Storms within and storms without and peace in all

The noise police.

That’s my two-year-old’s job.

His oldest sister hops in the minivan at the end of the school day and pulls out her recorder for some practice time.

He hears one note, just one note, and he slips his finger up to his lips and says, “Shhhh.  Pease stop it.”  Then he tosses a look her way that commands attention even if he is 8 years younger than she is.

Someone dares to sing along with the radio in the car?

Oh no!  Noise violation. Cited by the noise police.

This toddler will immediately tell you to “Pease stop it.  PEASE stop it.”  And he’ll repeat that message louder and louder until all such violators refrain from singing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re off-key or if you’re a Broadway superstar, if you’re singing, he’s going to ask you to stop.

He shouts for car alarms to “Pease stop it” in the Wal-Mart parking lot and he commands that construction sounds cease when he hears saws and hammers.

This tiny powerhouse assumes that all noise is within his power to control.  He expects instant silence when he says the magic phrase.

At the sound of “Pease stop it” all noise must end.

Of course, it very rarely works that way, which my son doesn’t appreciate.

His sisters insist on singing or talking or playing.

Car alarms keep alarming.  Construction workers keep constructing.

He can say “Pease stop it” all he wants; it doesn’t mean anything truly stops at all.

But I appreciate his effort.  I understand the desire.

Haven’t I shouted “Please stop it” myself  more than a few times when I wanted that conflict with someone else to end….or that situation to finally be resolved?

When I felt tossed around by circumstances out of my control and I just wanted quiet and calm already, no more noisy turmoil and roar of turbulence and strife, I wanted to yell, “Please stop!  Stop the relentless confusion or hurt or tension or stress or uncertainty!”

Yet, even when my greatest efforts at control fail, Jesus can speak the Word.  He can demand that the storm “be still” and it must obey.

He speaks and that is enough.

In Luke 8, I read how he calmed that stormy sea and how the winds and the waves obeyed his command.

But in that same chapter, I read how he calmed a different kind of storm, not just the physical tempest, not actual winds and actual waves, not circumstances that threaten to drown us.

He calmed the storm within.

With the sea now peaceful, the disciples crossed to the other side, where Jesus found a man possessed by demons who ran naked among the tombs and could not be contained by human chains.

Jesus “commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man” and at that Word, the man was redeemed and restored (Luke 8:29 ESV).

Sheila Walsh writes in Five Minutes with Jesus:

“I love that the stories of Jesus calming the storm and Jesus freeing the demoniac are back-to-back.  Whether a storm is raging in outside circumstances or inside your heart, when Jesus speaks to it, that storm has to obey.”

Two storms.  One without.  One within.

Jesus calmed them both, back-to-back, by the power of His Word.

I am surely weary of wrestling with the ropes on a storm-tossed ship.  I’ve tried everything to calm the wind and waves on my own, every tool, every trick, every skill within my expertise.

I’ve shouted, “Pease stop it!”  but the storm still storms.

But this is what I know.

At any moment, Jesus could rise up and command, “Peace!” and there would be calm and there would be deliverance.

It’s true about the stress and uncertainty, the doubt, the depression, the anxiety and worry, the fear and the desperate need to control what we face within.

It’s true in the relational conflicts and interpersonal fights, the financial shortfalls, the job stresses, and the health scares that we face without.

Whether we face storms internally or externally, when Jesus declares, “Peace” the noise will end.

But in the meantime, I choose faith because I am never too far for Him to rescue me.  No circumstances are beyond His ability to control.

Somehow just the reminder that He is the Word and that His Word is all that is needed to rescue me gives me rest even before the storm ceases and even before the noise ends.

Originally published 5/11/2016

What her message to me said and why I needed to hear it

1 john 3

I surveyed the possible outfits and an empty suitcase.

I hovered a hand over the teal scarf, pulled it away and then reached for my favorite top and jacket…pulled my hand away again and flopped back onto my bed in defeat.

I was heading to my first writer’s conference where there’d be thousands of women, most of whom I was sure would be perfectly coiffed and fashionably dressed in matching high heels and handbags.

They’d probably have cute haircuts with tons of highlights.

They’d have dangly earrings and other bling.

They’d wear lipstick.  Lipstick!!!  And probably even eyeshadow.

I was in way over my head and I had outfit-picking paralysis.

It was a crisis moment for me.  Yes, a crisis over scarves and skirts.  Suddenly I wasn’t worrying about fashion.

I was stressing over not belonging.  I was worrying about the expense and the time and whether it was worth it. What if I was just fooling myself about this whole writing thing and this was a complete waste?!

I feared failure and laid out the question again and again to God, “What is it you want me to do?”

