by Steve Hall
One of the privileges of being a child of God is that at times, He shakes you up. It’s all through the Bible.
When Moses led the children Israel to the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, it is recorded in Hebrews 12 that he said, “I exceedingly fear and quake:” God shook him up. There is a whole list of people in Hebrews 11 who were shook. I’m sure it was a rather shaky business for Abraham to get up, take everything he had and set out, not even knowing where he was going. How about God telling Noah that he was going to go through a great deluge, on a floating barge full of animals, and when it’s over… well, it’s going to be a bit lonely.
Would it shake you up to be called of God to lead a nation of people out from being slaves to the world power of that day, into another land? We could speak of many different men and women in the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us who could say, “Yeah, the Lord really shook me up at that point.” As a matter of fact, could we find anyone in the biblical accounts whom God didn’t shake up? All of these individuals moved forward for God because of the great faith they had in Him. And God was able to use them for His purposes in this world. But we shouldn’t doubt for a minute that each and every one of them were shook to their very core.
Why does God do this to His children? Does He get delight in seeing His children scared and in watching them squirm? No, that’s not it. Not the God I know. The shaking is actually a great privilege and benefit from a good Father for His children. It is also a proof that we are truly His children. How so?
There are times when, as a family, we are going through a Bible passage that is quite violent, gruesome, or just plain hard to accept, due to the hard-to-take-in consequences on someone’s particular actions. For example, we just read the Old Testament account of Gehazi, assistant to Elisha, who lies to Naaman, the foreign military leader who had been healed of a skin disease. Because of his greed and lies, Gehazi is then given the very skin disease that Naaman had been cured of. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the curse was that the disease would be upon Gehazi’s family from that time on– forever! I can be tempted to “soften up” accounts such as these for the family, in order not to shake my children up too badly. But I am reminded that this balanced understanding of God is good for them. I want them to deeply understand and know the mighty love of God, but I also want them to know that things like lying are no little matter, stuff God actually says He hates. It truly is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. A spirit of rebellion, pride, and self tends to “cling” to my dear children. I know it does, because the little rascals are just like me.
There are many things that cling to us, or that we are clinging to, that we need to be “loosed” from. And that appears to be the main purposes for God shaking us. There are undesirable “things” that attach themselves to us through our lives, such as self-reliance, pride, man-worship, and so on. In our day to day lives, we often don’t even realize these have clung on. They weigh us down and hold us back. They weaken our walk with the Lord, and keep us feeble in the battle for righteousness. These are sins that cling closely, and so easily beset and ensnare us. (Hebrews 12:1)
We pray for God to use us. We say things like, “Lord, I want to be used of you. I want to be in your service. I want to take the higher ground. I want to DO something for you in this world!” But when we say these sorts of things, we don’t realize we have all of this “stuff” clinging to us that has to be removed… and when God begins the shaking process, well, we find out if we really meant what we prayed or not.
Often, when the shaking begins, we don’t see it as the hand of God. We can’t believe what is happening. It doesn’t seem right. It’s too hard. It’s not like the God we have always “known.” It’s not what we always thought. We begin to “exceedingly fear and quake,” as Moses said of the experience at Mount Sinai. At times, it really can seem like our whole world might just be caving in. Just ask Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Ruth, and so many others in that great cloud of witnesses.
But the shaking doesn’t last forever, praise the Lord. And if we will let God have His way with us, and embrace the shaking as from a loving Father, in the end it will yield that “peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
So, if you are in need, as I often am, may I use the basic message of Hebrews 12 to encourage you? If you are presently in a stage of being shaken, remember some things. First think on all those who have gone before you and had some pretty wild experiences. You are not alone. Think on the very Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who even endured the cross. Remember why God allows His children to be shaken. He really does love you, and He really is working to strengthen you. No exercise comes without some pain. Don’t be discouraged. He is proving to you that you are His child, and He is your Father. How could the reality of that thought not bring great encouragement to the heart of sinful people who love their God. And remember, you are part of the kingdom which cannot be shaken. No matter how it may presently feel, it’s all working toward good. I challenge you to read through Hebrews 11 and 12.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”Hebrews 12:28