The Pumpkin Rule

We have this long-standing family rule. My husband tells my daughters every year at the pumpkin patch before we scramble onto the tractor for the hayride out to the fields:

“You have to pick a pumpkin you can carry….yourself.…as in Mom and Dad aren’t carrying your pumpkin for you.”

They nod their little blond heads in understanding, but when my daughters hop off the back of that hay-covered wagon, their eyes scan the fields for the site of the perfect pumpkin.

And perfect typically means more than just deep orange (not green) and no rot (if they could find one without dirt on it, that’s a bonus).

Perfect usually means “big,” too.

Sometimes, like this year, one unique child will search for half an hour in that field only to pick the tiniest of all miniature orange pumpkins.

Inevitably, though, another child combines rolling, scooting, dragging, and bent-knee carrying complete with huffing, puffing, grunting and groaning to transfer her chosen pumpkin onto the tractor.

Or they’ll blink large, beautiful blue eyes in my direction and ask, “Mommy, can you help me carry this?,” hoping that somehow Mom missed hearing Dad’s speech this year.

Bigger is better.  That’s what they think sometimes.

I need more, more than I can truly carry, more than enough, more than can fit, more than is comfortable…..

As our daughters grow, so do their chosen pumpkins.lamentations3-24

Perhaps it’s time to amend the rule because “what you can carry” seems like a dare to choose the largest pumpkin they can maneuver out of the field and onto the tractor.

I take this dare at times, too.

Because I feel needy at times, that’s why.

In need of energy, of supply, of vision, of joy, of inspiration, of affection, of deliverance, of encouragement, of peace….and yes, of even more and more than that.

Scripture promises us this—The Lord is our Chelqi—-our Portion.  It’s one of His names, part of His character, the implicit promise dependent not on what He does or has done, but on who He is at the very core of His being.

That’s what it says in Lamentations 3:24:

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him”  (NASB)

and Psalm 73:26:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (NASB)

and again in Psalm 16:5:

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot (NASB).

He is our Portion.  He is Enough.  He is exactly what we need, how much we need, at the exact moment we need Him.

We needn’t try to fill our arms with more than we can carry, fearful that He’ll give us what we need today, but not tomorrow.

In the wilderness outside of Egypt, God rained down supernatural manna for the Israelites six days a week, enough for each day with extra to set aside for the Sabbath once a week.  And He told them this: Gather enough for today.

Just for today.  Trust me for tomorrow.  I’ll provide again.

Some of them tried to stockpile and store, thinking their own personal planning and feelings of security trumped God’s instruction.

But He meant it…daily bread.  This much, and no more, is perfect.  Trying to live off yesterday’s harvest leaves us with rotten manna, worm-filled bread, starvation for sure.

So, tomorrow and every single day we return for fresh filling and fresh provision, a perpetual looking to the Lord our Portion for all that we need.

And He is ALL we need.  We trust that He isn’t stingy or absent or moody and inclined to provide one day, but not the next.

We don’t gorge ourselves in the fields of life, choosing other methods of filling our void and our emptiness, lumbering back to the tractor with our arms filled with everything that looks so perfect, but never fully satisfies.

He is enough.  His provision is perfect in our seasons of fatigue and sorrow and desperate need .

Charles Spurgeon said it this way:

It is not “The Lord is partly my portion,”nor “The Lord is in my portion”; but he himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance.  Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire.  The Lord is my portion.  Not his grace merely, nor his love, nor his covenant, but Jehovah himself.”

Oh yes, sometimes I think what I need is rest.  I need peace, Lord bring me peace.  God, give me joy.  Father, provide for this need.

But it’s not that He gives me a portion; He is my portion.

It is God Himself that I need, all that I need, everything that I need, and He is enough for me.

Originally posted September 27, 2013

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 © 2014 Heather King

 

And Then What Happened? Part II

“Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts.  You will listen carefully”
Psalm 10:17

You can read “And Then What Happened? – Part I” here

Part II: Fretting Is Not the Same as Praying

I have some things in my life even now that I find myself pleading with God about.  Some suspense-filled situations, some impossible dreams that I’d like to see God miraculously fulfill, some questions about what will happen next.  Is everything going to work out the way I desire?  Will God take care of this need?  What is it that God has planned for me?

The suspense is killing my suspense-hating heart.

So, my prayers begin to take on some urgency.   More than that, when I pray, my words sound more like a child begging for candy in the checkout line rather than the trusting requests of a content child.  “Please, please, pleeeeeeeease, may I have this?  Please will You answer this request the way I would like?  It would all be so perfect if You would work out all these details so this could happen.”

