These are the treasures to tuck away in your soul

There’s a couple in our church who’ve been married over 60 years.

They’re in a season of jet-setting, of cruises and spontaneous trips up to New England to see the fall leaves.  They drive all over to visit family and seem busier now than I am with my four kids.

They’ve known sadness too.  They’ve had cancer, lost family members to cancer, even lost a child to cancer.

About a year ago, I passed by my husband as he was chatting with the husband-half of this dynamic duo and I heard these words of wisdom:

These are the best days, when your kids are young.  I remember when all our kids were little and at home and it was crazy, but those were the best days. 

I didn’t catch any other part of that conversation, but oh how those words dug down deep within me.

The other day, I said to my husband as we drove home from church, “We’re super close to the time when we have a built-in babysitter in our home.  Aren’t you excited?  I’m excited!”

It’s so true.  Our kids are getting older, getting ready to stay home alone and even babysit younger siblings.  It won’t be long (dare I say it?) before my oldest daughter can drive herself to activities.  What a day that will be!

This is a new era for me.  And it’s just the beginning.  I’m living a life without strollers, diapers, wipes, and juice boxes.

I should be excited.  This is a new season, and it’s a beautiful season.

But I truly treasure the wisdom from this church-friend of ours because even on days when I’m rushing from activity to activity, breaking up sibling spats, or navigating a grocery store with the ‘help’ of my preschooler, even on the days when I’m most exhausted or most overwhelmed, I hold onto his truth.

These are the best days.  I will never have them again. 

I may get to go on weekend getaways with my husband. I may be less of a taxi driver and more of a world traveler.

BUT OH THE BEAUTY OF THE NOW.

Oh the beauty of making this family and loving this family through its most significant character-forming, faith-building, family-identity-forming era.

This gentleman isn’t the only one who has given such a gift of wisdom and perspective.

Last Easter, a dear friend in my church, a joy-bringer and encourager, gave me a little gift with a hummingbird on it.

She said the hummingbird made her think of me, flitting about, always moving, so beautiful.

This was another treasured gift.

I wage this constant battle for balance.  I’m a doer who is happy doing, and that’s something God created in me and what God creates is good.

But I have to choose and discipline myself for rest, for beauty breaks and for finding room to breathe.

I know this about myself.  I know my weakest weakness and how easy it is to call me out for doing too much.

But she chose to see the beauty.

And the funny thing is I’d never seen a hummingbird, not in my whole entire life, until about two years ago when we planted butterfly-attracting plants in our back garden.

Turns out hummingbirds like these flowers too, and they hover all summer long right next to the window where I write every day.

They have become God-gifts to me, sightings and reminders that God sees me and knows me, He made me and He loves me.  He helps me know when to do and when not to do.  He guides me ever so gently and cherishes me the way He made me.

These are the treasures I receive from God’s family, just two of many gifts I’ve been given, words of hope or encouragement, wisdom and perspective.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel with my kids recently and we discovered this verse:

Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God (1 Samuel 23:16 HCSB).

David was on the run once again from Saul’s envious wrath, and he discovered that the city he was hiding in planned to betray him and him over to Saul. So David escaped with his men into the wilderness.

If ever he needed a treasured friend, it was in his wilderness season.

And Jonathan was that friend.

Can we be a Jonathan for another today?

Can we give a treasure away, encouraging someone in her faith in God, share wisdom, see beauty, give hope?

Originally published June 1, 2016

In Times of Need

They gave her some string, a box, some tape and a few other odds and ends and told her group of second graders to design a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day.

If they’d thrown in a bar of soap and a paperclip, MacGuyver might have been able to break out of a sealed room packed with explosives on a timed detonator with two seconds to spare.020

As it was, these kids designed a contraption that would entice the leprechaun, and then stick him to the floor when he stood on the tape, and finally capture him inside the box.

My daughter described the process to me and I asked her—Did you use peanut butter to lure him in?  Did you have a stick that would hold the box up and then collapse down when you pulled on the string?

“No, mom,” she tells me, “we didn’t have any of that.  We had to use only the things on the desk.”

I could design a successful leprechaun trap, too, if I had more supplies available.  After all, I have experience from all those years as a kid with hamsters that could escape out of the most escape-proof cage and then skitter around the house…until, of course, we laid out our peanut butter trap.

It’s one of those lessons of life, though, the making do with what you have, the realization that sometimes you face circumstances where you feel oh-so-insufficient to meet the demand.

The days are hectic, the to-do list long, and we just don’t have enough time.

The relationships are stretched to breaking, and we don’t have enough patience.

The bills are too much and those unexpected expenses keep dumping themselves down on us, and we just don’t have the money.

The need is overwhelming, weighing down on our shoulders until we’re pressed to the ground, and we just don’t have the strength, or the wisdom, or the experience, or the training, or the spiritual gifts, or the manpower.

I am, after all, only one person and I only have these two hands. 
There are, undoubtedly, only so many hours a day. 
The dollar, sad but true, only stretches so far.

And even though we’ve said it so often before (God will provide) and sang it out so many times (You are more than enough for me), still we feel the lack and still it’s hard to see past the need.

Yet, when Jonathan stood with his armor bearer overlooking the Philistine camp, they were just two guys out scouting a more powerful enemy.  It was crazy to think they could actually win a fight.

But Jonathan knew that whatever the statistics said or however the odds might have stacked against them, “Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6c).

Nothing can hinder our God from rescuing us and equipping us.  Not our lack of resources.  Not the strength of the enemy.  Not the circumstances or the “facts.”  Not our own weaknesses.

That’s why God’s people could walk away from slavery in Egypt without a battle.

Or why a teenage shepherd boy knocked a Philistine giant to the ground with a stone in a slingshot.

That’s why God built an army for David out of “men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of 400 men.”  This rag-tag army came as they were, refugees, runaways, and rejects, and they managed to evade King Saul’s “3,000 elite troops from all Israel” (1 Samuel 22:2 and 24:2).

And that’s why Jonathan and his armor bearer led their nation to a great victory against the enemy that day.  It started with two men stepping out in faith and trusting that God could save them whether they had 10,000 soldiers or just themselves relying on God to rescue them.

Rescue them, He did: terrifying the enemy until they scattered in fear and sending an earthquake at just the right moment.

We just don’t know what resources God will use to provide and deliver.  We can look at our projected income all we want.  We can stare at our day planner and refine the to-do list as much as we please.

We can consider every possibility and take into account the likelihood of this or that.

But if God has decided to deliver us, then deliver us He will…whether by many or by few…and nothing will stand in His way.

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