Ready and waiting

“I can’t serve anyone who isn’t sitting down.”

That’s what I say in my teacher’s voice when I’m dishing up snack to a group of  kids.

Something about snack brings out the jittery excitement in most of us.  We want to stand up to see what we’re having, what flavor, how much, is one serving bigger than the others and could we possibly have the  biggest one?

Snack time protocols can be pretty basic, but we cover them almost every single time the goldfish crackers and apple juice come out:

Wash your hands.  Sit in your seat.  Wait quietly.  No, you can’t have seconds until everyone else gets their first serving.

We’re just so eager.

I am so eager.

When I feel hungry…  When I feel need… When I think that maybe provision will come and I wonder if I will get my share or if maybe I’ll be overlooked and remain empty. .. When I am anxious because I just don’t know and I feel like the answer won’t come.

That’s when I want to leap out of my seat and take some control.  I want to make my need known, just in case God missed seeing it.   I want to be sure He didn’t forget me or abandon me and He won’t leave me behind.

Maybe I even worry too often about getting my own “fair share,” too concerned with the sizes of others’ portions to be content with my own overflowing cup.

I read today an oh-so-familiar story, about how Jesus looked out over a hillside teeming with people.  They had followed Him out when He sought rest.  No one planned this extended teaching  time.  It just happened.

They looked for Jesus and when they found Him, He loved them enough to  teach and teach and teach until the hour was late, and they were far from their homes.  No one had packed any food except one little boy with a simple fish-and-bread lunch.  (John 6:1-15)

This story reminds me that Jesus is able.  That small numbers and meager circumstances cannot hinder Him from miraculous provision.  I am reminded that He is an abundant, exponentially multiplying God, and that none of us could imagine in advance how He could feed over 5000 people with a boy’s packed lunch and still have baskets full of leftovers.

And this story reminds me to give Jesus what I have even though it could never ever be enough.   I am the simple boy who can choose to offer what I have to Christ—meager as it is.  I don’t selfishly hoard it. I don’t hide it away in embarrassment.  I give it to Him because He is forever sufficient in my insufficiency.

But today, I read the story again and there is a new reminder.

In her book, “Living Beyond Yourself,” Beth Moore  shares the step Jesus took that day on the hillside:

  • He made them aware of their need.
  • He took what little they had.
  • He placed them in a posture to rest in His provision.  He commanded them to “sit down” and fed only those who were “seated” (vv. 10-11)
  • He gave them “immeasurably more” than they could “ask or imagine.” Eph. 3:20

This is the question I ask myself all day today:

How can I—in the  midst of all of the everyday messes and the overwhelming worries—posture my heart in a place of rest?

Today, I struggled with a parenting decision, with a ministry decision, with a scheduling decision, with an organizing of my day decision and I was tangled up  in my own need for clear answers, for assurances, and for provision.

My heart paces.  I position myself to fix and control and make everything right all on my own limited strength.

Mostly, I fight this feeling of urgency, this pushiness I have to get answers now and see the results yesterday and have the blessings in hand already.

When can I see the abundance in place of the need?

But what if Jesus is poised with baskets in His hand, provision at the ready, abundance in waiting, and He simply asks that I sit?

Am I sitting down?  Am I ready to receive?

The little boy with the lunch box gave everything over to Jesus, his tiny lunch, his small offering, but then he sat and waited to see what the Lord would do.

Oh, the sitting and the waiting, they don’t come naturally to me.  So, I think it through today when the worries come—how can I sit in this situation, how can I posture myself to rest in Him, how can I wait and see what the Lord will do?

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…” (Psalm 37:7a NASB)

 

Bible Verses about Times of Quiet

  • Exodus 14:14 ESV
    The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
  • Job 6:24 ESV
    “Teach me, and I will be silent;
        make me understand how I have gone astray.
  • Psalm 4:4 ESV
    Be angry, and do not sin;
        ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
  • Psalm 37:7 ESV
    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
        fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
        over the man who carries out evil devices!
  • Psalm 46:10 ESV
    “Be still, and know that I am God.
        I will be exalted among the nations,
        I will be exalted in the earth!”
  • Proverbs 11:12 ESV
    Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
        but a man of understanding remains silent.
  • Proverbs 17:28 ESV
    Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
        when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
  • Proverbs 29:11 ESV
    A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
        but a wise man quietly holds it back.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:7 ESV
    a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  • Isaiah 26: 3 ESV
    You keep him in perfect peace
        whose mind is stayed on you,
        because he trusts in you.
  • Isaiah 30:15 ESV
    For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
    “In returning[ and rest you shall be saved;
        in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
    But you were unwilling,
  • Lamentations 3:26 ESV
    It is good that one should wait quietly
        for the salvation of the Lord.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
    The Lord your God is in your midst,
        a mighty one who will save;
    he will rejoice over you with gladness;
        he will quiet you by his love;
    he will exult over you with loud singing.
  • James 1:19 ESV
    Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
    Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Remembering: One Lump or Two?

Originally posted on August 3, 2011

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

It’s my nightly routine.

Place favorite mug on the counter.
Heat up the water.
Lay tea bag in the mug.
Pour steaming hot water in and let it steep.
Add spoonfuls of sugar.  (Yummy and sweet).
Splash in some milk.

Evening tea.  It’s been years since I’ve gone to bed without drinking it and it’s become a sort of security blanket.  I’m not sure if I could sleep without a cup.

Even worse, maybe I’d lie awake just because the tea wasn’t in my favorite mug and instead dumped into some random coffee cup grabbed from the cupboard.  That’d be like someone trying to swap a precious teddy bear for some unfamiliar spare stashed at the bottom of the toy box.

Last night, I sat down to my steaming cup, took a sip,  . . .

gulped and grimaced.

Instead of sweet tea, I tasted bitterness.  I’d filled the sugar canister, but never spooned any sugar into my mug.

Have you ever been a little disappointed?  You hope for something sweet and taste undrinkable bitterness instead?

The Israelites wandered through the desert for three days, searching for water.  Each day, their hunt must have grown more desperate.  How long could they survive out there, moving through endless wilderness without water to drink?  And then they arrived at Marah and there was water and they felt that rush of joy that accompanies salvation!

But the water was bitter and undrinkable.  It seemed like cruel disappointment considering their true need.  They weren’t asking at that point for luxury; they were asking for necessary provision and it seemed like God had failed them.

Yet, there at Marah, “Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink” (Exodus 15:25).

The Israelites placed their hope in their water-finding abilities.  They hoped for an oasis or a stream in the desert. And when they found what they had been looking for all along, they also discovered disappointment.

Moses placed his hope in God instead, knowing that even bitterness can be transformed into water for the thirsty.

When we place our hope in God, we will never be disappointed. But when we instead look for what we think we need, we misplace our hope in:

the job we think is secure
the financial answer to our bills
the debt program that’s going to transform our life
the 401K that’s going to make our retirement comfortable
the weight loss program that is going to make shedding the pounds easy
the husband who is going to make us feel loved and not lonely any more

the ministry that we can put our energies into
the friendship that makes us feel connected
the church with the programs we think will fit our needs

There are oh so many places to deposit our hope and each could yield bitter disappointment.  But the Psalmist wrote: My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

We wait for God only.  Not God plus the answer to our problem.  Not God and the life preserver from some friendly bystander who sees us drowning from the shore.

God.  And if He what He offers to us is a program or plan or a friend, then we accept His gift, but we never depend on the gift itself. 

We hope in God alone.  Only He can provide what we truly need.  And if it’s insufficient or bitter, He can transform it into plentiful abundance and sweet blessing, making “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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