And then….the follow-up questions, “Does it have to be this hard?  Can’t we take the easy way?  The one where I get to stay home in jeans and sneakers?”

I opened up Facebook to avoid making decisions about what to pack in that suitcase.

That’s when I opened up the message.

A writer I’d never met, but who was also going to the conference, wrote me a note.

She told me not to worry about my outfits.  How I could just be myself.  I didn’t need highlights in my hair or lipstick or high-heeled shoes.

She told me Satan attacks before the conference so be ready and stand strong in the Lord.

She told me not to fret over my calling, not to feel like I have to fight or make things happen and not to feel for a moment that it all depends on me.  God could do the work.  All I needed to do was show up in obedience.

She obeyed God’s prompting, and she blessed me because she was obedient, speaking words of encouragement to me just when I needed them.

I read in Acts a powerful story of the church’s impact:

 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20 ESV).

It’s a two-verse miracle.  A little encounter, barely noticeable in the book of Acts, but a miracle nonetheless.

Paul is stoned, dragged outside the city and left for dead–not just seriously injured or barely alive.

They thought he was already a corpse.

But then….the disciples gathered about him, and Paul stood up, walked back into the city, and went on another journey the very next day.

He didn’t even need a week to fully recover.

Maybe the disciples prayed for him.  Perhaps they gathered so they could plan how to bury him. The Bible doesn’t fill us in on the details.

All it says is that in the moment he was broken, they gathered around him and he had new strength.

They could have left Paul there as a hopeless case.

They could have been busy, forgetful or too focused on their own problems to care.

They could have feared being stoned themselves.

No, they gathered around the wounded one, and God performed a miracle.

God works miracles of healing through His people when we choose to love another.

I feel the challenge.

If Paul were stoned today, would I choose to gather around him?

Or am I too busy, too self-protective, too self-focused, too self-indulgent, too self-seeking, too prideful, too forgetful… minister to one in need?

To write an email….to send a note…to share a meal… make a phone call….to invite a friend….to pray for the hurting…to take the time.

And what if it hadn’t been Paul, a leader in the church?  What if it was the smallest of the small who’d been stoned and left for dead?

Would I still take the time?

We love others with Christ’s love when we choose compassion over comfort.

We love like Jesus when we reach out instead of draw in.

That day as I flopped back in my bed in frustrated annoyance and insecurity, a  woman I didn’t know ‘gathered’ around me.

She had her own bags to pack.  Her own plans to finalize.  Her own life to manage.

But she reached out to me with kindness, and God moved.

How can we show someone that love today?

(Just a note that Luke wrote about this miracle in the book of Acts, and as a physician he seems very careful to say that Paul appeared dead or seemed dead.  He does not claim that Paul actually was raised from the dead, only that he seemed dead for a moment and then got up, walked into the city, and was recovered enough for a journey the next day.  Still a miracle–but a miracle of healing, not resurrection.)

Having Hope When You’ve Been Stepped On


My daughter was about two-and-a-half when she stepped on a butterfly.

We do this every spring as we prepare for Easter, order a cup of caterpillars and follow their journey to new life.  We watch the change, marvel again at the miracle: how the tomb doesn’t always mean death; maybe it means resurrection.

We remember that we are the ones who die to self and then gain new life in Christ, like caterpillars willingly spinning themselves into tight dormancy only to be made new.

We watched those caterpillars climb all over the tiny plastic cup for about a week.  Then they scaled the sides of the cup, flipped themselves upside down and wrapped themselves into a chrysalis.

They looked dead for a week.

One morning, I shuffled around the kitchen, moving through routine with my eyes barely cracked open.  Poured cereal. Made tea. Oversaw teeth-brushing and hair-brushing.

Then I saw the wings.

The chrysalis had cracked open and there in the morning light sat our first butterfly, fanning his wings slowly while the other caterpillars remained entombed.

Over the next day or so, the other new butterflies pushed their way out and flexed their wings.

We squeezed drops of sugar water on freshly cut chrysanthemums and watched the butterflies strengthen.  First they sat in stillness.  Then they hopped to the bottom and explored.  Then they started flying around in circles, eager for freedom.

So, we set them free.

We gathered into the garden in the warm sun of a spring Saturday and one by one released each butterfly.

But we forgot to explain the difference between butterflies and bugs to my youngest daughter, I suppose.

When one of the butterflies flew up and then back to the ground, she squashed it with her one tiny foot stomping down on the ‘pest’ just like we would crush any spider.

It was like a slow motion moment in a film, with us leaping to try to rescue the butterfly and prevent the impending doom, but failing in the end.

Amazingly enough, that butterfly still lived.  We eased him and his bruised wing onto a flower where he could enjoy some food without needing to fly.

Maybe you’ve been that butterfly.

