What My Monday Soul Needs to Know

My resolution for Monday:

1chronicles

Photo by just2shutter; 123rf.com

To breathe in and breathe out, deep taking in of peace and pushing out of contentment.  No catching my breath in anxiety, hyperventilating stress, and rushing to the point of breathless exhaustion.

Just breathe.  Move through the day without giving into the push, push, push of “faster, more, do, accomplish, check off the list, get it done.”  Walk as I vacuum, walk as I put away the clothes.  Make that phone call without simultaneously folding underwear and t-shirts.

And spend time with Jesus for relationship not for task-completion.

The temptation is there, of course.  It’s the curse of Monday.  All of the spillover from last week, the messages to read through and answer after taking a Sabbath from all of that “connection” over the weekend, and the new tasks ahead clamor at me for attention.

What was that email I needed to send?
Wasn’t there someone I needed to call?
Was I behind on my reading, my commitments?
Didn’t I need to print this for the week and pack that for tonight and fill out that form and mail back that letter?

It’s a million tiny things nipping at the heels of my Jesus-focused life, yipping and yapping until I turn my attention from Him.

And then when I do sit down to rest at His feet, dear Father, oh my Father, I am so thankful to be in Your presence ….

Still I fail.  Still I pop up every few minutes for the ding of the laundry and the starting of the meal, and the reminder of something else needing to be done.

My time with Him becomes stilted, becomes stale, becomes necessary without being the fresh oxygen in my soul I need for very survival and beyond that, the abundant life He promises.  Necessary only because it’s an assignment, like homework for school.

It’s more like: Read the assigned Bible reading.  Check.  Read the passage in the study for this week’s group discussion.  Check.  Complete the other Bible study . . . while interrupted and racing against the clock:

Must…..finish…..so…..I…..can….check….this….off…..my…..list….and……do…..other…..things.

I wonder if He’d prefer if I just skipped it all rather than flop down at this kitchen table half-hearted and thinking about 50 things clearly more important than He is to me in that moment.

This isn’t relationship.  This is business.

In his book, Prayer, Richard J. Foster wrote:

“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love.  He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to him.  He grieves that we have forgotten him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence…

We do not need to be shy.  He invites us into the living room of his heart, where we can put on old slippers and share freely.  he invites us into the kitchen of his friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun.  He invites us into the dining room of his strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight….” (p. 1)

Maybe that’s my problem.  I’ve been barely acknowledging His presence at times at my kitchen table.  Perhaps I should take up His invitation to hang out in His kitchen.  To eat in His presence and share in good company and the intimacy of friendship, not on my terms, but at His offering.

At the Last Supper, the apostle John leaned against Jesus, drew in close and rested against the Savior, even while realizing that Jesus was about to be betrayed (John 13:25).

Why be more like Peter, who in shame and frustration, perhaps even anger at the destruction of his plans and agenda, certainly in fear…”followed him (Jesus) at a distance” (Matthew 26:58) after Christ’s arrest.

Sure, I’m always following, I’m a faithful kind of girl, trailing after God always.  But sometimes I’m just stepping into the imprint of His footsteps rather than walking by His side, following out of obedience only, mostly out of distracted busyness and duty.

This year, I’m pursuing the presence of Christ In August, that means I’m learning to say, ‘no.’  I’m saying it today: “No” to the stress of do and do.  “No” to hyperventilating heaviness of breathless rush.

Today I resolve to breathe in and breathe out, to linger here at the table with Jesus and lean into His presence.  No rushing up from the meal to pursue my own agenda.  No skimming through the page of Scripture to get to the end of the assigned reading.

Leaning into Jesus.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Then walking side by side with Him into my day, not tripping along behind: holding His hand and chatting along the journey.

Originally published October 15, 2012

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

My middle daughter never ceases to remind me that “it’s not fair” that her oldest sister gets more new clothes than she does.

The truth is, though, that I usually do search the racks for at least one outfit or top or pair of shoes for each of my girls, including the ones whose wardrobe is primarily made up of hand-me-downs.

So, as I hunted about town for bargains on cute warm weather clothes for my seven-year-old, I rejoiced at finding a treasure for my five-year-old, as well.

It was purple, one of her favorite colors.
It was a sweatshirt, and she prefers play-clothes to dresses and fanciness.
It was made by L.L. Bean, so it was fashionable and high quality and something I probably couldn’t afford if I hadn’t found it at a kids’ consignment shop.

We had a winner!

I carried it home with excitement, knowing for certain that she’d love it and feel special because I thought of her and not just her older sister.

At first, her reaction lived up to my expectation.  For me?  Wow, thanks mom!  Purple? I love purple! 

Then she tried it on.  And then she promptly took it off.

“It makes me look fat,” she said.

I’m sorry.  What did she just say?

I took some training once that told me not to be reactionary, to just take anything children say calmly and not respond with hysteria.

I failed.  I reacted.  Big.

What can I say?  My five-year-old just announced that she thought she looked fat in a sweatshirt.

Now, before anyone starts blaming this on me, let me just say that I’m very careful not to complain about my weight, outfits, hatred of diets and exercise, need to look skinny, or discomfort with shorts in front of my daughters.

She didn’t get this from me, but she got it from somewhere.  It simply cannot be innate for a five-year-old child to worry about her weight or how heavy she looks in a sweatshirt.

