Not again!

hebrews 10-36

My son stepped out on the front porch this morning.

He was, thankfully, fully dressed (not just hanging out in his pajamas or, what’s worse, a t-shirt and diaper).

He even had on his winter coat and his wooly tiger hat.

But he was still wearing his Batman socks.  No shoes.  Just socks.

Who has time for shoes, anyway?  His sisters had just completed the morning dash: shoes, coats, hats and gloves, backpacks, lunch bags.

He tried to sneak outside with them at first.  He wove himself into the line and stared determinedly straight ahead, hoping to avoid my gaze and maybe escape my notice while he slipped out the door.

Of course,  I scooped him up out of the line and told him to say goodbye to the girls.

He cried instead, grabbing at their coats to either make them stay or allow him to go.

Finally, we stood at the door watching for the bus.  He pushed the door open, a little further, a little further, until he finally stepped out onto the damp porch, Batman socks and all.

Then the bus arrived, and he cried some more.

Now, this is not the first day of school.

We are now five months into this school year, halfway to summer vacation.

Still the mornings involve tears and wet Batman socks.

My son doesn’t just have to do the hard thing and say goodbye to his sisters.  He has to do it day after day, week after week, and it never really gets easy or even easier.

I realize as I watch him that sometimes I think obeying God means doing it once and being done.

There.  I obeyed.  Now can I go back to what I wanted to do?

Or I think that doing the hard thing is a one-time sacrifice.

There.  I forgave.  Now I’m over that.

Or, I fixed my attitude.  I took charge of my emotions.  I chose worship over self-pity.  I shut down the lies of insecurity.  I fought for contentment over jealousy.

All done.

But God sometimes asks us to do the hard thing and then to do it again and again.  He asks us to walk in daily obedience, as Eugene Peterson calls it, “a long obedience in the same direction.”

It’s taking that first step of obedience and then keep on keeping on, step after step after step without turning back or giving in or giving up.

We are dying to self daily and loading crosses onto backs morning after morning.

We are choosing forgiveness over bitterness today and tomorrow and the day after that.

I read about Moses meeting with God on that holy mountain:

The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up (Exodus 19:20 ESV).

Moses was an octogenarian mountain climber, scaling Mt. Sinai for this meeting with God’s glory.

But he didn’t just climb up once.  Oh no.

He gets up to the top and God tells him, “Go down and warn the people…..Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you….So Moses went down” (Exodus 19:21, 24, 25).

Then he had to go back up and draw “near to the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21)

Moses then “came and told the people the words of the Lord” and the Lord told Him to come up again (Exodus 24:12) so “Moses rose with his assistant Joshua and Moses went up into the mountain of God.”

Up and down and up and down Moses went.  God called him up.  Moses climbed up.  God sent him down.  Moses walked down.

At some point, I might have said “Enough, God.  I’m good here.  I’m too old and too tired for this.  Just tell me what you want me to know because I don’t want to do the hard thing anymore.  No more climbing the mountain.”

But Moses would have missed God’s glory if he had given up or refused to continue.

And the beautiful, most amazing thing is that while Moses came up, God also came down.

The Lord met Moses there on that mountain.

He does the same for us.

Yes, what He calls us to do might be difficult.

Yes, He might ask us to do it again and again and again.

But God reaches down to us and makes Himself accessible.  He is never an out-of-reach God.

He reveals His glory when we persevere and choose Him over the easy way, Him over quitting, Him over complacency, Him over everything and anything else.

We are not forgotten

psalm 20-6

For the record, I’ve never forgotten one of my kids at a store or anything.

But there was the time I left a child in the minivan.

When my youngest daughter was about four, she used to run into the house as soon as we got home and then hide behind the curtains.

She always hid in the same place.

She always thought she was both hilarious and amazingly creative for hiding in that same exact place.

And then when we’d all load out of the minivan and step into the kitchen, she’d jump out and ‘surprise’ us.

Only that night, I shut the minivan door and trudged into the house with my arms loaded down with stuff, stuff and more stuff after an evening at church.

A few minutes later, my husband asks, “Where’s Catherine?”

Well, isn’t she hiding behind the curtains like she always is?  Why hasn’t she jumped out to surprise us yet?

Actually, no, she was still in the minivan.

She never climbed out and never made any noise about it, so we’d left her locked inside alone and in the dark.

