With Hat in Hand and Voice Trembling

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Editor’s note: This article is an example of an inspirational devotional that was recently shared in a Sunday morning worship service.

A few years ago a local farmer was called into question for a land use violation. Eventually a hearing was held, and the two sides came together to look at the issue. This was not something the older farmer looked forward to or enjoyed. He was definitely out of his comfort zone!

A local newspaper reporter attended the meeting, and his description of the farmer as he stood before the township officials to state his case was “with hat in hand and voice trembling.”

These were not powerful lawyers or members of the attorney general’s office; just local township authorities that may have had no more than a high school education.

Fast forward to one of our New York for Jesus trips, when the group was handing out tracts and singing in Union Square Park, New York city. There they encountered an ungodly, arrogant, blaspheming group that mocked God and His Son, Jesus Christ. They acted out a mock crucifixion, complete with a crown of thorns and fake blood running down the actor’s face. They especially held in contempt the man who had predicted exactly when the world would end. This blaspheming bunch was aware of the verse in Romans 14:11 that states, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

They countered with a bold statement in the stories and poems that they wrote and handed out: “If we’re going to bow to God, He’ll have to break our legs to make us do so.” Stay braced and stiff-legged until God is forced to break their legs to get them to bow? Really!

Were you ever that terribly frightened that your legs got weak or your knees shook? Think about that.

Imagine these blasphemers coming into the presence of God, the Creator of the universe, the Designer of the plan of salvation, the One who is “from everlasting to everlasting,” the God who told Moses, “Just tell them ‘I AM’ has sent you.” Do you think their legs will still be braced and stiff? I’d be surprised if they would be able to stand at all!

Think of a few encounters that people in Scripture had with heavenly beings.

(1) In Joshua 5:13, Joshua, who was in charge of the security of the children of Israel, encountered a man outside Jericho that had a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua was immediately concerned. He asked, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” The stranger replied, “Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.” Many believe that was Jesus Christ Himself. What happened to the captain of the host of Israel? He fell on his face to the earth and worshiped.

(2) Saul in Acts 9 zealously committed to wreaking as much havoc with the early church as possible, in ignorance convinced that he was doing the right thing. as he was on the way to Damascus, a bright light suddenly shone down from Heaven. What happened to Saul, this ruthless persecutor of the church? He fell to the earth! Astonished and trembling he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

(3) In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in the inner prison with their feet in stocks—very uncomfortable. To pass the time and to keep up their morale, they sang praises to God. Verse 26 says there was a great earthquake, and as the margin in my Bible puts it, “God awakened the jailor with an earthquake.” God just reached down and rattled things a bit. The prison doors swung open, and the jailor was ready to take his life. Paul cried out, “Do thyself no harm!” Then the jailor called for a light and came. How? With hat in hand and voice trembling! “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is exactly where those Union Square blasphemers need to come as well!

Today it’s your choice, it’s my choice, it’s their choice! Go ahead and brace yourself! Or voluntarily commit your life and your worship to the creator. Matthew 21:44 invites you to fall on the stone in repentance and faith, and give up your stiff neck, braced knees, and hard heart. Or wait until the stone falls on you, and much more will be broken than just your legs.

Revelation 6:16 speaks of a time when men will just be happy for the rocks and mountains to fall on them. Why? To hide them and their wobbly legs “from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”

So with hat in hand and voice trembling, I invite you to humbly and reverently fall down and worship our God. “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God!”

~ Bethel, PA
March 2014