For the waiting, we need a little courage

I was five minutes early and already nervous.

A friend and I were meeting up so we could drive together to an event.

The plan was simple.  Meet in the parking lot at 5:00.

At 4:55, I started worrying.

Did we say 5:00 or 5:30?  Did I have the time right?  What if we had miscommunicated?  What if I told her the wrong day?  The wrong place?  The wrong time?

This could be a disaster.

By 4:57, I pulled out my phone to double-check our messages.

Okay, I’m safe.  This was the right day and time and place.

But what if she couldn’t see my car where I was parked?  What if she pulls in the other side of the parking lot and misses me completely?

I crane my neck around, glancing from side to side.  Then I actually drive through the parking lot to make sure she wasn’t already there waiting for me and I’m just being ridiculous.

It’s 4:59 now, and yes, I am absolutely being ridiculous, but it’s taken on a humongous snowball life of its own and I feel powerless to stop it.

I am worrying about being late and about traffic and maybe we should have said we should meet earlier.

I am worrying about miscommunication and how I should have called her that day to verify the details one last time.

Then I start worrying about my friend.  What if she is hurt and in a car accident somewhere and she can’t call to tell me because she’s in an ambulance on the way to the hospital?

And then, just as I’ve worked myself up into frantic worry….my friend pulls in.

It’s 5:01.

She’s fine.  I’m fine.  We’re completely on time.

I really am ridiculous.

Every single day, I tell my son to ‘be patient’ about 20 times.  Maybe 50 times.

He wants juice.  He wants snack.  He wants Bob the Builder on the TV.   He wants to play a game.  He needs help with a toy.  He wants me to read a book.

What do I say?

Okay, in just a moment.  Be patient.

And, I act like he should just accept that.  I act like it’s a perfectly reasonable request for him to just snap on some patience.

But today, I’m recognizing that it’s hard.

I ‘m supposed to teach him patience, of course.  I still need to keep asking him to wait sometimes.  This doesn’t mean I need to answer his every whim and will immediately and turn him into a tiny tyrant.

No, I teach him to ‘be patient,’ but I do it with some understanding that what I’m asking him to do takes oh such a long time to learn.

Some days he’ll get it just right.

And some days he’ll fall to pieces just like his crazy mom does when she’s waiting for a friend in a parking lot at 4:55 p.m. and they’re supposed to meet at 5:00.

There’s something more, too: All these years, I’ve recognized how waiting takes patience (and who likes learning about patience?) and it takes trust (and who finds trusting without controlling easy?).

BUT IT ALSO TAKES COURAGE.

David wrote:

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14 ESV).

and again:

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:24 ESV).

I’ve missed it a million times.  I’ve read those Psalms and sang them and written them in my journal over and over again, but today it hits me in a new way.

GOD SAYS THAT IN THE WAITING, I NEED TO TAKE HEART.

I NEED TO BE COURAGEOUS.

I NEED TO BE STRONG.

And, that’s exactly what I need to hear in seasons of waiting because when I’m waiting, I’m full of doubt and questions and worry.

I think maybe I heard God wrong.  Maybe this is going to take forever and He’s never going to bring me through this situation.  Maybe the deliverance won’t come after all.  Maybe I’m in the wrong place.  Maybe there was miscommunication.  Maybe I missed God and He was already here and gone and now I’m outside of His will!  Maybe God is done with me and now He’s just left me here in this place.

I’m being ridiculous, I know it.

But it’s in the moments of waiting that I feel most abandoned and most afraid.

AND IT’S IN THE MOMENTS OF WAITING THAT GOD SAYS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO HEAR THE MOST:

Don’t believe the lies.  Don’t fret over the future.  Don’t question the calling.  Don’t doubt God’s ability or willingness to care for you.  Don’t think you’re alone.

BE STRONG, AND LET YOUR HEART TAKE COURAGE.

Originally posted February 12, 2016

My job at the zoo

john 16-33

Here’s my primary job at the zoo as a mom.

Sure, I help break up fights over who will hold the map.

