Ready and waiting

“I can’t serve anyone who isn’t sitting down.”

That’s what I say in my teacher’s voice when I’m dishing up snack to a group of  kids.

Something about snack brings out the jittery excitement in most of us.  We want to stand up to see what we’re having, what flavor, how much, is one serving bigger than the others and could we possibly have the  biggest one?

Snack time protocols can be pretty basic, but we cover them almost every single time the goldfish crackers and apple juice come out:

Wash your hands.  Sit in your seat.  Wait quietly.  No, you can’t have seconds until everyone else gets their first serving.

We’re just so eager.

I am so eager.

When I feel hungry…  When I feel need… When I think that maybe provision will come and I wonder if I will get my share or if maybe I’ll be overlooked and remain empty. .. When I am anxious because I just don’t know and I feel like the answer won’t come.

That’s when I want to leap out of my seat and take some control.  I want to make my need known, just in case God missed seeing it.   I want to be sure He didn’t forget me or abandon me and He won’t leave me behind.

Maybe I even worry too often about getting my own “fair share,” too concerned with the sizes of others’ portions to be content with my own overflowing cup.

I read today an oh-so-familiar story, about how Jesus looked out over a hillside teeming with people.  They had followed Him out when He sought rest.  No one planned this extended teaching  time.  It just happened.

They looked for Jesus and when they found Him, He loved them enough to  teach and teach and teach until the hour was late, and they were far from their homes.  No one had packed any food except one little boy with a simple fish-and-bread lunch.  (John 6:1-15)

This story reminds me that Jesus is able.  That small numbers and meager circumstances cannot hinder Him from miraculous provision.  I am reminded that He is an abundant, exponentially multiplying God, and that none of us could imagine in advance how He could feed over 5000 people with a boy’s packed lunch and still have baskets full of leftovers.

And this story reminds me to give Jesus what I have even though it could never ever be enough.   I am the simple boy who can choose to offer what I have to Christ—meager as it is.  I don’t selfishly hoard it. I don’t hide it away in embarrassment.  I give it to Him because He is forever sufficient in my insufficiency.

But today, I read the story again and there is a new reminder.

In her book, “Living Beyond Yourself,” Beth Moore  shares the step Jesus took that day on the hillside:

  • He made them aware of their need.
  • He took what little they had.
  • 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)
  • He gave them “immeasurably more” than they could “ask or imagine.” Eph. 3:20

This is the question I ask myself all day today:

How can I—in the  midst of all of the everyday messes and the overwhelming worries—posture my heart in a place of rest?

Today, I struggled with a parenting decision, with a ministry decision, with a scheduling decision, with an organizing of my day decision and I was tangled up  in my own need for clear answers, for assurances, and for provision.

My heart paces.  I position myself to fix and control and make everything right all on my own limited strength.

Mostly, I fight this feeling of urgency, this pushiness I have to get answers now and see the results yesterday and have the blessings in hand already.

When can I see the abundance in place of the need?

But what if Jesus is poised with baskets in His hand, provision at the ready, abundance in waiting, and He simply asks that I sit?

Am I sitting down?  Am I ready to receive?

The little boy with the lunch box gave everything over to Jesus, his tiny lunch, his small offering, but then he sat and waited to see what the Lord would do.

Oh, the sitting and the waiting, they don’t come naturally to me.  So, I think it through today when the worries come—how can I sit in this situation, how can I posture myself to rest in Him, how can I wait and see what the Lord will do?

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…” (Psalm 37:7a NASB)

 

