Managing Expectations

Last year, we bought a new minivan while my daughters were away at summer camp.

We hauled all their luggage out to the parking lot on pickup day, and they stood there scanning the rows of vehicles wondering where in the world I parked.

Even when I opened the back door of our new van and told them to load up, they still didn’t understand. One of them asked if I had rented a van just to come pick them up.

It  was quite the surprise.

But now that one surprise has destroyed my kids’ abilities to gauge how excited they should be for any of my surprises.

Sometimes,  by “surprise” I just mean it’s National Doughnut Day and we’re going to Krispy Kreme for some hot doughnuts.  That’s a wonderful treat—-unless you’re expecting something more along the lines of a new car…or Disney World…or something like that

This year when I picked my girls up from  camp, my youngest daughter asked me if  I’d bought a new car again while they were away?  Or maybe a dog?

So, the ice cream cookie sandwiches I had actually bought didn’t quite measure up.

We’re not really a family that loves surprises of any kind.  (Actually, I hate surprises. So, why should I expect my kids to love them?)  But I am slowly learning that if we do have a surprise  we should package it with some expectation boundaries.

Something like:  Okay,  we have  a surprise for you.  It’s not a Disney World surprise, more like a local, nice surprise that you haven’t tried before and also it’s not  a puppy or a car.

We’re managing expectations with birthdays a bit, too.  It goes  like this:

Mom:  What would you like to  put on your birthday  wish list?

Child:  Well, there is one thing….

Mom:  Something that isn’t a dog.

Child:   Oh.  Right.  Well, how about a camera and some craft supplies?

Mom:  I’ll write those down.

I’m getting better at expectation management and expectation clarity with my kids.

Today, though, I was thinking about how my kids can slip into expecting so much, but I seem to slip into expecting so little of God.

I  read again today the account of Thomas the disciple, who needed to  see Jesus’s scars in order  to believe He was alive following t he crucifixion.

But there’s another moment  with Thomas in the Gospels that I love.  Before Jesus died,  just as tensions were rising and the disciples sensed the growing enmity of the religious leaders,  Jesus announced he was going to Judea again–right into the thick of the conflict and the trouble.

Lazarus had died,  and Jesus intended to be with the family.  The  disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would put himself  in danger, but we know why:  His purpose was resurrection for the glory of God.

So, Thomas  said to his fellow disciples: “Let’s go too so that we may die with him” (John 11:16 CSB).

I love how Thomas was ready to die for Jesus.

Beth Moore wrote,

“What a strange mix of loyalty and pessimism. Oddly enough, Thomas never doubted Christ would die. He doubted the most important part of all–that He would rise from the  dead and live again!” (Living Beyond Yourself).

Thomas expected Jesus to die.   He had no trouble expecting the worst.

But He didn’t expect Jesus’s resurrection.

Isn’t that me sometimes? 

In a season of loss, I can begin to expect more loss.  I expect to barely scrape through and survive the mess or the famine.

When there is bad news, I begin to expect more bad news.  More sadness.

Like Thomas, I have no trouble expecting the worst, but I so rarely expect and anticipate the resurrection Christ brings and that  is what needs  to change.  Instead of expecting the worst,  can I learn to  anticipate God’s glory?

I’m so deeply grateful that God is a God of abundance. he does so much more than meet my meager, miserly expectations.

I can never expect Jesus to  give me everything I want or ask for.  He loves me too much for that.

But I can expect this:

His goodness in all things.

His lovingkindness.

His sweetness in the midst of the best and worst of times.

His presence with me at all times.

His provision.

His strength.

His resurrection work, making things new, making things beautiful, filling the things that seem so dead with new life.

This resurrection work is what He is doing now, and it will be His ultimate work in creation,  building an eternal kingdom with no sin or death or pain, transforming all that is dead in this world into the perfection of eternal heaven.

Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.”  (Revelation 21:5 CSB).

Why I hope you don’t see me

1 John 1

Years ago, I read about a man who had one daily habit he still maintained after decades and decades upon decades of marriage.

