I’ve been silently watching while God does this thing

Quiet for me can become a habit that’s hard to break and lately  I’ve retreated into the semi-safety of silence.

And once I choose silence, I generally like to linger there for a while.

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe it’s slipped by unrecognized.  I’ve posted less these past few weeks and shared old devotionals rather than penning new ones.

Instead of writing, I’ve been watching with a hushed anticipation of what God will do.

But here I am today sharing a little of the story and my voice feels rusty from disuse.

This is part of our family testimony, though, and truly God has indeed been at work, so it’s time to tell you what God has done!

Our family has squeezed into our tiny home for years, adding children (4!!!) without adding bedrooms or square footage.

We’ve talked often about moving, but the timing was never right for this reason or that reason.  Maybe we weren’t sure about a job issue or where we should move to.  So we waited.

But in January, the very day I put away the Christmas decorations, I started working on Project “Move Our Family.”

It’s been a process, that’s for sure!  We have purged and organized and moved boxes into storage.  We have painted walls neutral colors, taken down family photos, and replaced flooring and trim.  We have fixed and spruced up, cleaned and donated endless bags of “extras”  to the thrift store.

We felt God’s “go” and “go”we did.

Then, like the crazy people we sometimes are, we put our house on the market just before performance week in our latest community theater production, which is pretty much as busy as busy people can get.

And it sold.

That first day we put it on the market, there were torrential rains and three couples braved the mud and the downpour to come see our house.

I told my kids, “No one who sees our house in this horrid wet is going to want to buy it.”

I was wrong.

A few days later, we had a contract on our house and we had to find a new place  to live.

And we did, that very day, and we are excited about the blessing of this new home.

It’s been this huge, potentially overwhelming, certainly life-changing adventure that has rolled along in simplicity.  One need taken care of, and then another, and then another.

I can’t say exactly why I guarded this as some sacred secret, not daring to write it down just yet, but maybe it’s  because when God is on the move you just stand back and watch.  It’s not something you’re ready to talk about right away.

The prophet Habakkuk said it this way:

*The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20)

The glory of God defies description.

I haven’t been writing maybe, but I’ve been cleaning the oven and scrubbing showers.  I’ve been packing boxes and wiping up every spot I can find on every surface in the house.

I feel a little like Peter may have felt in Luke 9 during the transfiguration when he saw the full glory of Christ:

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said  (Luke 9:32-33 ESV).

Peter had no clue what he was saying or doing.  It didn’t make perfect sense.  He was simply overcome and thrown into restless movement because he was stirred to respond somehow!

I have been overcome, as well, and it’s hard some days to sit still.

Here’s the truth, my friends, God’s calling isn’t always like this.

You hear Him say “Go” or “Come” and it’s the beginning of a battle.  The wait is long and wearying.  Obstacles loom.  Sometimes houses take forever to sell even when God is indeed in the moving.

Don’t give up if you know God is in this.

I’ve been there.  In this past year, every blessing has felt like promised land ground I had to fight my heart out to win.  There have been disappointments and there has been discouragement.

It’s been exhausting.

But there are also times when you take one tiny step of obedience and God takes care of every detail, every need, and you’re stunned into the silence of awe at God’s gracious care and mercy.

And the silence becomes a holy place where we rest in God’s goodness and marvel at who He is and what He has done.


That’s What I Want

I’m a tiny bit of a Wal-Mart celebrity.

It’s eight years of working with our small-town church’s Vacation Bible School …plus eight-and-a-half years of being mom to young kids who have too many friends to fit the playdates into the schedule…plus years of singing songs with kids in our church’s Children’s Church…plus some children’s community theater work …and Voila: Wal-Mart Celebrity Status.

Pushing my cart around the store, totally focused on comparing coupons with the 50+ options on the shelves, trying to keep up with the shopping list and the meal plan, I’ll still know it’s happening.

A child recognizes me.

Sometimes it’s a whisper, “Mom, I know her!  She’s from ____!”

Maybe it involves finger pointing or bashful waving.

Occasionally, I’ll be just about tackled down in a football hug.

My favorite is when they recognize me but they can’t remember why, so they are simultaneously trying to get my attention while looking a tiny bit confused, a lot shy, and maybe even socially panicked if I actually wave back.

Oh, fame.

But this isn’t really fame, of course, not in the worldly sense of paparazzi, limos, mansions, TV commercials, bestsellers and autograph lines.

This is just kids excited that you made a difference in their lives in the way only a rural, small-town church girl and momma can.