Eager to fly.  Excited for freedom.  Hoping for beauty.

Then crushed, bruised, broken.

Maybe you’ve started this year with anticipation, holding your breath for that first sign of good news.

And you’ve already felt like a giant foot has squashed you to the ground.

Maybe it seems like nothing ever changes even though you desperately long for it to change.

Proverbs 13:12 says:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Hope isn’t a fickle whim, a fanciful impression that maybe good things will come your way.

Hope is a steadfast knowledge, an anchor of truth that without a doubt you know: God is good and He will take care of you.

And when you feel a little bruised and battered, like a butterfly crushed at that first taste of freedom, hope can feel a little shaky, a little elusive, a little hard to see in the deep of the dark.

Surely Noah must have had those days, floating on that ark long, long after the rain had ceased.

How long, Lord?  When will this end, Lord?  Will we ever get off this ark, Lord?

He started sending out messengers of hope: ravens and doves.

He was desperate for the assurance of dry, solid ground.

Then one day, the dove brought him an olive leaf.  More than that, the dove brought him renewed hope.

Max Lucado writes:

“An olive leaf.  Noah would have been happy to have a bird but to have the leaf!  This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise.  The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope.  For isn’t that what hope is?  Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after flood… (From A Love Worth Giving)

When we are weary and defeated, we can seek hope.  We can send out those doves and ravens and ask God for a sign of dry land after flood.

When we are strong, we can be the dove for another.  We can bring olive leaves to the hurting. We can bring reminders of hope and God’s faithfulness to those who can’t see the solid ground.

Do you need an olive leaf today?  Do you need to bring an olive leaf to someone else who is hurting?

Here are 30 Bible Verses on Hope to help.

Originally published 1/5/2015

What a Letdown

My toddler and I have daily disagreements about what he needs.

I say he needs a nap.   He thinks he needs unlimited playtime.matthew6-33

I say he needs healthy food, like the banana I sliced up on his highchair tray.  He thinks he needs the cookie hidden at the top of the snack cabinet.

I say he needs a diaper change.  He feels the need to scream at the top of his lungs, contort his body, writhe and wriggle to avoid being cleaned up.

After I win that battle and clean his little bottom, I say he needs a new diaper on.  He runs away giggling because he thinks he needs to hang out in the nude.

I say he needs to come out of the bath when the water is cold and his fingers are wrinkling like prunes.  He says he needs to stay in the bath.  Period.  Like, forever.

Momma says he needs to play with his books, his blocks, and his toy trucks.  He thinks he needs to play with my smartphone.

I say he needs to color with the crayons on paper.  He disagrees, believing he needs to color with the crayons on our books and then eat the crayon.

I tell him he needs to pet the cat gently or not at all.  He thinks he needs to jump on the cat, pull the cat’s tail, sit on the cat and then stretch out with his whole body covering the cat and ignore the hissing and growling.

I know what he needs in order for him to be healthy, well-fed, well-rested, clean, and safe.

Yet, if I gave him what he thought that he needed, he’d be naked and starving, covered in his own feces, utterly exhausted and mauled to pieces by an irritated feline.

Perhaps part of growing up is learning what we really need.

Or perhaps we never truly learn.

After all, don’t I sometimes pray for what I need and discover through temporary disappointment and ultimate awe that God knew better? His “no,” though painful in the moment, becomes my salvation.

God loves us enough to give us what we really need rather than what we’ve mistakenly asked for.

Four men carried their paralyzed friend on a cot to see Jesus.  They tried to shove through the mob that was packed into the house, but they failed.

So, they climbed onto the roof, hauled the stretcher up there, broke down the thatch, and lowered their friend into the middle of the room.

They pushed and pushed and pushed through every obstacle so their friend could have what he ‘needed.’

Mark writes:

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven”  (Mark 2:5 ESV).


Is this what they wanted?

In his book, The One-Year Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional, Chris Tiegreen writes:

 Clearly they came for one thing: healing.  They wanted their friend to walk.  He wanted to walk.  A miracle was all they had on their minds.  So a declaration of forgiveness, while a nice spiritual touch, might have been a letdown.

Let down.

Is that how we feel when we come looking for the miracle, and He heals our heart instead?

So often we come to God with the practical need and the specific requests, telling Him our problems and sometimes even telling Him how to fix them.

His desire, though, isn’t just for our best; it’s for our spiritual best.  It’s to break down every obstacle to His presence and cut through every barrier to intimacy with Him.

We ask to walk.

He grants forgiveness first.

That man stood up off that mat and walked out of the house with his friends.  His physical need was met.  But more importantly, Jesus answered his true spiritual need first.

And, what do any of us really need?