Not one of my prize Mom moments, I’ll admit.

My husband carried our baby girl in and she cried for a bit over feeling lost and forgotten and even a little afraid.  She wasn’t traumatized, though, (God’s grace right there!) and I’m not even sure if she remembers it ever happened.

I do, of course.

We’re slow to forget mistakes and easily traumatized by our own failures.

But I can still see her now, arms wrapped around Daddy’s neck, face buried in his shoulder, leaning into him in gratitude and relief because he had remembered her and he had come for her in the dark and carried her out of loneliness into a place of safety.

He saved her.

This week I read in my Bible:

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1 ESV).

God remembered Noah.

All those nights shut up in the smelly ark, rocked about by the ever-present water, Noah may have felt forgotten, abandoned, trapped, and left to rot away from mildew and a bad case of cabin fever.

And maybe we know what that’s like.

Maybe we’ve felt like God didn’t hear us, wasn’t aware of what we’re going through, wasn’t paying attention, and had simply forgotten us right in the moment of our greatest need.

The Israelites probably felt that same way, sweating and groaning their way through hundreds of years in Egyptian slavery.

It’s clear that they weren’t silent sufferers, either.  Instead, “the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help” (Exodus 2:23).

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.   (Exodus 2:24-25, ESV).

God remembered them, too.

I love how the Message breaks this down:

God listened to their groanings.
God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God saw what was going on with Israel.
God understood (Exodus 2:24-25, MSG).

God listened.  God remembered.  God saw.  God understood.

There’s something else, though.  Something true for Noah.  Something true for Israel.  Something true for us even now.

When Scripture tells us God remembers, it doesn’t mean He ever truly forgot us.  It’s not like He had a case of temporary amnesia or couldn’t recall our name or lost track of our plight.

Or left us behind in the minivan.

When God remembers, it’s a sign in Scripture that this is the moment He’ll reveal His activity.  It’s the moment when everything God had been doing in the hidden places is clear and revealed and brought to the light.

No more waiting.

Now it’s time for God to be on the move.

He orders the waters on the earth to recede so Noah and his family could step out of that ark onto dry ground.

He calls Moses from a burning bush and tells him to go lead Israel out of Egypt.

So, we can hold fast to this same truth as we groan in our own need, whether it be the annoyance of a daily stress, the repentance over a habitual sin, or the hardest of life’s challenges.

God hears us.  God remembers His promises to us.  God sees us.  God understands.

And then He rescues.

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6, ESV).

 

 

Why I hope you don’t see me

1 John 1

Years ago, I read about a man who had one daily habit he still maintained after decades and decades upon decades of marriage.

Every morning, he woke up before his wife and everyone else in the house.  He took a shower.  He shaved.  He brushed his teeth.  He combed his hair.  He dressed.

He wasn’t trying to give his wife more time in the bathroom either.

He said he always wanted his bride to see the best of him—the washed, brushed, shaved and dressed side of him.

I remember thinking the sentiment was sweet.  Every so often, I feel a bit guilty when less-than-the-best-of-me is rushing around the house getting everyone ready for school in the morning.  Maybe the guy had it right.  Maybe I should do the same.

But I don’t.  I’ll be honest.

The truth of my life is that my kids are my alarm clock and they seem to wake me up early enough already.

My son is the first sound I hear right across the house— “Mom!!!”

And, he doesn’t seem to mind the sight of me as I pad into his room in bare feet and lift him out of bed, carry him to the sofa and snuggle down with him for a few minutes of quiet before everyone else awakes.

He never complains about my bed head or my morning breath or my yoga pants and t-shirt.

He seems pretty content simply to enjoy my presence.

And in those moments of quiet as we wait for the rest of the house to cease their slumber, I quietly pray and consider the day (and try to actually wake up).

Maybe those few minutes of heart-grooming are what I need anyway.

Because facing my husband, my kids, the blur of the morning activity with my mind set on Christ feels like it reaches down into deeper parts of my soul than any session with make-up and a hair dryer anyway.

And surely what I want for them to find in the morning is a wife and a mom reflecting Jesus, even before I’ve had caffeine and a few minutes in front of the mirror.

Not that I’m begrudging some hygiene and grooming, of course.  No need to forego personal care indefinitely!

