When You Feel Like the Runt

1 Samuel

Dearest Catherine,

Did you know that King David was the youngest of all his brothers?

In fact, when the prophet Samuel showed up on Jesse’s doorstep and announced that one of his sons would be anointed as the new king of Israel, Jesse didn’t even remember that David existed.

Jesse had son after son parade before Samuel.

Tall ones.  Handsome ones.  Brawny ones.

Every one of them seemingly fit for royal position based on their outward appearance.

The Lord rejected them.

Still, it didn’t occur to Jesse to call for that youngest boy of his.

As the parade wound down that afternoon, Samuel asked if that was the lot of them.  Any more sons?

It was like he was jogging Jesse’s memory.  Can you recall, by any chance, any other son you might have forgotten?

Of course, Jesse had indeed forgotten one.

You know, David: David the teenage shepherd boy, reeking of livestock and still far out in the fields instead of participating in this Search for Israel’s King Part 2.

Jesse brushes it all off.  Obviously God doesn’t want that son when He could have the pick of so many fine, strapping young men.  Why even bother calling David in from the field?  It’d just be a waste of the sheep’s good grazing time.

He says it like this: “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11 ESV).

Max Lucado writes that what Jesse literally says to Samuel that day is “I still have the runt” (Traveling Light, p. 107).

The runt.

Some nickname.

God picked ‘the runt,’ though.  He chose the smallest.  He chose the overlooked.  He chose the boy in the field, the hard-working, faithful shepherd with a heart for worship and prayer.

That’s what God does.  He uses the small ones, the weak and the weary, the youngest, the outcast, the dreamer.

Baby girl, it’s not the same for you, of course.  You are treasured and beloved.  We adore you so.  This year, you’ve been shining bright at school and we are so proud of you.

Still, I see it, the struggle and tension sometimes as you tag along after two big sisters, always the youngest of the King Girls Trio.

They rag on you some and pick on you at times, complaining about your tender heart and whining when you want them to play with you and they have other plans.

Those older sisters are off to bigger things and they forget that a six-year-old girl has every right to play with dolls and toys and make pretend picnics.

It seems like you grew two feet in kindergarten.  I still do a double-take at times, looking to see my Catherine hiding behind this tall, grown-up six-year-old standing in front of me.

But it’s you, of course.  You’re not a teeny girl any more, not the preschooler I have in my mind.

And it’s more than how many inches we’ve measured out on the kitchen wall.

You’ve grown in wisdom.

You rattle off your Bible lessons over Sunday lunches and you never just stop with the story itself.  You always tell me what it means.

That we should be kind to others.

That sometimes God doesn’t take away our pain, but He helps us through.

That God looks at what’s in our heart, not just how we look on the outside.

God is at work in you.  Yes, six-year-old you.  Yes, youngest sister you.  Yes, the tiniest King Girl–you.

I see it in your heart for prayer, the way you cover everything from your day as you bow your head at night.

I see it in your grateful heart, how you’re always so thankful for every gift and every opportunity. You never expect or demand; you just rejoice to receive.  You’re overflowing with gratitude and joy, celebrating the tiniest gifts like they were precious jewels laid at your feet.

I see it in your tenderness and sensitivity to those around you, treating others with gentleness and deep compassion.

You’ve announced to me this year that in addition to wanting to be a doctor, you’d like to be president some day because you’re really smart and super-good at math (as if that’s the job description of a politician).

Precious one, be who God has called you to be.

You don’t have to keep up or compete with older sisters.

You don’t have to fall for the trappings of acclaim or worldly success and push to be president because somehow that seems more important than caring for patients or any other ministry God has for you.

Remember what God told Samuel:

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

God values what’s in your heart, and your heart, dear one, is so beautiful to Him.

Happy birthday.

Love,

Mom

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

VBS Lessons: No Matter Who You Are

Every year at Vacation Bible School I watch as adults lead the excited children around the church from station to station, sing the songs (maybe we even do the accompanying motions), shout and laugh.  Do we also, though, compartmentalize? Do we box up the VBS messages and declare they are just for kids and not relevant for us?

But is there any message in Scripture that God delivers just for people under 18? We older and wiser ones sometimes make faith so complicated and fail to recognize or really consider the beautiful truths in these simple messages. So, this week, I’m thinking about VBS and what the lessons for children mean for you and me.  Our church is doing Group’s Sky VBS, so that’s what I’ll be sharing about here.

