Is this what Mercy looks like?

She screamed almost the entire way home from church.

It was a shock to me.  After church ended, my preschooler bounced out of the nursery cheerful and excited.  We had just marched in the town Christmas parade the day before, so she practiced her “parade wave” all the way down the halls of the church, greeting every single person that passed us by.

But when my daughters climbed all over each other to claim seats in the mini-van for the 12-minute ride home from church—as if they were choosing their positions for a round-the-world tour—my three-year-old hopped in the back seat.

She knows better.  No booster seat until her fourth birthday.  For now, she’s restricted to the five-point harness-equipped seats in the middle of the van.  Normally, she’s just joking, hopping into the back and giggling hysterically until I motion her to her normal place.

Not yesterday.  Apparently she decided that enough was enough.  This waiting until her fourth birthday thing was totally overrated.  No ballet classes until she’s four.  No back seat until she’s four.  No three-day-a-week preschool until four.  No Children’s Church until she’s four.

Sheesh.  It’s a hard life being just three years old.047

The thing is, I love her and it’s my job not just to give her what she wants, but to give her what she needs.  Protection, limits, boundaries, rules, bedtimes, baths, healthy meals, love and affection.  That’s my job.  Making sure she’s in the car seat is part of the parental package.

So I made her move seats.  And she screamed herself to sleep on the drive home from church.

Perhaps to her my restrictions were unreasonable, even mean,

Really, though, it was love and it was grace.  It was looking out for her best no matter what.

We don’t always know what grace and mercy really look like either, do we?

We think that promotion, that dream-guy, that check in the mail, that recovery, that hugely successful ministry event, that healthy child—yes, that’s picture perfect grace.  Those actions that don’t fit our Grace Template are the mysteries of God, the painfully chafing rub of disappointed religious expectations.

In The Book of Common Prayer these last two mornings, I prayed:

“Show us your mercy, O Lord”

“And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
That with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives”

“Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.”

Not only have I prayed for mercy, but I’ve prayed for the awareness of it, the ability to see with a truly thankful heart how God is graciously caring for me.

Even when it doesn’t look much like grace at the time.

Even when I’d rather have the easy and obvious mercy, the kind you pop up out of your pew on testimony Sunday to share, the kind that others applaud and rejoice with you about.

I’ve prayed to see with new eyes, looking through a filter of trust in God.  That means trusting in His character, trusting in His love, trusting in His timing, trusting Him no matter what.

The apostle Peter encountered people just like me, those who thought if God wasn’t quick to fulfill His promises, if they had to wait too long or endure too much pain along the way, then God wasn’t fulfilling His end of the “bargain.”

God didn’t move when I thought He would move.  God didn’t provide the way I thought He’d provide.  God didn’t come through for me the way I wanted.

Sometimes we immediately assume the problem is with God.  Maybe He isn’t really good!  Maybe He isn’t really gracious.

That’s what the people in 2 Peter were questioning.  Christ hadn’t returned right away as they expected and life was hard for the persecuted church and waiting was difficult.

Really, though, the problem isn’t with God.  The problem is with our expectations.  The problem is we’ve stopped looking at Him with eyes of trust.

Peter wrote to these struggling believers:

 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).

God wasn’t being delinquent; He was being patient for their own sake.  It wasn’t deficiency, apathy, or cruelty that caused His delay.

It was mercy, to give people time to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

Sometimes mercy is “yes” and sometimes mercy is “no.”  Sometimes grace is instant and sometimes it’s waiting and waiting and waiting.

But it is always for our sake.  It is because He loves us that God cares for us the way He does.

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 the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Guest Post and Giveaway!

We’re throwing a little party here today in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month.  So, grab a slice of cake and enjoy this post by John P. King over at Smoking Newspaper.  He’s a former pastor who has written a funny and insightful book about lessons learned in ministry.

And what would a party be without a present?