Maybe it’s pride, the world, Satan, or just ugly sin, but something drives us so often to push and shove our way to the front row of this crowded planet.  To be recognized.  To be the best.  To gain followers and have that spotlight track us around a stage.

But the world is a crowded and noisy place with so many people clamoring and shouting in order to be heard over all the ruckus.

Mostly our motives aren’t deep down evil.  What we want, really and truly, is to make a difference for God.  We want to be part of His ministry, be His hands, His feet, His voice.

We want to do something “Great” for God, believing that God has called us to “Great” things and is going to give us a “Great” ministry.

Yet, “Great” to God so often requires humble invisibility and sometimes painful but unrecognized giving.

Jesus said:

whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:43-45 NIV).

“Great” means service, even slavery.  It means self-sacrifice so extreme it’s life-demanding.

What if “Great” means bringing up Godly children who serve the Lord into adulthood?

Or building into a strong marriage that lasts and models Christ’s covenant love and faithful commitments to a world bruised and beaten by the lies of selfish passion and cheap vows?

Or sticking with that tiny Sunday School class or small group year after faithful year?

Or being content with Wal-Mart Celebrity Status or even less recognition than that?

My husband says it:

Desire Impact, Not Fame.gideon

Impact.  Aretha Franklin belted out a plea for R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but Impact is what I want.

Not glory for me; just glory for Him.  Not attention for me; just praise and honor for Him.

And impact doesn’t start by reaching out to crowds and arenas and the world en masse.

Impact begins with obedience right in our homes, churches and communities.

If God takes us on beyond that, Amen.  So be it.  God’s will be done.

If He doesn’t, still it is yes and Amen.

In her study, Gideon, Priscilla Shirer notes that Gideon’s first assignment as God’s Mighty Warrior was to:

Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah polebeside it (Judges 6:25 NIV)

His work began in his own home, not leading the Israelite army into battle against the Midianites.

And Abraham’s calling didn’t begin as founder of a nation.  Instead, God said:

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just (Genesis 18:19).

For Gideon, for Abraham…for us, that means focusing on the everyday, the invisible, the humbling, the self-sacrificing, the mundane, and the small and always, in all things, giving glory to Him.

As Priscilla Shirer writes:

What lies ahead in your journey is not nearly as critical as where you are right now…your greatest impact will be done here—in the ordinary rhythms of your daily living (Gideon, p. 63).

That is where impact begins.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Living the “Real”

Her “Other-Grandma” had a purple house.

That’s what my three-year-old told me, not just once, but all through the day.  Her Grandma had a purple house and her Grandma’s cat had shimmied up a tree and needed firefighters to rescue her.

My preschooler’s imaginary friends expanded over time to include an imaginary “other” family and that “other” family now includes grandparents…and their pets.

I just nodded and “mmm-hmmmed” and let her create.  No need really to dispute the existence of the purple house.

But then, as we drove along a winding road with scattered houses, she saw “it.”

The house.

Yes, the purple house…more like mauve, perhaps.  Close enough.

My daughter erupted, pointing and practically trying to leap out of her five-point harness seat.  “There it is!  My grandma’s purple house!  It’s there!  I see it!!”

There in that moment, nothing could be more exciting, not a circus or Disney World or the largest ice cream sundae, than her imaginary creation becoming “real.”

I wanted that.  Not a purple house or a cat awaiting rescue.  I wanted “real” and the excitement of discovery, that total awareness of this moment and God at work and how it’s not just words on a page or another’s testimony or a video, or a Facebook post, or a Pinterest pin, or a blog.

Real in me, real in my life, so real I sense it in every way, so real I’d be jumping out of my seat to share with others.

Living in the “real,” though, that’s so hard, that takes effort to fight for it, to insist on it, to discipline ourselves for it.

So much more tempting to live in a world of “what-if’s” and worry, hypothetical tragedies and made-up fears that paralyze us in this moment.

So much easier to pin 50 Pinterest activities to do with our kids than live in the simple and the now, push a swing, swash a paintbrush of watercolors on a white paper, bake the cookies.

So much more inspiring to rejoice in the testimonies of others and what God is doing in them than open our eyes wide to what God is doing here in us.

So much less effort to read someone else’s thoughts on the Bible than turn its pages ourselves to read those God-breathed words and pray, “God, speak truth to me.”

So much more fun (less depressing?) to read the blog posts of Mom-tips, wifely-advice, decorating and fashion pointers than look at our own carpets and curtains and push through the clothes in our own wardrobes.

