Finding a place at the well

We’re preparing for company and my son loves company.

He is a host extraordinaire.  At the first mention of upcoming visitors, he  cleans up his room and then grabs Clorox wipes,  the broom,  and wood polish and heads for the kitchen.

He’s five.

But he’s a five-year-old who loves to entertain guests, and he has mastered some basic essentials of hospitality:  create a clean space, set out games, and provide snacks.  What more could you need?

When I told him last  night that we’d be having company this weekend, I should have been prepared for an early morning wake-up from this boy who needed to  clean his room right this second.

Yes,  it’s 7:30 in the morning and we’re still getting kids ready for school and yes, mom would like some time with a cup of tea first.  But his room was messy and the company was imminent (as in arriving in the next 48 hours).  He does not want to  be unprepared for his guests.

There’s a beautiful moment in Scripture when Abraham shows a similar attentive hospitality. Genesis 18 says three strangers came by and that:

The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1 CSB).

Not just a guest, an unexpected divine guest.

I’d probably lock the door for a few minutes and toss dirty dishes into the oven, clean clothes back  into the dryer, and paper piles into closets before actually welcoming a surprise stranger.

But Abraham is so gracious,  so inviting.  He brings water for their feet and leads them to  a place of rest under the shade of a tree.  He asks Sarah to  bake bread,  prepares a meal , and then serves them a picnic feast of fine foods.

He makes the most of this moment with the Lord.  He is hospitable and attentive.  He is not rushed or stressed about all he isn’t getting done.

The Lord simply appeared.  And Abraham invited Him in.

What  needs to change in me so I can be more  hospitable to the Holy Spirit?  More attentive and considerate of His presence?  More responsive and inviting?  More willing to  sit and fellowship with Him?

I consider the challenge of this because sometimes you sit down for a quiet time, and the Lord feels….quiet.  You read.  You pray.  You copy down the verse.   And then you are done.

But other days you sit down for some time with Jesus and He invites you to linger because His presence is so strong. So you have to choose.  Do we rush Him along or settle in at His  feet?

Abraham chose to welcome the visitor.

His son Isaac did even more.

Yes, Abraham had set up camp and the LORD came to Him, arriving without invitation or planning or pursuit on Abraham’s part

But Isaac purposely set out to dwell in the Lord’s presence, making not just a one-time visit, but a long-term decision to abide..

Genesis says:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 25:11 ESV).

Beer-lahai-roi–that ‘s “the well of him that liveth and seeth me.”  That’s where God called out to  Hagar in the wilderness and He rescued her son by providing this same well to  quench Ishmael’s thirst.  Hagar called Him the “God who sees me” and the “One who looks after me. “Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi” (Genesis 16:14 ESV).

Hagar’s time there was temporary, but  Spurgeon writes:

“Isaac….settled there and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply….Let us too learn to live in the presence of the living God….Happy is the person who lives at the well, with abundant and constant supplies near at hand” (Morning and Evening).

Of all the places Isaac could have  brought his family and made his home, he chooses this holy place, this sacred site, and he settles in.

Could this be me?

Could I be like Abraham, ready, yielded, excited even by the  Lord’s visits?  Am I prepared? Am I ready to clean rooms,  make meals, and rest under a shade tree all in God’s presence simply because He showed up and I want t o be with Him?

But could I also be like Isaac, seeking out this same presence day by day?   Choosing to settle near the well of God’s supply, dwelling with Him and in Him, knowing that this well of His presence will not and will never run dry?

And that’s the best part.  On days when Isaac felt  weary, dry, worn out, stretched thin, stressed, or just had the blahs, he could go  to  the well and drink deeply from the well, dipping the cool  water over  and over if needed, all because he lived day in and day out by the well of His presence.

Ask Me Anything: Seeing The Impossible

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”
Ephesians 1:18, NIV

When Hagar ran off into the wilderness with her son for the second time in Genesis 21, she ended up wandering in the Desert of Beersheba. She was a homeless single mother, without friends, caring for her boy in unfamiliar desert territory and running out of supplies.

Her circumstances were desperate.askmeanything8

Placing Ishmael under a bush, she walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die. “And as she sat there, she began to sob” (Genesis 21:16 NIV).

It’s in the impossible situations where God is often most visible.

So it was with Hagar. God visited with her once again and asked:

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink” (Genesis 21:17-19 NIV).

Just like His question, “Where have you come from and where are you going,” this new question, “What’s the matter, Hagar?” shows that He was concerned about her. He knew where she was and what her circumstances were. Not only that, but He opened her eyes to see the deliverance He had prepared for her.

