A Week of Thanks: Forget Not

Forget Not
Originally Published 04/08/2011

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12

Today, a dear friend of mine is celebrating with her husband, a job after a period of unemployment.  She is rejoicing in God’s faithful provision, His heart so full to pour out blessings and to meet needs as we look to Him for help.

Today, I remember that same celebration happening in this home.  God brought water forth from rock, something out of nothing, during months of unemployment.  Then, the phone rang on a busy spring day and I stood motionless in the kitchen, keeping all children quiet, as my husband accepted a job—provision so perfect, timing just right.  In that moment, a spotlight shone on God’s activity in our lives and we saw with unmistakable and rare clarity God at work.

Now, years later, I sometimes still remember to thank God for this job wrapped up in paper decorated with God’s handprints and topped with a bow showing off God’s grace.

I remember wanting so desperately to see God in the midst of our need, waking up in the still-dark hours of a frigid morning, leaving children and husband asleep, and driving to church in silence on Resurrection Day, when God forever declared His ability to bring life from death.  Then, with fellow Christ-seekers, crowding around a rough wooden cross stuck into ground, singing a hymn, reading Scripture, watching the sun rise over the river.  Hearing the pastor: “God knows why you have come here and what it is you are looking for. ” I caught my breath.  God met me in the sunrise at a cross.

I remember.

I flip through the pages of my journal from that time, each covered margin-to-margin with God’s promises, encouragements, and challenges—to trust Him, to stop whining and complaining, to be grateful, to know He is in control.  It’s a record of my spiritual growth, tracked on paper like marks on a wall showing how tall I was then, and then, and then—a growth spurt caused by required dependence on a God so dependable.

I remember.

I pull out my favorite pair of shoes, white and covered in colorful flowers, shoes I bought after my husband’s first paycheck at his new job.  Bought on clearance at Target, they were inexpensive and yet totally precious to me.  My “James-got-a-job shoes.”  Every time I wear them . . . I remember.

Jennifer Rothschild wrote, “Remembering is a discipline that takes effort and focus.”

After all, I’m a forgetful creature.  I walk into a room with an agenda, quickly get distracted by toys and books.  Mess, mess–always mess.  How do we make so much mess?  So, I tidy and busy myself (while whining and complaining) and then leave the room empty handed.  My original purpose long forgotten. What did I come in here for again?

I trek to the grocery store with one item I really and truly need and walk back out with ten items in my cart, none of them the one vital ingredient for tonight’s dinner.

I start sentences and then somewhere in the middle lose track of thoughts and words and trail off into silence.

Worrying at night over bills and forgetting past provision.  Fretting over children and forgetting His past activity.  Stressing over a decision and forgetting how He led me through dark and shadowy places before.

It’s an enigma really.  Words spoken and things seen that I long to forget replay in my mind with troubling regularity.  Life necessities and God’s promises that I simply must remember, I forget with ease and . . . troubling regularity.

I’m not alone.  Over and over, in broken record style, God told the Israelites to remember what He had done, to recollect the miracles of their past, and over and over they forgot.   He tells them, “You have forgotten God your Savior.  You have not remembered the Rock, your fortress” (Isaiah 17:10, NIV).

They tried, really tried.  Joshua commanded 12 men from 12 tribes to hoist 12 stones from the dry bed of the Jordan River onto their shoulders, carrying reminders of a miracle as the nation crossed through.   Stone memorials to

“be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:5-7, NIV).

My special shoes are the same (I prefer my shoes to large river rocks!).  Physical reminders of a God-intervention.  A sign on my life-road saying, “God at Work!”

Ann Voskamp wrote this week about this world breaking us apart.  Chips, broken pieces and cracks in our soul made by the daily and the difficult.  Kids fighting.  Bills due.  Sick husband.  Dying mother.  Lost mail.  No job.  Shattered relationship.  Wandering child.  Missed appointment.   Trust destroyed.  Marriage dead.  Dinner ruined.

The world chips and chips away at us.  “It never stops dis-membering” (Voskamp).

In the Psalms, David sometimes talked to himself.  He bossed his emotions around a bit and told his mind and soul what to do.  He said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV).

And so today, I am commanding my soul to remember.  Not just the broken and chipped me, made less by the world’s incessant bullying.

No, “all that is within me,” altogether me, every bit of brokenness restored and made whole.  As Ann Voskamp said, I am re-membered and re-collected through forgetting not.  It’s a discipline and a choice to live the here and now in view of past blessings and provision.