But I’ve been thinking lately about what it would look like for me to be a tabernacle for the Spirit of God, a place where His glory dwells, just a building really, an outer frame where Christ lives within.

And, after all, that’s what we’re supposed to be.

John 1:1 tells us:

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (HCSB).

He took up residence here.  The root of this phrase is “He tabernacled among us.”

This is Christ dwelling among men, housing the very nature of God within the confines and restrictions of human flesh.

And now— His spirit dwells within us, and He should still be visible, not hidden away—not by our skeletal frames, not by the skin, not by the makeup, not by the outfits, not by the coordinated shoes and handbags.

Whether we’re still in our pajamas or we’re dressed to the nines, people should see God’s glory all over us.

Because, that’s what happens when God’s Spirit dwelt in the Tabernacle out in the wilderness with Israel.

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  (Exodus 40:34-35 ESV).

The cloud of God’s glory settled on that mobile sanctuary and you couldn’t see the building itself for the glory surrounding it.   It was completely covered by the cloud of His presence.

All you could see was Him.

And, that’s what I want.

Yes, in the morning.

Yes, when I’m stressed.

Yes, when I’m annoyed.

Yes, when I’m hurt.

Yes, when I’m rejoicing.

Yes, when I’m failing.

Yes, when I’m weeping.

Yes, when I’m serving

ALL the time yes—may God’s glory settle on my life with such a cloud of His presence that people can’t see me through the thickness of it.

They can only see Him.

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 © 2015 Heather King

Finding Home | The place where being you is being enough

psalm 90

Both of my older girls worked hard.

During the busiest, craziest week we had so far this school year, both girls picked campaign slogans, drafted their speeches, typed them out, edited them and practiced until they were just right.

They both finished their homework quickly and then clocked over two hours a piece in between evening activities to design and create their campaign posters.

One of my daughters won the student government officer election at her school.

The other lost.

These kinds of unbalanced victories are tough for us.  With two overachievers so close in age, it’s never easy to cheer and console at the same time.

But we did it.

I watched them climb into the minivan and I knew it right away.  One girl had a bouncy step and smile.  One girl held herself together until she flopped down into her seat and started to cry.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad, except a mean boy rubbed the loss in my younger daughter’s face and called her “dumb.”

Life can sure be disappointing sometimes.  People sure can be cruel, trodding all over you when you’re already down in the dust.

So, I whisked them right from school to Subway (their favorite meal) and then did one better: milkshakes for everyone.  Because we needed it.  Somedays, you just need a milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

And then we went home.

That’s where we hugged and we congratulated and we reassured.  We looked into big blue eyes and spoke words of courage: “I’m so proud of you no matter what. You did awesome.  You were amazing. Sometimes we don’t win, but we have to take pride in how hard we worked and how we did our very best and our best is always good enough.”

Home is where you can celebrate and everyone joins in and cheers for you because they’re all on your side.

Home is where you drag your disappointed heart with its hurt and sadness, and it’s safe here.  You are hugged.  You are loved without conditions and expectations.  These are your people, the ones who are for you.  The ones who won’t mock your tears or tell you to ‘buck up and just get over it.’

Home should be the safe place.  The united place.  The place where being you is being enough.

Of course, Home isn’t that way for everyone.  And that’s the great tragedy.  It must break God’s heart to see how Home sometimes hurt instead of heals.

But at least here in my space, in my life, for my family, I want Home to be the refuge God meant it to be.

I read in Psalm 90:1, how Moses prayed to God.  He said:

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home” (NLT).

I’ve read this in other translations before.  The ESV says the Lord has been our “dwelling place” and the HCSB says the Lord has been our “refuge.”

But I let that word “home” echo a bit and think about what it means for God to be Home for me.

My safe place.

My refuge.

The place where I abide, live, dwell…where I relax and be myself, where I kick off my shoes and plod around in my white socks, where the masks are off and people see the real me, where I wash off my makeup, where I mess up sometimes and ask for forgiveness from those who love me still.

God is my Home.

He’s celebrating our victories.

And He’s wrapping us up in arms so big when we unload the disappointment, hurt and sadness we’ve been carrying on our shoulders.

In a world where we can feel judged and criticized, like people are always jumping in with suggestions of how we should be, where bullies and mean girls set themselves against us, God is our Home.

He loves you as you are.  He says you’re beautiful.  He says you have value and worth and He’s proud of you and He’s seen it–all of it—all your hard work and effort–and He says it’s good.