Nothing about Hagar’s circumstances changed. She was still a homeless single mother, short on provisions and without friends or direction.

It’s possible that God miraculously placed a new well nearby where she sat. Scripture simply says “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”

It could also be, though, that the only thing that changed was Hagar’s vision. Blinded by impossibilities and overwhelmed with despair, Hagar had given up when a well was so close. God revealed to her grace and provision that she simply hadn’t seen before.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

In the same way, God miraculously gave supernatural sight to Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17.  Surrounded by an impossibly large enemy army with horses and chariots, the servant cried out in despair, “Oh no, my lord!  What shall we do?” Clearly, they were doomed to defeat. Yet, Elisha assured his anxious friend:

“‘Don’t be afraid . . . those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17 NIV).

Suddenly their odds of winning didn’t seem so impossible anymore, yet their reality was unchanged. Those heavenly defenders had been there all along; the servant simply hadn’t seen them.

Pray that God will open your eyes to His provision and plan for you.

Sometimes we feel that our circumstances are too impossible even for God.  We forget that He is the God of creation, who spoke the sun and moon and all of the earth’s creatures into existence out of nothing.

God hasn’t stopped being a creator God. He can create something out of nothing.  He can place wells where there has been no water.  He can create a heavenly army to deliver you when you are defenseless.

Remember that, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27 NIV). You can trust that the God Who Sees you will know what you need exactly when you need it.

Taken from Ask Me Anything, Lord,© 2013 by Heather King. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 49501. All rights reserved. www.dhp.org.

To pre-order a copy of this book, click here.

For more information about the book release, you can click here.

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 © 2012 Heather King

Where Does it Hurt?

The man collapsed in front of our house.

We didn’t know at first, but it was an unusually cool day in early summer and our windows were open.  We didn’t hear him fall off his bike, hit the ground, or cry out in pain.

What we heard was a voice asking, “Sir, are you okay?”

Hearing that, I glanced out the window and saw the stranger sprawled across the road, his feet still hooked onto his bicycle.  Rain had just started to fall, so I grabbed a jacket, umbrellas, and a blanket and joined the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help.

We did what we could: called 911, covered him to protect from the chill and held the umbrella to block the light rain.

Mostly, though, we tried our best to rouse him.  Did a car hit you?  Do you feel pain?  What’s your name?  How can we help?

Where does it hurt?

That’s the question we returned to so often.  Other than some scrapes on the hand and a small cut to the head, nothing was obvious.  No matter what we asked, how often we asked or how loudly we raised our voices, though, he remained unresponsive.

The chief arrived in his truck with lights flickering.  He placed his hands on the man’s shoulder and picked right up where we left off, “Sir, what’s your name?  Where does it hurt?  Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Still, there was no response.  So, they loaded him into an ambulance and carried him off to the hospital.

Sometimes when we feel broken and hurting, it’s easy to identify the source of the pain.

We’re hurting because of a broken relationship, death, abuse, job loss, financial crisis, ministry struggles . . .  A physician could hold up an x-ray of our life and instantly reveal the brokenness.  It would light up on the screen showing the exact location with a line of fracture showing how far and how deep.

Maybe we’d even have a therapeutic solution at the ready to make the brokenness heal over time.  A bandage here, a cast there, a medicine or treatment . . . and then we would be whole again.

But there are times when we just hurt.  We feel inexplicable sadness.  We know we are broken, but the x-rays remain unclear about where or how.  Or, perhaps instead of showing a clear-cut fracture, they reveal shattered fragments in a hopeless messy state.

We ask each other all the time, “How are you?” and mostly we say, “fine” or “good” in an off-handed way.

What would happen, though, if one of us said, “I’m sad and I don’t even know why.  I’m feeling broken, tender, easily bruised.  My eyes fill with tears at the slightest provocation.  I’m like an endless source of emotion, just spilling all over the place and I don’t know how to turn off the spout or clean up the mess”?

That would be a conversation stopper.

There’s beauty in a God, though, who knows when “I’m fine” really means we’re not. We can’t fake it with Him.

Nor is our brokenness a mystery.  Maybe we ourselves don’t even understand our sadness, but He does.

When God first met with Hagar, the servant of Abraham and Sarah, as she ran into the wilderness after being abused, He asked her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8).

Then He paused for her answer, and she had a reply at the ready.  “I’m running away from my mistress.” Simple as that.  Clear and precise brokenness and He ministered to her, giving her promises for her future and instructing her to return home.

