Why I Was Sprawled on the Floor of the Wal-Mart

Psalm 27-4

There’s one item every year.

Every single year.

There was the Elmer’s glue one year that could not be “no run ” Unfortunately, Wal-Mart stocks a million bottles of “no run” glue and keeps a small, more expensive supply of the other kind of Elmer’s hidden away on back shelves.

And there’s the fact that supply lists ask for 24 or 48 pencils, and pencils are sold in groups of 10.  So, you can have 20 pencils or 30 pencils, but to get 24 I have to start opening packages.

The yellow plastic folder with pockets and no prongs, though, wins the award for most elusive school supply item on my list three years running.

Last year, I made a grand effort.  I checked every office supply store, dollar store and Target/Wal-Mart within 30 minutes of my home.  Every time I stopped my minivan at another store, my daughters piped up from the back, “Yellow folder?”

Yes, yellow folder!!  School is starting soon and I am still missing this stinking yellow folder!

Folder-makers actually used to produce and sell this rare treasure.   My oldest daughter had one in first grade, so I know this from experience.

But the operative words here are “used to.”

Apparently, that was the last time these folders were made.  On Amazon last year, private sellers were trying to get desperate parents like myself to pay $30 for this prize. This year, that price has spiked to over $60.

For a folder.

I confess that the hunter in me has in fact almost given in and paid 10 times what any sane person would pay for a folder.  Crazy, I know!  But I am a doer, a rule-follower, a get-things-done kind of girl, and I ….must….check….every…..box…..on the school supply list or die trying.

I finally stopped all the crazy, though, and raised the white flag of defeat last year.  I just carried in alternatives to my daughter’s teacher.

You can have a yellow paper folder with prongs and pockets….A yellow paper folder with pockets and no prongs….A polka dotted plastic folder with some yellow circles on it.

But the one thing I don’t have for you is a plastic yellow folder with pockets and no prongs.  I’m sorry.  Please do not punish my child.

Of course, my daughter’s teacher cheerfully scooped up all three folders from my hands and said, “It’ll be fine!!”

Maybe part of me was expecting a “tsk, tsk, tsk” or to feel like a failure Mom, but instead she showed me a blanket of grace covering over all of my obsessive worrying.

What a relief!

Now, I don’t mind school supply shopping. Buying pencils, pens, and paper is pretty much my happy place.

But I wouldn’t mind if a teacher peeked into the folder aisle at Wal-Mart and saw this rainbow of colors and noticed the absence of yellow…

Please notice the lack of yellow

Please notice the lack of yellow

Then maybe next year they’d ask for an orange folder instead.  I can give you orange!  Or white!  I can give you white!

Just not yellow.

Please have mercy.

Here’s the thing, this year as I sprawled on the floor dodging the feet of the mob of school supply shoppers in Wal-Mart while sorting through every single bin of folders looking for yet another yellow one…again…it hit me.

I sure am willing to exert a ton of effort, spend a whole lot of time, publicly embarrass myself, and drive myself a mountain of crazy to find a folder.

What lengths will I go to in order seek the face of God?

When I feel like He’s hiding, do I shrug it off and move on or do I seek Him with my whole heart?

Is checking the “quiet time” box off my to-do list all I care about or do I just want Jesus, more and more of Jesus?

Am I too easily satisfied with ‘enough’ of God or am I desperately longing see His face?

What about you?

Moses stood on the holy mountain facing our Mighty God and even then didn’t stop pressing in for more.

He asked God, “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

Tony Evans writes:

“What’s fascinating to me about this whole situation is that Moses could have been satisfied with the burning bush. He could have been satisfied with the 10 miraculous plagues. He could have been more than satisfied with the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s armies. But Moses wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more of God. And more. And even more.”  (The Power of God’s Names).

Lord, may we not be too easily satisfied.  May we put in every effort, may we go to every length, may we press in with desperation as we hunt for the greatest treasure of all: More of Your presence.  ~Amen~

P. S. Turns out I kept the old plastic yellow folder from first grade, cleaned it up with a Clorox wipe and got the permanent marker off with some rubbing alcohol.  Recycling old school supplies for the win!

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.

 

How Many Seashells Did I Bring Home from Vacation?

They busied themselves with buckets and shovels, patting sand into castle walls and adding shells and seaweed for decor.

I took this one moment, after my daughters had bounced in the waves and come out with their hair stringy and wet, and now here as they settled on a project.  They exchanged ideas.  What if we….?  How about we….?

They assigned tasks.  I’ll build here while you build there….matthew6

I left the three executive sand architects and walked there along the ocean, passing by families huddled under beach umbrellas.  Even so, I felt the quiet of alone.  Something about that ocean, that pounding out of the waves like the steadiness of a heartbeat, so dependable, so regular, so beyond our understanding.

I glanced out over that rolling water and then focused on the wet sand beneath my feet, on the seaweed and the shells carried to shore.

You can’t walk steady on a beach, not without effort.  You walk and then pause for treasure.  A curved shell, a whole shell, a tiny shell, a colorful shell.  I palmed them as I strolled.

Treasure here.  Treasure there.

