My daughter ran away

My daughter has run away.

I’m striding through the halls at church looking for a four-and-a-half-year-old blond-haired girl.

Have you seen her?prayerforpresencce

The church service began without any other ruckus than this tiny tot announcing she had to go to the bathroom.  So her older sister walked her down the hall and back, but when they swung the sanctuary door open, the little one got bopped on the head.

Yup, she’s my daughter.

She didn’t stop the service with a burst of tears, a wail or a scream (thankfully).  But she turned right around and fled.

Now I have about 5 minutes to find this child, calm her down and carry her back into the sanctuary before I need to start playing the piano.

And I can’t find her.

I’m yelling out her name, opening up doors and scanning rooms for any sign of her, checking bathroom stalls, flicking lights on and off in the different classes.

Our church seems incredibly large and complicated right now, like I’m running through a corn maze of possibilities and hitting nothing but dead-ends.

It’s not nearly as scary as the times (many times) that my middle daughter has slipped away in a store or crowd or amusement park or zoo….That girl has a way of disappearing that will make this momma’s heart sink right down into my stomach.

But I know my four-year-old is here in the church.  Somewhere.

After a couple of crazed minutes, I finally discover her hiding away, huddled up, knees to her chest under a desk in the choir room crying silently so no one would hear her and find her.

I snuggle her up and make it back to the sanctuary with minutes to spare.

And I’m thankful.  I watched her run away so I knew to go searching for her.

Had she slipped away without me seeing, how long would she have stayed tucked away and crying under that desk before someone would have sent out a search party?

I read this passage in Ezekiel and I think of my runaway daughter and for the first time this mysterious prophet begins to make sense to me.

He says:

 Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:18 NIV). 

Maybe we think God’s patience is limitless.  But here it is, the very moment when He finally declared that Israel’s unrepentant adultery with any god she happened to meet had gone on long enough.

So, God left the sanctuary.

He lifted His glory right up out of the temple where He’d taken up residence generations before.

He loved them so and longed to be with them, right there in the middle of His people, a constant presence in their very midst.  That was His desire, the desire of a groom to be with His bride.

But finally He left.

Ezekiel saw it happen.  The glory lifted right up out of the temple and kept on moving:

The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it(Ezekiel 11:23).

What must that have felt like?  A heart-stopping void?  A knot in their stomach, like the breath had been strangled right out of them?

God’s presence was there.

Then it wasn’t.

Surely they screamed out in desperation, begging for His return.  Surely they slammed down to their knees in repentance.

Surely they searched for Him like I’d searched for my daughter–relentless, determined, focused.

Please, please, don’t leave us, Lord!  We are nothing without You.  We are desperate for You. 

Someone should have noticed.  Someone should have cried out.

I flip the pages of Ezekiel forward and back searching for that horrible moment when they realized God had removed His glory.  I can’t find it.  I read a little slower now.  Surely I just missed it.

But it’s not there.

It’s not there because they didn’t even seem to pay Him any mind.  Those priests, those people, they just kept right on going about their business like nothing had happened at all.

It’s like Samson after Delilah’s final bit of trickery when he snapped out of a deep sleep and didn’t realize she’d given him a buzz cut.

But he did not know that the Lord had left him (Judges 16:20 NIV).

How could he not know?

I want to know.

Lord, don’t let me go anywhere without You, not one step out of Your presence, not one move away from Your side.
May I be sensitive to Your glory and may I run hard back to You if there’s distance between us.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”—that’s me sometimes.
But draw me back, Lord.
“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11 NIV).

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

The Discipline of Resting Not Rushing

I’m tempted to rush.

This one day I have this time and the temptation is there to fill it right up with more activity, more going and more doing.

Most days, I don’t have this luxury, of course.  It’s the mad morning scramble of toothbrushes, hair brushes, ribbons, bows, socks, shoes, lunches and backpacks to send two older girls out to the bus stop.

Then, buckle a preschooler and a newborn into the minivan for the drive to school and errands or meetings or Bible studies or appointments or whatever busyness has etched itself onto the day.

But this day.  This one day.psalm27

After I watch my oldest girls step onto that school bus, I return to my home and breathe in and out this uncertain freedom.  I don’t have to drive to the preschool.  I don’t have to meet an external agenda or deadline until the afternoon.

So what to do?

Rush through my home, stuffing laundry into the washing machine and another load in the dryer?  Frantically move cereal bowls from sink to dishwasher and then grab the broom (maybe the mop if I’m inspired).  Respond to messages.  Catch up on the to-do list.  Fill out the forms.

So it goes, me filling up this one little space of time with too much, cramming in activity and sitting on the lid in hopes it will fit.

My tea, poured hot this morning turns cold.

My morning devotions, rushed through just to be done, leave me unfilled, uninspired, unopened to what God wants to say.

Too busy…too busy…just always too busy.

But today  I consider Joshua.

Moses met with God face-to-face in a tent.  A pillar of cloud covered the entrance while the Israelites looked on from the flaps of their own tent dwellings, bowing in worship in the doorways.

When Moses finished talking with God, he returned to the camp to share the message with others.

Not Joshua, though.

“his assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent” (Exodus 33:11 HCSB).

He wouldn’t budge from the glory and the presence, lingering there stubbornly while others moved along.

What if I chose to linger here….chose to be Joshua refusing to leave the tent as long as God’s glory electrified the air….chose for this one day to be Mary at the feet of Jesus rather than Martha slamming pots in the kitchen?

Because serving perpetually means serving empty and that means dying of spiritual starvation and dehydration.

We need the Mary moments so we can re-enter the kitchen as Martha and care for others cheerfully and ably until we have that opportunity once again to lay down the dish towel and sit at Jesus’ feet.

It’s not practical, of course.

That crowd of more than 5000 who sat on the hillside listening to Jesus hour upon hour should have been watching the clock.  They should have known what time it was and how long they had to travel back for food.  They should have abandoned the sermon and packed up their blankets and lawn chairs at a reasonable time so they could eat dinner at a reasonable hour.

Yet, Jesus rewarded their time in His presence.

Had they left early, they would have missed the miracle.

In order to witness God’s glory, they had to wait, they had to sit patiently and linger there until they received.

In Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore writes:

“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) . . .”Are you ‘sitting down’ in a posture of trust and sitting quietly to receive it?  If so, prepare the baskets!”

For me, it’s just this one day a week to take my morning slow before the afternoon and evening wave of stress and busyness crashes down again.livingbeyond

For you, it may be a morning, a day….even a season of sitting and waiting on that hillside so you can see His glory, or a season at Jesus’ feet instead of in the kitchen, or a season of lingering in the tent.

Whatever the length of the wait and the stillness, it’s a discipline to rest rather than rush.

When we remain there, though, insistent on lingering where His presence is, we see His glory displayed and He fills us up with the sustenance of His presence and His Word.

But only when we wait until He says it’s time to move on.

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 © 2013 Heather King