I wonder what it was like for Moses to write that God was his home?

Moses–the slave baby sent into the river on a basket, raised by an Egyptian princess in a palace where he didn’t quite fit in.

Moses–the murderer turned fugitive, who spent 40 years out in the wilderness tending sheep and living outside his community.

Moses–the leader of a nation that spent another 40 years wandering around the desert, pitching tents, moving on and never lingering in one place for long.

For the unwanted, for the outsider, for the broken, for the sinner, for the prodigal, for the wanderer, for the leader, God was Home.

God is Home.

Welcome Home.

P.S. Turns out that my daughter didn’t win the officer election, but still gets to be part of the SCA as a class representative!  A new day and a fresh perspective helped her feel much better.

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 © 2015 Heather King

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Deuteronomy 1

Playdate protocol.

That’s what I review with my daughters in the last 5 minutes before we exit our minivan and enter their friend’s home.

Do not fight with each other.

Say please and thank you.

Clean up your messes.

Do not fight with each other.

Do show respect to her mom and call her Mrs. _____ and obey what she tells you.

Do make sure you know where the bathroom is.

Do not fight with each other (I’m sensing a theme, here……)

And, when it is time to go, thank them for having you over and go.  Do not delay.  Do not whine about leaving.  Do not take 40 minutes putting on your shoes. Do not ignore my presence.  Do not invite yourself over to their house tomorrow or beg me for a sleepover.  Do not ask me when the next playdate will occur as we are actually, technically still having a playdate at this very moment.  Do not run and hide, hoping I won’t find you and take you home.  Do not pull out more toys.  Do not whisper to your friend to climb into our minivan thinking that I won’t ask her to come out.

Saying goodbye.  That’s the hardest part of playing with a friend.

Oh, I’ll tell the truth, saying goodbye is one of the hardest life-skills—period—for children and adults.

I have my own issues with leaving.  After all, I dislike change.

Dislike?  Not quite the word, exactly.

More like:  Hate, detest, abhor….change.  Yes, that’s it.

I settle right into my comfortable routine, doing what I’ve always done, ministering how I’ve always ministered.  I take God’s call and keep on trekking, day after day after day in the same direction.

Then, He tells me it’s time for something new.

Time to say goodbye, pack my tent, and head off in a new direction.  Maybe even an unknown direction or at least an unfamiliar direction.

I’m tempted to hide or beg to stay or pretend I didn’t hear God’s call.  Anything, anything at all, other than actually embrace change.

Sometimes we refuse God’s invitation to step out of the old and step into the new.

We just keep right along, working as hard as ever doing the thing we love to do.

But He has moved on.  His favor has moved on.  His blessing, His direction, His guidance, His anointing has moved on.

And, what are we doing anyway?  Trying to work in our own strength and hold things together because we just don’t want to let go?  Because it hurts too much to relinquish that control and trust God with the future?

Maybe God has asked someone else to step up into that ministry, and we’re robbing them of the blessing of obedience because we won’t step down already and get out of the way.

Goodbye. 

God gives us permission to say it at times.  We say goodbye to ministries we love and relationships we adore, to jobs we’ve enjoyed and to seasons of our life that have grown cozy and comforting.

We say goodbye not because our ministry is ending, but because it is changing.  We say goodbye because God has called us to follow Him anew.

In Acts 20, we see how Paul calls his dear friends from Ephesian church together and tells them he’s moving on to Jerusalem, and he doesn’t expect to see them again.

Of course, they’d want him to stay.  He wasn’t just moving on in ministry; He was moving away from dear friends without the advantage of Facebook and email.

Yet, God called and Paul obeyed:

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship (Acts 20:36-38 ESV).

I’ve been praying over my own goodbyes….the places where God is telling me to move on, to let it go and strike out into the new.

That’s when I read this command God gave to Israel:

‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.  It is time to break camp and move on.’ (Deuteronomy 1:6-7 NLT).

Have you lingered at this mountain long enough, content to rest here and set up camp?

If God has called you to break camp and move on….pack up your tent, say your goodbyes, and go.

Don’t fret or worry over what’s behind.  Leave that in God’s hands.  He’s got it.

Just go when He calls you to go, because you want to be with Jesus, always with Jesus, never lagging behind Him, always right by His side.

