The instructions say: Stand firm.
Not… run firm
Not… fight firm
Stand. A specific verb. A position. A choice. A very specific word choice.
When someone says to stand firm, I imagine being on something I can’t control. Like a boat wavering back and forth where a wide and firm stance would be helpful. I know I cannot stop the waves. I can only do my best to stand firm.
I imagine Jim Cantore, in the midst of a hurricane, as the winds and the water pelt him… knowing his purpose is to tell us what’s going on. In the midst of the storm, with a wide stance, sometimes leaning into the wind, he stands firm.
Lessons about Knowing vs. Doing
I am struggling to stand firm in a goal I made for myself.
I spent the better part of the last few weeks trying to avoid social media. Acknowledging my desire and yet resisting the urge to check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat and LinkedIn multiple times a day every day (outside of required work related duties since I work in marketing). On my best days, like today, I resist the urge to see what’s going on… because I know that most of what I see will not be helpful or healthy for me.
- It will remind me of what I’m not doing, where I’m not going, and what I’m not experiencing or seeing firsthand.
- It will remind me of the anger many people are spouting, fueling and embracing like a badge of honor.
- It will cause me to worry about people I care about (and people I don’t) so much that a good night’s sleep becomes hit or miss.
- It will remind me of the businesses that closed and didn’t make it. Of the friends still searching for jobs with more purpose and more income.
- It will remind me of the policies that frustrate me, and the ones we can’t get clear answers on.
- It will remind me of every certification, degree, and class I’m not pursuing, and sometimes I’ll believe the lie that my worth comes from those things.
- It will remind me of loved ones at home with Jesus, and loved ones whose faith I never asked about.
- It will remind me of the friendships that have faded.
I am trying, desperately, to stand firm.
I made the same goal for this week. The one I’ve intermittently kept. No social media outside of work tasks. As I type this I’m fighting the urge for the dopamine rush that I know (I KNOW) will result in bad feelings not good ones. And yet I am still pulled.
- What does the news say?
- What do my acquaintances say about the news?
- What are people doing that I’m missing out on?
- What new talent are people displaying on Tim Tok that I can’t do?
- What about the ad for the thing that I want but don’t need?
It’s only Sunday and I’m trying to stand firm.
It sounds so silly to say it out loud. To recognize this reality of a worldly thing that has so much of my attention. I’ve fasted from social media before. It was one of the most therapeutic and healthy things I’ve ever done. I was so much more in tune with God. So much more productive at home. So much more connected to my friends. So much more of a lot of really good things.
But I have learned…
I know it’s good for me to step away. But it’s the doing… the obedience, the intentional response to the knowing that makes the difference.
The position that I choose to take, to stand firm, makes the difference.
I’m the midst of my failed avoidance over the last few weeks and my somehow miraculous success so far today, I’ve finished a several books of the New Testament of the Bible. Oddly enough I read the phrase “stand firm” more than once in a variety of different contexts.
- I started a new Bible study group through my church. The readings for the week had a specific phrase. Guess which one? Yep, stand firm.
- I have a journal, turned the page and what do I see? That image above.
- I read several New Testament letters written by the apostle Paul. Apparently he needed to remind several new churches to stand firm, too.
All of these things brought the phrase to my attention… Stand firm.
But stand firm in what?
I could stand firm in a lot of things…
- my political beliefs, or opposition to yours
- my opinion on social issues, or opposition to yours
- my habits, and insisting you should take me or leave me
- I could choose to be stubborn and stand firm in my selfishness, focusing only on things that feed my feelings.
What exactly am I supposed to stand firm in, and how in the world do I do that when what surrounds us is filled with chaos, changing guidelines and a multitude of emotions that can feel like shifting sand?
Two sources gave me insight. The first source included all of the “stand firm” verses I have listed at the bottom of this post. God had provided all of the context I needed to answer my own question. But the second source is someone miles away. Her name is Sarah.
Lessons from Sarah‘s Example
When I was a child I used to vacation in northern Wisconsin. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus back then, and I don’t recall ever talking about Jesus with my Northwoods friends. But one of them, now that we’re grown, is married and is a believer and follower of Christ. So am I.
Miles apart and through social media I’ve observed her faith. (One of the few benefits to social media I’ve encountered.) Her husband is in the hospital, in the ICU, fighting for his life. Daily she is providing updates. Her prayers, her praises, her thankfulness, her fears, her anxiety. Her faith in Jesus is out there for the world to see. The faith of her church family, surrounding her and her kids, supplying their every need…. is out there for the world to see. The way they are all blessing the nurses in the ICU… is out there for the world to see.
Miles away I can see God’s hands and feet in action. I can see Sarah… stand firm.
She is not mad at God. She is not demanding her own way. She’s not consulting the worlds opinions or feelings or reactions. She’s consulting The Word and trusting the creator of the universe and the creator of life. Her life. And Daniel’s.
