How I Tried Not To Look Like a Tourist (and probably failed)

psalm-119-66

My husband told me, “try not to look like a tourist.”

That was the advice I tucked away for my recent trip to New York City.

I feel pretty comfortable in Washington, DC, but I know nothing about the Big Apple.

So I bought a laminated map the week before my trip and then I spent an afternoon on my comfy blue sofa with a cup of tea, my map, my itinerary, and my good friend:  Google.

Then I wrote it all down, every bit of it.  What subway stations to use.  How many stops there were between places.  How much tickets would cost.

This is  my modus operandi: intense preparation before any action.

Eventually, though, you just have to do it.  You have to step off the tour bus into the city and make your way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with nothing but a map, your notes, scattered street signs, and some friends.  Plus you need to do it without looking like a tourist, which probably means not pulling out the map and pointing at landmarks in the middle of Central Park (I failed).

Somehow my friends and I found our way, partly because of my advanced preparations, partly because we  got lost and learned from our mistakes, and mostly because we asked questions.

“If I’m on seventh avenue, which way do I need to go to 8th avenue?”

“Am I headed in the right direction for the art museum?”

“Are the subways on this level going  the direction we want to go?”

I asked the lady pushing her stroller through Central Park, the security guard walking down 42nd street, and the guy adding money to his frequent user subway card. I asked questions all over New York City.

As long as someone looked like they were friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable, they were fair game for one of my questions.

I’m a question-asking girl.  I even wrote a whole book about asking questions (Ask Me Anything, Lord), so this is who I am and how I navigate the big, wide world.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

In life, we can try our best to seek our own answers or wrestle with guidebooks and Google-searches in hope of making good choices.

Or we can make mistakes and then learn from them.

But it’s often much easier and far less painful just to ask.

Ask a friend for help.  Ask someone we respect for advice.  Ask a mentor for prayer.  Ask an expert for some input.

Being willing to seek advice with a humble heart opens us up to wisdom.

Proverbs tells us:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice (Proverbs 12:15 ESV).

We don’t just ask any random person, of course.

We ask those we respect, those who have already “been there,” those who are prayerful and those who live with godliness.

More than all of that, though, we can bring our question-filled hearts to God Himself.

Jesus told us to ask (Matthew 7:7).  He gave us permission to come to Him with questions and requests, and He even praised those who sought His help when they needed it.

Of course, it’s deeply humbling to confess the truth: “I don’t know all the answers.”

But this is what we need, to recognize what we don’t know…to trample over our own pride and admit our deficiency.  This is what allows God to teach us and to guide us.

Moses stood barefoot in front of the burning bush and dared to ask the big question:

 “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13 ESV). 

He said to God, “Who are you?!”

No pretending like he had it all together or knew everything or was so capable all on his own.

He asked.

And God answered:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). 

Moses’s question led to revelation, God telling His very holy name: I AM.

One of the deepest moments of divine revelation in the entirety of Scripture came because Moses dared to ask a question.

It takes  time to ask and listen for the answer.

It takes humility to lay aside our own opinion and agenda and seek God’s thoughts and plans.

It takes a teachable heart to seek advice from a respected friend.

But we’ll learn more, make fewer mistakes, and get a little less lost in this life if we embrace humility and learn the art of asking questions.

Pursuing His Presence: Because Being Still Is Not Enough

I found her with untied tap shoes on her feet and eyes red from crying.

We zipped into the ballet studio, one mom and three girls (plus one baby boy) on a mission.exodus33

Three daughters in four back-to-back and sometimes overlapping dance classes during observation week.  This means instead of huddling in my minivan or zooming around town doing errands in between classes, I sat in the corner of class taking pictures.

We all piled into my youngest daughter’s class except for my tap-dancing girl who left to change into her tap-tap-tappy shoes.  I watched the clock carefully and slipped out just in time to check on her before her tap class began.

She wiped her eyes and explained, “I couldn’t get the ribbons on my shoes tied and I didn’t have anyone to help me….”

I tie the ribbons swiftly and then smooth down her hair with my hand.  Then I say it so she knows it’s not just about shoes anymore:

You didn’t trust me to come help you.  I knew you’d need help and I came just in time.

She’d been frantic and upset and all along I had a plan for her rescue and I was right on time, not a second too late.

So, all her fretting had been unnecessary drama.

And when is fretting not?

I started this year with intentionality: 12 months of pursuing the presence of Christ in the middle of the noise, mess, and busyness of life.  Today, I finish January’s journey, learning to be still and know that He is God.

For months, I dreaded this start to the year, knowing it would be the busiest and craziest of our busy and crazy schedule.  I feared the stress—-as in, tearful eyes, breathless suffocation just thinking about it.

But here we are.  We made it.  God is gracious.  When I felt that familiar strangulation of fear, I heard that still and small reminder: Don’t worry about that.  Just think about today.

So I did.

And, as much as I whine perhaps about winter, the overload of snow days has given me unexpected rest when we needed it most.psalm46-10

God planned the perfect rescue at the perfect moment for me all along, but I had been fretting and worrying.

Why?

Because I didn’t trust Him.

So often, we read that familiar Psalm—-BE STILL and know—and we focus on the stillness (Psalm 46:10).

Yes, stop with the flustered activity, the desperate attempts to fix things on our own, the frantic search for help from everyone except the only One who can truly save….

“Cease striving” it says in the NASB.

So, for a moment we pause.

Here’s what I’ve learned this month, though—“Being still” is not enough. It simply tells me what not to do.

I can’t forget that after I’ve ceased that striving and calmed my heart, God tells me what I should be doing in the stillness:

Know Him, Know He is God, Know that He’s got this under control and I can rest in the knowing that He cares for me.

Ann Voskamp reminds me of this….to remember He is I AM.  His very name is the reminder of His Presence here in this present moment.

Like Moses, I’ve asked in the boldest of ways that God will show me His Glory this year.  And, like Moses, I’ve told God that I don’t want to move from this place until His presence will go with me.

So, like Moses standing there on a holy mountain before a Holy God, I pray this also:

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you (Exodus 33:13).

Because, God, in order to dwell in Your presence day after hectic day, I must be still and know You more, know You as I AM, know You as God present with me.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me next month as I focus on Praying Simply?

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 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 © 2014 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: I’m Not A Boy!

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”
I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”
I am.

“Are you fond of sports?”
I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I AM.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I AM and I WILL BE.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I AM with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I AM God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I AM the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I AM the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I AM the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

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.  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

I’m Not a Boy

Happy 100th post everyone!  I’m so thankful that through God’s grace we have made it this far and I pray that He will bless us with much more time together in the days ahead.

To celebrate with you and as a way to say thanks to you for reading these devotionals, I’m hosting a giveaway!  I hope you’ll post a comment anywhere on this website by Sunday, 07/17/2011 at midnight, and I’ll announce the winners in Monday’s post.

Now, onto today’s devotional:

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”  I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”  I am.
“Are you fond of sports?”  I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I am.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I am and I will be.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I am with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I am the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

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