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When God Stands in the Back

When God Stands in the Back

when God stands in the back

Welcome to the blog. I’m so glad you are here. I recently released a podcast on this same topic and it really spoke to my mom. As we are nearing Mother’s Day and we are separated in all of this Sheltering in Place COVID-19 business, as a Shout-Out to her, I wanted to make it available here, for you. Sometimes we all feel like God is standing in the back.

When God Stands in the Back

Think of the type of person who sits on the back row in a lecture, a seminar, or even church. Are they your goody-two-shoes? Your question-askers? Do they try to stay hidden, hanging with their friends, or are they cutting up under the radar? If you have been in at least one class or seminar where you can select your seat, the lines are clearly drawn. That back wall is being held up by a group of comedians waiting for the right moment to unleash their sarcastic and timely gems on the ears available.

Before you become concerned I’m going to get myself into trouble, I married a guy on the back row. A natural cut-up. Oh, he’s funny. A brilliant snarky sarcastic and handsome galoot, he is. That man could read a book and ruin the curve in between distracting commentary every time. In fact, today, we have two separate offices at home or I would never get anything done.

The problem with my perception (and maybe yours) of someone sitting in the back is that I naturally feel as if they really don’t want to be present; and that they will likely not be paying attention. Whether I realize it or not, those perceptions carry over into my understanding of God and His work in my life. I’m just wondering if it is happening in your life, too.

Feelings Transferred

Sometimes we find ourselves in a place that feels very absent of the presence of God. It can feel as if He is standing at the back of the room (so to speak) or sitting on the back row,  and I transfer all of my perceptions and preconceived ideas into my theology. Before I know it, a felt absence of the presence of God —  will not help me find the courage to step out in faith or keep going. I will not receive the comfort needed to get through the next difficulty or hurdle. And I will not possess the confidence to believe what is unbelievable in regular circumstances.

There is an instance I want to bring to light today where God momentarily is not in the front leading. He is not hovering over and above heralding messages. He is not whispering direction or calling out to His own, nor is He working a miracle or showing Himself in any other way. Instead, he has removed Himself from those places and, in essence, is standing in the back ON PURPOSE.

There are times when that feeling that God is not present isn’t due to his lack of participation in your life, but a result of His positioning.

God’s Positioning

Charles Spurgeon assures us in this:

“The presence of God (in our lives) is not to be measured by the realization of it.”

Consider Moses and the Israelites as they have just escaped Egypt. As they are moving out, we are told they went the long way with the Angel of the Lord going before them.

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22

For the first time, these people experienced the presence of God in their midst. The God of the universe was leading them, going out before them. They could see the cloud and the fire. Sweet sleep.  No worries. So much so these slaves left boldly equipped for battle. Confident.

But in a fat minute –Pharaoh and his cronies had second thoughts about losing their free labor and began moving in on the fugitives. The people quickly lost confidence and begin to cry out to the LORD. Then they became a little testy with Moses out of their fear saying things like – “What?! Were there not enough graves in Egypt? Didn’t we tell you it was better for us to stay there?

Moses tells them not to be afraid but to stand still and wait for the Lord, assuring them that God will fight for them.

Response Time

In response, God says to Moses, “What are you standing around waiting on Me for, go forward” even though there is no “forward” place by which to advance. They are kind of on the edge of disaster. Moses is instructed to stretch out his staff over the water so the people will be able to walk across it and God informs Moses what He’s about to do to the bad guys. In these short verses, God has announced His plans and given the people instructions in how to move ahead.

This next part where you and I often begin to drift.

Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20

There are 4 things you and I should remember when God stands in the back that can stir our faith.

When God Stands in the Back, Remember God Moves

This is the most disconcerting of all the realities for me. God moves. And He doesn’t need permission or understanding. He doesn’t even need to make an announcement. Not that we don’t know this reality, but we generally like Him to act like the song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”

I expect Him to be in the front, ahead, leading, lighting the way, keeping us on the path until I get to the finish line, victoriously and without sweating too much or having much difficulty.

I recently saw a meme of this same concept,“Jesus, Take the wheel” but instead of taking hold of the steering wheel, Jesus made off with the back left TIRE, making the car undrivable. The caption read, “Don’t take THAT wheel, Jesus!

That’s kind of how life can feel at times. In fact, I connected with a friend a couple of weeks ago only to find this past year had been the worst year of her life. It seemed as if Jesus had taken all of her wheels AND the spare.

This is a very sobering and Biblical principle. There are times when God moves. HE DOES NOT LEAVE, but He moves, causing us to feel a loss of His presence, a hopelessness which ushers in a struggle to believe. Unlikely as it may seem, this movement creates a perfect environment for faith to grow. Terribly uncomfortable, this movement often occurs in the midst of a dark, gloomy, space–much like a pandemic.

When God Stands in the Back, Remember, God Moves for all the Right Reasons

It can happen. God can move. And it can happen for all the right reasons. God moving to the back in this situation is not a result of your sin or my sin. It’s not because you are underperforming, Sister. Get that one straight. God Moves for all the Right Reasons. You and I need to know this.

