I’m sharing today over at Women Leading Women. Please join me!

 

Earlier this fall, I sent in a little submission to the website, Women Leading Women, where I shared a little from my heart.  

I  wrote about in-between times, about waiting seasons, and about being hidden away.

Sometimes I need to be reminded how seasons of dormancy, seasons of rest, seasons of being hidden away, aren’t always signs of death.  Often, they are the prelude to new life.

The things we struggle most to endure can often birth beautiful things, if we don’t rush them.

This morning, you can find that little post over on Women Leading Women. 

Would you bless me and take a moment to visit their website?

Click here to visit the post.

As a bonus, you can leave a comment on their site and be entered in a drawing to win Sara Hagerty’s new book:, Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed.  Doesn’t it look beautiful?!

As always, thanks so much for joining me here!

The invitation to a secret life

“I’m not going to tell you about that.”

This is my three-year-old’s son’s new favorite answer to our questions about his day.

How was preschool?

Good.  

Did you have snack?

Yes.

What did you eat for  snack?

I’m not going to tell you about that.

Did you sing songs at preschool?

Yes.

What songs  did you sing?

I’m  not going to tell you about that.

Now, I am a complete Mom-Professional  when it comes to asking my kids about their day.  I’m no novice here.  I don’t just ask, “How was your day” and then give up when he answers, “Fine.”

I  know better than that.

My modus operandi with all my kids has been to ask very specific questions.  Hence, my questions about snack and songs.  I’ll ask who was the line leader and whether they used the slide or swings on the playground.

This has worked with all three of my daughters.  But my son has found the ultimate weapon against  Mom’s post-school interrogation:

“I’m not going to tell you about that.”

Now what’s a mom to do?

I’ve chosen not to fret over this quirky and unique stage. He tosses his little go-to non-answer at one of my questions with an impish grin.  He enjoys his conversational “checkmate” and giggles a bit.

At some point, we’ll probably move along.  Maybe we’ll even get to know what he ate for snack and what songs he sang with his classmates.

In the meantime, I relish every detail he will share with me, every snuggle when he’s decked out in his Batman pajamas before bed, every whispered, “I love you.”

These are the hidden times, what we share with our family, what we share with each other, but not what we open up to the big wide world.

Jesus had these moments, too.  He’d slip away for hidden times with God, praying all night on a mountain while his followers remained behind (Luke 6:12).

This was the ultimate quiet time.  It was private, hidden, a secret between him and God.

And maybe God invites us in to share some of these intensely personal, hidden moments with him also, just as he did for the disciples when he asked them to “come away with me to a quiet place…..” (Mark 6:31).

In fact, Jesus specifically instructs us to:

  • Give in secret: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4) 
  • Pray in secret:    “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6)
  • Fast in secret:  “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”  (Matthew 6:17). 

It doesn’t mean all gifts must be anonymous and all prayers offered from our prayer closet.

It does mean our faith shouldn’t be religious show—all on public display for our own glory.

It does mean that there should be a secret aspect to our faith—a just between Him and me kind of intimacy.

In  her book, A Beautiful Offering, Angela Thomas writes:

“God wants to meet  with me in secret…There are  a couple of things that really matter to Jesus in this passage.  One is the real intention of our  hearts before God, and the other is that we learn to  practice a secret life with Him”

Our “secret life”is more than giving, fasting, and praying.

It’s sitting quietly with God.

It’s tucking lessons away and pondering them in our hearts

It’s offering Him the parts of our heart that we so often hold back. It’s being honest with Him.

I don’t ask my son questions about his day because I want to pester or annoy him.  I ask because I love him and he’s still young enough for me to be all-up in what happens in his little preschool life.  (I’ll enjoy that while  it lasts!).

Jesus  also invites us into secret communion with him, not to judge us or correct us, not to redirect us or lecture us.

He invites us because He loves us.

In response, we can either toss out a hurried, “I’m not going to tell you that.”

Or we can pour out hearts to Him.  We can linger by His side.  We can laugh together at a joke. We can celebrate a victory.

 

 

 

Surprise!

All day long people were singing at her.  Smiling and singing.  They tickled her belly, kissed her cheek, hugged her, and said two magic words that she didn’t even understand, “Happy Birthday!”

