Yesterday, in general emailing chat with someone, the Lord just gave some helpful insight about intimidation…for them, but also for me.
A very human reaction to difficult situations is to step down. I know myself, in my best moments, I’m fuller in faith than most, but in my worst, I’m desperate.
I believe it’s called Elijah syndrome. You know, Elijah takes his stand, is part of a significant thing in the nation but then a couple of hours later he finds himself under a tree and he’s thinking and praying and wrapped up in concern. He steps away from the situation because he fears it’s just got out of his control and that its going to take his life. He sits there saying ‘I’ve been trying to be so faithful to God in all this, I’ve done what you’ve asked and I’ve been zealous and bold, but its no good, it has to end.’
God comes to Elijah and says to him ‘what on earth are you doing here??’ He repeats his saga to God. Here is what God tells him to do: Stand on the mountain and feel the presence of the Lord because he’s about to pass by. The wind and the storm and the earthquake come, but God isn’t in it. God is in the small voice that whispered to him to come and stand out of the cave.
God then gives Elijah the plan, showing him that he had a next step in place already. The next step wasn’t a B plan because Elijah had bailed out, the next step was part of the original plan but Elijah just didn’t have the confidence to trust him with it when all seemed to be failing and things were getting worrying. The bailing out wasn’t necessary, because God had it in hand. God basically restores to Elijah that He is in control, inspite of Elijah, and that he still has his purposes to accomplish, which included him.
What happened to Elijah is that he was intimidated. He went from great moments of boldness and confidence, to withdrawing in a fit of depression because he was intimidated. In Elijah’s case it the next step was a change in season in ministry and he misinterpreted it as the end of his life, as a huge crisis, where God was simply preparing him for a new season of ministry (in training up Elisha in Elijah’s case).
Like Gideon, appointed of the Lord to lead an Army against the enemy, he hid to avoid the responsibility. He saw himself as contributing nothing and unable for anything but the Lord calls to him and says ‘Stand up you mighty warrior…what you doing down there.’
In some aspects of that, I’ve just been there myself. But, God places friends in your life for good purposes. Within a couple of hours of sharing my doubts on this blog and considering throwing in the towel, I had Stephen Court come through on email saying “don’t quit. Stay and fight. It is possible. It is worth it.” That’s all he said and I realised what was happening….I was being intimidated by the enemy into silence, into avoiding the call of God on me.
When we fear something, fear stops us. But what intimidation does is it keeps us plodding on, but relegates us to a place where we’ve become silent, we become watchers from the sidelines because we fear the risk of speaking. The word intimidation itself means ‘to make timid.’
Paul reminds us that God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind/self-control (2 Tim 1:7). He goes on in that chapter to remind Timothy that suffering is part of not being timid and that the most important thing is our God ordained task with the assurance (in v12) that he is able to keep and keep safe all that we entrust to him in terms of our lives and our effort. He exhorts us to keep sound teaching, to guard what revelation has been given to us by the Spirit’s power.
To whom much has been given, much is expected. God help us all.