Weekend Rerun: Marthas Anonymous

Originally posted on October 26, 2011

Fourteen years in women’s small groups and I’ve never once heard someone confess to being a Mary rather than a Martha.

We sit around the table at what might as well be Marthas Anonymous and confess, “Hi, I’m Heather, and I’ve been a Martha now for as long as I can remember.  I’m always busy, can’t seem to sit still and don’t enjoy resting.  I don’t watch TV without something to do at the same time and feel best when following a to-do list.”

I’ve heard the same confessions for years.  What I’ve never heard is, “Hi, I’m Jane and I’m a Mary.  I have no trouble at all dropping whatever I’m doing just to hang out with Jesus.  I’m totally fine if others are working in the kitchen while I sit at His feet.  Priorities for me are never a problem–Christ always comes first.”

That’d be the day!

And while we confess to being Marthas as if we recognize it’s a problem, at the same time, there’s a little bit of pride there.  Pride at being productive and busy.  Pride at being the one to take care of others.  Pride at the fact that people can depend on us to get things done and that we’re necessary to others.

That’s what the busy life does for us—feeds our self-esteem and reminds us that we’re important.

Yet, while we always pick on Martha as she grumbled to Jesus that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping enough in the kitchen, it’s not Martha’s activity that was the problem. Someone did in fact need to feed Jesus and the disciples lunch and some Ramen noodles or boxed macaroni and cheese wouldn’t really cut it when feeding a crowd of at least 13 traveling evangelists.

Busyness in the kitchen wasn’t necessarily Martha’s issue and it isn’t always ours either.  It’s fine to dream wistfully of hour-long quiet times, but reality doesn’t always allow for that.

Someone has to do your job.  Someone has to mop your floors, do the dishes, make the phone calls, cook the dinner, fold the laundry, play with the kids, read the bedtime stories, and direct the homework.

No, the problem isn’t always a matter of what we’re doing.  It’s a matter of the heart.

For Martha, the first stumble came when she complained about someone else’s lack of activity.

Oh, how often we take it upon ourselves to judge the choices of another, making us angry accusers and our target the burdened recipient of our disapproval.

Imagine if Mary had hopped up at Martha’s griping and headed begrudgingly into the kitchen.  She wouldn’t be serving dinner because God had instructed her to do so.  She would have been serving out of arm-twisted obligation rather than answering a divine call.

There’s no blessing, no peace, and no rest when we serve outside of God’s will.

Jesus asked, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).

When we walk in step with Christ, trodding only where He is leading, we can feel the true rest of dependence on Him and the freedom from performance and accomplishment.

Martha’s next problem was thinking that it was all or nothing.  You either work in the kitchen or you listen to Jesus.  You can’t do both.

Surely, though, she could have been listening to Jesus while she stirred the soup at the stove.  We also can bring Jesus into the moments of our day.  Pausing for five minutes to breathe deeply and utter a prayer of need.  Singing praise to Him while we drive and meditating on Scripture as we wash dishes.

In the same way, even when we don’t have time for Jesus, we make time.  No one is too busy for God.  We choose to make His presence our priority, even if it means shutting off the TV, not answering the phone, taking a “Mommy time-out” for 15 minutes, reading the Bible during our lunch break, or delegating tasks to others.

Life crowds out time with God.  It always does.  We must be vigilant to demand those moments with Jesus. They will not happen by accident.

In Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper wrote, “He teaches us . .  to slow down and recuperate after giving our all for the sake of the gospel.  To find a balance between going out and doing and being still and knowing” (p. 119).

Are you a tired Martha? Accept the rest that Christ offers you in His presence.  Return there as often as possible, taking a minute when you need it and an hour when you can. Don’t expect to be energized for eternity.  He gives you enough for today, for just this moment, and we bring that renewal back into all of our activity.

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.

Weekend Walk: The Competitive Edge

Several of my college professors sauntered into class on the first day of the semester, dropped their oversized literature textbooks onto their desks and announced, “If you expect to get an ‘A’ in this class, you can forget it.  I don’t give ‘A’s.’  At best, most of you will get a ‘C’ out of me.”

I took that as a personal challenge.

In fact, my irrationally competitive spirit can sometimes be a good thing.  Sometimes we accomplish more because of the adrenaline of the challenge, the race, and the competition.  That usually works for me.

And yet sometimes it’s a terrible addiction.  Like when you’re compelled to do the best, be the best, be the fastest, the first, the most impressive, and the most accomplished—even when it really doesn’t matter.