Truly, how did our moms do this?  Do life without online advice and helps?

I love it; I do. I find so many activities I do with my kids, so many teaching tools and home strategies, recipes, and spiritual object lessons online.  I’m a better mom for it…..as long as I do them, as long as I really take the time with my family, not just immerse myself in someone else’s perfect mom moments.

But all those online people with all that online expertise have to live out the Real, too.  They have to wash the dirty dishes, vacuum the stained carpet, break up sibling spats, and yes, surely their lives have mundane and ordinary.  We might only read their highlights and see the pictures of their successes.  Yet, bad days and stress happen to all of us.

So much potential for good here.

And so much potential for discouragement, dissatisfaction, insecurity, uncertainty, jealousy, laziness, and for missing out.

When the captives returned to Jerusalem in the book of Ezra, they personally rebuilt the crumbled remains of the temple and one day they stood before the finished work, amazed:

But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this house, but many others shouted joyfully. The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away (Ezra 3:12-13).

The way those shouts of joy mixed in with the weeping, that’s the power of the Real.  All those years of talking about the temple, telling stories about the temple, and imagining the temple transformed in that moment when they saw it with their very own eyes.

They saw God’s glory, His mercy, His capacity to redeem and restore His people.  They knew for themselves that God had chosen them, loved them, and wanted to be among them.

It was Real and Real overcame them.

I want to be overcome.

This husband, these children, this home, this garden, this day with this weather, this God at work in this very life, this Real is where I can be amazed by God at work if I will open my eyes to see Him right here in my own Real life.

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

When a Dent Means So Much More

It looked like nothing more than a dent in the hood of the car, a cosmetic annoyance perhaps, but not worth paying the deductible on the car insurance to fix.

Deer are so frighteningly erratic and unpredictable.  Some people marvel at their beauty, grazing along the roadside.  I, however, slow down to a crawl and pray frantically, my hands white-knuckled ontodeercrossing the steering wheel and my heart racing every time I see them out my car window.

So, I was thankful for the miracle.  The deer slamming into my husband’s car left only this ugly indentation behind and my husband was unharmed: a too-close encounter with the minimal damage.

We thought that was the end of it.

The next day, though, my husband found the passenger door on the car wouldn’t open, not without unusual effort.

One estimate at the body shop later and we found out the truth.  The deer had caused $1500 worth of damage, most of it underneath the car.  It took a week of repairs to fix the damage from what the insurance company termed a “collision with an animal.”

It’s been more than a month since the deer decided to take a running leap into my husband’s car and I’ve been thinking about it all the while.

….About brokenness and how sometimes we think the surface cracks and minor bumps and dents are all there is.  Yet, that brokenness in me …in you….in those we meet out and about in our lives…reaches deep down.

It’s not just a matter of cosmetic imperfections, dents that can be popped back out or scratches that can be covered over with paint.  When I explode in anger over something or react with a bad attitude, when the slightest hint of jealousy arises, or I say the wrong thing—it just seems like the smallest error.  It’s a bad day.  A minor bout of stress.

But that’s just the sign of true brokenness.  One pass through the Refiner’s fire and all the disgusting contaminants rush to the surface.

Something is at work far deeper in my heart and soul and I can either keep covering up and ignoring the surface manifestations, or I can ask God to “search me and know me” in the hidden places, underneath the hood, revealing the kind of brokenness that only an expert can see and only with a thorough examination (Psalm 139:23).

Or sometimes we ignore the dents and treat them with complacent apathy… not realizing that the marriage that just seems humdrum is really in desperate danger….or the strained relationship that appears mildly tense is truly explosive.  We’re ignoring the signs of brokenness until they’ve reached a devastating magnitude and then when we’re sitting among the rubble and dust, we think, “What happened?  How did I not know?”

So, while it’s painfully annoying to see the surface signs of damage, how much better to ask God to be at work in us, be at work in our marriages and homes, hearts and minds, ministries and jobs, and more, here and now and do the hard work in this very moment.

Then, like Peter wrote, “and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10 NIV). 

Peter knew this.  He had a faith that seemed so loud and boisterous, so absolutely strong, and yet he denied Christ three times and discovered out how deep the broken places ran in his soul.

This same Peter tells us that strength and steadfastness, the wholeness and healing, only come after the suffering.  If we skip over it, gloss over it, ignore it, or pretend it isn’t there, then we’ll be too fragile to withstand the greater stress.

