Shaken. Inadequate. Exposed. Behind.
Covid came along and shook up our lives, exposing -isms and idols that had taken deep root in our hearts like individualism, consumerism, and busy-ism. Our routines and our plans were shaken. As a wife, mother, women’s ministry director, I felt (and feel) inadequate and behind.
While we sat as captive audiences, cell phone cameras captured the racism that has been laced throughout our nation from its very inception. For many, long-held perceptions of American history are being shaken. For me, the ability to claim innocence in the matter of racism has been shaken. Again, I find myself inadequate and behind. I am trying to fight the false urgency to read every single excellent resource being suggested to me right away. I want what I learn to take root and grow organically so that my soul and my life can grow along with my head. But I feel so behind.
Twice-shaken, my soul feels like a tree that has been pruned and plucked by great winds. I am thankful because I know that, biblically-speaking, all great things grow in soils made of humility, conviction, inadequacy, and exposure.
If we have learned anything in the harrowing year of 2020, we know that routines can be shaken. Laws can be shaken. Identities can be shaken. Cultures can be shaken. History can be shaken. Thankfully, prejudices can be shaken. Long-entrenched patterns can be shaken. Churches can be shaken.
But in all the shaking and with all the newsfeed suggestions and statements, my soul needed to be reminded today of what will not be shaken. Having recently studied the book of Hebrews, the Spirit led me to these words written to establish Jewish Christians whose very foundations were likewise shaken.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angles in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than that blood of Abel…Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12: 22-25 & 28.
The Jewish believers who were being addressed were living in times of seismic shaking to their Jewish roots. The entire old covenant into which they had been schooled and born was being rocked by the implications of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Their laws were shaken. Their customs were shaken. Their very concept of God and His rescue of His people were shaken. Their history was shaken. But the kingdom of God into which their lives had been woven was unshakeable. Here was an unshakeable community because here was an unshakeable God and judge who is a consuming fire.
In his written sermon, “The Consuming Fire,” George MacDonald has helped me greatly in attempting to understand what it means that our God is a consuming fire.
“For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more…Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire.”
Because God loves us deeply and perfectly, He must and will expose and burn off the shakeable things and the imperfect alloys in us and our lives. He shakes the shakeable and burns that which will not last to make space for the unshakeable kingdom.
With all that has been shaken without us and all that is being shaken and burned off within us, may we learn to lean on the Unshakeable King and to labor for His unshakeable kingdom.