Or maybe one day you “fail” or come in second or make a mistake.

Or when you’re so focused on lifting yourself up, that you fail to come alongside others and give them a boost when they need it.

Or like when you’re a mom and you’re telling your child all the time, “You don’t have to be the first, the smartest or the best.  You just need to try your hardest and use the gifts God gave you to be who He called you to be. And I love you always.”

But deep down you want them to totally leave other kids in the dust.  Then your children start suspecting that when you tell them you love them and you’re proud of them, really there are some conditions attached.  Maybe they know that the deep-down hidden message in all this is to “Achieve.”

Or like when it’s time to throw a birthday party or be the classroom mom and an ordinary cupcake isn’t good enough.  You have to personally bake and decorate the kind of product that could land you on Cupcake Wars.  Your personal life goal is for all the other kids to say, “I wish my mom were as cool, fun, creative, and wonderful as you are.” (Throw in “beautiful” for good measure.)

Yes, that competition trap is a doozy.

All week long, I’ve been praying about killing the competition between my kids, encouraging them to be each others greatest cheerleaders instead of ultimate rivals.

Then I started thinking maybe my own drive for competition could use some killing.

In fact, maybe we all need the reminder in the body of Christ to unite for one purpose—the glory of God and the truth of the Gospel—rather than competing for attention, success, praise, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and number of people in the seats.

Here’s a verse I’m meditating on all this week, to remind me that ultimately all this striving matters very little and while it might spur you on to earn good grades or throw the best birthday parties, Christ would rather see us cheerleading than competing.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB).

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.  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

Weekend Walk: When Grace Is Enough

Last Saturday, I bravely went where I as a mom had never gone before.

We hosted our very first sleepover.

My girls struggled with sleeping days ahead of time.  One of my daughters complained that it was so hard to pay attention in school when all she could think about was having a friend over to stay the night.  After all, how can you sit still for math timed tests and spelling questions when a friend is coming over to your house?

They had plans.  Big plans.

All this remains a mystery to me.  I was never a fan of sleepovers and still struggle when I have to stay in a hotel away from home for even one night.  I like my space, my bed, my pillow, my routine.  I’m a homebody and an introvert.  Even as a girl, sleepovers were more nerve-racking than fun.

But I yielded to my friend-focused daughters and their pleading blue eyes and allowed them to invite over their friend.

Then we did the sleepover thing.  We made cookies, played dress-up, ate pizza, watched a movie, and painted fingers and toes.  The girls whispered and giggled in their room after the lights went out and squealed a bit at the thunderstorm booming outside.

And when it was over, I sank into the sofa in satisfaction.  I did it.  I, Mom to Three Daughters, had survived a sleepover.

That, I felt, should cover me for a while.  Maybe at least I would be free of pestering for three or four months.  A season of peace.  It sounded heavenly and was worth the effort.

I was wrong, of course.

On the way home from church the very next day, the girls started begging for another play date and sleepover.  Every day this week, I’ve been nagged and whined at.  They exchanged phone numbers with friends at school.  At Back to School Night, the girls spent 50% of the time showing me their classrooms and 50% of the time telling me that they had invited various friends to come home with them the next day.

One child snuck a note into her backpack to the school office: “Olivia will be riding home with Lauren King after school today.”

When I went to have lunch with my daughters at school, I had to ban conversation about play dates after ten minutes of being bombarded with, “When can she come over?” questions.

Now, having friends over really is fun and truly I love giving my daughters the opportunity to build into friendship and develop gifts of hospitality and people-focused lives. They are continually teaching me the value of relationship over tasks and to-do lists.

But surely, I felt, I deserved one week of “thanks, Mom!” before hearing “Please, Mom, can I have some more?”

Maybe God feels that same disappointment with us at times.  He saves us, redeems us, calls us His own, draws us in close to Him in companionship and friendship—in adoption!  He meets our needs and delivers us from circumstances and the Enemy.

And if we’re really holy perhaps we’ll toss a hurried “thanks” over our shoulders before running full speed ahead to the next crisis of need.

Of course, He’s so gracious to deliver us time after time and invites us into the kind of open and honest relationship where we can always tell Him how we really feel, what we lack, and what has us frightened and worried.

But perhaps we could learn to pause longer in gratitude and settle down in joy at His deliverance, knowing He takes care of us, knowing that He has it all under control and that we don’t need to run fretting back to the throne hour after anxious hour.

