When I Fell in Love….

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with this man.

He was on stage the first time I saw him, portraying Mr. Elton in a production of Jane Austen’s Emma (my favorite), and I was an audience member.   I laughed loud and long when he delivered the first line of the play while pretending to read from a book:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

I heard my laugh hit the silence of the auditorium.  Apparently, I was the only one who got the joke (as a character from Emma read the first line from Pride and Prejudice).  And so I slumped into my chair wishing someone—anyone—shared my sense of humor.

I actually met him a week later after a college worship service.  Someone in the crowd pointed to the guy up front strumming the guitar.  “See that guy,” he said, “You just saw him on stage last week.”

Unbeknownst to me, this young guy who led worship and the drama ministry and acted in productions based on my favorite literature had just prayed a daring prayer two weeks before.

He told God he wasn’t looking for a relationship any more.  He was content to be single until God hit him over the head with a 2 x 4 and told him “Thou shalt marry this girl.”

I met him two weeks later.

And a week after that, I was the new pianist on his praise team (and he’s still my worship leader even now).

I fell in love with the way he used his gifts and talents for God’s glory.

There was his calmness, too.  I loved my dad, but life with him wasn’t calm; it was loud much of the time and sometimes downright volatile.  This man, though, measured his words with wisdom and careful thoughtfulness.

And the first time he dropped the word “obsequious” into a sentence effortlessly, I think I experienced whiplash. (I’m a sucker for SAT words).

Add to that his quick and witty humor that kept me giggling endlessly in the corner of the praise team section, and I realized that he was smarter than me and that was okay.

We’ve never been an opposites-attract kind of couple.  We’re probably two of the most alike people who God matched together.

Except for the fact that he only cares about doing what’s right and not whether it pleases anyone else while I’m a people-pleaser.

And the fact that he can rest and take time (perhaps . . . dare I say it . . .procrastinate) and I’m neurotically pushed to do and do and do relentlessly, first, fastest, and rest when you die.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point I fell in love.112339-20130114

I can’t speak for him and say exactly why he fell in love with me.

Nor can I say exactly why God loves any of us either, surely not my awkward, nervous, uptight, worrying self.

Amazingly, though, this isn’t a “fall in love” kind of love at all.  God doesn’t grow to love any of us over time or awaken one morning and realize how much He cares.

He loves us.

It really is the beginning and the end of our story.

Like the first time I saw my daughters, I loved them in an instant.  I didn’t slowly grow to appreciate their character or develop feelings for them over time.

In Jeremiah, God declares:

“before I formed you in the womb I knew you”  and David similarly prayed, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13).

God loved you before you squinted your eyes at the first burst of light, screamed out and got cleaned off, bundled up and handed to your mom.

He loves you when you feel loved and when you feel overlooked, when you received a blessing and when you endured a trial.  This love of his doesn’t wax or wane, change or alter or depend on us and what we do or say or feel or think.

We’ve never been good enough, pure enough, beautiful enough, or wise enough to earn it.

But even though we’re unworthy, even when we’ve strayed, even when we’ve felt that seemingly incurable distance from Him or poured out in painful honesty what’s troubling us…

Still He loves.

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

And what can we do with this everlasting and unfailing love, so amazing and confusing because it’s far more than we deserve?

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Originally published September 24, 2012

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

When I Fell In Love

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with this man.

He was on stage the first time I saw him, portraying Mr. Elton in a production of Jane Austen’s Emma (my favorite), and I was an audience member.   He delivered the first line of the whole play while pretending to read from a book:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Immediately, I laughed aloud, until I realized that no one else seemed to get the joke.  More than a little uncomfortable, I slumped down in my chair.

(The first line of Pride and Prejudice was ‘read’ by a character in Emma.  There now, aren’t you laughing?  This is the kind of thing that strikes me as hilariously funny.)

I actually met him a week later after a college worship service.  Someone in the crowd pointed to the guy up front with the guitar.  “See that guy,” he said, “You just saw him on stage last week.”  I think I even confessed to being the girl who laughed at the first line of the play all by my lonesome self.

Unbeknownst to me, this young guy who led worship and the drama ministry and acted on stage in productions based on my favorite literature had just prayed a daring prayer two weeks before.

He told God he wasn’t looking for a relationship any more.  He was content to be single until God hit him over the head with a 2 x 4 and told him “Thou shalt marry this girl.”

There I was two weeks later being introduced to him.

And a week after that, I was the new pianist on his praise team (and he’s still my worship leader nearly 15 years later).

I fell in love with the way he used his gifts and talents for God’s glory.

There was his calmness, too.  I loved my dad, but life with him wasn’t calm; it was loud much of the time and sometimes downright volatile.  This man, though, measured his words with wisdom and careful thoughtfulness.

And the first time he dropped the word “obsequious” into a sentence effortlessly, I think I experienced whiplash. (I’m a sucker for SAT words).

Add to that his quick and witty humor that kept me giggling endlessly in the corner of the praise team section, and I realized that he was smarter than me and that was okay.

We’ve never been an opposites-attract kind of couple.  We’re probably two of the most alike people who God matched together.

Except for the fact that he only cares about doing what’s right and not whether it pleases anyone else while I’m a people-pleaser.

