“4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:5 For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” Zechariah 2:4-5
I believe this is going to be one of those messages where I share a little bit about my walk with God, and how I don’t always feel invincible or like I’ve got the victory. There are times when I see hardly anyone ever comment on a message, and wonder if anyone is being touched or reached. There are times I struggle like anyone else to feel like what I’m doing is really making a difference or not.
Ministry is one of those jobs where you’re not always going to get pats on the back, but there are plenty who will let you know what they think you’re doing wrong. Still, those of us who have answered the call of God upon our lives are still…well…human beings. We still have flesh, we still have emotions, and we still have times where we don’t “feel” like we have it all together. Well…I don’t know if I can say “we”, but I can tell you that I still have flesh, I still have emotions, and I still have times where I don’t’ feel like I have it all together.
So…I am really interested to get into this message: “What To Do If You Wake Up Feeling Fragile”
There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.
I find it comforting to know that someone as highly regarded and respected in ministry as John Piper that he wakes up some times and feels…well…like I do when I wake up in the morning. For me, it doesn’t have to be a feeling like something is going to go wrong, and it doesn’t have to come after fielding a lot of criticism. Most of the time, it’s waking up to the devil talking to me about how no one reads my messages, and I’m not making a difference…so why bother. Why don’t you just give up? Yes…friends…I have mornings like that. I have days like that…and sometimes…I have to admit that I’m not always in a place where I’m able to ignore the devil when he’s talking to me.
Yes…some times I listen to him, and that begins the day off on the wrong foot…of course…but like I’ve already said. I am human, and just because I know, love, and serve God…that doesn’t make me immune to the attacks of the enemy…and it doesn’t mean that I don’t at least hear him out once in a while…and to be completely honest and transparent…some times I think he has a point.
But, I do find it comforting to know that there are people in ministry who are willing to be transparent enough to admit they feel the same things I do. It’s not taking joy in someone else’s pain…it’s just being able to know that someone in ministry relates to how you feel…especially when it’s someone who has done it as long and is as respected as John Piper is.
As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out — not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.
I think that most of us, if we’re honest, will always admit that there’s times where we look back, and reflect upon our lives. I’m at the point now where I can look back, and see the things the Lord has brought me through. I can see the things He’s delivered me from, and I can see His hand on my life in so many ways now that I couldn’t while I was going through life.
I can look back, and like most people say that I’m certainly not where I want to be in life…but I thank God that I’m not where I used to be. God’s brought me a long…long way from where I was, and there are some from the days of the old creation that have yet to reconcile who I am now with who they remember…but there’s always hope that God will change their hearts towards me.
The times of reflection cause me too…a moment to see God’s amazing grace, masterful craftsmanship, and makes me want to worship Him also. God’s so amazing. He’s done such a marvelous work in my life, and it causes me to fall in love with Him all over again.
How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.
As we talked about yesterday. Every promise of God has the same answer. That answer is YES. Everything God says He will do…He will do. There have been many times of desperate prayer myself, and I’ve had God give me rebukes, correction, promises, and direction. I love the “I will’s” and “I shall’s” also…because whenever He says I will or I shall…that means it’s done…and I can rest in what He says I will or shall do.
Instead of letting me sink into a paralysis of fear, or run to a mirage of greener grass, he has awakened a cry for help and then answered with a concrete promise.
You know. One of the things I love about the Lord is that He truly is no respecter of person. There are many times where He has spoken to me just like He did to Samuel. There are times where I will get down or in some kind of funk…and if I’ve spent too much time being there…eventually God will just speak to me something like: “How much longer are you going to feel sorry for yourself?” or “Don’t you think it’s time to get over it?” Isn’t that awesome that God would speak to me that way. I know not many would look at that and think that’s great…but to me…that says that He’s willing to speak to me the same way He spoke to Samuel. Then…it also just makes me feel good that He would speak to me at all. Seriously…is there anything better than having the Lord speak to you? Whether He’s rebuking me or encouraging me…I just love that God speaks to me…I wonder if anyone else’s God take time to speak to them…I know the answer to that question is NO…but that just goes to prove there is no other god like our God!
Here’s an example. This is recent. I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. Weak. Vulnerable. I prayed: “Lord help me. I’m not even sure how to pray.”
I have been in this place before. I’ve even said that exact same prayer, and again I find it comforting to know that there’s someone who has been in ministry longer than I have…and has prayed like this not too long ago. I think that some times when we come to God this way…it’s the best way we can come to Him.
