Finding Strength To Stand
I’ve thought a lot about turning to God and walking in the right direction along with how progression in any direction comes as a result of action. As I was reading this weekend, I came across the word ‘stand’. It struck me as a contrast to the words turn and walk. At first, stand seems like a passive word. I mean, standing is not moving so it must be passive right?
I don’t think so.
Making a Stand
Standing can take just as much or more effort than walking or running.
In the New Testament, Ephesians 6:11,13 it states, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil….Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Neither of those verses sounds passive to me. During this time period, armor could be made out of leather to save on weight but the more standard issue armor included a coat of mail or, for the more vulnerable soldiers, scales of armor. A helmet, shield, and weapons were also included. To stand with that much equipment took strength and endurance.
Standing for truth, standing for what is right is not always easy. It takes strength and endurance that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Even the physically weakest among us can stand with such strength. That kind of standing is not passive.
My freshman year of college as a student athlete, I was required to have mandatory drug and alcohol education. To save time and money, the university hired a motivational speaker to do a presentation for to all student athletes at the same time. I sat, bored, listening to the speaker when he started an interesting line of questioning to which he expected a response.
How many of you have a drink every day? A few hands went up.
How many of you have a drink on the weekends only? A few more hands went up.
How many of you drink twice a month? A few more hands.
How many of you drink once a month? A few hands.
How many of you drink on holidays or special occasions only? Very few hands were raised at this point.
Finally, he asked the question I was dreading – How many of you have never had a drink of alcohol in your life?
Slowly and with some hesitation, I raised my hand along with two other people in a room of over 300. I wish I could say I raised my hand with confidence, but I barely got it over my head and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. To my horror, everyone started laughing including the speaker.
Standing takes a concentrated effort, and sometimes, courage. I wish I had raised my hand with confidence but to raise it at all took all my fortitude.
Standing in the Storm
To move from one position to another, such as from sitting to standing may seem like a simple thing. But, imagine doing it while holding 20-pound weights, 60-pound weights, or 100-pound weights. What if you are trying to stand while battling 60 mile an hour winds?
You can, at times, find yourself burdened down with trials, or navigating a storm that feels as though you are going to be crushed or blown away. Yet, we still have the power within us to stand. When we stand in those difficult moments we move through a refining process, as in Malachi 3:2 of the Old Testament, “But who may abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.”
Standing through trials may look different for different people. For some, trials make them shine. They become a beacon of light for those around them. While others pass through their refiner’s fire quietly, yet no less successfully. However, the result is the same, the person comes out better, more dedicated and more sure of their faith in Christ.
A Hose and a Trailer
Last year around this time, our family lived in a 25-foot camp trailer waiting for our house to finish getting built. There was site development to be done, grass seed and straw to spread, bark to be scattered, and a road to be widened while there was flooding under our unfinished house. Not to mention that the trailer was leading and the water heater kept breaking. There was also trouble brewing with our construction loan, and my husband had broken three bones in his ankle, one of which was shattered.
One morning when I was standing outside in my pajamas in 30-degree weather with a frozen water hose over my head, trying to get the ice out so we could have water in the trailer, the hose broke in my hands. I looked at my husband who was on crutches and tried not to burst into tears.
At that moment, I felt as though my spirit had been trampled. I didn’t know how to physically or emotionally keep going forward. I kept trying to have hope and not despair but I felt as though I was being shoved into the mud each time I tried to stand. The strength to stand seemed beyond me.
But, we put on another hose, I got the kids off to school and the day went on. When I was alone with my 3-year-old, I knelt down next to the bed and cried. I pleaded with God because I didn’t know how to keep going. I didn’t know how we were going to solve our troubles. No immediate answer came. I sat and waited and still nothing. I knew I was not forgotten but I thought, “I could sure use some encouragement right now.”
As I got off my knees, I looked down at a church manual I used to teach the 3-year-olds each Sunday. On it was a picture of Christ. When my eyes met His, it was as though He were looking directly at me. A feeling of peace came over me as I knew that I was in his hands. I still didn’t know how things would work out, but I knew that He would help me to stand when I thought I would fall.
Sometimes we are required to stand with courage, while other times we are required to simply keep trying to stand. Both kinds of standing take action, strength, and faith. But as we keep trying and do not give up hope, we can gain assurance that we are not alone. When we use what strength we have to continue trying, our efforts will be accepted and strengthened by the Lord.