Yet, when she desperately fled into the wilderness a second time years later, God asked, “What troubles you Hagar?”

Without a second of pause  . . . without her answer . . . without her breaking into tears and pouring out a confusing response of hurt and pain that just couldn’t explain it all, God kept talking, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Genesis 21:17).

He asked because He cared.  Yet, knowing her crisis and her pain, He already had a ministry of provision and comfort for her at the ready without even needing for her to explain it all.

When you face this brokenness too hard to explain or describe, remember that you can bring it to him without a word.  He knows.  He cares.  And He is working to comfort and restore you.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it
(Psalm 139:1-6)

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

Weekend Walk, 06/09/2012: Searching for Water in the Desert

Hiding the Word:

For the last few days, we’ve been waving at each other from the rear view mirror of our cars.

At least that’s how it feels.  My husband is performing in a show for the next two weeks.  The girls and I have been flitting here and there to concerts, day trips, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments and more.  Plus we’ve started rehearsals for a show of our own.

I kiss my husband goodbye in the morning before he grabs his bagged lunch from the counter.  The next thing I know, I’m waking up to the sound of his car pulling into the driveway past my bedtime.

It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  His show will end.  Our summer groove will settle into place.  We’ll have other weeks of craziness, but nights of rest as well.

But just for today, just for this moment, I am thinking how nice it would be to chat with him about his day and talk about how all this whirlwind of life is going.  If we could talk without children interrupting, fighting, or protesting their bedtime routine, even better.

It’s why I would have failed as a Navy wife–my need for the continuance of connection.  One night without the phone call after his work day, one day when he’s up early and home late, and I miss my husband.  I make determined efforts to sit by his side and hear what happened in his life that day.

Because if you don’t make the time, it generally doesn’t just happen on its own.

How long can you go before you miss God?  How many days can slip past before you feel the void of His presence and mourn the loss of connection with Him?

If we’re walking in intimacy with our God, shouldn’t we miss Him the moment we’ve started a day without prayer or the instant we’ve flown past our quiet time?

On the busiest days, when a snack (preferably chocolate) and mindless television seem the answer to my tired body and exhausted mind, that’s exactly when I long for God the most. Because if I don’t make the time, it doesn’t just magically happen.

It’s the day when I missed my afternoon cup of tea over Scripture because I’m out and about with frenetic activity that I flop into my dining room chair in the first moments after my kids’ bedtime.  I take one long indulgent sip sweet hot tea, open up my Bible and pray, “Dear Jesus, how I’m desperate for You today.  Pleas meet me in this place.”

Since life is crazy, I’ve chosen a verse for the week that reminds us all of how desperately we should seek after intimacy with God:

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water
(Psalm 63:1 NLT)

This time with God isn’t a luxury.  It’s not a bonus, an extra, an amenity, or a perk.

It’s life itself.  It’s as simple as desperation for water for a soul in the desert.

Let’s seek Him earnestly this week, making it an active and engaged pursuit of His presence.  Making it a priority, not just nonchalantly hoping a few minutes of unstructured time will show up in our day.  Because if we don’t make it happen, it never will.

Weekend Rerun:

Well-Hunting in the Desert

Originally posted on July 20, 2011

 

“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs”
(Isaiah 35:6-7).

When we first moved into this house, we quickly discovered something unnoticed during the walk-through or inspection.  The water smelled like rotten eggs. As a result, I was brushing my teeth with bottled water and holding my breath while taking a shower.

Like any good 21st century homeowners, we Google-searched our way into solutions and scoured the Internet for answers.  Which we found.  Simply open the top of our well and shock the water with a $1 jug of bleach.

Sounded easy.  Until we realized that somewhere on this half acre of land is the top to a well that we could not find.  We knew it had to be there.  We had running water and didn’t pay the city for it.  We consulted drawings of our property and sheepishly hinted to the water specialist (whom we had to call since we couldn’t fix the stinky water ourselves, having not found the well), that we really would like to know where the well was hidden on this land of ours.  He wasn’t helpful.

We have a guess as to where it might be, but we are in some ways still well-hunters, searching for the source of our water, assuming its presence without seeing it ourselves.

I’ve been well-hunting recently in real life, too.  Like Hagar, wandering in the wilderness, running low on provisions, hopelessly lost and not able to go back and yet not certain where to go instead. Out there in her wilderness, “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19).

“Open my eyes,” I’ve prayed, “to the well of your provision, to the fountain of Your presence, to the water of sustenance and hope. I want to see the well You have provided in this desert place.”

