Don’t you just hate bubble busters? Or is it bursters? Anyway, hang on because I’m going to pop one. You know the story about the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike to plug a leak and save the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands?
It wasn’t even a Dutch person who wrote the story but an American lady, Mary Mapes Dodge. Most Dutch people don’t even know the tale. There. Disappointed aren’t you? Me too.
According to genealogist Yvette Hoitink, there was a brave Dutchman whose quick thinking saved many lives when a Dutch Dike gave way in 1953. “Skipper Evergroen drove the ship parallel to the hole, and then turned it to lock it in place. The gap behind the ship was quickly filled with sand bags. The torrent slowed to a trickle and three million people kept their feet dry.”
People in Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, Holland had no Captain Evergroens or even a little Dutch (figment-of-an-American-lady’s-imagination) boy. Some 1800 of them perished in the floodwaters when the dikes broke.
Standing In the Gap
Did you know that God searches desperately for gap-fillers in our generation?
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV).
We’ve got lots of gripers, grumblers, and pointers-out-of-what’s-wrong. We don’t have a lot of people on their knees pleading for God to send revival and save the lost. Don’t get mad at me, but it seems there’s a lot more people excited about elections than winning the war in heavenly places on our knees.
In Ezekiel’s time, God didn’t want to pour out His wrath on that disobedient people. He looked for someone like Moses. When Moses descended from the mountain with God’s commands in his hands, he found his people in a wild orgy, cavorting around an idol.
God threatened to destroy them but Moses pleaded with God, “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:32, ESV).
Paul’s Jewish compatriots spent quite a bit of time beating on him, threatening him, and lying about him. But, the apostle felt towards them the same way God did, “O Israel, my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Christ knows and the Holy Spirit knows that it is no mere pretense when I say that I would be willing to be forever damned if that would save you.” (Romans 9:1-3, Living Bible)
“Standing in the gap” means you fill the breach with your body. That costs you. Maybe in fasting and time in prayer. Maybe some midnight hours of prayer. Time when you could be doing other things.
Standing in the gap means you love those behind you as much or more than yourself. Your family, your church, your friends, the lost that you don’t even know.
Standing in the gap means you’re cooperating with God’s plan and God’s love for the people. God’s mission for you is more important than your life. God didn’t want to pour out His wrath. There was war in heavenly places and He was looking for spiritual warriors to win the fight against his enemies.
It’s ironic that’s Israel’s downfall didn’t seem to only be because of the sinners in the land. It was the lack of intercessors to fill up the gaps in the wall. When there are no more gap-fillers righteous judgment falls.
How can we pray with fervor and compassion? The Holy Spirit helps us.—“ Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” (Rom. 8:26, 27, the Message)
We Remember the things that hurt us so that we can identify with someone else’s pain.
A Changed Young Man
At the start of our ministry in Luxembourg, a young German man was invited to an evangelistic meeting in our coffee house. Albert started to come regularly but then he returned to Germany to visit his parents. They convinced him that he had fallen into a cult, so he stopped coming.
One day as I prayed for him, I felt like I was “seized” by the Holy Spirit. I found myself praying earnestly, “Lord, save him whether he wants to be saved or not.” I’m not sure that’s a good prayer, theologically speaking, but it worked.
He went through a difficult period in his life. A lady from our church saw him in town, told him the Lord about the Lord, and encouraged him to resist the work of the devil. He returned to church and God did a wonderful work in his life.
He testified on the day of his return: “I feel like I’m reborn! “
Jesus was the ultimate gap-filler. “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isa. 59, ESV)
Let’s have the heart of Jesus. Stand up… on our knees. Seek the heart of God for lost people, lost situations, and a real move of God in our world. God is looking for gap-standers. Will you be one?
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