Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

The Stronger Hand

My husband David and I were walking down the hallway recently, and he was holding my hand. His right hand was holding my left hand. Isaiah 41:10 came to mind:

“‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (NASB)

In the Bible, the right hand is the place of power and authority, of STRENGTH. The Lord impressed on me to look up the biblical meaning of the left hand, so I researched it on the Internet . . . and the meaning amazed me. The left hand is the hand of WEAKNESS.

What the Lord taught me that morning is that our weakness is held in the grip of His strength. His power and authority cover our weakness. They are greater than our frailties, and they overcome them.

In fact, the Lord purposefully works in the midst of our weakness for His own special reasons. Here are just a few of them:

Our weakness draws us closer to the Lord

Psalm 23:1 tells us, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (NASB). The shepherd takes care of the sheep. We are meant to depend on our Shepherd, to follow Him because we know His voice (John 10:4). If we felt we could do everything for ourselves, we would not see our need for the Lord, and that would be a very dangerous and vulnerable way to live.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV). We come to know the Lord better and to love Him more as He meets us in our weakness and cares and provides for us there.

Our weakness enables us to experience His power and glory

When the Lord shows up in our weakness and does what only He can do, we catch a glimpse of His power and glory. We recognize His strength at work in, through, and around us, and it brings us to our knees before Him.

He is mighty to save (Isaiah 63:1). Wherever you might be feeling weak right now is the exact place He can show up and show off. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (NASB). In other words, the Holy Spirit (the treasure) inside of us (the earthen, broken vessels) moves in and through us to show the surpassing greatness of the power of God. His power is surpassing, much greater than our own, and it truly displays itself in our weakness. It’s like having a cracked pot and putting a light inside of it. The light shines through the broken places. That’s what God does in our lives. Our weakness helps us realize that true power resides in God and not in us, and we can count on His power to move and triumph in our lives.

Our weakness attracts others to Him

Others, too, can see our weakness and brokenness and what God does through them. Ephesians 3:20 tells us, He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” so . . . “to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (NASB). That word glory carries the idea of showing or displaying; in other words, God reveals Himself through our weaknesses, and that results in praise, honor, and glory for Him.

When others see the love and power of God operating in our lives, they want to know Him too. That’s why Paul said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NASB).

May you choose today to slip your hand into the powerful hand of the Lord. He wants to use His hand to draw you close, display His power in your life, and allow others to see Him in and through you. He always offers us the stronger hand.

Question: Where/how do you need to experience the Lord’s stronger hand? Comment below, and I will pray for you

Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 23:1; John 10:4; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 63:1; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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Receiving God’s Best

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Do you think a dog would prefer the nub of a used bone, or an enormous, flavor-filled new bone? I watched in amazement this past week as two family dogs bartered, begged, and stole the nub of a bone between them. Several times, I attempted to distract the nub-less dog with an enormous bone that was given at Christmas. I had no takers.

I realized a great spiritual truth in watching the nub obsession. The Lord desires to bless us abundantly, and He is able to do so. However, too many times, we ignore Him and latch on to something so much smaller, convinced that it is better than what He offers. I know. I’ve done it.

How can we cooperate with the Lord in receiving His best for us?

Trust Him

Jesus mourned over Jerusalem, saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37, NASB).

We have to believe the Lord desires the best for us, that He wants to bless, care for, and protect us, the way a mother hen shelters her babies under her wings. We have to choose to trust Him. That’s faith. We must decide to believe Him and then receive His best.

Esau was given that choice . . . and he grabbed the nub. Coming in hungry one day, he found his brother Jacob preparing stew. He was “famished,” so he told Jacob to give him “a swallow of that red stuff there.” Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” We are told “Esau despised his birthright,” so he sold it for a single meal (Genesis 25:30-35; Hebrews 12:16, NASB).

As the firstborn, Esau received a special birthright that entitled him to unique privileges and blessings. All he had to do was embrace and live in light of what he already had; instead, he chose to give it away. As children of God, we have a birthright as well, being born into God’s family by believing and receiving what Jesus has done for us (John 1:12). We must be careful that we don’t act like Esau, despising our birthright and grabbing something temporary of this world. We must choose each day to believe in and embrace the eternal blessings of walking with the Lord.

