A Secret-Keeper Spills the Secret

The trouble is that I’m a secret-keeper, not a secret-teller.

So, I’ve struggled with how to write this post for days, and most of this morning I’ve sat at a blank computer screen and then walked away again unable to find the right words.

I’m the opposite of my middle girl, who just spills out good news as soon as she hears it, just so excited to share she can’t possibly hold it in one…second…..longer!

I like to hold on to secrets for a while and then I get used to holding on to them and then I don’t know how to tell them even when it’s time.

Yet, my husband assures me that you can’t keep secrets forever and this one, well, it’ll tell itself soon if I don’t share.

So, here goes.

In December, my husband and I both spoke the word: “Incomplete.”  Our family wasn’t full, wasn’t finished, and there was someone still missing.  So we prayed and prayed, trying to discern what that meant for us.  Baby, foster care, wait for a future adoption?  Or were we wrong and this was it?

We prayed separately.  We prayed together.

Finally, we just sat holding hands and my husband said the words: “God, we want what You want, but we need You to show us clearly what that is.”

A month later, I gave my husband a present for our wedding anniversary—a baby blanket—for use in October.010

When we ask for God’s guidance, sometimes we must wait with determined patience for the neon sign.

Then other times, it seems like He says, “I was hoping you’d ask me that!” and the answer is right there before you’ve even finished praying.

On Sunday night, we told my daughters the news at the dinner table.  My oldest girl asked, “Am I allowed to tell my friends?”

My middle girl didn’t even think to ask because of course she’s going to tell her friends!  By the time I picked her up from school the next day, I’m fairly certain she’d told every single person she’d passed in a hallway, classroom, lunch line, and on the bus.  She’s telling people all over town, everywhere we go–school, church, ballet…

It’s joy; it’s just sheer joy bursting out of this little person!  And I love that about her.  I don’t ever tell her any news I don’t want broadcast to the whole town, but I love it about her just the same.

Sometimes God does that for us surely, giving us news that’s not meant to be contained or hidden away or kept to ourselves for one single moment.  It’s the “good news” and it’s meant to be shared.  Christ has come!  He has risen!  He has saved!  He has delivered!  He has changed me and I tell you, I just won’t ever be the same, not ever, ever again.

When Jesus spoke truth to the hurting Samaritan woman at the well, she ran into town and told everyone she could find about Jesus and what He had said.  It was her overwhelming urge to tell the good news that brought salvation to her people:  “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did'” (John 4:39 HCSB).

But if she had waited, they would have missed Jesus sitting at the well that morning.

Some secrets aren’t the joy-kind, though.  They aren’t the spilling over with good news kind, not the new baby news or the salvation and deliverance testimony.

Eventually, we’ve got to give in and tell somebody, not everybody, but somebody who is safe and full of grace and who is willing to pray us through it all.  Because the secrets of shame that we lock away can ultimately lock us right up in this prison of darkness and loneliness.

Maybe we’ve grown so used to just keeping that secret that over time the secret is really keeping us, and we need to put it to death by putting it into words.

Or perhaps you’re like me, someone who holds on even to blessings and good news for just a little while.  It gives us joy just to pause and consider what God has done.

Like Mary, receiving the gift of mothering God’s Son and watching Him grow, who was “treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:19 HCSB), I like to ponder and treasure.

And sometimes that’s important.  Sometimes we’re so quick to tell and then the emotional high passes and we forget the beauty of this grace and the grace of this blessing.

Yet, even a secret-keeper like me needs to tell the good news eventually so that this isn’t just part of my life; it’s part of my testimony.

Do you have something to add to your testimony today?  Maybe you can find a friend and share the secret.

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

Father’s Day Surprise . . . or not so much

Last Father’s Day, my daughters and I shopped together for Daddy.  When we arrived home, my middle girl burst into the house, ran over to my husband and announced that we had gotten him a game, but she couldn’t tell him which one it was because it was a gift.

Oh, the suspense.

Then for Christmas, the girls shopped for each other at the church’s Awana store.  At the end of the night before we had even clicked on our seat belts in the minivan, my daughter spilled the news to her big sister:  “I got you a doll!!!!”

“You spoiled the surprise again,” we all complained.

“But I didn’t tell her what color doll,” she explained, as if that was enough to keep her sister on edge until Christmas morning.

We’ve become accustomed to the missing element of surprise on holidays all because my little girl can’t contain her excitement over good news.

A few weeks ago, one of the women in my Bible Study group expressed a similar disappointment in the fact that we can’t surprise God.

And I get that.

There are moments when I wish God would look down and say, “Wow!  Did you see what she just did?” when He sees me serve in a way that brings Him pleasure.

God, all-knowing and all-seeing, though, isn’t surprised by what we do and say.

Yet, even though we can’t surprise Him, we can please Him.  He can delight in us and rejoice over us and even be amazed at the growth in our faith. We can bring him joy.

This is a precious thought to me.  We all know that God loves us because of his character, his faithful commitment to keep his covenant with his people and his unwavering grace that offers salvation to sinners like us.

But there are moments when we may wonder if we can please him as individuals.  Can he delight in us, as Scripture tells us he delighted in David (Psalm 18:19)?  Can we find favor with him, as Mary did (Luke 1:30)?

In her book, Knowing God By Name, Mary Kassian notes that there are two different words for the “love” that God has for us.  The one is “chesed,” which is “firmly rooted in God’s character, loyal, steadfast, unfailing love, kindness and mercy” (p. 38).  This is unfailing covenant love.

Yet there’s another kind of love—“ahab,” which means “to desire, to breathe after, to be inclined toward, to delight in” (p. 38).

We see both kinds of love at work in Jeremiah 31:3:

“I have loved you (ahab) with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (chesed).

Perhaps it’s true that we can’t surprise God, but clearly He can love us personally and passionately—not just because He made a covenant of loyalty long ago.

In fact, I imagine God, grinning ear to ear at times when he looks down with love and affection and sees our hearts motivated by love and our service to others, untainted by pride and self-glorification.

This is what causes our God to “take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17).

Indeed, it’s not the moments when we’re conscious of our good deeds that make God break out in song over us.  It’s not when we’re in it for accolades or when we are patting ourselves on the back for being such a nice person.

It’s never when we’re thinking, “Wow, I’m such a good Christian.  I’m such a loving person.  I’m so self-sacrificing.”

It’s never, ever about earning salvation or His loyal love by adhering to rules or performing well.  God’s covenant love is constant and dependent on His character, not on our works.

It’s not at all because God needs something from us.

Instead, God is amazed by our faith when we come to Him and admit that He alone can rescue us.  When the centurion, a man of power and authority, petitioned Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus “was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9 NIV).

This is the humility of acknowledging that our own good works or personal strength are not enough; our only hope is in him.

Psalm 147:10-11 similarly tells us that “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love”

In The Pleasures of God, John Piper explains that “it is because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace.  God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence… When I cry out, ‘God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!’ I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God’ (p. 187).

James said this with all his usual bluntness:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble'” (James 4:6).

God becomes a doting Father and rejoices over us when our hearts are truly humble and we are living lives that are intentional about glorifying Him, not ourselves.  This is when we please Him, maybe not surprise Him–but certainly bring Him joy and delight.

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