Every morning, he woke up before his wife and everyone else in the house.  He took a shower.  He shaved.  He brushed his teeth.  He combed his hair.  He dressed.

He wasn’t trying to give his wife more time in the bathroom either.

He said he always wanted his bride to see the best of him—the washed, brushed, shaved and dressed side of him.

I remember thinking the sentiment was sweet.  Every so often, I feel a bit guilty when less-than-the-best-of-me is rushing around the house getting everyone ready for school in the morning.  Maybe the guy had it right.  Maybe I should do the same.

But I don’t.  I’ll be honest.

The truth of my life is that my kids are my alarm clock and they seem to wake me up early enough already.

My son is the first sound I hear right across the house— “Mom!!!”

And, he doesn’t seem to mind the sight of me as I pad into his room in bare feet and lift him out of bed, carry him to the sofa and snuggle down with him for a few minutes of quiet before everyone else awakes.

He never complains about my bed head or my morning breath or my yoga pants and t-shirt.

He seems pretty content simply to enjoy my presence.

And in those moments of quiet as we wait for the rest of the house to cease their slumber, I quietly pray and consider the day (and try to actually wake up).

Maybe those few minutes of heart-grooming are what I need anyway.

Because facing my husband, my kids, the blur of the morning activity with my mind set on Christ feels like it reaches down into deeper parts of my soul than any session with make-up and a hair dryer anyway.

And surely what I want for them to find in the morning is a wife and a mom reflecting Jesus, even before I’ve had caffeine and a few minutes in front of the mirror.

Not that I’m begrudging some hygiene and grooming, of course.  No need to forego personal care indefinitely!

But I’ve been thinking lately about what it would look like for me to be a tabernacle for the Spirit of God, a place where His glory dwells, just a building really, an outer frame where Christ lives within.

And, after all, that’s what we’re supposed to be.

John 1:1 tells us:

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (HCSB).

He took up residence here.  The root of this phrase is “He tabernacled among us.”

This is Christ dwelling among men, housing the very nature of God within the confines and restrictions of human flesh.

And now— His spirit dwells within us, and He should still be visible, not hidden away—not by our skeletal frames, not by the skin, not by the makeup, not by the outfits, not by the coordinated shoes and handbags.

Whether we’re still in our pajamas or we’re dressed to the nines, people should see God’s glory all over us.

Because, that’s what happens when God’s Spirit dwelt in the Tabernacle out in the wilderness with Israel.

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  (Exodus 40:34-35 ESV).

The cloud of God’s glory settled on that mobile sanctuary and you couldn’t see the building itself for the glory surrounding it.   It was completely covered by the cloud of His presence.

All you could see was Him.

And, that’s what I want.

Yes, in the morning.

Yes, when I’m stressed.

Yes, when I’m annoyed.

Yes, when I’m hurt.

Yes, when I’m rejoicing.

Yes, when I’m failing.

Yes, when I’m weeping.

Yes, when I’m serving

ALL the time yes—may God’s glory settle on my life with such a cloud of His presence that people can’t see me through the thickness of it.

They can only see Him.

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

Why I Was Sprawled on the Floor of the Wal-Mart

Psalm 27-4

There’s one item every year.

Every single year.

There was the Elmer’s glue one year that could not be “no run ” Unfortunately, Wal-Mart stocks a million bottles of “no run” glue and keeps a small, more expensive supply of the other kind of Elmer’s hidden away on back shelves.

And there’s the fact that supply lists ask for 24 or 48 pencils, and pencils are sold in groups of 10.  So, you can have 20 pencils or 30 pencils, but to get 24 I have to start opening packages.

The yellow plastic folder with pockets and no prongs, though, wins the award for most elusive school supply item on my list three years running.

Last year, I made a grand effort.  I checked every office supply store, dollar store and Target/Wal-Mart within 30 minutes of my home.  Every time I stopped my minivan at another store, my daughters piped up from the back, “Yellow folder?”