Obey Him

We also receive God’s best when we do what He says, when we obey Him. He tells us in Deuteronomy 10:13 that all His commandments and instructions are for our own good. He tells us, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23, NASB).

Like any loving parent, God provides commands and instructions in order to bless and protect us. We are blessed when we seek to know what He says (by reading His Word) and then choose to do it, to live by it. We are not to be forgetful hearers but effectual doers of the Word; the Bible tells us that when each of us does that, then “this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NASB).

We miss out when we “settle” by choosing to go our own way instead of following God’s instructions. We get the nub instead of the gigantic bone. King David learned that truth. When he sinned and committed adultery with Bathsheba, the Lord told him, “I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed?” (2 Samuel 12:7-9, NLT).

David traded the “much, much more” of God’s abundant blessings for some temporary pleasure that yielded a world of painful consequences . . . for himself, his family, his community, and his nation. Worst of all, David was told, “by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14, NASB). David’s actions caused others to say ugly things not only about David but also about David’s God. What a tragedy. Our actions speak about who we are and Whose we are. That’s why obedience is so important.

Anticipate Blessings

When we choose to believe and obey God, we can anticipate blessings. We can expect the “much, much more” that always comes with the Lord. We can and must look ahead to the abundant life Jesus died to give us (John 10:10).

We see this in Lamentations 3:21, NASB: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.”

The writer is looking for, anticipating, and expecting good things from God, because he knows God is good. We must cultivate the same anticipation of God’s blessings.

Today, I found my daughter Sarah’s dog Henry chewing on the nub. I decided to do a little test. I brought out the gigantic bone. Henry dropped the nub and leaped about 5 feet in the air toward the huge bone. Minutes later, he was chomping on the abundant delights of the mega bone.

May we choose to do the same!

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant blessings after believing and obeying Him? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Reflections From My 30th Wedding Anniversary

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David and I on our wedding day, December 15, 1984. I never realized on that day how much more I would come to love, respect, and appreciate my husband.

My husband David and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this month. I am amazed and grateful to have made a home with this wonderful man for 3 decades, while learning so many important truths in the process. I wrote about some of these lessons in my book OPTIMISM FOR AUTISM, in a chapter entitled, “Navigating the Marriage Waters.” I believe these lessons hold true for any kind of relationship, but especially for marriage.

Appreciate Your Differences

David and I are very different. He is extremely athletic, and I am, well . . . not. I was always the last one picked for kickball in grade school. If adults played that game, I still would be chosen last. A born leader, David blazes trails and inspires people wherever he goes. He serves on several boards and committees, which value his foresight and wisdom. I, however, am content sipping on a cup of tea while talking with a friend, reading a good book, or writing.

David sees the big picture and plans for the future. I take care of the day-to-day details. David plays the guitar and sings beautifully. I have been told singing is not my gift . . . by my giggling children when I try to sing the high notes. I, however, love to pour over my Bible and teach a weekly adult Sunday School class about the treasures in God’s Word. David doesn’t like to sit still to do all that studying.

Our personalities differ, too. David is passionate, strong, and direct. He seeks to get results, to get things done. I’m sensitive and extremely tender-hearted. My feelings get wounded easily, and I hurt quickly for others.

We often viewed our differences as flaws instead of unique attributes chosen by God. The Bible says each person on earth is God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); that means every one of us is uniquely crafted by the Lord. He wisely and lovingly chooses and gives us our personalities, temperaments, abilities, physical traits, strengths, and weaknesses. He weaves all those features together to create one-of-a-kind individuals, who carry and represent His attributes on earth. We are made in His image (Genesis 1:26), and the Lord says His designs are meant to fulfill His special purposes (Ephesians 2:10). Even in marriage.

Over the years, David and I realized how our unique personalities, gifts, and traits added to our marriage and family in unique and vital ways. We brought our abilities together under the Lord’s direction, chose to appreciate them, and allowed the Lord to use them as He intended through our marriage.

