Fire drills, tornado drills, lockdown drills, oh my!

psalm 31-22

My daughter announced that she hates ‘drills.’

All kinds of drills, she says.

They were only about two weeks into the school year at the time.

They had fire drills.

They had a tornado drill.

My oldest daughter chimes in about ‘lock-down drills,’ and how her teacher is so funny but the one thing she is super serious about is anyone who dares to giggle, laugh or even squeak out a hint of noise during a lockdown drill.

“She’ll send you to the principal,” my daughter lowers her voice for added drama.

These older girls of mine try to reassure the youngest sister that drills are essential and there to help and not really a big deal.

But the baby girl is testing out fear here.  I can see it on her face and I hear it in the way she keeps bringing these drills up.  When she gets home from school.  Over dinner.  In the minivan.  As she climbs into my lap for bedtime prayers.

“The drills…the drills….the drills…”

Clearly, they are on her mind.  And we older and wiser ones keep jumping in with confidence that everything is fine and not to be afraid, but she’s just not convinced.

So, the fear is kind of leaking out of her heart and into our conversations.

Oh, I don’t blame the drills, of course.   I let her tell me about them all over again and then I look right into her two blue eyes and I even brush away her wild bangs so she can’t miss this reassurance:

Those drills are there to keep you safe.  So that if anything ever happens, you’re not too scared to do the right thing.  We drill now so we don’t have to be afraid later.

She nods knowingly, but I’m her mom and I know we’ll probably have this conversation again in a month when the alarm goes off at school and all the kids file outside for yet another fire drill. So we pray about it, every time it comes up, I pray peace for her.

It’d be nice, it’d be great, it’d be heaven really if we didn’t need drills, if we didn’t have to practice for fire or intruders or tornadoes or a world of harm and hurt.

But we live here, on a broken earth with sin and natural disasters and trouble.

And how we react in the crisis makes a difference.

I know this because haven’t I been alarmed and sent into a dizzying whirlpool of fear at the slightest provocation?

A phone call.

An email.

A Facebook post, for goodness’ sake.

Maybe you, too?  The doctor’s report, the bill in the mail, the late night call, the hurtful remark, the broken car (again), the sobbing friend?

Trouble storms into our lives and how we react in the crisis matters.

We’re tempted to freak out and run around like a wild woman with her hands flailing hysterically in the air.

We’re in crisis mode.  Making phone calls.  Feeling hopeless.  Crying desperately.  Feeling helpless.  Rallying the troops and sending out an SOS signal and doing anything possible to keep from drowning.

I’ll be honest, sometimes it doesn’t even take a crisis, it just takes one tiny bump into my plans for the day for me to settle into a funk of frantic activity and aggravated grumpiness.

The Psalmist said it just right:

In my alarm I said,
    “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
    when I called to you for help (Psalm 31:22 NIV).

In our alarm, when the bad news comes and we haven’t had time for faith to kick in, we snap to the judgment that God has abandoned us.

He can’t see us.

We’re cut off from Him, alone, dependent on our own strength to get us out of this mess.

Our natural reaction to an alarm is haste and hysteria, foolishness and fear.

It’s unnatural to choose peace under pressure.

Yet, the Holy Spirit offers us just such unnatural, supernatural peace.

When everything settled and the crisis passed, the Psalmist recognized the truth: “Yet you heard my cry….”

In the haste of the moment, he had rushed into fear.  But then he saw what was true, God had indeed heard His cry for help.

What about us?

Over time, after alarm and alarm and alarm have passed and the dust settles and we see Jesus right there with us, surely we’d know by now what to do in case of crisis:

Cry to God for help.

Trust Him to hear your call.

Rest in the assurance of His presence.

Choose peace.

Not flaky peace, vague peace, warm-and-fuzzy-feeling peace, or the peace of blindness to our circumstances.

The peace that is the confident assurance of Christ’s presence right where we are.

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


Don’t expect a laptop or an iPad for your birthday

Laptop, iPad, video game, cell phone.

This isn’t my wish list.  This is what my about-to-be-eight-year-old daughter will tell you she wants for her birthday if you ask her.


Her little second grade friends ask her for birthday present suggestions, and this is what she tells them.  Not, “Oh, a Barbie would be nice.  Maybe some new markers and Play-Doh.  I like Legos.”

No, not reasonable requests.

Crazy expensive requests.

So, I tell it to her straight yesterday.  Not even mom and dad will get you a laptop, an iPad or a cell phone for your birthday….so when someone other than your loving parents asks you for birthday ideas, think of something far, far, far, far, far…..less expensive.

To be fair, if I take her to pick out a present for her friends when they have a birthday, she always holds up the most expensive item on the shelf (an $80 Lego set or the $40 complete Disney princess collection or a $50 Xbox game) and declare that this is what her friend would like.

I explain that there are presents parents buy you.  There are presents other family members might buy you.  There are presents friends from school might buy you.

And there are presents so expensive, ain’t nobody gonna buy them for you.psalm66

You have to match the request with the giver.  You have to know whom to ask.

And sometimes, don’t we all get this wrong?  Don’t we carry needs to friends, carry worries to Facebook and Twitter, carry sadness to the phone and bitterness to the coffee shop?

But do we carry it all to Christ?

He’s the only One who can forgive and wash clean.  He’s the only One who can care for our every need, deliver us, redeem us, heal us, and restore us.

Yet, there we go, turning to others first and Jesus last.

Why is it that prayer is so often our final act of desperation instead of our first response to trouble?

Why do we so often try every other possible means of escape besides God?  And only after we realize that we have no hope in this hopeless and impossible situation do we finally give it over to Him?

Judas, that betrayer, collected his 30 silver coins.  Maybe he counted each one, stacking the silver into a pile, planning his financial future.

But Scripture tells us there was regret.  There was the deep conviction of sin.

 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man”  (Mathew 27:3 NLT).

He took that blood money right back, hoping to be absolved of the heavy guilt.

And he confessed his wrong.  “I have sinned….for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

There, he said it.  He was a sinner.  Jesus didn’t deserve that cross.

Shouldn’t confession have shaken the conviction right off his shoulders?  Hadn’t he tried to take it all back, hand the coins over, and smooth right over that sin-laden path he’d traveled?

But the thing about taking our burdens to anyone but Christ is that no one else can handle them.

Those chief priests and religious elite took one look at Judas’s stack of coins and said,

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem” (Matthew 27:4 NLT).

He’d rejected, denied, and handed over to death the only One who could have forgiven the very sin he now carried.  No Pharisee or religious leader could cleanse or absolve such guilt.

Only Jesus.

No only that…they didn’t even care.

Do we do this?  Do we expect worldly goods and other people to assuage our guilt, to calm our fears, to satisfy our hearts, instead of taking everything to the only One who can save and redeem and fill us?

The Psalmist gave this testimony:

For I cried out to him for help,
praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me (Psalm 66:17-20 NLT).

God doesn’t turn us away.  He doesn’t reject our requests or shrug us off like they did for Judas,’ What’s that to Me?  That’s not my problem.”

No, He listens to our prayers and does not withdraw His unfailing love from us.

So, we bring our sin to Him.  We bring our needs to Him.  We bring to Him our worries, fears, messes and mistakes, our everyday struggles, and the stress that keeps us up in the night.

He alone can save.

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