The Still Small Voice

Perspectives Through Pressure: Face to Face Challenges

 

Chapter Seven, Part One

 

Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but when they woke, they saw His glory, and two men standing with Him. Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His suffering and departure, which He was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem . . . While He was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them – and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. (Luke 9:31, 34)

When strong winds are blowing, and pressures are assailing us from every angle, common sense may or may not incline us to do the right thing, but since millions of believers today are experiencing serious discrimination and worse for their faith, it is all the more important to pray that fear and tension will not crush our ability to discern the Still Small Voice when it really matters.

Moses may not have been permitted to enter the Promised Land, and Elijah may have thought that he had failed to fulfil all that he had been called to do, but how greatly You honoured these men, Lord God. Grant us their faith and courage to meet the challenges that lie ahead: – not to strike the stone when You say “speak to it” – not to run when Jezebel threatens – and not to hold back when You call us to leave our comfort zones and to step out on the water.

Before we look at some of the external pressures that come our way, there is one other type of ‘face-to-face’ encounter which I did not mention earlier, and that is when the Lord Himself confronts us. Like Jacob, we will find that God sometimes contrives that we reach such a place where we have no choice but to face up to His challenge.1

Face to Face Challenges

Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me . . . Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? (Job 38:3,16)

There are few things the devil relishes more than diverting believers into doing or believing things that God has no option but to disown. Countless ministries of real promise have fallen by the wayside because at key moments red warning lights were ignored and driven through. To a greater or lesser extent someone somewhere made the mistake of assuming that the Lord did not mean what He had said to them, and that the Word of God the Lord did not apply to them.

How we respond to pressure points (failure most definitely included) is absolutely crucial. God is most certainly able to raise up once more those who humble themselves and repent, even if certain doors and platforms are no longer open to them.

When the watcher-angels delivered their dreadful verdict, one further year of grace was extended to the megalomaniac King Nebuchadnezzar before the hammer blow fell and he was driven from his palace to live in abject humiliation for seven long years. Only when he had learned utterly necessary lessons of humility did God restore him.2

Nearly thirty years ago the team that I was leading went astray over a particular issue. One day the Lord spoke clearly that although I was going to find this hard to hear, He was going to close the ministry down altogether. For a number of reasons, the Lord judged it better to dismantle it root and stock rather than to tinker round the edges.

This came as an enormous shock to me, as it so usually does when the Lord intervenes so directly. (Anyone who thinks that intimacy with God should preclude such extreme measures should reread Hebrews 12!)

Beyond the immediate shock lay much intense heart searching. The Lord was unbelievably gracious. Having dismantled the previous team, He moved swiftly to bring together a far more experienced group of ministers together who were able to achieve far more than the previous one would have been capable of doing.

For Reflection and Prayer

If you are going through a refining or even a dismantling process, face it squarely and take heart from the example of Hezekiah. Unlike many kings in their latter days, he did not waste time arguing with the Lord’s verdict but emerged from a life-threatening situation full of godly determination to walk humbly and circumspectly before the Lord all the days of his life. We can make his prayer ours:

‘I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul.

Lord by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too.

You restored me to health and let me live.

Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.

In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind Your back.’

(Isaiah 38:16-17)

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