By A. Trevor Sutton
Hands and habits, salt and sticks are all easily shakable.
Handshakes are an ancient sign of peace showing that one’s hands are without a weapon. Habits are shakable with both time and effort. Saltshakers are standard dinner table utensils. And to this list you can add juice, paint, fists, and more examples than you can shake a stick at.
What makes all these so shakable? They do not have a firm foundation. Hands can shake because they are not tethered to the ground. Habits are often so loosely based that they can be formed or forgotten in about two months. Saltshakers are never bolted to the table.
The difference between shakable and unshakable is a firm foundation. You cannot walk up to a mountain and shake it because it has a solid stone base. Bear-hugging an oak tree with the hopes of shaking the leaves off is foolishness because of its giant trunk. Massive skyscrapers can withstand earthquakes and storms since their steel supports are driven deep into the ground.
Shakable or unshakable, flimsy or firm—it all depends on the foundation.
God called the prophet Isaiah to a difficult task. Isaiah had a dual purpose as a prophet: to shake his listeners awake from their spiritual slumber while also sharing a message of God’s unshakable power.
First, his prophetic words warned of approaching adversaries, crumbling cities, and imminent exile. These words were meant to shake God’s people from their spiritual slumber. Isaiah, speaking the words of the Lord, warned his hearers against trusting in themselves and their own strength. His words were meant to shake God’s people to the core, prompting them to turn from their sin and trust in the Lord.
However, Isaiah’s message was not meant only to leave God’s people shaking in their sandals. As he was shaking them all awake, Isaiah also proclaimed the peace that comes from having unshakable confidence in God:
I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength (Isaiah 12:2 ESV).
Yes, God’s people were shaking in their sandals as enemies approached, cities crumbled, and exile became a certainty. Yet, God was at work in all of that shaking to bring his people closer to his unshakable strength.
And, right now, God is shaking things up and bringing you closer to his unshakable strength.
When our lives are founded on our own strength and skill, confidence and cunning, handiness or handsomeness, we are bound to be shaken. Life in this world is really good at shaking us up: Illness arrives unexpectedly and steals our strength. Furloughs announce that our hard-earned skills are easily replaceable. Challenges in marriage and parenting turn our lion-size confidence into that of a tiny kitten. Messy problems, shrinking budgets, constant temptations, unfulfilled hopes, thinning hair, and failing bodies are the daily drip-drop of struggles that erode our strength.
We are left shaken and shaking. We come to realize that we are not unlike hands and habits, salt and sticks. We, too, are easily shakable.
Being shaken, however, is not always bad. God has a way of finding us when we are shaking in our boots. God meets us at our very worst and gives us his very best. The same strength of God that raised Jesus from the dead can raise you up from the pit of despair.
When trust in ourselves is shaken, God invites us to trust in his unshakable power. When fear surrounds us, God surrounds us with his unwavering promises. When guilt convicts us, Jesus’ grace and forgiveness set us free. When life leaves us lost, the Holy Spirit leads us on fearlessly forward through life’s challenges.
Are you feeling a bit shaken these days? Is your confidence in the things of this world crumbling? Are you tired of waiting for the headlines to declare some good news? Have you become weary as you trudge through life with a million burdens on your back?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, God has good news for you. When we are shaken, God stirs us to trust in him alone. God takes all who are shaky and makes them unshakable by his power and strength.
Unshakable lives are founded on the strength of God, the forgiveness of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. With God as our firm foundation, we are not like hands and habits, salt and sticks. Instead, built on the firm foundation of God, we become like mighty mountains, oak trees, and skyscrapers.
We pray: Mighty God, shake us up when we need to be shaken. If ever we trust in our own strength and ability more than we ought, then shake us awake from our spiritual slumber. Be our firm foundation, Lord, so that we can trust in your unshakable power now and for all eternity. Amen.
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion is slightly adapted from the Ministry Message from the Unshakable line of products.