This week, I’ll be meditating on one verse every day that reminds me that God has already delivered me and for that I linger in thanks and praise:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust”
lm 91:1-2

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

Weekend Walk: Will Break for Beauty

We took a day off for beauty.

Yesterday, my youngest and I waved goodbye to her older sisters as they rode off to school and we climbed into the minivan for a drive on a sunny, warm but not too warm day, passing horse farms and the river and watching sunlight burst through the tops of trees, casting shadows here and brilliance there.

We traveled to see friends.  We don’t do this often enough, just sitting and talking, laughing,

watching kids play with toys.  In all of life’s busyness and the red circles around almost every day on the calendar, we don’t give enough time to friendship.

Sitting along the edge of the beach, we helped tip over buckets of moistened sand to form sand castles.  Pine needles and lost feathers, bits of shell and pebbles smoothed by the waves became castle flags and decorations.

Then we walked and collected treasures washed ashore by the tide.  Children see treasures in ways we do not.  I picked up unbroken shells, shiny, smooth, etched with color and patterns.  My little one picked up massive clam shells covered in barnacles and sand, murky in color and awkwardly shaped.  She handed me slivers of broken shells and even tried putting fistfuls of sand in her treasure bucket.

It was beauty to her.

What is it about the seaside that brings peace to the soul?  My friend says maybe it’s the rhythm of the waves.

I think she’s right.  I stood there for a moment and thought of the comfort it brings me knowing that the wave will come and another and another, in constant motion, totally faithful, reliable, trustworthy.

And that is our God.  He doesn’t wash over us and then pull back never to return again. He brings wave after wave of ever-coming, perpetual grace.  The world is an uncertain teeter-totter of a place, with unexpected terrors lurking around corners and surprises that drop us to the ground.

But God—He is faithful.  God—-He is always grace.  God—He is ever true.

After a stop at the school to pick up my older girls, we raced home to eat dinner and become beautiful: Choosing outfits, doing hair.  The girls fought over bracelets.

Then we met with other friends and drove once more, this time to see Ballet Magnificat, a professional Christian ballet company.

The music began.  Just instruments at first.  The dancers took to the stage and we watched and it was fine and it was okay.

But then one lone female voice sang,“Praise the Lord, O my soul and let all that is within me praise His name” and the dancer stretched her arms high in worship, her fingers almost touched heaven she was so long and outstretched.

And I caught my breath.

This was worship.  This was total abandon in praise to a God so worthy.

Yesterday, we took a break for beauty.  We paused and lingered long with friends and we filled our souls in the deep wells of nature and dance and worship.

I want to carry that along all this week and be intentional about it.

After beauty fills you up, it spills out and sloshes over the sides of your heart every time there is rushing, stress, tension, worry, boredom, work, monotony. 

We must work hard to protect the memory and refill often by taking a break for beauty, by seeking the soul-filling glory of God’s presence.

This week, I’ll be meditating on the verse to help me remember:

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple
(Psalm 27:4)

To hear the song by Kristene Mueller that began Ballet Magnificat’s performance, you can click here or click Play on the video below from the blog.

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.

Weekend Walk: Adding that personal touch

Whenever I give my daughters a birthday card to sign, I never know what might end up written on the inside.

At some point, they generally remember to scratch out their names, but along the way they’ll do things like:

sign it from every other member of the family also—-even when it’s a card for a school friend who doesn’t know any of us.

sign their entire first, middle and last names, even on a card for their dad, who most likely picked out their names in the first place.

declare themselves “your best friend with love” and sound more like Anne of Green Gables with all her poetic flare instead of a first grader.

sketch pictures of themselves and their friend, hearts, their family, puppy dogs, rainbows, cats, birds, flowers, their houses, and more.

In the end, the card is signed, but never in the expected, conventional way.  Sometimes that’s a little frightening as I look over their shoulders and wonder if they’ll ever venture into the truly outrageous.

When I notice they’re writing and writing and writing when a simple “Love Lauren” or “From Victoria” would suffice, I start asking nervously, “What are you putting in there?  What are you writing next?  What are you saying?”

Ultimately, though, it’s fun to see their personal style and unique touch.

I’ve been thinking today about the way God rescues us from trouble: How it’s so rarely in the expected, conventional way from planned sources and anticipated possibilities.  It doesn’t often happen according to our own plans.  He is, after all, a creative God, able to do far more than we expect or imagine.