The loss you feel,

The emptiness–like He is not there

This sense that He cares about other people MORE than you —

That if you were just different – then things would work out for you, too.

No.

Not so.

Then why in thunderation does He ask us to do difficult things and then disappear?

Why does He call us to endeavors that are flooded with impasses?

What is the point in making us jump through hoops to no avail? Or so it seems?

When is tragic loss ever a good idea?

Probably the most profound sentences I read this week reminded of the answer to these typical questions:

Solomon spake many proverbs, and wrote many songs; but none of them attained the glory of that saying, –“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.Here was a triumph of faith! Beloved, you and I lose the enjoyments of religion and the comforts of hope in order that we may walk by faith and not by sight and may the more greatly glorify God.” C. Spurgeon

In other words, we can get to a hopeless place, feeling like, “what’s the point?” “losing all enjoyments of religion” by God’s design for the purpose of strengthening our faith, NOT TO DESTROY IT. It is not His intention for us to crash, burn, blaze and turn away, but that our faith be kindled, stirred, to a red hot boil in way that it could not have glorified God before.

When God Stands in the Back, He is Not Distracted but Planted

When God does move from leading to the back, He is not distracted. He is completely 110% paying attention to you. He is not twitchy or distant but unreservedly planted. We know this from the language where the Bible shows us that when the Angel moved, he “stood.” His feet were firmly planted for your good. He’s not floating around willy-nilly half-listening, waiting for something interesting to do. He is not playing a GameBoy until the trouble passes, but securely standing in between you and whatever is coming against you out to harm, destroy, or thwart His plans for your life. When you cannot feel His presence it is so easy to reject this truth. Remember, You are a big deal to Him.

When God Stands in the Back, He is Doing Double-Duty

We find God actually busy working in this passage, doing two things at once from this position. Before, He was leading. But presently, He is both a cloud and a fire. He has become a barrier between what needs to be fought against to keep the badness away from his children that has no permission to come near –putting a hedge of protection around as well as a source of light in the darkness.

It doesn’t take much light to make a difference in a dark place. Our problem is that we get so discouraged, so tired, so buried in our pain and suffering wondering, “Why, if this is T The Way, are having to endure this yuckiness,” that we miss the light placed for us in the darkness.

Guilty as charged. That’s me.

What shall we do? Look for it, my friend. Trust it’s going to be there. It may be small, like a night light. Just remember. Your God is pulling double duty when you cannot feel His presence. He has positioned Himself in the rear, to stand in the back because:

It is for your protection-

For your strengthening –

And for your good.

He is not gone. He has just moved to cover your back.

When God Stands in the Back, Keep Moving

When God stands in the back, He means for you to keep moving out. No. There was no visible path ahead when we left Moses and the Israelites at the edge of disaster. They had been given instructions and were told to move forward.  Nothing changed just because God moved. This is where faith is strengthened.

Friend, are you staring at the edge of the water NOT doing what you thought He called you to do because I don’t know– a million different reasons for how it’s not working out? And it feels like its’ just stupid and He’s not here?

Could it be your God has been here all along?

Your God is still present. He means for you to go on with what He’s told you to do.

Oh, how I pray His Word speaks over you today. I pray the Lord moves you to a deeper faith, to believe Him more, and to go and do what He’s called you to go and do in the midst of impossibilities, pandemics, and disappointments. I pray the same for myself.

May these verses rush over us and leave us different in the coming days with a greater understanding and a stronger faith.

For His Glory,

 

 

Popular Resources with Cheri

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When God Stands in the Back

When God Stands in the Back

Podcast #802

opening day stirring faith

Hey there! You have found the Stirring Faith Podcast — When God Stands in the Back

Today’s broadcast focuses on those times when it feels like the presence of God has gone missing. It’s as if He has moved to a seat in the back of the room. He is not leading but just stands there. I pray you find some clarity and hope here.

We have recently moved over from being identified as THE SHE YEARNS PODCAST to STIRRING FAITH WITH CHERI STRANGE. But don’t worry. If you are a current subscriber, you will not need to do anything. You should automatically be updated with the changes.  We are so glad you are here to share it with us.

For your reassurance, Stirring Faith contains the same type of quality content and messaging you found in the previous seasons with the She Yearns Podcast. We simply felt we needed clearer packaging to help people locate the podcast and recognize who it was for and what it was about. Thank you for listening and being a part of the community!

Don’t forget about The Show Notes!

Just fill out the form and today’s note will go straight to your inbox. Because this episode is not hardy in material, we won’t send out notes, but, generally speaking, every episode, after you sign up, should show up on the device of your choosing. What could be better?

How Awesome is Show Notes?

If you are already a subscriber to the She Yearns Updates, you will begin receiving a link to a pdf. But this is different. By signing up here, you will ONLY RECEIVE Show Notes for the podcast. There is nothing to download unless there is some sort of bonus offered.

