What a Letdown

My toddler and I have daily disagreements about what he needs.

I say he needs a nap.   He thinks he needs unlimited playtime.matthew6-33

I say he needs healthy food, like the banana I sliced up on his highchair tray.  He thinks he needs the cookie hidden at the top of the snack cabinet.

I say he needs a diaper change.  He feels the need to scream at the top of his lungs, contort his body, writhe and wriggle to avoid being cleaned up.

After I win that battle and clean his little bottom, I say he needs a new diaper on.  He runs away giggling because he thinks he needs to hang out in the nude.

I say he needs to come out of the bath when the water is cold and his fingers are wrinkling like prunes.  He says he needs to stay in the bath.  Period.  Like, forever.

Momma says he needs to play with his books, his blocks, and his toy trucks.  He thinks he needs to play with my smartphone.

I say he needs to color with the crayons on paper.  He disagrees, believing he needs to color with the crayons on our books and then eat the crayon.

I tell him he needs to pet the cat gently or not at all.  He thinks he needs to jump on the cat, pull the cat’s tail, sit on the cat and then stretch out with his whole body covering the cat and ignore the hissing and growling.

I know what he needs in order for him to be healthy, well-fed, well-rested, clean, and safe.

Yet, if I gave him what he thought that he needed, he’d be naked and starving, covered in his own feces, utterly exhausted and mauled to pieces by an irritated feline.

Perhaps part of growing up is learning what we really need.

Or perhaps we never truly learn.

After all, don’t I sometimes pray for what I need and discover through temporary disappointment and ultimate awe that God knew better? His “no,” though painful in the moment, becomes my salvation.

God loves us enough to give us what we really need rather than what we’ve mistakenly asked for.

Four men carried their paralyzed friend on a cot to see Jesus.  They tried to shove through the mob that was packed into the house, but they failed.

So, they climbed onto the roof, hauled the stretcher up there, broke down the thatch, and lowered their friend into the middle of the room.

They pushed and pushed and pushed through every obstacle so their friend could have what he ‘needed.’

Mark writes:

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven”  (Mark 2:5 ESV).


Is this what they wanted?

In his book, The One-Year Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional, Chris Tiegreen writes:

 Clearly they came for one thing: healing.  They wanted their friend to walk.  He wanted to walk.  A miracle was all they had on their minds.  So a declaration of forgiveness, while a nice spiritual touch, might have been a letdown.

Let down.

Is that how we feel when we come looking for the miracle, and He heals our heart instead?

So often we come to God with the practical need and the specific requests, telling Him our problems and sometimes even telling Him how to fix them.

His desire, though, isn’t just for our best; it’s for our spiritual best.  It’s to break down every obstacle to His presence and cut through every barrier to intimacy with Him.

We ask to walk.

He grants forgiveness first.

That man stood up off that mat and walked out of the house with his friends.  His physical need was met.  But more importantly, Jesus answered his true spiritual need first.

And, what do any of us really need?

A better job?  A healed marriage? An end to conflict?  A bigger house?  A good doctor’s report?

Yes. Maybe.

But more than that…..we need mercy.  We need grace.  We need His Presence.  We need hope.  We need forgiveness.

When we seek Him, truly seek Him, searching for His face, listening for His voice, longing to know Him and to talk with Him, He gives us what we really need.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33 ESV).

Lord, what I really need is You.

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, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: Mom Guilt

Originally posted on November 28, 2011

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
(Matthew 7:11)

Mom Guilt.

That’s what had me standing in the Christmas lights aisle at Wal-Mart two days after Thanksgiving.  I squinted and stared at the options before me.  Icicle lights.  Blue, green, or red lights.  Sparkly, flashing lights with 12 different settings.  Heavy duty lights.  Mini lights.

Then there were clips and clasps of every variety to attach the perfect lights to your house.  Did I need these things?  Wasn’t there a way to hang lights sans gadgets and gizmos?

I grabbed plain white mini lights from the shelf, thinking my first attempt at decorating the outside of our home should be simple.  “Start small,” I thought.

For years, my oldest daughter had begged me to decorate the outside of our home for Christmas.  This year, her pleading had reached a new level of intensity.

She took one look at the homes with Christmas lights already gleaming in mid-November (insert looks of disgust here!!!) and whined from the back of our minivan, “Mom . . . . . . . .Everyone’s house is so beautiful for Christmas and ours is just DULL.”

I threw angry glances at the decorated houses as we sped by.  Even if they didn’t know I was mad at them, at least I felt better getting the feeling off my chest.

Still, I get it.  I remember being a kid and pestering my dad to hang Christmas lights on our home for years.  I remember taking the lights tour in the family van and oohing and aahing over the decorations and thinking it’d be great to add a little Christmas flare to the outside of our house.

So, there I was buying lights from Wal-Mart.  And there I was starting simple, stringing them up the steps to my home and around the door frame.  And there was my daughter exclaiming how beautiful it was.

She actually had asked for one of those giant blow-up Snow Globes for the front yard along with a massive Frosty the Snowman and maybe some lighted reindeer figurines.

But there are limits.  Mom guilt only gets you so far.

When I’m praying, I wonder how many of my requests to God make it to His throne room sounding like the high-pitched whine of pouring on “God guilt.”

“God, all my friends have their careers all set and know what they want to do with their lives, but I’m floundering around waiting for some direction here!”

“God, You thought everyone else deserved a husband to love them and tell them they’re beautiful.  What’s the deal with me still being single?”

“God, how come everybody else is financially secure and has a savings plan and we’re struggling paycheck to paycheck and never truly making it?”

God doesn’t bless us or rescue us out of guilt, though.  Not now.  Not in the past.  Not ever.  He’s not guilted into love and He wasn’t guilted into the cross.

Deep down, me stringing lights across the front steps of my house wasn’t truly about guilt either.  It was about love.

My daughter had made a request.  Not a ridiculous one, all motivated by greed or pride or selfishness.  It was the simple desire of a child’s heart.

And I love her.

So, I gave in.  I spent less than $10 for some lights and garland and took a tiny piece of my time and gave her the desire of her heart.

I can’t always give her everything she wants.  She can’t have every toy or outfit or trip her friends have.  She can’t do every activity she wants to do.  Nor would that be good for her anyway.

Still, I give her what I can when I can because I love this beautiful daughter of mine.  I love to see her react with joy, love to see her know she’s loved, love to show her that I listen to what she says.

God loves you.

He loves to see you react with joy.  He loves to see you when you know you’re loved.  He loves to show you that He listens to what you say.

God’s intention is always relational, though.  He isn’t just dishing out answers to prayer requests like some sort of holy vending machine.

The Psalmist tells us, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Take delight in your relationship with Him.  Linger in His presence.  Make Him your first priority.  Allow Him to re-arrange the furniture of your heart and match your desires with His.

And when you begin to feel the frantic panic of need, remember that God tells you “do not worry about your life.”  Not about having food or drink.  Not about having clothes to wear.  He watches over the birds of the air and the flowers in the field and He values us so much more than them.  He surely can handle our every need.

So, keep your focus relational.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Then when He pours out blessing on you, when He loads your arms full of good gifts, when He grants the simplest petitions of your heart—even the whimsical longings you are too embarrassed to actually ask for—accept it as a reminder of His love.  He wasn’t coerced or guilted into giving you amazing grace.

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 © 2012 Heather King