We’re Singing Star Wars in the Supermarket

psalm-25-4

One of my son’s favorite shopping activities is singing the Imperial March from Star Wars while stomping down the aisles.

Dum Dum da-dum da-da-Dum Dum da-Dum

For a three-year-old, my son is remarkably good at singing this while swinging an imaginary light saber.   Even the frozen food employee is impressed.  He always stops to chat with us about the latest Star Wars movie.

This is, of course, not my son’s only grocery shopping habit.

There is also pretending to fly like an airplane and also making superhero fighting noises while acting out an epic battle.

We have rules, of course.

Star Wars singing and marching is okay.

So is superhero pretend and airplane flying .

Crawling on the nasty floor like a puppy dog, however, is not acceptable.

Also on the Not Allowed List:  Walking directly in front of the cart and stopping every two inches or so….touching everything we see….putting things in the cart without Mommy knowing….and running too far ahead or lagging too far behind outside of Mommy’s line of vision.

So, I do a lot of guiding in the store, holding his hand sometimes.  Or guiding him with my hand on his back because he’s too engrossed in his superhero game to actually walk forward.

And almost 100% of the time you can hear me narrating our adventure: “Okay, now we need to go to the cereal aisle.  We need to stop here for  a minute and look.  Alright, let’s get going, go all the way to the end of the aisle without stopping.  Let’s go faster.  Let’s slow down.”

These are my Mom-skills, my guidance techniques to keep us both on the same page in terms of purpose, direction, and timing.

We are imperfect.

Some days we ace this and I’m tempted to pat myself on the back as if I’ve got it all together and have finally (after four kids) figured this whole deal out.

But inevitably the next time we shop, we forget something, or we take forever, or I lose my temper, or there is a tantrum.

So, we go with grace.

I’m so thankful for such grace.

I’m thankful for something else, too, because I know what it’s like as a parent to lovingly guide  and direct.  I know what it’s like to be listened to and what it’s like to be ignored.

I know what it’s like to “know best….” and to understand the grand scheme of things:  the meal plan, the budget, the true needs versus the cavernous wants.

Maybe these weekly shopping excursions are a little hint of God’s heart for us.

He knows the big plan:  the layout of the store, the timing, the provision, the needs.

Sometimes He says, “no,” even when we really want to hear “yes.”  Sometimes he hurries us past aisles where we want to linger.  Sometimes he slows us down for the opportunity to consider.

Sometimes He lets us dance in the aisles and sing our hearts out right there in the middle of the bread because He’s so crazy about us and we bring him such joy.

But I can be so wayward.

I can try to rush ahead one day and drag my feet the next.  I can try to sneak things into the cart and perhaps I even throw a tantrum every once in a while.

I’ve been reading in Exodus about Israel’s long and winding trek through the wilderness, and how God guided them every step of the way, providing for their needs with manna and quail even when they longed for the food in Egypt.

What would have happened if the Israelites had pushed on ahead of the cloud that God used to guide them by day?   What if they guessed at God’s potential direction, balked at His delays, and set out on their own?

What if I do the same, trusting in my own wisdom and strength rather than in God’s?

We are all simply lost without Him.

So I’m trying to trust Him and trust His heart, even when there are diversions and delays, even when there are annoyances and “no’s” and restrictions.

In Exodus, God actually gives Israel a glimpse into His heart:

 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.  Exodus 23:29-30.

Conquering the Promised Land wouldn’t be some quick and painless affair, which is probably what they wanted.

But God’s purpose was for their protection.  His timing was for their good.

He promises us this, as well:

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you (Psalm 32:8 NLT).

When Your Toddler Knows Your First Name

1 john 3-1

“James”

“Daddy.”

“James on the phone.”

“Yes, Daddy is on the phone.”

“James.”

This is the back-and-forth conversation my two-year-old son and I have been having.

Over the summer, he mysteriously figured out his dad’s first name and started using it.  We’re not exactly sure how this happened.  He just started saying, “James” out of the blue.  We didn’t teach it to him.

So, for about two weeks it became:

“James on the phone.”

“James at work.”

It was “James” this and “James” that.

