Now, I have zero experience—and about an equal disinterest—in the art of bartending, but I’ve always liked Sean Connery’s cool rendition of James Bond. I do remember that 007 liked his martini “shaken, not stirred.” While I’ve always kind of rolled my eyes at that line, thinking it was just the smug order of a man who liked to believe his preferred method of doing things was superior, I may actually be getting the science of it this morning. Perhaps not with an alcoholic beverage, but something actually available in my kitchen cabinet: chocolate milk. Humor me…I know sometimes I draw weird analogies, but there’s always a nugget of truth in here!
Too many times as believers, we’ve been stirred but not shaken, not changed if you will. Stirred like cold clumps of powdered chocolate milk mix floating round and round in the top of the glass but not dissolving. Could it be that as soon as we “feel” God’s presence, we often go no further… and so we just stay on the surface, going around in circles? How do we get beyond just a momentary experience, to become strong, powerful, victorious believers?
I’m Pentecostal, teethed on the church pews. I love the tingly, goose-bump feeling of a good worship service or a time of extended prayer-closet time when the Lord chooses to allow a tangible refreshing to come…but I also know that this feeling alone is not enough to sustain me in an attack of the enemy. I saw a dear loved one wrestle with this for years, who felt that unless there was a shouting, jubilant feeling in every single church service, the Lord wasn’t really present and that it was just “dry.” That person didn’t realize that many times the Word of God comes without a warm fuzzy feeling; and so there was power that essentially lay untapped because it didn’t “feel” powerful. The result was a lifetime of going for the “fix” of another good feeling, then being terrified of having to go more than a day or two without another chance to experience the shout because that was this person’s only assurance that God was present. Feelings pass…so unless what you’re feasting on has the ability to carry you beyond an ecstatic moment, it won’t help you live a victorious life when you’re outside the walls of the church.
Bible study’s not usually a shouting, in-the-zone experience, but you need Bible study as much as you need the energetic atmosphere of a lively praise service. The Word will change you…what you think, what you do, what you say, and it will remain embedded in your heart regardless of what you feel.
How many times have you heard it said, “Boy, the preaching was sure good today!” And when you ask the person what the sermon was about, the response is something like, “I don’t remember, but the preacher was sure on fire!” I’ve probably been guilty early in my Christian walk of saying the same thing…thinking I got fed because the service was exciting. We need the fire, yes; we absolutely need the outpouring of God’s Spirit with signs, wonders, miracles. How we need it. But we must also take care that we’re not as the crowd which Jesus scolded for seeking nothing but a sign. We must not just be after the loaves and fishes. The Word is the REAL take-away. We must be willing to ingest His Word and allow it to go deep into our lives; to get in ALL OUR BUSINESS and to root out all doubt, all bad attitudes, and all those things about which we get so on-the-defensive when the Word shines a light on them. I wonder, when the prophet Amos spoke of a coming famine of the hearing of the Word of God, could we ourselves be living in a state of starvation when we seek merely the emotional experience, and stop short of feeding on His Word?
Listen, all the previous shouts in my life were not what brought me through the agonizing months of healing from our wreck. When we went through the season where the residual effects of my husband’s severe head injury were at their worst, I flat-out had to fight to keep my sanity. THE ONLY THING that got me through was the Word. The Word, echoing God’s will back into my ears. The Word, giving me something to speak against the attack of the enemy. The Word coming out of my mouth, when I didn’t “feel” one flicker of hope in what I was speaking. The Word, like a hammer whose repeated blows would shatter the obstacle over time instead of in one big, explosive moment. I couldn’t do spiritual warfare with a mere feeling or a previous emotional experience…but when I spoke the Word, it was effective and it brought the anointing to break the yoke. When Dana lay hallucinating in a hospital bed, tormented and angry and frustrated—sometimes he didn’t even know who I was—I would set the volume on low and play tapes of the reading of the Word, to drive away the evil spirits which tried to attack us even as we slept.
I pray today that all of us will experience both. May we have those times when we dance, run, shout, cry, laugh, rejoice…we ought to be so happy to worship our Lord, after all He’s done for us! But may we get, with that visible evidence of our gratitude, a deep rooting of the Word inside our spirit man. Not unmixed clumps to be fished out of us with a spoon, but something shaken so well into us that it would be impossible to separate it from who we are.
We need God to mix it up in us. Lord, shake us. Mix Your Word so thoroughly into us that every single drop of what comes out of us contains You. Don’t allow the contents to settle in the bottom, or float on the surface, but a through-and-through, lasting elixir of Your abundant life.
If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7 AMP
©2012 Lisa Crum