The difference between an oak and a bonsai—apart from their size—is the root system. Whereas the bonsai may be interesting, perhaps even curiously captivating, it is the oak that has strength that endures the test of time and is there after the fire, the drought, and the storm. Much like our faith.
People come in both dimensions. Some, like the bonsai, have no deep roots and never mature and grow. Others, like the oak, put down their roots in the Word and God, and are there after the storms have blown and ravished the landscape of life.
The foundation of faith is still there, and “unmovable” is how you can be no matter what happens to you when you are positioned firmly on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
I’ve been thinking about the advice that Paul wrote to a group of people who were not especially noted for their strength of character or moral fortitude—the Corinthians. In the book we call First Corinthians, Paul wrote to them about the return of Jesus Christ and the certainty of the resurrection. He told them to be “steadfast, unmovable.”
And exactly what does that mean? Is that to suggest that we are to be belligerent and difficult? Not exactly! But here’s what it does mean. The first word, steadfast, means firmly established—not subject to doubt, issues completely settled. It came from the root of a word that described a house that was firmly sitting on the foundation or was used to describe something which rested securely on a large rock.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58, KJV
The second word which is translated as unmovable was used just once in the New Testament, in this passage where Paul says we are to be unmovable. And that word describes exactly what it implies. Nothing can move you.
Steadfast, unmovable. Would you say that these words describe you, or—to be perfectly honest—would you admit that there are days when your faith is pretty shaky? Things happen and you ask yourself, “Where is God when I’m hurting, or why did He allow this?”
How is it possible to have a faith that is steadfast—resting on the foundation of the Word with Christ as your Rock? There is but one way. And that is to go to Scripture and settle the issue once and for all that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again, that God has revealed Himself through the pages of His Word, and come hell or high water, you can trust Him. Then, and only then, are you unmovable as Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be.
Elisabeth Elliot told how in January 1955, as she and four other women were waiting to learn of the fate of their husbands, who had flown a small plane to a sandy landing strip in an Ecuadorian jungle, she was sustained by the words of an old hymn—one of my favorites—which goes:
“Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, / For I am thy God and will still give thee aid; / I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, / Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
“When through the deep waters I call thee to go / The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; / For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless, / And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose / I will not, I will not desert to his foes; / That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake / I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake.”
Steadfast, unmovable. Is it possible to be like that in our world? The foundation of faith is still there, and “unmovable” is how you can be no matter what happens to you when you are positioned firmly on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
Yes, it is possible to survive the storms, being fully persuaded, standing firm without wavering, and abiding under the wings of the shadow of the Almighty. That’s exactly what Paul had in mind.
Resource reading: Psalm 91:1-16
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