I kept correcting him and it took him time to understand that “Daddy” and “James” are just two names for the same person.  But while lots of people might call him “James” only a few people get to call him “Daddy.”

And, two-year-old children don’t get to call their dads by their first names.

Besides that, “Daddy” is the personal name, the relational name.  It’s not just about what is technically on the birth certificate or what anyone can call him whether they are stranger or friend.

“Daddy” shows the privilege of intimacy, position and belonging.

And this matters, not just when we’re talking about family, but when we’re talking to God.

Why would my son choose “James” when he has the privilege of position, the right to call him “Dad?”

Why would we choose distance when God offers us His very presence?

Sometimes, that’s what we do, though.

It can creep up on us so stealthily. One morning we realize we’ve been calling God by formal names and keeping the conversations “all business” instead of making it personal.

Perhaps we’re like Israel out in the wilderness, heading out of Egypt after the grand and glorious displays of God’s might.

Usually, we say that God brought them out of Egypt so He could take them to the Promised Land.

But that wasn’t God’s first intention for His people.  Instead, He took them to Mount Sinai to meet with them.

As John Bevere writes in Drawing Near:

Remember God’s words to Pharaoh, through Moses, “”let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert” Ex. 7:16 NIV). It was not “Let my people go, so they can inherit a land” (p. 4).

But at the foot of that holy mountain, they knew their sin stood in the way.  They could never survive the presence of the Holy God, so they told Moses,

Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’ (Deut. 5:27 ESV).

Instead of drawing near themselves, they sent in a go-between, an intermediary. Moses could hear from God and tell them about it later.

If only they’d been prepared for His presence. If only their hearts were pure and made ready.

Instead, God said,

“Return to your tents” (Deut. 5:30 ESV).

John Bevere says:

How God’s heart must have broke, and how heavy was Moses’ heart as he returned….God brought them out of Egypt for one reason—to bring them to Himself—and they missed it” (p. 75)

I don’t want to miss it!  When God brings us to Himself, may we be ready to go up, not sent back down to tents far from His presence.

Or maybe we’re like Martha in the New Testament, who allowed busyness, stress, and too many distractions from too many worries keep her from the feet of Christ?

Maybe it’s that we fear what God will ask of us.  Like the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10, we think we want to be with Jesus, but then He asks us to give up position or power or possessions or habits or relationships or plans and dreams.  And the choice is harder; we want God, but do we want Him more than everything else?

Or perhaps it’s the slow drift, drift, drift of our hearts, worn down by the daily grind, where time with Him is duty and not delight.

Or maybe our hearts are tender and bruised with disappointment because even though we know God is good, and even though we know He’ll never leave us, we’re hurt.  Prayers weren’t answered the way we hoped.  Expectations weren’t met.  Dreams didn’t work out.  Healing didn’t come.

So, we cradle our hearts with a wall of self-protection, not just from others—from God Himself.

But here’s what Scripture promises:

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1 ESV).

We are His children.  His beloved.

That means relationship.  It means repenting. It means talking it out when we’re hurt. It means choosing to trust.  It means drawing near and knocking down walls.

And He allows us, invites us even, to draw near, to call Him “Father,” to call Him “Dad.”

 

We are not forgotten

psalm 20-6

For the record, I’ve never forgotten one of my kids at a store or anything.

But there was the time I left a child in the minivan.

When my youngest daughter was about four, she used to run into the house as soon as we got home and then hide behind the curtains.

She always hid in the same place.

She always thought she was both hilarious and amazingly creative for hiding in that same exact place.

And then when we’d all load out of the minivan and step into the kitchen, she’d jump out and ‘surprise’ us.

Only that night, I shut the minivan door and trudged into the house with my arms loaded down with stuff, stuff and more stuff after an evening at church.

A few minutes later, my husband asks, “Where’s Catherine?”

Well, isn’t she hiding behind the curtains like she always is?  Why hasn’t she jumped out to surprise us yet?

Actually, no, she was still in the minivan.

She never climbed out and never made any noise about it, so we’d left her locked inside alone and in the dark.

Not one of my prize Mom moments, I’ll admit.