A better job?  A healed marriage? An end to conflict?  A bigger house?  A good doctor’s report?

Yes. Maybe.

But more than that…..we need mercy.  We need grace.  We need His Presence.  We need hope.  We need forgiveness.

When we seek Him, truly seek Him, searching for His face, listening for His voice, longing to know Him and to talk with Him, He gives us what we really need.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33 ESV).

Lord, what I really need is You.

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, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

Super Glue, Broken Things, and Wholeness

“Mom, I have to show you,” my three-year-old said.

She had dragged in the cat bed while I was in the shower and as I got ready for the day, 053she chattered away about what she had collected from around the house.  Out came some books, some toys, some Barbie clothes.

She giggled about them. How funny to pile them all into the cat bed!

Then she reached the bottom and stepped back nervously, asking me to peek inside for the final object.

I leaned in closer for a look.  Picking up the mystery object, I fingered it and spun it in my hands until I realized that I was holding a small head.

I glanced back at my tiny girl, shifting nervously on her feet, her eyes moist and ready to overflow with tears.

“Did it break?”  She nodded and I scooped her up and gave her a hug.  We looked on my dresser where the Willow Tree angel sat, a mother (now headless) cradling a baby.  “We can glue it back together,” I assured my daughter and she grinned and skipped away.

Brokenness seems to be following me around these days: A broken mother on my dresser…A bowl I dropped on the kitchen floor while making dinner, then swept up in pieces and tossed into the trash…The ceramic chimes my daughter had painted after Christmas that fell off her dresser and cracked in three places.

We moms know about broken things.

Some of them I could glue together, not quite as good as new, but enough to hide the cracks and broken places from most casual onlookers.  But the bowl I had to toss away, too shattered to be useful anymore.

It’s one of the beautiful ministries of God to us, the way He chooses to bind up wounds and heal broken hearts. 

But I couldn’t have squirted out the super glue and held the head back into place if my daughter had hidden it away instead of bringing it to my feet.

And as long as we carry our pieces to God, not hide away in shame or frustration, or try to fix things on our own, or collapse in helpless self-pity…only then can He bring wholeness and healing to the broken.  And aren’t we all at least a little broken?

Always He forgives.
Always He mends. 
Always He shows compassion.

And always He redeems and uses us, not in spite of our brokenness, but because of the way we’ve yielded it to Him.

It’s a theme strung through verse after verse when I read through The Message last year, this promise of wholeness.

David prayed it after being delivered from Saul:

“God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.

   I feel put back together 
2 Samuel 22:21-25, Psalm 18

I can’t say I always feel put back together.  Sometimes closer inspection reveals those super-glued cracks.  Sometimes a few trivial annoyances chip away at my soul, chip…chip….chip until I’m all in pieces of ugliness and impatience.  At other times, it’s a crushing blow and I’m so delicate against the force of it.

Broken again, Lord.  So sorry that I’m broken again.

But at Christmas I read anew who our Messiah, our Savior is:

His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings
(Isaiah 9:6-7).

I know those verses.  “Prince of Peace.” That’s what it should say.  (I talk aloud to my Bible, explaining it to the pages).

But Shalom, peace, that’s what it’s talking about here.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says: “The general meaning behind the root š-l-m is of completion and fulfillment—of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship.”

Ah and there it is.  Jesus is our Peace, putting us back together, making us whole, restoring our relationship with God, fulfilling and completing us.

He is our Prince of Wholeness.

What a promise for the broken.

And there’s this lovely, overwhelmingly miraculous part of this wholeness, that it isn’t just for our own comfort or personal happiness.  It’s not so life will be a bit easier and our shoulders a little less burdened by guilt or our self-esteem boosted so we can peek into the mirror with confidence.

In her study on Nehemiah, Kelly Minter wrote:

Essentially wholeness is not the end, but the very beginning, because wholeness allows us to give much more of our hearts, possessions, time, wisdom, money, friendship and love away  (p. 7).

We seek this wholeness–in our finances, in our hearts, in our relationships, in our homes, in our ministries, in our marriages, in our minds….not as the ultimate end.

Lord, heal us so we may be more of a blessing to others.

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

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 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, 06/30/2012: Life in Slow Motion

Hiding the Word:

Five puzzles, six books (or more), one game of Memory, word searches, and some tricycle training . . .

That’s what happens when we lose power or Internet at our house.  Life slows down.  When a daughter appears with board game in hand and a pleading look on her face, I have no excuse to give, no busyness to distract, nothing to prevent me from sitting  . . . and playing . . . and resting with my kids

I complain and whine with the best of them about the loss of conveniences and comfort and I’d prefer running water with temperature control and the ability to cook meals and refrigerate food any day of the week.

