"When He had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." John 19:30..."Your value is not defined by your achievements. Your value is defined by the One who said, 'It is finished,' and achieved it all. You don't have to be awesome and do everything; you simply have to believe that the One who is truly awesome loves you through everything......You're more than your hands do. You're more than your hands have. You're more than how other hands measure you. You are written on God's hands: Safe....Held....His....Beloved." Ann Voskamp
I'm now in both the twilight of my life and ministry. It's natural for me, for anyone, to look back upon life at this point and ask, "What has it all amounted to?" With that question, there will be two voices that answer. One will be the voice of the enemy of our soul. He will belittle, mock, accuse, categorize. He's consistent in that, and he never eases up on his attack. In fact, I think he's at his most relentless at this stage of a believers life. Have we lived a life that really mattered, that made a difference? If we answer yes, he'll demand proof. As His people, co-laborers, priests and ministers, moving in the realm of the eternal, immediate "proof" can be hard to come up with. Most of us will never have a "trophy case" filled with the praises of men. If that's what we seek, and in truth, some part of us always does, we'll not only experience deep frustration and a sense of failure at the end of it all, but all along the way to getting there. I know. Too often that's been me. That's why Voskamp's words speak so strongly to me. He calls us to come out of the world's perspective and enter into His. He calls us to a far higher measure than what the world can ever come up with. At the end of it is the crown He gives, but that crown comes by way of pain, tears, our blood, and His cross. I have my doubts as to whether the Father even has a "trophy case," but if He does, those are what it will contain.
I recently preached on Ezekiel 22:30, where the Father said that He searched Israel for a man who would "rebuild the walls of righteousness" and who would "stand in the gap" for His people Israel, His church, and for the nation. He said that He had found none. That Scripture has been speaking to me on deep levels, and giving me more of His perspective.
This is what the Father seeks from us. As father's and mother's, husband's and wives, neighbors, church members, citizens. In a culture that has been breached by the growing cancer of sin and darkness, will we be ones who step forward, and stand in the gap where it is happening? Will we take up our post, wherever that is, in whatever role He gives us, and stand in it for Him? For as long as He calls us to? Which for all of us is our lifetime. Will we be, as Leonard Ravenhill said, those who stand "between a Living God and a dying people?" Will we do so even if the only one who's aware of us being there is Him? This is likely the hardest part of the standing. Pastors in particular experience great highs when things at their post are going well. Yet everything crashes when they're not. That's because we live in a different perspective than His. We're at the mercy of the changing tides. To stand in the gap through both high and low tide requires a heart filled with His Life and Spirit, dependent not on what's happening around us, but on His grace that keeps us faithful...and standing.
As I said, this is the twilight of it all for me. I intend, by His grace, to stand my post, fill the gap where I am right now, and wherever I may yet be. Most likely unseen and unnoticed. But as Voskamp says, held in His hands. Hands that write upon my heart, Safe, Held, His, Beloved. Your post, in the gap, in whatever role that may be, will surely be a lonely one. As parent, mate, neighbor, minister, part of His Body. Those same hands hold you, and they write those same words upon your heart. Is that enough for you to keep standing....in the gap....at your post....with and for Him?