My husband carried our baby girl in and she cried for a bit over feeling lost and forgotten and even a little afraid.  She wasn’t traumatized, though, (God’s grace right there!) and I’m not even sure if she remembers it ever happened.

I do, of course.

We’re slow to forget mistakes and easily traumatized by our own failures.

But I can still see her now, arms wrapped around Daddy’s neck, face buried in his shoulder, leaning into him in gratitude and relief because he had remembered her and he had come for her in the dark and carried her out of loneliness into a place of safety.

He saved her.

This week I read in my Bible:

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1 ESV).

God remembered Noah.

All those nights shut up in the smelly ark, rocked about by the ever-present water, Noah may have felt forgotten, abandoned, trapped, and left to rot away from mildew and a bad case of cabin fever.

And maybe we know what that’s like.

Maybe we’ve felt like God didn’t hear us, wasn’t aware of what we’re going through, wasn’t paying attention, and had simply forgotten us right in the moment of our greatest need.

The Israelites probably felt that same way, sweating and groaning their way through hundreds of years in Egyptian slavery.

It’s clear that they weren’t silent sufferers, either.  Instead, “the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help” (Exodus 2:23).

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.   (Exodus 2:24-25, ESV).

God remembered them, too.

I love how the Message breaks this down:

God listened to their groanings.
God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God saw what was going on with Israel.
God understood (Exodus 2:24-25, MSG).

God listened.  God remembered.  God saw.  God understood.

There’s something else, though.  Something true for Noah.  Something true for Israel.  Something true for us even now.

When Scripture tells us God remembers, it doesn’t mean He ever truly forgot us.  It’s not like He had a case of temporary amnesia or couldn’t recall our name or lost track of our plight.

Or left us behind in the minivan.

When God remembers, it’s a sign in Scripture that this is the moment He’ll reveal His activity.  It’s the moment when everything God had been doing in the hidden places is clear and revealed and brought to the light.

No more waiting.

Now it’s time for God to be on the move.

He orders the waters on the earth to recede so Noah and his family could step out of that ark onto dry ground.

He calls Moses from a burning bush and tells him to go lead Israel out of Egypt.

So, we can hold fast to this same truth as we groan in our own need, whether it be the annoyance of a daily stress, the repentance over a habitual sin, or the hardest of life’s challenges.

God hears us.  God remembers His promises to us.  God sees us.  God understands.

And then He rescues.

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6, ESV).

 

 

That will never happen to me

Jeremiah 33

She bawled uncontrollably at the tragic news.

Her two older sisters had brought home five—-count them, five—–birthday party invitations within three weeks.

She had not.

I assured her: You will have parties to attend.  You will receive invitations.  Your social life has not collapsed, bit the dust, or ended in ruin at the ripe old age of five.

You will be the one bringing home the party invitation soon.  It will happen to you.  Moms know these things.  We’re smart that way.

I promise.

Meanwhile, she screamed with one long Lucy Ricardo-style wail at the total hopelessness of the situation.

“No, I won’t.”  She finally screeched out.  “I’ll never (wail) be invited (wail) to a party (wail) again (extended wailing).

As a mom, I know I should feel this deep compassion for her tiny broken heart, but really, I hid my smile behind the folder of school papers she handed me.

Five-year-old drama can be so amusing.

I sent her on her way to wash her face and to overcome her despair.  Then I opened up the yellow folder and sorted through all of the projects and worksheets.

Right on top sat a tiny white envelope: a birthday party invitation that had been there the whole time she’d been having a meltdown about a lack of birthday party invitations.

Oh mercy.

God sure can act quickly when He has the mind to.

I carried that invitation right over to my still-tearful child and I taught her right there:  Didn’t Momma promise?  Didn’t I say to have hope?

But I tuck this truth deep down in my own heart because sometimes I’m a five-year-old child wailing about a party invitation.

Oh, the crises get bigger with time.  My own adult life has trials and traumas of its own, but my reaction hasn’t altered so much with ‘maturity.’

I have grown-up ways of jumping headfirst into hopelessness instead of bringing my needs to the God of Hope.

