"This expression, 'Yet once more,' denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:27
"Shaken, but not stirred." That's a phrase many would connect to the movie character James Bond, as to the way he preferred his drinks. Yet the thought came to me the other day that it could equally describe so many in the church. The fact that "shakings" are going on all over our culture, including the culture of the church, is undeniable. Yet I think the reality that the hearts of too many within the church have not been stirred at all is equally true.
God is Sovereign in all things. The shaking we are witness to is being allowed by Him. As concerns the church, His intent is clear; He wants to see how much of Christ there really is in it, in us. Shaking is intended to remove all the superficiality of our faith and walk with Him. All the props we depend upon that aren't Him fall. All that we cling to that isn't Him is torn from our grasp. The impotence of those things is starkly shown to us. So as the shaking takes place, our response to it means everything.
I've been pastoring now for three and half decades. In that time I have witnessed lives, marriages, families, and churches being shaken to their very foundation, and often, that foundation has been shown to be only sand. Sinking sand as His Word says. The shaking is allowed to reveal to all involved the desperate need of Him, and the presence of all that is not Him in these places. Yet time and again, though the lives, marriages, families and churches are shaken, the heart remains unstirred. There is no confession of, or repentance of sin. There is no admission of the true and deep need of His life and power. Everything has been shaken around and beneath, but nothing has changed within. And so the patterns of sin, destruction, dysfunction, and woundedness go on. It's a circle of despair that only grows deeper with every shaking.
Scripture says that rain falls upon the just and the unjust. So too do shakings come upon those who are His and those who aren't. When they do, what is your response? Before I knew Him, I was cruising along in life, content with where I was....Then a massive shaking took place that removed all the feeble props I had been depending on, and the sandy foundation upon which I stood. Those shakings brought me to His cross, and I will never cease to be thankful for His mercy and grace that brought me there. Oh that it could be so for all...but it isn't. My heart was stirred and brought to Him. For too many others, the shakings only brought anger, bitterness, blame casting, and a total rejection of Him. He will use the shaking to remove every obstruction that keeps us from seeing Him...but our love of those obstructions can and will keep us blind to His wonder.
Shakings have marked and continue to mark my way, as they will mark yours. He continues to expose the sites of my cherished idols and props. Sometimes the stirring of my heart has been too slow, but He's been faithful to continue to shake until at last, I come to Him who remains. I don't ever want the phrase "shaken but not stirred" to be applied to me. How about you? In your shakings, how does your heart respond? Do you come nearer to Him or grow further apart? Are your eyes opened to see Him more clearly, or blinded, so as to miss Him completely? Are you being shaken, but not stirred, not changed, not really His at all?