Nobody wants to drink lukewarm water in this house: One Word 2015

My daughter tells me her water is “soggy.”

And my other girl chimes in: “I don’t want this old water.  I need fresh water.”

Then she bops her head up and down for emphasis: “Really.  It needs to be FRESH.”

I pick up the cups of water I poured just two hours before and dump them into my plants.  At least foliage appreciates lukewarm refreshment.

Or, perhaps I’m feeling particularly savvy that day, and I pop in an ice cube before handing these daughters the same cups of water.

Either way, my youngest girl guzzles it down and lets out a satisfied “ahhhh” in gratitude.

It’s fresh water she wants.  Cold.  Newly poured.

Even if the water she has isn’t stagnant or stench-ridden, hot or unhealthy, it sat just a little too long in that Tinkerbell cup and now she needs new.

Normally, as a mom I protest a little.  Two hours is not enough time to de-freshen water, I tell her.  It’s not ice-cold, but it isn’t ‘soggy,’ or undrinkable.

It still prevents dehydration.jeremiah 31

But my soul takes this in because surely she’s discovered what I’m longing for.

For “Fresh.”

My Christian walk isn’t stagnant or rancid, but still I long for ‘new’ and ‘more.’  I don’t to walk out of 2015 the same way that I walked in.

Each year, I choose this One Word and a Scripture to meditate on all year long to focus my heart, mind, and life.

The first year, I chose “Breathe” (Psalm 62:2 MSG).

Then last year, I spent 12 months meditating on “Presence” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

These were spiritually life-changing for me, not just a random New Year’s task that seems so important on January 1st but loses all meaning by January 31st and not just a cute catchphrase that is temporarily inspiring but ultimately meaningless.

So I prayed over this year’s focus and searched Scripture until I read it:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

Re-fresh.

Already, I relax into the grace of this.

So often, New Year’s is a time of heaping burdens on our backs.

Resolutions.  Reading plans.  Prayer plans.  Devotional plans. Health plans.  Schedule plans. Clutter plans.  Relational plans.  Educational and job plans.

This is what we want to do, do, do this year.

Piled on top of that are the bricks we haul around of recrimination, regret and self-condemnation because of all the plans that failed last year and the year before that.

There are the projects we didn’t finish and the resolutions we let fall by the wayside.  There are the 15 pounds we were supposed to lose.  There is the study we started and never completed.

So, we carry “Failure” from one year onto the next and chain the new year before it’s even begun.

What if we started Fresh?

What if we let the past go and we eased into the new year with devotion and relationship with God instead of any agenda or program?

What if we take this in?

he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).

He does the work.  He leads; we follow.  He offers us the cool water to drink and we guzzle it down and let it drench our parched soul.

The beauty in this promise is that as we pour out encouragement, blessing and generous helpings of grace to others, He will refresh us.

Proverbs 11:25 tells us that God looks after the generous.  He refreshes those who refresh others.

Not with leftovers or scraps or day-old water, either, but with the deeply satisfying draft of the Living Water only He can give.

I can try to fill up from the tap of the world or the tap of self-accomplishment or the tap of taking care of me, me, me.

But it will be ‘soggy’ and old, tepid and bitter.

It’s Jesus I need.  And not the Spiritual experiences I had ten years ago or five years ago or yesterday.

I need Jesus—Fresh—-now—-newly poured into my life day after solid day.

This year, I am praying that God will do this work:

Refresh me with His Word: (Psalm 19:7).

Refresh me with rest in His presence: (Psalm 23:2-3).

Refresh me through service: (Proverbs 11:25).

Refresh me through a pure heart (Acts 3:19).

Refresh me with His people (1 Corinthians 16:18).

It’s strength we need for the weary days and revival we need for the dead and broken within.  It’s a filling up so Christ is splashing over the tops of our lives so that we can pour out to others with generosity and grace.  It’s rest in His presence rather than perpetual motion, and it’s new, cold, Living Water we need from it’s only true Source.

Refresh us, Lord, we pray.

prayerrefreshing

 

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 book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 07/07/2012: When It’s H-O-T

Hiding the Word:

Ask anyone in my town, in my state, along my coastline.  It’s hot.