We cling so often to the promise in Scripture:

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

But we miss out on so much in this verse if we overlook what was happening to God’s people when Jeremiah was writing this promise.

They weren’t headed into victory or into a promised land of rest and blessing.

God was declaring a season of enemy siege that would lead to utter famine, a time when they’d be tempted to eat the flesh of their own dead children.

God told His people that Jerusalem’s walls would be crushed and the Babylonian enemy would drag them off to a foreign land where they could no longer worship in the temple.

This was more than a childish meltdown about a birthday party.

This truly was desolation and despair.  It was the ugly of life at its ugliest.

And yet, here still God’s mercy covers all.

God tells His people, “Yes, it looks bad.  It’s going to hurt.  Discipline does that.  But I don’t have plans to harm you.  I have a hope and a future for you even as you face captivity and exile.”

He would never abandon them.

God’s mercy shines even in the darkest places.

Jeremiah pours out God’s promises.  He declares:

“After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place”  (Jeremiah 29:10 NKJV).

“Behold I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.  And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. (Jeremiah 33:6-7 NKJV).

“Again there shall be heard in this place…..the voice of joy and the voice of gladness….” (Jeremiah 33:10-11 NKJV).

More than that, God assured His people:

‘In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. (Jeremiah 33:15 NKJV).

Oh yes, He’d send the Savior.  The Messiah would come and rescue them indeed.

God’s promise to them wasn’t “if…”

If you make it out of captivity….”

If you ever get to come home again…..”

If you don’t all die off or get subsumed in the foreign culture while in exile….”

Gods promise was “When” and it was “I Will.”

And this is why we hold on in the dark, in the trials, in the moments we can’t see what God is doing, because God doesn’t abandon His people.

He carries them.  He rescues them.  He comes for them.

He does and He will.

 

 

Originally published 10/22/2014

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Deuteronomy 1

Playdate protocol.

That’s what I review with my daughters in the last 5 minutes before we exit our minivan and enter their friend’s home.

Do not fight with each other.

Say please and thank you.

Clean up your messes.

Do not fight with each other.

Do show respect to her mom and call her Mrs. _____ and obey what she tells you.

Do make sure you know where the bathroom is.

Do not fight with each other (I’m sensing a theme, here……)

And, when it is time to go, thank them for having you over and go.  Do not delay.  Do not whine about leaving.  Do not take 40 minutes putting on your shoes. Do not ignore my presence.  Do not invite yourself over to their house tomorrow or beg me for a sleepover.  Do not ask me when the next playdate will occur as we are actually, technically still having a playdate at this very moment.  Do not run and hide, hoping I won’t find you and take you home.  Do not pull out more toys.  Do not whisper to your friend to climb into our minivan thinking that I won’t ask her to come out.

Saying goodbye.  That’s the hardest part of playing with a friend.

Oh, I’ll tell the truth, saying goodbye is one of the hardest life-skills—period—for children and adults.

I have my own issues with leaving.  After all, I dislike change.

Dislike?  Not quite the word, exactly.

More like:  Hate, detest, abhor….change.  Yes, that’s it.

I settle right into my comfortable routine, doing what I’ve always done, ministering how I’ve always ministered.  I take God’s call and keep on trekking, day after day after day in the same direction.

Then, He tells me it’s time for something new.

Time to say goodbye, pack my tent, and head off in a new direction.  Maybe even an unknown direction or at least an unfamiliar direction.

I’m tempted to hide or beg to stay or pretend I didn’t hear God’s call.  Anything, anything at all, other than actually embrace change.

Sometimes we refuse God’s invitation to step out of the old and step into the new.

We just keep right along, working as hard as ever doing the thing we love to do.

But He has moved on.  His favor has moved on.  His blessing, His direction, His guidance, His anointing has moved on.

And, what are we doing anyway?  Trying to work in our own strength and hold things together because we just don’t want to let go?  Because it hurts too much to relinquish that control and trust God with the future?

Maybe God has asked someone else to step up into that ministry, and we’re robbing them of the blessing of obedience because we won’t step down already and get out of the way.

Goodbye. 

