Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This, Part III

“Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, All my springs of joy are in You'”
Psalm 87:7, NASB

Years ago, I fell in love with a song we used to sing at church called Jesus, Lover of My Soul.  The song begins with a simple, worshipful declaration that, “It’s all about You, Jesus.  And all this is for You, for Your glory and Your fame.  It’s not about me, as if You should do things my way.  You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways.”

Frequently, I would belt out the first line of this song with an impassioned Freudian slip, crooning, “It’s all about ME, Jesus.”

Oops!

I didn’t really mean it, of course.  There are just some lyrics I manage to mix up at times.  None of them, though, quite as telling as that mistake.  Sadly, but truly, there are so many days and moments when my focus is on me and not on God at all.  It’s those days and seasons of my life when I wish God would just do things my way and when “surrender” becomes my least favorite word.

I began this week struggling, fighting to have a good attitude and a smile when my day was difficult and downright yucky.  During that bad day, though, God spoke truth to me and drew me in closer to Him.

You can read the previous posts here:

And now, Lesson Three: It’s Not About Me; It’s About Him

Part of my struggle on my bad day was wondering how I could possibly minister to others when I was working hard at basics like keeping calm with misbehaving children and not stressing about my calendar.  When I felt so empty, how could I pour out to another?  It’s one thing to serve and encourage when we’re overflowing; God’s goodness just sploshes over the tops of our lives and refreshes all who cross our paths.

But, what about when our cup seems dry?  What happens then when a thirsty neighbor lifts up needy hands in our direction and we ladle out empty air?

And that’s where I was.  All day I met up with those hurting and thirsty; I sat at the computer looking at drafts of devotionals, knowing I couldn’t complete them for the day.  Then, I heard it– my own voice echoing in my head, singing “It’s all about ME” from years ago.

Wasn’t that what I was saying?  That when a friend has a problem, the source of my answer is Me?  That when I sit to write this devotional, the words and the thoughts are dependent on Me—my ability, my ideas, my inspiration, my quiet times?

It carries over into my everyday life, too.  As I lift my baby out of the crib far too early in the morning and she’s tired and cranky and she doesn’t even know why—I could depend on Me to be calm and cheerful or comforting or I could depend on God.  When I pull my older girls close as they cry out tears of disappointment and I scan the house and see all of the cleaning I’m not accomplishing in that moment, I could stress out because I’m not sufficient enough, but then I’d be depending on Me once again.

Sitting on my desk (on top of the paper stacks), is My Utmost for His Highest, with the words from today’s reading underlined and starred.  Oswald Chambers wrote: “Jesus was saying, ‘Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.’ In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you ‘will flow the rivers of living water’ (John 7:38).”

Similarly, the Psalmist wrote, “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, ‘All my springs of joy are in You‘” (Psalm 87:7, NASB).

God is the Source, the Spring from which comes all my joy.  He’s not an immovable Fountain either, located at only one place or accessible at only certain times of the day.  He is my Portion and Provision every moment of every day.  When I find myself carrying my cup back to Him like Oliver Twist in the orphanage, asking shamefacedly, “Please, Sir, can I have some more?,” I’m forgetting that I serve a generous God, who longs to pour out His grace on me.  He isn’t stingy and doesn’t want me thirsty or starving.  The more times a day I lift my cup to Him, the more times He will fill it.  If that means I’m having a quiet time every five minutes all day long, then that’s what it takes to fill up at the Fountain of God.

When I’m running back to the well every few minutes, I know it’s because I’m a leaky person, with holes punched all in my heart from stress and busyness.  Yet, it’s also because I’m pouring out to others and God is willing, even joyful, to replace what I’ve spilled over into the cups of my husband, my children, my friends, my Bible Study girls, my church members, the Wal-Mart cashier and the girl who cuts my hair.

The frequency of my visits to the Well doesn’t reveal my weakness or failure.  It reveals my dependency on Him. 

Yet, when I peer into my empty cup and think I’m too dry to walk this Christian life, too empty to share with another, then I’m forgetting that It’s All About Him.  None of the ministry I perform in my home or outside of it is contingent on my ability, brains, beauty, education, character, or godliness (thank goodness!).

At Iconium, Paul and Barnabus “spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling the to perform signs and wonders” (Acts 14:3).  The ministry they performed was only possible because God enabled them to do it.  He empowered them, He directed them, He filled them up, and then He blessed what they gave.

He is enabling us, as well.  Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and Cliff Richard wrote, “The more we depend on God, the more dependable we find He is.”  On the days when we feel like everything is good, we’ve got everything under control and our cups are filled to overflowing, it’s hard to tell whether we’re depending on God or on us—whether it’s all about Him or all about Me.  But, in the tough times and on the bad days, there’s no question about it.  We’ve got nothing to offer.  He’s the only Source.  He’s what fills us up.  He’s what provides what we need for our own cup and also for the cups of those around us.  It’s all about Him.

So, if you’ve had a bad day this week and need a pick-me-up moment and a chance to refocus, I hope you enjoy some songs with me! 


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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

This is the Way, Walk in It

“Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it'”
Isaiah 30:21

Last night, my husband asked me to consider and pray about something that would be a huge faith step for me.  I told him I had already prayed about it.  It was all written out in my prayer journal and I had already told God that I would obey once He provided financially.  To which my husband very gently reminded me that I had just written these words that very day: “As I’ve meditated on obedience, I’ve realized that healing, deliverance, blessing, and provision come as we obey—not before we obey.”

Oh, yeah, I remember writing that.

Then I told God that obeying is fine, but this step of obedience didn’t really make sense to me because it doesn’t quite fit my plan and doesn’t fully work out on paper.

