When (not if) this all is over

“I don’t like my new smile!”

My son had been avoiding food all day because his first-ever wiggly tooth was quite wiggly, enough to make eating anything difficult.

Besides that, he was afraid.  He didn’t really want to lose a tooth.  He liked his teeth, his mouth and his smile just the way it was, thank you very much.

Also, what if he lost a tooth while eating and maybe swallowed it?

So much fear.  

When the tooth did come out after all,  after he had been brave for a few seconds and his dad wiggled it right out, my son smiled and held quite still with a push of courage.  I thought it was total victory.

Then he cried….and cried and cried.

He didn’t like his smile.  He really wanted his smile to stay exactly as it was before.

So much grief. 

I gave a gentle mom-speech about how much I love his smile, and his new smile just means he is getting bigger and growing up.

He told me, “That doesn’t fix my feelings.”

He did say, though, that a cold treat like ice cream would actually “fix his feelings,” so one bowl-full of Edy’s cookie dough ice cream later, he had finally calmed down.  That’s when he wiggled his other bottom front tooth and told me that one is also pretty loose.   So, we get to do this all  again in about a week.

I feel for my little guy because change is hard for him,  change is hard for me, and we’re changing a lot at the moment.

I feel for him because we’re all grieving a little.  We wanted all the beauty of life as we knew it and planned it and instead we’re living a new and unexpected #stayathome life.

I feel for him because no matter how many times we promise him that a new tooth will grow into the empty space, it doesn’t feel real.  Waiting feels like forever.  He can’t see the new tooth and he can’t mark the calendar with the date of its arrival.   So maybe it will  never come.

This is where I found myself so often this week.  I know in my head that one day we’ll walk out of our house, we will hug our sweet church family at a service we’re all allowed to attend.   Our kids will play in soccer teams and perform in plays.  They will sit in classrooms with their much-loved teachers and their friends.  We will write an event on the calendar and it won’t be canceled.

We will rejoice.  I mean, truly, truly party.

But I’m starting to feel like maybe that will never come.  This new reality is THE reality and hope of anything better is a little hard to hang onto when we’re three weeks into this and our governor keeps changing the end date.

I find myself thinking….

“IF we get to go back to church….”

“IF we’re in school….”

“IF we get to see the concert and the plays we had tickets to…”

“IF we get to spend some of our summer going to museums, parks, water parks, and the beach….”

This week I’ve been reading in the book of Deuteronomy and I’m sinking deep into this sweet reminder that the Promised Land was not “IF” it was “WHEN” for Israel.

Deliverance wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”

Fulfillment of God’s promises wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”

In chapter after chapter of Deuteronomy, God tells Israel:

When you cross the Jordan and live in the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and he gives you rest from all the enemies around you and you live in security…” (Deuteronomy 12:10 CSB).

“When the Lord your God blesses you as he has promised you…” (Deuteronomy 15:6 CSB)

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it…” (deuteronomy 17:14 CSB)

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you…” (Deuteronomy 18:9 CSB)

My son can trust that his new tooth will grow in.   Yes, it takes time.  Yes, it may even take longer than he wanted to wait.  But his hope is rooted in a trustworthy assurance–it will come.  It is a “When,” not an “If.”

David wrote in Psalm 27:

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart be courageous.
Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14 CSB).

I sing it with the Psalmist—I am certain.  I  can fully know.  I have confident hope.

When–not If

I will see the goodness of the Lord, not just in heaven, but here in this life.   That is the reminder I need to be strong, to be courageous, and wait.

 

When It Seems Too Hard…

I sorted through the papers in her school take-home folder: homework, tests, notes and announcements, and pictures from her friends.

When I held the unfinished math paper in my hand, I turned it over, around and even upside down trying to figure out the mystery.math

The paper was covered top to bottom in multiplication word problems, hard ones like: “Sam bought 21 cookies from the store every day for a week.  How many cookies had he bought by the end of the week….” or something like that.

This wasn’t simple 1×1 = 1 and on up the single-digit line, the kind of multiplication you learn through sing-songy repetition, simple songs, and homemade flash cards.