Realize Your Combined Strength

Like a beautiful tapestry, the threads of our individual lives can come together in a marriage and create a beautiful work of art that would not have existed without the intertwining strands. In the process, the Lord can display a stronger picture of Himself through the combined lives of husband and wife. Ultimately, the tapestry becomes one stunning picture of Jesus, versus a bunch of individual threads. Growing and becoming one in marriage takes time and commitment, and the Lord helps in the process.

Over the years, David and I have come to respect what each of us brings to our marriage. The Lord has done great things through our being together—much more than could have been accomplished separately. We are stronger collectively than we are individually.

The Bible says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NASB). In marriage, Jesus is the third strand, the main cord that keeps the marriage together and strong. It’s our job as husband and wife to wrap our individual cords around Him. He actively works to help the marriage not only survive, but also thrive.

Honor the Lord Together

The Lord has taught us that marriage is not about what we can get, but about what we can give—to our spouse, and especially to God, by cooperating with Him in what He is trying to accomplish in and through our union.

Being married is like sailing a ship. Sometimes the waters are smooth and calm, and other times, you are fighting huge waves and gale-force winds. Either way, the goal is to navigate together and allow Jesus to captain the ship. He has a goal, a purpose for every marriage—that the marriage would reflect and honor Him.

The Lord designed marriage to reflect to the world the relationship between Christ and the church, those He loves dearly (Ephesians 5:31-32). Since marriage is supposed to represent how Christ and the church relate to one another, He has a vested interest in making marriage all it can be, a vehicle of love and respect for the world to see.

Whenever David and I have conflicts, the best solution is always to go to the Lord about it. He knows the best course to take. I remember the time He told me to stop expecting David to be Jesus . . . I was putting too many unrealistic expectations on him and needed to show him some grace instead. I also remember when David humbly approached me and said the Lord had instructed him to treat me more gently, and he was going to try to do so. Only the Lord is able to look straight into the heart of issues and give the perfect advice and direction. Jesus doesn’t come to take sides in marriage conflicts. He comes to take over.

As David and I grew in our marriage, the Lord ultimately arranged circumstances so that we got baptized together on our 12th anniversary: December 15, 1996. I felt as if the Lord was telling us then, as He is today, “Okay. Just remember: We are in this together.”

So here we are, 18 years past that baptismal date, and 30 years since we first made our marriage vows. I look back and think how quickly the time has passed. It makes me long all the more to honor Jesus and share His love with the precious people He has placed in my life. By His grace, I can do that . . . and so can you.

Question:  How have you seen the hand of Jesus at work in your marriage or other relationships? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Merry Christmas!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE FROM THE KINGS!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

—Isaiah 9:6, NKJV

 

We hope this Christmas season fills you with awe and wonder at God’s indescribable gift of His Son Jesus to all mankind (John 3:16). May the love, grace, and peace of God warm your hearts during the holiday season.

Katie and Curt (Morgan), Sarah, Susan, David, Emily and Patrick King

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Facing Our Giants

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Our “guest blogger” Patrick King

Sometimes, God uses us to teach our children something, and other times, He uses our children to teach us. I experienced the latter this week as my son Patrick wrote an essay for his Old Testament class. The students were supposed to write and speak to the class about something from the course that had impressed them or impacted their lives. The name of the essay was to be called, “This I Believe,” patterned after a popular radio program (Visit http://thisibelieve.org/essays/listen/classic/ ).

As Patrick shared with me his ideas for his essay, I knew the Lord was doing something powerful. I got his permission to share his “This I Believe” essay with you. May you be encouraged, as this mama was!

From our “guest blogger” Patrick King:

We all face giants in life.

In the Bible, a young man named David goes to face a giant named Goliath, who was a champion warrior for the Philistines. Archeological evidence proves that the Philistines had expanded way beyond their traditional borders during this time and were invading Israel, David’s homeland.  It was a big deal that David went to fight this giant. Goliath was intimidating. He was 9 feet, 9 inches tall and had armor that weighed 125 pounds. Even David’s king and Israel’s army were terrified of the giant.

David was just a youth; yet, the Bible tells us, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” He used a smooth stone and a quick flick of his sling to knock down the giant, after which he cut off his head.

When giants come along in life, we have to decide if we are going to face them or choose to run away from them.