Yes, yellow folder!!  School is starting soon and I am still missing this stinking yellow folder!

Folder-makers actually used to produce and sell this rare treasure.   My oldest daughter had one in first grade, so I know this from experience.

But the operative words here are “used to.”

Apparently, that was the last time these folders were made.  On Amazon last year, private sellers were trying to get desperate parents like myself to pay $30 for this prize. This year, that price has spiked to over $60.

For a folder.

I confess that the hunter in me has in fact almost given in and paid 10 times what any sane person would pay for a folder.  Crazy, I know!  But I am a doer, a rule-follower, a get-things-done kind of girl, and I ….must….check….every……..on the school supply list or die trying.

I finally stopped all the crazy, though, and raised the white flag of defeat last year.  I just carried in alternatives to my daughter’s teacher.

You can have a yellow paper folder with prongs and pockets….A yellow paper folder with pockets and no prongs….A polka dotted plastic folder with some yellow circles on it.

But the one thing I don’t have for you is a plastic yellow folder with pockets and no prongs.  I’m sorry.  Please do not punish my child.

Of course, my daughter’s teacher cheerfully scooped up all three folders from my hands and said, “It’ll be fine!!”

Maybe part of me was expecting a “tsk, tsk, tsk” or to feel like a failure Mom, but instead she showed me a blanket of grace covering over all of my obsessive worrying.

What a relief!

Now, I don’t mind school supply shopping. Buying pencils, pens, and paper is pretty much my happy place.

But I wouldn’t mind if a teacher peeked into the folder aisle at Wal-Mart and saw this rainbow of colors and noticed the absence of yellow…

Please notice the lack of yellow

Please notice the lack of yellow

Then maybe next year they’d ask for an orange folder instead.  I can give you orange!  Or white!  I can give you white!

Just not yellow.

Please have mercy.

Here’s the thing, this year as I sprawled on the floor dodging the feet of the mob of school supply shoppers in Wal-Mart while sorting through every single bin of folders looking for yet another yellow one…again…it hit me.

I sure am willing to exert a ton of effort, spend a whole lot of time, publicly embarrass myself, and drive myself a mountain of crazy to find a folder.

What lengths will I go to in order seek the face of God?

When I feel like He’s hiding, do I shrug it off and move on or do I seek Him with my whole heart?

Is checking the “quiet time” box off my to-do list all I care about or do I just want Jesus, more and more of Jesus?

Am I too easily satisfied with ‘enough’ of God or am I desperately longing see His face?

What about you?

Moses stood on the holy mountain facing our Mighty God and even then didn’t stop pressing in for more.

He asked God, “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

Tony Evans writes:

“What’s fascinating to me about this whole situation is that Moses could have been satisfied with the burning bush. He could have been satisfied with the 10 miraculous plagues. He could have been more than satisfied with the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s armies. But Moses wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more of God. And more. And even more.”  (The Power of God’s Names).

Lord, may we not be too easily satisfied.  May we put in every effort, may we go to every length, may we press in with desperation as we hunt for the greatest treasure of all: More of Your presence.  ~Amen~

P. S. Turns out I kept the old plastic yellow folder from first grade, cleaned it up with a Clorox wipe and got the permanent marker off with some rubbing alcohol.  Recycling old school supplies for the win!

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.


Awaken to the holiness of God (so He doesn’t have to wake you up)

psalm 145

My daughter has one default answer to the question, “How are you?”

Most people default to, “Fine,” “Good,” “Okay,” or even “Great!”

I’ve heard people answer, “better than can be expected.”

And even, “blessed” or “still alive.”

Not her.  She has one response, “My tummy hurts.”

You may catch her in the middle of jumping up and down or running full-force outside on the playground.  Even then, if you ask how she’s feeling, she’ll pull a long face, drop her hand to her stomach and groan out an agonized, “My tummy hurts.”

Sometimes she’ll get really wild and crazy and say something totally unexpected like, “I have a headache.”  That’s just to keep us on our toes.

But when she started complaining this week of a stomachache, I fell into my normal mom-stance of skeptic complacency.