God gives us permission to say it at times.  We say goodbye to ministries we love and relationships we adore, to jobs we’ve enjoyed and to seasons of our life that have grown cozy and comforting.

We say goodbye not because our ministry is ending, but because it is changing.  We say goodbye because God has called us to follow Him anew.

In Acts 20, we see how Paul calls his dear friends from Ephesian church together and tells them he’s moving on to Jerusalem, and he doesn’t expect to see them again.

Of course, they’d want him to stay.  He wasn’t just moving on in ministry; He was moving away from dear friends without the advantage of Facebook and email.

Yet, God called and Paul obeyed:

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship (Acts 20:36-38 ESV).

I’ve been praying over my own goodbyes….the places where God is telling me to move on, to let it go and strike out into the new.

That’s when I read this command God gave to Israel:

‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.  It is time to break camp and move on.’ (Deuteronomy 1:6-7 NLT).

Have you lingered at this mountain long enough, content to rest here and set up camp?

If God has called you to break camp and move on….pack up your tent, say your goodbyes, and go.

Don’t fret or worry over what’s behind.  Leave that in God’s hands.  He’s got it.

Just go when He calls you to go, because you want to be with Jesus, always with Jesus, never lagging behind Him, always right by His side.

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 © 2015 Heather King

You Can’t Move On if You Never Stop Moving in the First Place

By Monday, I already feel behind for the week.

The laundry is spinning, shushing it’s way through washing machine cycles and dryer loads.

The dishwasher is halfway empty.  I’ve been grabbing clean plates and cups all morning as I walk by.  Grab and stash in the cabinet, go about my business and return for more on the next pass.

My daughter’s arts and crafts from Sunday afternoon have left a Monday morning mess.  Scraps of paper and felt dot the living room and dining room carpet. Popsicle sticks are scattered here and there on desks and tables in the playroom.  There’s a pile of papers topped by markers and scissors, and glue sticks overflow onto the floor.

And the glitter.  Oh, the glitter.  The playroom is aglow.

I’ve been fielding phone calls and catching up on e-mail messages and social media all morning.

And I feel the crunch of time, the deadlines and the to-do list, and part of me feels frustrated and maybe a little breathless.

Deep down I want to blame the Rest.

Why am I behind?  I reason it out.

Because yesterday I rested.

Because I didn’t do any laundry on Sunday.  Because I made origami cars instead of vacuuming.  Because I read my book instead of writing.  Because I take a break from social media and don’t answer emails and now they’ve piled up on me.

I unplugged from busyness and plugged into family and soul and beauty and joy and God…and rest.

Of course, I’ve thought it before.  I probably will fight the lie for a long time: If I just didn’t take that break once a week, I wouldn’t be so busy and so behind now.

That’s the struggle.

This resting is counter-intuitive.  It isn’t what makes sense to me in my self-focused, rational way of looking at life.exodus14

And yet, it’s necessary.  This walking away, this stepping back, this slowing down, this breathing in and out, this ceasing activity, this stopping the rush, this halting of busyness….it’s worship.

It’s obedience.

It’s humility.

It’s trusting God to take care of my little world and the whole wide world without me, and realizing just this: the world spins on and moves along even when I take a break.  This is the shocking revelation that I need. It’s God, not me, that keeps it all going.

Without the rest, we wouldn’t really get very far anyway.  Oh sure, it seems to make sense.  Do laundry on Sunday so the basket isn’t so full on Monday.  Write on Sunday so Monday morning there’s less pressure to rush to the computer and type away.

And yet, how far would we really make it before we crashed?  How long could we go before our pride exploded and we forgot that God is really the one in control, so we ended up on our face in a forced and painful humbling?

The truth is that moving forward doesn’t require perpetual movement.  It demands moving when God says, “Move” and resting when God says, “Stop.”

After all, how far would Elijah have managed to run without the food, drink and rest the angel brought him before his journey?  (1 Kings 19).  How long could the disciples have ministered, traveling on foot and mobbed by crowds, without time away with Jesus?

How could Israel have made it to the Promised Land without seasons of rest by the mountain of the Lord, beside clean water, and with peace from their enemies?

