A Heart At Rest

Too often it’s the insignificant things.

Like the dishes I had to leave unwashed as I unexpectedly rushed out the door…or the items on the to-do list, there because they need to be done, but truly tomorrow might do just as well as today.

It’s the project that sits unfinished, the playroom with evidence of an abandoned toy sorting marathon on display, and the increasingly evident need for a vacuuming.

Too often this is what overwhelms me, the ultimately unimportant and insignificant trifles and I’m tempted for just one selfish moment to say, ‘no.’14157735_s

‘No, I can’t.  No, I’m too busy.  Not today, not tomorrow, not later or in an hour.  No I can’t give this; it’s mine and I need it.  No, you’ll just have to ask someone else.’

While others are needing the hands and feet of Christ right now in this place where they find themselves ….and while God has told this perpetual Martha to abandon the mess in the kitchen and just sit down restfully at His feet or perhaps head out the door to serve another….still I glance incessantly over my shoulder at the kitchen, thinking of what I need to do.

How can my priorities be so awry?

I know it when I’m there… with a friend, on the phone, lingering at church, sharing the cup of tea, holding a crying daughter, baking cookies for another daughter to share with her class, surprising yet another girl in the lunchroom at school and sitting in a noisy cafeteria while she nibbles on her sandwich.

I know this is what matters.  This is what is important.

People are always more important than productivity. 

The dishes will be done.  I’ll stand on the kitchen mat soon enough with my hands soaking into the suds, rinsing cereal bowls and cups. This, too, will be service and love for others, for my family.

Yet, right now what matters is being with God and loving others as He does, not fretting over the remnants of breakfast in my sink.

God challenges my perspective, shifting my viewpoint that is ever so stubbornly focused on my own needs.

He did this for Peter, too, as Jesus explained that He would die and be raised again.

Peter argued with the Savior:  No way, Lord.  That’ll never happen to you!

“Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23 NLT).

That’s my problem, isn’t it?  My blindness to God’s perspective and the way that selfishness tunnels my vision until all I can see are my needs, my rights, my worries, my struggles, my life with my priorities.

I’m seeing things from a human point of view and never lifting my head high enough to see from God’s eyes.

This, then, is the deeply penetrating truth that challenges me: If I’m being obedient to God and loving others as He has told me to, then I needn’t worry about the peripheral, the secondary and the insignificant. 

He will give me the time.  He will help me. He will take care of what I need.

I can trust Him with it all, with every bit of my worry, my cares, my needs, my agenda.  When I’m serving God in obedience, my stressed out, frazzled, distracted soul can rest in His presence.

That’s what it says in 1 John:

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence”  (1 John 3:18-19).

Put love-based-on-truth into action and there I find that heart of rest simply because I’m where God is, doing what He’s called me to do, being obedient to His direction and timing.

In What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst writes:

I must confess I have moments where my heart is at rest in His presence, but they are broken up by pitfalls and pity parties.  Sometimes I just simply want to be selfish.  But when I choose selfishness, I may be happy for the moment, but I’m miserable in the long run (p. 98).

Yes, I have moments when serving comes easy and I feel the peace in obedience.  But I have those other moments when selfishness tempts me to hide away and to hoard my time or resources.

Ironically, it’s only when I’m pouring out to others that God can fill me up with His presence.

It’s only when I cease striving for myself so that I can serve someone else that God meets all my needs, for provision, for rest, for peace, for wisdom, and for time.

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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 © 2013 Heather King

A Matter of Opinion: Breaking the Chains of People-Pleasing

I looked ridiculous.

Standing on my deck in sopping wet clothes, barefoot with no makeup and my hair still not fully dry from my shower, I sprayed down a bunch of blankets and clothes with my garden hose.

Yes, I watered my laundry.015

I had a reason of course.

It was cleaning day (so unlike I Love Lucy, I was not dressed in pearls and heels), and sometime during my normal routine, I realized that one load of laundry had been shushing around in the washer all morning….as in, it was just cycling round and round endlessly without ever draining the water and spinning the clothes.

So, I pulled every last piece of laundry out and hauled it all to the deck.  Water pooled all over my floor, soaking my socks and shoes, and I stripped them off and plopped them by the back door.  After I had yanked out every blanket and sock, I bailed out the washing machine by hand, first in buckets and eventually with a tiny plastic cup.

I was pretty proud of myself for successfully launching ‘Operation Rescue Clothing’ until I realized that everything I had just placed out in the sun to dry had been hauled out of soapy detergent water.

So, clearly I needed to rinse it before it dried.

With the hose.

Naturally.

What else to do . . . drag it all back in the house, flooding every room in the process, so that I could rinse everything out in the shower only to haul it all back outside?

So, I improvised.

After a minute or two of standing there with the hose spraying water on my laundry, I realized I looked (and felt) like a sponge that could have been wrung out.

And it occurred to me how embarrassing it would be if someone saw me out there, looking ragged and wet and watering my laundry instead of my veggies and flowers.

But I shrugged it off because it didn’t really matter what anyone thought of me.  The fact was that I had done what needed to be done.

And isn’t that the important thing?  .

Unfortunately, not to me, not all the time.  It’s not so simple for me to shrug off the opinions of others.