I have had to face my own giant for 21 years. The name of my giant is autism. I was diagnosed with this developmental disorder when I was 5 years old. This giant taunts me like Goliath taunted David. It tells me I can’t do things, that I am not able. It interferes with my sensory processing and my fine motor skills. It confuses the way I interpret social interactions. Through a variety of specialists, this autism giant told my family I was mentally retarded, autistic, and might never speak.

Like David, my parents and I decided to face this giant head on and not retreat in fear. I went to years of therapies to get help, and I refused to give up. I learned to communicate through pictures for a long time, and I eventually learned to talk. I worked hard in school and got academic scholarships to college. I became a swimming champion in high school and got an athletic scholarship to college. I have become both a speaker and a singer. I go around and speak publicly, encouraging others to overcome their challenges. I wrote a book with my mom called “Optimism for Autism,” which is an Amazon bestseller.

David and I both had the same reason for victory. We chose to face our giants knowing God was with us. David said to Goliath “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands . . . that all of the Earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

I believe the giants we face in life give us the greatest opportunity for personal growth and victory. The giants give us the chance to overcome our fears and experience the power and grace of God. Giants allow us to see what God can do in the midst of our challenges.

Question:  How is the Lord helping you as you face the giants in your life? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website:  susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Navigating Change

sailboat

We can be sailing along smoothly in life, when the sudden winds of change come crashing down upon us. I was made even more aware of that truth in the past few weeks as my son Patrick found out that his much admired college swim coach was leaving that position. He also had learned a few months prior that his mentor and friend, his college voice professor, would be retiring after spring semester. These admirable men have trained, encouraged, and matured my son over the past three years. They will be missed.

People come into and step out of our circle of daily influence. We miss their smiles, laughter, wisdom, and kindness. Especially at the holidays, we can be reminded of how things change. Some of the familiar faces are no longer with us, and it makes us sad.

It’s okay to be sad. Those feelings remind us that we have had relationships that have blessed us. Grief and sadness result from great love and appreciation. We know the value and worth of those lives that have touched ours.

In the midst of it all, we can navigate change in life by remembering:

Change brings new opportunities.

My daughter Emily and I were talking just yesterday about how nervous she was when we dropped her off at college for the first time seven years ago. She didn’t know a soul on campus and already missed her high school friends. Yet, these many years later, she can look back and realize some of her closest friendships were forged during those college days. It’s a comfort to remember that now because she will begin graduate school in the fall and once again leave dear friends and move to a new city.

Emily and I talked about the new opportunities that await her in Raleigh, NC. If she hadn’t embraced the changes that accompanied college, then she never would have met some of her dearest friends—and they never would have met her. The same holds true for graduate school. I know this particular part of her life will usher in new relationships that will bless her. At the same time, I know what a blessing Emily is to all her friends. Some people in Raleigh are going to be extremely grateful that she came into their lives.

The Lord tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). We can embrace change, knowing the Lord is working out His perfect plans for us, and others.

Some things never change.

Even though my son might not see his swim coach or his voice professor as frequently in the future, their influence on his life still remains. More than the skills they taught and the abilities they refined, these men shaped the character and heart of my son. Those imprints will remain long past the days when these individuals turn in their office keys. So it is with others who have touched our lives, and whose lives we have touched.  The Lord gifts us with this precious circle of influence . . . we bless and are blessed by those who enter our circle. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).

This cycle never ends. I heard an old saying once, “The only thing you can count on in life is that things will change.” That may be true, but an additional truth behind that statement is that the Lord is the One orchestrating those changes for our good, for the benefit of others (there are people out there who need you!), and for His eternal purposes.

And we can count on something else in the midst of all the alterations in life: Jesus never changes.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). The One who gave His life for you will continue to love, accompany, and guide you until you see Him face to face in heaven. Jesus lives forever (Hebrews 7:23), and He navigates us through the winds of change to our forever home with Him.