But a day without email and the telephone . . . well, that’s a welcome vacation sometimes.

So, after an unexpected extreme thunderstorm hit our area last night, I’m thinking about rest and all that it means and I’m choosing a verse to meditate on this week that compels me to be refreshed in Christ.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'” (Mark 6:31).

In Jesus: The One and Only, Beth Moore notes that “the original word for rest in this verse is anapauoPauo means “to cease, give rest.”  Guess what ana means?  “Again!”  We don’t need this kind of rest just once.  We need it again and again” (p. 116).

And again  . . . and again . . . and again.

Weekend Rerun:

The Holy Act of Doing Dishes

Originally posted on September 2, 2011

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

A week ago to the day, I was escaping the mundane and the daily to retreat to Women of Faith.  Even with the interruption and distraction of a hurricane, I managed to get away for one of the intended two days and it was uplifting, encouraging, and challenging.

I walked away from that trip with some verses and thoughts that I’m deeply weighing, considering and praying through.  It’s trite to say that a conference or speaker or book “changed my life.”  Yet, it happens all the time.  I read a new perspective and alter my behavior.  I listen to a speaker and adjust my thinking.

Life-changing events can happen more often than we realize.  Shouldn’t we be transforming daily into the image of God’s Son? Life changes don’t necessarily require “bigness.”  It’s not just choosing whom to marry or deciding to change careers that qualifies.  Instead, it means trimming this, discarding that, washing away this, and adding that so every day we’re making the changes that bring us one step closer to Jesus.

So, I can truly say that the speakers at Women of Faith this year changed my life.  And so did being without power for 5-1/2 days following Hurricane Irene.  And so has having the power restored last night. I’m different today than I was a week ago.

You see, last Thursday I was longing to escape from the repetitiveness of my everyday—the dishes, the laundry, the sweeping and mopping, the cleaning up and vacuuming and more.

Today, I was thanking God all morning.  For what?

For safety in the storm, surely.  But also that today I can wash my dishes with running water and a dishwasher.  And I scrubbed my counters with a rag dumped in soapy water instead of a Clorox wipe.  I vacuumed instead of picking up large pieces of child-debris by hand.  Praise God for the chance to vacuum!  All morning I have listened to the humming and spinning of the washer and dryer.  I’m thankful that I can use these machines to give my family clean clothes.

If only they had a machine to fold the clothes and put them away.  But, that’s another story . . . and probably heaven.

I truly believe in the value of spiritual retreating.  Christ Himself called His disciples away from the crowds and busyness of their lives to spend time with him alone.  Often, Jesus would send His disciples on ahead of Him while He remained to pray alone long into the night.

Sometimes we need to go away, to escape all that distracts us here so we can fix our attention on Him there.

And then the real work begins. Meeting God when we have set aside time for Him is expected.  We listen to speakers, we pray, we worship, or maybe we even head for a private retreat into the mountains where we pour out our hearts to Him and then sit in silence as He speaks to us.

We anticipate seeing God in the specifically designated portions of our lives we call “Spiritual” and the times we have set aside as “Holy.”

Then we must return to the daily life in all its mundane activity and we must carry into that everyday behavior all that we learned in the holy moments we had set aside.

Can mopping the floor be spiritual?  Can folding clothes be a God-moment? Can doing dishes be part of my quiet time?

If we deny Him a place in the mundane day-to-day life, confining Him instead to a corner of our hearts designated “God stuff,”  then we miss Him and what He’s doing in us and through us.

It’s what the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Not spiritual heart pieces and holy corners, but all that is in our heart searches after God.

Naaman almost missed finding God.  He was a big-shot, who commanded the army of the king of Aram.  “He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy” (2 Kings 5:1).

Hearing about Elisha the prophet, Naaman traveled to him to receive healing.  Elisha didn’t even come out of his house to meet with the big, important army commander.  Instead, Elisha sent out a messenger with some simple instructions: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

This was so . . . .basic.  So unimpressive.  So nonspiritual.  So, “Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” (2 Kings 5:11).

Naaman wanted a magic show with special effects rather than an order to take seven baths in the Jordan.  But, his servants challenged him: “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!’” (2 Kings 5:13).

A few dips in the Jordan later, Naaman’s leprosy was totally healed.  All because he obeyed God in something simple and unimpressive.

If we have our eyes set only on the spectacular, we will miss God’s healing and cleansing work in our everyday lives.

Will I manage to keep this perspective over time?  Probably not.  I will likely grow weary and burdened with the stresses of daily busyness.  I’ll need to retreat again, stepping away from it all to focus solely on God.