********************************************************************************************************

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

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This, Part I

Not long ago, Staples ran a series of television ads with an Easy button.  With one click, impossible office tasks became possible, even a breeze.  Nothing was beyond the power of the Easy button.

Today, I’d like to have one of those snazzy red buttons that makes life simple and stress-free.  Perhaps, though, what I really need is a Start This Day Over button or a Crawl Back Into Bed and Reawaken Feeling Great button. Maybe a Clear Foggy Brain button would help me or a Keep House Clean While Children Play At The Same Time button.  The most effective one, though, would be a Noise Cancelling/Make Everything Quiet So I Can Think For Two Seconds button.

I’ve tried all the buttons on the five remote controllers for my television, all to no avail.

So, here I sit typing away and feeling oh so inadequate to be sharing anything with you at all.  Normally, by this time in the day, I’d have written this post already and moved on to some other writing projects in between activities with my kids or washing dishes or laundry or other tasks.  This morning, though, as I tried to eke out time for writing, I found that I was running through all three daughters’ names plus the names of my two cats before I finally matched the right name with the child in front of me.  That didn’t bode well for finding the right words to share with you.

I’ve prayed all day for God to “help me out here!”  I pulled up to my prayer times and asked for some energy, clear-headedness, patience, well-behaved children, and a mess-free house with a side order of divine inspiration.  Do I want to Up-Size that?  Yes, please!

I’m still waiting on that order.

A sucker for advertising, I have also eaten several KitKats hoping that it would “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that KitKat bar.”  The mini KitKat bars that fit into plastic Easter eggs, though, don’t really give a break so much as an extended blink.

In the middle of:

running unexpected errands
calming an overly tired baby who didn’t sleep last night and awoke screaming early this morning
scrubbing cat vomit out of the carpet from every single room in the house
organizing upcoming events and starting blankly at my to-do list and calendar wondering how realistic cloning myself by next month would be
asking my children in “Mommy’s nice voice” to play quietly and then watching them sprint across the house screaming at the tops of their lungs less than two minutes later . . . over and over and over again
and hearing an old Motown song rumbling around in my head in mockery: “Momma said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, my Momma said”

—-somewhere in the midst of that, God’s been speaking truth to me. 

Lesson 1: My Feelings Can’t Be the Boss of Me

I’m not really feeling “it” today and by “it,” I mean anything.  Today, is a runaway kind of day, a quit all activities and retreat to a cabin in the woods kind of day, a shirk overwhelming responsibilities and live a life of selfish indulgence kind of day.  Yet, while feelings can be an indicator, they can’t be our basis of truth, our filter for reality, or the impetus for our actions.

Standing on the shores of the Jordan River, Joshua instructed the people to Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5).  Even with God’s promises ringing in their ears, overwhelming physical evidence of impossible circumstances must have been daunting, even paralyzing.  A nation of people stood on one side of the Jordan River, the Promised Land on the other.

Then, God asked them to literally step out in faith.  “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap” (Joshua 3:12-13).

The priests had to actively step into the river before anything could happen.  They could stand as long as they wanted on the banks of the Jordan, waiting for God to make a way through that water before they dipped their toes.  Yet, He’d given them a way.  He’d asked them to walk into it.  He asked them to act now even though they likely felt fear or doubt rather than confidence or excited anticipation.

As the toes of the priests sunk into the mud, the river water parted, just as God had promised.

Standing on the banks of my own Jordan, I can allow fear or doubts to paralyze me.  I can give up and walk away because the river is too wide and deep to cross.  Or, I can step where God has told me to walk regardless of my feelings and allow Him to part the waves of my circumstances with the power of His Presence.

*******************************************************************************************************

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

Following the Leader

 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”
Joshua 1:9

The first time I saw my husband, he was on stage, performing in a college production of Jane Austen’s Emma.  A week later, I walked into a Christian ministry group on our college campus and saw him for the second time, leading worship at the front of the room with his guitar.  One more week after that, I was at the front of the room myself, playing the piano for that very same worship team.  That was over 13 years ago and for all those years, this same man has been my worship leader.  He still is every single Sunday morning at our church.