Question: How has the Lord seen you through some of the changes in your life? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Flexing Muscles of Thankfulness

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Thankfulness doesn’t come easy to most of us. The world bombards us with reasons to doubt, worry, be afraid, and complain. If we’re not careful, discouragement and bitterness can come on the heels of those powerful feelings. But here’s the secret:  We have a choice in what we allow ourselves to feel. When we choose to be thankful, we experience great joy and peace.

Any athlete will tell you the more he or she uses certain muscles, the stronger they become. This holiday season, we can choose to flex the muscles of thankfulness and to reap the benefits of doing so. Here’s how:

Choosing what we think.

Our minds serve as the control center of our lives. That’s why it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” We can choose to say no to things that seem bigger than God Himself, to feelings that call us to look away from Him and fixate on the ugly and difficult issues of this world. We can choose to obey the Lord when He says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Lord loves us, and He knows thankful thoughts will take us to a good place with Him.

When disturbing thoughts and feelings come our way, we can choose in our minds to turn the tables and flex our muscles of thankfulness instead. The Holy Spirit helps us with this by opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to reasons for gratitude in the midst of difficult circumstances. We can ask Him to help us with this, and He will. That’s one of the reasons He is called our Helper (John 14:26).

Choosing what we say.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21, NASB). Our words can bring death or life into our lives and the lives of others. We can speak words of thanks to God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives and the lives of those we love. We can speak about how we are experiencing Him and His provision; we can utter these things out loud to ourselves and others. We can choose to think thankful thoughts and then to express those thoughts in thankful words. All words have consequences. They can carry us to lofty heights of joy and peace (life), or they can drop us into pits of bitterness and despair (death). The choice is ours.

Choosing what we do.

We also have a choice in what we do. We can take actions to flex our muscles of thankfulness. We can memorize scriptures that cultivate thankful attitudes toward God. We can choose to think about and speak them out loud over and over. Just this morning I read Psalm 73:23-26. I wrote it on an index card to carry around and think/speak about this week. It’s full of reasons to thank God.

We also can choose thankful actions toward others. We can send people notes of appreciation and speak words of thankfulness about them. Out of a thankful heart, we can do things for them in order to bless them.

My husband started a new exercise regimen this week. His muscles are experiencing the results of it. Any time we start flexing muscles in new ways, they scream in pain and rebellion at first; but over time, they grow bigger and stronger. In the end, the flexing benefits us greatly. The same principle applies to thankfulness. It may seem awkward and difficult at first to choose thankfulness over some of the powerful negative emotions in life; but in the end, embracing thankfulness over negativity will produce victorious and abundant living. That’s why the Lord commands us to be thankful.

May the year ahead find each one of us, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20, NASB).

Question: What are you thankful for? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

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Embracing the Changing Seasons in Life

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The weather changed this past week. The golden glimmer of bright Fall leaves was replaced by frigid temperatures and frost-tipped grass. Brrr. Although not officially recognized until December 21, winter has made its presence known.

God designed nature with different seasons. In His wisdom and love, He allowed summer and winter, fall and spring. Each season contains its own unique purpose and blessings.

The same holds true for life. We are told in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NIV:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

From these scriptures and the examples in nature, we can learn several truths:

Our seasons of life are ordained by God.

Psalm 31:15, NIV, says, “My times are in Your hands.”  Just as the Lord orders the seasons of nature (“He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down,” Psalm 104:19, NIV); in the same way, He directs the seasons of our lives. “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning,” it says in Daniel 2:21, NIV. Whatever season we are experiencing, the Lord is in control, and He is watching over us in the midst of it.

Each season of life is meant to bless us—and others.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). Whatever season we are experiencing, the Lord intends to use it for good (Romans 8:28). Whether we are encountering new beginnings as in springtime, the maturing of summer, the fruit of fall, or the fading that comes in winter (so new life and experiences can begin anew in the spring), the Lord is ordering the details of our lives.

The Lord has gifts for us in each season, if we would reach out and take them. He also has gifts for others through our experiences. In the midst of it all, He desires to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29); if we cooperate with Him in that process, we become a blessing to others as well. As we walk through our seasons of life with the Lord, He shapes us to bless others through our experiences. We can love, comfort, encourage, and strengthen others because the Lord has done that for us.

God remains the same throughout the changing seasons of life.