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 © 2015 Heather King

When I Grow Up, I Want to Eat My Own Dinner

psalm 73

I’m not sure that I’ve eaten more than a handful of my own meals actually on my own in over ten years.

I know maybe it’s not the absolute truth.

But it feels like the truth some days.

It’s as if whatever food I’m eating is a free-for-all for my children.

Sometimes I grab breakfast out of the cabinet and carry it to the minivan as we rush out the door. The very second I open the cereal bar, an alarm system must be triggered because children in all corners of the vehicle ask if they can have some.

Perhaps I should be grateful.  Thank you, dear children, I did not actually need the calories from this breakfast-on-the-go anyway.

But there is something so illogical about this mothering phenomenon.

As soon as my children graduate from pureed squash in a jar to their very own mini-portions of actual human food, they want to have what I am eating from my very own plate.

Even though we are eating the same food.

The same food!!!!

I may have cut it up into non-chokeable portions before putting it on the highchair tray; nevertheless, my lasagna will taste the same as their lasagna.

And the Cheerios in my cereal bowl are (earth-shattering announcement, here) the same Cheerios that I put in my child’s bowl.

I know older moms are probably chuckling.  Surely my own mom is.  Because this is probably a universal mothering struggle going back generations upon generations.

Let’s face it, Eve should have gotten used to sharing her fruit with another person because once Cain and Abel came along, she’d never eat completely on her own again.

The thing is, my kids are buying into the same lie that trips us up all the time.

It’s the lie that whatever she has is better than what I have.

Maybe we’re even eating the same food.

Or maybe it really is different.  Maybe she’s sitting down to steak and potatoes while we pick at boxed macaroni and cheese.  Or maybe we’re the ones with the gourmet fare while she wolfs down some PB&J.

No matter what the dish, so often we just really want what she has.

We want the same.  And we want it to be the same quality.  And we want it to be the same amount.

We don’t trust God to care for us uniquely, personally, individually.  We don’t trust Him enough to accept what He gives with gratitude, knowing that He loves us and cares for us, knowing that anything He gives us is far more than we deserve or merit.

I read in Numbers how Moses divied up supplies to the people of Israel.

He gave two carts and four oxen to the sons of Gershon.

He gave four carts and eight oxen to the sons of Merari.

He didn’t give any carts or oxen to the sons of Kohath.

Sounds like a rip-off.  Sounds like a big, unfair, scam.

Those sons of Kohath could have raised a mighty fine protest about injustice and favoritism and the need for equal distribution of all goods.

But Moses gave out the oxen and the carts “according to their service,” and the sons of Kohath cared for “the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder” (Numbers 7:7-9).

Every one of them received what they needed for their particular, God-chosen, unique job.  He equipped them for their calling.

He does the same for us.

Some days, I’ll confess, it feels like I don’t have enough.

I don’t just mean material goods.  I mean enough patience or enough time or enough patience or enough creativity or enough patience or enough sleep—or enough patience.  Did I already mention that one?

So many others around me seem to have plates heaped full with the very gifts and traits I feel so desperately in need of.

But I take my need to Him.

Because I don’t need any thing.  I don’t need a specific gifting or a particular object.

I don’t need to be the same or have the same as anyone else.

I need Jesus.  He is enough for me.

He equips us for our calling.

Yes, He gives me all I need to do what He wants me to do right here in this moment.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24 NIV)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure (Psalm 16:5 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words (Psalm 119:57).

 

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.

 

Lessons from the 5-year-old on prayer

romans 12-12
I put my hand on the back of my five-year-old to usher her into the minivan.

She does not move.

My lecture about wasting time and ‘please can you hurry because we don’t want to be late!’ catches in my throat when I glance at her.

Her head is bowed, her eyes squeezed shut.  Her hands are clasped and tucked under her chin.

She is praying.

I lean down and hear the whisper:

Dear God, please help the person who is hurt and help the fire truck make them safe and all better.  Amen.

Oh, now I hear them: The sirens in a distance that I’d been blocking out with busy thoughts and Mom-instructions to “get your seatbelts on quickly” and “take turns sitting in the middle seat” and “make sure you have all your stuff.”

You know.  Life.

Life crowded out the need, crowded out others.  It tunneled my vision so I saw only my agenda, heard only my voice, pushed and shoved and crammed right up to the Father with only my own needy self in mind.

