Honoring those who stand in the gap

I have heard the phrase, “stand in the gap” in church circles recently. Pastor Spike spoke recently in his sermon series about Daniel standing in the gap for the doomed counselors who could not meet King Nebuchadnezzar’s unreasonable expectations. Daniel couldn’t meet the expectations either, but he knew God could (Daniel 2: 14-19). Sometimes the specific calling God has for someone is to stand in the gap for others.

I’ve also heard the phrase, “stand in the gap” in the context of praying for others who are too weak spiritually, physically, or emotionally to pray for themselves. Certainly, God calls all of us to stand in the gap with intercessory prayer.

These concepts are understandable, but the Biblical origin of the phrase “standing in the gap” was still unfamiliar to me so I did a little research. In other words, I googled it and this is what I found:

Ezekiel 22:30
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

I am definitely not a Bible scholar, however, according to my understanding, this verse is referring to the physical wall of protection that the Israelites built to protect themselves from the enemy. Periodically, a gap or hole would occur in the wall creating vulnerability to enemy attack. In order to protect God’s children, a person would need to answer God’s call to literally stand in the gap of the wall. In the time of Ezekiel, God was calling, yet no one answered the call. When we talk about “standing in the gap” in Christian circles today, we are referring to those who have been called to stand in the gap for those who are physically, spiritually, or emotionally vulnerable.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2014 have come to a close. For many, there is a sigh of relief. When children have gaps in their family wall, pain – not celebration – often occurs during these holidays. They become vulnerable. Yet, we know that children are precious gifts from God (Psalm 127:3). And, Jesus teaches us to protect them and guard them (Matthew 18:10).

I remember my days as a single mom. This was not a situation I had planned for. One of the overwhelming feelings I frequently had was that despite the world’s message of “a woman can do anything a man can do”, one thought haunted me. The one thing I absolutely could not do was be a dad for my children. Who would fill the gap for my children when I could not?

Philippians 4:19 says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

I wish I could say that in my spiritual strength I claimed this verse for my children, but I didn’t. What I can say is that looking back, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit interceded during this time in my life when I was so anxious and confused that knowing what to pray for eluded me.

Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Clarity and seeing God’s provision often comes with a rear-view perspective. Looking back, I can see that God placed (and continues to place) godly men in the gap for my children. Almost immediately, one elderly friend began picking my son up to go fishing or to a football game and would give my daughter a sweet hug and verbal affirmation. Over the years, men at school – teachers and coaches – have given godly discipline and Biblical teaching in ways very different than their female counterparts, and I have seen my children respond to this difference. Eventually, I met and married my husband who sets a wonderful example of a husband and father for my children. Grandparents, camp counselors, youth leaders, and others that I may not know have filled the gap, and I am confident in God’s continued faithfulness and provision.

At one time, I spent a lot of time focusing on the gap. Now, I can see God’s provision and am very grateful to the men who have answered the call in filling the gap.

{This post was written by Eve Huntley. Eve is a wife, mother, business manager, student and Southerner. She and her husband Joe married five years ago, blending their families. Their five children range in age from 12 to 23. The two oldest now live on their own, leaving three kiddos at home with three rowdy dogs! In other words, they have a super quiet and peaceful home environment…. NOT!  God has given her a passion for helping families with marriage, parenting, and family-of-origin issues.}

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