Sure, a stomachache.  So what else is new?

But it was new and different.  It was for real this time, a true illness that would confine her to the couch with a bucket for three days and counting.

She sure showed me!

How complacency blinds us and binds us!  One minute we’re living out the daily routine blindfolded and half checked out and the next minute we’re thrown awake, eyes wide-open, forced to pay attention.

Oh, for real this time.  This isn’t the normal.  This is new.

And we need to be shaken awake.

God didn’t design us to live life and live faith halfway asleep and mostly disengaged.

He wants our full attention.

So, He’s not above surprising us sometimes.

Maybe David needed a surprise like that.

When King David announced that the Ark of the Lord should be brought home to Jerusalem, the priests should have followed proper protocol.

Instead, they loaded what probably seemed like an old and generally meaningless relic from bygone days onto a cart and sent it on down the road.

They broke the rules.  God told them exactly how to handle His presence—carried on poles on the shoulders of priests, not bumbling down a bumpy road in a cart entrusted to animals.

So, when the Ark started to tumble off onto the ground, Uzzah the priest reached out to catch it, thinking surely he was doing the right thing, the good thing, the honorable thing.

But he was struck dead by the holy might of Almighty God.

No one should have touched the Ark.  Not ever.

Max Lucado writes:

Uzzah should have known this.  He was a priest, a Koathite priest, a descendent of Aaron himself.  The ark had been kept in the house of his father, Abinadab. He had grown up with it.  Which may be the best explanation for his actions…..The message: don’t grow lax before the holy.  God won’t be loaded on convenient wagons or toted about by dumb animals….

King David snapped to awake.  Of course, he snapped to anger also, exploding at God about the injustice of Uzzah’s death.

And then He worshiped in awe.

The truth is, all those years living in the same house as the Ark hadn’t impressed Uzzah; it had made him complacent, like he was handling little more than a dust-covered knick-knack from a living room shelf.

All those years living in the same house with my daughter, and she still manages to surprise me.

All these years of marriage, I still discover my husband and could there be any better than falling and falling and falling in love?

And, all these years with Jesus, surely He still surprises.  And amazes.

Just when you think you know what size box God fits in, He loves to show off His might.

Just when you think you know how far faith will take you, He asks you to go farther.

Just when you think you understand how deep His love is, He draws you down deeper.

David’s praise became rooted in a God who is great beyond comprehension:

 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

    his greatness no one can fathom (Psalm 145:3 NIV, emphasis mine).

God sure can surprise us.

In fact, He can shock us right out of our socks and shoes some times.

How much better, though, to lean in and listen….

To quiet our restless hearts…..

To be still….

To pause and deeply look….

To awaken to the holiness of God and live life in awe of His presence, expecting His glory this very day, this very hour, this very moment.

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.




Would you like some pizza with that doctrine?

She’s a four-year-old chowing down on pizza and breadsticks and prodding us with deep theological questions in between bites.

Where does God live? She drops it casually into family chatter just like “What are we doing tomorrow?” or “Can I have some more lemonade, please?”

Then she returns to the task at hand: Munch, munch, munch.jeremiah29

I nudge my husband’s elbow. Pass.  Your turn. 

So, he walks her through theology and doctrine right there as she slurps through her straw.  God is omnipresent, everywhere and always there.

I mean what country does He live in?  Munch, munch, munch.

He doesn’t live in a country, but there is one special place where he is present and that is Heaven.

And His angels?

Yes, and the angels.

I think He has 61 angels.

He has lots of angels.  Lots and lots.

Like 61?


But she’s distracted now and that moment when you feel like your child’s faith is that moldable clay in your parental hands has passed.  She heard it—God is everywhere. He is always with you.

Christian parenting 101  pop quiz over.

She may think He has only 61 angels, but one lesson at a time.

I’ve been spending all year pursuing God’s presence right here in this minivan life, so her question lingers, bouncing around in my head and heart.

Where does God live?