Because I’m parched and yet I feel like I’m drowning.

It’s so often God’s way to bring water and with it so much more to those in His care.

To Hagar, a well in the desert that she hadn’t seen before.

To Elijah, “bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water” to sustain him on a 40-day walk to the Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:6).

To the Israelites who complained, “there is no water to drink!,” He brought forth water from rock.

For the redeemed, He promises that “water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (Isaiah 35:6-7).

To the woman sitting next to a well with a jar on her shoulder, Living Water drawn up even without a bucket (John 4:10).

Out of nothing, amidst wilderness and desert, even burning sand, He brings water that heals, sustains, provides, and gives life eternal.  He brings it in abundance with bubbling springs, streams filled so quickly that they are pooling, water we could drink that would satisfy us forever.  All out of nothing.

We could spend our lives sitting by clear-running streams of water, never risking the travel through the valley.  We could pitch our tents there by the known source of water and never lose sight of the well, never grow uncomfortable, never walk far enough away to be uncertain of provision, never venture one step into the wilderness.

But we’d never make it to the Mountain of God like Elijah and the Israelites.  Never know the God Who Sees like Hagar.  Never know the Giver of Living Water like the woman at the well.

So, as we scan the horizon and see only barren land, rocks of gray and dusty earth cracked from lack of rain, we search for the well.  It’s there.  Maybe hidden now so that we cannot see, but God works in the hidden places to bring us provision at the exact moment of our need.

David searched for the well in the desert.  He wrote:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

and

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2)

David, my fellow well-hunter, knew the best way to find the hidden water, even when his soul was downcast, even when he thirsted for God’s presence like a deer dehydrated after too long a journey away from the stream.

  • Put your hope in God.
  • Praise Him even in sorrow.
  • Remember what God has done.

He says: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you (Psalm 42:5-6).

Years ago, Caedmon’s Call sang these words: “Down in the valley, dying of thirst.  Down in the valley, it seems that I’m at my worst.  My consolation is that You baptize this earth when I’m down in the valley.  Valleys fill first.”

Valleys fill first, my friend.  When God brings the water, when He rains down “showers of blessing” in their season (Ezekiel 34:26), the valley is where you will want to be so that you can fully receive all that He pours over your head.

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.

Lessons from the Theater, Part One

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her thirteenth chapter, “Putting Down the Pen.”

************************************************************

It was January when the director called me and asked me to work on the music for a November production of Hello, Dolly!  She was planning that far in advance.

Now it’s November and the past few weeks for my husband, who was in the show, and for me, supporting behind the scenes, were busy and exciting, rewarding, hectic and a whole lot of fun.  But it’s done.  The curtain closed. The final bows taken.  The set stashed away in pieces.

Still I have theater on the brain.  So, this week, I’m sharing some devotional thoughts borne out of the long involvement with a great show.

Lesson One: God Will Complete Your Story

For the characters in a story like Hello, Dolly!, the happy ending is assured from the beginning.  When they sing that final song, everyone has their job, their love, their relationships restored and their future seems assured of success and happiness.

They do, after all, live happily ever after.

For us, though, the easy resolution to all the conflict in our story may seem elusive.  It doesn’t always appear like the Author of our life is wrapping it all up with a nice tidy bow.  And it sure does take a lot longer than two hours to fix all of our life’s crises.

In fact, so much of the time we might feel like we’re in stasis.

I’ve felt this way recently.  It seems like so many of the areas of my life are in some holding pattern.  Just waiting.  Waiting for an answer, a provision, a direction, a progression.  Waiting for God to shout, “Voila” and finally reveal what’s behind the curtain.

Maybe you’ve also felt impatient for the resolution to your story.  Maybe you’ve felt uncertain that God is ever going to fulfill your desires, provide answers, or allow you to move on.

In fact, it’s easy to begin feeling like God started writing your story and then abandoned you for other projects.

Yet, God’s Word promises us that God, “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

While ultimately our final curtain call doesn’t come until we’re standing before Christ in heaven, He’s carrying us “on to completion” every step of the way.  Even when we feel like we’re standing still or taking two steps back, He’s really moving us forward.

So, when we feel the hopelessness of a bleak unpromising future, we can remember that God doesn’t intend to abandon any of us along the journey.  He doesn’t grow bored with our progress and forget to complete our story.  Instead, He declares, “I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”  (Jeremiah 29:11).

That’s why when God met Hagar out in the wilderness after she ran away from her abusive mistress, He didn’t just ask her where she came from. Instead, He asked, “where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8).