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No Matter Who You Are….Trust God

I’m easily duped.

I view another person’s life from afar:

Big house, family vacations, nice cars: Finances are solid.

Posts on Facebook about a husband bringing home flowers and how often he cleans up the house, makes dinner and does bath night with the kids: Their marriage is strong and the husband is divinity in human flesh who puts all mere mortal husbands to shame.

Reports of kids’ school achievements, activity accomplishments and cute parenting stories about bedtime prayers and how much they love Jesus: They are perfect parents.

Then their life implodes.  The marriage crumbles seemingly overnight with pain that’s been ripping away the threads of their home for years.  They teeter on the cliff’s edge of bankruptcy and foreclosure or fall right on over into a financial pit.  Their kids rebel.  They disappear from church.  Perhaps they seek solace in suicide.

And we all are catapulted into shock.  We just didn’t know.

It’s true that a life without Jesus can’t be truly fruitful and that “a good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit” (Luke 6:43).

Sometimes, though, we’re terribly accomplished counterfeiters, building a facade of happy perfection that belies the truth of what happens in the hidden places of our lives . . . . our marriages . .. our homes . . . our families . . . even more pointedly our hearts.  Maybe it’s just wax fruit that we’ve been surreptitiously tossing onto our branches all these years, but it looked so real.

It’s just impossible to know sometimes what goes on behind the closed doors of another person’s life.

But we try.  In the same way, we might quickly glance at a person’s clothes, makeup or hair and decide whether or not they love Jesus or whether or not they are close to salvation.

Maybe we’re the ones making judgments about others or maybe we’re the ones playing pretend.

God can give us a spiritual discernment to help us see truth in these situations, but often times we finite-minded humans only have what we see–the outward appearance–to help us form judgments and make our minds up about people.

To quote from my favorite movie, The Philadelphia Story, though, “The time to make your mind up about people is never.”

Consider how God’s story would change if He was fooled by outward appearances as we often are:

He would have overlooked the prostitute Rahab as a potential savior for the Israelite spies.

He would never have chosen the teenage shepherd boy, David, to rule Israel.

Jesus would have selected pharisees and teachers of the law to be his disciples instead of a tax collector, a bunch of burly fisherman, and a guy so prone to doubt it became part of his name, good old Doubting Thomas.

A raging bull of a man bent on the destruction of the New Testament church would never have become the apostle to the gentiles, the great advocate for salvation by grace alone, and the predominant writer of the New Testament

And when a centurion burst through the mob surrounding Jesus and asked this miraculous healer to save his ailing servant, Jesus would have turned in disgust.  This Roman soldier was an enemy.  A Gentile.  An occupier.  Instead, Jesus, amazed by his faith, heals the ailing servant with a simple command.

Scripture confirms that “people judge by the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT).  Aren’t you thankful for that?

King David shared this same wisdom with his son Solomon: “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts(1 Chronicles 28:9).  In Hebrews, we read that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

God always knows our motivations and the condition of our heart.  He’s not duped as I am by the Kodak moment snapshots of our lives, where the makeup is perfect, the hair in place, the smiles just right.

He sees all the photos we rejected, not just the one we framed on the wall for all to see.

Yes, God knows the truth about us all—and the truth that God sees ever so clearly—-is that we all need a Savior.

And He is there ready to receive us, whether we’re joyful or broken with sorrow, whether our marriages are strong or crumbling, whether we live in massive new homes or tumbledown shacks, whether we’re church girls from way back or partyers who’ve discovered the emptiness of indulgence.

No matter who you are . . . trust God.

He doesn’t require us to have it all together before we stroll into His presence cocky and self-assured.  He accepts us crawling in on our knees seeking grace, sweet grace, unmerited and undeserved salvation.

Then He lifts our heads up so we can gaze on His glory, covers us with forgiveness, redeems us and makes us new, uses us for His kingdom purposes, and invites us continually into His presence, where we don’t need to pretend or hide any more.

And He reminds us that others need to know this grace-giving Savior, too, not just those who look broken and needy, but even those who seem to have it all together.  No matter who we are, we all need a Savior.

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.