Right here.  Always with me.  Here in this place and that.  Here in the stress and the rush.  Here in the quiet corner I’ve sneaked into to hide away from the noise.

I can nod my head right along with the lesson I know so well, and yet still I choose to pursue more.

It might even seem like a fruitless endeavor.  Why pursue God’s presence when His presence is here, always here?  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He will not abandon you.

I know how it goes.

I’ve felt the difference, though, between knowing God is with you while you fill that dishwasher up with bowls from breakfast and when you’re passing back the snacks in the minivan while zipping from school to ballet class and then to church.

And that moment when you don’t want to move because God’s presence is so heavy in this place, you feel the Holy Spirit’s fingers leaving deep impressions on your spirit, and you simply not walk away from this very second the same as you were just the second before.

Israel saw the difference.  God was with them as they pounded out those bricks in Egypt.  Four-hundred years of slavery and He never abandoned them.  He was there all the time.

Yet, they headed out of that bondage and into the desert, stopping at that holy mountain where God’s presence came down in power.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.  The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

God came down to that mountain.

And Moses went up.

Chris Tiegreen says it this way:

This is a graphic picture of the distinction between God’s general Presence and His manifest Presence…..there are times when He is more present, when He manifests Himself uniquely, when He becomes more obvious that nature’s designs or a whispering voice.  Sometimes God shows up.

All this month, I’m pursuing God’s presence by Retreating and Refreshing.  Because sometimes we have to escape the everyday rhythms of life in order to breathe in and out the presence of God.

After all, Moses had to go up on that mountain.

I need to go, as well.

So, we pray:

God, come down to us, we pray.  Bring the full weight of Your glory here so we can see you.

And then sometimes we need to shake off the daily grind, walk away from the ordinary, and go up on that mountain ourselves.


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

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Retreat and Refresh?

When You Have to Squint Your Eyes to See the Beauty–a devotion from my garden

Sometimes you have to fight for the glory and squint your eyes tight to find the wonder.

Like today.

My daughter woke me up early.  She was ready for the day; I wanted to enjoy a little more night, and so the morning began with a headache, fatigue and maybe a not-so-cheerful Alexandr Rozhkov;

Then, just as I began to settle into the day, I glanced up at the calendar at 7:58 and realized the heating and air conditioning repairman was coming between 8 and 8:30 a.m.  Oops, forgot that one.

He came at 8:20 and normally that time for me is for morning tea and long devotions, starting the week with God and then writing.

But how to be inspired and still with God, how to type out these words on the computer when he’s banging parts and dismantling pieces?  Then he calls out, “Ma’am?” and I flinch because I know it’s not to tell me good news.

My to-do list was long.  The laundry piled high.  The sink stacked with morning dishes.

But I’m fighting for this, so I open to Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg:

“God desires to captivate us not just with his handiwork but with Himself–displaying facets of His character, igniting us with His fiery love, awakening us to the intensity of His holiness” (11).

Captivate me, Lord.  Right here, this tiny person in this moment when all the mundane is pressing heavy on my heart and I’m just about suffocated from the stifling weight of it all.

Feinberg tells me that this is what God desires and I wonder: If I’m not feeling it, is it because I’ve shut Him down and crowded Him out?  Is He willing to reignite me and I’m unwilling to notice?

I flip through my Bible to Hebrews 12:28-29:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

It starts with thanks, gratitude that anything that shakes apart the foundation of my day can’t touch the foundation of His kingdom, my faith, or eternity with Him–Not early mornings, interrupted routines, home repairs, not even the incessant grinding of the daily.

It requires worship grounded in reverence and awe because my God, Savior, Friend, and Lover of my Soul, is a Consuming Fire, and even on days when I’m just seeing the tiniest ember and flicker of that holy flame, He remains the same.

In Scripture, Elisha stood with his prophet-mentor, Elijah, and asked so boldly for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9).  So, when I read Elisha’s story, I expect the miracles all to be earth-shattering, all fire from heaven with awe and wonder.