From the beginning of His conversation with her, He showed vested interest in her future destination.  Abandoning her out in the wilderness was never His intention.  So, He directed her steps, told her to return home, and promised her blessing in the birth of her son, Ishmael.

He promised her a hope and a future.

In the same way, when God called out to Moses from the burning bush to talk about the oppression of Israel as slaves, He said, “So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).

God didn’t just intend to rescue them and then leave them to their own devices.  “You’re free!  Now happy life!”

Oh no, from the beginning of the Exodus story, God clearly told Moses that they were headed out of Egypt so they could travel to the Promised Land.

God had a plans for Israel, plans to give them a very specific hope and a future.

For Abraham, the destination of the Promised Land was the same, but God didn’t give him all the details in advance.  “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you'” (Genesis 12:1).

Yet, even though Abraham didn’t know the final destination in advance, he could be assured of one thing.  God had a plan. There was the promise from the beginning that God had a land in mind just for Abraham and his family.

In her study, The Patriarchs, Beth Moore notes: “When He tells us to leave one place as He told Abram, He has another place for us to go.  God may not reveal the destination for a while, but we can rest assured we’re never called out without being called to” (p. 15).

If He’s called you out, He’s called you to a place of promise.  And He’ll be faithful to complete your story, carrying you forward on this journey even when you can’t tell you’re moving.  That’s because He has a plan to give you a hope and a future.

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 © 2011 Heather King

Well-Hunting in the Desert

“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs”
(Isaiah 35:6-7).

When we first moved into this house, we quickly discovered something unnoticed during the walk-through or inspection.  The water smelled like rotten eggs. As a result, I was brushing my teeth with bottled water and holding my breath while taking a shower.

Like any good 21st century homeowners, we Google-searched our way into solutions and scoured the Internet for answers.  Which we found.  Simply open the top of our well and shock the water with a $1 jug of bleach.

Sounded easy.  Until we realized that somewhere on this half acre of land is the top to a well that we could not find.  We knew it had to be there.  We had running water and didn’t pay the city for it.  We consulted drawings of our property and sheepishly hinted to the water specialist (whom we had to call since we couldn’t fix the stinky water ourselves, having not found the well), that we really would like to know where the well was hidden on this land of ours.  He wasn’t helpful.

We have a guess as to where it might be, but we are in some ways still well-hunters, searching for the source of our water, assuming its presence without seeing it ourselves.

I’ve been well-hunting recently in real life, too.  Like Hagar, wandering in the wilderness, running low on provisions, hopelessly lost and not able to go back and yet not certain where to go instead. Out there in her wilderness, “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19).

“Open my eyes,” I’ve prayed, “to the well of your provision, to the fountain of Your presence, to the water of sustenance and hope. I want to see the well You have provided in this desert place.”

Because I’m parched and yet I feel like I’m drowning.

It’s so often God’s way to bring water and with it so much more to those in His care.

To Hagar, a well in the desert that she hadn’t seen before.

To Elijah, “bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water” to sustain him on a 40-day walk to the Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:6).

To the Israelites who complained, “there is no water to drink!,” He brought forth water from rock.

For the redeemed, He promises that “water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (Isaiah 35:6-7).

To the woman sitting next to a well with a jar on her shoulder, living water drawn up even without a bucket (John 4:10).

Out of nothing, amidst wilderness and desert, even burning sand, He brings water that heals, sustains, provides, and gives life eternal.  He brings it in abundance with bubbling springs, streams filled so quickly that they are pooling, water we could drink that would satisfy us forever.  All out of nothing.

We could spend our lives sitting by clear-running streams of water, never risking the travel through the valley.  We could pitch our tents there by the known source of water and never lose sight of the well, never grow uncomfortable, never walk far enough away to be uncertain of provision, never venture one step into the wilderness.

But we’d never make it to the Mountain of God like Elijah and the Israelites.  Never know the God Who Sees like Hagar.  Never know the Giver of Living Water like the woman at the well.

So, as we scan the horizon and see only barren land, rocks of gray and dusty earth cracked from lack of rain, we search for the well.  It’s there.  Maybe hidden now so that we cannot see, but God works in the hidden places to bring us provision at the exact moment of our need.

David searched for the well in the desert.  He wrote:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

and

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2)

David, my fellow well-hunter, knew the best way to find the hidden water, even when his soul was downcast, even when he thirsted for God’s presence like a deer dehydrated after too long a journey away from the stream.

  • Put your hope in God.
  • Praise Him even in sorrow.
  • Remember what God has done.

He says: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you (Psalm 42:5-6).

