A few days ago, I was in Brooklyn, New York sitting in the auditorium of one of the most illustrious churches in the country- The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Words cannot properly describe how meaningful that service was to me, just two days after I turned 30. But I will tell you that it was right up there with the Kenyan worship services I was in a few years ago. With each little taste of Heaven that comes from corporate worship, my heart grows all the more homesick for the place I truly belong.
I’ve had a lot of things that have shaken me in my lifetime. Seeing my mom turn around with a goose egg in between her eyes after she, my sister, and I were in a wreck in 2nd grade. A scary old man trying to sneak some sugar from me at church as a little girl. Learning that my granddaddy had a stroke. Receiving the information that he died. The news of my dad’s cancer. Watching him suffer through it. Watching him die from it. My husband losing his job. Finances that have been on the rocks. Health scares. Car wrecks. Major car repairs. Hearing of people my age that I actually knew dying. And as silly as it sounds, the dread leading up to turning 30.
Yes, I have been shaken. But I have not been stirred. These things have not defined me. They have refined me because of the one who holds me tight like a vessel in His hands.
I was having this conversation with my good friends, Annie and Phoebe, a couple weeks ago. Together, we realized that there are things you go through that make you feel like you are defined by them. Through the process of the Holy Spirit’s movement in your life, though, He sifts through those “defining” events and renames them as “refining” events.
That beautiful gray Brooklyn Sunday a couple days ago, as I was sitting in the balcony of the church pastored by Jim Cymbala, the truth that he proclaimed from that pulpit trickled right from his mouth to my ears, and down into my heart, “Everything you lean on will soon be shaken. How will you make it if you don’t have a walk with God?”
Truth is, I never would make it out of this world alive without walking hand in hand with God.
Each event that has left me shaken has been a direct result of what or whom I was leaning on. It’s easy to do. We subconsciously do it all the time.
When you’re leaning against a wall and suddenly an earthquake hits, you’re shaken, most often to the ground.
Me? I’ve leaned against naive assumptions of perpetual safety in familiar places, job security, my parents, my grandparents, my husband, friends, relying on vehicles, assuming I’m safe when driving to point A to point B, and death just doesn’t come to the young people I know.
I’ve leaned hard into these things and the earthquakes of life have shaken me to the ground in despair.
Because none of these things are Jesus.
None of them can support me to withstand the earth shattering moments of life.
None but Jesus.
He is the only rock who can support me and leave me unstirred. He is the only one who I can depend on to help me stand tall when everything around me has crumbled. His consistency is the bedrock of my life which causes my soul to be unstirred by anything but His Holy Spirit.
As my pastor, Jonathan Falwell says, “God is in control of every out of control situation.”
There’s no one who inhabits this planet that I can fully depend on. Whether they like it or not, whether I like it or not, no matter how hard I may lean on someone, eventually they will not be here to lean on anymore for one reason or another. It simply is beyond their control and mine.
Oh, but not the love of God through Jesus. “Love shows up when everyone else is leaving,” my pastor said recently.
Have you ever been at the point in your life that you feel like all your ducks seem to be in a row and you can’t foresee anything disrupting the ebb and flow in your life? In March of 2010, that was us. We had moved eight hours away from Virginia to Tennessee for my husband’s first big boy job a year and three months prior. I had three great part time jobs. We had taken an awesome first year wedding anniversary trip out west. We had bought a house. Things were going great.
David had asked for a raise since he had been there over a year and they seemed to enjoy his work. They kept putting the subject off and saying they’d have an answer for him on the following Monday. Monday came and his job went… much to our surprise.
Unbeknownst to us, the small business he worked for was failing. Since he was the last to be hired, he was the first to be let go. They tried to comfort him in his shock to reassure him that he had been an amazing employee and done exceptional work, but nothing they could say could alleviate the blow he was feeling.
Our mountain started to crumble at that moment. Suddenly, our sense of security in the hard work David had been executing to provide a good living was gone. We had the option either to fall into the pit that our mountain crumbled into or to cry out for help to lift us out with His Life response.
I remember after hearing the news on the phone from David. For some reason, my soul just knee jerked and started thanking the Lord for what He had given us. Food. Clothing. A roof over our heads. Electricity. Indoor Plumbing. Our health. Each other. We still had much to be grateful for.
I’m not saying that past four years have been easy. They have been anything but easy. In fact, they’ve been exhausting. BUT. They’ve been jam-packed full of the goodness of our Great God and opportunities to praise Him in our storm.
Why would anyone want to praise a God who allows difficult, often trying times to be present in their life? The best reason I can come up with is because He’s the author of life. The way I see it, if He’s the author, then He has the power to bring resolution to any conflict in the storyline He is penning through our lives, which makes for a much more meaningful tale.
I’ve been there, folks. Oh, I so have. I don’t know what conflict you’re going through right now. But I do know this. Whatever conflict you’re in, the author of life holds the pen to your resolution. He does. No one else does. Just Him. Lean on Him.
Whatever you’re leaning on, if it hasn’t crumbled yet, it will. But if you’re leaning upon the Rock of Ages, when the earthquakes of life hit, you’ll find that though you have been shaken, you haven’t been stirred. The confusion and chaos of life will not blend into your soul to make you undistinguishable if you’re leaning upon Christ. The only stirring in your life will be from the Holy Spirit, who transforms your commotions into communion with God Almighty and sets your feet on solid ground once more.
“God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Psalm 46:5 NKJV