So, I’m going to give away a signed copy of his book.  All this week, I’d love to hear from you just one thing that you have prayed or will be praying for your pastor.  One word or a quick sentence is fine.  Let’s encourage and inspire one another to pray for our pastors this month. It’s okay to duplicate others’ ideas.  If it’s what’s on your heart, just share it!

Leave a comment here or on Facebook.  Each comment gets you an entry and I’ll draw the winner using random.org and announce it in Saturday’s post.

And by all means stop by John’s blog and check out his devotionals. He’s even posted the first chapter for you!  If you don’t win the book, you can find it on Amazon.com here: Don’t Smoke the Newspaper and Other Lessons Learned by a Pastor.

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When I was pastoring in Oregon, a young man approached me and told me that he believed the Lord wanted him to be a pastor.  As we talked, the first question he asked me as he wrestled with what God wanted him to do was, “What is pastoring like?”  I have to admit that I wasn’t ready for that question.  That one was a little different from the normal question, “What does a pastor do?”  I had heard that question a hundred times.  It’s a whole lot easier to answer about what one does than what something is like.  However, a job description complete with responsibilities of both the spiritual and mundane, and a list of daily, monthly, and yearly activities was not what he was after.  He wanted to know what he would be experiencing, not doing, if he followed the Lord’s call.

I thought for a moment and searched for a description of what my work, what my life, was like.  I took this young man to the pulpit of the church and had him look out over the seats.  I said, “Imagine all of the people of our church sitting in the pews.  Now understand that on any given week, half of them will be experiencing some kind of victory.  Life will be good for them.  Imagine that all the people on the left side of the sanctuary are standing up because they are handling life.  On the other hand, all the people on the right side are sitting down because life is handling them.  They are going through some kind of struggle; a temptation, or trial, or tragedy.  And as they go through, they will come to you looking for help commensurate to their need.”

“Next week, they will all switch places.  The people on the right will be standing in victory, and the people on the left will be down, slogging through the difficulties of life.  And the next week, they will switch back.  And then switch back. And back again.  And again.”

I explained to him that when dealing with the Christian life and the daily ministry we all should be engaged in, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  That is what the pastorate was like; rejoicing and weeping.  Only the problem was, as I had mentioned earlier, the people who are toughing things out will always come to you. Unfortunately, the people in victory rarely do.  So you are always tilting to the ones who are “weeping,” whichever side of the aisle they are on.  The pastorate is a see-saw ride of moving from one hurting group to the next from one week to the next.

The look on his face said he was neither amused nor enthused.  Of course, I didn’t want to leave him like that, so I proceeded to tell him what a pastor does.  No, not the proverbial, full job description as mentioned earlier, but the one-line biblical definition.  Most people think that the pastor’s job is to minister.  You hire them to do the “ministry.”  However, Ephesians 4 makes it plain that the five-fold ministry, including pastors, was given to the church by Jesus Christ “…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:12).  As a pastor, he would need to train the people to do the ministry; to rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep.”  If he didn’t, then he would carry the load of “ministry” all by himself, and believe me, if he did, he would either be miserable or he wouldn’t be in the ministry for long.

With an understanding of what it’s like to be a pastor, what are my encouragements through all of this?  They are two-fold.

  1. Get engaged in the “ministry.”  It is not the pastor’s job to do it all.  It’s their job to   train us to do the ministry.  It’s not their job to build up the body of Christ.  It’s their job to equip us for the building up of the body of Christ.  If we aren’t doing our part, the body won’t grow and it will make their job exponentially more difficult.  However, if we are doing our part, then the church will grow and it will make the pastor’s job a delight.
  2. Rejoice!  Remember, the pastor has their own life and family problems to deal with too.  If the only things they ever hear from us are the hardships, it will only make them want to quit.  Pastors take great delight in their people’s triumphs and victories.  Trust  me, as a former pastor, I LOVED hearing about what God was doing in the lives of my congregation.  There was never any jealousy.  It didn’t matter if it was something “ministry” oriented or some kind of encounter with God in their daily lives.  Rejoicing  with my people always made my day.

