I was catching up with a friend this week in Dallas, and she shared this cute story with me.  She and her husband are a few years more mature than I am, so they are getting ready for knee replacements soon.  Well, she told a story about someone she knew that was also having some trouble with her legs.  When you have a debilitating pain or illness, it can be a real struggle to get around.  When once you could jump up and speed off to your next endeavor, it now takes a bit more time to even get up, let alone move.  So, she had developed a new “motto” for herself in these later years.  When it was time to relocate from wherever she was seated, she knew that she had to “rise, stabilize, and then mobilize.”  (You have to say it with a nice, slow southern drawl though.  I picture the cute little old lady from War Room.)  Riiiiise. Stabiliiiize. Mobiliiiize.  How cute is that?!  If she didn’t rise, she would go nowhere.  If she mobilized before she stabilized, she would go straight to the ground.  The only thing that works is to rise, stabilize, and then mobilize.  We had a good giggle over it, and I asked her if I could steal that motto to use in my blog this week.

I immediately made this connection to my spiritual life.  My first thought was how desperately we need this when we fall into times of depression and discouragement.  When we are so overwhelmed that we have become spiritually and emotionally crippled.  How many times do you feel like you are down for the count and you just can’t get going again.  Oh, you might be going through the motions and doing all the things, and you might even be fooling a few people.  But deep down you know that you are stuck, unable to move forward.  It’s time to rise and stabilize so that you can mobilize!  This concept was so inspiring to me that I did a bit of digging and am flooded with Bible verses and applications. If you’ll allow me I would like to share just a few things with you about this concept.

Rise:  My heart immediately went to Ezekiel 37 where God took Ezekiel in a vision out to the middle of a valley filled with the bones of dead Israelites.  Verse 2 describes these bones as being “very dry” in the NASB.  Verse 11 gives these bones a voice as they say “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished.  We are completely cut off.”  Can you relate? Are you in a valley right now where you feel like all hope is lost?  Are you all dried up, feeling like you’re dead inside?  This is where Ezekiel was, and he was about to witness the Lord do something impossible.  God told him to prophesy to these dead, dry bones and tell them to “Hear the word of the Lord” and that he would give them breath and put their bodies back together, flesh and all!  When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord, and spoke the prophecy, those dry bones began to rattle and shake, and guess what?  THEY GOT UP!  It’s time to GET UP!  The Bible says that we are all dead in our sins and on our way to an eternity apart from God. The only payment for sin is death. There is absolutely nothing we can do of ourselves to earn salvation and come back to a right relationship with Him.  God says that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ to die for your sins and rise from the grave in order to pay that debt.  All you have to do is agree with God that you’re a sinner, believe that Jesus paid your debt, and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.  Without this, nothing else matters. “Rise, Stabilize, Mobilize” means nothing if you don’t first have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you do know Jesus as your savior, you have been given NEW LIFE and you have the blessing to walk in it.   Once you have this new life, Satan will do everything in his power to drag you down and make you ineffective for the Lord.  He knows he can’t get you back because once you belong to Jesus, you’re His for eternity, but he works hard to keep us from being mobilized.  What’s so sad is that more often then not, he only begins the work and we keep ourselves down.  As soon as we recognize it, we must get up again!  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must RISE.

Stabilize:  The reason that most people get so discouraged in their Christian walk, is because they got up and mobilized without this crucial step of stabilizing.  I believe this is a process lost in most modern churches.  We would rather feel all the emotions then learn all the truth.  We get all kinds of excited about this feeling of “new breath” as if standing up was the empowerment we needed and now we can just take off running.  Just like my beautiful friend with arthritis, you’ll end up flat on the floor in just a few steps.  Before we can start forward movement, and while we are moving forward, we must make sure we are on level ground with sure footing.  This is true for the new Christian just as much as it is for someone who has been saved for 30 years. It’s vital for the Christian who’s life is going well as much as it is for the one going through a valley of dry bones for a while.  I love the phrase in 1 Peter 1:13 that says “prepare your minds for action.”  Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us about the armor of God that as Christians we need to be wearing, and three times in this short passage we are told to “stand firm”.  It takes time, effort, and obedience to stabilize and find our footing.  There is only one thing that will truly stabilize us, and that is a growing relationship with the Lord.  As we learn His word, devote ourselves to prayer, and obey Him we begin to stabilize.  Psalm 1:3 describes it as being “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.”  The Psalmist understood this when he wrote in Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Stability in our faith is VITAL.  That means reading God’s Word, OBEYING God’s Word, memorizing God’s Word, praying according to God’s will which incidentally is found in… you guessed it, GOD’S WORD.  I love Psalm 51:10, 12-13 where the Psalmist asks God to “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.”  With a willing heart, an obedient life, and godly faithfulness we will know the direction God wants us to go and will have the stability we need to move forward.  The reason we need to pray for a clean heart and for the Lord to sustain us is because our sin will always trip us up.  We can’t have a stable life to move forward if we are allowing sin to continue holding a place in our lives.  Hebrews 12:1 gives clear instruction on what you need to do with sin so that you can gain the stability you need to move forward. “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” It doesn’t say to limit the sin, doesn’t say to justify it, doesn’t say to hide it, and it doesn’t say to wait for God to remove it.  It says to get rid of it like a hot potato!  Cast it off, lay it aside, leave it behind so you don’t keep tripping up on it.  Before you run, STABILIZE.

