I admit that I’m not the hugest fan of the James Bond, 007 franchise though over the years I have, like perhaps many of you, watched my fair share of the movies. At least, the old-school ones, with Roger Moore and Sean Connery. I can’t say I have ever watched any of the more recent ones. Even if you’re not a fan of the 007 franchise, we can all appreciate the entertainment value and there are elements of it that are generally familiar.
He always had cool gadgets and technology. He always dressed impeccably … at least according to my admittedly limited fashion sense. He always caught the significant – if sometimes unintentional – attention of very attractive women. He always drove pretty cool cars. And, his drink of choice was a vodka martini, “shaken, not stirred.” I’m not much of a drinker, and I don’t know if there is any particularly notable merit to a vodka martini that was shaken and not stirred, but apparently the shaken part was especially crucial for 007. He made sure that shaken was the manner in which his martini was prepared, and everyone around him appeared to know it.
As we have closed out one of the past two … “memorable” … years, I am personally in a season where I feel God beginning to work in my life. I have a very clear sense that He is preparing me for something substantive and significant in 2022. A change? Some growth? Challenges? Not sure. Who knows? Let me state clearly, though, that God is always at work. And we have ample assurance from scripture that He does all that He does for us in order to bless us (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 2:10, among others). But that doesn’t mean things are easy or expected.
What I’m sharing is that I’m in a season where I truly feel “stirred” by God. Meaning, He’s giving me a sense that He is bringing some type of new change to bear in my life, on my behalf. And that’s good, but it can also be a bit scary. That’s natural. Being stirred can be scary.
However, what I’ve learned over the years of experiencing God’s presence and walking with Him through other similar seasons, is that I can go through this type of season and be stirred, and not shaken.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.
What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.
Our ability to be stirred and not shaken is dependent on our experience of watching God’s faithfulness in our lives, as well as the bona fide evidence God provides in His word. The passages above are great examples of both, from the points of view of the Israelites during Isaiah’s day, and Jacob (son of Isaac, son of Abraham).
In the Isaiah passage, this amazing and reassuring word from God to His chosen people through Isaiah comes at a time when, no doubt, the Israelites felt stirred if not worse. Isaiah was charged with responsibility to call out his fellow Hebrews for their unfaithfulness and idolatry, and he prophesied to the Israelites from God about how God was going to bring correction and discipline to them, partly via exile to a foreign, enemy-led land. They may not yet have seen the discipline but Isaiah’s job before God was to introduce the forthcoming stirring. And yet, in the midst of a bleak and jarring message from Isaiah, God reminds the Hebrews that the stirring is not the end of the matter. He would remain steadfast to care for them, to lovingly bring them to a new and restored place with Him. Hence, they could take comfort in His promises and their personal experience to be stirred and not shaken.
In a similar way, Jacob had the opportunity to experience miracles and blessings of God as firsthand as anyone in all of history, certainly through his ancestors’ experiences. He saw God’s fulfillment of promises and he received God’s protection (without being worthy of it). In this passage, Jacob had just stolen the birthright from his brother Esau and had to flee for safety. No doubt Jacob felt stirred, either because he had to leave his home under auspicious circumstances or because he felt afraid for his safety since Esau might exact vengeance on Jacob, God makes it crystal clear that though Jacob might be stirred, he ought not be shaken. God made him that promise directly, and Jacob had seen God’s provision and fidelity in the past.
You and I can stand on the same solid ground as did the Hebrews of Isaiah’s day and as did Jacob. In fact, on the same ground as innumerable Christ followers of antiquity. That ground allows us to be stirred and not shaken amid transition, trials, unforeseen circumstances, and unexpected times.
That ground is the rock-solid recollection of God’s deliverance in our pasts or in the pasts of those around us. I can know that God will bring me into new and better places, places of growth and places of a greater sense of His love and care, simply because I have watched Him bring me into those places, through being stirred, in the past. I can know that God will because I can recall that God did. Perhaps you haven’t walked with Him long enough or closely enough to see that He has. Consider hearing the stories of other Christ followers in your life, or your pastor(s), life group leader(s) or whoever else in your sphere might be able to convey their experience for your benefit. One of the reasons God stirs in us during a season could be so that we can help support one another down the road. We don’t always know what His reasons are, but we always know that He does have a reason.
That alone can help us to remain stirred and not shaken!
Soli Deo gloria!