He leads the dance


At three-years-old, my son is a movie theater pro.

He knows how this whole movie-watching thing goes.

“I get glasses.” (We’ve seen some 3D movies lately).

“I get popcorn.”  (We love movie theater popcorn!!)

“I sit in the big chair and be quiet and watch the movie.”

Yes, sir.  That’s how it works all right.

Only this time we weren’t going to see a 3D movie, so we messed with his routine a little.

No special funky glasses to play with during the movie?

Surely the 3D glasses are an intrinsic part of the movie experience!

Fortunately, we arrived at the movie theater and he didn’t protest when we headed into the dark theater sans glasses.  He just happily munched on his popcorn.

My son went with the flow in a way I kind of envy because going with the flow is the hard thing for me.  I like things to be just so, the way they always are, the way I expect them to be.

But life and faith aren’t always so simple.

Sometimes you get the popcorn but not the glasses.  Or the glasses and not the popcorn.  Sometimes you sit in a movie theater with all the movie paraphernalia, but nothing shows on the screen.

Sometimes I follow five-step formulas of faith and don’t hear from God or fulfill every religious obligation and still feel spiritually dehydrated and dying of thirst.

That’s because faith is relational and relationships can be messy and hard to define.  They can’t always be crammed into facts, figures, and formulas.

Relationships take effort because they are dynamic and changing, close and then distant and then close again…and my relationship with God is the same.

Jeremiah 29:13 tells us:

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

What does it look like to seek God with all my heart instead of just half my attention or a little of my focus?

It means I’m willing to wait and willing to listen.

I’m willing to be honest and tell God where I’ve gone wrong, how I’m hurting, and the places where I’m clinging to unsurrendered disappointment.

I feast on His Word and rest in His presence because just being near Him helps.

It means waking up in the middle of the night and hashing it out with Him in a heart-to-heart instead of counting sheep.

Maybe God purposely keeps us on our toes so we’re drawn into this wholehearted search for Him because He knows we’re distracted.

When Elijah ran in desperate fear from Queen Jezebel, he ended up at Mount Horeb–the very same holy mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Elijah sojourned to the”mountain of God” to have his own personal God-encounter.

There in that sacred space, he witnessed an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake.

He saw fire, but God wasn’t in the fire.

Instead, God showed up “in the  sound of a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 ESV).

There’s more to this than just the superficial lesson that “God speaks in a still small voice so be quiet enough to listen.”

Sure, that’s often true.

Life can be loud, far too loud for us to reflect, think, listen, or pray with reflection.

But that’s not all there is here.

God didn’t speak to Elijah from a storm or earthquake.  Truth.

But He did speak to Job that way.

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. Job 38:1 NIV

And no, God didn’t speak to Elijah from the fire, but He did to Moses.

the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush (Exodus 3:2 ESV).

God whispers sometimes and sometimes he doesn’t.  Sometimes He speaks in storms or from the midst of the flame.

All through Scripture, we see this isn’t about methods or venues; it’s about God speaking however He chooses to speak.

If I’m not hearing Him, I can throw my whole heart into listening, allowing Him to speak how He chooses instead of expecting Him to stick to my relational plan.  To show up on my timetable. To discuss what I want to discuss.  To answer the way I’d like.

Maybe this time I need to watch the movie without the glasses.

Maybe another day I’ll need to wear the glasses to see the whole picture.

It’s not always the same.  So I let Him lead in this relational dance.

And I hold on to one beautiful promise:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV

When we draw near, we must believe that God does indeed reward the wholehearted seeker.

I just keep seeking.


How to Clean the Bathroom the Day After Mother’s Day (With Joy)

For Mother’s Day last year, they formed a parade in my honor.

I heard the commotion outside the bathroom door as I finished brushing my teeth.

At the sound of the whispering and shuffling, I opened the door to find three daughters and one husband singing, “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” their own take on the familiar birthday tune.

My youngest waved two hand-made flags, my oldest led the singing with her present in hand, my middle girl smiled in her Groucho Marx funny glasses.  They had as021signed my husband a triangle and given him handwritten sheet music so he knew when to play his notes.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap, tap)

They labored with love and presented handmade gifts, so thoughtful and sweet, and they were so proud of their offerings.  More than just handwritten notes, they had created dot-to-dot puzzles and coloring sheets for me with hidden messages.

All day my daughters fussed at me for pouring the cereal, clearing the table, or buckling my youngest girl’s seatbelt.

You shouldn’t have to do anything today, Mom.  That’s what my middle girl assured me.

Mother’s Day, all that recognition and thanks, all those assurances that the daily grind that has ground you right down is noticed and worth it and they appreciate it after all and maybe all those times you felt invisible someone actually saw you, that’s such a beautiful gift to a woman.  It fills her soul right up so that she’s able to pour out more.

Parades, though, all have endings.  A final float, the Santa sleigh or the police escort brings up the rear and everyone packs up their lawn chairs and bags of candy and treks back to their cars.

And we wake up the day after Mother’s Day and love without the flags and songs.

The phone is ringing, the laundry spinning, the dishwasher humming, and I’m running through the to-do list today.

But it’s when I scrubbed the toilet, of all things, that I remembered as I grumbled a little with that silent whine that no one else knows about except God.

How it must sadden Him so, how disappointed He must be by my heart’s ugly attitude as I serve, as I wash feet without joy and give without cheerfulness of heart.