Even when they were pursued by the Egyptians, facing opposition and recapturing, still God didn’t tell the Israelites to grab their handmade weapons and armor and strive against the enemy.

Instead, “Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’” (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT).

Stand still.  Just watch.  Stay calm.  Let the Lord fight for you.

Just rest in Him.

But they couldn’t stand there forever, looking at the Red Sea and never crossing over.  They had trusted God in the waiting.  Now they could trust Him in the moving:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:15 NLT).

So it is for us.  We trust Him in the waiting and in the resting.  We trust Him in the moving and the battle …. and the laundry, the dishes, the to-do lists, the emails, the phone calls, the meetings, the appointments, and the deadlines.

Originally published 1/14/2013

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 this month as I Practice Sabbath-Keeping’?

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

 

 

Even When I’m Disappointed, I’ll Love You Anyway

Suffice it to say, hiding the evidence didn’t work.

I found her hidden stockpile, proof of mistakes that she’d stuffed into a corner of her bedroom.  I suppose she thought somehow that it’d eventually disappear or I’d just never notice.

But she underestimates a mom’s ability to discover truth (she never did figure out those two eyes in the back of my head)….so we stand there in that corner confronting the reality.

She had done something wrong and I had proof.lamentations3

But instead of bringing all that trouble straight to my feet and asking for help, she’d hidden it away and hoped I wouldn’t notice.

I tell her I’m disappointed, tell her I expected better, tell her she needs to overcome.

But then, when she’s tearful and we’ve retreated to the sofa, we pray for God’s help.

I hope she’s really listening, deep-down-take-this-to-heart listening, because I don’t want the words to just shoot through her before pushing their impression down into the soft clay of her heart.

When you’re in trouble, when you mess up, when you’re hurt, when something is wrong….

come

to

me.

Yes, your first impulse will be to run and hide, no different than Adam and Eve crouching among the garden leaves.

Yes, I’ll be sad at first.  Yes, I’ll be disappointed.  Yes, we’ll have to deal with it and that might be messy and hard and it seems easier in the moment to just avoid that pain.

I understand this.  Haven’t I stashed sin before, as well, desperately hoping that no one would notice—that HE wouldn’t notice?  I’ve been Eve in that Garden before, too, and I know how it feels to hold my breath and hope that God walks on by.

But God picked me to be your mom and that means sticking with you and helping you learn and overcome  That means loving you right on through the tough times.

Mary Kassian tells me:

When we face trouble, we are to pour out our hearts to him.  Everybody trusts something; we must learn to trust the Lord, our eternal rock (In My Father’s House).

Trust.

Is that what this is about?

If she trusted me enough to love her through anything, wouldn’t she come to me even when she’s done something wrong because she knew I’d help her?

If I trust His love that much, wouldn’t I run breathlessly to His feet, just run, no looking back, no hesitation, because He is the only One who can handle the mess I’ve made?

Yes, He’ll be disappointed.

Yes, He’ll be sad.

But what hurts His Father-heart most of all is when we trust in ourselves, trust in others, trust in programs, trust in Google searches and advice columns and friends and substances and self-help books, but we don’t trust Him.

The Israelites in that wilderness fretted over destination, clothing, enemies, food, water.  They whined.  They strategized.  They rebelled.  They wheeled and dealed.

The Psalmist writes

they did not believe God
    or trust him to care for them (Psalm 78:22 NLT).

Troubles rose up, maybe even just minor annoyances like dietary preferences, and they never did just learn to run to God right away.

He was angry.  The Psalm says, “When the Lord heard them, he was furious” (Psalm 78:21 NLT).

BUT

He still loved them.  And even when they abandoned Him time after relentless time, He always stayed faithful.

God’s love for them, His love for us, isn’t feeling love, temporary love, conditional love.  The Hebrew word that Scripture uses over and over is “Chesed”—it’s the loyal, steadfast, covenant mercy and love God has for His people.

They didn’t trust Him, didn’t bring their troubles to Him and they messed it up over and over and over, but He still went on caring for them abundantly, miraculously, faithfully.