…And I’ve been thinking about how we can seem to have it all together with everything perfect and perfectly in place and still be so broken underneath the surface.  There is, after all, no such thing as perfection this side of Christ’s throne.

So it’s safe for all of us to just confess the truth already.  Yes, there’s brokenness in me.  There.  I’ve said it.

And maybe, just maybe, if we all showed that grace to ourselves and that grace for others, we’d allow God to do the healing work.  Then He’d get so much glory—not because we’re faking perfect, but because we’re redeemed by a God who can transform the most broken vessels into clay pots fit for use in the Kingdom.

In her book Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes writes, “The puncture wounds of life’s canvas become see through places for Sudden Glory moments.”

Yes, it’s the broken places in us that can let His glory shine through.  But only if we stop resisting His work.  Only if we stop patching the holes.  Only if we pay attention to the scratches and dents and let Him go to work on the hidden brokenness.  That’s when true healing begins.

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


Originally posted on January 11, 2012

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)

I think I must have a sign on me when I shop at Wal-Mart.  It says, “I don’t work here, but I can help you.”

I don’t mind really.  There’s something satisfying about knowing the aisle for laundry soap and the one for body soap and that they are about a mile walk away from one another.  Or that there’s tape in hardware and different tape in stationery.

Perhaps it’s that I usually shop with at least one of my kids.  Strangers probably see me and think, “She has children. I bet she’s in here ALL the time.  I’ll ask her where to find stuff.”

It seemed natural enough until I realized just how familiar I was with the Wal-Mart after trekking there more times than I’d like to admit every week for almost eight years.

I glanced down at my shopping list one day and discovered I had automatically organized it by quadrants of the store.  Every item was listed in the order I would find it on my usual route.

Now that’s a lot of time in Wal-Mart.

The time we spend anywhere shows up in our lives.  We can’t hide our influences or interests or the habits and relationships that take up the most space on our calendar. Our conversation is flavored, our mannerisms influenced, our choices altered by the way we spend our days.

It was the same for the disciples.

After Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, these Christ-followers became quite the trouble-makers.  They preached sermons and performed miracles all in the name of Jesus, to the dismay of the Sanhedrin or religious leaders, who thought that a dead Jesus was a problem solved.

When Peter and John were arrested and stood before the Sanhedrin, Peter—the guy arrested for giving sermons about Jesus— decided to give another sermon about Jesus.

Bold, huh?

He spoke the bottom line truth: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Was this a fisherman talking?  Was this the guy who had denied Jesus three times, now preaching salvation through the crucified Jesus to a group of men who could crucify him, too?

The Sanhedrin wondered the same thing: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)

You couldn’t miss the miraculous change in them. “These men had been with Jesus.”  And it showed.

It should be that evident in our lives also.  Our time praying and meditating on His Word should cause a life-revolution.  People should see us and think, “I bet she knows where to find hope, joy and peace.”  They should witness the changes in us over time and think, “Clearly she’s been with the Lord.”

For Peter and John, this brought life change—spiritual insight and boldness.

For Moses, time with God impacted Him physically.  All those days in the presence of God’s glory on the mountain made his face glow–literally.  And he couldn’t cover it up with some Covergirl face powder.  Even Mary Kay couldn’t do the trick.

It was so distracting to see this glow-in-the-dark face and how it faded over time, that Moses began wearing a veil to hide it.

Paul tells us that we glow like that, too, when we’ve been with God.

Yet, he also tells us that unlike Moses, there’s no reason for us to hide the glow of glory that comes from God’s presence.  In 2 Corinthians Paul writes:

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).

Unlike Moses, our faces are unveiled so that all can see the transformation God works in us over time, making us ever more like His Son.  This change only happens, though, when we’ve been with Jesus.

People will be able to tell where we’re spending our time, what’s occupying our thoughts, and what our priorities are.  If it’s not God, that will show up on our faces and in our lives, too.

But I want my face to glow with God’s glory.  I want my life to be a like a sign that says, “This girl has been with Jesus.”

Just like Peter and John.   Just like Moses.  Just like Paul.  When we spend time with Christ our life will glow as we reflect 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 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

In the Splash Zone

They wanted to be splashed.

That’s what my daughters said as we walked into the pavilion with risers, some of them marked “Splash Zone” and others unmarked, indicating the safer, dryer seating area.

There’s something about childhood that makes you love getting wet, especially when it’s a dolphin splashing her tail that’s sending a wave your way.

