Standing in the Gap
“I need you, you need me. We’re all a part of God’s Body..
I pray for you, you pray for me. We’re all a part of God’s Body..
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth, I love you.. I need you to survive”
(Hezekiah Walker – I Need You to Survive)
As we approach the end of another year, we begin to look ahead to another year… A new year that will be full of the unexpected which will include joys, sorrows, beginnings, endings… I take much comfort in the fact that while what is to come may be unexpected for us, that the Sovereign Lord, in Whose hands our lives are committed, knows exactly what is ahead. This thought alone can bring a level of inexplicable peace and increasing faith as our turn for trials comes. Many times however, when our eyes are off of Him, the experiences of life can knock us down or worse yet make us offended in Him; and questions like “How could this be happening to us?” can plague our minds, toy with our emotions and cause hopelessness to seep in.
I have learnt that in my moments of weakness, that Jesus is evermore interceding on my behalf. My faith in this fact has grown over the years and when I am at my lowest I have begun to pray things like “Lord, help me in this state of unbelief” and “Keep my mind”.
There is one other thing that really buoys me up in those times and that is when brothers and sisters in Christ actively stand in the gap for me. Having been a recipient of that demonstration of love as well as a giver of it, I have reflected recently on what is entailed in successfully standing in the gap for each other.
Believers are called to embrace the great commission of reconciling men back to God. If broken people are allowed to continue in that state, not only is their existence on earth needlessly painful, but they are at risk of being eternally separated from God. Our being able to love the unlovely in direct and indirect ways, can cause them to encounter the Agape love of God which has the power to transform their lives and create the desire to enter into their own personal relationship with Jesus.
If we depended on our human will to stand in the gap for the unlovely, many times we would fail.
Their behavior could turn us off as they push us away even while subconsciously they may be crying out for love and acceptance. In order to stay the course as we act as Jesus’ agents of redemptive love, we must keep the faith and ask the Lord to see the person as He does; someone He died on the Cross for and loves passionately. As we do that we will find that our love for the person grows and no cost is too high to pay as we put ourselves on the line to save the one that is lost. We begin to mirror the characteristics the Lord has displayed in loving us: 1 Corinthians 13 love – longsuffering, hopefulness, selflessness – to name a few.
How can one stand in the gap for another? The following are just a few ways:
- Be alert for the still voice of the Holy Spirit who will faithfully identify the ones with whom you are to accompany in love. Many times this means that we must not be preoccupied with our own cares. If we are we may be so distracted that we miss the divine instructions. We must believe that the Lord has our backs and when we are at peace with that knowledge we are better positioned to listen out for our next assignment and to act on it.
- By spending time with them, sometimes even in silence;
- By sharing words of comfort;
- By meeting a physical need;
- By exhorting the truth of God about the person’s situation and choices regardless of the person’s reaction and even in the face of possibly losing a friendship;
- By depending fully on the Holy Spirit to guide you and to help you discern the spiritual strongholds that might be operating in that person’s life so that your prayers for victory could be properly informed.
- By refusing to engage in conversation with others who want to gossip about the person’s current behavior; or who might even be concerned about the person but speak with hopelessness about the situation. Nothing must be allowed to shatter your faith in the God’s finished work in the person’s life.
When one stands in the gap for someone else it is critically important to remember that this is privileged position.
The person in need of redemption is precious to the Lord. Many times it has been impressed on me that I have only become aware of a hurting person because the Lord allowed me into a very confidential space and is trusting that I would be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit as I walk the part of the journey of redemption with the person that the Lord has outlined.
If we remember this, we will be careful to carry out our duties towards this person guided by the manner in which the Lord loves. For example, love covers a multitude of sin. When we remember this, we would not be so prone to carelessly broadcast the things that the person we are standing in the gap for has done wrong. We may do this unknowingly when in our own understanding we ask the wrong persons to agree with us in prayer for the one that is in need of support. However, we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to those who will genuinely protect the person in need; believing, as we do, in the finished work of God; supernaturally knowing that one day this person will be restored.
Too often years after one has been restored, his or her sin is waved like a flag before them by religious persons who get pleasure out of pointing fingers at others. In faith believe that one day the person you are supporting will be restored, and will be like a new born baby as they first taste the freedom of redemption. During that first phase of redemption the person is vulnerable as for the first time in a long time he or she experiences freedom from shame and condemnation and tentatively lays hold of a newfound wholeness… So if you are standing in the gap for someone do so protectively, preserving that precious space of redemption in Christ for that person to be able to be spared future condemnation from others whose motives are impure and whose attacks on the newly redeemed person could cause a dangerous slide back to brokenness.
As the end of the age draws near, remember that the love of God must be demonstrated through us as willing vessels in order to reach those who temporarily may appear unreachable. It is our Lord’s will that none should perish. Purpose in your hearts, that those souls that have been assigned to you, will be reached as you faithfully and diligently seek to delight our God’s heart by reconciling them back to Him. Let us love the Lord our God with all our hearts and each other as ourselves and as we do may the blessings of Numbers 6:24-26 be yours….
The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).(Numbers 6:24-26 Amplified Version)