At first, my now-two-year-old reacted to all this attention with nothing more than a puzzled expression.  By the afternoon of her second birthday, she smiled a sweetly confused grin when we scooped her up for birthday hugs and kisses.  After dinner, she enjoyed the visit from her grandparents, but it wasn’t until I brought out the birthday cupcakes and we sang to her that she really began to understand that this special day was about her.

As soon as I lit the candle, she knew what to do.  She started blowing at the air while I still stood across the room with her birthday cupcake in my hands.  And then after she was covered in icing and Mickey Mouse-shaped sprinkles, I brought out wrapped presents and gift bags.

Her face said it all.  “For me?”  She unwrapped each gift and immediately played with it, read the book, put the puzzle pieces in place, and fed the baby doll.

My little one had been surprised by joy.

How I love that age when the simple fact of a birthday is enough to bring laughter and excitement.  My older daughters now anticipate their big days all year long.  Within a week of turning six, my eldest began telling people she was, “Almost seven.”  I’ve heard all their big plans for birthday parties (despite being told that we’re skipping this year), and yet they plan anyway.

But for my baby girl, there was no anticipation.  She had no idea we were planning for her joy.  She was oblivious to me stashing presents in the closet.  She had no clue I wrapped them during her nap the day before the big day.  She did know that I made cupcakes (she has a sixth sense for finding cupcakes), but she didn’t see me decorate them or pop two candles onto the top of the one just for her.

During those final days before her birthday, her sisters and I were the excited ones.  We looked forward to showering her with special treats and signs of love, even more because we knew she wouldn’t be expecting it.

Matthew 7:11 says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

When we’re feeling broken, just emptied out or filled with fear . . . when we look ahead to an uncertain future, not even knowing what tomorrow will look like for us . . . when we’ve been attacked into the ground, pounded on by trials and Satan and circumstances and one bad event after another . . .

. . . then we remember that God is at work in invisible ways, even when we cannot see His hand, His activity, or His plans.  He gives us the good gifts of salvation, His Holy Spirit, His peace, yes.  But even more, He pours out on us surprises of joy, presents of grace in the unexpected places, an oasis in the midst of our wilderness, and a shooting star of hope across a midnight black expanse of our future.

Angela Thomas in her book Do You Know Who I Am? wrote:

“there is always a hidden work of God.  When you think that God is distant or that maybe God has turned against you, I want you to remember that in the unseen God is plotting for your joy.  He is planning the redemption of your brokenness.”  Angela Thomas

Does it tickle you to think of God in heaven wrapping presents for you, sending down cupcakes with sprinkles just for you–when you least expect it and on a day that seems so ordinary or worse, filled with despair?

That’s what He did for Mary Magdalene, sitting at the tomb of her dead Savior, weeping for the loss of Him and the seeming loss of all He had promised.  In her sorrow, she had traveled to the tomb while it was still dark.  Perhaps she couldn’t sleep, so throwing back her blankets she had simply gotten up and started walking to the place of His burial.

But the stone was gone.  The tomb empty.  She called for the disciples and they searched through scraps of linen for any answer to the mystery of the missing Savior.

There was despair and confusion and hurt.  There was anger and defensiveness about grave robbers and defilers. It was a day that had started out bad enough and was quickly getting worse by the second.

Mary didn’t see Jesus “plotting for her joy.”  He had been at work in the hidden places, descending into hell and snatching the keys of death out of Satan’s hands.  He had risen on that third day and exited the tomb already, but she hadn’t seen any of that.

While God planned her surprise, she: “stood outside the tomb crying” (John 20:11).

It’s not until she sees Jesus herself—not even then, not even when she talks with Him, but only when He calls her by name—that she realizes the victory before her, the amazing miracle of resurrection.

The angels asked her why she was crying.  Jesus Himself asked the reason for her tears.  She cried because the brokenness was all she knew and the evidence of loss and grief was overbearingly present.  An empty tomb, grave clothes in a pile, Savior’s body gone.  That’s what she saw.

Isn’t that what we sometimes see, too?  We see here and now.  Bills due.  Relationships broken.  Uncertainty about the next day and the next.  Unanswered questions.  Danger for our kids.  Loss and mourning.  Difficult ministry.

We see the grave.

God sees the resurrection.

He’s your Father who loves you, who knows how to give you good gifts and is wrapping presents for you, rejoicing “over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17), and working “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”” (Rom. 8:28).

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