It was Elijah, after all, who staged the showdown with the prophets of Baal, who predicted a long and devastating drought over the land and then foretold the rain that started as one tiny cloud as big as a man’s fist.  He went head-to-toe with Ahab and Jezebel until he was whisked away to heaven in a flaming chariot.

The double-portion of that Spirit must be pretty spectacular.

But when I read Elisha’s story, he made foul water fit to drink.  He cursed a group of taunting boys who called him “baldy.”  He gave oil to a poor widow, made some poisonous stew safe for consumption.  And when an ordinary worker dropped his ax in the lake, Elisha made the ax head float on the water.

It was everyday stuff, most of it.  He had a few moments, like raising a boy from the dead.  Overall, though, it seems so mundane.  So everyday.  He helped people eat and drink.  Helped them work and not have to trek to Home Depot for some new tools.

And maybe that’s the reminder here.  Maybe it takes even more faith to look for the power and spirit of God at work in the smallest of needs and the most everyday of circumstances.

Swamp milkweedI look out of the window over my kitchen sink while I wash the last cereal bowl and see the plants we bought the day before, still waiting to be planted in the dirt of our garden.  We went on a hunt for milkweed to attract monarch butterflies and came home with these two green pots.

They look like the smallest and plainest of dead sticks.  My daughter was skeptical.  Could this brown spindly stalk grow anything beautiful?  Is it even alive?

But today I’ve fought for the wonder and the glory.

Today, I’ve determined to plant and nurture the pitiful, the brown, the spindly, the weak, the seeming lifeless–and wait for God to cultivate and grow the glory and the beauty.

Yes, in my garden.  Yes, in my life and heart.

Captivate me, Lord, today.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Enjoy Beauty’?

To read more Devotions from my Garden, you can click here!

Originally posted April 22, 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

Trust the Director (A Lesson from the Theater)

Lesson Two: Trust the Director

She said there was a magic oven, a gingerbread house, a fireplace, an enchanted forest and a bridge to hide the troll.

We couldn’t see them, of course.  Not yet.

For months, the cast of The Story of Hansel and Gretel interacted with an invisible set, pretending to eat an invisible house, ducking behind an invisible wooden bridge, all because the director told them, “This is where it’s going to be.  This is what’s going to happen.”057

And they had to trust her.

So it is with us.  Our Director tells us to step here, walk there, and do this, and in so many cases, we don’t see the purpose or the ultimate design.

We have to trust Him anyway.

During those weeks of rehearsing with no props, no set, and no costumes, the actors could have assumed it would last forever and that they’d walk on an empty stage on opening night in their street clothes.

Yet, behind the scenes, there was a bustle of activity.  A costume designer measuring, shopping, and sewing.  A prop master searching for the perfect basket.  Painting and building sets.  Printing tickets.  Prepping make-up.

Our God is also at work behind the scenes, even when we can’t see the evidence.  Then, at just the right moment, He provides for our need and unveils the completed design He’s been working on all along.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

On looking back we see the presence of an amazing design. . .  Be ready to discover His divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”

It’s in retrospect that we see God’s glory in our circumstances.  Just like Moses, we see God’s glory as He passes by.

Moses entered the most holy place of God’s presence on that sacred mountain and with inexplicable boldness, he asked God to “show me your glorious presence” (Exodus 34:18).

Mortal and sin-plagued as we are, we can’t see God’s face.  We can’t take in the fullness of His glory without falling dead at His feet.

Yet, God told Moses,

“As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand and let you see me from behind.  But my face will not be seen” (Exodus 34:22-23).

What if we’re staring at our surroundings, straining to see God and we see nothing?  No sign of His presence.  No hint of His favor or blessing.  No indication of his design.hebrews10-36

Perhaps He has hidden you in the crevice of a rock and covered your face with His hand.

Then when He has moved in all His glory, we will look again and see where God has been.  We will see what He has done by the trail of His presence.

In the meantime, as we squint our eyes to see the now-invisible glory, we take those steps of faith, trusting that if our Director says to ‘move here,’ we go even if we still can’t see, even if we still don’t understand.

