed my unorganized coupons, my car keys, my children, my bag of things to entertain them and off we went.  Shopping.  In the rain.  With sleepy children.  Without a list.

The worst part of this whole story is that I was just at the store yesterday.  I ran in just to get a gift and the milk that would help “tide me over” until my real shopping in two or three days.   And now I had to go back again the very next day.  I quietly prayed that none of the cashiers recognized me from yesterday as the crazy woman who can’t stay out of the Wal-Mart.

It’s one of my life dreams to shop just one time a week and that’s it.  Clearly, I’m not there yet.

But this impromptu shopping trip reminded me that time with God should never just be a once-a-week affair where we stock the shelves of our heart and live off the supplies for a while.

Instead, in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask Him to “give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, NIV).

Today.  Not tomorrow or the next week.  Just for today, Lord, provide what I need.  In this moment, fill me up and sustain me.  Give me the encouragement and provision I need for the here and now in my life.

This daily dependence is something the Israelites had to learn in the wilderness between Egypt and The Promised Land.   In Numbers 11:5, they complained to Moses, “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes.”

In Egypt, it was no big deal to swing by the farmer’s market for some fresh veggies and then pick up some fresh fish from the docks.

In the wilderness, however, they ate manna.  Lots and lots of manna.  It was bread from heaven, sweet, and miraculous.  God sent it every night, not so they could store it for the future, but so they could eat just enough for that day.  Exodus 16:21 says, ” Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away” (NIV).

At first, not all the Israelites obeyed God’s commands.  They tried to store some of the manna so they wouldn’t have to gather it every day.  Their goal was to make one shopping trip for the week, not daily excursions to the Wal-Mart.  But, the food they stored overnight rotted and was infested with worms.

Daily dependence on God.   It’s the overarching message of Scripture.

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

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

God is our portion.  He is more than enough for us in every situation, but we need to depend on Him for His presence, His encouragement, His strength, His provision, and His guidance daily, and even more than that–second by second.

Sometimes I think that my planning or my productivity can be enough, that in my own strength and ability I can make it.  But, that’s just when I have a day like today, when all of my well-laid plans and my confidence in my self are destroyed.

All I can do is place my to-do list, my perfect plans, my work schedule, my bank account and bills, my kids all at His feet and ask Him to “be enough.  Lord, I am not enough for any of this, but You are my portion and the strength of my heart.  So, I depend on You today and You alone.”

Then tomorrow, I’ll go to Him again . . . and the next day  . . . and the day after that.  Because this Christian walk of ours is a daily journey of dependence on God.

********************************************************************************************************

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