As parents, my husband and I have had our more spiritual moments.  We’ve been driving before and hushed the general din of six people (including a baby) in the minivan so we could pray about the fire truck or the ambulance passing us on the road.

My girl took this to heart.  She tucked it into her soul and now she watches and listens and drops her head down the instant she senses the need to pray.

She even stopped the mad dash to the middle seat of the minivan and let her sisters rush in to claim the prime spots in order to pause and pray.

She let go of self.  She focused on another.

Maybe my husband and I taught her the principle, but this kindergarten prayer powerhouse teaches me to get down on my knees and beg for God to help me see.

Because somehow there’s this automatic pull of humanity back to self.  Somehow the noise within us drowns out the noise without….so we no longer hear the cries of need from a needy world.

Somehow we lose the eyes of God, the ears of God, the heart of God.

Yet, Moses teaches me to see others with God’s vision.

He stood on a holy mountain preparing to die.  Moses was not to enter the Promised Land and he knew God’s intentions to take him up a mountain that he would never climb down.

But his eyes were for the people of Israel.  He could have asked for a legacy.  He could have begged for forgiveness and the chance to step at least one weary foot onto Canaan’s soil.

He didn’t.

Instead, he prayed:

Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd (Numbers 27:16-17 ESV)

Long before Jesus, Moses stood overlooking the crowd and saw them with God’s eyes as sheep that have no shepherd.

Centuries later, Jesus Himself stood and saw this same need:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 ESV).

Moses got it, really got it.  Got right to the heart of the matter, right to the need in front of his face and put aside his own affairs—he was, after all, moments from death—-in order to intercede on behalf of God’s people.

His heart matched God’s own heart.

He had 20/20 vision in that moment, not cataracts of selfishness marring his perspective.

Selfishness takes up time and takes up space; it muscles out God and keeps us from loving others.

Today, let’s lay it down.

And let us pray:

Lord, give me Your heart today.
Don’t let me be blinded to need and deaf to the cries of others.
Show me how to bless another.
May I be sensitive to the needs of others so I can be generous and compassionate.
I lay aside selfishness so I can live a life motivated by kindness and ruled by love.
Less of me, Lord. More of You.
Be glorified.
Amen.

prayerlovingothers

 

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 © 2015 Heather King

 

 

When the One Thing You Really Needed to Get Done….Doesn’t Get Done

I had one thing written on my agenda for that day.

One.  Thing.

Every other day was packed with wall-to-wall to-do list items.

But not that day.  I had just one thing I needed to do and  I needed to be efficient and productive so that I could spend all the other days doing all the other things.

My list read:

  1. Writing.

But by 2:00, what I just wrote on this screen so far….that was the extent of my progress.

Amazing, huh?

So, what exactly did I do all day?

A million things, just not that one thing.

I had four sick children with coughs and runny noses.

I cleaned up tissues.

I discovered piles of them next to beds and overflowing from bathroom trashcans.  I found a plastic bag full of them on the counter.  I saw miniature mountains of them here and there where we had chased my baby with a Kleenex.

It felt like the full extent of my productivity was wrapped up in this:  Tissue Clean-Up.

And yet, I had wiped noses.  Made cups of tea.  Cuddled a crying baby who couldn’t figure out why his nose feels like a faucet he can’t turn off.proverbs19

I wrote cards and notes responding to prayer requests and answered messages.

I scribbled nonsensical slivers of ideas down here and there all morning so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to write about later.

I washed dishes and washed clothes and somehow cleaned a house that still looks messier than when I began.

What have I done?

A million things.  Nothing.  Certainly not that one thing I intended to do.

Somehow when you’ve spent all day doing and doing and yet haven’t crossed that one thing off that to-do list, you feel like a failure.

The dam of condemnation cracks and shatters and spews it all out.

How can you have spent all day doing absolutely nothing?  What in the world are you doing with yourself?  Are you lazy?  Are you inept?  How is your house not spotless and your work not done?

And yet, what good is an agenda, really, if it’s my agenda and not God’s?

We can make these perfect plans and miss out on God completely.  We can push right through the disruptions and the distractions to accomplish our goal and end up lost and far from Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“the great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant (or unexpected) things as interruptions in one’s own life, or real life.  The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.