She inspires me. To love my husband better. To love my friends better. To show up for those in need, better. To not just lean on God but to go to him with everything. To trust him with everything. To stand firm.
Lessons from God’s Words
So what did the rest of those verses say? If I’m not supposed to stand firm in my own selfishness or political side or social issue…
I’ll summarize what I read, but I would encourage you to read it for yourself. I’m not a pastor or a church leader or a scholar or a seminary student. I spend a lot of time in the Word of God and with other people who do, too.
I found that I should stand firm in the knowledge of God. Not any God, but THE God. Through Jesus and the entire Bible I can and should learn more about the God who created me and everything. He does not change. Learning all about him, I can stand firm in who he is.
I should stand firm in my faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is not cross your fingers and blindly hope. Faith is a decision to choose to believe all of the evidence that Jesus Christ was real, is real and is God. And that God chose to be with me in all aspects of life. He chose to die for me because he loves me. Standing firm in this means I do not waver when it comes to who he said he was. He said he was God. And he proved it.
I can stand firm and trust in his goodness and justice. In his plans. In his perspective. I trust he knows more than me. And that I am not more powerful, more knowledgable, nor more in control than he is.
We should stand firm wearing all of the armor of God to resist the temptations of the world and live out a life of purpose, no matter how we feel. No matter what life throws at us.
The God of the universe wants to partner with us. And to be a good partner, we need to stand firm.
Keep standing Sarah. You’re not alone. You’re teaching us. You’re teaching me. And we’re all praying with you.
Bible Time – A Deeper Dive
For those who are interested in spending more time in the Bible, I included the verses that I encountered about standing firm, and a few thoughts that I couldn’t get out of my head about it. We don’t need to understand all of it to approach God with sincerity and curiosity. Just start and see where it takes you.
What are we supposed to stand firm in? On?
The Faith. This means I have to know what the faith is and isn’t. Notice it doesn’t say a faith, it’s says the faith. A specific one. I want to be sure I know the real one.
We’re standing firm against evil. Evil is real. Sounds so weird to say that out loud. But we know it’s there. People can do evil things. God defines what is and isn’t evil, and we’re called to withstand it. Part of standing firm, it’s not wavering and compromising and wading into situations when others say “it’s not that big a deal”.
It’s a big deal to God. Stand firm. Even if people think you’re weird. You’re not weird to God.
It’s a long verse, I know. And it’s Old Testament which can scare some people off. Isaiah was a prophet. This is what God told Isaiah to say. In order to stand firm, he encourages us to remember. To remember everything God said he would do, and the fact that he did it. Everything that he accomplished and promised.
God takes a long time, there is no doubt his timing can feel like forever. But remember he created everything, he knows everything and he keeps every promise. So if it’s not happening, either it’s not the right time, or it’s not a promise he made. Hence the importance of knowing what the Bible says, and not assuming it says things that it doesn’t. (Hobby Lobby signs don’t provide the context of a verse, so do your homework 🙂
Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Not a common way to talk, so we need more context. As it turns out, as human beings we’re going to follow something in life. Money, power, success, popularity, our feelings… The thing we attach ourselves to is what we’ve “yoked” ourselves to (an analogy that has to do it cattle in the fields).
We chase things looking for satisfaction or happiness and it’s never quite right. In a sense it’s saying that we’re a slave to something that has no real reward. But you know what else I notice, the word again. This was written to Christians, in a church in Galatia, who did not used to be Christians.
They are being warned, as followers of Christ, not to go back to who they were before and not to follow the things they were obsessed with before. Stand firm in your new reality, following Jesus Christ.
Sometimes a verse doesn’t tell us what it looks like to stand firm. It tells us what will try to get us off our footing. What will try to make us waver. Regardless of the compliments, of the flattery, of the encouragement to follow the world’s definition of success… know who God is and stand firm with him. Don’t be seduced into things that sound good but aren’t God. That extra “o” matters.
I hate the phrase “fake it til you make it”. I prefer, focus until you see it. We can choose what we focus on. Moses encourages us to focus on God saving us. In the Old Testament, God saves them from Egypt. For us, Jesus saved us from an eternity without God.
Stand firm knowing that Jesus paid the price for your mistakes. He took the prison sentence, the fine, the consequences. Choose to live like someone who was given a second chance. Because you were.
It’s really easy to read scripture and only think about me. What does this mean to me? About me? For me? How can I apply this to my life? However the Bible is a story about God. When I read a verse I should be asking myself what I learn about the God of the universe. I learn that he had plans. He has intentions. He doesn’t waver. He keeps his promises forever. I can stand firm because he does. And Jesus showed us what that looks like as a human being to stand firm.
It can be easy to wonder why some people don’t get what is due to them, in the timing we want to see it. But if I believe all of the previous verses and that God is faithful and good and just… then he’ll handle it. Standing firm means we don’t disappear.