Years ago, Caedmon’s Call sang these words: “Down in the valley, dying of thirst.  Down in the valley, it seems that I’m at my worst.  My consolation is that You baptize this earth when I’m down in the valley.  Valleys fill first.”

Valleys fill first, my friend.  When God brings the water, when He rains down “showers of blessing” in their season (Ezekiel 34:26), the valley is where you will want to be so that you can fully receive all that He pours over your head.

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.

What about me?

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

Last week, I needed to emphasize a life lesson and a character issue with my oldest daughter.  Leaning in close to her, nose to nose, I cradled her chin gently in my hand and met her gaze.   Her face was reddened by anger, her fists clenched tightly at her side, her body tense.  And I began with these whispered words, “I love you.”

Behind her, my youngest baby girl stood watching us intently.  When she heard my first words to oldest sister, my tiny one began bouncing up and down in excited anticipation.  With the limited vocabulary of “Mama, mama, mama!!” and her little dance, I knew what she meant.  She was saying, “Me next, Mom!  My turn!!!  What about me?  Do you love me, too?  Tell me you love me, too!”

Have you ever been the “other child” jumping up and down before God, trying to attract His attention?  Have you listened to a friend testify to the miracle God did for her and cried out, “Me next, God!”?  Have you sat silently in the corner of the small group room, listening to others talk about how God spoke to them, how He gave them this verse, how He told them to do something and wondered exactly what God’s voice sounded like?  Because you don’t know if you’ve ever even heard it.  So, you sit at your table with your Bible and journal and pen and say, “Okay, God, let’s get this You speaking to me thing started!”  And you read God’s Word.  And that’s it.  No lightning strikes or neon signs for you.

Then you ask
What about me, God?
I know You “so loved the world,” but do You love me?
I know You “know the plans” You have for people, but do You have a plan for me?
I know You are “The God Who Sees,” but do You ever see me, one tiny person on this planet of people?

There are those times, even for those of us who have walked with God for decades, when we hear silence from heaven and our prayers, heartfelt and constant as they are, remain seemingly unanswered.  We’ve checked our hearts; it’s not sin blocking God from our view.  And so we dance for Him, we wave our hands at heaven, we remain on our knees a little longer, we press in a little closer—all so that He will get personal with us.  Not general love.  Specific love.  Not universal plans.  Personal plans.  Not just words on a page.  A message designed for us.

When I read the account of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, I wonder if Sarah was doing her own jig before God and asking “What about me?”  Walk through this story with me and you’ll see what I mean.

In Genesis 15, God came to Abraham and promised him a flesh-and-blood heir and offspring as numerous as the innumerable stars in the sky (Genesis 15:4-5).  But God was silent about Sarah.  As far as the promise stood, Abraham could have fathered the child of promise through anyone.  From Sarah’s perspective, Abraham was the chosen and anointed one and she was the barren wife standing in the way.

In Genesis 16, moved by a desire to see God’s promise fulfilled, Sarah steps aside, asks Abraham to marry her maidservant Hagar and he does.  When Hagar, so easily pregnant while Sarah had spent decades with negative pregnancy tests, began to mock her mistress, Sarah threw her out.  Forget this surrogate motherhood thing.  Sarah decided no heir was better than an upstart maidservant with a baby on her hip.

There in the wilderness on the way back to Egypt, God appears to Hagar.  He tells her to name this son Ishmael and adds, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (Genesis 16:10).

Can you imagine what Hagar’s homecoming reception must have been like for Sarah?  She stood by while Hagar announced that not only was she carrying Abraham’s child, but that it would be a son and his name was picked out by God and he was promised numerous descendants.

Sounds like the answer to the promise to me.  It probably sounded that way to Sarah, too.  God appeared to Abraham and blessed him.  God appeared to Hagar, the Egyptian slave girl, and blessed her.  Sarah stood in the corner appearing overlooked and pushed aside.

In Genesis 17, God reappears to Abraham and clarifies the promise, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her” (Genesis 17:16).

I know you’re thinking, “It’s about time” because I certainly am!  The funny thing is, Abraham didn’t seem to bother telling Sarah anything about this.  He kept this astounding promise to himself while she was still waiting to be noticed.