He rained down manna for them to eat;
    he gave them bread from heaven.
They ate the food of angels!
    God gave them all they could hold. Psalm 78:24-25

He rained down meat as thick as dust—
    birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore!  Psalm 78:27

So, I rest there with my daughter, my arms wrapped all the way around her and I say it one last time:

Come to me.  Do not hide away or lie or run.  Bring it all to me.

And I hear God rustling the leaves in my life, calling to me just as He did Adam and Eve, asking me to trust Him enough to bring everything, bring the sin, the mess, the worry, the fear, the troubles big and small, bring it all to Him.

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

Thanksgiving thoughts while watching the Antiques Roadshow

“He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”
Psalm 107:9, NIV

There’s that moment on every Antiques Roadshow when the appraiser pushes his glasses back on his nose and leans in with excitement.  “So, as to value . . .” he starts.  And the item’s owner looks up with cautious anticipation.

This expert, who has spent all day telling people their precious items aren’t really rare or one-of-a-kind, that their genuine treasures are copies and fakes, that grandmother’s fascinating brush with fame never really happened—this expert places a breathtaking value on an object.

A thing.

A material substance made a treasure because it is unique, somehow special because of the famous person who owned it, or so wrapped up in story and history that the ordinary, everyday is transformed into a retirement fund.

I’ve seen rugs on that show worth more than my house.

At times, I watch that “thing” now deemed a treasure and I wonder—what is hidden in my garage and stuffed in my closets?  What bookshelf conceals my children’s college education?  In what closet could I discover my dream home?

But, I’ve been through all my stuff and it is actually just stuff, perhaps priceless to me and valuable in my life for its utility or the way it connects me to the past, but nothing an appraiser would lose his breath over or call his buddies about.

So then I wonder, how is it that we human creatures can look at tangible objects formed of wood or stone or cloth and so arbitrarily place on them a price tag?thanks8

This one picture costs as much as feeding a village of people in Africa.

The cost of this antique toy could build a well in a village with no clean water.

Seems like something’s wrong here.  Seems like the way we assign value is a little off.

That’s one of our problems, really.  We don’t really know value when we see it most of the time.

And so when God pours Himself out for us and blesses us with good gifts, we sometimes mistake them for not enough and seek out everything that is “other” to fill us up instead.

We keep telling Him we are empty and hold our hands out to Him for more, more, more.  He offers us all that is good and true wrapped up in His presence, but it seems so simple and plain.  Not enough.

Meanwhile, we gorge ourselves on everything we believe will satisfy the deep yearnings and cravings in our hearts.

We pour into our hearts:

success
possessions
romance
position
friendships
successful kids
knowledge
food
entertainment

And it just seeps out of our souls, flowing out as quickly as we can dump it in.  We don’t value what God offers as much as this worldly buffet of good eats around us.  It’s ingratitude.  It’s sin.

Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts:

Satan, he wanted more.  More power, more glory.  Ultimately, in essence, Satan is an ingrate.  And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden.  Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity – the sin of ingratitude.  Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave . . . Our fall was, has always been, and always will  be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.  We hunger for something more, something other.

It’s like the Israelites trekking through the desert.  God rained down on them wafers of honey they named manna,  miraculously, faithfully and abundantly every night as they sleep.  It’s tasty and satisfying, nutritionally able to sustain them through long desert marches for 40 years.

And yet, they complained.  “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted” (Numbers 11:5, NIV).

Nothing they owned, used or ate in Egypt was free.  Everything came at high cost to them–they exchanged hard labor and 370+ years of bondage in slavery for fish and a salad bar.

Seems like something’s wrong here.  Seems like the way they assigned value was a little off.

Adam and Eve were not satisfied with the fruit God had given them for food.

The Israelites were not satisfied with the manna God miraculously laid at their feet every day.

We aren’t always satisfied with God’s Word, with His promises to us, with His provision, with His direction.

Yet, Scripture assures us that God is fully satisfying.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”  (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV).

“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.  When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:27-28, NIV).

He “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5, NIV).

Have you felt empty, thirsty, hungry, plagued with holes that never allow you to be filled—not with joy, not with peace, not with hope?  We are offered the Bread of Life and buckets of Living Water drawn up from a well that will quench our thirst eternally.

