Hiding the Word:
It was all stupid stuff and it all stressed me out.
That afternoon, we spent too much time in the school library during the family reading time because my kids wouldn’t stop reading, which normally makes me grateful, but that afternoon made me a bit frustrated.
Then, while changing into her ballet clothes, my oldest daughter asked me to help her untie the knot in her laces. “Sure,” I said, holding out my hand for one ballet shoe.
Instead, she plopped two ballet shoes into my hand that she actually had tied together last week because “it looked like fun.” She was still giggling a week later. I was not. Now the slender laces of her slippers were pulled together in a knot that would have made any sailor or Boy Scout proud.
Zooming out of the school bathroom, across the school parking lot and into the mini-van, I still picked at the knot on the shoes unsuccessfully. When we arrived at ballet, I reached into the bag to pull out the bobby pins and hair net and the other jumble of hair accessories we tote around in order to pull my daughter’s mass of princess-like hair into a perfect ballerina’s bun.
They were gone. We had left them all piled on the bathroom sink at the school. I tugged a ponytail holder out of another daughter’s hair, made the messiest bun of all time on my oldest girl’s head, and ran into the ballet studio.
I asked the lady at the desk for scissors and held up the attached ballet shoes apologetically. She haplessly searched for scissors—which she couldn’t find because of course most people don’t need to cut the laces of their ballet shoes before class. Fortunately, a nice man with a pocket knife slashed the laces apart so I could run the shoes into my daughter, already poised at the barre and pointing her toes.
And so it went. There were bigger stressors that day. There were other petty annoyances still to come. The crazy whirlwind of it all left me dizzy and exhausted, but I knew one thing was true: Nothing that day was worth the frustrated attention I was giving it.
Nothing there was life-threatening or mattered in the eternal way that some things matter. They were silly and foolish worries, just pests that nipped at my heels and made the simple treading through my day difficult.
Would less stress have made it all better? Would untied ballet shoe laces or un-lost hair accessories have improved my day? Perhaps.
But what I really needed, what I usually need, isn’t a more smoothly running life with less obstacles and bothers.
I need the eternal perspective that only Christ can give, the reminder of what really matters now, what will still matter 20 years from now, and what God and I will agree matters when I’m hanging out in heaven and worshiping at His throne.
That’s the perspective Paul writes about in Colossians and it’ll be my verse for the week. I encourage you to copy it down, pray over it, meditate on it, memorize it and ask God to help it change your perspective this week when life gets hard or even slightly tiresome or stressful.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
One Heart And Mind
Originally published April 21, 2011
“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”
Multitasking is my spiritual gift. Somehow the Apostle Paul left that off of his lists in Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians. Even if it didn’t make the Biblical list, some of you share this gifting with me. You mop the floor, do laundry, type emails, care for children, talk on the phone and make dinner all at the same time. What can we say? It’s a talent.
Usually my multitasking works quite well for me and truthfully I am sometimes bored when I am simply keeping one ball up in the air instead of juggling several. But there are those moments, I’ll confess, when I open my pantry cabinet to find that I accidentally put the frozen broccoli away there and when I open up the freezer, there are the spaghetti noodles. It’s a sure sign that I have too much going on and things are starting to fall apart.
Multitasking may work for me (most of the time) as I clean my house or plunge through my to-do list each day and yet its a choking hand of death on my quiet times with God.
This morning I sat at my kitchen table, my place for meeting with God every day. My Bible was open and ready, my journal and pen set to the side waiting to be used. My cup of tea was steaming hot, strong and sweet. Everything I needed to spend some focused time with my Savior was at my fingertips. Everything was prepared—-except my heart.
I was distracted. Distracted a little by projects and to-do lists, the phone and the emails left unanswered. Distracted by my children asking and asking for help. Distracted a little by frustrations and situations needing to be handled. My thoughts drifted to all of those things as I read the words on my Bible’s open page. Words that normally hold power and relevance for me, the living and active Word of God, now made dull by a scattered heart and an unfocused mind.
Not wanting to give up, I prayed over Psalm 86:11.
“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (NIV)
and in the Message:
“Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear” (MSG).
I prayed, “Lord, create in me an undivided heart. Put me together, one heart and mind—wholly focused on you. There are so many things vying for my attention, captivating my heart, stirring up my emotions, and setting my thoughts wild. Please fill me and focus me so that You alone are my heart’s desire.”
It’s not a magic formula, a mystical incantation that somehow brought clarity out of chaos. No, it was a confession of desire. A request for God’s strength in my weakness.
I am a forgetful and distracted creature, and I need the help of my God to cut through the clutter and noise so that I can pay wholehearted attention to Him. That’s why David writes this verse as a petition to God. He knew He needed heavenly help also. He asks for God to “give” Him an undivided heart or, as the message says, to “put him together” so that he can be receptive vessel, prepared to hear and receive God’s teaching and training. David knew He couldn’t achieve an undivided heart on His own.
And yet, I didn’t just pray this prayer and then sit down to the best quiet time ever, full of revelation and inspiration. It took effort on my part to reject and discard the jumble of thoughts that kept popping into my mind. I had to stand guard over my heart and not allow it to take my focus off God’s Word.
When I suddenly remembered an item for my to-do list, I jotted it down on a piece of paper and returned to Scripture. When I started rehashing what was frustrating and upsetting me, I cut off my thoughts and whispered a quick prayer that God would take care of that situation. And I returned to Scripture.
It was work, but it was worth it.
Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). By asking God to give me an undivided heart, I was making a similar petition. I was allowing Him to sanctify me (make me holy) through and through—spirit, soul, and body—and this brings me peace straight from the God of peace.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King