Wow, you made it this far? Thank you for that. Being a Christian is not a destination, it’s a lifelong journey and commitment to growth and maturity. Some days we will do it better than others. Sometimes we’ll interpret scripture accurately and sometimes we won’t.
But stand firm. Stay curious. Love God. Love others.
You were created on purpose for a purpose.
And that starts now.
I have been mercilessly trained from birth to “stand firm.” My father was a massive, powerful man who worked in the Secret Service and trained me how to hunt and defend myself. My mother as like Kato in the Inspector Clouseau, Pink Panther movies. To make sure I was training properly for football, she would randomly sneak attack and punch me in the stomach as hard as she could to make sure I was doing my sit-ups. Cruel? I was a lineman and if my gut wasn’t rock hard, my mother might face a son with permanent injuries to the torso. Too bad she didn’t focus on my legs, because it was was a permanent knee injury that took me out.
My chosen profession for 26 years of my life, Auto Injury Claims, involved standing firmer than most humans could ever endure. Imagine sitting at a family’s kitchen table and saying these words to them. “I’m sorry, but our driver is not at fault for the death of your 3 year old son. He darted out between two parked cars. The law says that parents must properly supervise their children. There was no way she could have avoided this accident. I must deny your claim.” This wasn’t over the phone. I looked in their eyes, over their kitchen table and watched a mother’s heart shatter as I said these words. Then I picked up my company-issued Samsonite briefcase and politely left, to the sounds of wailing in the background.
I have been expertly trained to negotiate by the premier insurance company in the United States. If you want to buy a new vehicle, take me with you, I can make the sleaziest of salesmen cry. I’ve ended multi-week negotiations on new cars with job offers from regional sales managers. I am that rare soul that LOVES to negotiate new car sales. It’s a blood sport for me. If I can squeeze out one more option, ahhhh, bliss. Yes, I am an a-hole. World Class. Expertly trained. My beloved spouse takes comfort in the fact that at least I’m HER a-hole. In the past, if anyone so much has caused her the slightest discomfort, the Hell unleashed upon them by me, well, let’s say it was…unforgettable.
But as of 2020 or so, this sinner began to pray to God to be a bit more saintly and to focus all my formidable talents in the fields of pain delivery towards that of…kindness. I prayed hard and often to God to help me be…kind. Believe me, in this world of insufferable fools, incompetents and louts, I find this to be a titanic struggle. I demand a high degree of excellence and suffer fools not. The world of the male, especially the HORN male, you should meet my even more formidable brothers, I am the RUNT of the litter, is one of utter Social Darwinism that perhaps few can appreciate. It’s how we “cull” the weak, so to speak. But, experience has taught me that while I’ve mercilessly, yes you see that word much, pounced on the irrational mistakes of others, I’ve had a blind spot for the RATIONAL mistakes of my own. Using perfect Logic, Reason, and Calculated risks, I’ve managed to make utter messes of things. Ergo, Rational mistakes are absolutely just as invalid as irrational ones. So all that tough guy, stand firm, Devil Take the Hind Most, Social Darwinism…..eh, utter crap.
So, now, I pray to God not to make me strong, invincible and invulnerable. I pray to God to make me kind, vulnerable, weak. I fail at this a lot. 27 years dealing with the worst of humanity, Claims will do that to you, makes you expect the worst. I recently had lunch with my bride. The waitress was terrible. Knocked over my flatware. She kept rushing us, telling us we needed to be finished by 2:30. Pay our bill by 2:30. What the heck? Why the bum’s rush? She really sucked. Gave me an attitude when I asked for sparkling water. The dish she served me had too much food piled on a tiny plate and every time I took a bite it spilled on me. I joked with my wife that the waitress set me up for failure. The waitress was very, VERY insistent I PAY her by 2:30. FINE ALREADY. HERE TAKE MY MONEY. I paid her. I was nowhere near done with my meal. She rushed out of the restaurant. I tipped her nothing. I never do that. I used to be a waiter. I know how it is. I called the manager over to ask what the deal was with the waitress, prepared to go into full, Mongolian, battle A-HOLE mode. My wife saw it coming and tried to calm me down. No way, this waitress was clearly in the wrong. “What’s the deal with your waitress? She treated me like I wasn’t very welcome! This was my first time in your restaurant. Is this the impression you want to leave with me?” The manager, a very nice, Greek woman tried to placate me. “I’m very sorry, sir. She is very upset. The person who was supposed to pick up her son at school didn’t show up and now she has to rush to go get him. I’m so very sorry, she had to rush out of here.” Oh, dear God. I just stiffed a single mother who was worried about her son and had to go pick up her scared, little boy from school. My biggest problem was I didn’t get my sparkling water fast enough. I’m a monster. I failed at kindness that day. I pray to God I can go back and have her serve me again so I can give her the biggest tip of her career and apologize. Every day it is something like this. I try hard to be kind and fail. Usually, it’s from “standing firm” on something.
I should try sitting soft. Maybe that will work better