We are offered Christ.  Christ abundantly sufficient for our needs.  Christ the once-for-all sacrifice to cover all our sins.  Christ our Peace.   “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).

Originally published as God’s Indescribable Gift on 4/11/2011

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 © 2013 Heather King

Learning the Magic Word

It’s just something we moms do.  Generations and generations of moms.  I bet Eve was saying it to her sons as she raised her growing family in the wilderness outside the Garden of Eden.

Mom hands child juice cup.

Child takes juice cup.

Mom says, “Say ‘thank you.’

Child repeats, “Thank you.”

Parental instruction complete.

Some of us even begin teaching our children the sign language for thank you before they can actually talk.

Occasionally we vary our strategy and style.  As our kids get older, we do less verbatim repetition and more prompting.

Mom asks: “What do you say when someone gives you something?” or “What’s the magic word?”

Child, totally engrossed in cup of juice or with cookie picks up on the cue and says, “Thank you.”

We’re teaching gratitude here, establishing the discipline of thanks and appreciation.  We’re slowly shocking the human propensity toward selfishness and self-centeredness into the reality that when people do nice things for you, it’s not because you deserve them or you’ve earned them, but because of their generosity and grace.

Maybe we never grow out of this lesson.

Even when Jesus healed ten lepers and sent them on their way to purification and restoration with their families and with society, only one returned to give thanks.  Grown men responded to a miracle from God with forgetfulness and distraction, a shrugging of the shoulders and a moving on to other things.

Like any mom, I’m engaged in the training now, teaching my kids to be grateful for breakfast cereal, snack time, birthday presents and treats at the frozen yogurt shop.  I’m reminding them to take the time for gratitude and to put thankfulness into words.

And then sometimes my preschooler just remembers on her own.  She plays with her toys and in a moment of inspiration lifts her blond head and announces, “Thank you, Mom!  Thank you for taking me to the park today.”016

Anything could spark her little heart to give thanks.  Thank you for buying me these new shoes at the store.  Thank you for getting my favorite cereal.  Thank you for finding my Barbie in the basket.

The beauty here is the spontaneity of her gratefulness.  She’s been thinking about the gift and her response isn’t to collapse into selfishness or obsession with the gift itself, but to recognize the giver.

In Desiring God, John Piper wrote:

Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth.  This cannot be done by mere acts of duty (p. 80).

There are times, of course, when the worship we offer up to God isn’t matched by our emotions.  We give praise when circumstances are hard.  We give thanks before the victory.

Sometimes we choose to worship in advance of the blessing and simply in faith, knowing that we can’t see God at work now and don’t know how He could possibly deliver us from such impossible circumstances, but still we know He is God.  He is faithful.  He is able.  He is worthy.

So we “offer up a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15 HCSB).

Maybe we come out of duty and out of discipline, repeating the words “thank you” because that’s what you say and this is what you do.

Then slowly God changes our heart.  The shifting of our eyes from our problem to our God, the deliberate rejection of “self” and the purposeful choice to worship opens our eyes to His wonder and glory.

That’s how it goes sometimes.  We say thanks because thanks is what you say—and thus we truly become grateful.

The danger, though, is that we say the words without the heart change.

God said of Israel:

these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service—yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote (Isaiah 29:13 HCSB).

Worship that remains duty or discipline and never progresses beyond that isn’t ultimately worship at all.  It’s rules and rote, tradition, expectations, religion, service order, church etiquette or outward show.

At some point, those lessons in thankfulness have to dig deep roots in our heart and start producing shoots of life and eventually fruitfulness for harvest.Psalm 3011

That’s when we respond in spontaneous delight.

It’s when our hearts just can’t keep the joy inside, not when He’s so worthy, not when God is so gracious, not when His mercy is so overwhelming and power so awesome.

Like David, we sing:

You turned my lament into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
so that I can sing to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise You forever (Psalm 30:11-12 HCSB).

We’ve moved beyond praising because it’s required.  Now we praise because we can’t possibly keep silent about our God.

And so we worship.ShabbyBlogsDividerJ

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 © 2013 Heather King