But then I’ll come back home where dishes and laundry and homework is what happens here and that, yes even that dailyness, changes my life bit by little bit.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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

And Then There’s Cancer

“God must have a better plan.”
“God always works things out for the best.”
“You can’t out-give God.”
“God always provides.  Look at the birds and the flowers.  He’ll take care of your needs, too.”
“God always comes through.”
“God’s timing is perfect.”
“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

They’re the fairy tale endings of the Christian faith, the trite promises and pat religious phrases we find ourselves spewing out simply when we don’t know how else to explain it when life is hard and overwhelming and scary.

Like when there’s cancer.

Like when there’s starvation and bloating hunger in villages where there simply is no food—not in anyone’s home, not in a local church running a food pantry, not at a grocery store where you can beg for a loaf of bread from other shoppers.

How do we dare make life sound simple, flowery, and easy when it’s not?  This is the conversation I had with a friend this week.

A few days later, in a sanctuary filled with mourners, corporately grieving the loss of a beautiful Christian woman to breast cancer, a few stood up to share their memories and thoughts about her life.  The rest of us passed tissues down the rows and echoed sniffles.

One woman stood and said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  In one of their last conversations together, sitting across from a woman so ill from the cancer recurrence filling her lungs with fluid and sapping strength from her limbs, they agreed that they felt beaten down by the promises in Scripture.

They knew death was near and they did not think they’d see the healing, deliverance, restoration, and happy ending they had so longed for, they had prayed for, and that the “happy filter” of God’s promises would make you expect.

So now what?

I remember the moment also when I sat by my dad’s death bed.  He was decrepit, a large man shrunken down to frail bones.  He was living in a sick shell of a body.  Once so witty and smart, boisterous and just plain big in his personality and manner, now he was a trapped soul, mostly in a coma, no longer in control of his body or mind—totally dependent on others, mostly unaware, mostly unresponsive.

I believed and I still believe that the God who could call Lazarus to step out of a tomb, throw off grave clothes and come to life again could have healed my dad at any time, even when death seemed imminent, as in any second near.

But He didn’t.  God chose not to heal that time.  He chose not to heal the woman we remembered at her memorial service this weekend.

What then?

In tears, the woman sharing at the memorial service said that when they felt totally beaten down, like their faith had just been battered and bashed, her friend facing death said, “Then we must pray and ask God to make us more tender.”

Please make me tender, Lord.  Use these times of sadness and the seasons we don’t understand, the moments when faith is so hard to stand on and the promises of Scripture seem too simple to hold true, please then make my heart tender again. 

What other response can there be at times but bitterness?

It’s something I’d never considered before, but both Paul and Peter urged believers to be tenderhearted:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).


Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).

This tender heart so often develops when we ourselves feel broken and beaten down and we are made soft and receptive in the process.ephesians4

If our faith depends on quick answers to prayer and fairy tale lives with superficially happy endings, we’ll be hardened to the needs of others, uncomprehending when they share out of their pain and unmoved by compassion when we see their brokenness.

Not only that, but if our faith doesn’t depend on the Rock of God and His character, but instead stands only on happy (and often misquoted and taken out of context) Christian catch-phrases, we’ll watch the wind and waves of the storm demolish and destroy our houses on the sand (Matthew 7).

We don’t necessarily need enough faith to calm any storm, to walk on the water in the midst of a tempest or sit unmoved and unafraid when our boat seems ready to sink. We just need enough faith to stretch out our hand to Jesus as we sink and cry out, “Lord save me” (Matthew 14:30).

Even that is enough for Jesus to hold us up out of the waves.

Let’s be honest today.  It’s not always easy to sing, “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”  Sometimes it’s downright difficult.  It’s murky and hazed over and difficult to see.  Sometimes it’s desperately painful.

But we don’t have to have all the answers.  In fact, we don’t really need to say much of anything at all.  Certainly, we don’t have to pretend that it’s easy or shrug mourning off our shoulders with little more than, “it’s all for the best.”

Instead, we can ask for God to make our hearts tender, soft and pliable in His hands because of the pain we’ve endured.  And we can reach out one desperate hand and cry out, “Lord, save me.” Sometimes, that’s all we can honestly say and that’s enough.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Devotions From My Garden: It’s Crowded In Here

My daughters and I reached a compromise.

I announced that I didn’t want to grow a vegetable garden this year.  It was too much work for too little result.  It didn’t save money.  It started out fun in April and ended up a horrible, rotten, ugly chore by the middle of July.  Various ravenous insects destroyed and devoured my plants.

Their response was unanimous.  “But Ma—awm.  We like to grow our own food.”

So we narrowed down the lists of vegetables we would grow and planted a container garden on our deck.

On one of the warmest and sunniest days in April, we filled large wooden crates with garden soil, vegetable food and the tiny plants of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers we had chosen.  Then we dropped the carrot seeds into the dirt, following exact directions on how far down to push them and how far apart they needed to be spaced.