You can also use this resource to take with you to coffee with a friend or sit with a small group and talk about the topic together. It’s a quick low prep to no prep way to have a deep discussion about relevant Gospel-centered topics that matter to your everyday lives. So don’t wait! Sign up today!

Besides Experiencing a Burning Bush— Your God is For Me is one of my favorite recent episodes. You can find it here if you are interested.

You can now check out the latest episodes from iTunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, iHeartRADIO, or BuzzSprout. Just click on the links below! As always, you can scroll down and listen right here!

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And if you have not already become a subscriber to the podcast, allow me to invite you to become one for the She Yearns Podcast by going to any of the providers and signing up for the RSS feed to have it automatically updated to your device! It’s basically ONE CLICK! And it doesn’t use any extra memory and really makes life easier.

If you enjoyed this episode, Experiencing a Burning Bush, or found it helpful, please leave a comment or review in your hosting provider service! We cannot do it without you! The only way the word goes out further is with your help. Please share it as you feel the leading.

Thank you for listening,

 

The Other Side of the Dungeon

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Day 6: The Other Side of the Dungeon

Scripture

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

Devotional Material

Spurgeon says of himself for days after the incident at the Surrey Garden Music Hall:

“Even the sight of a Bible brought a flood of tears and utter distraction of mind.”

Crushed spiritually and mentally to the degree he physically cannot function is where we find our renowned preacher. Not only was Spurgeon questioning his ability to preach again, but picking up a Bible brought an emotional torrent. Would he ever recover? He doesn’t yet know.

But he found help in the Lord.

He returned to his mourning congregation, hurting. Likely, he was filled with all sorts of competing thoughts, anxieties, and emotions. As this grieving leader took his place, he began to pray this gut-wrenching prayer:

“We are assembled here, O Lord, this day, with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow…Thy servant feared that he should never be able to meet this congregation again.”

He was serious. It took superhuman strength to get up that morning, stand there, and pray. Spurgeon did what you and I need to do when he found himself in a dungeon experience. He refused to quit but exhibited perfect trust under delay and disappointment, just like Jesus called John the Baptist to do.

We know this evidenced through his life and ministry. He refused to quit and trusted God. Later he said this:

“I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory…but, as far as my witness goes, I can say that the Lord is able to save unto the uttermost and in the last extremity, and he has been a good God to me.”

That is the essence of Jesus and the promise for your life today. Your God will be faithful to do the same for you. I don’t know how He will choose to do it. But please remember that if John the Baptist can find himself in a season of discouragement; and if Charles Spurgeon can go “to the uttermost and in the last extremity” and still find God to be good– we can trust this same God.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

Lift up your eyes, my friend!

Don’t you dare quit!

Your help is coming.

 

For His Glory and with much affection,

 

 

Conquering Your Dungeon

conquering your dungeons

Day 5: Conquering Your Dungeon

The first days are so painful sometimes but I know days five and six are coming. God does not leave us alone to climb out of our dungeons. He helps us in conquering them. Today’s message not difficult to write because I am so familiar with it. For me, the encouragement and strength as essential–the very purposes we are gathered. I pray God’s Word does not return void, penetrating your own heart and mind. He is about conquering your dungeon.

Scripture

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

Devotional Material

Charles Spurgeon was a renowned pastor in London during the 1800s. He was not popular because he was soft on truth, nor did he pander to the critical base. It was his giftedness in preaching the Word. Spurgeon was able to present a truth, draw you in where you felt it is written for your particular need, and sense Divine inspiration.

This man, like our John the Baptist, was full of conviction, confident in his calling, with the ability to deliver faithfully. Spurgeon developed such powerful sermons that even translated in other languages across continents, just reading them could be used by God to bring people to salvation.

At age twenty-two, Spurgeon was newly married with two babies and already had what we would call a tremendous following. So much so that he and his congregation decided to rent the Surrey Garden Music Hall to accommodate the crowds they were anticipating. This music hall was built with a bottom floor and balconies where people sat facing the stage. Quarters would be close in order to hear the speaker without sound equipment. For an evening message, 12,000 people would attend. Another 10,000 would stand outside leaning in straining to hear something.

Problems Brewing

Such ministry success, however, brings out the worst in some people. A few minutes after six p.m. someone yelled “Fire! The balconies are giving way!” With that announcement came mass hysteria. People were still coming into the theater which blocked the exits. A balcony, indeed, gave way from the weight, but there was no fire. It had been a lie–intentionally told to create the hysteria and mass commotion. What resulted were seven deaths: people trampled by those trying to escape; and twenty-nine seriously injured. Spurgeon was helpless and had to be carried out on the verge of consciousness. He didn’t believe he would ever recover from the event.

Yes. In this world, you and I will have trouble.

But we know this tragedy does not mark the end of an era for Spurgeon for the same reason your difficult situations, tragedies, or deep discouragements will not mark the end for you. His story is not over and neither is yours!

Even before we know how the story ends we can make progress in our own realities.

  • Refuse the defeating thoughts battling within your mind.
  • Instead, embrace the truth of God’s Word that He will help you through this difficulty.

With much affection,

 

 

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