This was 64 x 6 and the like, problems I would pull out the scratch paper (or the calculator) to figure out.

So, I asked my daughter, “Who gave you this paper?,”  thinking to myself her teacher had missed a few lessons in the math book.

But no, not her teacher.  Another school staff member gave the kids a challenge with the promise of free ice cream from the cafeteria as a reward.

To my daughter, free ice cream in the cafeteria was enough incentive to make her don hiking boots and climb Mt. Everest.

Yet, reading through the problems, I just kept thinking that it was all too hard and maybe a bit unfair to offer the incentive of free ice cream and then make it unattainable.

I grabbed the paper at the top in order to fold it down and quietly slip it into the trash can, hoping my daughter would forget it and the disappointment.

But I stopped.

Suddenly, I saw beyond the questions and started reading my daughter’s scribbles and answers.  She had made charts and graphs, tally marks grouped together, tens columns and ones columns and rows and rows of addition.

And she had answered the questions correctly.  (I pulled out my calculator to be sure.)  Then I called her over to explain it all to me.

She spoke in a whirlwind.  Why she had arranged the numbers this way.  How if you did things like this or that it would work it all out.  I couldn’t understand it, these complex and abstract ways to think math.

And I had thought the paper was too hard.

I do this in life and call it being “practical” or “realistic,” writing off tasks as too difficult, promises as too out of reach, dreams as too unattainable.  And I take words like “hard” or “difficult” and turn them into “impossible.”

Sometimes I even give up.

Maybe it’s just that we all have a way of complicating the simple.

We try to make issues of statistics and timelines, resources and probabilities, and God cuts through all of that:

“Trust and obey.”

When Moses gave God’s commandments to Israel, it could have been all so overwhelming.  God was practical.  God was specific.  He seemed to have something to say about every aspect of their lives from skin diseases to eating habits to relationships with their neighbors.

But God summed it all up for them: “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

No matter how confusing and complicated we try to make this holy life, it’s always as simple as this: “just obey.”

Yes, God says,

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach….No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it (Deuteronomy 30:11, 14).

And yet, they failed.  Years and years after Promised Land living, the book of Judges tells us how many tribes “failed to drive out the people living” in the land, failed to take possession of the promise (Judges 1).  They were living a compromised life without victory.

They didn’t fail because it was too hard, though, and not because God was unfaithful or incapable or too weak or bested by the false gods of the enemies.

They failed because they looked at the task and decided it was just too difficult and wasn’t it better to stay safely out of the way rather than try at all?

Maybe if they’d been promised free ice cream….

Or maybe if they had realized that if God promised it, He could do it.

If He gives the vision, if He calls you out, if He assigns the task, if He creates the passion, if He directs Your steps…. then conquer those tendencies to make it so complicated and excuse-laden, so bogged down in the overwhelming and the fear-filled.

“Just obey.”

Keep it that simple.  Let Him handle the rest.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 03/10/2012

Hiding the Word:

We’ve returned home after a long and exciting family day at our area Awana games.  Our two oldest girls competed in Sparks-A-Rama for the first time.  We cheered them on from the bleechers as they popped balloons, dodged balls, and ran like lightning-ish around the gym floor.

Our coaches and the kids worked hard for weeks to practice the games, to learn the rules, and to develop discipline, listening skills, teamwork and kindness.

I was so proud of our team. Not only that, but I loved the sweet cheerleading of my youngest daughter as she sat in the stands and picked her sisters out from the crowd.  Whether they were racing or sitting on the line while another team played, Catherine didn’t stop yelling, “Go, Toria! Go Lauren!”

We all need people in the stands cheering us on, whether we’re in the thick of the battle or resting for a few quiet moments.  God has commissioned us all with pom poms and asked us to call out our words of praise, perseverance, and encouragement for others.