H-O-T.  Hot.

It’s the subject of everyone’s Facebook posts. What’s my status?  Sweltering, melting, sweaty, sticky.  Hot.

The weather monopolizes our conversation, dominating our small talk.  How are you doing?  And then we look, really look at the person and realize there’s no need to even ask.  They’re wiping their hand across their forehead, pushing away sticky strands of hair and catching droplets of sweat before they drip in our eyes.

And it’s all we can think about.  Forget how we’re feeling or how our jobs are going or how our kids are enjoying their summer.  All we know right now is that we’re just too plain hot.

But this morning I sat by the side of the local swimming pool while my daughters took swimming lessons.  Parents on benches against the wall fanned themselves, but the kids were dipped in coolness. They were comfortable, happy, relaxed and refreshed.

Even when they stepped out into the heat, my dripping wet girls were still cool from their time in the water.

Watching my daughters so refreshed despite the heat around them, I saw a reminder of God’s satisfying grace, His presence and the cooling comfort of His Word amidst the heat of our lives–the stress, the busyness, the fires of attack. He’s the Living Water, from which we drink deep and long, enjoying the true quenching of our up-to-now insatiable thirst.

In his famous sermon, Peter promised the crowd that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:20). We throw ourselves (belly-flopping or diving or jumping into a cannonball) into God and, totally immersed in His presence, we are refreshed and renewed.

So, this week, I’m meditating on a verse that reminds me that Christ is in me, my source of joy and hope and peace regardless of the heat of life:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38 ESV).

Weekend Rerun:

His Sufficiency
Originally posted on May 2, 2011

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 2:9

I love sharing in this devotional ministry with you, hearing what God is teaching you and how it connects up with the verses and thoughts on my heart.  Journeying together with you these past few months has been a blessing to me.  But, To be honest, there are still some days I struggle with knowing what God has called me to do right here and now in my life.  Insecurities can do that to us, trap us in a pit of questions and uncertainty and prevent us from moving forward in obedience.

You see a great deal of the time I feel ill-equipped to sit across the computer from you and share from my quiet time moments.  I’m no bestselling author, conference speaker, or Greek scholar.  This is just simple me being real with you, a girl totally in love with God’s Word and how alive it is, how relevant for our lives, how powerful to change our hearts and minds.  These are the confessions of my heart, but maybe you’ve felt some of these insecurities in your life, too.

Have you ever felt a little insufficient?  A little overwhelmed by the task God’s given you and a little underwhelmed by your ability to perform it?  A little intimidated by the confident ministry of those around you?

Today, I’m thinking about insufficiency, mostly because that’s how I feel at this moment.  I’m sitting at my kitchen table after a hectic morning of running errands, forgetting something at the store, heading back to another store, returning all the library books and then finding one more book hidden in the car after I got home, and finally running late to pick up my daughter from school.

My youngest girl dug into the Easter candy that mysteriously moved from the inaccessible high counter where I had put it onto the very accessible  floor. (Do “Not Me” and “I Don’t Know” live at your house, too?)  There are candy wrappers dotted across the carpet.  Fortunately, she doesn’t actually like to eat the candy; she just enjoys unwrapping it, so next to the candy wrappers is the chocolate all lined up in a perfectly straight row.  (That chocolate is still good, right?  Because I totally just ate some.)

The laundry is spinning in the washer and dryer and the clean clothes are piling up on the sofa all fresh and warm and in desperate need of folding and putting away.

Meanwhile, I have not yet exercised this morning, but I am excusing myself because I’ve been coughing up my lungs themselves for the last few days.

So, sick, stressed, tired, forgetful, surrounded by mess, and feeling bad for not exercising, I have waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table for some time with God.  And I need it because I’m so insufficient for all this.

Fortunately for me, my favorite Gospel event is all about insufficiency!  Jesus had been teaching a crowd of people all day and healing the sick among them.

By the time evening came, the disciples were worried.  They told Jesus, “’This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’  Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”  Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV). 