When Naaman, the powerful army commander for King Aram, asked Elisha to heal him of leprosy, the prophet sent a messenger telling Naaman to bathe in the Jordan River seven times.

It was ridiculous.  Mundane.  Not a glorious enough miracle for Naaman’s powerful position.

Yet, after blustering about the foolishness of it all and complaining about how ridiculous it was, Naaman obeyed.

And that obedience took perseverance.  He had to obey without giving up, dipping down in that river again and again, never seeing the healing until the seventh time he ducked his head down in obedience.

At any moment, he could have said, “this clearly isn’t working,” and walked away with the leprosy still ravaging his body.

But because he obeyed completely and awaited the appointed time, God showed up in His glory and healed him.

Like the actors rehearsing without props and without a set, we move where God says to move.  We do what He tells us to do.

We trust our Director’s vision and instruction, and we do it with faith and patience, obeying without giving up, just as Naaman did.  We obey with anticipation, knowing that we will see God’s glory as He passes by.

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

Christmas Devotions: A Birthday Encounter and the Magi

Originally posted on December 21, 2011
Today is my oldest daughter’s eighth birthday.  Here’s the post I wrote last year when she turned seven about growth and how encounters with God change us.

“Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).


My oldest daughter turns seven today.  She asked me to stop calling her “Baby girl” this week.  She seemed to think that seven year olds are too big for a nickname as embarrassingly babyish as that.

Birthdays never seem to be what my “Big girl” expects.  We take a birthday trip.  We do presents.  She shares in time with friends and family.  We sing to her.  She picks out her favorite cake (spice with cream cheese icing) and her favorite dinner (tacos or chicken and dumplings).  We celebrate her that day and she’s sheepish and sweet and content.

But at night as she climbs back into bed, she wonders why she hasn’t grown six inches.  Why, if she’s now seven years old, is she still wearing some 6X clothing?

Somehow my girl thinks an annual encounter with a birthday candle should provide immediate change, as if it’s a fairy dust *poof* over her head.

I can’t say how these things happen.  I remember so clearly the night nurse bringing my newborn into my hospital room at 3 a.m. seven years ago to the day.  She was screaming inconsolably.  Didn’t want to cuddle.  Didn’t want food.  Just needed to scream in protest for a bit.  I looked up at the nurse with the fear of a brand new mom and asked, “What should I do?”  She shook her head at me and said, “I don’t know!”  Then she walked out leaving me with Victoria, still screaming at the top of her lungs.

She was strong from the beginning.  Sure of herself, demanding of others.  Determined.  Sensitive and full of big emotions that just didn’t fit all bottled up and contained in a little body.

I remember her crawling, walking, talking, reading, dancing, and her first day of preschool and kindergarten and first grade.  Her love of horses, princesses, tea parties, arts and crafts, sparkles, and dancing and the mystery she is to me.

And yet, I can’t say when she grew up.

When, after all, does change happen for any of us?

Surely we have that immediate moment of course redirection when we first choose to worship Jesus.  Paul describes it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One encounter with Jesus was enough to change the Magi’s travel plans also.

They had come from the east to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1).

Their Messiah pursuit wasn’t popular.  It disturbed King Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).

Undeterred, the wise men followed the star and found Christ.  They were overjoyed, bowed down and worshiped him, presenting the gifts they had carefully toted along on their journey.

Then, “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).

It was a practical decision for them.  To trick King Herod, they slipped quietly out of the country.

It’s spiritual for us.  We meet Jesus and from then on, we simply can’t travel back the same way we came.  We have to follow “another route.”

Nor is this a one-time course correction for us.  Just like my birthday girl who doesn’t magically grow six inches at each birthday, so we change gradually.  There’s the initial moment of commitment to Christ and we are a new creation.

Then there are seasons of growth spurts as God performs focused work on our character. Intense encounters with God cause us to drastically change course.

At other times, the change is slow and daily as we shed layers and layers of flesh.  It’s so gradual we can’t always see it until someone sees the change in us.