When you follow one person for all those years and know them so well, it becomes easy to trust their leadership, to anticipate what they are going to do, and to follow their cues.  Some people have commented before that they think it’s so cute how I watch my husband intently while he’s leading the music, eyes full of doting adoration.  Now, surely some of that is from love, but there’s something else, too.  I’m watching his hands to see what chords he’s playing on the guitar and watching to see when he steps close to the microphone to sing.  I’m following the leader.

A few months ago, for one brief day, I had to follow a different leader in a worship program and it stretched me a bit.  Without even practicing together, I had to sit down at the piano and follow the speed of her hand directing me and the sound of her voice leading me.  It took effort and concentration on my part to accompany someone new.

That experience made me wonder how Israel must have felt after following Moses all over the wilderness for 40 years and then waking up one morning to find Joshua in charge.  It must have been more than a minor adjustment to follow the new guy.

And then I wondered how Joshua himself must have felt about receiving the baton from Moses.  What did he think about being the follow-up act to the guy who marched the people out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and brought the Ten Commandments down after a mountain meeting with God?  If God asked me to do that job, I honestly might have passed on the offer.

After all, Moses had almost passed on God’s offer of ministry to him.   Years before at the burning bush, when God called Moses to lead the Hebrew nation out of Egypt, Moses actually said, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13).  He felt ill-equipped for a job so big.  He said he had “never been eloquent” and was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:13).

Ultimately, Moses was a powerful leader for the wayward nation and saw God more intimately than almost any other human ever has.  But that weakness of his, that tendency to wonder if God could come through against overwhelming odds caused problems for him later on.

When the Israelites arrived at Canaan about two years after taking that first step out of Egypt, God told him to “send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites” (Numbers 13:1).  Moses’s instructions to these 12 spies, though, were a little more hesitant than God’s.  He said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many.  What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? (Numbers 13:17-19).  Does it seem like Moses is wondering just how possible the conquest of Canaan would be?  Sure enough, ten of the twelve spies came back announcing that there was no way they could take over that land, no matter what God had promised.

All the spies except Joshua and Caleb.

You see, Joshua believed that if God said it, then it would happen.  He placed his confidence in God’s ability and not in his own. The first time we read about Joshua in Scripture is in Exodus 17:9-10: “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’ So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered.”

Notice that Joshua just obeyed.  He didn’t argue about the task, tell Moses why he was incapable of performing it or explain why someone else would be better equipped for the job.  And any of those responses would have made sense.  As far as we can tell, Joshua had no military or leadership training.  One day, Moses just walked up to him and said, “make an army and defeat the enemy”—all in one day’s time.  Talk about impossible expectations!  Yet, Moses told him what to do and Joshua did it.

Maybe that’s why after the Israelites spent another 38 years of running circles in the wilderness, God chose Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land.  Because this time God told Joshua what to do and Joshua did it—without arguing over insufficiency or asking God to send somebody else.

God gave Joshua one consistent message when he called him to be the new leader for the nation.  Three times in Joshua 1, God says, “Be strong and courageous” and ultimately tells Joshua,  ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

And Joshua believed God and obeyed Him—no matter how ill-equipped he felt for the task.  Instead of focusing on his own weaknesses and insufficiency, he focused instead on God’s powerful ability and faithfulness to His promises. He believed that God equips those He calls.

Priscilla Shirer in One in a Million writes:

Is there something in your life right now that God has called you to do, but you just don’t have the courage to engage in?  What do your excuses reveal about yourself and how you feel about God?  For each of Moses’s excuses, God had a response.  It took time, but He assured Moses that human inability could never override God’s divine ability to work through him and to accomplish His purposes.  How much different, though, to be a person like Joshua who doesn’t need coddling and explanations?  Look what God can do through someone who receives His instructions not just personally . . . but fearlessly.

If God has given you a child to care for, He will equip you in your ministry to that child.  If God has asked you to teach, He will equip you as a teacher.  If God has asked you to be a caregiver, He will equip you with strength and compassion.  If God has asked you to be a witness for Christ to an unbelieving family, He will equip you with a testimony of grace and give you courage to be a light in a dark place.  If He has given you a vision for a ministry far beyond your ability to produce, He will equip you with the skills and ministry partners you need in every situation.

We simply need to trust in a God whose word is always true.  If He said it, we can believe it.  No, we’re not capable enough to be used or sufficient enough for the circumstances we face.  But He is.  Therefore, we don’t need to be afraid or discouraged because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

**********************************************************************************************************

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

Forget Not

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12

Today, a dear friend of mine is celebrating with her husband, a job after a period of unemployment.  She is rejoicing in God’s faithful provision, His heart so full to pour out blessings and to meet needs as we look to Him for help.