I plan our itinerary so we don’t bounce from the lions on the one end of the zoo, to the goats on the other end of the zoo, back to the giraffes way back where the lions are.  No, we will see the exhibits one at a time and in order!

I make sure no little hands slip into the fences and no children wander off in search of wild animals.

I decline to pay for every souvenir, snack, and photo booth that we see.

I take pictures of children giggling at the baby monkeys.

But mostly I do this—I point so that whoever my youngest child is at the time can actually find the animal in the tank or grass or exhibit or whatever.

I’ve been doing this for years.

See the lizard? 

No.

See, right there.  Look where I’m pointing.  See?

No.

See that leaf?  The big one right there?  Look under that.  See the lizard?

No.

Every so often, we struggle to find the tiger or the bear, but mostly it’s these camouflaging reptiles and miniature frogs that have us standing at the cage for more than five minutes squinting our eyes, pointing our fingers, and eventually giving up.

Not this time, though.

I’ve been taking kids to the zoo for years, but a few weeks ago I took my two-year-old and discovered he has super-sight.  My son can spot a hidden reptile or amphibian the moment he walks up to the glass.

Snake. Lizard. Frog.  He points and says the name like this is the easiest exercise on the planet.

Hiding under foliage?  Doesn’t matter.

Blending in with the pebbles?  Not a problem.

Hanging from a tree at the top of the cage?  Can’t fool him.

He sees what is hard to see and notices what is hard to notice.

I need vision like that.  I need spiritual super-sight.

Sometimes I’m searching through my circumstances and situations for the peace God promises.

Still, I can’t see it, not through the murky glass, not with my limited vision.

I need God to give me eyes that see His peace, even when it’s hidden, even when I don’t have answers, even when trouble looms, even when the waiting lingers and the uncertainty remains, even when I need the impossible.

Sheila Walsh writes:

In the last major conversation Jesus had with His closest friends, He spoke about peace–but not as we might have expected Him to (5 Minutes With Jesus).

We’d expect perhaps to find peace in the moments of calm or peace in the seasons of blessing.

We have peace when we’re at rest or peace when our relationships are happy and healthy, no one’s mad at us, we’re financially stable and physically well.

Isn’t that when peace comes?

Yet, Jesus told the disciples,

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace (John 16:33a ESV).

What things had He said to them?  Had He been talking about heaven, miracles, salvation, grace?

Not at all.

In John 15 and 16, Jesus tells his dearest friends about sorrow and His imminent death, about persecution and martyrdom, and how the world will hate them and harm them.

Then He gives them hope.

Then He promises them peace.

We seek peace in answered prayers, resolved situations, the end of conflicts or the arrival of provision.

We seek it in chocolate, bubble baths, getaways, and running away.

But peace isn’t found there.  Peace is found in Jesus Himself right where are in the middle of the pain, before the answers and the fixes and the resolution.

He told the disciples “in me you may have peace.”

Peace isn’t found in a position or a provision; it’s found in a Person.

Jesus is constant, unchanging.

He is faithful.

He is able.

He is compassionate and abundant in His love.

We can rest in Him, deeply rest.  We can entrust our lives to Him, every care and concern, every worry that keeps our thoughts churning at night as the clock ticks down hour after hour.

Jesus finished the promise to the disciples that night:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b ESV).

This is our courage.  Our reason to ‘take heart’ and have hope!  He has already overcome our every enemy and our every battle.

So, we look to Him and we ask for His vision right here when peace seems hidden and hope hard to see, when we’re staring at circumstances and not seeing the light for all the darkness.

Lord, help me see you!  Help me not lose sight of who you are.