What I am asking for is not as selfish as a chocolate bar or as petty as a $2 Princess camera that does little more than click when you press a button—the novelty items that my children find oh-so-tempting.  I’m asking out of need and out of a weighty burden for someone else.  It’s not what I’m requesting that’s the problem; it’s how I’m asking.

Then, changing my praying attire from pig-tailed toddler to business-suit lawyer, I present my case to God.  “This is the evidence showing why the verdict should go my way.  I have exhibits A, B and C to back me up here. Please decide in my favor.”

As a backlash to my heart’s desires, my rational side gets involved in this debate.  Attempting to protect myself from disappointment, I say to my heart, “These situations are impossible.  Period.  End of Story.  There is no way that things will work out the way you desire.  The circumstantial evidence against you is just too overwhelming.  You’ll just have to settle for less.”

I accept those highly logical arguments for a time, but knowing that God can do anything, even the impossible, I fall down to my knees, squint my eyes, clasp my hands together and go back to pleading.  “Oh, please, please, please, please . . . ”

Years ago, I found myself “praying” this way most of the night every night.  Begging and arguing and explaining to God.  I talked and talked and talked some more to Him.  When I’d said everything I had to say, I just said it all over again.

Was this truly prayer?  Or was it instead simply fretting in front of God’s throne?

It’s not that God requires us to pretend we’re all right even when we’re not, to hide our disappointment or anger or fear and act like faith-filled super-Christians.  David and Job and Habakkuk all poured out ugly truth in their conversations with Him.  Psalm 51:6 tells us, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts” (NKJV).  With God, we can always be honest.   He knows what’s hidden in the dark corners of our heart anyway.  Telling Him how we feel, however, invites Him to do something about it, to speak truth back to our hearts.

I wasn’t just being honest with God, though,  I was begging and pleading.  I was doing all the talking.  As Chris Tiegreen writes, “Don’t confuse pleading with God and believing God.  Both are appropriate, but only one qualifies as faith.

Instead of having faith that God heard my request, that He would work on my behalf, always working things out for my good and for my benefit, that He was not only able to do the impossible, but He was also willing, even desirous, to bless me and shower me with affection—instead of praying with that faith, I was pacing back and forth at His feet, more focused on my request than on my Answer.

That explains why Philippians 4:16 wasn’t working out for me: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  I was making prayer and supplication, I was letting my requests be made known to God, but I prayed out of anxiety and worry rather than with gratitude and worship.  Chris Tiegreen also wrote, “Faith allows us to rest,” and this certainly wasn’t resting.

I had justified my pleading, telling God I was willing to be the persistent widow, presenting my case to the Judge day after day after day until He granted my request.  Yet, somehow persistence for me had become inextricably linked with a lack of faith.

So, I followed a suggestion and created a penny cup.

Needing a physical way to move prayers out of my heart and into God’s hands and then leave them there, I placed an empty mug on my desk.  Every time I found a penny (which happens more often than you might realize!), I placed the penny in the cup and prayed for that one specific request.  I didn’t spend hours repeating my petition every night.  I really only prayed about it when I moved the penny out of my hand and into the pile of other coins.  And I was persistent.  My pile of copper grew as I laid my request at His feet time after time.  Yet, I didn’t pick any of those pennies back up.  I left them there.  I didn’t linger, arguing, explaining or pleading.  I said a simple prayer, “God, please work the miracles necessary in this situation.  I need Your help.  Thank You that You work on my behalf.  Amen.”   Clink went the penny into the cup.  Away I walked, trusting that God could take care of my need.

Somehow, even though what’s going to happen is still unseen, even though the circumstances I’m in still remain unresolved, I feel less plagued by suspense.  Instead, I feel reassured.  I will likely continue to groan at to-be-continued television episodes and I will surely still flip to the back of the book to see how it ends before reading the first page.  I hate cliffhangers and suspense and dramatic tension as much as ever.

About our Christian walk, however, Paul wrote, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him” (Colossians 2:6).  He tells us what will happen next.  It ends the suspense and resolves all cliffhangers.  We will keep living our lives in Christ today, tomorrow, and the day after that.  All of the specifics may be unclear, but the bottom line remains the same.  We live in Emmanuel, God With Us.  And when I pray in faith rather than begging and pleading, I remember that the God who is with me will take care of it.  He’ll walk me through.   It may or may not be what I’ve desired or planned, but it will always be in His capable, trustworthy, compassionate hands.  “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25-26).

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