God’s involvement in my agenda isn’t always painful or unpleasant, but it’s usually unexpected.  Like Proverbs 19:21 says:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I am a ‘many plans’ kind of girl and I’ll shove my way right on through the obstacles to make those plans happen.

And yet, here I am this month, Learning When to Say ‘Yes,’ and I’ve found that saying yes to God starts with being flexible.

It starts with offering Him my to-do list and it includes yielding willingly, gently and without complaint to the twists of the day and the altering of the path.

I stink at this.

But, Moses the shepherd out there in the desert got it right.  He had a plan to lead “the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God”  (Exodus 3:1).

That’s when God lit a fire within a bush and captured Moses’s attention.

Moses had to decide.  Stick with his own plan?  Or follow the unexpected.

He chose to bend.

He said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight” (Exodus 3:4).

In The Power of God’s Names, Tony Evans writes:

God didn’t reveal Himself to Moses until Moses turned aside from His ordinary routine.

And that Samaritan that Jesus described in Luke 10…he was traveling the road for a reason.  Others had traveled before him: a priest, a Levite.  They saw a dying man on the side of the road and pressed right on past because he wasn’t on the itinerary.

But the Good Samaritan turned aside.  He stepped off the road.  He took the time.

He walked right out of his own agenda and right on into God’s.

May we always be flexible enough to turn aside and to exchange our agendas and plans for His perfect ones (even if they are unexpected).

What is God’s plan for you today?  Have you asked Him?

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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

 

 

Am I Asking Jesus to Leave?

She said he was afraid.

A small team from our church took VBS on the go this year, sharing the lessons, songs and games with kids in the community.prayerpresence

One of the ladies shared with us this past Sunday what that mission to area children was like.

She tells how on the last day, those little ones gathered around the teacher for the Bible story about Paul.

He was such a Bad Guy, she told them.

She told all about his past, all those mean things he did to Christians.

But then she told how he met Jesus and she read from the start of his letters to the churches, how he said the same thing over and over and over again:

“I, Paul, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ…..”

This little boy, cuddled next to another leader, winced and sucked in his breath every single time she said it.

The Lord Jesus Christ

He’d only ever heard those words as cursing in anger and bursts of outrage in his home.

My husband puts the hurt into words, how this little boy has a “Pavlovian fear response to the name of the only One who could ever save him.”

Peter shared the truth:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 NIV).

We sit in that comfy sanctuary in the middle of a tiny town in rural Virginia and our hearts break because missions starts right here.

There are children who don’t even know what a Bible is or who God is or that the name of Jesus isn’t a cuss word…and they live right here.

But there’s something else….

I read in the Gospels:

 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left (Luke 8:37 NIV).

The people were afraid of Jesus at work.

They weren’t embracing the healing he offered and not the salvation either.  They sent Him away and with it they refused all hope of rescue.

All because they were afraid.

Maybe they didn’t wince at the sound of His name, but they feared Jesus’ presence.

Were they afraid of His power?

Were they afraid of shaking things up?  Afraid of what salvation might cost?  Fearful of what they might lose if they followed Him?

I remember the Israelites crowded around the base of Mt. Sinai, watching the pyrotechnical display of God’s glory, the thunder and lighting, the cloud of smoke, the trumpet blast:

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance  and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”…The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:18-19, 21 NIV).

They trembled there at the mountain, slinking back in fear, remaining at a distance even when God invited them to come close.

This holy fear of God has its place, the reminder of His greatness and mighty power and how small we are indeed.

He is God.  I am not.

He is holy.  I am not.

We need the reawakening of awe.

But I wonder if we ever push God away in fear, or hide away in the shadows, remaining at a distance even when He whispers to us, ”Come…..closer….nearer….”

Are we too afraid that He’ll disrupt our lives? Or that drawing close will cost us and it will just be too much to pay?

Do we stand right there at the base of His presence and choose the safety of distance instead?

And maybe we don’t say it as bluntly as the crowd that sent Jesus away, maybe we don’t tell Him, “Can you just go off in your boat and do your work somewhere else?”

Maybe we know just enough…certainly more than a scared little boy listening to a lesson at Vacation at Bible School: yes, God loves us….yes, Jesus is our Savior. Maybe it’s just ‘blah, blah, blah’…just so many words.