So as God moves in your life, tell your shepherd.  They really do want to hear about it.  And don’t forget to take your place in the ministry.  Your pastor needs you.

Joy in Christ,
Rev. John P. King, M.A.
Copyright © 2012 John P. King, Used with permission
Verses from the NASB

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

VBS Lessons: No Matter Where You Are

All week long I’m thinking about the Bible points for our Vacation Bible School and what they mean for adults.  This week will be a mix of some old and some new as I share these lessons.

Tonight at Sky VBS! (Group Publishing), we’re learning: No Matter Where You Are…Trust God!

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Originally posted as “My Addiction”
April 13, 2012

“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.

Weekend Walk: 02/18/2012, Waiting for Domestic Inspiration

Hiding the Word:

I have this bad habit, a deep dark secret of my house-cleaning ways.

I wash the clothes, fold the clothes, put the clothes away.  The laundry is almost done.  All that remains are the persistently unmatched socks (how can all the clothes be clean and yet somehow there are solo socks?).  I also have a pile of clothes that need ironing (correction, clothes that need a tumble in the fluff cycle on my dryer).

About once a week, I push myself to actually complete this laundry mission.  Match the socks.  Fluff the wrinkly pile and hang the clothes up in the closet.

Other days, back into the dryer they go, waiting for when I have more time, more motivation, more self-discipline, more domestic inspiration, more . . . . something.

There are pieces of my life that sometimes seem stuffed in a dryer somewhere waiting for some attention.

I know that God doesn’t ignore me.  I know that I haven’t lost His attention or that He’s arbitrarily or lazily stashed me away for a day when He has more time, creativity, or inspiration.

Still, some days I feel impatient with the unfinished product and the incomplete picture.

So, my verse to meditate on and memorize this week is:

“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”
(Philippians 1:6).

I hope you’ll join me in meditating on this verse all week, posting it up at your stove, your desk, your car, and/or your bathroom mirror.  It’s a reminder that God’s work in us is a “good work” and He’s perpetually carrying it out in our lives.  He won’t leave us unfinished.

Weekend Rerun:

 

Strings Tied Around My Finger
Originally posted March 8, 2011

 

I had a crisis moment the other night.  When I was reading the Bible, it reminded me of something I had read and copied into my journal a few years ago.  So, I pulled out my recent journals and the one I needed was missing.

This might not seem huge to you, but it was sad and frustrating and a little worrying to me.  My journals aren’t personal diaries of my experiences and feelings.  They are records of the verses, quotes, prayers and thoughts I’ve had as God interacts with my life.  Oftentimes, I can vividly remember exactly where I was and what was happening in my life when I wrote an entry in my prayer journal.

The entry I was looking for that night was written while sitting at the Ben & Jerry’s in Yorktown, Virginia, eating a scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream on an incredibly sunny day.  I was struggling with some ministry issues and I copied down a quote from David Crowder’s book, Praise Habit, that encouraged me.  Of course, what really helps me remember this particular entry is the ice cream!

Losing my journal is like losing some of my testimony, the written record I keep of God at work in my life.   In the Bible, many of God’s people created monuments or kept mementos of times when God rescued them.  It was their way of remembering that God saved us then and He can save us again.

Samuel the prophet did this in 1 Samuel 7:12:  “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  We often sing the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing without realizing that when it says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” it’s referring to this monument Samuel created.  Literally, it means “a stone of help.”

Samuel’s stone reminded Israel of how God delivered them when they repented and returned to Him.  After rebelling against God and being punished as a result, “then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD” (1 Samuel 7:2, NIV).  Following this new beginning, this repentance and restoration, God routed the enemy Philistines in a mighty and miraculous way.  All of Israel could see that God was faithful to save them as long as they walked in obedience.