And the fact that he can rest and take time (perhaps . . . dare I say it . . .procrastinate) and I’m neurotically pushed to do and do and do relentlessly, first, fastest, and rest when you die.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point I fell in love.

I can’t speak for him and say exactly why he fell in love with me.  Nor can I say exactly why God loves any of us either, surely not my awkward, nervous, uptight, worrying self.

Amazingly, though, this isn’t a “fall in love” kind of love at all.  God doesn’t grow to love any of us over time or awaken one morning and realize how much He cares.

He loves us.

It really is the beginning and the end of our story.

Like the first time I saw my daughters, I loved them in an instant.  I didn’t slowly grow to appreciate their character or develop feelings for them over time.

In Jeremiah, God declares, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”  and David similarly prayed, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13).

God loved you before you squinted your eyes at the first burst of light, screamed out and got cleaned off, bundled up and handed to your mom.

He loves you when you feel loved and when you feel overlooked, when you received a blessing and when you endured a trial.  This love of his doesn’t wax or wane, change or alter or depend on us and what we do or say or feel or think.

We’ve never been good enough, pure enough, beautiful enough, or wise enough to earn it.

But even though we’re unworthy, even when we’ve strayed, even when we’ve felt that seemingly incurable distance from Him or poured out in painful honesty what’s troubling us…

Still He loves.

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

And what can we do with this everlasting and unfailing love, so amazing and confusing because it’s far more than we deserve?

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

How can you respond to God’s love today?

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

Father’s Day Surprise . . . or not so much

Last Father’s Day, my daughters and I shopped together for Daddy.  When we arrived home, my middle girl burst into the house, ran over to my husband and announced that we had gotten him a game, but she couldn’t tell him which one it was because it was a gift.

Oh, the suspense.

Then for Christmas, the girls shopped for each other at the church’s Awana store.  At the end of the night before we had even clicked on our seat belts in the minivan, my daughter spilled the news to her big sister:  “I got you a doll!!!!”

“You spoiled the surprise again,” we all complained.

“But I didn’t tell her what color doll,” she explained, as if that was enough to keep her sister on edge until Christmas morning.

We’ve become accustomed to the missing element of surprise on holidays all because my little girl can’t contain her excitement over good news.

A few weeks ago, one of the women in my Bible Study group expressed a similar disappointment in the fact that we can’t surprise God.

And I get that.

There are moments when I wish God would look down and say, “Wow!  Did you see what she just did?” when He sees me serve in a way that brings Him pleasure.

God, all-knowing and all-seeing, though, isn’t surprised by what we do and say.

Yet, even though we can’t surprise Him, we can please Him.  He can delight in us and rejoice over us and even be amazed at the growth in our faith. We can bring him joy.

This is a precious thought to me.  We all know that God loves us because of his character, his faithful commitment to keep his covenant with his people and his unwavering grace that offers salvation to sinners like us.

But there are moments when we may wonder if we can please him as individuals.  Can he delight in us, as Scripture tells us he delighted in David (Psalm 18:19)?  Can we find favor with him, as Mary did (Luke 1:30)?

In her book, Knowing God By Name, Mary Kassian notes that there are two different words for the “love” that God has for us.  The one is “chesed,” which is “firmly rooted in God’s character, loyal, steadfast, unfailing love, kindness and mercy” (p. 38).  This is unfailing covenant love.

Yet there’s another kind of love—“ahab,” which means “to desire, to breathe after, to be inclined toward, to delight in” (p. 38).

We see both kinds of love at work in Jeremiah 31:3:

“I have loved you (ahab) with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (chesed).

Perhaps it’s true that we can’t surprise God, but clearly He can love us personally and passionately—not just because He made a covenant of loyalty long ago.

In fact, I imagine God, grinning ear to ear at times when he looks down with love and affection and sees our hearts motivated by love and our service to others, untainted by pride and self-glorification.

This is what causes our God to “take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17).

Indeed, it’s not the moments when we’re conscious of our good deeds that make God break out in song over us.  It’s not when we’re in it for accolades or when we are patting ourselves on the back for being such a nice person.

It’s never when we’re thinking, “Wow, I’m such a good Christian.  I’m such a loving person.  I’m so self-sacrificing.”

It’s never, ever about earning salvation or His loyal love by adhering to rules or performing well.  God’s covenant love is constant and dependent on His character, not on our works.

It’s not at all because God needs something from us.

Instead, God is amazed by our faith when we come to Him and admit that He alone can rescue us.  When the centurion, a man of power and authority, petitioned Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus “was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9 NIV).

This is the humility of acknowledging that our own good works or personal strength are not enough; our only hope is in him.

Psalm 147:10-11 similarly tells us that “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love”

In The Pleasures of God, John Piper explains that “it is because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace.  God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence… When I cry out, ‘God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!’ I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God’ (p. 187).

James said this with all his usual bluntness:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble'” (James 4:6).

God becomes a doting Father and rejoices over us when our hearts are truly humble and we are living lives that are intentional about glorifying Him, not ourselves.  This is when we please Him, maybe not surprise Him–but certainly bring Him joy and delight.

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