Walk.  Pause for shell.  Walk.  Pause for shell.  Walk.  Pause for shell.

It took discipline to force my eyes up.  Stop looking at the ground.  Stop scanning the sand for one more beach memento.

Don’t look so hard for treasure that you miss the grand display of God’s glory right there beside you.

I’m looking for tiny seashells and this ocean keeps hitting that shore with wave after wave. in this vast display of His power, this roaring declaration of praise:

Glory to God!  Glory to God! He is great beyond words.  He is powerful.  He is faithful, steady and certain.  He is beyond understanding.

The Psalmist wrote it:

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty (Psalm 93:4 NIV).

Maybe I’m a treasure-hunter every day.  Head down.  Eyes to the ground.  I’m looking for the prize, the takeaway, the gift I can grip into my hands and the one that digs into the flesh of my palm.

Maybe that’s me.

Maybe I’m scanning and scanning for blessing and it’s an obsession really, perhaps even an addiction because I can dash off a glance at the ocean of glory beside me but it’s quick and I worry, “What am I missing?”  So, I drop my head down again to look for results.

And maybe what I’m missing is seeing Him, seeing His glory, sensing the full weight of His presence and lingering there, not rushing away to do and do, or find and find, or receive and receive.

I had to slip away from the everyday life to discover this obsession of seeking God’s activity instead of His face, seeking His blessing instead of His presence, seeking His gifts instead of simply seeking Him.

Because there’s just something plain-out broken in a girl who would rather look for a tiny seashell covered in sand than looking across the ocean.

And here I am at home, and I’m feeling that pressure to pray for results, pray for answers, for help, deliverance, provision, direction, favor, blessing.

So, I discipline my needy heart.

Hush.  Be still.  Bring it to Jesus and trust Him.

And this:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need (Mathew 6:33 NLT).

So we must seek God’s face and not just His hand.  We seek His presence, not just His gifts.  We seek who He is, not just what He can do.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Retreat and Refresh?

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

 

Drop the stuff to take a picture of the butterfly (and maybe climb a tree)

She saw him there first, sunning himself on those purple flowers, showing off his yellow and black wings.

We hadn’t taken even two steps out of my front door when she shouted and rushed right over.

Two steps out the door?  I was still shifting the weight of the baby carrier against my knee with the diaper bag slung over my shoulder and a bag of library books weighing down my other hand with my keys between my teeth.10170989_696172120430028_1187591291338040542_n

And she’s spotting butterflies.

We stopped.  We emptied our hands so we could take pictures and enjoy one spring butterfly in the warmth of the sun.

But if she hadn’t been there, would I have even seen?  Would I have paced right by that flower bed from front door to minivan in 0.3 seconds?

And, if after a month of looking for beauty I’m still so apt to miss it, then what exactly am I missing?

I go back to the beginning, back to what I know.

God is both Beautiful and the Creator of Beauty.  The Psalmist said:

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth (Psalm 50:2).

So when I seek out the beauty of what He has made, I worship Him, I enter into His presence, and I can glimpse those hints of eternal perfection—the scent of Eden in the here and now.

David wanted this, too.  He wanted to seek out the presence of God and if he could have just one thing, it’d be this:

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4).

I want His presence, His beauty, to be my ‘one thing,’ my passionate pursuit, my eyes-on-the-prize, single-minded, totally focused, never-wavering-for-a-moment ‘thing.’

So why then do I walk out of my front door and need my eight-year-old daughter to see that butterfly on those purple flowers?image by Rudy Bagozzi;

Because my hands are full?

Because my mind is busy?

Because my heart is heavy?

Yes and yes and sometimes (but not always).

What if there’s something more?  I have to at least ask the question.

Isaiah said:

 “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2).

What if something blinds us to His face?  What if we’re trying to see and trying to see, but it’s just impossible?

Don’t you love Zaccheus, though?  This tax collector tried to see Jesus and tried to see Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.

He could have given up, called it a day, headed on home, took a raincheck on a visit to the Messiah.

But no.  He hiked up his robe and scrambled up a tree.

I’m no tree climber.  Never really was.  But now?  A 30-something mom of 4 kids?  What a mess of clumsiness I’d be grabbing branches and hoping they’d hold my weight.

Yet, what if Jesus stopped and looked at that tree and called Zaccheus down because it was just that crazy?  He knew that this sin-filled tax collector was the one man in the crowd who was willing to make an utter fool of himself and do any wild bit of craziness just to see Jesus.

Face-to-face with so much grace, standing right there in Jesus’ presence, Zacchaeus could do nothing less than repent and change (Luke 19).

In Acts it says,

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19 NASB).

If I want the refreshing of His presence, then it starts with the repenting and the returning.

So, what am I willing to do to see Him?  Skin my knees on tree bark and climb on up there?

And when I’m there at His feet, is there anything I need to lay down and be willing to change?

A bad attitude?

Bitterness?

Self-pity?

Selfishness and Self-focus?

Pride?

Jealousy?

Disobedience?

Unforgiveness?

It’s not legalism or getting all tangled up in reminders about how sinful I am.

It’s about seeing the beauty of His face when we discover the beauty of His grace.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Enjoy Beauty’?

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