Mostly we worked together, but after a while my daughters disappeared to work on their own project. They held out the result to me with pride.  It was a small planter with dirt in it.

“We planted radishes,” they announced, “all by ourselves.”

I shrugged.  The radish seeds were leftovers from last year.  It seemed unlikely they’d grow.  Yet, the girls faithfully watered that pot for days and surprisingly they were rewarded by the first hints of green.

A day later, the pot was crowded by infant radishes.  The girls must have dumped 20 seeds all into the same tiny space in the miniature pot.

It was going to be really crowded in there.

Unfortunately, even though it is hard and a little sad, we now have to make some tough choices.  If all the radish plants remain in that pot, none of them will grow correctly.  Some of them have to come on out of there.

Sometimes our lives are just as crowded as that tiny radish pot.  Every single seedling may have potential for beauty, growth, and produce, but nothing can grow when they are all shoved into the small space of one simple life and the restriction of 24-hour days.

Even though it’s hard and a little sad, there are times when some things have got to go so that other areas of your life can grow to their full potential.

It’s not always a mystery when choosing what to toss.

When Jesus walked into the temple and saw the vendors hocking their wares–doves for sacrifices and loans for people needing money for their offering–He responded immediately.  It didn’t take a second’s thought for Jesus to overturn their tables and chase the mercenaries out of the holy space of the temple courtyard.

He threw out sin, contaminated worship, and the profanation of the holy.

As soon as Jesus cleared the place, the blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14).

The only reason they could seek healing in the temple, the only reason there was room for the blind and lame to worship, was because Jesus had thrown out the tainted and unholy.

The Message emphasizes this when it says, “Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in.”

Until Jesus cleaned house, there hadn’t even been room in the temple for those who needed God the most.

Will we allow Jesus to overturn the tables in our heart where sin and the unholy have set up shop?  Will we clear out the trash and the disgusting, so that we have room to come to Jesus—and to bring others along who need Him the most?

Of course, it’s not always so easy to tell what has to go in our lives.  We have a million choices of how to invest our time, energy, talents, and money, and all of them could be good.  We could lead hundreds of crusades against a world of evil.

But if we crowd out our lives with too much that is good, nothing will grow as it should.

Jesus Himself exhibited the kind of focus we need, to hone in on our purpose and refuse to be distracted by every demand and need.

During His ministry, mobs of people sought out Jesus for healing.  He lived in a world of need, need, and more need, and He frequently healed those who sought out His help.

But He didn’t heal everyone.

In fact, when the crowds grew too large and people sought Him out for healing alone, He moved onto another town or He escaped the crowds in order to pray alone on a mountain or by the sea.

Healing was fine.  Miracles were part of His ministry.  But it was not His main purpose for coming and He never wanted that to be the focus of His presence.  Instead, He had come to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and “to save the world” (John 3:17).

Maybe it’s time for you to pull out some of the extra radishes from your pot.  The first ones to go are easy—yank out the sprouts of sin, the unholy habits and the remnants of the flesh life.

Then prayerfully ask God to help you focus.  What seedlings should you tend and invest in until you harvest their potential?  What seedlings need to be set aside so that other areas of your life can grow?

Determine to live an uncrowded life, a flourishing, growing, fruitful life of produce and harvest, made possible by intentional focus and the pursuit of purity in your life and worship.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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, 02/04/2012: A Verse on Peace

Hiding the Word:

Have you ever had to wait for an answer?  The call-back after a job interview or your score on an exam or a followup visit with a doctor?

Then you probably know this first hand: Waiting stinks.

There are too many what-ifs to plague your mind.  Too many hypothetical situations and combat strategies to develop for every potential battle.  Too many worst-case scenarios to play out mentally.

I’ve spent the last week practicing everything I’ve learned or written about when it comes to overcoming worry and paralyzing fear, mostly because of the horrors of waiting.

I don’t always get it right.  I’m fearful much of the time.  But, I’m trying to replace every anxious thought with a Scripture verse, usually one of the ones we’ve memorized in the past few months.

This is war.  Fear is my enemy.  God’s Word my weapon.

It’s a reminder to me that this matters.  Choosing a verse a week to meditate on and memorize makes a difference in my life.  I hope it does for you, as well.  If you’ve let the habit fall by the wayside, I encourage you to start fresh this week.

As I continue to fight fear with God’s Word, I’m meditating once again on a verse about peace.  I hope you’ll join me in memorizing it.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).

Weekend Rerun:

Take Heart, Daughter

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,'” he said, “your faith has healed you”
(Matthew 9:22).