Yes, I could be a charter member of People-Pleasers Anonymous, and this could be my own personal prison, the chains that keep me doing what is expected but not what God intends.

In the end, though, I know the truth that could set me free: God’s opinion about us is all that matters.

But it’s a realization that’s so hard to hold  onto.  I understand, I agree, I know it all in my head.

Yet, the truth doesn’t root itself deep enough in my heart to break those chains of people-pleasing and appeasement right off my hindered soul.

Here, though, I pause in my Bible reading to consider what God said about King Hezekiah:

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). 

The Message says it this way, “In God’s opinion he was a good king… (2 Kings 18:3 MSG).

In God’s eyes….in His opinion….

It’s God’s opinion that counts, that helps us put one foot solidly down on the ground after another, moving in the confident assurance that we are pleasing to Him.

In What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst writes:

God is the only one we should be living for, and we need His grace to handle the successes and the failures, the applause and the criticism, and everything in-between.  Sometimes our efforts will be fruitful and other times fruitless,  but as long as we please God, it’s all for good (p. 59).

John Bunyan wrote:

If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me.

In Song of Solomon, the bride endured her brothers’ ridicule as they sent her out to labor in the fields. She begs the king, her beloved:  “Do not gaze at me because I am dark” (Song of Solomon 1:6).

That’s what she’d been told, the insults and judgments about her worth and beauty that had tainted her heart and mind.

But the king declares with love:

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).

Others pointed out the flaws and others could have applauded her beauty.  Either way, she could have spent her whole life captive to the accolades, the pats on the back, the criticism, the naysayers, the insults, and the apathy.

But the King saw through eyes of love and grace and set her free.

This is all that matters for me, too—the opinion of my God, who looks with eyes of grace on me.

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Originally published as ‘A Matter of Opinion’, July 18, 2012

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 © 2013 Heather King

Turning Aside and Saying Yes to God

I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be there or so I thought.

Shopping off schedule, not on my normal day, shifting things around to accommodate other schedule shifts, cramming activity into the overstuffed container of life.  And now here I was, shopping at a Wal-Mart in the middle of the afternoon instead of during my normal morning jaunt through the store with a shopping cart and a coupon book before the crowd arrived after lunch.

I pushed my way through the sale items at the front of the store with my focus on my mission—shop, gather the items on my list without distraction, save money, and leave.

But then I saw her, a friend at the pharmacy counter.  Stopping for a quick ‘hello,’ the kind of cheerful greeting we small-town folks exchange in the Wal-Mart all the time, I pushed my cart to the side of the aisle hoping not to be in the way of other annoyed shoppers on mission.

This friend, though, didn’t need just a cheerful chat, but a sharing-the-heart kind of talk, a prayer right there in the middle of Band-Aids and Tylenol.

God sent her to the Wal-Mart at just that moment and then He rocked my world all crazy, turning my schedule upside down and sent me right on into that Wal-Mart at the exact same time she would be there.

I like to hold this white-knuckled control over my calendar and my agenda, fitting everything in just right and not being willing to bend, to flex, to rearrange and adjust, not without whining and complaining at least.

Yet, here is what happens when I release, open my palms and offer up the plans, saying ‘yes’ to God even in the daily.20931038_s

A few days later, God over-turned my normal routine again with special school events and unexpected trips to the post office.  There I was driving down the Main Street of town when I ‘shouldn’t’ have been and I was thinking of the to-do list items to cross off, the errands to run, the destination and the mission all over again.

But He opened my eyes to see ‘her,’ a woman I knew limping along the sidewalk painfully slowly.

I didn’t even debate over my plans.  Instead, I zoomed into the nearest driveway and she climbed into the mini-van (after I shoved aside the napkins, papers, and other Mom mess) so I could drive her to work.

A little blessing for her.

A huge blessing for me, this reminder of God’s divine agenda, the appointments He sets for us and the way I can miss them so easily in my stubborn addiction to having my own way.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“the great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant (or unexpected) things as interruptions in one’s own life, or real life.  The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.”

God’s involvement in my agenda isn’t always painful or unpleasant, but it does have this way of being unexpected.  Like Proverbs 19:21 says:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Yes, I’m a ‘many plans’ kind of person who learns slowly to yield to this God with a perfect purpose.

God interrupts, intervenes, and now I must choose—whine and complain, reject and insist on my way, or submit and adjust and trust His plans, like Moses in the wilderness outside Mount Horeb as he tended his father-in-law’s sheep.

Moses wasn’t meandering along, aimless and purposeless.  He had a plan to lead “the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God”  (Exodus 3:1).

But God lit a fire within a bush and captured Moses’s attention.

What if Moses hadn’t stopped?  What if he waited until later, choosing to finish his own plan and then return to check out the curiosity?  Or if he’d ignored the interruption, adamantly determined to do things his way, in his own timing, and in his own strength?

Oh, how Moses would have missed out on God’s glory and God’s purposes for his life and his people!

Instead, Moses yielded.  He said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight” (Exodus 3:4).

This turning aside is what God teaches me in this walk of obedience, the willingness to be interrupted, the trusting Him with my agenda and not worrying and fretting over the unexpected and the out-of-control.

Turning aside when I see God at work, I join Him there and give Him praise.

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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 © 2013 Heather King