 

 

 

20 Bible Verses for the days you are discouraged

verses-for-the-discouraged

  • Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
    Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 ESV
     Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • 2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV
    But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”
  • Psalm 27:14 ESV
    Wait for the Lord;
        be strong, and let your heart take courage;
        wait for the Lord!
  • Psalm 31:24 ESV
    Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
        all you who wait for the Lord!
  • Psalm 34:18 ESV
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
        and saves the crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 42:11 ESV
    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation and my God.
  • Psalm 55:22 ESV
    Cast your burden on the Lord,
        and he will sustain you;
    he will never permit
        the righteous to be moved
  • Psalm 94:14 ESV
    For the Lord will not forsake his people;
        he will not abandon his heritage;
  • Isaiah 40:31 ESV
    but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
        they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
        they shall walk and not faint.
  • Isaiah 41:10 ESV
    fear not, for I am with you;
        be not dismayed, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
        I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Matthew 11:28 ESV
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  • John 16:33 ESV
    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 12:12 ESV
    Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
  • Romans 15:4 ESV
    For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
    Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
    We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  • Galatians 6:9 ESV
    And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
  • Colossians 3:23-25 ESV
    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hope has a Name

Matthew 12

I froze on the sidewalk in the scorching summer heat with a six-year-old by my side and a toddler in the stroller.

We had popped into a grocery story 45 minutes from our home on a whim and then just as spontaneously decided to walk down to the Subway for lunch.

Nothing about this day was planned out or scheduled.  We could have just as easily been anywhere else at that moment.

But it was in that moment and there in that place that a stranger flew out of the doors of one of the storefronts, cigarette and phone in her hand, screaming at the air.

When she collapsed to the ground and cried so hard she almost stopped breathing, I rushed over, stooped down, placed my hands on her back and asked her what was wrong.

“My son is dead.”

That’s what she shouted.

It took time to sort through the mess of it all, how she was still on the phone and her younger son had just delivered the news that her 19-year-old boy had been killed in a car wreck.

I sat with her while others emerged. People poured out onto the sidewalk wondering about the commotion.

Pain like that can’t be contained and hushed up, quietly hidden away so as not to disturb anyone.  Pain like that is what makes us reach out to other when they collapse under the weight of their own trauma.

An older couple who had been out shopping stopped and whispered the sad truth, “We lost a son that same way.  We know what you’re going through.”

Store managers took charge of the practicalities, bringing her water, calling her boyfriend, covering her shift at work, calling emergency services to take her home.

Then a young man walked down pushing his own infant son in a stroller.  He cradled her face in his hands and told her to give it to God.

He shared his own hurt, how his oldest son was in a coma about 8 hours away after a car accident four months ago.  “What else can I do but just keep going and give it to God?”

We were eye-witnesses and onlookers to the worst moment of her life.

My son squirmed in the stroller and reached out for me, not sure what to make of the scene.  My daughter quietly looked on, staring wide-eyed at the stranger crying right there on the pavement.

I reached out to reassure them and then asked if I could pray for her, and we brought the ugliness and the pain straight to Jesus.

This woman I didn’t know looked up at me with eyes that held no hope.

We can mosey about life thinking we’re doing okay or at least we’re pushing through, but when you’re knocked down onto the sidewalk, that’s what reveals the truth about us and the hope we’ve been clinging to.

This world constantly mistakes hope for wishful thinking, anyway, and we toss around “hope” like it’s little more than a catchphrase or polite conversation.

I hope you get that job.

I hope you have a good day.

I hope it all works out for ya.

I hope you get better soon.

But as Christians, we don’t have wishful-thinking-hope.  We don’t have positive-thoughts-hope.

Hope has a name and that name is Jesus.

And his name will be the hope
    of all the world (Matthew 12:21 NLT).

Jesus gives us confident-assurance-hope.  Because of Him, we have rock-solid-hope that God is with us and that God will save us and that God won’t abandon us.

In her book, Brave Enough, Nicole Unice writes about the word “tharseo” in Scripture, how it’s used four places in the Gospels and each time it’s spoken by Jesus Himself.

To a paralyzed man lowered down to Jesus by four friends who scaled a roof and took it apart in order to help their friend:  Take heart, my son;your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2 ESV).

To the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years: “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22 ESV).

To the disciples alone in the boat out on a storm-tossed sea: “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 ESV).

To the disciples…and to us….”I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).

Nicole Unice says this word means:

Tharseo: Courage.
Jesus is near!
Forgiven sin.
Healed lives.
Powerful presence.”

Take Heart.

It’s Jesus we need.  It’s in His presence we find courage, forgiveness, healing, and yes, we find the Hope we’ve been looking for.