My daughters believe their daddy is a superhero with an amazing super power.  He can fix anything.  For years, they have brought me broken toys and pages ripped from books and announced that it was okay because “Daddy could fix it!”  They stand amazed as he pops wheels back on plastic strollers, adjusts the height of swings, and, even more impressive, repairs our broken dishwasher.

Then there was the day that my daughter, then just two years old, came to me, her hands outstretched and holding a DVD split completely into two separate pieces.  Her tiny fingers gripped something totally irreparable.

“Oh, baby,” I said, “It’s broken.  Really broken.”

“It’s okay,” she announced with confident faith, “Daddy can fix it.”

“Most of the time, sweetie, but not this one time,” I whispered.

We’ve all experienced the limited fix-it abilities of others and ourselves.  We can apply glue to relationships and duct tape to careers, we can piece together finances and snap hopes and dreams back into place after countless cracks and rips.

But then there’s the day—we’ve all had those moments—-when we grip in our fingers something irreparable.  No amount of gluing, taping, splicing, snapping, tying, pinning or sewing can undo the damage, fix the broken or resurrect the dead.  Not this time.

So, we bring what is diseased and dead to the God who has power over life and death. My commentary says: “Life in this world will be better if it is lived by a power beyond this world, the power of the resurrected, ascended, glorified Christ.”   We live in resurrection power when we trust Him even in the midst of impossible, overwhelming, hopeless circumstances.  We hold up to Him a mess of shattered pieces and declare, “Abba, Father, My Daddy can fix this.”

Because we know He healed what no one could heal.  Because we know He created a universe, a planet, and life with the power of His Words.  Because we know He even conquered death and overcame the grave.

Just like the woman who had bled for 12 years pushed through a crowd so she could touch Christ’s cloak.  For twelve years, she had been walking dead.  Her sickness made her unclean and cut off from community life, from marriage relationships, and from the ability to worship in the temple.  She shouldn’t have been in the crowd, wasn’t allowed to have contact with people for fear she would spread her uncleanness to them.  Her very presence there was risky.  Anyone could have condemned and publicly shamed her.

My husband reminds me that her story is one of salvation.  Her healing foreshadowed the cross as she transferred years of uncleanness and impurity onto Him with one touch.  He absorbed her uncleanness.  She now, for the first time in 12 years, was made clean, purified, holy, new—–once she was lost, but now she was found.  Then she made public confession when she, “knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:32-33).  Yes, the whole ugly truth of it all.

Our own redemption stories all echo hers.  Christ miraculously fixes what is unfixable.  He assumes our guilt so that we may receive forgiveness.

There’s something else, here, though, something about her faith that I need to learn.

Her healing didn’t happen by accident, an unexpected brushing against Jesus in the middle of a mob.  No, she had to decide to push through the crowd; she had to choose to reach out a shaking hand to grab the dusty hem of His robe.

So, it is with us.  We could stand on the outskirts of faith, not truly trusting God to heal and redeem us, but we would remain broken. Maybe we feel insignificant, maybe our problem doesn’t seem big enough or maybe it even appears too big for God to handle.  Regardless, until we bring the pieces to the throne and lay them at His feet, we cannot expect healing.

This reaching out for Jesus wasn’t just bold, it was also full of hope when things seemed hopeless.  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).  Doctor after doctor, remedy after remedy, year after year, medical bill after medical bill, all leaving her now destitute, hopeless, and still bleeding.

But then our compassionate Savior reassured and comforted her, not just fixing a physical problem, but speaking peace into her fearful heart: “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you’” (Matthew 9:22).

There’s a message for you also in the broken places.  God asks you to “take heart, daughter.” Don’t despair.  Don’t give up hope.  Bring your burdens to Him.

What is it about her faith that healed her? She believed so much more than that He was a medicine man with some effective healing aura.

She believed He could give her new life.
She believed He could remove her impurity and make her clean again.
She believed He would not condemn her for approaching Him in all of her dirty unholiness.
She believed she could come to Him just as she was.
She believed He could bring hope to the hopeless.

Her faith made her well.

Then, she gave testimony to what He had done and announced to the crowd of onlookers that Christ had healed her.

Are you facing brokenness or losing hope? “Take heart, daughter,” and trust Him with the impossible.

And when He has delivered you, fall at His feet in worship and give testimony to His grace. Tell “the whole truth” about what God has done for you.

If you have not received the answer yet, pray for that testimony.  Pray for the glory of His name.

Pray that you will be like the captives brought back to Zion, “who were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126-13).

Lord, fill us with laughter, fill us with joy in these circumstances.  Allow us to declare, “The Lord has done great things for us.”  Give us a testimony for Your glory, so that we can be a walking display of Your healing, resurrecting power and Your deeply compassionate mercy and love.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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

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