The disciples certainly didn’t have enough food for a crowd of over 5000 people, but Andrew did find one little boy with a small lunch: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9 (NIV).

“How far will they go” indeed?!  This boy’s lunch was utterly insufficient.  It probably embarrassed Andrew to even mention it.  Yet, this little boy with a lunchbox willingly and in great faith gave 100% of what he had to Jesus.  Even though it was insufficient, he trusted that Jesus could use his offering.

Certainly, this boy could have worked in his own strength to catch some more fish or bake some more bread.  He could have collected small change from everyone in the crowd and trekked into town to order take-out.

Still, despite his best efforts and hard work, he would never have provided enough in his own strength.  Likewise, I can’t be enough in my own strength either. If I’m relying on my talent, skills, hard work, and ingenuity, I’ll just fail.  I can only give my all to Jesus and trust that He will multiply my offering.

Besides, it was the insufficiency of the boy’s gift that allowed Jesus to be glorified.  If that boy had somehow gathered enough food for the crowd, the story would have been about his ingenuity and generosity instead of Jesus’ compassion and miraculous power.

Even if every attendee had packed a little snack and the disciples had pooled the resources to form a buffet line, Christ would then be a master organizer or administrator—not a God of compassion who sees our need and provides for us in abundance through His great power. 

Our insufficient offerings give Jesus the opportunity to be glorified.

God never expects us to be sufficient in our strength and abilities.  If we are strong enough, together enough, talented enough, smart enough, or equipped enough in our own strength, there’s no room for God to show off in our lives and receive the glory He deserves.   The gifts we bring just become less about Him and more about us.  

And let me assure you that God is powerful in our weakness.  Sure, my day has been crazy and I don’t feel up to the task of managing it all, but after some time with God’s Word and some moments spent sharing with you, I can look around with new eyes and see Him at work. 

My beautiful girls have just bounced through the kitchen after playing outside on a bright and sunny day.  They were chased in by an “enormous, gigantic, ugly black spider” and now they are cuddling together all stretched out and relaxing, little blond curls and wisps of hair falling out of ponytail holders and hair clips.  My baby girl fell asleep peacefully for a nap, tired from all of her effort spent unwrapping chocolate and the house is quiet for these few moments.  A candle is burning.  The last load of laundry is spinning away.   One of the caterpillars we’ve been studying just emerged from her chrysalis and is waving her new wings back and forth, testing them out, feeling the weight of them. 

God is always sufficient in our insufficiency.

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

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

Weekend Walk, 06/09/2012: Searching for Water in the Desert

Hiding the Word:

For the last few days, we’ve been waving at each other from the rear view mirror of our cars.

At least that’s how it feels.  My husband is performing in a show for the next two weeks.  The girls and I have been flitting here and there to concerts, day trips, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments and more.  Plus we’ve started rehearsals for a show of our own.

I kiss my husband goodbye in the morning before he grabs his bagged lunch from the counter.  The next thing I know, I’m waking up to the sound of his car pulling into the driveway past my bedtime.

It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  His show will end.  Our summer groove will settle into place.  We’ll have other weeks of craziness, but nights of rest as well.

But just for today, just for this moment, I am thinking how nice it would be to chat with him about his day and talk about how all this whirlwind of life is going.  If we could talk without children interrupting, fighting, or protesting their bedtime routine, even better.

It’s why I would have failed as a Navy wife–my need for the continuance of connection.  One night without the phone call after his work day, one day when he’s up early and home late, and I miss my husband.  I make determined efforts to sit by his side and hear what happened in his life that day.

Because if you don’t make the time, it generally doesn’t just happen on its own.

How long can you go before you miss God?  How many days can slip past before you feel the void of His presence and mourn the loss of connection with Him?

If we’re walking in intimacy with our God, shouldn’t we miss Him the moment we’ve started a day without prayer or the instant we’ve flown past our quiet time?

On the busiest days, when a snack (preferably chocolate) and mindless television seem the answer to my tired body and exhausted mind, that’s exactly when I long for God the most. Because if I don’t make the time, it doesn’t just magically happen.

