Sometimes the process of waking up, or being awakened can be demanding.
For parents we know that there are at least two types of kids: the kind that barely need to be whispered to in the morning to wake them up, and the type who have to have lights on, covers removed, loud noises and two or three trips to the bedroom to make sure they’re actually getting up! And this second kind of child, on the toughest of mornings, might even require a bit of shaking. I’ve had to jostle a child or two to get them to finally leave dreamland behind and make an appearance in the world of the awakened. And though I’m not hurting them, it always feels like violence when the shaking takes place. It’s not a fun time of loving community when daddy is bellowing out, “get up!” and twisting shoulders back and forth!
There are seasons when we are shaken as well. Maybe not to get out of bed in the morning, but in difficult moments of our lives and in seasons of struggle we feel the quaking of things changing and shifting. But the shaking that happens in our lives, when it is initiated or allowed by God, is not destructive but revelatory. And this means that for the shaking I have to learn to be thankful. For the moments when my own stability (the traction that I’ve tried to maintain in my own wisdom and strength) is exposed as insufficient, I must choose to rejoice in the Lord. Because there is nothing that He will shake that is not being shaken for a greater purpose.
What God shakes He shakes to reveal treasure.
The patterns and rhythms of my life are prone to build up plastic towers, spires and arches and structures strategically placed to become fig leaves covering my shame and foolishness. They are specifically architected to conceal the truth of my own weakness and struggle. But it’s just a veneer, there’s no substance or abiding truth in these places.
This works itself out in different ways. I can either be too full of myself, too proud, or I can be too timid, unwilling to confidently follow the leading of the Spirit into difficult places. Both pride and timidity are veneers that conceal the truth of God’s grace in my life. The seed of the gospel planted in my life is the power of salvation – in part that salvation is to be saved from overselling myself or underselling myself, and instead placing my focus on Christ over myself.
And because of my proclivity to build structures in my life that conceal treasure, the God who loves His people enough to come and have His own body broken down on our behalf is willing to lovingly allow our lives to be shaken so the things of lesser value can be brought low and the things of greatest value can once again be seen. The shaking is not punishment, it is purpose filled. Didn’t John the Baptist say this about his own calling: I must decrease that He may increase.
For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory.Haggai 2:6-7
The prophet’s overarching message is talking about the rebuilding of the temple, the restoration of the place of worship and communion with God. And it’s hard to see the structural image of the destruction of the the Temple without seeing the power of the shaking to create sorrow over what we were previously satisfied to ignore or take for granted. The destruction of Solomon’s Temple, after all, wasn’t first an act of violence by foreign armies, it was an act of judgement. God watched the cavalier way His people had treated worship, election and even His Presence and there were consequences. The fall of the Temple really became the outward expression of what had already taken place in the hearts of much of Israel. And often this is true in our lives. When we feel the shaking it’s not because everything has suddenly changed, but because there has been a pattern around us, or inside us, that has led to the slumber that necessitates shaking.
So the shaking creates a moment where we can’t lie to ourselves anymore. We are confronted with the fragility of our own buildings, and the vapid nature of our personal glory clouds. But look closely, God isn’t confronting His people to bankrupt them, but to cause them to refocus on what actually is stable and what actually is lasting – this is the treasure. And you aren’t where you are to be destroyed, but to be awakened. There is nothing unredeemable with God, and that includes the times when we are shaken, when the weakness of our life structures are exposed.
So in the seasons of shaking, in the moments when things feel like they are falling apart, our eyes must begin looking for the treasure that is only revealed by God’s perfect process. Take heart child of God, even in the moments of confusion, in the days of sorrow, in the valleys and struggles. For your King is not leaving you behind, He is shaking what is false so we can embrace the joy and peace of what is true. He is removing the counterfeit that tempts us so greatly so we can enjoy what is treasure.
And sometimes God is like the dad who has to do a little shaking to wake up his heavy sleeping kid. The shaking is not punishment, it’s actually the revelation of a promise. We wake up because there is a day ahead of us, a moment filled with new opportunities and decisions. We need to be awakened to be shown that the night is done, darkness has passed, the dawn is here and with it comes the joy of becoming and growing and building and laughing and supporting and loving and walking and living!