Are you like me, and do you get weary of the hustle and bustle of life â€“ the yacking voices all about us, the music that never stops in every place we go? We can even get weary of church business and religion in the sense of rules, regulations and preaching and teaching with lots of pizzazz and emotional soulishness. At least thatâ€™s true of me.
The sad part is the human spirit can suffer through all this, and most people are powerless to deal with it. Either that, or theyâ€™re oblivious that the nature of God is rest, and He created and intended that we should learn to rest inside as well (Hebrews 4). We can get pumped up at church with a lot of hoopla, and the next day be running on empty. Can I get a witness?
Several years back I had an experience that branded me for life. My heart and spirit couldnâ€™t endure the above perpetual scenario, and I burned out three times! I kept pushing and pushing and straining spiritually and emotionally until I was worn threadbare. I persevered until I was ready to scream (and I did scream quite often in my car and in the woods and added a few obscenities to my tirade), but peace didnâ€™t come. And, yes, I knew the Lord well but not deeply, as I needed to. Finally, when I became overwhelmed with it all, one night panic swallowed me up in a deep dark cloud.
The fear was so dark and foreboding that I felt I couldnâ€™t breathe. My family called the paramedics because I thought I was having a heart attack. The medics told me I was okay and getting plenty of oxygen, but I couldnâ€™t believe it. The night rolled into day, as I walked in my yard all night to calm myself down. My feet felt like they couldnâ€™t touch the ground. All I did was quote scripture from about midnight until 5 am! Finally, I checked myself into the hospital in the wee hours and stayed there two days until I settled down. It was as close to hell as I ever want to get!
Prayer didnâ€™t work
Before panic hit, I was one praying dude and in the Word regularly. Iâ€™m talking a couple of hours a day and usually all day long intermittently praying. God didnâ€™t intend for prayer to work every time, or He wouldnâ€™t have taught us about stillness and meditation. Listen to David as he describes the magnificent power of stillness:
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be greatly moved. 3 How long will you set upon a man that you may slay him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence? 4 They only consult to cast him down from his height [to dishonor him]; they delight in lies. They bless with their mouths, but they curse inwardly. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! 5 My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. 6 He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be movedâ€ (Psa. 65:1-6 Amp).
Panic hit me several times after my initial experience before I learned to overcome it in the Presence of the Lord. I would steal away from my family when I felt the same foreboding, enveloping fear and panic enfolding its heavy cloak over me. In this experience, I learned to shut up, sit down and wait on the peaceful Presence of Jesus, and He immediately swallowed up panic in His love! In a matter of minutes, He stilled the storm in me! From that point on, I practiced stillness and meditation most every day to offset whatever fears and anxieties were trying to penetrate my soul.
Most Christians glibly speak about â€œwaiting on the Lord,â€ but few understand the depth or meaning of the significance. Most canâ€™t sit down long enough to quiet their souls to learn the discipline to do this incredibly important thing. David said his salvation (his daily protection and direction) came from the Lord. Many wanted to kill him, but what did he do? He silently waited upon the Lord!
God exhorts us in Isaiah 30 with a message for Christians who â€œrun on swift horses that are not my Spirit.â€ Hereâ€™s a short part of that chapter:
â€œ15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength. But you would not, 16 And you said, No! We will speed [our own course] on horses! Therefore you will speed [in flight from your enemies]! You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way]! Therefore will they who pursue you be swift, [so swift that] 17 One thousand of you will flee at the threat of one of them; at the threat of five you will flee till you are left like a beacon or a flagpole on the top of a mountain, and like a signal on a hill. 18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!â€ (Isa. 30: 15-18 Amp).
Wade Taylor wrote in â€œWaiting Upon the Lordâ€ that there are two steps in this process of â€œwaiting upon the Lord.â€
â€œBlessed is the man that hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors. For whoso finds Me finds life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.â€ Proverbs 8:34-35
In the first step, we look toward the gate (door) in worshipful anticipation, waiting for His presence to be manifested to us. When the Lord responds, we can begin to â€œwait upon Him,â€ acknowledging His presence as being with us, and then actively â€œcooperateâ€ with Him in whatever way He may lead or direct.
If there was ever a time when we need to be led by the Holy Spirit – our being in the right place, at the right time, with the right word, it is today. We are to be good stewards of this â€œcallingâ€ by keeping ourselves available so we can hear and become a vessel through whom the Lord can speak.
Unless we maintain a sensitivity to hearing His voice, we will miss. Today, as we approach the end of the Church Age, the Lord is increasingly knocking upon the â€œheart doorâ€ of our spirit. He is speaking a â€œpresent wordâ€ to all who are listening and responding. This is the unity for which He prayed – His voice becoming as the voice of â€œmany waters.â€
â€œAnd in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.â€ Revelation 1:13-15
Like David, enemies surround us!
We are faced with many enemies, whether theyâ€™re physical, financial, familial, or work- related. Stress can be overwhelming! In the physical, terrorists are gunning for America. Today, Aug. 30, 2014, we were placed on highest alert. ISIS and those of their ilk hate us and â€œride on swift horses.â€ Will we allow ourselves to trust in our technology, our weapons and our American ingenuity to save us? We are foolish if we do! for â€œUnless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vainâ€ (Psa. 127 NIV).
In years past when Americans worshipped the one true God, Jesus Christ, and honored Him by our adoration, bowing our heads at football games, and unafraid of speaking in public unashamedly of His name, He â€œguarded the city.â€ But since our courts have unwisely ruled in the name of ungodliness in the name of â€œfairnessâ€ and â€œlaw,â€ banishing the name of the Lord from public life and mocking his statues, we will find ourselves in great peril now and in the future, as we did on 9/11, except much worse. He canâ€™t, He wonâ€™t protect a nation that forgets Him:
â€œThe wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of Godâ€ (Psalm 9:17 Amp).
America is no exception. The protection of this country may come down to individuals who understand what I have written here. We cannot continue to â€œride on horses that are not of His Spirit.â€
There are a lot of things we should be doing, but missing Godâ€™s Presence by not spending time there is really unwise. The promises of maintaining our place there is imperative for becoming unshakeable, bold, loving and remaining at peace when the storms prevail. If we fail to do this, believe me, panic and maybe even death (panic attacks can cause heart attacks in otherwise healthy people by inducing spasms in the coronary arteries) are waiting in the wings!
Joseph Beckham is the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls http://amzn.com/1493781286