Today, I remember that same celebration happening in this home.  God brought water forth from rock, something out of nothing, during months of unemployment.  Then, the phone rang on a busy spring day and I stood motionless in the kitchen, keeping all children quiet, as my husband accepted a job—provision so perfect, timing just right.  In that moment, a spotlight shone on God’s activity in our lives and we saw with unmistakable and rare clarity God at work.

Now, years later, I sometimes still remember to thank God for this job wrapped up in paper decorated with God’s handprints and topped with a bow showing off God’s grace.

I remember wanting so desperately to see God in the midst of our need, waking up in the still-dark hours of a frigid morning, leaving children and husband asleep, and driving to church in silence on Resurrection Day, when God forever declared His ability to bring life from death.  Then, with fellow Christ-seekers, crowding around a rough wooden cross stuck into ground, singing a hymn, reading Scripture, watching the sun rise over the river.  Hearing the pastor: “God knows why you have come here and what it is you are looking for. ” I caught my breath.  God met me in the sunrise at a cross.

I remember.

I flip through the pages of my journal from that time, each covered margin-to-margin with God’s promises, encouragements, and challenges—to trust Him, to stop whining and complaining, to be grateful, to know He is in control.  It’s a record of my spiritual growth, tracked on paper like marks on a wall showing how tall I was then, and then, and then—a growth spurt caused by required dependence on a God so dependable.

I remember.

I pull out my favorite pair of shoes, white and covered in colorful flowers, shoes I bought after my husband’s first paycheck at his new job.  Bought on clearance at Target, they were inexpensive and yet totally precious to me.  My “James-got-a-job shoes.”  Every time I wear them . . . I remember.

Jennifer Rothschild wrote, “Remembering is a discipline that takes effort and focus.”

After all, I’m a forgetful creature.  I walk into a room with an agenda, quickly get distracted by toys and books.  Mess, mess–always mess.  How do we make so much mess?  So, I tidy and busy myself (while whining and complaining) and then leave the room empty handed.  My original purpose long forgotten. What did I come in here for again?

I trek to the grocery store with one item I really and truly need and walk back out with ten items in my cart, none of them the one vital ingredient for tonight’s dinner.

I start sentences and then somewhere in the middle lose track of thoughts and words and trail off into silence.

Worrying at night over bills and forgetting past provision.  Fretting over children and forgetting His past activity.  Stressing over a decision and forgetting how He led me through dark and shadowy places before.

It’s an enigma really.  Words spoken and things seen that I long to forget replay in my mind with troubling regularity.  Life necessities and God’s promises that I simply must remember, I forget with ease and . . . troubling regularity.

I’m not alone.  Over and over, in broken record style, God told the Israelites to remember what He had done, to recollect the miracles of their past, and over and over they forgot.   He tells them, “You have forgotten God your Savior.  You have not remembered the Rock, your fortress” (Isaiah 17:10, NIV).

They tried, really tried.  Joshua commanded 12 men from 12 tribes to hoist 12 stones from the dry bed of the Jordan River onto their shoulders, carrying reminders of a miracle as the nation crossed through.   Stone memorials to

“be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:5-7, NIV).

My special shoes are the same (I prefer my shoes to large river rocks!).  Physical reminders of a God-intervention.  A sign on my life-road saying, “God at Work!”

Ann Voskamp wrote this week about this world breaking us apart.  Chips, broken pieces and cracks in our soul made by the daily and the difficult.  Kids fighting.  Bills due.  Sick husband.  Dying mother.  Lost mail.  No job.  Shattered relationship.  Wandering child.  Missed appointment.   Trust destroyed.  Marriage dead.  Dinner ruined.

The world chips and chips away at us.  “It never stops dis-membering” (Voskamp).

In the Psalms, David sometimes talked to himself.  He bossed his emotions around a bit and told his mind and soul what to do.  He said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV).

And so today, I am commanding my soul to remember.  Not just the broken and chipped me, made less by the world’s incessant bullying.

No, “all that is within me,” altogether me, every bit of brokenness restored and made whole.  As Ann Voskamp said, I am re-membered and re-collected through forgetting not.  It’s a discipline and a choice to live the here and now in view of past blessings and provision.

********************************************************************************************************

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