Wonder Woman, Here’s Your Cape

Pride is such a sneaky slave-master.

It confuses and deceives, tricking you into feeling free, distracting you so that you never notice the slow clinking of the restraints on your wrists, the ever-increasing weight of the chains on your legs, dragging you down, holding you back, restraining your worship and your service.

Friends encourage you.  Loved ones compliment you.  A boss pats you on the back.  They say: How well you are doing, how quick…how strong….how capable……and slowly you believe it.

Slowly you try to live up to it.

Because if you admit just for a second that you’re needy or weak, struggling in hidden ways, tearful, hurt, broken, tired, or sad, you’ve taken a hammer to that pristine persona.  You’ve shattered the image of The Woman in Control or whatever fake statuesque creation you’ve built onto that shaky pedestal for others to see.

The truth is it’s hard to admit you’re not Super Girl or Wonder Woman, complete with cape, tights, mask and heroic strength and powers.

Because of pride, that’s why.

Most of us, after all, choose the super hero costume over the average, flawed, everyday, hard-working but imperfect woman we really are underneath all that bright-colored spandex.

But God won’t let us.  Not forever, anyway.

He gently reveals our weakness on the tough days:

….When we forget the appointment.

….Or lose our temper with our kids.

….Or pack our husband’s lunch but leave out the sandwich.

….Or put away the groceries one morning only to find the frozen broccoli a week later defrosted and disgusting in the pantry and the box of pasta iced over in the freezer.

I’ve been there, done that, refused to wear the t-shirt.

Truly, I need the grace.

I need the reminder that on the days I actually remember to sign my kids’ school agenda books and send in the right forms with the right child….on days when I get everybody ready for school AND manage a shower and makeup myself (even more so if I actually get to dry my hair)…that this isn’t because I have super powers.

It’s because I have God.

He helps me.  He gives me rest.  He strengthens me when I’m feeling worn down and He gives me energy when I’m sleep-deprived.  I can’t take credit for that.  I can’t accept the compliments from others and let it go to my heart and my head, making me think that I sure do have it all together.ephesians2

I think of Peter’s mother-in-law, feverish and ill in bed when Jesus and His disciples stopped by for an unexpected visit (Matthew 8:14).

That poor woman, too sick to pretend to be Martha Stewart.  Guests sat in her living room and she couldn’t pour cups of iced tea and serve cookies.  She couldn’t tidy up quickly when she heard them knock on the door and hide the dirty dishes and the pile of clean clothes before inviting them in.

She needed Jesus in her moment of frailty.  He healed her and then she could serve.  He equipped her and then she could give.

On her own, she lingered frail and tired in the sick-bed, but in Christ and through Christ she rose in worship and thanksgiving to care for Jesus and His followers.

And when I’m struggling, it doesn’t mean I need to pull myself together all on my own.  It means I need Jesus.

I need to lean in more onto Christ’s steady shoulders.  I need His counsel, His wisdom, His help to be disciplined and discerning.

Or maybe it means I need to give myself the grace to accept help from others.

Either way, it requires being real and downright honest about who I am (plain old regular human being Heather) and who I’m not (endowed with superhuman powers of perfection and infallibility).

Maybe more of us need to make that honest confession.

I, ____________________ (insert your name here), am in need of God and in need of grace.  I’m not perfect.  I don’t always have it together.  Sometimes I’m a mess.  I often make mistakes.  But I’m forgiven and God promises to help me do everything He’s called me to do.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it?  To remember Paul’s prayer:

Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV).

We’re equipped to do His will, not to do everything we volunteer for or everything others ask us to do or every good service and fun event we could pencil onto our calendars.

He gives us everything we need to fulfill the calling He’s given us today and no more than that.

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 © 2013 Heather King

God in Muddy Boots

 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
  who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
  he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people (Psalm 113:5-8).

“Mom, can you tie my shoe?”

I kneel down, slightly off balance, and whip the laces into loops and knots.

“Mom, can you wash my hair?”

Bending over a daughter with her eyes pinched tightly shut, I scrub with shampoo and rinse the suds away carefully.

“Mom, can you show me how to play this on the piano?”

I stoop to press the keys, one hand pointing to the music, the other playing notes, showing melody, showing tempo, showing dynamics.

“Mom, can you hold my hand?”

Tilted to one side, I lean over to entwine our fingers and we swing our arms together to the rhythm of our pace.

“Mom, I’m hurt!”

Dropping to the ground, I clean the wound and press on the miraculous Band-Aid that instantly heals all hurts whether or not blood is involved.

Life with children is a life bent low.  It’s the ministry of kneeling down, stooping over, leaning, and bending to wipe, scrub, heal, hold, read, listen–to love.  So often, it’s the movement down to hug a child and lift her up.

God bends low to reach His children, too.

He could have sat, poised on His righteous throne, holy and unresponsive to our need, drumming His fingers while waiting for us to reach up to Him.

But He didn’t.  Seeing that we could never be righteous enough, He came to us instead, abandoning glory to take up the humble life in human flesh.  Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Sacrifice, is the great Love of God as He bent low in order to raise us up.

And He continued that ministry as He healed and forgave.  Finding Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever, Jesus “bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her” (Luke 4:39).  Petitioned by a leper for healing, Jesus “reached out his hand and touched the man” (Luke 5:13).  Confronted by an angry mob prepared to stone a woman caught in adultery, Jesus “stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:8).

Jesus could have simply spoken words of healing and forgiveness over anyone.  He had the power to heal with words alone, and sometimes He did.

But other times He chose to make it physical, and it so often required Him to bend low, to stoop, to reach out.  How else can a perfect and holy God touch us who are broken, sick, or dirty from sin?

Jesus didn’t mind the mess.  He touched people even when they were religiously “unclean,” when it was against the rules for them to have contact with other humans because they were so tainted that they’d stain the holiness of others.

This week, at an end-year celebration of a Bible Study group, a woman shared what she learned by studying David’s life.  She described putting on her muddy boots, the sweat pants she doesn’t care about and the raggedy t-shirt that means nothing to her and thinking nothing of getting down into the dirt.

Jesus got down in the dirt with people.  In the same way, this woman said, God didn’t mind getting down into the dirt with King David and He’s willing to do this for us, as well. 

God is not waiting for us to get cleaned up, to overcome, to fix it all up, to climb and clamber to success.   He isn’t put off by our faces smudged with dirt, our hands caked with mud, our fingernails lined with soil from trying to claw our way out of the pit we’re in.

Instead, David tells us:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2).

In order to lift David up, God had to reach down low, stretching a hand deep into the darkness to pull the shepherd-king on out to safety and firm ground and light and life.

For those who find themselves in the pit now, remember that God will reach low to you and He will lift you up.  You cannot be so deep in the darkness to be beyond His ability to save you. You cannot be so covered in dirt that He’s scared away or disgusted.

God puts on His muddy boots at times to wade in and rescue us.

Then He calls us to engage in this same ministry of bending low to reach others.  We don’t walk by friends in caverns and potholes and chasms, pretending that everything is all right or hoping for another bystander to reach down and rescue them.

We don’t turn up our noses at the dirt on another’s face,  refusing to stoop down to hold their hand and pull them up.

God wants us to be willing to kneel, stoop, bend, lean, and drop to the ground in all of the humility and love that naturally flows out of people who have been saved themselves.

It’s the ministry of a mom.  It’s the ministry of a child to an aging parent.  It’s the ministry of teachers and a ministry to the wayward and the lonely, the lost and the hurting.  It’s the ministry to the broken and a ministry to the least of these.

It’s the ministry of bending low to love another just as God has done for us.

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