So, that’s the verse that’s on my heart for the week.  It’s a challenge to each of us to be the cheerleader that someone else needs.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

Weekend Rerun:

The Giving of Courage
Originally Published 04/27/2011

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 20:24-25 

My sweet baby girl is my cheerleader.  I finish putting the clothes in the dryer and she claps her hands excitedly for me.  I change her diaper; she shouts yay!  yay!  and applauds with enthusiasm.   I drop the last of her toys into the basket and she does a happy dance and showers me with praise.  When I slide the last puzzle piece into place with her, she cheers and shouts.  If you spent the tiniest bit of time in my home, you’d think I won an Olympic medal every hour all day long because my “crowd goes wild” just that often.  My little crowd of one tiny, joyful cheerleader.

Has someone been a cheerleader for you before? 

You sit tired in the pew at church after the rush of Sunday morning preparation, but you made it and all your children sit next to you with clean clothes on.  Small victories.  Then a comforting hand reaches across your shoulder and a friend tells you, “Great job.  You’re such a great mom.”

You push your cart through the grocery store and try to efficiently and frugally shop all while monitoring the arms and legs of your various kids and periodically reminding them to use “inside voices,” when an unknown woman whispers to you, “Your children are so well-behaved.”

You pour yourself out into the ministry you know God has called you to and yet there are those moments and days when you wonder if it really matters, if it does any good, if anybody is blessed by it, if it’s worth the time and effort you spend on it.  Then, you sort through the bills after collecting your mail and find buried in there a card from a friend, a note of appreciation and thanks, a prayer, a verse.

You’ve been struggling.  Life is hard.  You don’t know what decisions to make.  You’re hurting and overwhelmed.  Then an email arrives and a friend says, “I’m praying for you.”

God uses others to bring us these messages of hope and encouragement at just the right moments in our lives, filling needs we can’t even always identify. It’s one of the reasons He designed us to travel together—He knows our hearts sometimes need this cheerleading from others.  When we stray from the group, when we go off on our own and try to live faith solo, we are easy prey for attack.  The Israelites learned this on their journey out of Egypt: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.  When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NIV).

If your heart is weary and in need of some encouragement today, look to your right and your left for your group; be sure that you are connected and not lagging behind.  Perhaps the first step needs to come from you in a search for the Christian community that will walk alongside you and encourage you along the journey to the Promised Land.

But you can also ask God for the refreshing your heart needs.  He knows exactly what will fill your spirit, giving you strength to overcome fatigue, guidance when you need direction, laughter when your heart lacks joy.  As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, God led them to an oasis: “They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters” (Exodus 15:27).    Priscilla Shirer writes: “‘Twelve springs of water’ to match the twelve tribes of Israel.  What a great illustration of God’s overwhelming care and specific concern for His people.  He knows exactly what it takes to refresh you.”

He is the shepherd who knows His sheep.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).  Sometimes we sheep feel the hunger and thirst; we know we are empty and in need of filling, but we depend on a Shepherd to guide us to the perfect place for refreshing and provision.

And when He has led us beside the waters so perfect and the green pastures so filling, we have a testimony to share with others, a story to help them along the way as well.  Like the Psalmist, we declare:

“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:7-8).

We who have received encouragement, in turn encourage others through our testimony.  This encouraging truly is the giving of courage, placing it into the heart of another.  Isn’t that what this cheerleading does? It renews our strength so that we persevere and press on.  God asks us to do this for one another, to stand on the sidelines of a race and cheer, shout, and applaud for the runners: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

How can you be a cheerleader for someone else today?

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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

Two steps forward and two steps back (or so it seems)

This was an unfortunate setback.

A few weeks ago, my husband gently suggested that it may be time for a serious attempt at potty training my two-year-old.

Now, to understand how I felt about this I first have to tell you potty training my two older girls was no easy task.  In fact, it’s fair to say that I’ve never felt as much like a failure in my life as when I was pleading with a toddler just to sit on the potty chair.

I laid awake at night designing reward charts and incentive plans.
I prayed for help from Almighty God so that my kids would be ready for preschool.
I bought books, movies, stickers, M&Ms, toys, and more to bribe them into success.
I avoided all moms who proudly announced their genius 18-month old had been perfectly trained with absolutely no effort in all of a day.

But my husband is a good husband and I’m a good wife.  So, when he asked me to start potty training my toddler, I plunged into what I was sure would be months and months of misery, stress and clean-up.

