How Can I Dance in Worn-Out Shoes?

 

She tells me they fit.  “Ballet shoes need to be that tight,” she says.

I’m looking at the worn-out gray of the leather where she’s danced and danced on that shoe, and I’m thinking it’s been two years probably since I bought them for her.

Maybe she’s the dance expert, but this momma knows too small when I see it.20140404-130817.jpg

When you have to crinkle your whole foot up to cram it into the shoe and then whisk your finger back before it gets trapped behind your heel, that means it’s time to let those beloved dance shoes go, baby girl.

So, she plops down onto the bench at the studio reluctantly and I tell her to show the teacher and let the expert decide.

About two minutes later, we start pulling out new shoes to try on and we have to skip size after size to find one that finally fits correctly.

I wonder this: Am I cramming myself right down all squashed and painful into life that doesn’t fit anymore?  Habits I’ve outgrown?  Ministries I need to let go?  Behaviors I need to put behind me?

Am I stubbornly holding onto what isn’t working just because it’s here, because it’s known, because the ill-fitting discomfort of this seems better than the unknown with all its newness and risk and…dare I say it….change?

Am I saying I want to know Christ more, be more like Him, follow Him more closely, but then stubbornly clinging to the same-old, same-old patterns of faith and even sin?

Jesus saw this man, crippled for 38 years, lying out by the pools of Bethesda, the miracle waters they said, the place where the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed congregated in hopes of a healing.

The man didn’t cry out to Jesus to “have mercy.”  He didn’t have friends carry him on a stretcher and lower him down through a roof to get to Jesus’ feet.  He didn’t ask for healing at all, not like others in the Gospels who were desperate to get to Jesus.

This man laid by the pool of Bethesda, just laid there because he’d lain there so long.Photo by Ruud Morijn;

It was Jesus who initiated the miracle, and He began with a question, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV).

Did he want to get well?  Wasn’t he there at the pool of Bethesda and hadn’t he been there so long?  Wasn’t this what you did when you needed a miracle? 

Of course, he wanted to get well!

Yet, we can say all the right things, make all the right promises, repeat all the good-Christian phrases and still miss the honest truth:

That maybe we don’t want to get well.

Not really.

Maybe we don’t want to know Him more,  don’t want to be healed, to be transformed from the inside out, to obey Him, to follow Him wherever He leads.

If we did, wouldn’t we be desperate to be at His feet?  Wouldn’t we be screaming loud enough to be heard over the crowd, “Have mercy, Son of David!!!?”  Wouldn’t we be begging friends to bring us to Christ and crawling on our hands and knees through a crowd of people just so we could brush the corner of His robe?

Instead, too often we lie there and wait for God to come to us.

And when Jesus does come and He asks, “Do you want faith?  Do you want healing?  Do you want to know me more?  Do you want to follow me?”

We can act all offended.  Pretend like the answer is obvious. We can make excuses.

The man said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7 NIV).

Maybe this was genuine, hopelessness, lack of help.

Or maybe it was justification, excuse-making, avoiding what radical obedience might cost him.

Either way, Grace invited him in.  Grace held that hand right out.

Do you want to get well?

And isn’t that Grace?  Never belligerent.  Never forcing, demanding.  Always inviting. 

Then, when we accept, Jesus gives us the next step.  “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” He said.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

The man obeyed.  He stopped waiting, stopped making excuses, and he grabbed that mat up and walked right out of there. 

Today, let’s put aside the ill-fitting, worn out shoes we’ve been cramming ourselves into.  Let’s stop doing what we’ve always done.  Let’s stop justifying the inactivity.

And let’s run hard after Jesus.

Let’s be unashamed and relentless in our pursuit of Jesus and the healing work He wants to do in our life, our hearts, our minds, so that He can look right at us and all that we’re doing to get to Him and know the answer without even asking.

Do you want to get well?

Yes, Lord, and Amen.

 Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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

 

Ask Me More: I Don’t Really Need to Hear Who Had the Lego First

Most days my kids get along like peanut butter and jelly.  But some days it’s more like peanut butter and mayonnaise.

She thinks I really need to know that her sister called her a bad name and took the Lego that she needed for her Lego house.

Her sister thinks I really need to know that she had the Lego first and, by the way, she only called her a name because she called her a name first.

Pretty soon, everyone’s crying and shouting and interrupting each other with “nah-ah” and “ah-hah” and “I didn’t” and “She did.”

They’re waving their arms frantically at me as if that helps me understand the complicated chain of events that led to this sibling explosion.

Maybe a better mom than me could sort through all the noise to discover the instigator, the true culprit here, and the ultimate source of injustice.

Me?  I’m not that better mom.  All I know is they needed to stop fighting in my face, like, 5 minutes ago because it’s totally trampling all over my peace and happy, holy, Jesus-girl joy.

And what about minivan fights?  I can’t even send them to separate corners because seatbelts have certain restrictions and even though these children are driving me crazy at the moment, I do actually love them and want them to be safe.  So I can’t tie one to the roof or anything.

Pretty soon, I’m the crazy mom behind the wheel whispering the name of “Jesus” over and over again because there’s nothing I need more at that moment than some saving grace.

When we fought as kids, my own mom used to make us quote Ephesians 4:29.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)

She’d interrupt the tattling and squabbling with, “What’s the Bible say?”  And then, BAM, we’d have to quote Ephesians 4:29 at her.  It’s pretty hard to keep on fighting while actively quoting the word of God.

It’s genius.

So, I’m thinking of making up some of my own verse cards. Maybe a little Ephesians.