Sadly, most of us grow up and out of this urge to get splashed.  We start to climb a little higher to avoid the “Splash Zone,” to play it safe and mature and under control.

My kids, however, crowded into the front rows of seats with all the other excited children and joined in shouting for the dolphin to splash “over here, get me, don’t forget me!”

I may not be eager to get soaked at a dolphin show, but there’s one place where I’m climbing all over folks to sit up front and center.

I’ve been arriving early and often, staunchly guarding my seat until the largest wave of them all rises high over the edges of the pool and splashes down all over me, soaking me through so deeply that you could wring out my soul into a puddle on the ground.

I want a front row seat to God’s glory.  I want to see it, drench in it, feel it, and I don’t want to miss a single drop of His Spirit pouring down.  No playing it safe, comfortable or in control.  If the seats where I’m sitting aren’t marked with warning signs for the Splash Zone, I need to move down closer.

Others have longed for the front row seating for God’s glory.  Like Moses, of course, meeting with God on that holy mountain and asking with so much boldness I can’t even believe he dared to say it: “Show me Your glory.”

Ezekiel saw it and painted unimaginable pictures, trying to cram the glory of God into the confines of words, so unfitting and restrictive.  It was like a rainbow, like bronze, shining bright like a blazing fire.

What was it?

“It turned out to be the Glory of God!  When I saw all this, I fell to my knees, my face to the ground” (Ezekiel 1:28 MSG).

That’s what the uninhibited presence of God does, knocks us straight to the ground.  We can’t postulate and question it, hesitating: “I think this is what God is saying,” or “I think God is in this.”

When you’re sitting in the front row, you can’t mistake His glory.

Rick Warren wrote:

“What is the glory of God?  It is who God is.  It is the essence of his nature, the weight of his importance, the radiance of his splendor, the demonstration of his power, and the atmosphere of his presence.  God’s glory is the expression of his goodness and all his other intrinsic, external qualities” (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 56)

The beloved disciple John’s testimony was that of an eyewitness to this, saying, “We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son” (John 1:14 MSG).

Trampling along after Jesus, James, Peter and John probably didn’t expect much on the day of the transfiguration. They’d taken that walk with Jesus many times.  And hadn’t they just totally messed up at the feeding of the 5000, underestimating Jesus’ ability to transform a meager lunch into a feast for thousands?

They certainly didn’t seem ready to glimpse heaven that day.  Yet, it was there on the Mount of Olives where they saw him no longer as God-man, but God and God alone in all of His divinity and light.

“They saw his glory,” and Peter, the master of understatement said, “Master, it is good for us to be here” (Luke 9:32, 33 NIV).

He’s right, you know.  It may be simple and straightforward, but it is good for us to be in the presence of God’s glory.

These close-knit trio of disciples had followed along after Jesus many times, climbing up the Mount of Olives to pray, taking time out of exhausting ministry to kneel in God’s presence.

But they didn’t see Christ transfigured every time.  That was a one-time event.

That means the Mount of Olives isn’t some magic formula for a God-sighting so much as a constant discipline of our faith.  It’s got to be a daily trek for us, a meeting place with God where we linger often and stubbornly climb even when things are difficult or dreary or we’ve failed.

In Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman wrote: “Every Christian should have his own Mount of Olives”

Because when God reveals His glory, we want to be there.  We won’t want to have missed out that day with excuses of busyness, fatigue, or shame.

I want a front row seat in the splash zone of His glory.  Don’t you?

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.

The Meaning of Life

My oldest daughter wants to be a ballet-dancing scientist and teacher (not a science teacher, mind you, a scientist and a teacher who also does ballet on the weekends).

My middle daughter wants to be a magician who also tells jokes (thanks to the program we saw at our public library this summer by a very funny magician-entertainer).

I can’t even count how many possible careers I once considered to be the definitive answer to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Pastor, college professor, librarian, pianist, lawyer, editor, teacher.  Any and all of them were on the list at some point.

Most of them probably still are on the list if I’m being truthful.

The thing about life is that so often we’re looking for that one overarching purpose.  What were we made for?  What did God put us on the earth to do?

And if our answer is at all ordinary or seemingly unsubstantial, it seems like not enough.  Our hunt for that one grand design continues.

We ravage books on anything that will help us find the neon sign of God’s will for our lives.

To me, though, the ultimate end of such books is sometimes disillusionment.  Inevitably, the author discovers through miraculous circumstances that he’s meant to be a missionary to Africa or she is meant to lead an international ministry to the “least of these.”