I pulled out the trusty movie, Potty Power.  I explained underwear to my daughter.  Every 15 minutes, I picked her up and carried her to the bathroom.

And a miracle happened.  A real live, genuine miracle of God.

She figured it out.  She wanted to learn.  She graduated to underwear in a matter of days.  I bet God never had anyone thank Him so much for help potty training her child.

And then.

Then there was the setback.  One week of sickness kicked my baby girl back into Pull-Ups and made her absolutely terrified of a trip to the bathroom.  Now my sanity is loosely held together by a can of Resolve and a bottle of Febreze.

I was discouraged.  She was scared and confused.  We’re baby-stepping our way forward, hoping to regain lost ground.

Have you ever encountered a setback that left you dazed, uncertain, and full of fear?

Perhaps you stepped out in obedience to what you believed was God’s call, but circumstances shifted, obstacles arose, and you’re not reaching the goal.  Perhaps you’ve even begun to question whether you heard God clearly and made the right decision in the first place.

Sometimes God’s plan just doesn’t make sense to us.

For the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt, the most logical route to the Promised Land was straight along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  After a few battles with the Philistines, the Isrealites thought they’d march right into Canaan after no more than a month-long journey.

God had other plans.  Exodus 13:17 tells us: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.'”

Sometimes God takes us the long way around for our own benefit.  In her book One in a Million, Prisicllar Shirer writes that “the wilderness is often safer than the alternative” (p 73).  God chose the wilderness for His people.  Maybe He’s chosen it for you, as well, for your protection and personal growth.

Even after the Israelites followed the pillars of cloud and fire in the direction God had chosen to take them, there were still setbacks.  In Exodus 14:2, God said, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back.”

Turn back?

God led them one way only to turn them around and march them off in a different direction?  Did it seem like God had momentarily lost His compass in the desert?

And yet, this turning back placed the Israelites on the banks of the Red Sea and the only way across now was through His miraculous deliverance.

He turned them around so that He could save them.

So, what do we do as we make confusing desert tracks in the wilderness in our efforts to follow God’s lead?

We could give up.  We could question our listening skills.  We could doubt God’s leadership.  We could stomp off and follow our own course.

Or we could remain focused on our goal and the passion God has placed in our hearts.  That’s the only way the Israelites made it to the Promised Land.  It’s the only way we’ll receive all that God has promised us.

It’s also the only way Nehemiah saw the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt.  Kelly Minter in her book Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break, writes:

“After verbal assaults, physical threats, discouraged laborers, abuses of power and economic distress, Nehemiah never diverted his focus from the wall.  The process may have been slowed and altered as a result of enemies and wayward citizens, but the goal never changed.”

In fact, Nehemiah himself writes, “I also persevered in the work on this wall” (Nehemiah 5:16, ESV).

He continued to build despite threats, fear, confusion, discouragement, distractions and disappointments.  He continued to build despite setbacks.   He never stopped placing brick on top of brick on top of brick in obedience to God.

What has God asked you to build?  Choose today to place another brick on this wall instead of giving up because of obstacles and disappointments.  Choose to “persevere in the work on this wall.”

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

Following the Leader

 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”
Joshua 1:9

The first time I saw my husband, he was on stage, performing in a college production of Jane Austen’s Emma.  A week later, I walked into a Christian ministry group on our college campus and saw him for the second time, leading worship at the front of the room with his guitar.  One more week after that, I was at the front of the room myself, playing the piano for that very same worship team.  That was over 13 years ago and for all those years, this same man has been my worship leader.  He still is every single Sunday morning at our church.

When you follow one person for all those years and know them so well, it becomes easy to trust their leadership, to anticipate what they are going to do, and to follow their cues.  Some people have commented before that they think it’s so cute how I watch my husband intently while he’s leading the music, eyes full of doting adoration.  Now, surely some of that is from love, but there’s something else, too.  I’m watching his hands to see what chords he’s playing on the guitar and watching to see when he steps close to the microphone to sing.  I’m following the leader.