But Samuel didn’t want the people to forget what God did in that place.  We humans are forgetful creatures.  God saves us.  We praise Him.  Things are good for a while.  Then a crisis occurs and we fret, we worry, we wonder, “Is God going to let me down this time?”

We need a string around our finger to help us remember who God is.  We need an Ebenezer, a record of what God has done, so when life is hard and we need healing and provision and intervention, we can look at the monuments of the past and say, “Look what God did for me.  He saved me here, and here, and here—-and He’ll do it again.”

That’s one reason our testimonies are so important.  It’s our way of reminding ourselves and encouraging others that God is still at work in people’s lives.  Every once in a while, our pastor takes the microphone around the church and we listen to others share, at first a little hesitantly, and then with great emotion and boldness, about how God has been real to them.   I love those Sundays because the testimony of others–their Ebenezer–reveals God to me.

The Bible is like “testimony” time to me also.  God passes the microphone around and different people share how God changed them.  Jonah gets up and says, “See, I’ve been struggling with obedience lately, but God . . .”  Sarah says, “I have something to confess.  Sometimes I like to ‘help’ God out with His plans, but God . . . “  Mary says, “I was just a really simple, God-fearing girl, but God . . . “

All these people in the Bible are broken, sinful, and imperfect, just like me, and yet they encountered God.  Their testimonies help me remember not just what God has done in my life, but what He has done in others’ lives throughout history.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

With a biblical memory, we have two thousand years of experience from which to make the off-the-cuff responses that are required each day in the life of faith.  If we are going to live adequately and maturely as the people of God, we need more data to work from than our own experience can give us.

Our lives are short.  Our experience with God is just a fraction of His activity here on earth.  So, when we look at life through the filter of our personal experiences alone, we miss out on what the Bible offers us.  By reading Scripture, we tap into 2000 years of people experiencing God.  We read the testimonies of people who lived a long time ago and find out they needed God as much as we do and He loved them and cared for them just as He loves and cares for us.

Thankfully, I found my missing journal the next day and—amazingly, if not miraculously—it was flipped open to the exact page I was looking for.

I hope you find ways this week to create Ebenezers in your life–a prayer journal,  testimony book or verse cards.  Don’t stop there, though.  Connect with other Christians who can share their testimonies, through church, small groups, community Bible studies, and by reading Christian books.  Then, dig deep into God’s Word and read it as if it were a testimony time of the saints written just for you.  All of these things will serve as strings tied around your finger, physical reminders of what God has done and what He will continue to do.

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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 © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 02/11/2012

Hiding the Word:

My seven-year-old daughter likes to play the “When I’m 13 game.”

Oh, when will I be 13?  I’ll be able to do everything I ever wanted when I’m 13.  It’ll be so much better when I’m 13.  I’ll be able to babysit.  I’ll be old enough to take care of a dog.  It must be great to be 13!”

What is she thinking?  I’ve tried to explain many times that when she’s 13, what she’ll likely be saying is this:

Oh, I wish I were seven again.  Life was so much easier when I was seven.  School was simpler.  Relationships weren’t full of drama.  I didn’t have all this stress.  Oh, life was so perfect when I was seven.

Alas, she doesn’t believe me.

It reminded me, though, of something we read in Prisiclla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, which we studied over the summer of 2011.  She wrote:

“God is the God of right now.  He doesn’t want us to regret yesterday or worry about tomorrow.  He wants us to focus on what He is saying to us and putting in front of us right now.  The Enemy’s voice will focus on the past and the future, but the voice of our God will focus on today.  God’s voice tells us what we can do now” (p. 85).

As Jesus said in the memory verse I’m choosing for this week:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34).

In the complete context of Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat, drink or wear.  Seek Him.  Seek His kingdom.  Seek His righteousness.  He’ll take care of our needs.  It’s His promise to us.

Have you chosen a verse to memorize and meditate on this week?  I hope you post a comment below and share it with all of us!!