I’m meditating on a verse all this week that reminds me that God is able to save us, but He’ll do so with His own personal touch and divine fingerprint.  Unlike us, He isn’t confined by physical resources or limited in imagination, talent, scope or skill.  He’ll choose a method of rescue not because it’s the only one He can manage, but because it brings glory to His name.  And nothing can stand in the way of that.

“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few”
1 Samuel 14:6

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

Weekend Walk: Fireplace, Meet My Toe

Last week, I walked into the fireplace.

This usually happens because I am:

a.) Doing too much too quickly.
b.) Distracted.
c.) A general klutz.
d.) All of the above.

The correct answer here is D.

Congratulations to you lucky winners!

At first, my injuries seemed slight, but over time I began to hurt every time I put my left foot to the floor.  It wasn’t my whole foot that was sore, just my pinky toe.

So, I adjusted, putting more and more weight on the other side of my foot.  This made walking look clumsy and more than a little bit ridiculous.

In fact, by the next day I was flat-out limping along, all because of one tiny little tender toe.

That night, I climbed into bed only to find that my big toe now had a blister.  This meant I had two toes out of commission.

It got worse.  The following day my entire leg was sore from limping in an effort to avoid both my pinky toe and my big toe.

The lesson here is simple.

Pay attention and don’t walk into fireplaces.

And value each member of the body, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

Just hurting one tiny, seemingly insignificant toe–the smallest toe I have–made life difficult as other parts of me struggled to compensate.

It’s true in the church body, of course, as well.  One small (perhaps seemingly insignificant) member of the body who isn’t obeying God in ministry throws us all off balance, stresses others out, and leaves us limping and ineffective.

Here’s a Scripture verse for the week all about being a healthy, whole, non-limping body of Christ:

 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

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.

Weekend Walk, 08/11/2012: Devotions From My Garden: Beautiful Attraction

We enjoyed a special visit with grandparents this week and they brought with them gifts, as is the way of grandparents.  One of our surprise presents were two tiny plants that they grew from seeds.

They are butterfly plants.  I looked them up online and saw into our future.  They bloom with brightly colored purple, pink and blue flowers.

And they attract butterflies.

This, of course, is the most exciting kind of plant we can grow in our garden that blooms right outside my daughters’ bedroom window.

Pink, purple and blue . . . and a butterfly magnet?

That has “King girls” written all over it.

I’ll be transplanting these tiny green plants into the garden this weekend and then we’ll watch and wait for the day that the first butterfly visits our flowers.

Of course, these aren’t the only kinds of plants that have a peculiar attractive quality.  Some flowers catch the eye of hummingbirds and the shoots of dill and parsley in our garden are the diet-of-choice for the Easter black swallowtail.

In the same way, we as Christians are to have an attractive quality about us that draws people to stop a while, turn aside, glance our way and choose to linger in our presence and know our Savior.

But if we’ve let our life plants wither and die, grow scrawny and unattractive, or deprive them of the necessary nutrients for our fruit of the spirit to bloom, then we’ll fail to attract others to Jesus.  Even worse, we might repel them.

So, this week, I’m meditating on a verse that reminds me to be a sweet scent of Christ in the world, a reminder to others who meet me and know me of God’s love:

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).

More Devotions From My Garden:

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

Weekend Rerun: Becoming a Zucchini Farmer

Last year, I had an abundance of zucchini in our garden.  This year, I’m overwhelmed by jalapeno peppers!   Here’s a weekend rerun devotional all about what to do with abundance.

Weekend Rerun:

Becoming a Zucchini Farmer
Originally posted on July 7, 2011

I’ve found my calling, my true gift and talent—growing zucchini.  So, I’m contemplating a new life as a zucchini farmer.

When we planned this mini-garden of ours, my daughters announced that they must grow and eat their own food.

Not knowing how well we could produce food we actually eat like tomatoes and cucumbers, I planted two spindly little zucchini sprouts in the garden.

I’d seen many fellow church-goers hand out this cucumber-wannabe to worshipers leaving the sanctuary.  “Would you like some?  Please, take it home!  We’re drowning in the stuff.”  So, I thought this must be one sure-fire vegetable to grow in our garden in case our other plants didn’t do well.

I didn’t expect that much success, just a guaranteed one or two veggies that my daughters could pose with in pictures and be proud about growing.