Mobilize:  “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7.  Now we walk.  We follow God’s calling on our life in full confidence and grace.  We continue to stabilize along the way so that we don’t lose our footing.  Hebrews 12:1-2 again says that we are running a race and the only way to run is to fix our eyes on Jesus.  There are an infinite number of specifics when it comes to mobilizing for a Christian.  First, and constant is Matthew 28:19-20 when Jesus gives His marching orders to His disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you….”  Each one of us is given the task to share Jesus with those in our sphere of influence.  It’s a command, it’s clear, and it’s the calling of every Christian.  Beyond that, God has uniquely designed each of us to be mobilized in a variety of ways.  He might call you to adopt a child, or a whole house of children.  He might call you to donate money up and above your tithe to help various missions in your community or around the world that are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He might be asking you to go on a short-term mission’s trip.  Maybe He’s calling you into full time vocational ministry.  Maybe He’s asking you to walk across the street and help your grumpy neighbor do some yard work.  He might call you to teach, write, public speak, sing, wash dishes, give rides to people so they can get to church, feed the homeless, lead worship, greet people at church, make the coffee, set up for a Bible study, start a prayer group at work, write letters to missionaries to encourage them, minister to your weary pastor, visit someone in the hospital or nursing home, help out in youth group, or the children’s ministry.  Maybe He hasn’t called you to any of these things, but something completely different.  Colossians 4:17 says “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” We must mobilize and fulfill what God has called us to do.  Whatever way you are shaped, whatever God has laid on your heart by the Holy Spirit to do, you will be grossly ineffective if you hit the ground running without first rising and stabilizing.  When you do get mobilized, it won’t be long before you hit a wall and find yourself needing to re-stabilize.  It is an ongoing, circular concept that requires a devoted prayer life and consistent, quality quiet time in God’s Word.  Psalm 37:23-24 paints such a beautiful picture of what happens when a Christian does fall down. “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”  Jesus grabbed you by the hand to bring you to Himself and He is never letting go!

Now, don’t you get it in your head that this concept provides a great excuse for you to remain stationary in your walk because “you’re stabilizing.” The amount of time it takes to stabilize is going to vary from person to person for many reasons, but it doesn’t take all that long to start slow, forward moving steps.  The more committed you are to the Word and prayer, the faster you will run in your spiritual life.  Maybe the place you’re rising from was a lot lower that others.  Maybe your legs are more deteriorated than some.  You might feel like it will take you a lot longer, but the reality is you’re probably only halfway up.  You must rise above your past, stabilize in the truth, and take that first step.  I love how Paul talks about the race in Philippians 3:13-16 when he says “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

So, here’s what I’m leaving you with if you gave this post the time to read it all the way through.  Where are you at in life?  Are you saved?  Do you have a relationship started with Jesus?  If not, RISE.  Take His hand and let Him give you a new life!  Are you saved, but you’ve strayed away from Him?  Maybe you think you’ve gone too long, sinned too much, and ruined any hope of restoration.  It’s time to RISE.  Jesus NEVER let go of you.  He is still here with arms stretched out just waiting for you to turn around into His healing embrace.  Are you running the race, but it’s getting too hard?  You’re breathing is labored, your legs are cramping, your stomach hurts, your head hurts, and every few feet people on the sidelines are throwing rocks and sticks at you.  You find yourself giving in to the desire to quit.  Maybe you already have quit and are now sitting on the sidelines watching.

It’s time to RISE.  Get up!  STABILIZE.  Adjust your life to truth!  MOBILIZE.  Keep going!    

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”

Psalm 40:1-2