Meanwhile, you may be reading this blog in between diaper changes and laundry cycles.  Or maybe you’re munching away on your lunch at your desk with papers to file on the left and accounts to enter on the right.

So, what does this mean exactly?  Does God only have a purpose for some of us and the rest are just fodder for the world economy or babysitters for the next generation?  Are we “ordinary folks” the rejects God decided He couldn’t use for any truly meaningful life purpose?

Or does God have some top-secret design for our lives and we just haven’t performed the correct magical ritual to unlock it–the five simple steps to discovering our purpose?

Of course, there’s a very real way to miss out on God’s plans for you.   If we aren’t willing to obey what He says, we will not be in His will.

Yet, there are those of us who have prayed heartfelt confessions of submission so many times and we’re still searching for the plan.

Honestly, as a teenager I was baffled at how some prophets responded to God’s call. God said, “Go” and so many of them (Moses, Jeremiah, Gideon, Barak) answered, “I’m too young.  I can’t.  Send someone else.”

Now, if God said to me, “Go,” I was sure I’d be the “Here am I, send me” kind of girl.  I’d be like an audience member picked to be on The Price is Right, screaming my head off all the way to the stage in wild excitement.

But there are times when it feels like our names just aren’t being called.  Others take the stage and are commissioned.  We clap for them and listen even harder for our turn.

Have you been there?

Perhaps, though, we need to stop searching for one sole purpose like there’s only one point to our life.  The truth is, God has a plan for you and that plan involves here and now and not just tomorrow.

Colossians 1:16b tells us, “all things were created through him and for him” (ESV)

Chris Tiegreen writes:

“If you have ever struggled to find meaning in your life, consider this amazing truth: You were created for Jesus.  You weren’t created incidentally as a by-product of the rest of creation.  You were specifically designed for Him.  You are a bride, handpicked for the Bridegroom; or an adopted son, chosen specifically by His Father” (Worship the King, p. 104).

God created us for Him.  More specifically, Scripture says:  “Everyone who is called by My Name, whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7)

Why are you here?  What’s your grand purpose?  What’s God’s plan for your life?

To give Him glory.

Today that might mean dishes, diaper changes and laundry—with a cheerful heart, fully invested in the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the children God has specifically placed in your care.

Today it might mean praying for a coworker in the next cubicle over.  It might mean quitting one job and starting on another.  It might mean mentoring a younger woman or meeting with your neighbor for coffee.

God doesn’t just have a plan for your life: He has a plan for your every day.  Don’t become so focused on the grand design that you miss the beautiful, God-ordained moments of ministry He brings across your path today and tomorrow and the next day.

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.

Weekend Walk, 07/07/2012: When It’s H-O-T

Hiding the Word:

Ask anyone in my town, in my state, along my coastline.  It’s hot.

H-O-T.  Hot.

It’s the subject of everyone’s Facebook posts. What’s my status?  Sweltering, melting, sweaty, sticky.  Hot.

The weather monopolizes our conversation, dominating our small talk.  How are you doing?  And then we look, really look at the person and realize there’s no need to even ask.  They’re wiping their hand across their forehead, pushing away sticky strands of hair and catching droplets of sweat before they drip in our eyes.

And it’s all we can think about.  Forget how we’re feeling or how our jobs are going or how our kids are enjoying their summer.  All we know right now is that we’re just too plain hot.

But this morning I sat by the side of the local swimming pool while my daughters took swimming lessons.  Parents on benches against the wall fanned themselves, but the kids were dipped in coolness. They were comfortable, happy, relaxed and refreshed.

Even when they stepped out into the heat, my dripping wet girls were still cool from their time in the water.

Watching my daughters so refreshed despite the heat around them, I saw a reminder of God’s satisfying grace, His presence and the cooling comfort of His Word amidst the heat of our lives–the stress, the busyness, the fires of attack. He’s the Living Water, from which we drink deep and long, enjoying the true quenching of our up-to-now insatiable thirst.

In his famous sermon, Peter promised the crowd that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:20). We throw ourselves (belly-flopping or diving or jumping into a cannonball) into God and, totally immersed in His presence, we are refreshed and renewed.

So, this week, I’m meditating on a verse that reminds me that Christ is in me, my source of joy and hope and peace regardless of the heat of life:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38 ESV).