So, after lecturing her on the fact that she’s beautiful, perfectly healthy, in no way fat, and how that isn’t the most important thing anyway .  . . . and continuing this lecture long after I knew she had stopped listening . . . I still struggled.

It made me wonder how this skinny child who wears pull tabs, safety pins and belts to keep her clothes on could ever think she was fat?

Yet, how have I —how have any of us—twisted and distorted our perspective so much that we see ourselves with equally faulty vision?

We think we are perfect.  We think we are failures.  We think we are better than others.  We think we are the worst at everything.  We think we are ugly.  We think we are unusable.  We think we are tainted, soiled, dirty, unwanted, unlovable, stupid, foolish, embarrassing, hopeless . . .

Unfortunately, we’re confined to a funhouse mirror version of reality on this planet and it’s a fight to see clearly in a world that perpetually distorts truth.

It’s the media, our family, our friends, and our enemies. It’s the twisted definition of success.  It’s the times we were abused.  It’s the hurtful words we never get over.  It’s pride.

Yet, Paul gives us hope when he wrote: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV).

It’s part of the promise of heaven!  We’ll be forever free from the lies and distortions and all of the untruths that clouded our perspective of the world, other people, and ourselves.

We’ll see truth.  We’ll see it perfectly.

Still, as difficult as it might be, Paul challenges us not just to accept the lies this world forces on us with a complacent shrug of the shoulders as we await heaven’s perspective.  He tells us:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:2-3).

This is a call to action.  Fight now against the pattern of this world!  Press in to God and ask Him to renew your mind.  “Think of yourself with sober judgment.”  That means, see the honest truth.  Don’t think you’re better than you are.  And don’t think you’re worst either.  Know how God has made you, gifted you, and designed you and be happy with that.

And what is it that we are?  John tells us exactly:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:1-3).

We’re not just children of God, we’re also in progress to perfection. You’re beautiful now, created and loved by God, and yet I can’t wait to see you in heaven, when He’s perfected you and you’ve become all that He intended you to be.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #3, John

I clearly remember the first time my then future-husband, James, told me he loved me. He sat next to me on the couch, held my hand, looked deep into my eyes and said those three magic words.

I then walked to the bathroom and threw up.

Romantic, huh?

It’s partly because it wasn’t just some sweet nothing that people in a relationship say to each other when their hearts go pitter-patter.  We had decided when we started dating that James would be the one to say, “I love you” first and that he would say it when he felt confident I was the one he wanted to marry.

So, “I love you” really meant, “I’m committed to you and to our relationship.  This isn’t casual dating; it’s getting ready for marriage.”

Hence, my reaction.

Now, we’re just two days away from our 12th anniversary and “I love you” is something we say all the time.  In fact, I often stop and think about what I’ve just said or heard when we hang up the phone or kiss goodbye in the rush of the morning.  I want to make sure the significance isn’t lost in the banalities of life or the commonness of overuse.

I love you.

That means I’m committed to you and to us.  I care about you because of who you are and not what you do.  Whatever we’re facing in life, we’re doing this together.

We all need a reminder at times of what love really means because we take it for granted too often.  Or, perhaps, we need the reminder that we’re loved because sometimes we just don’t feel it’s true.

That’s why the last person I’d choose for my Spiritual Dream Team is someone who always reminds us of God’s love—the apostle John.

In Part One, I told you how we all need an encourager, a Barnabas to help us keep going and never quit.

In Part Two, I told you that we need an intercessor, a James, who will wear holes in his jeans from time on his knees praying for you.

We also need someone to remind us all the time that we are loved.  Fully, truly loved.  Known intimately, through and through, but loved just the same.  Loved so greatly that nothing we can do can alter God’s affection for us.  Passionately loved with such intensity that Jesus would die just for us.

Job Posting #3: John

  • Must remind us on the tough days and in the moments when we don’t feel it’s true that God loves us.
  • Must spur us on to love one another with more grace so we can be a living example of God’s love in the world.

John couldn’t forget that God loved him.  Jesus had chosen John for his inner circle of three intimate disciples.  At the Last Supper, John had actually leaned against Jesus.  He was the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13).  Jesus thought so highly of John, that He entrusted His mother into John’s care as He died on the cross (John 19:26-27).

It’s no surprise, then, that John’s primary message in his writings is that God loves us and that we should love others. 

God’s love was John’s consistent theme.  He wrote:

  • “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
  • “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
  • “God is love . . .  We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19).

God didn’t just love us; He loved us first and He loved us sacrificially.

In his book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart, Robert Morgan wrote about one of John’s most famous statements of all:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)

According to Morgan, when the great evangelist D.L. Moody heard a fresh young preacher named Henry Moorehouse speak on John 3:16, he said,  “I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much.  This heart of mine began to thaw out, and I could not keep back the tears.  It was like news from a far country.  I just drank it in” (p. 53).

We can’t take such extravagant love for granted.  We can’t depersonalize it and assume that although God loved the world, He doesn’t necessarily love us–you and me—personally and passionately.

We need someone to remind us during stress, fear, trial, and even in the midst of the mundane that God’s love for us never fails.

But John doesn’t stop there.  He says, God loves you . . .so, love one another.

It’s a natural progression.

We all have the opportunity to be the physical, tangible reminders of God’s love in a world starving for His affection.

John tells us: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Yes, he says, “You who are loved, love others.”

How can you show God’s love to others today?

You can read more about this topic here:

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