Recalibrating the Measure

I had been wooed by the digital display and the sleek design, but I should have stuck with the tried and true older model.

The new scale promised to be scientifically accurate because of some high-quality triple sensory design. It could track the weight gain and loss of two different people by storing the weigh-in results in its memory.

So I brought it home from the store, opened the package, read the instructions, dropped it down on the floor and stepped on. Then I scowled.

This didn’t seem right.

I tried again a few days later and then after a few more days, I tried again.

According to this handy dandy super scale, I was gaining about a pound a day despite snacks of yogurt and granola, exercise sessions and water.

I could rail about the injustice of the world or blame the metabolism shifts in my 30s, but how could I argue with such a scientifically accurate device?

Finally, I carried out two scales from the cabinet: The old one with the tiny arrow that scalescrolled through the numbers and eventually landed on a miniature line and the new one with the flashing white numbers against a black display.

They were different.  A lot different.  I pushed the digital one around a bit and stepped on and off a few times.

I’d been using a faulty measure.

What else am I using as a faulty basis for my thoughts and emotions, my plans, my faith?

A.W. Tozer wrote: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

This, after all, is our foundation, our measure by which we weigh the world, and the filter through which we understand our circumstances.

But it’s not just what we think that matters, certainly not what we say.  We can confess:

I believe God is faithful.
I believe God can provide.
I believe God forgives me.
I believe God is all-powerful.
I believe God is with me.
I believe God will never abandon me.

All that sounds good and right.  We say what we’re supposed to say.  Sing the words we’re supposed to sing.

We might even think we mean it.

But sometimes we’re really looking at the world through circumstances and emotions.  Slowly, without changing what we’re saying, we’ve still changed what we believe.

The Israelites wandering around the wilderness outside of Egypt professed belief in the God who had led them out of slavery.

When Pharaoh’s army chased them to the edge of the Red Sea, however, they complained: ”Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (Exodus 14:11).

When they realized they could no longer shop at the Egyptian grocery stores, they whined:  “you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3).

And when the desert diet proved restrictive, they remembered: “The fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).

They said they believed in God and His miraculous power, but, as Kelly Minter writes in her study on Nehemiah:

“whenever the Israelites faced difficulty in the desert they chose to believe something false about God.  Three of the biggies were that he had abandoned them, withheld from them, or wouldn’t meet their needs” (p. 125).

It is Nehemiah’s prayer, centuries later, that reminds the people of the truth:

You did not abandon them in the wilderness
because of Your great compassion….

You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths,
and You gave them water for their thirst.

You provided for them in the wilderness 40 years
and they lacked nothing (Nehemiah 9:19-21).

But in the middle of the wilderness, with Egypt behind them and the unknown ahead, without a meal plan or a guaranteed buffet, Israel believed false things about God.

And I get that.

It’s hard to see the truth when our eyes are shut tight to the wonder of God or our bad attitude is crowding out the glory from our field of vision.

We’ve decided we’re stuck.
We’ve determined to feel unhappy.
We’ve felt cheated and gypped out of what we really want.

So we just rack up more and more circumstantial evidence, cementing what we feel.

And we believe it.  God can’t use this situation.  God abandoned me here.  God is withholding from me.  God can’t rescue, save or provide.  God doesn’t know what He’s doing.

That’s false evidence, a faulty measure, a shaky foundation.

Today, let’s pray for God’s eye-opening grace, for His perspective, for a reminder of His goodness, for revelations of truth.  Just like Nehemiah did, let’s recount the goodness of God rather than letting our dissatisfaction or hurt determine what we see and what we believe.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

What Silence Means…

It’s when they’re quiet that you need to be worried.

That’s parental advice passed down through generations, usually learned from personal experience.

I learned my lesson, too.

My oldest girl did this thing when she was three years old called a “tantrum.”  Maybe you’ve heard of them?  Maybe you’ve seen one . . . or thrown one.

After a particularly rowdy tantrum on the car ride home one day, she stomped into the house still screaming, ran into my bathroom and slammed the door.

Unfazed, I took my time setting her baby sister down for a nap and tossing my keys and arm-full of papers and baby paraphernalia onto the kitchen counter.  I breathed in deep breaths of Mom sanity.

Then I realized that the banshee wail had subsided into silence, frighteningly loud silence.

Throwing open my bathroom door, I saw my red-faced preschooler crouched on the carpet, her hands covering her head as she sobbed.

On the floor next to her was her hair.

Her hair!

Her long, totally beautiful, golden curly hair.  In her rage, she had climbed onto my bathroom counter and dug through to the bottom of my makeup case where I hid the hair scissors.  Then she had systematically snipped off the two pig-tails on the tip-top of her head.

She was bawling.  I was bawling.  We raced to the local hair salon and plopped her up in the chair for a rescue mission.  Our superhero that day sported a comb and some clippers.

Sometimes we think silence means inactivity and stagnation, abandonment and loneliness, but instead it’s often a sign of focused activity.

With kids, that might mean trouble.

With God, though, as heart-wrenching and full of despair as His silence is, we needn’t fear the quiet.  It’s often a promise that He’s at work right there in the middle of your circumstances, deeply involved in your life.

This was me not long ago.  I thought I had it figured out, what God was doing and how He was at work and how He planned to bless and care for us, but I was wrong.

The thing about cramming God into boxes is that He shatters the confines of the cardboard.

So, when life didn’t go as I had planned, I cried out to Him: What are you doing?  What does this mean?

Why can’t I hear You?

The silence is so oppressive and filled with overwhelming sadness.  We just want to hear His voice, His quiet voice or His booming command, His encouraging cheer, or His tender whisper.  Whatever He wants to say, we’re desperate to hear it.

Because we feel afraid.

I drove off that night on an arbitrary errand, alone in my car, praying away in the quiet.  Then I hit the play button on the CD for our church Christmas cantata:

“Peace, oh my soul, weary from the struggle
Don’t be afraid, Love knows your deepest need.
There is a light shining in the darkness.
There is no shadow where it cannot reach.
Peace, peace, Jesus has come
O soul, be still, receive your King”

The song faded and one lone voice cut through the silence:

“The Lord is with you . . . Fear not, Mary ….For nothing is impossible with God….Joseph, fear not.  Fear not!  For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given…Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…Fear not!  They will call Him Immanuel–which means, ‘God with us.’  Fear not, for I am with you”

My husband asked me when I flopped on the couch later, “Were you crying?”

How could I do anything but cry?

I had been desperate for the slightest trickle of His voice and He had drenched me in His Word.

But even when I didn’t hear Him, God was still there, still active, still with me. That hadn’t changed.

In his book, Greater, Steven Furtick writes:

God is often working behind the scenes of your life, orchestrating His destiny for you.  Even though you don’t have a clue what He’s up to.  Just because you haven’t heard God call your name or tell you specifically what to do with your life doesn’t mean He’s not conspiring great things for you.

Sometimes we feel like Job: “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me” (Job 30:20).

But even in the silence we can hold to the promise:

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice
(Psalm 55:16-17).

He hears you.  And when He chooses to speak, the wave of His voice might wash over you and knock you off your feet and carry you to safety.  For now, just keep listening, keep waiting, and don’t be afraid of the silence.

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