By Dr. Mark Creech
Several years ago I had a vivid dream that made an impression on me. I saw a vision of a man in a white robe, whose face I could never see. He stood before four trees in a line. He shook the first tree moderately, and what I supposed was debris fell to the ground. He came to the second tree and shook it harder than the first and more fell to the ground. The third tree he shook in the same manner except harder than the first and second trees and even more fell. The fourth tree he shook the hardest and suddenly a line of trees for as far as I could see appeared with more debris covering the ground, as if the process continued indefinitely.
For quite a while, I felt the dream might mean something and disclosed it to a few. Once after sharing, a woman pointed me to Hebrews 12:25-29, which reads:
“See that you refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain, Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
The woman graciously suggested God had been doing a refining work in my life – essentially shaking from me the things He wanted to remove as opposed to solidifying what was acceptable with him. When she shared these thoughts with me, I knew her interpretation was from God.
I had served four churches and was currently on my fifth. With each place of service the pressures on the whole of my life and ministry had intensified. In His providence, God was working out His plan of grace, removing the dross, shaking what could be shaken, “that those things which could not be shaken may remain.” To the present hour, this process has continued, and I suspect it will for the rest of my life.
Therefore, I can say, “I am not everything I ought to be, and I’m not what I’m going to be, but neither am I what I was.”
I believe what applies to me personally, also applies to God’s cosmic purpose. Change is inevitable. But if we can see that none of it is random or happenstance, then we should have no fear about tomorrow. God is there!
We are living in remarkably uncertain times. There are great personal, economic, political, and international “shakings” going on. History ever marches forward. Kingdoms come, and kingdoms go. Here there is no continuing city.
Would that we would listen to the prophets who warned us not to hold fast to this world, but instead, look to the One, who is sovereign over it.
Centuries ago Isaiah said, “The foundations do shake. Earth breaks to pieces; earth is split to pieces; earth shakes to pieces; earth reels like a drunken man; earth rocks like a hammock; under the weight of its transgression earth falls down to rise no more. Lift up your eyes to Heaven and look upon the earth beneath: For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke. And the earth shall grow old like a robe; the world itself shall crumble. But my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation knows no end” (24:18-20; 51:6).
The current mental and moral state of our world, the rise of skepticism and atheism (scoffers), the demise of true religion, increased lawlessness, increased persecution of the followers of Christ, a rise in sexual deviance, wars and rumors of wars, in operation simultaneously with an age consumed by materialism, were all predicted thousands of years ago. Each tremor, with seemingly greater intensity, moves us closer to when God will shake the very heavens – the time when Christ will appear in the air and establish his kingdom forever.
The firm grip of Providence is always shaking things up, but behind every shaking are the hands of a loving God working a work in eternity.
The late Carl E. Bates, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, used to tell a story about a man who had suffered significant losses after the Civil War and took a long journey by carriage to a distant city. One of his farm hands did the driving for him while he lay on the back of his carriage and slept. About midnight he heard a startled cry and awakened to find his driver on his knees in the middle of the road in agony, saying, “Pray, brother, pray! Judgment Day has come!” It was, however, nothing more than a meteor shower.
Calmly the man walked over to his driver, placed his hand on his shoulder, and with the other hand pointed to the morning star.
“John, you see that bright star on the horizon?” he said.
“Yessir!” said the driver.
“Well, just keep your eye on that star, and when it falls, you wake me. Now drive on!”
As we move into a new year, even if the heavens appear to be falling, let us confidently keep our eyes set on the morning star – Jesus Christ – until the day breaks and the shadows disappear.
For God is but accomplishing his purposes. He remains in full control. He is shaking both the earth and heaven, “that those things which could not be shaken may remain.”