Then this one plant grew to monumental proportions and began producing mammoth zucchini.  I frantically began asking everyone I met, “How do you actually eat this stuff?”  Because we didn’t eat it, not often anyway.  I had no recipes for zucchini and whenever anyone said, “zucchini bread,” I stared at this zucchini the size of my daughter’s torso and wondered how that gets mixed up in a way appropriate for the bread pan.

This zucchini overload has me asking one question—what’s the point? What’s the point of having abundance if you don’t use it?  Sitting in my refrigerator or on my counter looking green and huge, this zucchini is pointless.  It is designed and intended for nourishment. Unused, it will rot and go to waste.

My question extends out to issues of faith.  What’s the point of spiritual gifts buried deep and hidden away?  God gives them to us, perhaps we even cultivate and harvest them. Then we let them sit unused.  Or perhaps we grow mystery vegetables in our garden, never actually identifying them.  Yes, we have gifts, but not knowing what they are, we simply pick the fruit, place it on the counter and toss into the garbage the rotten results over time.

While building the tabernacle, Moses instructed the Israelites: “Come, all of you who are skilled craftsmen, having special talents, and construct what God has commanded us” (Exodus 35:10 TLB).  That remains God’s desire—we apply our talents to God’s service, to the building of His ministry, His dwelling place, and His body.

Then there is also knowledge and discipleship.  What’s the point of study without application and life change?

There’s danger in notes and study and knowledge if our focus is on learning and not on our Savior.  Danger that knowledge itself will actually become our god.  Danger that we’ll fill our heads full of fascinating facts and never once experience life-change in the down and dirty areas of our heart and life.

What we study must become what we do.

Paul wrote to the Colossians, a church that had fallen into the danger zone, pursuing knowledge and learning to the exclusion of God:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

They had become so excited about gaining knowledge, they had failed to filter what they were “learning.”  Not every book you read that quotes Scripture is actually scriptural.  It takes discernment rooted in God’s Word to determine the difference.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul declared that people had devoted

“themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm  (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

So, what’s the point?  When we’ve written down the original Greek of a word in Scripture and we’ve taken notes on our favorite preacher’s sermon, when we’ve copied whole devotionals into our journal and highlighted our book . . . then what?

We grow.  We know God rather than just know ABOUT God.  That’s the point.  Paul prayed for the Colossians that God would “fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9).

If we’re reading without changing, listening without growing, learning without transformation, then it’s pointless abundance–a garden full of unusable fruit gone to waste as it rots on the vine.

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

Weekend Rerun: Blessings in Sticky Keys

Originally posted on June 10, 2011

“For You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever; You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of Your presence.”
Psalm 21: 6

I have a piano.
I have young children.
I’m trusting you can fill in blanks, use your imagination, put two and two together and figure out what all that means.

A few months ago, I sat down to play a song and noticed a key was sticking.  By the second page of music, the key wasn’t sticking anymore; it was downright stuck. Beautiful notes . . . beautiful notes . . . beautiful notes . . . thunk.

This has made my musical life difficult.

Then, there are the piano lessons for these young daughters of mine.  The offending key is not one of the mostly unnecessary ivories on the end of the keyboard.  Oh no; it is an oh-so-necessary note for any song not in C position.

So, I pulled out method book upon method book, recital books, beaten up and falling apart books covered in pencil marks from when I first learned to play.  My daughter played every single song in C position I owned on this overstuffed musical shelf of mine.  All this to avoid the offending key.

Finally, I broke down and called about repairs.  I held my breath waiting to hear how much this fix-it job would cost and then I heard the magic word: Free.

Free I tell you!!  The manufacturer recalled the keyboard on this piano because of sticky keys.  And so I danced around my living room and gave thanks to God for this blessing.  This tiny kiss from God and sweet reminder that He cares not just about the heavy burdens I carry, but also the daily annoyances and petty frustrations.

It’s a moment of visibility, the clear and unmistakable hand of God even when we are busy and rushed and overwhelmed.  It’s a flash of His glory amidst darkness, making us breathless with the beautiful and captivating mercy of it all.

But, then there are the not-so-visible blessings.  The ones we must squint to see or perhaps can only be seen in flashbacks.  While we’re in the pit and trapped in the mire, God’s hand is invisible, His blessings unclear. 

Yet, when God has lifted us up, washed us clean, taken our hand and led us forward on the journey, we can then throw a glance at the past and see the shadows of grace and blessing that we missed before.

Sometimes we know a blessing when we see it; sometimes we don’t.