Yet, maybe we shut Him out. Maybe we avoid the conviction of Scripture or the passion of all-in of worship. Maybe we want to sing “safe” songs on Sunday morning, hear “safe” messages, leave the Bible reading up to someone else, avoid the accountability of church or the nudge of the Holy Spirit to lay it all down in surrender.

Because we’re afraid.

Lord, help me stop being afraid and start drawing close to You. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in Your presence.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Learn to Say, ‘No?’

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

The Top 10 Best Things About Hotels (Says the Mom Away From Home)

10.  When there’s a problem, someone else has to fix it!  No breaking out the tools when something is wrong. One word to a hotel staff member and within five minutes the handyman shows up with his own tool box.

9. How excited your kids get about every little thing:  There’s a tiny refrigerator!!  And a microwave!!!  And a TV!!!!  And a couch with a pullpsalm39-6-out bed!!!  There’s a closet!!!  And a bathroom!!!  Everything is more exciting in a hotel room. Add in some luxuries like a hotel swimming pool, electronic key cards, and elevators with buttons to push, and you have kid-paradise.

8. Styrofoam cups with lids:  Our hotel has a little hospitality bar in the lobby with packets of tea, hot cocoa, creamer, sugar and more.  One night after swimming in the pool, I grabbed some hot chocolate packets as a treat for the girls.  The best part?  The cups they supplied came with plastic lids.  Hot cocoa at home ALWAYS involves huge messes and near-industrial-sized spill clean-up.  Why didn’t I think of travel mugs with lids long ago?

7. The Indoor Pool: We don’t the fanciest hotel with the most expensive amenities available; we just need access to an indoor pool.  Happiest kids ever.

6. Short-Order Cook Breakfasts:  At home, I sometimes feel like I should snap my hair into a bun, tuck a pencil behind my ear, don an apron and take down breakfast orders in a tiny notebook.  At the hotel, we had buffet-style breakfasts where everyone found something yummy—well, except for the child who prefers breakfast at home with her favorite cereal every . . . . single . . . . day.

5. Someone else washes all the towels and sheets.

4. Someone else vacuums the floor.

3. Someone else washes the dishes. 

2. Someone else scrubs the toilets.  Sensing a trend here?  I sure did.  We’ve tried stay-cations before, but do you know what I still have to do then?  That’s right—laundry, dishes, cooking, and general clean up.  For a few days in the hotel, I picked up mess but never once pulled out the bleach or loaded a dishwasher or washing machine.  Of course, we carried home a trash bag full of laundry that I washed the night we got home, but I had a few days of respite.

1. Being together: Our house is pretty small, so it’s not like we spread out and never see each other when we’re home.  Still, there’s something special about experiencing time together without my husband heading off to work, propping up our feet and watching a movie together, making plans for the day, and sharing in a nighttime snack.

School starts up for the year far too soon. So does ballet, play practice, activities at church and more.

When life gets packed so full, it’s so hard to appreciate every little thing—like escalators and the electronic keys in hotels and cocoa cups with spill-proof lids.  We lose child-like wonder and excitement about the little things

Almost ten years ago, I held my first baby girl in a hospital room and now, after what seems like a blink of the eyes, I’m about to send her off to fourth grade.

How does it all happen so fast?  How do we miss so much?

In her book, A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes says:

“The travesty is that we allow the busyness of life to crowd out the Source of life.  As the Psalmist wrote, ‘We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing’ (Psalm 39:6 NLT).”

All this month, I’m learning to Retreat and Refresh so I can pursue the presence of God.  And I’m thinking of Moses, who prayed: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

We can pray the same.

Lord, help us to number our days.  Help us to make each one count.  Don’t let a single one slip by us unnoticed and unappreciated.

Don’t let us ever miss or skip time—One, two . . . twenty . . .fifty–and not be able to account for the days in between.

Don’t let us get so wrapped up in doing laundry and dishes that we forget to thank you for the clothes and food you’ve given us.

Help us not to get so focused on the minutiae of everyday worries and stressors that we forget to have joy.

Show us how to slow down each day, rest, pay attention—yes, notice Your grace, Your beauty, and the gifts You’ve placed in our lives.

To sit with our children a moment longer.  Linger over a cup of tea.  Breathe in the scent of a garden.  Notice the beauty.  Enjoy deep down the laughter of our children.

Amen.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Retreat and Refresh?

Originally posted August 31, 2012

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