It’s the day when I missed my afternoon cup of tea over Scripture because I’m out and about with frenetic activity that I flop into my dining room chair in the first moments after my kids’ bedtime.  I take one long indulgent sip sweet hot tea, open up my Bible and pray, “Dear Jesus, how I’m desperate for You today.  Pleas meet me in this place.”

Since life is crazy, I’ve chosen a verse for the week that reminds us all of how desperately we should seek after intimacy with God:

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water
(Psalm 63:1 NLT)

This time with God isn’t a luxury.  It’s not a bonus, an extra, an amenity, or a perk.

It’s life itself.  It’s as simple as desperation for water for a soul in the desert.

Let’s seek Him earnestly this week, making it an active and engaged pursuit of His presence.  Making it a priority, not just nonchalantly hoping a few minutes of unstructured time will show up in our day.  Because if we don’t make it happen, it never will.

Weekend Rerun:

Well-Hunting in the Desert

Originally posted on July 20, 2011

 

“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs”
(Isaiah 35:6-7).

When we first moved into this house, we quickly discovered something unnoticed during the walk-through or inspection.  The water smelled like rotten eggs. As a result, I was brushing my teeth with bottled water and holding my breath while taking a shower.

Like any good 21st century homeowners, we Google-searched our way into solutions and scoured the Internet for answers.  Which we found.  Simply open the top of our well and shock the water with a $1 jug of bleach.

Sounded easy.  Until we realized that somewhere on this half acre of land is the top to a well that we could not find.  We knew it had to be there.  We had running water and didn’t pay the city for it.  We consulted drawings of our property and sheepishly hinted to the water specialist (whom we had to call since we couldn’t fix the stinky water ourselves, having not found the well), that we really would like to know where the well was hidden on this land of ours.  He wasn’t helpful.

We have a guess as to where it might be, but we are in some ways still well-hunters, searching for the source of our water, assuming its presence without seeing it ourselves.

I’ve been well-hunting recently in real life, too.  Like Hagar, wandering in the wilderness, running low on provisions, hopelessly lost and not able to go back and yet not certain where to go instead. Out there in her wilderness, “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19).

“Open my eyes,” I’ve prayed, “to the well of your provision, to the fountain of Your presence, to the water of sustenance and hope. I want to see the well You have provided in this desert place.”

Because I’m parched and yet I feel like I’m drowning.

It’s so often God’s way to bring water and with it so much more to those in His care.

To Hagar, a well in the desert that she hadn’t seen before.

To Elijah, “bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water” to sustain him on a 40-day walk to the Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:6).

To the Israelites who complained, “there is no water to drink!,” He brought forth water from rock.

For the redeemed, He promises that “water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (Isaiah 35:6-7).

To the woman sitting next to a well with a jar on her shoulder, Living Water drawn up even without a bucket (John 4:10).

Out of nothing, amidst wilderness and desert, even burning sand, He brings water that heals, sustains, provides, and gives life eternal.  He brings it in abundance with bubbling springs, streams filled so quickly that they are pooling, water we could drink that would satisfy us forever.  All out of nothing.

We could spend our lives sitting by clear-running streams of water, never risking the travel through the valley.  We could pitch our tents there by the known source of water and never lose sight of the well, never grow uncomfortable, never walk far enough away to be uncertain of provision, never venture one step into the wilderness.

But we’d never make it to the Mountain of God like Elijah and the Israelites.  Never know the God Who Sees like Hagar.  Never know the Giver of Living Water like the woman at the well.

So, as we scan the horizon and see only barren land, rocks of gray and dusty earth cracked from lack of rain, we search for the well.  It’s there.  Maybe hidden now so that we cannot see, but God works in the hidden places to bring us provision at the exact moment of our need.

David searched for the well in the desert.  He wrote:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

and

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2)

David, my fellow well-hunter, knew the best way to find the hidden water, even when his soul was downcast, even when he thirsted for God’s presence like a deer dehydrated after too long a journey away from the stream.

  • Put your hope in God.
  • Praise Him even in sorrow.
  • Remember what God has done.