Bible Verses about Wisdom and Making Decisions

verseswisdom

  • Psalm 19:8 ESV
    the precepts of the Lord are right,
        rejoicing the heart;
    the commandment of the Lord is pure,
        enlightening the eyes;
  • Psalm 25:12 ESV
    Who is the man who fears the Lord?
        Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
  • Psalm 119:9 ESV
    How can a young man keep his way pure?
        By guarding it according to your word.
  • Proverbs 1:5 ESV
    Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
        and the one who understands obtain guidance,
  • Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV
    My son, if you receive my words
        and treasure up my commandments with you,
    making your ear attentive to wisdom
        and inclining your heart to understanding;
    yes, if you call out for insight
        and raise your voice for understanding,
    if you seek it like silver
        and search for it as for hidden treasures,
    then you will understand the fear of the Lord
        and find the knowledge of God.
  • Proverbs 2:6 ESV
    For the Lord gives wisdom;
        from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
  • Proverbs 1:5 ESV
    Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
        and the one who understands obtain guidance,
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
  • Proverbs 11:14 ESV
    Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
        but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
  • Proverbs 12:15 ESV
    The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
        but a wise man listens to advice.
  • Proverbs 13:20 ESV
    Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
        but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
  • Proverbs 15:22 ESV
    Without counsel plans fail,
        but with many advisers they succeed.
  • Proverbs 16:9 ESV
    The heart of man plans his way,
        but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Isaiah 30:21 ESV
    And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
  • Jeremiah 6:16 ESV
    Thus says the Lord:
    “Stand by the roads, and look,
        and ask for the ancient paths,
    where the good way is; and walk in it,
        and find rest for your souls.
    But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
  • Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
    Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
  • Philippians 4:6 ESV
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
  • James 1:5 ESV
    If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
  • James 3:17 ESV
    But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Making U-Turns

The problem of getting lost is knowing when to turn around.

I know this because I am an expert at getting lost. I generally don’t drive anywhere new without making a U-turn or two or three.

When I first suspect that I’m lost (again), my heart races.  I’m stressed and emotional.  I snap off the radio and beg my kids to stop hitting each other over the head with books and whining about the fact that the two-year-old always takes their stuff.  And no, we can’t listen to Mickey Mouse just this moment because Mommy is in fact having a breakdown and needs silence.

When I finally realize that yes, I absolutely am lost (again), I perch forward in my seat, chest practically to the steering wheel and squint at the road signs.  I’ve scrolled down to my husband’s contact info on my phone, ready to call him the very second I finally give up and humbly confess that once again I have missed the turn or misunderstood the directions or misidentified the landmark.

It’s just so hard to know when to admit defeat and turn around.  I keep hoping that my destination is over the next hill, around the next bend in the road, at the next intersection, just one . . more . .. mile.  What if I turn around and I miss out because I just didn’t go far enough and gave up too soon?

But then, what if I keep driving, persistent and stubborn, and it’s wrong?  Maybe I missed the turn long ago and this is a perpetual waste of time and gas money.

Life with it’s uncertainty fills me sometimes with the same confusion and anxiety.

Is this God’s will or is that?  Now or later?

And then there’s when you pursue what seems to be God’s will, but eventually He stops you and turns you around.

I’ve been on my knees about this lately, praying for clarity and reassurance.  It was just over one year ago that my husband and I handed in our completed packet of papers to become foster parents.

Background checks, fingerprinting, proof of car insurance, the deed to our home, proof of rabies vaccinations for our cats, references, copies of our driving record: We had collected every document that described our lives down to the minutest detail.

We did this because we had confirmation after confirmation that this was what God wanted us to do.  It wasn’t part of our own plan for our family—not yet, anyway.  We thought we were at least a few more years away from fostering or adoption, but God had moved our hearts and we wanted to obey.

Just as we were on the very last step of this process, everything stopped.  Overwhelming workloads at the Department of Social Services, confusion, people quitting and others not being hired to replace them halted the entire process for us.

I called about once every week or two and left increasingly pushy messages. Whenever I spoke to an actual person, I was assured that the very next month they would call.

But they didn’t.

My husband and I agreed that continuing to call and call and call was likely to push ourselves right on out of God’s will. So, I prayed, “Dear Lord, if this is your plan, please let them call us.”

Nothing.

So, what does that mean?
Did we miss God’s will from the very beginning?
Was this all a mistake?
Did I somehow mess it up and ruin God’s plan for us?
Was it time for a U-Turn?

I can’t say that I’ve sorted through all of this completely.  I’m still confused about why God seemed to direct us this way and then stopped us in the end.

Yet, I’m wondering if He’s always more concerned about the journey than rushing to a destination.  Maybe His goal was to stir our hearts for future things, to interrupt my own family agenda, or to see how far obedience would take us.

Like Abraham, maybe laying down our Isaac was the plan all along, and as long as we were willing to obey, that was enough.

In Scripture, we are promised continually that God will direct and guide us:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
(Psalm 37:23-24 NLT)

And when I worry about messing it all up, Scripture reminds me that God’s plan will prevail, over all our insufficiencies, over every obstacle and inconvenience: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).