Even though change remains constant in life and seasons continue to change, one thing remains the same: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). Jesus loves us, so much that He gave His life for us. He is faithful forever in loving and caring for us (2 Timothy 2:13). The different seasons in our lives allow us to experience the diverse aspects of our Lord and to discover His great love and faithfulness in the midst of them (Psalm 57:10).

May the Lord open our eyes to see and appreciate the beauty in each season of life, and may we have great joy as we walk through each season with Him.

Question: What is the Lord showing you or developing in you during your current season in life? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website:  susanjaneking.com

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Treasuring Life

 Baby Morgan

 

This past week, my daughter Katie and son-in-law Curt announced they were expecting their first child. They used the photo at the top of this blogpost to inform Facebook friends of the exciting news. I’m going to become a grandma this spring! I’m overjoyed, grateful, and awed—all at the same time.

About four weeks ago, Katie and Curt invited me to attend their first ultrasound. My eyes brimmed with tears as I watched the pulsating movement of the tiny heartbeat within my first grandchild. What a miracle!

The truth is that each of us is a miracle, uniquely crafted by God. Psalm 139 tells us so:

God shapes us

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV). The God of the universe decided how He would make each of us. He selected and shaped each of our attributes: personality, appearance, gifts, and abilities. We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His “workmanship,” literally His masterpiece. Each one of us exists as a one-of-a-kind, extremely valuable work-of-art. The Lord Himself crafted us. We should not argue with such a perfect Artist about how He made us.

God knows us

Since He made us, the Lord also knows us intimately and perfectly. Psalm 139:1-4, NIV, says, “You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.” The Lord knows us at the deepest level. He sees our hearts. He understands, loves, and values each of us. Because He knows us so well, He can provide for us perfectly and lead us wisely.

God protects and guides us

We are safe in the Lord’s care. “You hem me in behind and before, and You lay your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5, NIV). Nothing can touch us without the Lord’s permission. He aims to bring good from whatever He allows (Romans 8:28-29). His hand is powerful and loving, protective and kind. His hand takes our hand and leads us through life (if we let Him). “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You” (Psalm 139:9-12, NIV). Even if we feel lost in the dark, God sees the way. He is the way. His power, grace, truth, and lovingkindness surround us wherever we go in whatever we are facing.

God desires that others might know Him through us

We should treasure and celebrate the unique life God has given to each of us, a life that He shapes, knows, protects, and guides. Our life is valuable, cherished, and authored by God. He has wired part of Himself into each of us. We need to be the person He created us to be so that the world can see those aspects of the Lord in us and hopefully be drawn to Him. We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), so that when people look at us, they can see Him. Isaiah 43:7 says we were created for God’s glory, a word that means “to manifest, to give an estimation of” in the New Testament.

I can’t wait to meet my first grandbaby and see the Lord’s beautiful handiwork in that life. I’m excited to spend years seeing and experiencing the presence of God in that amazing child. As the circle of life continues, I am celebrating the creativity and purposefulness that God places into each life. I can’t wait for spring when this new life will arrive with the blossoming flowers. Thank you, Lord!

Question: What attributes of the Lord have you experienced in the people around you? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

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Aiming for the Finish Line

DSC_1707 David and Sarah with their medals after finishing the full Ironman

My husband David and daughter Sarah completed a full Ironman competition in Panama City Beach, Florida, this past weekend. A full Ironman triathlon involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order with no break. The events must be completed within 17 hours to achieve the Ironman distinction. Most athletes would agree the Ironman is one of the toughest athletic competitions out there.

Sarah experienced her first Ironman this past weekend. David participated in his fourth competition. Both of them exhibited a fierce determination to get to the finish line.

So did the apostle Paul. He knew his time on earth would end soon, and he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, NIV). He had achieved his goal: crossing the finish line with his faith intact, having lived a life that honored the Lord.

After watching David and Sarah in the Ironman competition, I learned some spiritual lessons that can benefit all of us as we aim for the finish line in life:

Accept Disappointments and Move On

David and Sarah arrived early on Saturday morning, donned their wetsuits, and prepared to enter the Gulf of Mexico for their swim. Shortly before they were to start, the announcer broadcast that due to high winds, extreme cold, and severe rip currents, the swim portion of the triathlon was being cancelled. I watched as some of the participants fell to the ground and wept in disappointment. They had trained, travelled, and anticipated the swimming event, and things did not go as planned.