He says: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you (Psalm 42:5-6).

Years ago, Caedmon’s Call sang these words: “Down in the valley, dying of thirst.  Down in the valley, it seems that I’m at my worst.  My consolation is that You baptize this earth when I’m down in the valley.  Valleys fill first.”

Valleys fill first, my friend.  When God brings the water, when He rains down “showers of blessing” in their season (Ezekiel 34:26), the valley is where you will want to be so that you can fully receive all that He pours over your head.

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.

Well-Hunting in the Desert

“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs”
(Isaiah 35:6-7).

When we first moved into this house, we quickly discovered something unnoticed during the walk-through or inspection.  The water smelled like rotten eggs. As a result, I was brushing my teeth with bottled water and holding my breath while taking a shower.

Like any good 21st century homeowners, we Google-searched our way into solutions and scoured the Internet for answers.  Which we found.  Simply open the top of our well and shock the water with a $1 jug of bleach.

Sounded easy.  Until we realized that somewhere on this half acre of land is the top to a well that we could not find.  We knew it had to be there.  We had running water and didn’t pay the city for it.  We consulted drawings of our property and sheepishly hinted to the water specialist (whom we had to call since we couldn’t fix the stinky water ourselves, having not found the well), that we really would like to know where the well was hidden on this land of ours.  He wasn’t helpful.

We have a guess as to where it might be, but we are in some ways still well-hunters, searching for the source of our water, assuming its presence without seeing it ourselves.

I’ve been well-hunting recently in real life, too.  Like Hagar, wandering in the wilderness, running low on provisions, hopelessly lost and not able to go back and yet not certain where to go instead. Out there in her wilderness, “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19).

“Open my eyes,” I’ve prayed, “to the well of your provision, to the fountain of Your presence, to the water of sustenance and hope. I want to see the well You have provided in this desert place.”

Because I’m parched and yet I feel like I’m drowning.

It’s so often God’s way to bring water and with it so much more to those in His care.

To Hagar, a well in the desert that she hadn’t seen before.

To Elijah, “bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water” to sustain him on a 40-day walk to the Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:6).

To the Israelites who complained, “there is no water to drink!,” He brought forth water from rock.

For the redeemed, He promises that “water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (Isaiah 35:6-7).

To the woman sitting next to a well with a jar on her shoulder, living water drawn up even without a bucket (John 4:10).

Out of nothing, amidst wilderness and desert, even burning sand, He brings water that heals, sustains, provides, and gives life eternal.  He brings it in abundance with bubbling springs, streams filled so quickly that they are pooling, water we could drink that would satisfy us forever.  All out of nothing.

We could spend our lives sitting by clear-running streams of water, never risking the travel through the valley.  We could pitch our tents there by the known source of water and never lose sight of the well, never grow uncomfortable, never walk far enough away to be uncertain of provision, never venture one step into the wilderness.

But we’d never make it to the Mountain of God like Elijah and the Israelites.  Never know the God Who Sees like Hagar.  Never know the Giver of Living Water like the woman at the well.

So, as we scan the horizon and see only barren land, rocks of gray and dusty earth cracked from lack of rain, we search for the well.  It’s there.  Maybe hidden now so that we cannot see, but God works in the hidden places to bring us provision at the exact moment of our need.

David searched for the well in the desert.  He wrote:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

and

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2)

David, my fellow well-hunter, knew the best way to find the hidden water, even when his soul was downcast, even when he thirsted for God’s presence like a deer dehydrated after too long a journey away from the stream.

  • Put your hope in God.
  • Praise Him even in sorrow.
  • Remember what God has done.

He says: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you (Psalm 42:5-6).

Years ago, Caedmon’s Call sang these words: “Down in the valley, dying of thirst.  Down in the valley, it seems that I’m at my worst.  My consolation is that You baptize this earth when I’m down in the valley.  Valleys fill first.”

Valleys fill first, my friend.  When God brings the water, when He rains down “showers of blessing” in their season (Ezekiel 34:26), the valley is where you will want to be so that you can fully receive all that He pours over your head.

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.