Are you Soaking?

Last year’s word for me was tenacity. Boy, did we all need to be tenacious to make it through 2020. This year, the Lord has given me the word soak. The word soak as a verb means, “to make or allow something to become thoroughly wet by immersing it in liquid”; or as a noun, “to be a heavy drinker.” I kind of chuckle at both definitions because what in the world does that have to do with anything that could possibly relate to me? I thought that at first until I started to think a little more about the applications of these two definitions biblically speaking.

To soak a sponge in water means to immerse it into the water so much so that liquid can be squeezed out of the sponge. How awesome would it be if I could be so immersed in God’s Word that when you squeeze me, all that comes out is Him? The heavy drinker part? Well, that is laughable because I don’t drink, but it does make me think of what Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” It also makes me think about the day of Pentecost when people thought those who had been in the Upper Room were drunk (even though it was only 9:00 am). Peter said to them in Acts 2:14–18 that the people weren’t drunk with wine, but were confirmation of the prophecy given in Joel 2:28. Is anything I do or say something that would cause people to think I was a little “drunk” if you will as it relates to my witness for Christ? If not, why? Wouldn’t it be an honorable thing to be considered “soaked for the Lord?” I think it would, yes.

It also makes me think about soaking in a tub of hot water to relieve stress, worry, and pain. We have a lot of that right now in the world, country, state, communities, and for many, within your own families. Heartbreak for the conditions of the things people were experiencing, and wondering what in the world God was doing about it was the essence of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk was a prophet in Judah during the reign of King Jehoiakim. He prophesied between 612 B.C. and 588 B.C. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell around 612 B.C. The Assyrians had been the dominant power up until its destruction. They were a wicked bunch that God had tried to save. It worked for a short while after they were warned, but they eventually returned to their evil ways and God allowed for their destruction. Once Assyria lost power, the Babylonians quickly rose to take their place as the dominant power. They, too, were wicked, non-God-fearing people.

Habakkuk lived among the people of Judah. When he looked out at the people, he saw a dying world and it broke his heart. His heart response led him to seek answers from God. He wanted to know why God wasn’t punishing those responsible for sin. Clearly, he knew that God did wipe out evil-doers, but he was wondering why God allowed evil people in Judah to prosper without judgment by God. Habakkuk cared about God’s people but he didn't like that some of God’s people were doing evil. Habakkuk leveled a long list of complaints to God in Habakkuk 1:1–4. Read the words in his complaints and it sounds a lot like what many people are saying today as we look out across the world.

 - God, how long is it going to be before you help?

- God, are you ever going to stop the violence?

- God, there is strife, conflict, and injustice everywhere, do you care?

- God, even the law isn’t protecting the people. People are crooked and cruel. What are you going to do to them?

- God, the wicked are hurting your people. When will it stop?

Have you muttered any of these questions to God during your prayer time or throughout the course of your day? I know I have. Habakkuk said these words to God and God responded. However, God didn’t respond in the way Habakkuk might have thought it was going to go.
The Lord answered Habakkuk’s complaints by saying, “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people who sweep across the whole earth” (Habakkuk 1:5–6). I bet that is not what Habakkuk expected to hear.

God told Habakkuk that He was going to use the wicked Babylonians to destroy the wickedness in Judah. That’s tough to swallow. Judah’s punishment would be at the hands of the Babylonians. Habakkuk thought that was too much, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:13). God was going to use evil people to punish evil people. The irony is that the Babylonians had no idea God was using them to fulfill His plan. Their pride and ego about their strength caused them to think they were doing it all alone. Little did they know that in just a short while, God would punish them for their wickedness in His own way and in His own timing.

Habakkuk, even though he didn’t completely understand God’s reasoning or decision, responded by saying, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1). Habakkuk didn’t like God’s answer, but he responded with patient waiting and watching. The watchmen on the watchtower were the people who stood on the wall to keep a look out for invading armies and messengers. They were the ones who carried the messages to the people. The wall was important to protect the city, but the wall can’t talk and see; only people can. God is our strength, our protection and our fortress, but we are the people who need to stand on watch patiently waiting for what God is going to do. God hates sin even more than you and I do. Our response to God should be the same as Habakkuk’s response; we need to wait patiently as God works out His plans in His perfect timing.

The way God works things out may not be how we would handle things. It may be swift or it could take a long time. It may affect you personally a little or it could affect you personally a lot. And, a lot of it won’t make sense. Both the righteous and the unrighteous get caught up in whatever plan God has. However, what we can rest in are the words Habakkuk said in the final sentences of Habakkuk 3, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:18–19). Habakkuk knew hard times were coming. He didn’t ask to escape the discipline that was coming because he knew Judah needed to learn a lesson, but he did ask for mercy and for help.

We may be in for some tough times ahead, but God is still sovereign and in control. We need to take our eyes off the difficult things being presented to us constantly and instead soak in the presence of God. I know that is what I am going to try and do more of this year, and I hope you will, too.

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