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Sarah and David in their wetsuits prior to the cancelled swim event

Life can be that way. We live in a fallen world, where circumstances don’t always cooperate with our expectations. It’s okay to be disappointed, but at some point, we have to decide to move on, to experience the race in the way the Lord has ordained for us. That’s what my family did.

Shortly after David and Sarah heard about the swim cancellation, David began planning how they would approach the rest of the competition. The race organizers decided to wait an hour and then begin the bike portion of the competition. They released a competitor to bike every 5 seconds, beginning with the smallest race numbers and concluding with the highest. Sarah’s number was 1174, and David’s was 2804. That meant Sarah had to start about an hour ahead of her dad. They agreed she should do so in order to save time. David would try to catch her, and they would complete the rest of the event together.

What neither of them anticipated was how late David would start and how fiercely Sarah would attack her bike race. She dug in during the race and finished the entire 112 miles by herself. She didn’t focus on the disappointment of how things turned out. She concentrated on the task at hand, and she completed it successfully. She told me she set little goals along the way during the entire competition, and reaching those milestones helped drive her toward the finish line.

Keep a Positive Attitude

I asked Sarah what helped her during the race, and she told me, “I tried to have a good attitude, to enjoy it, have fun, and really take in everything I was experiencing.” Her comments reminded me how we need to be truly “present” in the moments of life, to take them in and savor them. The Lord blesses us with so many gifts right now, right here in our present moments. We can miss out on what He has for us today by yearning for something that is meant for tomorrow or by focusing on hurts of the past.

Sarah also looked for her daddy throughout the race. She knew he was in the race with her. Our heavenly Father is with us, too. He wants our eyes to be looking for Him, our ears to be listening for Him, and our hearts to be focused on Him as we run the race of life. The attitude He desires from us is faith . . . to believe in Him and what He says, and to run accordingly.

Fuel Up!

Every few miles along the race course, the competitors could stop at aid stations (or bike or run through them) and grab food, water, nutrition, and other fuel to help them through their demanding journey. David and Sarah had spoken about and had planned when and where they would get their nutritional fuel during the race. They even carried some nutritional items on them.

From a spiritual perspective, we need fuel too. Jesus is our bread of life, and He gives us living water (John 6:35; John 4:10). His Word energizes and strengthens us (Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalm 119:28). He gives us the ability to pray and gather with other believers in order to fortify us for the race at hand. We must incorporate this fuel into our lives on a regular basis in order to remain healthy and strong as we race toward the finish line.

Help Others

Sarah and David said lots of folks encouraged them as they ran. Several friends and relatives made the trip to Panama City Beach, put on “Team King” t-shirts, showed up along the race course, and cheered on David and Sarah as they competed.

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Some members of “Team King” (and “Team Yanz,” a friend also competing)

 Since David started the race after Sarah and because it was Sarah’s first Ironman event, David concerned himself with how she was doing. While trying to catch up with her and whenever he would see us along the marathon course, his first question was always, “Where is Sarah? How is she doing?” He wanted her to succeed and have a positive race experience. He cared about her.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35, NIV). Often, we are more blessed trying to help someone else finish their race than totally obsessing over our own contest.

That motivation kept David running. He caught up with Sarah around the 18-mile mark of the marathon, and they finished the event together, crossing the finish line with hands joined and arms raised in triumph. David wore a t-shirt that said, “IRON DAD,” and Sarah’s t-shirt said, “IRON DAUGHTER.” We can all help one another and encourage one another in our spiritual races. We can aim for the finish line together.

When Paul realized he was about to cross the finish line of his race, he said, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV).

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Sarah with her Ironman medal

Just as David and Sarah were awarded medals for completing their race, each of us has a great reward waiting for us when we cross over from this life to the next. When we cross the finish line, our prize, our righteousness, will be Jesus Himself, and we will spend eternity with Him after our race.

Question: What has helped you in aiming for the finish line? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

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