The political chaos that has engulfed Washington, DC is tragic and unsettling, isn’t it? The uncertainty ripples out across America. My FaceBook™ news feed is filled with people ‘screaming’ at one another, accusing, blaming, calling for ‘justice,’ which usually means ‘what I think is right.’ Many of us hoped that the election, however it went, would bring about some easing of the angry rhetoric, but events of this week foreshadow more of the same. Some of us hoped that the chaos wrought by COVID would be sorted out by this time. But, yesterday’s news was even more alarming.
Many are all shook up by life’s tempests, caught in the maelstrom of these events, to say nothing of our own personal storms! I know this, dear friend:
Times of conflict and confusion contain the seeds of change.
Tony Evans, pastor and author, observes that “God creates discontinuity in history in order to bring the uniqueness of his Kingdom to the forefront.” Simply said, God uses the storms of life to remind us of His plans! You may not like that statement. It might even infuriate you. “How can a loving God allow me to go through these things?”
Consider the truth of this profound passage of the Word. “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29 NIV)
Many of us have turned God into a “Moral Therapeutic Deity” who is supposed to comfort us, make us secure, and remove the challenges of life. It is true that HE is a loving Father, that HE desires the best for us. Sometimes that includes shaking up our world to remind us just how very dependent we are on Him, how little real strength we have to control life. In our world of climate controlled homes, insurance plans, pain-controlling medicines, clocks, and agendas, too many of us live for too long with the illusion we can be the ‘master of our universe!’
When storms break over us, when pandemics rage, when our personal life falls to pieces, there is an opportunity to let go of the need to be ‘large and in charge,’ to turn to Him, to listen for the Spirit. Most genuine spiritual renewal occurs when life is all shook up!
Comfortable, well-fed people tend to slip into apathy toward the Lord, the kind described in the Revelation. “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16, NIV) Spiritual apathy is an offense to our holy God who desires that we love and serve Him passionately.
Jesus disciples learned a powerful lesson when they were so ‘shook up’ they believed death was imminent. During a crossing of the Sea of Galilee a sudden squall blew. Waves whipped up, spilling into the little boat. They screamed at Jesus. “Don’t you care if we perish?” What He do? “When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:39-41, NLT)
Their encounter with the power of God through Jesus made them even more fearful! The Bible says that they ‘feared exceedingly.’ (The NT Greek is almost modern there – ‘phobos megas’ ) They were mega-afraid! And, in that holy terror, they gained a new revelation of the identity of their Friend, Jesus.
Are you all shook up?
Let go of your need to try to control life. Cry out to Jesus. Confess complete faith. Pray the heart-broken prayer that a desperate Dad uttered to Jesus when all hope seemed lost- “Lord, I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) He is there, He is near.
Here’s a word from the Word. If a storm is shaking your world today, give God, the Spirit, the opportunity to use it to renew your heart, to bring about His purposes. Trust Him!
“Look out! God’s hurricane will be let loose— my hurricane blast,
Spinning the heads of the wicked like tops!
God’s raging anger won’t let up
Until I’ve made a clean sweep, completing the job I began.
When the job’s done, you’ll see that it’s been well done.” (Jeremiah 23:19-20, The Message)
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
(The Isaacs sing this old gospel song of assurance. Enjoy!)
I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the One who feeds the sparrow
Is the One who stands by me
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
nd I’m covered with His blood
Ira Stanphill © 1950 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)