Finally, in Genesis 18, the Lord personally visited Abraham’s camp and asked one important question before making any more statements of promise—“Where is your wife Sarah?”  This was no message just for Abraham.  This was no promise meant for everyone other than Sarah.  No, God called out her name to get her attention, to make sure she was listening at the flaps of her tent before He said anything else.  Then, once He knew she was poised to hear, He gave the promise, spoken for her benefit—“I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

She laughed!  It seemed unbelievable that God could include her in this promise, a promise so outside the realm of physical possibility. If Abraham had told her about God’s latest visit to him, maybe Sarah would have been prepared for this, but instead she was surprised, even taken off guard and skeptical.  After all this time, it must have seemed like God’s promises were for everyone but her, that He appeared to others but not to her, and that He had a plan for everyone except Sarah.

And yet God had a plan for her, a blessing for her, a message just for her.

He does for you, as well.  Heaven might seem silent at the moment.  You may see God at work in the lives of others and feel His absence in your own circumstances.  God, however, is a personal God, with a plan, a blessing, a message  just for you.  “Though it linger, wait for it;  it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).


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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 © 2011 Heather King

I Want to See

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”
Ephesians 1:18, NIV

I grew up with a brother who had an eagle eye.  On car trips, he always spotted the deer far off in the fields that lined the road or saw the eagle soaring overhead.  He’d tell us all, “Look over there!  Do you see it? ” and I’d crane my neck and twist my body, quickly searching to catch a glimpse.

I always saw absolutely . . . nothing.  Ultimately, everyone else in my family would point along with him and shout, “There it is!  I see it!”  Not me.   I saw empty fields and cloud-filled skies.

That’s partly because my vision is so poor, but even with glasses I never could see what any of them saw.   Mostly it’s because I’m unobservant.  I am usually far too focused on whatever I’m thinking about to notice my surroundings.  My husband can shave off a beard he’s had for months and I won’t realize it until he physically moves my hand to his now-smooth face.  I’m the one who asks her friends, “Did you get a haircut?  or Did you get new glasses?”  And they say, “Yeah, about two months ago.”  Oops!  It’s not that I didn’t care, but I just didn’t see.

I’m unobservant sometimes with God, too.  Last week, I was writing about His amazing, abundant grace and I prayed, “Lord, I don’t feel this.  I know about Your grace and I know the verses that tell me about Your grace, but today I just want to feel it and know it personally.  Would you open my eyes and reveal this to me once again?  Help me to be fully aware of Your unfailing love and mercies made new every day.”

From prayer to productivity, off I went about the business and busyness of my day, distracted and hyper-focused on the needs at hand.  Night came.  No grace-revelation.  My feelings didn’t change.  Nothing seemed made new.

Then the phone rang, my mom, her voice serious.  She tells me—just so I know—-that a man often-welcomed in our home when I was growing up had just been arrested for hurting teenage girls.  “Rape of a Minor,” in the cold, official way the courts put it.

And there was grace, overwhelming, astonishing, and unmistakable.

God opened my eyes to see His powerful work in my life, even as a child, preserving me from harm.  He had protected me and I hadn’t even known I had tread on dangerous ground.   Nothing in my circumstances changed that night, but God opened my eyes to see the grace already at work.

In Genesis 21, Hagar ran off into the wilderness with her son for a second time.   During her first misadventure years earlier, she had run away from Sarah, her mistress, because of the abuse and mistreatment borne out of Sarah’s jealousy.  God met Hagar on her way to her native Egypt and sent her back to Abraham and Sarah.

Now, here she was again, this time wandering in the Desert of Beersheba.  She didn’t even attempt to travel to Egypt this time.  With all the years she had spent away from her homeland, it probably didn’t even seem like home anymore.  Sarah had demanded that Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son” (Genesis 21:10, NIV), and so he did.  He arose early the next day, packed Hagar a picnic lunch of “some food and a skin of water,” loaded the supplies onto her shoulders and sent her away with her son, Abraham’s son.

Now, here was Hagar.—-Homeless, single mother, without friends, caring for her boy in unfamiliar desert and running out of supplies.

Her circumstances were desperate.  Placing Ishmael under a bush, she walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die.  “And as she sat there, she began to sob” (Genesis 21:18).

It’s in the impossible situations where God is often most visible. So it was with Hagar.  God visited once again with Hagar and asked:

“What is the matter, Hagar?  Do not be afraid;  God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.  Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”  Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink”  (Genesis 21:17-19).

Nothing about Hagar’s circumstances changed.  Still a homeless single mother.  Still without friends or direction.  Although it is possible that God miraculously placed a new well nearby, Scripture says “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” It seems to me that the only thing that changed was Hagar’s vision.  Blinded by impossibilities and overwhelmed with despair, Hagar had given up when a well was so close.  God revealed to her grace and provision that she simply hadn’t seen before.

