As I was returning from a trip this weekend, I observed a funny yet sad display of panic in a nicely dressed middle aged lady with her passport in hand. We were getting in line to go through a security checkpoint in Phoenix in preparation to board our flight back to Portland, as she began to barrel her way passed us and as far ahead in the line as she could go. Her companion was as cool as a cucumber following behind her whirlwind of a storm. As hard pressed as she was and as far ahead in the line she got, I was still able to make it to the other side of the checkpoint, sit back and enjoy the entertainment of her frenzy as she was still trying to make it through.
Yes we actually made it to the other side before her. As a matter of fact, her panic was slowing her progress down. I watched her throw her things on the conveyer belt for scanning as they fell all over the place as her husband gently helped her pull herself together. Then they finally made it through. She didn’t need a plane to fly in, she was doing a good enough job on her own.
Throughout the time of our journey to Phoenix and back, I was contemplating the storms that we create in our lives. When it was time to board each flight, I would watch people storm the gates and stand in a long line, to board this long tubular object filled with stale recycled air, just to sit for another twenty minutes and wait for their time to depart and reach their next destination. Then on the other side they would jump out of their seats just to stand in line waiting for the door to be opened. I even caught myself in that same kind of frenzy, leaving my wallet in a store as I was being overly conscious of time finally remembering it as we were nearly leaving the mall. Or the time I quickly bought the first t-shirt I saw at the airport, for my grandson, only to find a store with twice the selection and a much more appropriate shirt for him, just yards away.
So many times we wonder why we are always in the middle of a storm and too many times it’s only because we are looking for the storm to come. When Elisha heard the voice of God, in 1 Kings 19:11-12, he didn’t hear it in the storm, but this storm was necessary in his life. He didn’t find it in the earthquake, but it too was necessary in his life. And the Fire? That was needed also. It wasn’t until he had experienced all of this calamity, by the hand of God, that he was able to hear the small still voice of a loving Father.
1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
You will go through the storm, the shaking and the fire. You don’t have to look for them or create them, but God will see you through. When we do go through the storm, it will only cause our roots to grow deeper. When we go through the quaking of our earth, it will only shake those things with no foundation. When we go through the fire, it will only melt away the things that seem to bind us.
Don’t be a storm chaser!! God will lead you through what you need. However, if you do find yourself in the middle of a self inflicted storm and you don’t know how to get out, you have a loving Father that is able make the crooked strait. Just look to the source of your strength. The author and finisher of our faith. He counted it a joyful privilege to lay down his life for you and me. This is why the Father has highly exalted him a name above every name. That awesome source of strength is Jesus.
24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
In the above verses, Jesus gave us a parable concerning the stormy winds of life. In this story we find that the storm is not necessarily what brought the end result, but the foundation upon what we build. A wise man will find his foundation on the rock. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul told the Corinthian church that the rock we build on is also the same rock that refreshes us and gives us spiritual drink. That rock is Christ and shall follow us where ever we go. Just as the old hymn says, “On Christ this solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” He also said, in Matthew 16:18, that it is on this foundation that He will build His church; and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
6. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings,crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
God spoke to Zerubbabel, in Zechariah 4, telling him that it’s not by our wisdom, wealth or strength, but by the Spirit of God, that we should bring down the mountains in our lives. They will be turned to dust at the sound of our voice. The Hebrew word (roo'-akh) used for spirit in Zechariah 4:6, is the same word used for wind in 1 Kings 19:11. God is spirit, and the only reason God was not in the wind is because He is the wind that brought down the mountains before Elisha. It is also the same word the book of Job used for breath in saying that we are “…consumed by the breath of His nostrils.” Wow!!! The same wind that brought down Elisha’s mountains, is the same spirit that turned Zerubbabel’s mountain into a plain and the same breath that consumes us as we breathe in the presence of Almighty God. Every time we take a breath, we are filled with all the resources we need to tell those mountains to get out of our way. Just as the wise man that built his house on the rock, Zerubbabel laid a solid foundation. Without this foundation, he would have never known the awesome benefits laid out before him before the foundations of the earth.
I don’t look for storms in my life. However, when they do come, and they will, instead of finding the fastest way out, look for the purpose of the storm. Jesus prayed to the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If there is any way I can get out of going to the cross, take it away from me”. He then went on to say, “Never the less, it’s not what I want, but what you want.” It was at that point that He truly recognized the purpose of the storm. It was no longer a burden, but a joy, because he saw the end result. Nobody likes the pain they experience of working out in a gym, but when a person keeps their eye on the benefits of the end results, they are willing to endure the ripping of the muscles for the joy of the final outcome.