A few months ago, for one brief day, I had to follow a different leader in a worship program and it stretched me a bit.  Without even practicing together, I had to sit down at the piano and follow the speed of her hand directing me and the sound of her voice leading me.  It took effort and concentration on my part to accompany someone new.

That experience made me wonder how Israel must have felt after following Moses all over the wilderness for 40 years and then waking up one morning to find Joshua in charge.  It must have been more than a minor adjustment to follow the new guy.

And then I wondered how Joshua himself must have felt about receiving the baton from Moses.  What did he think about being the follow-up act to the guy who marched the people out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and brought the Ten Commandments down after a mountain meeting with God?  If God asked me to do that job, I honestly might have passed on the offer.

After all, Moses had almost passed on God’s offer of ministry to him.   Years before at the burning bush, when God called Moses to lead the Hebrew nation out of Egypt, Moses actually said, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13).  He felt ill-equipped for a job so big.  He said he had “never been eloquent” and was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:13).

Ultimately, Moses was a powerful leader for the wayward nation and saw God more intimately than almost any other human ever has.  But that weakness of his, that tendency to wonder if God could come through against overwhelming odds caused problems for him later on.

When the Israelites arrived at Canaan about two years after taking that first step out of Egypt, God told him to “send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites” (Numbers 13:1).  Moses’s instructions to these 12 spies, though, were a little more hesitant than God’s.  He said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many.  What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? (Numbers 13:17-19).  Does it seem like Moses is wondering just how possible the conquest of Canaan would be?  Sure enough, ten of the twelve spies came back announcing that there was no way they could take over that land, no matter what God had promised.

All the spies except Joshua and Caleb.

You see, Joshua believed that if God said it, then it would happen.  He placed his confidence in God’s ability and not in his own. The first time we read about Joshua in Scripture is in Exodus 17:9-10: “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’ So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered.”

Notice that Joshua just obeyed.  He didn’t argue about the task, tell Moses why he was incapable of performing it or explain why someone else would be better equipped for the job.  And any of those responses would have made sense.  As far as we can tell, Joshua had no military or leadership training.  One day, Moses just walked up to him and said, “make an army and defeat the enemy”—all in one day’s time.  Talk about impossible expectations!  Yet, Moses told him what to do and Joshua did it.

Maybe that’s why after the Israelites spent another 38 years of running circles in the wilderness, God chose Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land.  Because this time God told Joshua what to do and Joshua did it—without arguing over insufficiency or asking God to send somebody else.

God gave Joshua one consistent message when he called him to be the new leader for the nation.  Three times in Joshua 1, God says, “Be strong and courageous” and ultimately tells Joshua,  ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

And Joshua believed God and obeyed Him—no matter how ill-equipped he felt for the task.  Instead of focusing on his own weaknesses and insufficiency, he focused instead on God’s powerful ability and faithfulness to His promises. He believed that God equips those He calls.

Priscilla Shirer in One in a Million writes:

Is there something in your life right now that God has called you to do, but you just don’t have the courage to engage in?  What do your excuses reveal about yourself and how you feel about God?  For each of Moses’s excuses, God had a response.  It took time, but He assured Moses that human inability could never override God’s divine ability to work through him and to accomplish His purposes.  How much different, though, to be a person like Joshua who doesn’t need coddling and explanations?  Look what God can do through someone who receives His instructions not just personally . . . but fearlessly.

If God has given you a child to care for, He will equip you in your ministry to that child.  If God has asked you to teach, He will equip you as a teacher.  If God has asked you to be a caregiver, He will equip you with strength and compassion.  If God has asked you to be a witness for Christ to an unbelieving family, He will equip you with a testimony of grace and give you courage to be a light in a dark place.  If He has given you a vision for a ministry far beyond your ability to produce, He will equip you with the skills and ministry partners you need in every situation.