In the same way, God miraculously gave supernatural sight to Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17.  Surrounded by an impossibly large enemy army with horses and chariots, the servant cried out in despair, “Oh no, my lord!  What shall we do?”  Clearly, they were doomed to defeat.  Yet, Elisha assured his anxious friend:

“‘Don’t be afraid . . . those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Suddenly their odds of winning didn’t seem so impossible anymore, yet their reality was unchanged.  Those heavenly defenders had been there all along; the servant simply hadn’t seen them.

Last night, I sat next to a woman at dinner and she shared with me her past so drenched in pain, hurt and betrayal, and her life marred by abuse, murder, suicide.  Now, though, God had opened her eyes to His love and healing, drawing her close so He could redeem and restore her.  I cannot say why God preserved me from harm and yet this woman, still so precious to God, had been hurt.  Yet, everyone’s story is a story of grace.  Mine the grace of preservation.   Hers the grace of perseverance.  Our eyes, previously so blind, were now opened to God’s presence and activity.

In Mark 10:51, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” and he answers, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  I echo that.  “Lord, I want to see your grace and your activity in my life.  Show me  your miraculous wells of provision and your plan for me.  Reveal to me your might and your ability to deliver me from the seemingly impossible situations.”  So often we pray for provision, deliverance and healing, but what we are really lacking is vision–the ability to see grace already present in the midst of our circumstances.

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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 © 2011 Heather King

Do You See?

Yesterday, I was thinking about how sometimes we disappoint God, but He still always loves us.

Today, I’m thinking about the times when God disappoints us.

Now, I know that ultimately in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).  I know He loves us and He promises never to leave us.   If I really consider it, I don’t really want a God who is small enough to fit into my finite understanding of how things should be.  If all God did for me was give me what I want, He’d be nothing more than a prayer vending machine rather than an all-powerful, all-knowing God whose plans and ways are much higher than mine.

Still, life is hard.  There’s no sidestepping that fact.  Little kids have cancer, people lose jobs and homes, husbands die, marriages are broken, bank accounts are empty.  And, if we’re being honest, we may very well feel confused, frustrated, hurt and disappointed by what God is doing because we can’t always see Him working in our circumstances.

It’s okay to be honest with God.  He’s big enough to handle the hard questions and gracious enough to allow us to bring all of those hurts to Him, rather than us having to hide them away under our “happy Christian face.”

In the midst of the hard times, I have personally asked God three questions.

  • Do You see?
  • Are You big enough?
  • Do You love me enough?

Do You See?

I have asked God before, “Do you see what I’m going through?  Do you know that I’m waiting and struggling here?’

In Genesis 16, we see that Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai (later renamed Sarah), felt very much the same way.   After Abram and Sarai had waited for over a decade for God to give them their promised child, Sarai finally decided God needed some help.  So, she did what any woman following the customs of that time and culture would do—she gave her maidservant to her husband as a second wife.  The problem is, that was never God’s plan for Abram and Sarai.

When Hagar did get pregnant and started treating her mistress with haughty disrespect as a result, Sarai was humiliated and angry.  She told Abram: “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me” (Genesis 16:5).

That’s one angry mistress!  Sarai took all that anger out on Abram and Hagar.  The Bible says that Abram just let Sarai do whatever she wanted to Hagar (“Do with her whatever you think best”), so in her anger, she “mistreated Hagar” and Hagar ran away (Genesis 16:6).

So, here’s Hagar, pregnant, beaten by her mistress, and now fleeing through the desert.

It might seem like God would only concern Himself with the main characters in this story–Abram and his wife, Sarai, who would be the parents of the Hebrew nation.  We might not expect God to care about the Egyptian maidservant caught up in all this drama, but it says He found her near a spring in the desert, gave her instructions to return home, and promised to bless her descendants.

Then—in such an amazing way—Scripture tells us, “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13, NIV).

God has names throughout Scripture that describe His attributes—The Lord our Healer, Peace, Everlasting Father, Our Provider, The Lord Our Banner, etc.

But, I find it so special that this hurting woman, a woman overlooked and mistreated by other people, a woman who wasn’t even a Hebrew–but an Egyptian–was allowed to give God the very first “name” in Scripture–-The God Who Sees Me.

Be assured that God sees you, also.  He knows exactly where you are in the wilderness.  Just as He did for Hagar, He has a plan and purpose for you and as you yield to Him, He will fulfill it.

I’ll tackle the other two questions—Are You big enough? and Do You love me enough? later.  Stay tuned!

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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 © 2011 Heather King