There I scrub, bleach poured out and I’m working fast just to get it all done, when I remember—yesterday, they made a parade for me.

These gifts of God, my family so precious, those I watched last night after they were in deep sleep, breathing slow, hair tangled all over pillows, fleece blankets wrapped tight like cocoons around them.  I remember that I had prayed such deep thanks for these blessings.

And I felt so overwhelmed by that grace we can’t ever understand, how God trusted me with these children and the love of this husband.  This is the great privilege and highest honor.

Serving with joy, that’s my heart bent deep in gratitude to God.

It all feels easier for a while because I remember.  The laundry and the toilets and scrubbing the toothpaste off that sink: this isn’t mundane and annoying.  It’s the blessing and the gift.zechariah4-10

But the challenge is here: How to remember the parade a week from now, a month, this time next year?  It’s always in those moments after the high of a mountaintop that we can crash right down the hardest because we have the farthest to fall.

Like Elijah, sitting on that mountain all alone after defeating 450 prophets of Baal in a spiritual showdown with supernatural fire.  It was after the victory that he ran away in fear.  After all that boldness, there was terror and loneliness and suicidal despair.

How could he forget, I wonder?

Maybe he hadn’t learned to live without the parade.

Sometimes God speaks in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the fire.  Sometimes it’s grand and showy.

But not always.

Oh no, sometimes it’s that “still small voice” and this we forget in the days long after the Mother’s Day parade when we’ve started to feel a little overlooked and invisible again.  We forget how to see God in the quiet and the everyday.

Zechariah 4:10 asks: “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

The small things, the quiet ways, the stillness, the everyday, the service without parades, the scrubbing down bathrooms without whining….that’s where we can find beauty, where we hear God, where our worship brings Him joy.

Originally posted May 13, 2013

What to do (and what not to do) when staring at a STOP sign for more than 5 minutes

I complained about the road work.

Typically, I zip around this tiny town of mine, back and forth all day every day, transporting children.  Pick this child up.  Drop her off.  Go back and get the other child.  Drive her somewhere else.  Return to the first location to pick up one child and deposit another.

This schedule has been meticulously planned out.  I have charted the routes I travel, timed stoplights, and considered traffic flow.22859325_s

We have exactly 12 minutes to drive from one place to another and it takes exactly 12 minutes to make that drive.  No second to spare.

Then they decide to repave my main thoroughfare.

I sit for over five minutes staring at a man in an neon orange jacket holding a STOP sign.  I start out cheerful. It’s a beautiful day.  I enjoy the sun.  I even feel spiritual and pray, “Thanks, God, for this lovely morning.”

I am proud of how well I’m handling the delay.

Then I start rifling through the papers on the seat next to me.  I collect some of the trash that accumulates everywhere in a minivan when you have four kids.

Then I grow impatient.  I start sighing and tapping my fingers on the steering wheel.

When that fails, I grit my teeth and talk to the hapless man still standing there with that sign that is halting all my progress for the day, “Come on!”

Eventually, he spins that sign around from STOP to SLOW and I am finally released to normal driving, which at this point means being stuck at a stoplight behind a long line of other cars with equally frustrated drivers for another 5 minutes.

I left my house 10 minutes early because of the construction and I’m still 5 minutes late.  I’m flustered and bothered, annoyed, stressed.

So I whine to this woman, and she says to me, “That’s when I know it’s time to stop and BREATHE.  God gives me these moments so I just listen to what He has to say for a bit.”

This month, in my 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ, I’m taking breaks for beauty.  I’m seeking out the beauty of the Lord by marveling at the beauty He creates.

And still I got it wrong.  He gave me moments to rest in His presence, to enjoy the beauty of a spring day (from inside my minivan) and I fretted and fought instead.

In an hour, I will walk my four-year-old daughter, my baby girl, into a brick school filled with cheerful classrooms and hand over the papers to register her for kindergarten.

She is excited.  Every 30 minutes this morning, she asks me if it’s time to go.

I am sad.  I decide maybe we can just wait another 10 minutes.  Could she just be my baby girl 10 minutes more?  And then another 10?

Tomorrow I will place my 6-month-old son on a doctor’s scale and marvel at how he’s grown.  I’ll probably come home all proud and tell my husband how big this baby boy is, how strong, how healthy.

But really my momma heart will mourn a little because six months never went by so fast.

So when God gives me 10 extra minutes in that minivan to stop, to rest, to breathe, to listen to His voice…surely I should relax into His presence.exodus33-14

This lesson chafes hard against my driven soul.   God brings me here again and again and again.


And I wrestle instead.

Funny how 10 minutes of inactivity can be more stressful to me than a whole day of rushing from task to task.

If I want to feel God’s presence in the going and the doing, I must willingly remain in His presence during the resting and the being.

God gave Moses this great task, leading a nation from slavery to promise, but He also gave this assurance:

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”  (Exodus 33:14 NIV)

The rest is in His presence whether that’s driving from place to place or idling in front of a STOP sign for 10 minutes.

The rest is there because His presence is there.

Today, let us enjoy the gift of time He gives, the gift of quiet moments and unexpected pauses, the blessing of His presence in the rushing and in the stillness, the beauty of His voice in the whisper and in the storm, the time with those we love because that time just rushes right along.

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