You know. So often we come before God when we’re needing His guidance, and we’ll ask Him about all the options we’re thinking about…even though we’re seeking Him…we’re still relying upon our own understanding, and asking Him to agree with us on what we think our options are. However, I think that I’ve had the best results when I am like the poor beggar who lifted his hands, bowed his head and pled for Jesus the Son of David to have mercy upon him.
I’ve gotten more results from being honest with God, and saying just like John writes: “Lord, I’m not even sure what or how to pray…I just know I need You to help me. I don’t even know what kind of help I need or what I need You to do…I just know I can’t do this on my own…and I need You.”
Can I tell you that those kinds of prayers get results? Can I tell you why? It’s because when you seek God like that…it’s out of a place where your ready and willing to be totally surrendered to Him…and where you are out-of-the-way. I know that those kinds of prayers work…because I’ve used them often…and every time I have…I get results.
An hour later I was reading in Zechariah, seeking the help I had cried out for. It came. The prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4–5)
There will be such prosperity and growth for the people of God that Jerusalem will not be able to be walled in any more. “The multitude of people and livestock” will be so many that Jerusalem will be like many villages spreading out across the land without walls.
But walls are necessary! They are the security against lawless hordes and enemy armies. Villages are fragile, weak, vulnerable. Prosperity is nice, but what about protection?
To which God says in Zechariah 2:5, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” Yes. That’s it. That is the promise. The “I will” of God. That is what I need. And if it is true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem, it is true for me a child of God. God will be a “wall of fire all around me.” Yes. He will. He has been. And he will be.
And it gets better. Inside that fiery wall of protection he says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us pleasure of his presence.
I thought I would include this part just because John is able to relate to us in that he was in a place where he needed God’s help, and received that help through something he was reading in the Bible. That’s another point and reason why we need to read our Bibles. Because that’s primarily how God is going to speak to us today…through His Word.
So, when you say that you just don’t have time to read the Bible…basically you’re telling God you don’ t have any interest in hearing what He has to say…and then you get mad at Him. I know you do. You’ll say things like: “I’ve been seeking God about this for weeks.” To which I may respond: “Have you been reading your Bible.”
Friends…the day’s of the Moses burning bush or the voice from above is far less likely that those kinds of experiences are going to happen. Why? I just told you. God is most likely going to speak to us through His Word. Basically what I’m telling you is the Bible is our burning bush…and therefore it’s a great idea to turn off the television once in a while…and make sure you’re well acquainted with your Bible…because while it may not always be the greatest read…and you may not want to or feel like it…that is the way you’re going to get the answers you’re wanting from God.
You need to stop waiting for a word of knowledge from your pastor, or going from conference to conference hoping God is going to call you out through someone to give you the answers you’ve been seeking. You need to stop waiting for God to speak through someone or some other means…and start getting in tune to His voice…and that voice is only heard and found through reading and hearing the Word of God.
This was sweet to me. This carried me for days. I took this with me to the pulpit. I took it with me to family gatherings. I took it to staff meetings. I took it to phone calls and emails.
A Word or encounter with God can change everything can’t it!?! I know it has for me. It’s especially awesome to me whenever I do discover God’s answer through reading the Bible. It’s always neat to hear your pastor give you a word of knowledge, but the most gratifying times for me is when I get the answers from the Bible…and that’s because the more answers I get from the Bible…the more I seek by going TO the Bible…because when I’m seeking the answers from the Word of God…then I am actually seeking them from God…because…well…in the beginning was the Word…the Word was with God…and the Word was God. So…when I seek His face through the Bible…I’m more likely to find Him there than anywhere else.
This has been my deliverance every time since I was first marking my King James Bible at age 15. God has rescued me with cries for help and concrete promises. This time he said: “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Cry out to him. Then ransack the Bible for his appointed promise. We are fragile. But he is not.
Are you needing help from the Lord? It’s as easy as crying out to Him, and then getting into the Bible for His promises because the answers to all of His promises are YES. So…what are you needing from Him right now? Cry out to Him…and then begin to seek His Word for the answer.
We’re more likely to get an answer from God through His Word than any other source. More likely to hear His voice in His Word, and while we may believe our pastor’s are preaching at us some times. Again…I would venture a guess that at least 95% of the time or more…God is going to speak to us in the manner in which He has provided for us…His Word.
Lord God…some times I just need to be reminded of the fact that all the answers I seek are in Your Word, and to just simply say that I need Your help. I don’t know what or how to pray…I just know that I need Your help…I thank You for always having Your ear open to my cries…and I thank You for results. In Jesus’ name…Amen