Each year, I look forward to sharing the emphasis the Spirit of God has placed on my heart for Mobberly Baptist Church. This year, the focus of that vision centers on the words: Stand, Abide, and Wait.
As I read Isaiah, I always wish that I could be in the place of Isaiah when he said, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1) As we face the coming year one phrase stands out, “I saw the Lord…”
As I contemplate the numbers of souls that will be saved this year, the homes that will welcome a child, the marriages that will be restored, the activities and ministries that will happen, I cannot get past the desire for each of us to see the Lord. As we consider these things we need to be asking, what will it take for me to say, “I saw the Lord?”
S – Stand.
If I heard someone say, “don’t just do something, stand there,” I would likely struggle through a mix of confusion. By worldly logic this phrase should be reversed. When life is careening out of control, the great temptation is to become active and do something. After all, God can’t steer a stationary vehicle. Right?
The Levites have taught us a valuable lesson in this regard, and their job description is just as applicable today. “At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the Lord’s covenant, to stand before the Lord to serve Him” (Deuteronomy 10:8) Likewise, the angel Gabriel stood before God in service to Him between his appearance with Daniel and his promise to Zechariah that he would aid John the Baptist. Even now Gabriel is standing before God as he awaits his next return as it is played out in Revelation 8.
So, possibly the greatest Christian duty is to stand before God and minister to Him. How strange and difficult, to simply stand, having no agenda, no ambitions, no anxiety about rushing on to the next appointment! There are plenty of times in my life when my pastoring, my personality, and my pressures pump adrenalin into my system, but could it be that for every ounce of adrenalin, there’s a mirrored ounce of spiritual infilling only received when I learn to stand?
In passage from Egypt to the Promised Land, the children of Israel learned that the Lord God serves both as our Guard and our Guide. For you will not leave in a hurry, and you will not have to take flight; because the Lord is going before you, and the God of Israel is your rear guard. (Is 52:12). He precedes us and protects us. His presence guides us into the future, and His providence gathers up our debris and failures from the past. “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!” (Psalm 139:5-6 The Message)
But when our propensity of self-sufficiency threatens to miss acknowledging or abiding in His presence, God will use delays and difficulties to sensitize us to God’s nearness. Simply put, abide means to “settle down and let God be at home in your entire being.” This type of saturation point comes only thru quantity time not just quality time. Just like when Jesus prayed well into the night on the eve of His crucifixion, sometimes we need to press into the presence of God a little longer.
Abiding is not a passive activity. We do not stop ministering to one another and reaching into the world with the Gospel, because intimacy with God does not have to sacrifice urgency on the altar of vision. The activity of abiding in God’s presence does not cease other activities – it controls all other activities!
I was trying to explain the word vengeance the other day to one of my boys. So I looked up Romans 12:19 where the Bible says “vengeance is mine says the Lord.” The way the text was displayed I happened to lock in on one phrase “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,... (Romans 12:19) The context is speaking to God’s wrath, but if we can leave room for God’s wrath, can’t we also leave room for His other attributes like power, grace, and providence?
God delights in accomplishing the impossible but how often are we giving Him time to accomplish that? Instead of praying and waiting, we hardly let our lips mouth the final “amen” before we’re busy making something happen. Yes, “With God all things are possible.” But also, “without God nothing is possible.” If you’re in a tough place right now, maybe you need to entrust the problem to the Lord and wait while He handles it! Be silent before the Lord & wait expectantly for Him. (Psalm 37:7)