A Heart for Men and A Calling to Shepherd

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Watching and waiting

“I will stand on my guard post, and station myself on the rampart. I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision, and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time. It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries wait for it, for it will certainly come. It will not delay.’” (Hab. 2:1-3)

This is a passage that has come to mean much to me over my now 39 years as a believer, for during that entire time I have known God has something special for me, though it remains still only somewhat defined. When you know, that you know, that you know regardless of any and all powers, circumstances, people, or times that may stand against it you have an anointing upon your life for something powerful, sacred, and wonderful [to quote Paul, “I speak as though insane”] you find yourself, every moment of every day, “standing at your guard post – stationed on the rampart” of God’s calling. You are as the father of the prodigal son standing at the gate: eyes diligently, passionately scanning the horizon for any hint of the impending arrival of your heart’s desire, so you can at last slaughter the calf and call the guests to the party!

But then there’s those words that stop you dead in your tracks: “stand – station.” You come to cringe at the sound of them, because many times visions such as these seem always and forever “yet for the appointed time,” and by nature those God calls to them are men of action not given to patience. We pass the time being as obedient as we can to daily callings, but as the days, months, and years go by we become increasingly impatient for our awakenings. We tire of the desert, and we cry out to the Giver of this calling that alternately takes us to mountaintops and brings us to the gates of despair, “Either bring it to pass or remove it from my sight!” Standing at our post, clothed in our armor and bearing our swords when there is no visible enemy on the horizon is somewhat akin the predicament of Noah before the flood. People, and yes even we ourselves, mock and exclaim, “Why, oh why would you build a ship in the middle of a desert? Why would you not come down from your station and enjoy a blessed life with all your brothers?”

But every time we, in frustration, decide to give up on the calling, lay down our arms, leave our stations for more immediate gratifications, and give up on the vision, or we try to bring the vision about quickly through our own efforts, “we are reproved by Him.” When we try to take Jonah’s path, and run from the calling, we hear the Spirit speak to us, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” We come to Peter’s inescapable conclusion, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). Or King David’s, “We would rather be doorkeepers in His house than dwell in tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10). We return, humbled once more, to our patient perches because we know, that we know, that we know that’s where we belong regardless of temporal outcomes.

This is how we must “reply when we are reproved,” calling once more upon the enduring sort of patience none of us were gifted with from the One who over and over again has required it. But as we wait, He gives us something else to do. As with all scribes of His revelations God says to us, “Record the vision, and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run!” One day, after the vision has at last been brought to pass in the world, He will want others to understand not only the vision, but the journey to it, and run with Him themselves! It has been so with the logos of His Word already given, and it will be so with the rhema of His revelations to come. From the time Abraham took the Ten Commandments inscribed on the tablets of stone, to the time John recorded the last revelations on the Isle of Patmos, God has always wanted those given glorious visions, and endured the journeys taken to arrive at the unveiling, to write them down for the benefit of those to come after. And so we write of the journey while we wait for the unveiling. This part is not glorious. It is a trying test of endurance and faith to understand so clearly in the spirit what cannot be witnessed in the soul and in the body.

Ah, but then there is the reason we stand upon our ramparts while all around us mock. There is the reason we record the vision. That is the fact that, regardless of the unseen enemies taunting us daily we know, that we know, that we know “the vision hastens toward the goal and it will not fail!” When we reach our points of deepest despair, due to reality and promise having seemingly nothing to do with one another over years and years of the witness our own eyes behold, the Lord sends prophets into our lives to reassure us we are in His grip. He answers prayers and moves mountains in ways we could have not imagined in our humiliated and broken states. He says to us, “I am here, the vision is alive, and you are right where I need you. Now be patient for a little while longer, ‘for though it tarries wait for it, for it will certainly come.’ In My economy of time it will not delay for even a moment.”

So here we stand at our stations and at our ramparts, recording our journeys for future generations if indeed there are to be any more, waiting and watching for the unfolding of our prodigal visions. We are calloused, and we have known what it means to be numb from the weight of our armor and the burden of the need for patience so mercilessly thrust upon us. But if we are worthy, as God must think having ordained us, all this only serves to steel our minds to the purpose and our hearts to the calling. As the prophet Isaiah would put it, the Lord God opened our ears to hear and we cannot be disobedient, nor can we turn back. Though there will be those who will strike us, pluck out our beards, and humiliate and spit upon us we will not hide our faces, for we know it is the Lord our God who gave us the vision and now helps us through the deserts. We will not be disgraced! We will set our faces like flint, knowing He who vindicates us is near and we need not be ashamed!

 

Wait (A poem by Michael Wolff)

Of all the trials, of all the tortures, of all the fiery darts

Of all spells cast, and of all cannon’s blast into my heart of hearts

Of all the tests He could create, I stand now to say none were e’er greater than to hear Him say, “Wait”

Oh the mountains I would climb, the dragons I would slay

The oceans I would swim for King and for glory

The pages I would pen and the stories I would write, would only begin to tell the story

To be the hero who rescues the beauty, to fend off false prophet or gathering horde

To in victory stand, on sea or dry land, but my Master says, simply, “Wait”

Oh the plans I could bring, the songs I could sing, for kingdom and bride and Christ-child

The messages to scribe, the wrongs to be righted, the correction of the evil and short-sighted

Like a Stallion corralled, like a Leviathan caged, and like the Olympian left standing at the gate

I lay frozen in time, prisoner to this damnable rhyme, as the One who determines my steps says once again, “Wait”

Agony of agonies, curse upon curse

I would bear them all gladly, cast them all aside rudely, just for direction to pursue

Oh, the energy I could bring to that most sought and special thing

To any goal that He set for me, how sublime!

But to hear once again those words I disdain, to hear once again, “Tis not your time”

How His silence afflicts me beyond measure

How His guidance would be all my treasure!

But it’s not His way to test a man’s faith at the point of his strength or his power

Rather ‘tis His way to try a man’s heart at the point of his darkest and most desperate hour

And for me, the most hated enemy of my faith at the ready is to stand at the gate

Clad in armor with the battle uncertain, full of faith and of hope

Only to hear my Master again say to me, “My son, you must wait”

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