Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Releasing Our Families to the Lord

mission trip 1mission trip 2

“We almost fell off the side of a cliff today as we were riding in the truck.”

Those were the first words I heard from my daughter Emily after she, her dad, and the rest of the medical mission team arrived in Guatemala this week. She sent an Instagram message to her sister Sarah, who told me about it.

A few days later, Emily posted pictures like this one with her dad on Facebook. One of the captions read, “What do you do when a riot is going on and you can’t get to clinic? Go to the Zaculeu Ruins of course!!!”

Oh my! I realized I was facing another test in trusting the Lord with my family.

When those we love face danger, pain, or struggles, our hearts become especially vulnerable. When they do, that’s our signal to draw closer to the Lord, talk with Him, and believe He has everything under His loving control.

Draw closer to the Lord

James 4:8, NASB, says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Sometimes, when life is too comfortable, we can be tempted to become complacent and neglect our relationship with the Lord. Without realizing it, we can slip away from Him. In truth, He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5), but we can lose our intimacy with Him, our awareness of His presence. We rediscover His nearness when we intentionally seek His presence. He promises us, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NASB).

Issues involving family members serve to remind us that we need and must depend on the Lord. We reaffirm what is most important—our relationship with the Lord. We rediscover, as it says in Psalm 16:11, NASB, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” We find peace and safety with the Lord because He hides us in the secret place of His presence (Psalm 31:20, NASB).

Talk with the Lord

Psalm 62:8, NASB, says, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Prayer draws us closer to the Lord and reconfirms our reliance on Him. Prayer connects us to what the Lord is doing and unleashes the power of heaven around us. Prayer remains so essential and potent that we are admonished to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB). That simply means we are to talk with the Lord throughout our day, giving every concern, praise, and thought to Him. When we talk with Him, we invite Him to be part of our lives . . . we invite Him to be our life.

Rely on the Lord

Nothing can happen to us or those with love without God’s permission. He has authority and sovereignty over all. He holds those we love in the palms of His hands, and He oversees everything that concerns them. That’s why He tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB). We don’t have to run the world because God already does.

There’s something else we must know in the midst of whatever is happening . . . We can’t see everything God is doing, but we can trust that He is always doing something in the circumstances around us (John 5:17). His aim is to bring good out of every situation (Romans 8:28), and what He desires is always good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2).

God sees the bigger picture, and we must rely on Him as He paints the canvas of our lives.

I don’t know what further adventures my daughter, husband, and the rest of the mission team will encounter in Guatemala. But I do know this: The Lord is orchestrating every moment of their journey according to His perfect, loving plan. They belong to Him first and foremost, and loves and cares for them as a perfect Father. He is touching their lives and the lives of those around them to accomplish His divine purposes. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Please join me in praying for the Guatemala medical mission team!

Question: What has the Lord taught you through the struggles of loved ones? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Persevering with the Lord

Swim Conference

This photo of my son Patrick and husband David was taken at Patrick’s conference swim meet last week. Their smiles came in the wake of some personal triumphs for Patrick . . . victories that were hard won by persevering with Lord.

The conference swim meet is the “holy grail” for the Varsity Swim Team at Pfeiffer University. Swimmers work hard all season, aiming to reach the pinnacle of their preparation and performance for the conference meet in mid-February. Patrick had trained and competed for six months, and he was right on schedule to put in some of his best swim times during the conference meet . . . until he got the flu.

Fever, chills, aches and pains, exhaustion, breathing difficulties . . . the entire gamut hit him about 2 weeks before the meet. He missed a week of his classes and swim practices. When he finally got back in the pool, he felt weak, and he struggled being able to breathe during his laps. His doctors told him he would not feel 100 percent healthy for two full weeks after the flu, a schedule which took him well beyond the dates of the conference meet.

“Mom, I’m nervous about the conference meet,” he told me early in the week. “I can’t catch my breath in the pool, and I am so tired. I really want to do well at conference, and I’m trying. I’m just concerned I won’t get the results I hoped for. Will you pray for me?”

“Of course!” I told him, “and I will ask lots of others to pray too. I know God is going to help you, and Patrick, your story has always been about perseverance, so keep persevering now.”

Diagnosed with autism at age 5, Patrick has faced many challenges in his lifetime: the inability to speak and understand language, severe coordination issues, difficulty in interpreting the input from all of his senses, social struggles, and educational issues. Yet, I noticed something powerful in the midst of all the stresses and strains in his life—that young man refused to give up! He kept going, trying, and persevering . . . and the Lord did some amazing work in the process.