Maybe this:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)

And this one, too:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34)

As it is, I’m giving the Mom-speech.john13

Show kindness.  Give grace.  Be gentle, slow-to-anger.

And, I’m thinking as I whisper Bible-truth to my daughters that maybe this isn’t just a lesson for my kids.

It’s a lesson for the church.

We have our own way of erupting into sibling squabbles and could there be any uglier noise to God’s ears than His own children battling it out?

My daughters seem to think that I really want to hear about their sisters’ offenses.

And maybe sometimes in the church we think God really wants to hear what’s wrong with those around us.  We think we’re somehow doing God a favor, rooting out unrighteousness or hypocrisy, failure or imperfection.

Saul (who became Paul) did.  He plowed through the New Testament church like a raging bull in a china shop, smashing to pieces any believers he encountered.

He was a murderer, a church-persecutor, thinking he was doing God’s will the whole time.

But when Jesus showed up as a blinding light in the middle of a highway to Damascus, Saul crashed to the ground and heard this:

“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3).

It’s a stunning question, because Saul didn’t even know who this was.  This was the resurrected Jesus he didn’t even believe in.

So, when Saul asked his own question, “Who are you?” Jesus gave the shocking reply:

“I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! (Acts 9:5).

Persecuting Jesus?  Nah.  Saul was persecuting wayward Jews who were tainting the law.  That’s what he thought.

But Jesus takes it personally when we hurt His people.

And sadly, so much of the time it’s His own people hurting one another with our legalism, judgment and in-house fighting, all in the name of zealous righteousness.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Instead of taking it to prayer, instead of confessing our own sins or showing grace, instead of overlooking faults or even speaking the truth but doing it in love, we’re making a horrible racket of hurting our brothers and sisters in Christ.

No, we’re not killing one another or sending each other off to prison like Saul did.  But too much of the time, we’re acting out of self-righteous rage, not love.

And that’s just noise to Him.

So maybe God can ask us that same question when we’re all enthusiastic about condemning another believer.

Why are you persecuting ME?

Oh Lord, forgive us.  We didn’t know that was You we were hurting all along.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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 © 2013 Heather King

Ask Me More…Where were you?

She said her dad didn’t love anybody.

Not her mom.  Not the kids.  Nobody.

That’s what the girl told my daughter.  And that’s what my daughter told me.

My daughter struggles to understand this invasion of innocence.

We adults slowly learn to cope with the ugly truth about how sin distorts, taints, and breaks.  How this world is hard sometimes, hurtful and messy.

But she’s not accustomed to the pain yet or desensitized to the sadness, so her heart aches for her friend and she struggles with questions and brings them to me:

What does that mean? How come her family isn’t together any more?  Why does that happen to families?  Where will she stay?  Will she still see her dad?

Pain often provokes our questions, too.

There’s something about tragedy that stirs up doubt and wondering.  We want to wrestle with the beasts of injustice and sorrow, trying to make sense of it all with logic and defeat them with some philosophical musings.

But we just don’t know.

We can’t always see why this happened or how it will all work out or what good could come of any of it or what God is doing in the midst of the rubble.

In Scripture, it’s Job that engages in this fight.

We gloss over his pain so quickly as Christians:  Job was a good guy who had bad things happen to him.  Lots of bad things.  Blah blah blah, yeah yeah yeah.

“Bad things” hardly.

His property destroyed, his servants killed, his own body festering with sores, his wife grown bitter, his friends on platforms of self-righteousness……maybe those are “bad things.”

Yet, every single one of his children was killed at once in a freak accident.

If you’ve cradled your own baby in your arms, stroking his cheek with your finger, cooing baby talk, tickling her baby belly, rocking and swaying and humming sweetly, then consider Job’s loss.

Seven sons, three daughters—-dead like a snapping of the fingers.job19

How could he ever breathe again?  No wonder he just wanted to die himself.

So, he ponders and postulates and asks God to explain Himself.  He longs to put God on trial and pose the questions with God on the witness stand.

“Where were you?” Maybe that’s what Job longed to ask God and have answered.

Yet, God never answers all of Job’s questions, not in this life anyway.

Instead, God lets Job pour out all of that bitterness and hurt, knowing perhaps that what we need most in sorrow is the opportunity to be sorrowful.

Then, God responds, not with answers, but with questions.

Lots of lots of questions.  Chapters and chapters of questions.  Pages and pages of questions.  Just about 60 in all.

But here’s the bottom line:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding… (Job 38:4 NASB)

Was Job there when God parted the seas from the land or set the birds in the sky or there as He makes the sun to rise and set every single day as faithfully as our faithful God?

Does Job even know how God makes it rain, or feeds the lions, or transforms water into ice?

The questions bring Job to this place where he looks in a mirror and sees his own limitations.

I don’t know. 

What else could he say?

What else to answer but this:

“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
“Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more”  (Job 40:3-5 NASB)

So, I confess this to my daughter, “I don’t know, baby girl.”

Sometimes there’s not much else to say.

Yet, there were two things that Job did know:

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  Job 19:25 NASB

and this:

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2 NASB

Maybe we don’t always know the answer to “why” or “what now” or “how could this be…”

Still we know this:

Our God lives and will return one day in victory to redeem us and to redeem this broken world.

and

God can do anything  There’s nothing too insignificant to escape His notice and nothing too difficult for Him to handle.

When God asks us questions, we might not always know the answers, but we know He does.  That’s the simplicity and the challenge of faith.

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 © 2013 Heather King