Weekend Rerun:

His Sufficiency
Originally posted on May 2, 2011

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 2:9

I love sharing in this devotional ministry with you, hearing what God is teaching you and how it connects up with the verses and thoughts on my heart.  Journeying together with you these past few months has been a blessing to me.  But, To be honest, there are still some days I struggle with knowing what God has called me to do right here and now in my life.  Insecurities can do that to us, trap us in a pit of questions and uncertainty and prevent us from moving forward in obedience.

You see a great deal of the time I feel ill-equipped to sit across the computer from you and share from my quiet time moments.  I’m no bestselling author, conference speaker, or Greek scholar.  This is just simple me being real with you, a girl totally in love with God’s Word and how alive it is, how relevant for our lives, how powerful to change our hearts and minds.  These are the confessions of my heart, but maybe you’ve felt some of these insecurities in your life, too.

Have you ever felt a little insufficient?  A little overwhelmed by the task God’s given you and a little underwhelmed by your ability to perform it?  A little intimidated by the confident ministry of those around you?

Today, I’m thinking about insufficiency, mostly because that’s how I feel at this moment.  I’m sitting at my kitchen table after a hectic morning of running errands, forgetting something at the store, heading back to another store, returning all the library books and then finding one more book hidden in the car after I got home, and finally running late to pick up my daughter from school.

My youngest girl dug into the Easter candy that mysteriously moved from the inaccessible high counter where I had put it onto the very accessible  floor. (Do “Not Me” and “I Don’t Know” live at your house, too?)  There are candy wrappers dotted across the carpet.  Fortunately, she doesn’t actually like to eat the candy; she just enjoys unwrapping it, so next to the candy wrappers is the chocolate all lined up in a perfectly straight row.  (That chocolate is still good, right?  Because I totally just ate some.)

The laundry is spinning in the washer and dryer and the clean clothes are piling up on the sofa all fresh and warm and in desperate need of folding and putting away.

Meanwhile, I have not yet exercised this morning, but I am excusing myself because I’ve been coughing up my lungs themselves for the last few days.

So, sick, stressed, tired, forgetful, surrounded by mess, and feeling bad for not exercising, I have waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table for some time with God.  And I need it because I’m so insufficient for all this.

Fortunately for me, my favorite Gospel event is all about insufficiency!  Jesus had been teaching a crowd of people all day and healing the sick among them.

By the time evening came, the disciples were worried.  They told Jesus, “’This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’  Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”  Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV). 

The disciples certainly didn’t have enough food for a crowd of over 5000 people, but Andrew did find one little boy with a small lunch: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9 (NIV).

“How far will they go” indeed?!  This boy’s lunch was utterly insufficient.  It probably embarrassed Andrew to even mention it.  Yet, this little boy with a lunchbox willingly and in great faith gave 100% of what he had to Jesus.  Even though it was insufficient, he trusted that Jesus could use his offering.

Certainly, this boy could have worked in his own strength to catch some more fish or bake some more bread.  He could have collected small change from everyone in the crowd and trekked into town to order take-out.

Still, despite his best efforts and hard work, he would never have provided enough in his own strength.  Likewise, I can’t be enough in my own strength either. If I’m relying on my talent, skills, hard work, and ingenuity, I’ll just fail.  I can only give my all to Jesus and trust that He will multiply my offering.

Besides, it was the insufficiency of the boy’s gift that allowed Jesus to be glorified.  If that boy had somehow gathered enough food for the crowd, the story would have been about his ingenuity and generosity instead of Jesus’ compassion and miraculous power.

Even if every attendee had packed a little snack and the disciples had pooled the resources to form a buffet line, Christ would then be a master organizer or administrator—not a God of compassion who sees our need and provides for us in abundance through His great power. 

Our insufficient offerings give Jesus the opportunity to be glorified.

God never expects us to be sufficient in our strength and abilities.  If we are strong enough, together enough, talented enough, smart enough, or equipped enough in our own strength, there’s no room for God to show off in our lives and receive the glory He deserves.   The gifts we bring just become less about Him and more about us.  

And let me assure you that God is powerful in our weakness.  Sure, my day has been crazy and I don’t feel up to the task of managing it all, but after some time with God’s Word and some moments spent sharing with you, I can look around with new eyes and see Him at work. 

My beautiful girls have just bounced through the kitchen after playing outside on a bright and sunny day.  They were chased in by an “enormous, gigantic, ugly black spider” and now they are cuddling together all stretched out and relaxing, little blond curls and wisps of hair falling out of ponytail holders and hair clips.  My baby girl fell asleep peacefully for a nap, tired from all of her effort spent unwrapping chocolate and the house is quiet for these few moments.  A candle is burning.  The last load of laundry is spinning away.   One of the caterpillars we’ve been studying just emerged from her chrysalis and is waving her new wings back and forth, testing them out, feeling the weight of them. 

