“Stand up, José!” I heard a strong voice yell behind me. “Stand up!” I turned around, not prepared for the barrage of children, of varying ages and two-wheeled vehicles that were upon me. I jumped out of the way as each one made their way toward the one hill that emerges along the bay front. They were each variations of each other – brothers and sisters – maybe five or six of them. Smiles and blowing hair in the wind, streamers, and multi-colored reflectors, big and small handle bars, all picking up speed as they approached the ascent. Then came the the smallest sibling – last, of course, with the tiniest wheels and legs. This must be “José,” I thought. Then finally the voice came along. “Stand up… you’ve got to stand up to make it up the hill.”
In the commotion, I caught something so beautiful that I just stood there. It wasn’t that José made it up the hill… because he did. And it wasn’t just that his father was encouraging him and pushing him, because he was. I marveled, in that morning hour, how this man with way more on his plate than any man usually wants on a Saturday morning, was busting his gut to see his younger son achieve the goal. There was also something about the his voice… it wasn’t just advice… there was authority in it. There was something glorious about the call to stand up. I wanted that! I wanted someone to shout out to me like that… “Stand up… Elizabeth… stand up!”
Sometimes we just need someone to run along side us, and give us encouragement. Those are the days we know the holiday joy ride has just turned into a uphill battle. We know that instead of cruising, we are going to have to get up off our derrières and put some muscle into it and make those gears go around. “Stand up” is our battle cry! And we do it in obedience, and commitment and resolve, but we also have a lot of help. These are the days like Moses, when God told him to go out and stand before the Amalekites. God sent Aaron and Hur with him. When Moses held up the staff of God in his arms, the Israelites won. When he lowered his arms in fatigue, they lost. So Aaron and Hur held up his arms until they won. (Exodus 17:8-15) Some days we venture out in the great battle, surrounded by those who encourage us, who keep pressing on so we can press on. Bless these saints in my life who have done this for me.
Then there are the days like Elijah. Completely exhausted and in a serious case of burnout, Elijah tells the Lord, “I have had enough Lord,” and he lays down under the tree, asking God to take his life. (Did you know you can tell the Lord you have had enough?) Here is what the Lord says: “Get up”. Twice, the angel of the Lord tells him that. “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Elijah, then, has an incredible experience with best online casino the Presence of God, ending with Elijah standing, listening to God tell him how they would make it up the hill. (1 Kings 19:1-18)
It is one thing to have a friend tell you to get up. It is another to have God tell you. The first is more like a huddle on the field, with all the players rallying each other. The other is a command and it comes with authority and power. God told Moses to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. (Exodus 14:13) God told Elijah to stand, because he was about to see the Lord pass by. (1 Kings 19:11) When you hear God say “stand,” something amazing is about to happen. We have entered holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)
When God said “Let there be light” – there was light. (Genesis 1:3) When Jesus said “Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends” – he did it. (John 15:13) What God says is true and happens. So when Jesus says “by standing firm, you will gain life,” he means it. (Luke 21:19) There are some hard things we have to do. They will require all we’ve got. But life is the result. In
his grace, God sends friends and laborers to help us do them. And in his goodness, God comes alongside us and brings us into his very holy presence, to teach us something about himself and the kingdom he has brought to us. When he says stand up to get up that hill… It isn’t advice… it’s going to happen. We have entered his heavenly kingdom – a hill that cannot be hidden. ( Matthew 5:14).
That’s what I heard in José’s father’s voice that day. He was shouting and encouraging his son with that kind of authority. And José pedaled. He stood up on those two little wheels, and with every ounce in his thighs and torso, and shoulders, with his teeth clinched and his eyes squinted.. believing everything his father said, he poured himself into pedaling up that hill. May I be just a bit more like José today.
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 119:89-90