Looking back at 1 Corinthians 10, Paul gives us a picture of the children in the wilderness. They all ate the same spiritual meat; and drank the same spiritual drink. However, he wrote that God wasn’t pleased with many of them. Now it’s kind of hard to surprise the all seeing and all knowing God, but these were written as an example. Some were overthrown by the wilderness. Paul said that they sat down to eat and drink of this spiritual meat and drink, then rose up to play. Their worship was a matter of convenience and not a passion of the heart. This is how the wilderness got the best of them. When our relationship becomes a passion of the heart, then we eat and drink and find our foundation in His presence.
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
So it’s time for a shaking. There’s a rumbling going on deep inside of you. Things that have worked before in your life just don’t work anymore. Something is changing and you feel that you have lost control. You’re being shaken to the very core of your being. GOOD!!! Because within theinner core of our humanity is the very center of your existence. The essence of life itself is finally being exposed in you and all the synthetic temporary existence is beginning to fall away. Nothing you could do on your own, but it’s a working from the inner core. This old clay pot is breaking away and the treasure is being revealed. 1 Corinthians 15:54 tells us that this corruptible existence that we live in shall put on incorruption, this mortal immortality and the death of our exterior existence will be swallowed up in victory.
This doesn’t mean that this exterior shell of a body will never see the grave some day, but the source of our strength is found in our eternal existence. This can only be found in the spirit. God said “Let us make man in our image and likeness.” If God is Spirit, then we are made spiritual beings. Jesus said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How can we be as perfect as the Father? By living after the spirit. This is our quest and our goal in life. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and everything you need will be added to you.
Hebrews 12:28-29 KJV
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire.
So now the wind has turned our mountains that have obstructed us and blinded us from our inheritance in Christ Jesus has been turned into a sandy plain. All of our vain imaginations and facades have fallen away and been swallowed up. What do we need the fire for?
God can and wants to use those things in your life that have been torn down. That sand can be made useful. You can’t build on the sand, but God will take that sand and turn it into something useful and honorable. Our external existence is being consumed by that inner core. Science will tell you that the inner core of the earth is the hottest part, just as hot as the sun. The death of the mountains is being swallowed up by the God, who is a consuming fire. When sand is placed into a fiery furnace the makeup of its structure changes. It becomes transparent. It is now able to be formed into a useful vessel of honor.
God takes those broken parts of our lives places them in the fire of His loving grace and transforms what seems to be useless into a wonderful work of art. That’s the love of our God! Is it painless? No. Is it worth it all? Yes. Is it necessary? Yes! Yes! Yes! And yes again! We can never truly hear the voice or see the fullness of his love and grace without it.
About six months ago, God showed me something as I was sitting in Hometown Buffett, waiting for my wife and grandson to show up. At the table across from me was another man sitting with his grandson. I watched them for a little bit while I was waiting. The gentleman was awkwardly eating his food while his grandson was playing a video game that he had brought with him. There was no communication. Not one word or smile was exchanged as the boys face was continually faced down toward his game. My heart was slightly grieved as I thought what that kid was missing out on. When my grandson finally arrived, he joyfully ran toward me, climbed up onto my lap and said, “let’s go!” He was wanting me to take him thru the buffet so I could help him get his food. I held him tight as we walked thru holding this four year old child that could have probably got his own food with very little help. But we were both cherishing the time together as we were joyfully one in heart and spirit. Juggling my grandson in one hand and a plate in the other wasn’t burdensome for either one of us. This is the joy of being free. This is the relationship that the Father wants to have with each and every one of His children. When we are done with the games of our external pleasures, we can find true joy and peace. It may burn for a while, but oh what a master piece you are.
The Small Still Voice
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Now that all has been settled, we can hear that wonderful voice of a loving Father. We can walk feely now, with no encumbrances. Our life has now become transparent. The walls are gone the Son is shining and we can see clearly now that we are not looking thru a glass darkly but all has been made clear.
Let us not fear that small still voice. All of the death and hell in your life has been cast into the lake of His fiery love. Consumed and made incorruptible. Don’t be conformed to that world within you that is trying to squeeze you into its mold of darkness, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Let this frame of mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus. He didn’t think it robbery to be equal with God, but he made himself of no reputation. He took upon himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the most disgraceful death of all. It was the joy that was set before him that caused him to endure the cross and as the very essence of his life was slipping away, he said, “It is finished!” The earth shook and the veil of the temple was torn in two, giving full access to the throne of God. The veil of the temple of our understanding has been torn in two. All we have to do to see the light of his glory is to turn around and walk into the wonder of His loving grace. The time for our expected end is at hand. It’s time to walk out of the darkness or our traditions, passions and beliefs into the marvelous light of the Son.