They see how we react differently now.  How our words are seasoned with grace.  How people have become our primary heart motivation.  How our hearts are broken for the lost. They see that the faith we profess now impacts our motivation and activity.

It’s the change God is working in our hearts, just as Paul said: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

But the ever-increasing transformation in us requires us to drop the veil from our faces and “contemplate the Lord’s glory.“  Like the Magi saw Jesus after their relentless, focused, studious search for Him, we have to seek God in order to see God.

That’s our task, to “look for God like the watchmen looks for the morning” (Psalm 130:6).  We search.  We find Him.  We adjust our course to follow Him.

That’s how change happens.  That’s how we grow.

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Present and Accounted For

“Where are you going, Mom?”

My three-year-old has a radar system that rings alarms and sets off alerts if there is a possibility that I am going out…and leaving her at home.

That morning, she had caught me slipping on my socks.  I reassured her, though, “Just putting on my socks because my feet are cold, baby girl.  I’m not going out.”

“You’re staying here?”
“You’re not leaving?”
“No, sweetie. Mommy’s staying with you today.”

Seeing as how a hurricane raged off the coast of Virginia that morning, staying in seemed like a good idea.  We had stocked up water, canned food, and batteries and hunkered down until the storm passed.

She didn’t understand all that, though.  Snuggling in close to me, she pressed her cheek against mine and cooed, “Mommy, I stay with you.”

Of course, she can’t, not all the time, not forever, not every minute and each second of day after day after day.  But for this moment and surely in this storm, here I was snuggling with her and remaining present.

We sang it at church Sunday morning, leaving the weather reports and streaming satellite images about the approaching hurricane behind for a short time.  We gave praise, declaring, “You are My Shield, My strength, My Portion, Deliverer, My Shelter, Strong Tower, My very present help in time of need.”

This is our way of singing Psalm 46 back to God:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1-3). 

Normally, I sing this song imagining God as my Tower, my Shelter in the most fearsome storms.

But what good is a tower-of-brick if it isn’t nearby when you need to hide?  And what is the point of a refuge that is too far away to reach in times of distress?

It is God’s constant, faithful presence that makes Him effective as our Refuge and our Strength, our Defense and our Deliverer.

That is why “we will not fear,” not during storm or raging sea, or mountains crumbling or news reports of flooding and fire and disaster.

Because He is present.  Not just here in this moment and maybe leaving us later in the care of others while He slips out for a meeting or relaxes with friends or fills a cart with groceries at the local store.  We needn’t trip to His feet in alarm when He pulls on His socks or takes His jacket down from the pegs in the closet.

He is always, ever, constantly, faithfully, never-changing, perpetually, every second of every day present with us.

This means He didn’t close His eyes, turn His head, blink, snooze, or simply grow too distracted to care when the mountains crumbled and the waters roared.

No, our God doesn’t promise us a world without frightful shaking and uncertainty.  It’s a sin-plagued planet, aching and groaning for the perfection of eternity.  Hurting and death and sickness and tears are part of life here.

But He promises to be with us and be the strength and shelter we need for whatever rages outside.

Moses plead with God simply for this presence.  Days on that holy mountain, shining with reflected glory, and Moses still longed for more of God.

The Lord Himself promised:  “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

His presence.  Our rest.  Without Him, turmoil and worrying and stress.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).

Like Moses, we pray, knowing that without God’s presence, we are a mess and a disaster, and we are alone and lost, no different than those who don’t know Him at all.

His presence is what sets us apart.  That’s what gives us hope for each new day and peace and that’s what others should notice about us–Christ in us, the hope and glory.

Today is a day to praise God for His presence:

You Never Let Go (David Crowder* Band): “When clouds brought rain, And disaster came…When waters rose, And hope had flown.. Ever faithful, Ever true.  You I know.
You never let go

Made Me Glad (Hillsong): “He has delivered me from all fear; He has set my feet upon a rock. I will not be moved! I’ll say of the Lord, You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer, my Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present help in time of need!”

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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