Pardon me. I didn’t even give you a chance to speak.
But, with all due respect, I will say that shutting up may very well be what you need to do.
For many like me, and in our culture, it is rare that we are brought to the end of ourselves, in that place where noone or nothing can help us in times of need. If plan A doesn’t work then B will, and if not Plan B, then there is always C-Z. If our resources run out, somewhere there are more to be found. If our health fails, there is surely some medical solution at hand. If a crisis, there is certainly help within reach.
However, there are times when we are truly backed into a corner and faced with the impossible. Resources on every level are exhausted. Nothing and noone can “fix it.”
The tentacles of our soul grasp feverishly at all our usual places of comfort or answers, yet there are none to be found. We panic. What are we to do?
Shut yourself up with God.
I have been at this place many times. The place of running out of options. The place of no seeming solutions. The place where financial demands have stripped every reserve and then another demand arises. The place of needing to make decisions about new opportunities—which means releasing the current well-loved ones. Navigating through brokenness in relationships. Finding equilibrium after the death of a loved one and accompanying grief. Watching the suffering of loved ones and feeling helpless to help. Being faced with a blindsiding crisis.
What am I to do next? There is no known path upon which to place my feet. The territory feels unfamiliar and I am at a loss. It seems…impossible.
Why is it that the impossible feels more like punishment than divine opportunity?
And yet, when all of the props are pulled out, and you find yourself flat on your face, you may feel isolated… but you are not alone.
You are hemmed in with the One most able to help. It is not the worst place you can find yourself; it is the best place to be found. It is a supernatural summons to be shut up with Love and to something new and Divine.
Propless and facedown, the soul is invited to enter the “secret chamber of isolation in prayer and faith.”
“Help!” is our small desperate cry.
“Here I am,” is His response.
Such was the woman whose husband had died. Unable to pay the bills, her creditors came to take her sons away to be his slaves. The threat of losing her children was more than she could bear. The only resource she had on hand was one jar of oil.
Her desperation drove her to a man of God who gave her this counsel: Go borrow every empty vessel you can find from your neighbors. Then, when you and your sons come back in, shut the door behind you and your sons and start pouring from that one last jar of oil.
Sure enough, they did what the Prophet told them to do.
They shut the door: mom, sons, a bunch of empty vessels, that one jar of oil… and God.
There, Poverty was shut up with the Source of everything. Faith was the first tilt that began emptying the only full jar. But… the oil kept flowing and filling. The only thing that stopped the oil’s flow was a lack of more empty vessels. Selling the oil from all those now brimming vessels, they satisfied the creditor’s demands.
There is no human explanation for that.
Behind shut doors, God did what only God can do—the impossible.
Be amazed at this miracle. Be equally amazed at the tender love and concern of God the Father for the widow and her son.
We may find that neither the strategy nor the provision flow exactly as just described with the woman and the miraculous filling of the jars—but to be shut up with God is to live with a sense of expectancy and certainty that He is able.
The same God who created the universe in all its diversity will never run out of creative possibilities—even though it may feel like there are none.
Shut your need up with God. Pour out your prayer, as if it were your last jar of oil, and watch what God does. He is near. Anything is possible.
Shut the door to everything that you’ve leaned on in the past. Step across the threshold, that feels somewhat like a cliff, and “swing off, as it were, into the vast blue inter-stellar space, hanging on God alone, in touch with the fountain of miracles.”
In a sense, we shut the door so that a door may be opened.
Through Him, a way is made into endless possibilities.
To be backed into a corner is to break through a wall—into God’s vast and boundless love and redemption, kindness and grace, power and provision.
To be at the end of yourself is to be at the beginning of something new, something that you cannot yet imagine or fathom.
There are so many desperate situations we are facing as individuals, churches, and communities in our cities, nation, and world. Our own hearts and the hearts of others need to be convinced of the power and love of God. Don’t despise the opportunities that arise to prove Him.
Here is a better Plan A: We must shut up. Shut up alone and shut up together.
We must shut up, in prayer, and allow the God of wonders to leave us speechless.
2 Kings 4 – the whole chapter- is the foundation of this blog. I was intrigued by the repeated instruction, in the face of the impossible, to “shut the door.” Read it and see how Elisha “shut the door on himself (and a dead boy) and prayed.”
Jesus tells us this, “When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” Matthew 6:6
Psalm 139: 5-6 “You have hemmed me in behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.”
Further inspiration for this blog came from my favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert – LB Cowman.
The phrases quoted, and much of the lessons learned years ago, came from the April 5th entry.
(Thank you, GHB for the gift of Streams). I mention this book because in seasons of suffering, we need trusted companions to journey with us. This devotional is a collection of encouragement and wisdom for those who are walking through seasons of pain. If you want to put your hands on this book, make sure to get the original version; so much is lost in the updated and watered down ones. It can also be found online.