This past week, on Wednesday as I got out of the pool and left the gym, and noticed, my attitude was down. I could not find my joy. A strange notion! It was like my spirit was up against a wall.
I texted a good friend of mine, Rand, listing out three needs I could recognize, asking him to pray.
He wrote right back: “You have all those covered right now. Today is the day the Lord has made. Love You, Brother Brian. 😎”
The scripture, he referenced, “This is the day the Lord has made, let’s us rejoice and be glad in it,” was a good reminder and highlighted my need to rejoice where I was. I turned on some worship music and sang with it, as I drove. When I arrived at my destination, I journaled.
“Lord what’s up?” I wrote. Then I listened and heard this clear response in my spirit, “You are under attack. I need you to stand.” I took in a deep breath. It helped to be reminded what was going on with my attitude and the stuff of life was an incoming attack rather than all just produced by me. Scriptures flowed to my mind: “Resist the enemy and he will flee from you,” (James 4:7), “After having done everything to stand, stand firm…” (Ephesians 6:10).
I got out of my car and walked inside the church hosting the prayer gathering. I greeted Russ who was setting up. Doug, that day’s leader, chatted with me after he arrived. I told him a bit about my morning. He said, “I think you will find today’s devotional topic relates.” I have been attending the group bi-weekly for many months, and that morning for the first time in those months, the devotional was on spiritual attack and the call to stand. I could have laughed out loud! Doug focused upon Paul’s word out of Ephesians 6 — exhorting us to stand firm in the Lord.
God had covered all bases just in case I wasn’t listening.
Tim, one of the group’s members, stayed after prayer to ask, “So, what’s going on?” He is always listening, and picked up on the fact I had been hitting a wall. He gave me some ideas in answer to my questions before we left.
Just as I turned out of the church parking lot onto King Rd, I got a call from Kevin. “It looks like the Starbucks we we’re heading to is no longer there. I’m going to be late.”
“What was that?” I asked. It was only 9:15 am. I continued, “I have us meeting at 11:00 am.”
“11:00 am?” He said. “Oh wait.” He paused, then said, “You’re right. So, I assume you set the time at 11:00 am because you have a previous appointment.”
“Well, I did have one, but it was canceled. Want to meet?”
“Sure!” He said. I shared directions on how to find the correct Starbucks.
Kevin is a brilliant guy. In his late 60’s, an entrepreneur, working to start a new business, and in love with Jesus as I am, he’s a brick and a gift to me in this life. I told him the story of the morning. He’s a great listener. We spent two hours together; he strengthened my ability to stand.
This experience brought to mind my trip to California to preach at a camp a couple of weeks earlier. It was in a beautiful setting above Santa Cruz in the Mt Hermon area. Massive redwood and cedar trees, and a sense of the presence of God filled the property.
In 1950, Redwood Christian Park began hosting campers for weeklong and weekend experiences. The camp’s leadership invited the then world renown evangelist E. Stanley Jones to host one of his Christian Ashrams there, a movement begun in 1940. Jones visited the camp and made two requests. He asked them to build a large tabernacle, enough to hold 400 people, and a small prayer chapel. They did this. The Christian Ashram movement is founded around the 24-hour prayer vigil. At Redwood Christian Park it has been in this chapel every summer since then. Jones brought Redwood Christian Ashram to the camp and literally put them on the map for other groups.
The week we were there, we had a youth group of 28 youth and their adult leaders as part of the 90 campers. These youth were not excited about the prayer vigil, but came and went with their leaders into the prayer chapel daily for an hour or two-hour block of time. At the close of camp, these youth shared how God had met them so powerfully, the chapel time had become the highlight of the week.
What I didn’t expect but came to appreciate, being at this camp so close to civilization pulled me “off the grid” for the week. They had wifi, but I could not access email or websites. I soon gave up trying and realized God had given me the opportunity to be free from my device for the week. As I settled into this freedom, I could more readily soak up what God was doing.
As I got this call to “stand,” I thought back to being “off the grid.” It helps to turn off devices, pull away, take deeper breaths when standing. It helps to remember God is in charge and in control. Those frantic thoughts or efforts are not standing.
When the people of Israel marched out of Egypt after 400 years of captivity, they found themselves between the Red Sea and the massive Egyptian army behind them. Quite literally “between and rock and a hard place.” But what made it worst was fear and panic. They cried out to Moses, their leader, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us out to die in this wilderness?”
Their panic carried them further, accusing Moses of bringing them out of slavery against their will, claiming it would have been better to serve the Egyptians than die in the wilderness.
Moses told the people, “Fear not! Stand still and you will see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14).
In the frantic of my own life efforts to shift or change something, I don’t stand, instead
- I fret
- I strain
- I worry
But the command and call upon my life last Wednesday, and upon the Israelites so long ago, was to give up fear and stand still. You get the impression that if they gave into their fear they would also not see the deliverance God would bring them. They wouldn’t be looking for it.
Standing still was part of seeing clearly.
Perhaps standing, even while being fully attached to technology, is to remember no matter what is pressing upon my life, God has me and has it.
As I stand, I reenter God’s realm. It’s like being “off the grid.” In His Presence I encounter the one who can make all the difference. It is a good reminder.