What My Three-Month Old Is Teaching His Mama

I hear his sharp, startled cry.

It’s only been half an hour since I cradled him and tucked him into his baby bed for the night.  This awakening is unexpected.

I slip into his room and its deep darkness.  Even though I can’t see his tiny frame, I hear him squirming, kicking, tossing his face side to side searching for me and calling out for rescue and help.psalm46-10

The floor creaks under my footstep and he ceases the cries, lies still for a moment, just waiting for Mommy to reach in and scoop him up into arms that will soothe and fix and comfort.

He knows I’m there even though he can’t see me.  And for the moment, that’s enough.

I lift him out of the bassinet, snuggle him close and rock from side to side, patting his back and assuring him that “Mommy’s here, baby boy.  Mommy will make it better.”

Soon his muscles relax and his head droops down onto my shoulder.  His breathing slows and deepens.

Still, I sway back and forth in the darkness and quiet, cuddling this infant blessing, not ready yet to move and let go.

And I’m thinking about this.

After just three months of life with me, my son calms simply at the creaking floorboards that announce my presence in the room.

But me?

I don’t have an infant faith or a 3-month experience with my Savior.

Thirty years into this faith journey, still I scream and thrash and demand attention and rescue even when I know He’s with me, even when He’s assured me of His presence, even though He’s never once failed or abandoned me.

I cradle my son and continue rocking back and forth as God reminds me:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 NIV

It’s not a verse about quiet times or somber worship.  It’s a battlefield Psalm, written when circumstances crushed God’s people and their hearts were trembling. The Sons of Korah wrote a song to remind God’s people of this:

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 NIV).

Ever-present.  That’s what our God is.  He’s with us.  Even before He lifts us out of the pit, we can hear the creaking of His footsteps nearby and know He’s there in the darkness.

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.

Therefore—-because He’s always there—-we need not fear, no matter what rumbles and falls to pieces around us.  Even if the foundations of the earth shake, He is our unshakeable Foundation.

Indeed:

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:7 NIV).

So, “be still.”

Be still and know that He Is God. He will be exalted.psalm46

In the midst of any darkness, in any storm, in any crisis or struggle or pain, He will display His glory through the rescue and redemption of His children.

That’s me and you.

Those Psalm-writing sons of Korah say it again.  Maybe they know we struggle to understand.  Maybe they know that a three-month-old baby can trust his imperfect Mama, and yet we’ll fail to trust our perfect God.

So they repeat it for our stubborn, slow-to-learn shaky souls:

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:11).

It’s not just the earthquakes and battles that make me question His presence sometimes.  It can be as simple as the overwhelming rush of my minivan life.

But there, yes, even there on the busiest of breathless days, The Lord is with me and it’s His presence that gives me peace.

As I lay my sleeping baby boy back down in his bed, I find myself singing an old hymn, a favorite that I’ve sung through some of the hardest times of my life.

It’s a song I’ll be singing all month long as I pursue the presence of Christ by being still and knowing He is God.

What songs do you sing when you’re scared or overwhelmed and need to know God is with you?

Be Still, My Soul
by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below….

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last…

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

Garden Devotions: Seeds, Identity and Gideon

Originally published May 16, 2012

The Lord answered, “I will be with you”
Judges 6:16a

She stands under 3 feet tall, this baby girl of mine.  With one hand tossed up to her hip, she stomps her feet on the ground twice, three times perhaps for emphasis, and screams, “Never Again!!!” in a voice that commands attention, if not respect.  If she’s really upset, she might even engage in some finger wagging.

My husband and I stifle grins at the sight of her: two years old and she could command an army.

When she was born, a woman we’ve never met heard the name we chose for our baby and declared, “Oh, a woman of authority.”

I’ve pondered this as I watched my baby–so assured of her own mind—turn into a toddler—set on sharing her mind. I can see the hints of leadership, yes, even authority crammed into the body and soul of a toddler.

My Catherine reminds me so often of the seeds we planted in pots on our deck this year.  They appear so small and yet inside an explosive seedsforce lies dormant, ready to break out of its shell and grow and grow and grow . . . and hopefully produce much fruit.

Holding that ordinary seed in our hands, we can’t begin to imagine the potential for beauty and nourishment within once it receives proper care and tending.  The only hint we have of the future is the picture on the package.

Sometimes even then we’re surprised.

When we planted this year, we set aside one long planter for carrots and covered over about 20 seeds with 1/4 inch of dirt.  Within a few days, shoots of green appeared.

But strangely enough, they didn’t look like carrots.  In fact, they looked identical to the radish sprouts now growing up in other pots.

Maybe my daughters sprinkled some radish seeds in places I didn’t expect.

Sometimes we look at others or ourselves and see plain, brown, ordinary, small, and insignificant specks.  Mystery seeds.

If we’re particularly imaginative, we might even think we see the potential for carrots, only to learn later that God really designed us to be radishes.

Surprise!

Ultimately, God sees what we cannot.  He recognizes all our potential for growth.  He sees beyond our insufficiency and the trappings of our untrained immaturity and chooses circumstances, people, and training that will nurture, prune, and tend us into fruitful vines.

This is what God did for Gideon.  In a time when the nation of Israel was oppressed by the Midianites and foundering without a king or judge to lead them, God raised up a teenager to save his people.

Scripture tells us:

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”  (Judges 6:11-12).

Mighty Warrior?  Who could the Lord be talking about?  Surely not this youth doing chores for his dad!  We read later that Gideon destroyed his dad’s altars to the false gods, Baal and Asherah, so Gideon wasn’t even a child of a faithful and righteous man.

Even Gideon thought God meant someone else, answering, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family”  (Judges 6:15).

He said, “I’m a nobody from a nothing family.  I’m no Mighty Warrior.  You’ve got the wrong guy.”

We may think he was right as Gideon puts God to the test repeatedly, asking for signs and reassurances of God’s command (Judges 6).  Then on the eve of the battle, Gideon still feels afraid and God offers him further comfort and confirmation by allowing Gideon to overhear the enemy and how assured they were of defeat (Judges 7).

In fact, even when the battle is over, won with only 300 Israelite soldiers against an overwhelming Midianite army, it still seems odd that God could call Gideon “Mighty Warrior.”   After all, there’s no question at all who was the Mighty One.  The battle was the Lord’s; Gideon was just yielded and usable.

The truth for Gideon and the truth for us is that God looks at us and sees beyond all of our failings and fears.  Not only that, but He’s also not limited by our skills and talents

He doesn’t see the potential of what we can do on our own; He sees the potential of who we are with Him.

With God, Gideon was indeed a mighty warrior.  That’s why when Gideon asked how any of this would be possible, “The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).

That is the promise He has for us–His presence, His help, His guidance, His reassurance when we are afraid.  All He requires from us is trusting obedience and the willingness to embrace His plans and His designs for our future.

More Devotions From My Garden:

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 © 2013 Heather King