Genesis 49 tells a story of blessing.  Aged Jacob calls his 11 sons to his side to tell them “what will happen . . . in days to come” (Genesis 49:1).  One by one, Jacob blesses each son.

Some of those words are obvious blessings.  Like for Judah: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet” (Genesis 49:10).

And for Zebulun: “will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon (Genesis 49:13).

And for Joseph: “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers(Genesis 49:26).

Then there are other prophecies for other sons.  Commentator Bruce Waltke called these “antiblessings.”

Like for Reuben: “Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel” (Genesis 49:4).  And for Simeon and Levi: “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (Genesis 49:7).

Antiblessings.  Maybe they even sound like curses from a dying father to his sons.  And yet blessings they are called.

Have you ever walked through something that seemed like a curse, only to find later it was truly a blessing?

Bruce Waltke explained:

In terms of the nation’s destiny these antiblessings are a blessing.  By demoting Reuben for his turbulence and uncontrolled sex drive, Jacob saves Israel from reckless leadership. Likewise, by cursing the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, he restricts their cruel rashness from dominating.

Beth Moore in The Patriarchs says, “We might call these blessings of restriction. . . .Both what we receive and what we don’t receive can constitute blessings for us and those around us.  God is all-wise.  He blesses us as surely by what He does not grant as what He does.

I have received these blessings that are only visible in memory.

At 13, I decided where I would go to college.  I worked.  I saved my money.  Years passed and I reluctantly applied to other schools along with this college, fully believing those extra applications were simply a waste of time and money.  I only toured my dream school.  I auditioned for the piano teacher of my choice.  I sought out a mentor in the Theory and Composition Department.  I went to the open house.

And then, I couldn’t go.  It was a resounding, clear “No” in the most nearly audible voice I have ever heard from God.

It seemed like a curse.  He didn’t give me the “desire of my heart.”  I was depressed, lost, confused, broken.  Listlessly, I started classes at the one college I simply did not want to attend.

And I grew.  I changed my major.  I met my husband.  My career path altered.

Abundant blessings grew out of the antiblessing.

Has God told you, “No?”  Has He delayed in giving you what you’ve asked for?  Have you been buried in circumstances that seem like curses?

Maybe that’s what you’re living through now or maybe it’s what you’ve experienced in the past. Either way, it may be hard to see a purpose or plan in all of this.

Allow God to peel back the layers of hurt and frustration and reveal underneath all of that the blessing that’s so hard to see.  Ask Him to open your eyes to see His grace at work even in heartache and loss.  It’s there, my friend, the blessing, though hidden perhaps, is there.  “Salvation belongs to the Lord; May Your blessing be upon Your people” (Psalm 3: 8)

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.

Weekend Walk: Needing Big Hair

Hiding the Word:

I ran my comb through my wet hair this morning and glanced into the mirror.  Bells certainly chimed somewhere and little stars likely danced around my head because I had an epiphany.

What I need as a writer, what I really and truly need to fill in some of my voids and deficiencies, is big hair.

Stay with me on this one:  How many female Christian writers can you think of who have a flat hairdo?

This was an astonishing revelation.  Every conference I’ve attended and DVD I’ve watched is led by beautiful women with big hair.   Anita Renfroe even posted a picture of herself at her salon this week with her hair covered in Saran Wrap and painted with hair dye and highlights. Even those without particularly high coiffures tend to wear it spiky, in a daring, edgy, cool kind of way.

I, however, do not have big hair, spiky hair, colorfully highlighted hair, or “cool” hair.

So, it seems clear that what I really need is a personal style team.  If they could just pop by every day and apply my make-up, fix my hair and then pick out my outfits, it would just be perfect.  It would be particularly helpful if they could make me beautiful while I’m busy doing other things.  As it is, I never seem to have time to blow dry my own hair.  Maybe they could do it for me while I wash dishes.

Isn’t it sad how easily our culture of the external seeps in?  How there is always something that we “need” and it’s usually what the person next to us has.

What I really need is . . . her job, his house, her car, her marriage, their kids, her ministry, her spiritual gift . . . her hair.

The Psalmist, Asaph, reminded us that there shouldn’t be anything on earth we long for more than God Himself.  We may not have the personal stylists we dream of or the health, wealth, and prosperity the world assures us we need.

But we have Jesus.  We have the Holy Spirit active in us.  We have God’s very own Word to us written down and at our fingertips throughout every day.  This is what we truly need.

Our verse for the week, to remind us of what we’ve already been given is:

 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26 NIV).

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