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 © 2015 Heather King

One Week Without a Voice: Lesson Two

Eight days after I woke up squeaking and sputtering air instead of greeting the start of a new day with my normal cheerful voice . . . (okay, maybe I don’t wake up like Cinderella, singing to birds with a smile ever morning) . . . but still, eight days after I woke up and couldn’t talk, I still sound like an alien in my own body.

My voice scratches a bit and I’ve taken a step down from a normal alto range into a definitive tenor.

Still, it’s an improvement.  I can sit and hold a conversation with friends.  I read about ten books to my toddler this morning while she sat on the potty.  I can call out to my older girls reminders to “Be nice.  Don’t be unkind.  Stop being nasty to each other.  If you can’t get along, I’m going to pack up your game so you can’t play.”

These are important and necessary skills for me, a busy wife and mom and friend.  Today, I’m thankful for the voice I have, scratchy and low as it is, because the essential truth is I’m no longer voice-less.

And there are others who never feel that freedom.  Some people never seem to gain a voice, not after years of anguished pleas.  Not after infant’s tears in a forlorn and overlooked makeshift bed, crying out to an unresponsive mama or parents that simply aren’t there.

Living one week without a voice reminded me that there are some people who are perpetually voiceless.  No amount of cough drops, hot tea with lemon and honey, or throat spray is going to tune the world into the sound of their need.

Our God, though, is a hearer of silenced cries.  When Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting hopeless by a roadside, yelled out to Jesus as he passed by, the crowd tried to hush him up.    “They rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (Mark 10:47).

What could Jesus care for a blind beggar?  Why stop and heal someone so clearly overlooked by every . . . other . . . person.

Refusing to be silenced, though, Bartimaeus screamed louder and Jesus stopped the mob of fawning followers so he could listen to a man in need.

“What do you want me to do for you?”   That’s all Jesus asked.  That’s all he needed to ask in order to assure a blind beggar that finally someone had heard his cry for help.  Bartimaeus, voiceless no longer, presented his clear and simple request: “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (Mark 10:51)

More than just a miracle of sight for a blind man occurred there that day.  It was the miracle of God hearing the pleas of a voiceless one amidst a noisy crowd.

In the same way, when a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years ducked her head in shameful desperation and slipped into the crowd surrounding Jesus, she was a voiceless one.  Her society and culture, the laws of her faith, declared her unclean.  Unfit for human contact.  Unable to live among her people.  Cut off from public worship.

In faith, she ran her hand along the hem of Jesus’ robe, trusting that the tiniest touch could heal her.

Jesus could have let her slip away from the crowd unnoticed.  No need for her to risk discovery in a mob who thought her very presence would taint them and stain their purity.

But he didn’t.  Jesus gave voice to the voiceless.  He asked, “Who touched me” and waited for her to speak up, to declare her presence and give testimony.  It was as if he was telling her, “You haven’t just received physical healing.  You are welcome in this place.  These people need to hear what you have to say.  No more sneaking into a crowd and then slipping out the back.”

Even she recognized the impact of Jesus’ question, realizing “that she was not hidden” (Luke 8:47).  No, not hidden anymore.  Instead, “trembling, and falling down before him (she) declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him”

It was likely her first act of public worship and her first unashamed speech in 12 years.

Don’t you love this about our Lord?  That He hears when no one else will hear?  That His passion and heart are for the neediest and weakest among us?  That He’s given us a voice and He listens when we call for Him?

This is His character.
More than that, this is supposed to be the character of his people.

In the book of Nehemiah, this cup-bearer to a foreign King, a man with responsibility and high position, asked his brother for reports about his homeland and the people who had returned to Jerusalem.

Kelly Minter in Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break notes this about Nehemiah’s character:  “He wanted to know.  Sometimes I shield myself from finding out what’s really going on with people for fear I’ll be held responsible.  Because with information often comes responsibility; if we know, we might be required to do something”(p. 13).

We may want to remain blind and deaf to need, but Nehemiah wanted to know.  And when he heard about the state of his people, he responded with prayer and action.

All because he served a God who hears and cares about those with no voice.  We serve that same God—do we hear and care?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

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