We simply need to trust in a God whose word is always true.  If He said it, we can believe it.  No, we’re not capable enough to be used or sufficient enough for the circumstances we face.  But He is.  Therefore, we don’t need to be afraid or discouraged because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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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

Am I the One, Lord?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”  2 Cor. 13:15

Twelve disciples, one Savior, reclined and relaxed, celebrating Passover together in an Upper Room.  Thirteen share in a meal of remembrance that they would always remember and that we continue to remember.   The Last Supper.  Communion.  “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Together they have eaten and laughed, declared “For His mercy endures forever” and sung hymns in worship.  They are jovial, anticipatory, expecting Christ’s triumph in Jerusalem.

Jesus leans in, “While they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’ (Matthew 26:21, NLT).

Silence.  Stillness.  Seriousness.

If Jesus said this at the end of a church service today and the pianist played the quiet first notes of the closing hymn, many of us would be nudging our neighbor or making concerted efforts NOT to stare at the person across the room.  (Or, perhaps, making lunch plans and quieting the rumbles in our stomachs. )  It’s you, it’s you, it’s you—we might think.  That sermon is for you!  That heaviness of the Holy Spirit—it’s for you!  I’ve seen your sin.   I know your need to repent.

And yet, 12 disciples, “greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one, Lord?'” (Matthew 26:22, NLT).

Am I the one, Lord?

This seeking is our salvation.  We ask the dangerous question and we allow the Holy Spirit to turn over our hearts and reveal our own true need to be at the altar and lay it down.  Or the Holy Spirit searches, finds purity of heart, and invites us to pray for those around us still struggling.

It’s our complacency and satisfaction with our spiritual dwelling place that leads to our downfall.  It’s when we stake our claim to land and decide we’ve traveled enough in this road to Christ that we edge our way to danger.  I’m pure enough.  Good enough.  I’m not lukewarm.  I’ve conquered the “big” sins.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I’m close to God.  I have a strong ministry.

I’m good.  Right here, in this place, I’m good here.

But this journey to Christ is ongoing.  As long as we are alive on this planet, we are imperfect creatures in need of an ever-closer intimacy with our Savior.

This moving to Christ requires moving away from something else.  It’s a necessity of the road.   In order to go forward, we must leave something behind.

That was true for Israel.  God called them to Canaan when He beckoned Abram out of Mesopotamia and its many gods and idols.  God called them back to the Promised Land when He led them out of Egypt and they left slavery for freedom.

They walked towards promise, but it involved rejection—rejecting the old definition of “normal.”  It was “normal” for those in Abram’s home town to pray to statues and worship bits of stone and wood.  It was “normal” in Egypt for male babies to be slaughtered simply for population control.

It’s “normal” for us to be too busy for God, to lose it with our kids, to be selfish, to feel jealousy, to cheat, to lie, to overindulge , to worry, to rebel, to gossip. . .  We think these sins are acceptable because everyone does them and no one can be perfect.

Yet, God calls us out of “normal” and into radical.  He doesn’t ask us the hard questions to shame us or humiliate us.  He does it to draw us close to Him so that we are “being transformed . . .from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).

Eugene Peterson wrote, “Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light.  It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”

Peter sat at that Passover table and asked the dangerous question, “Am I the one, Lord?”  He allowed the searching of his heart.  It wasn’t him.  Eleven of those at the table endured their souls being turned over and could say that they were innocent of this betrayal.

Yet, then they stopped asking.  That’s our weakness, too.   When we stop asking the Holy Spirit to search us, when we become complacent and self-assured, it’s when we will betray.

Like Peter.  Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him.  “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crowd, you will deny Me three times.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’  And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35, NKJV).

But, he was wrong.  Jesus arrested.  Jesus taken away in chains.  Jesus bullied, beaten, spat on, and mocked.  Peter in the courtyard answering the questioning accusations of others by the fire.  “I never knew the fellow.  I wasn’t one of his disciples.  I didn’t follow Him.”

He stumbled into betrayal because he was complacent.  Peter thought he knew what was in his heart, that he was right with God and strong in his faith.  So, he stopped asking, “Am I the one, Lord?” and started saying, “Not I.”

And so we must ask and keep on asking, “Search my heart, search my soul.  There is nothing else that I want more.  Shine Your light and show Your face.  In my life, Lord, have Your way, have Your way” (Hillsong United).

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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