God is always sufficient in our insufficiency.


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

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

What’s in a Name?

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness (Psalm 115:1 NIV).

My name is Heather Corinne King, nee Hunt.  My mother chose my name because it sounded pretty and seemed unique.  She didn’t know any other moms bouncing baby Heathers on their knees at the time.

Of course, life with its taste for irony, turned out a little differently than she expected.  The name Heather was the most popular girl’s name the year I was born and I spent my childhood being distinguished from other Heathers with numbers and initials.

That hasn’t ended either.  When I call people in my church, I always tell them, “this is Heather King,” as opposed to the other two Heathers in our congregation.

So much for being unique.

Still, I do think my name has its own beauty about it, something I discovered even more over time.

My husband and I prayed over the names of each of our daughters and they eagerly ask every few months what their chosen names mean.  Not that they don’t know.  We’ve told them often enough.  I think they just like to hear us tell the story.

We tell them they are reminders of victory and strength.  They are called after Godly women in our families, for queens, and for women in the Bible who served Jesus and tended to His every need.  Their names mean Victorious Light, Praise, God’s Promise, and Purity.

Then my daughters typically ask me what my name means.

It’s a flower.

A pretty flower?

Well kind of a pretty flower.  It grows in Scotland in the fields.  Sometimes it’s purple (I add, trying to convince them that this is indeed an awesome name).

They seem unimpressed.  So much for a name with a great meaning.

Or is it?  After answering their questions about it so often, I began to think what it means to be a “flower maiden,” or “Heather Corinne.”  Flowers of any variety reflect the beauty of their Creator, bring Him glory and praise, and trust in His tender hand to care for their every need, even their very survival.  Isn’t that the desire of my heart?

Maybe it’s meaningful after all.

Most of us have this same interest in why our moms and dads narrowed down hundreds of choices in a Baby Name book and came up with our particular combination–First, Middle and Last.

God shares our interest.  He’s profoundly involved throughout Scripture in the naming of promised children and in the renaming of chosen people.

But He’s also intensely protective of His own name, to an extent that might baffle us.  In Ezekiel, God declares, “I will be jealous for My holy name” (Ezekiel 39:25, HCSB).

It’s not so much His name as in a word, but as the New Living Translation expresses it, God will “jealously guard (His) holy reputation!”

Surely when He acts on our behalf, our God of Abundant Love does so because He cares for us and has compassion and mercy.

So often, though, His primary motivation in delivering His people is the protection of His reputation or the glory of His name.

This is why I wrote in One of the King Girls that we should “pray that others will glorify God because of us.”  God has willingly entrusted us with His reputation, allowing us to represent His love and holiness in our daily lives.

Not just allowing us to uphold His reputation, but expecting us, commissioning us and commanding us to do so.

As a child, I learned the Ten Commandments in the King James Version, including number three: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 KJV).

I’ve heard pastors preach that this means we can’t use “God” or “Jesus” as an expletive.  Then they explain that the verse is about profanity in general.  Others note that any variation of the names of deity is out also, so “gosh, gee” and others were equally condemnable offenses.

In her book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, however, Lois Tverberg digs deeper.  She says:

“In Jewish thought, this commandment is understood to have a much greater meaning.  The text literally says, ‘You shall not lift up the name (reputation) of the Lord for an empty thing.’  One of the ways that the rabbis interpreted this was doing something evil publicly and associating God with it.  It is a sin against God himself, who suffers from having his reputation defamed” (p. 79).

This doesn’t free us to be foul-mouthed profaners of God’s name.  Surely upholding His reputation means watching the words we speak.

Yet, that’s not the only point of this command.  The real issue is that we don’t drag God’s name into the dirt and trample all over it by taking our responsibility as His ambassadors and ministers of the Gospel lightly.

This doesn’t just impact what we say; it influences every aspect of how we live and love and teach and respond and stand up for what is right and true even when others think we’re crazy.

God’s name isn’t like ours, pretty and meaningful perhaps, but devoid of power.  His name is might and strength and His glory beyond our comprehension.  He’s told us to live in such a way that we don’t take His name in vain.

Instead, fully aware of this responsibility, we glorify His name, giving Him the honor and praise He is due.  That’s what happens when people look at us and see Him, only Him, gloriously Him.

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