To which God once again reminded me of the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt.

The Israelites had a plan when they left Egypt.  They marched out of captivity in battle formation because they expected God to take them via the quickest route between The Land of Goshen in Egypt to Canaan.  Along that route, lived the battle-ready Philistines.  So, the Israelites envisioned a few quick fights, about a month-long hike and voila—Promised Land!

Yet, Scripture says:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.  (Exodus 13:17-18, NIV).

Not only did God take them the long way around, He took them to Horeb where they received the 10 Commandments and Horeb is about as far from the Promised Land as you could get.  Taking this route surely didn’t make sense to the Israelietes, but God did this for their blessing and benefit.  He knew that if they faced war, they would quickly give up and head back to slavery.  What looked like a total failure of God’s GPS system ultimately determined the success of their journey.

The people never questioned God’s strange directions, though, because they had visible evidence of His plan. They were guided day and night by pillars of cloud and fire, showing them exactly where to travel and when to move.

Now, at first I was feeling a little bit short-changed in this whole deal.  They get massive, unmistakable, highly miraculous pillars of cloud and fire and I get a still small voice to direct my steps.  How is this fair?

In her book One in a Million, Priscilla Shirer puts it this way:

Wouldn’t it be nice for God to come down and linger over the person we are to marry or the building where our new job awaits?  Wouldn’t it be great to know for sure this house was the one we should put an offer on because God’s cloud hung just over the roof line?

Yes, that would be great!  I’ll take one order of miraculous and totally unmistakable evidence of God’s will with lots of specific details please!

While the Israelites had pillars of cloud and fire to guide them, the disciples had Jesus in human flesh to teach and direct them.  Yet, even Jesus told His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7, NIV).  Francis Chan writes in Forgotten God: “When the disciples heard that two thousand years ago, I’m sure it was hard for them to grasp.  How could it be better to trade a human Jesus–a man they could talk and eat and laugh with–for a Spirit they couldn’t physically see?  Thousands of years later, I think most of us would also choose a physical Jesus over an invisible Spirit.”  Jesus is so clear, though, that it is for our good that we are given the indwelling and ever-present Holy Spirit to guide us.

So, we really haven’t been short-changed at all.  We have the Holy Spirit with us always, a constant Guide, Advocate, Comfort and Counselor.  Jesus promised we would receive “another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth . . . you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17, NIV).  I know His voice because I have spent time in God’s Word and time in God’s presence through prayer.  I’ve heard His voice before and walked with Him in obedience.  I double check to make sure what I am hearing lines up with Scripture and ask: Is it consistent with God’s character and with what He has been teaching me and can it be confirmed by others in my life?

Then, when He calls me to obey, even when I don’t understand all the details or how it will all work out, I must, as the hymn says, “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

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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

Walking on the smooth, straight road

“Love for God and obedience to God are so completely involved in each other that either one of them implies the other too.”
~F.F. Bruce~

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15, NIV).

Obedience is on my mind.  That’s partly because I’m a mom and I spend most of my every day giving commands for my kids to obey.  “Brush your teeth.  Get your lunch.  Don’t forget your homework.  Practice the piano.  Move faster.  Don’t run.” If you’ve never seen Anita Renfroe sing her William Tell Momisms, a quick listen will show you how most of my days sound.  If it’s been a while since you heard her sing this, treat yourself to another listen and a good laugh.

I’ve also been thinking about obedience, though, because since the start of this year, God has been gently compelling me to take new steps of obedience, to follow Him into some new areas, even though I don’t know if it will be “worth it,” or why it’s important for me to do these things.  I don’t understand; I’m just obeying.

As I’ve meditated on obedience, I’ve realized that healing, deliverance, blessing, and provision come as we obey—not before we obey.

When we hear God tell us what He wants to do, we could sit back and say, “Okay, God, I’ll totally give that after You provide” or “God, I’ll be happy to minister in that way after You deliver me from my pain.”  I’ve been telling Him I’ll obey after He gives me the time to do it or after He shows me whether what I am doing will matter.

That’s not how God works, though.

In Luke 11:11-17, we read about Jesus healing 10 lepers.   The men were outcasts of society, who cried out to Him to “have pity on us!  It says, “When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.”

At a recent women’s conference, Lysa TerKeurst emphasized how Jesus’s instructions were so strange.  Technically, these men weren’t supposed to leave the leper colony.  If they thought they were in remission, they were supposed to call for the priest and the priest would come to them.  Only when the priest verified that they were “clean” were they allowed to go back to the village.

Yet, Jesus told them to leave and go get the priest before anything had changed for them.  They weren’t healed yet.  The Bible says, “As they went, they were cleansed.”

Sometimes God tells us to obey even before we’ve seen the provision or the healing.   I love reading about families who are adopting and their testimonies are almost always the same.  God called them to adopt.  They were overwhelmed by the financial cost and they had no money to pay for it.  They pursued adoption anyway and God provided every penny at just the right time.

As they obeyed His call to adopt, God gave them the resources they needed.

As you obey God’s call to give, He will provide.  As you obey His call to minister, He will equip you.  As you obey His call to go, He will direct your path.

The blessing is in the going and in the obedience.  In Psalm 128:1, it says:  “All you who fear God, how blessed you are! how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!” We’re blessed when we are walking on the straight road that God has directed us to take.  Our blessing is not in sitting beside the road watching others go by.  Our blessing isn’t in trailblazing our own road, heading in the direction we choose.  It’s only when we are in motion and taking steps of obedience, that we are blessed.

As it says in Psalm 128:2, 4:  “Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness! . . . Stand in awe of God’s Yes. Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!” (MSG).

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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