Ready and waiting

“I can’t serve anyone who isn’t sitting down.”

That’s what I say in my teacher’s voice when I’m dishing up snack to a group of  kids.

Something about snack brings out the jittery excitement in most of us.  We want to stand up to see what we’re having, what flavor, how much, is one serving bigger than the others and could we possibly have the  biggest one?

Snack time protocols can be pretty basic, but we cover them almost every single time the goldfish crackers and apple juice come out:

Wash your hands.  Sit in your seat.  Wait quietly.  No, you can’t have seconds until everyone else gets their first serving.

We’re just so eager.

I am so eager.

When I feel hungry…  When I feel need… When I think that maybe provision will come and I wonder if I will get my share or if maybe I’ll be overlooked and remain empty. .. When I am anxious because I just don’t know and I feel like the answer won’t come.

That’s when I want to leap out of my seat and take some control.  I want to make my need known, just in case God missed seeing it.   I want to be sure He didn’t forget me or abandon me and He won’t leave me behind.

Maybe I even worry too often about getting my own “fair share,” too concerned with the sizes of others’ portions to be content with my own overflowing cup.

I read today an oh-so-familiar story, about how Jesus looked out over a hillside teeming with people.  They had followed Him out when He sought rest.  No one planned this extended teaching  time.  It just happened.

They looked for Jesus and when they found Him, He loved them enough to  teach and teach and teach until the hour was late, and they were far from their homes.  No one had packed any food except one little boy with a simple fish-and-bread lunch.  (John 6:1-15)

This story reminds me that Jesus is able.  That small numbers and meager circumstances cannot hinder Him from miraculous provision.  I am reminded that He is an abundant, exponentially multiplying God, and that none of us could imagine in advance how He could feed over 5000 people with a boy’s packed lunch and still have baskets full of leftovers.

And this story reminds me to give Jesus what I have even though it could never ever be enough.   I am the simple boy who can choose to offer what I have to Christ—meager as it is.  I don’t selfishly hoard it. I don’t hide it away in embarrassment.  I give it to Him because He is forever sufficient in my insufficiency.

But today, I read the story again and there is a new reminder.

In her book, “Living Beyond Yourself,” Beth Moore  shares the step Jesus took that day on the hillside:

  • He made them aware of their need.
  • He took what little they had.
  • He placed them in a posture to rest in His provision.  He commanded them to “sit down” and fed only those who were “seated” (vv. 10-11)
  • He gave them “immeasurably more” than they could “ask or imagine.” Eph. 3:20

This is the question I ask myself all day today:

How can I—in the  midst of all of the everyday messes and the overwhelming worries—posture my heart in a place of rest?

Today, I struggled with a parenting decision, with a ministry decision, with a scheduling decision, with an organizing of my day decision and I was tangled up  in my own need for clear answers, for assurances, and for provision.

My heart paces.  I position myself to fix and control and make everything right all on my own limited strength.

Mostly, I fight this feeling of urgency, this pushiness I have to get answers now and see the results yesterday and have the blessings in hand already.

When can I see the abundance in place of the need?

But what if Jesus is poised with baskets in His hand, provision at the ready, abundance in waiting, and He simply asks that I sit?

Am I sitting down?  Am I ready to receive?

The little boy with the lunch box gave everything over to Jesus, his tiny lunch, his small offering, but then he sat and waited to see what the Lord would do.

Oh, the sitting and the waiting, they don’t come naturally to me.  So, I think it through today when the worries come—how can I sit in this situation, how can I posture myself to rest in Him, how can I wait and see what the Lord will do?

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…” (Psalm 37:7a NASB)

 

Making U-Turns

The problem of getting lost is knowing when to turn around.

I know this because I am an expert at getting lost. I generally don’t drive anywhere new without making a U-turn or two or three.

When I first suspect that I’m lost (again), my heart races.  I’m stressed and emotional.  I snap off the radio and beg my kids to stop hitting each other over the head with books and whining about the fact that the two-year-old always takes their stuff.  And no, we can’t listen to Mickey Mouse just this moment because Mommy is in fact having a breakdown and needs silence.

When I finally realize that yes, I absolutely am lost (again), I perch forward in my seat, chest practically to the steering wheel and squint at the road signs.  I’ve scrolled down to my husband’s contact info on my phone, ready to call him the very second I finally give up and humbly confess that once again I have missed the turn or misunderstood the directions or misidentified the landmark.

It’s just so hard to know when to admit defeat and turn around.  I keep hoping that my destination is over the next hill, around the next bend in the road, at the next intersection, just one . . more . .. mile.  What if I turn around and I miss out because I just didn’t go far enough and gave up too soon?

But then, what if I keep driving, persistent and stubborn, and it’s wrong?  Maybe I missed the turn long ago and this is a perpetual waste of time and gas money.

Life with it’s uncertainty fills me sometimes with the same confusion and anxiety.

Is this God’s will or is that?  Now or later?

And then there’s when you pursue what seems to be God’s will, but eventually He stops you and turns you around.

I’ve been on my knees about this lately, praying for clarity and reassurance.  It was just over one year ago that my husband and I handed in our completed packet of papers to become foster parents.

Background checks, fingerprinting, proof of car insurance, the deed to our home, proof of rabies vaccinations for our cats, references, copies of our driving record: We had collected every document that described our lives down to the minutest detail.

We did this because we had confirmation after confirmation that this was what God wanted us to do.  It wasn’t part of our own plan for our family—not yet, anyway.  We thought we were at least a few more years away from fostering or adoption, but God had moved our hearts and we wanted to obey.

Just as we were on the very last step of this process, everything stopped.  Overwhelming workloads at the Department of Social Services, confusion, people quitting and others not being hired to replace them halted the entire process for us.

I called about once every week or two and left increasingly pushy messages. Whenever I spoke to an actual person, I was assured that the very next month they would call.

But they didn’t.

My husband and I agreed that continuing to call and call and call was likely to push ourselves right on out of God’s will. So, I prayed, “Dear Lord, if this is your plan, please let them call us.”

Nothing.

So, what does that mean?
Did we miss God’s will from the very beginning?
Was this all a mistake?
Did I somehow mess it up and ruin God’s plan for us?
Was it time for a U-Turn?

I can’t say that I’ve sorted through all of this completely.  I’m still confused about why God seemed to direct us this way and then stopped us in the end.

Yet, I’m wondering if He’s always more concerned about the journey than rushing to a destination.  Maybe His goal was to stir our hearts for future things, to interrupt my own family agenda, or to see how far obedience would take us.

Like Abraham, maybe laying down our Isaac was the plan all along, and as long as we were willing to obey, that was enough.

In Scripture, we are promised continually that God will direct and guide us:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
(Psalm 37:23-24 NLT)

And when I worry about messing it all up, Scripture reminds me that God’s plan will prevail, over all our insufficiencies, over every obstacle and inconvenience: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).

So, I return to prayer: “Lord, let your will be done in our lives.  I may whine about it.  It may be difficult.  But I do desire to walk in your way.”

Then I trust Him to lead.

Maybe the U-Turns are because we misheard Him or zoomed off in our own direction without seeking His opinion.

Maybe the U-Turns are actually part of His plans for us.

I’m reminded, though, that as long as we are wholeheartedly seeking after Him and truly willing to obey Him, we are never really lost.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take”
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

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