So, I return to prayer: “Lord, let your will be done in our lives.  I may whine about it.  It may be difficult.  But I do desire to walk in your way.”

Then I trust Him to lead.

Maybe the U-Turns are because we misheard Him or zoomed off in our own direction without seeking His opinion.

Maybe the U-Turns are actually part of His plans for us.

I’m reminded, though, that as long as we are wholeheartedly seeking after Him and truly willing to obey Him, we are never really lost.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take”
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

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

Who’s In Charge Here?

I drafted the letter carefully.

Nope, that’s not the word.

I drafted the letter meticulously, cautiously, prayerfully, thoughtfully, and s-l-o-w-l-y. I read it over in my head at least 20 times.  It took me about an hour to type out two paragraphs on my computer and I drank a whole cup of tea in the process.

Then I walked away.  Than I came back and read it again.  I changed some things.  Then I walked away.  Then I impulsively printed it up and signed my name, slipped it into an envelope, and addressed it.

Then I placed it in my dayplanner instead of the mailbox and carried it around for a while.

It was a letter to the principal of my daughter’s new school.  I wrote it last August and finally threw it away last September.

To say that I was stressed and worried over my daughter’s first year in the public school would be an award-winning understatement.  I asked every mom I knew with kids at that school who they thought should be my daughter’s first grade teacher.

Nine out of ten moms agreed that I needed to request one particular teacher to ensure my girl’s success and happiness.

In fact, I wasn’t really just thinking about first grade.  I was thinking about the power of this one teacher to encourage or destroy a love for learning FOR LIFE.  She could ruin my daughter’s entire educational future, career path, and self-esteem or she could positively influence my girl in ways that led to life-time motivation and success.

So, I explained in my letter to the principal how special my daughter was and how smart and how sensitive and how based on this teacher’s reputation in the community, I thought she would be the best fit to guide my daughter in her first grade year.

I kept trying to send the letter, really and truly.  But then I’d get that same nagging feeling—Did I trust God to take care of my girl or not?  Who did I really think was in charge of her development, character and future?  Me?  A principal?

Or God?

It was terrible to feel powerless over a decision of such magnitude.  I hate when the future of me or my family seems to depend on the choices of someone else.

And it so often seems that way, doesn’t it?  How much of your life seems to rest in the hands of others?

The human resources lady who decides whether to offer you the job.
The boss who determines whether you get a raise or promotion.
The lawyer who decides how to argue your case.
The judge who decides how much time you spend with your kids and how much time your ex does.
The church leadership who decide how you minister.
The committee that accepts or rejects your idea.
The loan officer who determines if your credit is good enough.

And so it goes.  Everyone making decisions everyday about our own personal life, and not arbitrary meaningless decisions either.  Big decisions that have real impact.

I finally decided to trust that if God wanted my daughter in a particular classroom, He could make that happen.  He could even direct the decisions of the principal.

So, we arrived at Open House at the end of August, all of us a little jittery and overwhelmed.  Stepping up to the table for people with last names starting with A through K, we waited to hear the big news.  Who was going to be the magical first grade teacher who would hold my daughter’s future in her hands?

The very teacher I wanted.  There was never any need to write that letter.  God had already made the decision for me and directed the path of those in charge.

Now that the school year is ending, I’ve already begun the inevitable fretting over next year’s teacher.  This never gets easy, does it?  The lesson that God is in control is a perpetual one.

David asked a tough question in the Psalms:

  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6 ESV).

What can man do to me?  I’ll tell you what!  Fire me.  Pick the wrong teacher for my kids.  Pass judgment against me in a courtroom.  Put me on a bad work schedule.  Make my life miserable.  Cut off my funding.  Shut down my ministry.  Slice my paycheck.

It may seem that way at times, but David was right–there’s no need to fear.  Solomon explained why when he wrote that:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).

God can direct the heart of a king if He chooses and set the course of a principal and open the eyes of a judge.

Because He alone is God.  No one else is or should be lord over our lives or god over our circumstances.  Scripture admonishes us to:

“know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Psalm 118:6 ESV).

He is God.  There is no other.  Your life isn’t in the hands of anyone but Him and while life isn’t always easy or perfect, we can trust that He’s in control and He’ll care for us and guide us at all times.

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