The same trend held true at the conference swim meet. Patrick swam his personal best in the 1000 yard freestyle event, cutting 29 seconds off his best time. He did the same in his 500 yard freestyle swim, cutting 14 seconds off his best time. He swam hard, and when he saw his results on the scoreboard, a huge smile exploded across his face. I know the Lord was smiling too. That’s because once again, Patrick swam his race relying on the Lord and expecting Him to show up. And He did.

We, too, can persevere with the help of:

God’s Power

Patrick’s favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, NASB, which says, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.” Patrick works hard, and then he leaves the rest to God. He allows the Lord to work through him in his struggles so others can see the Lord at work. He’s a perfect example of 2 Corinthians 4:7, NASB: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”

In our book “Optimism for Autism,” Patrick wrote, “I do not think we should ever give up if God asks us to do something, because He is the One who does it anyway! He can do anything He wants to because He’s God!”

God’s Presence

When we are in a tough spot, that’s where we can encounter the Lord as never before. When the Israelites were trudging through the dangerous desert, the Lord promised them, “My presence shall go with you” (Exodus 33:14, NASB). When Joshua stood on the edge of the promised land ready to wage war, the Lord reassured him, “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

Patrick has shared with me how he has felt the Lord’s presence with him as he has faced his various challenges. The Lord’s presence energizes us to keep moving forward . . . with Him.

God’s People

When I told Patrick that family members, friends, and members of my Sunday School class and Ladies Bible Study group were praying for him in the midst of his conference challenges, his face lit up. I could see the joy, hope, and peace that displayed itself in his countenance. Patrick believes in the power of prayer, and he exhibits a humble gratitude every time I tell him about others who are praying for him.

We all need each other. We have a great privilege, responsibility, and blessing in praying for one another. We are called to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2, NIV), and to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). When we come alongside one another in the midst of our struggles, we are blessed.

Last week marked the completion of Patrick’s junior year of collegiate swimming. I know he will continue to teach me and others about persevering with the Lord in the seasons to come.

Question: What examples of perseverance has the Lord shown you? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Choosing to be Kind

Mom

I am loving a visit from my mother

My mom is visiting for the next two weeks. Since she lives 440 miles away from me, I especially treasure this time together. Like most mothers, my mom has certain sayings that have become part of the fabric of who she is, and my favorite one is, “It only takes a moment to be kind.”

Kindness pervades her life and washes over everyone she meets. The Bible talks a great deal about kindness, which is simply love in action.

Kindness comes from God

We are told that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Lord empowers us to be kind through His Holy Spirit, who lives in us. I have watched this powerful kindness in my mother all my life. She cares about others, and she shows that she cares. She visits those in nursing homes, people she doesn’t even know, and makes sure they have what they need. She ensures the less fortunate have food and basics like heat and electricity through her volunteer work at the local Food Bank and Salvation Army.

And oh my, has my mother lavished her kindness on her family, helping with her 25 grandchildren, and hosting special gatherings for her 8 children, their spouses, and families. She steps in whenever anyone needs a hand. I will always treasure the weeks she spent helping me after the births of each of my 4 children. Right now, in the wake of our kitchen renovation, she is graciously participating in putting our kitchen items back in their respective places, while she is visiting, on vacation.

Kindness thinks of others

Philippians 2:3-4, NASB, says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

My mother constantly thinks of others. She is quick to point out what their perspectives might be, or how their circumstances might be affecting their actions. She was talking with me the other day and mentioned she was driving one of the volunteers to and from the Food Bank on food distribution day, because that volunteer could not drive. “I guess the Lord put me there right now to help her,” she said.

That’s what Jesus did for us. We are told “for the joy set before Him,” He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2, NASB). He thought of us in the midst of the shame and pain of the cross, and He found joy, knowing what His sacrifice would accomplish for us: the payment of the penalty for our sins, and the opportunity for us to be with Him forever.

Kindness stretches

“Keep fervent in your love for one another,” says 1 Peter 4:8, NASB. Those words literally mean “to stretch, as if straining for the tape in an athletic race.” We are called to “stretch” in our kindness, to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable, to reach out in love and do something.

My mother has “stretched” her entire life, going out of her way, investing her time, giving of her resources to help her family and others. Of course, she had an incredible role model. Her mother came down to our house almost every weekday while my parents worked full-time, and she helped cook and clean, while also loving the pudding out of all 8 of her grandchildren.

But my mother’s greatest role model is Jesus Himself. I see Him in her every day. He “stretched” all the way from heaven to show His love in action on our behalf. He left heaven and came to earth to save us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

By His grace, may we “stretch” in kindness toward others.

Question: Who has shown you the kindness of God? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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