Weekend Rerun

Cultivating a Quiet Heart
  Originally Published 03/15/2011

“I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content”
Psalm 131:1-2 (MSG)

I work from home at my computer so that I can take care of my three young daughters.  Mostly, my work days go something like this:

  • Get everyone settled and sit down at the computer to work.
  • Help child put clothes on her doll.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get a drink for another child.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Spell “Pocahontas” for older daughter who is systematically drawing every princess she’s ever heard of.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Change baby’s diaper.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Break up fight between older girls who each want to be the same princess.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get snack for children who declare that they are indeed starving and will die if they don’t eat something now instead of waiting for dinner.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get lemonade for the children who forgot that they were also thirsty and not just hungry when they asked for a snack.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Look for a particular book for a child who swears she’s looked everywhere, including the bookshelf, and it has just simply disappeared into thin air.  Find the book on the bookshelf.
  • Sit down to work.

You get the idea.

Yesterday, I was working away and getting up every 20 seconds (perhaps an exaggeration, but it FELT like every 20 seconds), when my oldest daughter stood at my feet, appearing like a child in need.  So, I looked at her and sighed and waited for the request.  One more thing someone needed from me.  One more expectation to fill.  One more bit of help to give.

And she gave me a hug, placed a kiss on my cheek, said, “I love you, Mom” and walked away.

My baby does this all day long.  She plays and asks me for things and then at least two or three times an hour, she walks over to me and just lays her head down on my arm and waits for me to stroke her head and kiss her.  Then, she runs off again to dump out all the blocks and pull every book off the bookshelf as she plays.

I love my children and I love that I can be at home to help them when they need it and to give and receive kisses and hugs when all they ask for is affection.   Some days, it’s draining because it’s a job that involves giving, giving, and giving some more.   I know they’re kids who just need help and that’s okay.  I would much prefer they ask me for help than find my house torn apart from their efforts to do things on their own.  Still, sometimes I think a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time sitting in one place sounds luxurious.

That hug and kiss from my daughter yesterday reminded me of my relationship with God.   So many days, I go to Him in need.  I ask Him for help, encouragement, intervention, provision, healing.  All day long, I pray for myself, my family and for others.  Thankfully, God is a far more patient parent than I am.  He never sighs with fatigue and frustration when I show up before His throne again with another request.

Yet, how precious are the moments when I come into God’s presence not asking for Him to help me with anything, but just pleased to have His company.

Psalm 131:1-2 says:  “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” (MSG).  In the NIV, this description is of a “weaned child with its mother.”

The image here is of a baby content to be with her mother, not because she’s looking for food or the fulfillment of a need, but just because the mother’s very presence brings comfort.

It’s part of the maturing process in this Christian walk.  God weans us so that we don’t just look to Him for help, but we respond “to Him out of love . . . for God does not want us neurotically dependent on Him but willingly trustful in Him” (Eugene Peterson).  It’s not that God no longer cares for us or sees our need.  Instead, He’s asking us to trust His love for us so much that we can lay our burdens at His feet and leave them there, choosing to focus on God Himself rather than our troubling circumstances.  We see His love and not our empty bank account.  We look to His faithfulness and not our illness.  We focus on His might and not our broken relationships.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson goes on to write, “Choose to be with him; elect his presence; aspire to his ways; respond to his love.”

This reminds me of Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).  It’s a cry for communion and relationship rather than a desperate plea for help.  It’s a call to enjoy God’s presence, not for what He does for us, but for who He is.

“Father, I thank You that You are so patient with me, hearing each of my requests and responding to me with lovingkindness and compassion.  I’m sorry for not spending more time just enjoying Your presence instead of meeting with You in order to get something for myself.  I trust in You to care for me and all these needs that weigh on my heart and I put them aside in order to commune with You and give You praise.  I choose to cultivate a quiet and contented heart.”

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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 © 2012 Heather King