Today I heard that small voice again, the gentle whisper, as I was driving home from work.  Praise God that he forgives our failures!  This time I did not hesitate to obey it.  “Call your brother Mike“, it said, “He needs to talk to you“.  I picked up the cell phone and called Mike.  No answer.  I left a message and said a quick prayer for him. 

A few hours later, Mike called me back.  He was working a double shift at work and still had several more hours to go.  He said everything was fine and we spoke briefly about plans for the Men’s Fraternity group we are having tomorrow.  He was busy at work and had to go.  He said he would call back when he got a chance.

Several hours went by before he finally got a chance to call.  It was 9:45 p.m. and he was just getting off work.  This time, the tone in his voice had changed.  Instead of the tired, preoccupied, frustration I had heard earlier, there was now a passion.  He said, “I have so many ideas swimming in my head right now.  I need to let them out”. 

Some background is needed here.  This past summer God gave me a clear vision of a ministry, His ministry, that he wants to create.  The ministry would impact the community and win many souls for His kingdom.  This vision was huge, grandiose, and far bigger than anything we could ever accomplish in our own power.  I was amazed and in awe of it.  I was also a little frightened.  I felt unworthy and unable to lead out in the way he was seemingly leading.  I was also afraid that somehow the idea came from my head and not from God.  I knew that if it came from me it would be doomed to failure.  This was the kind of God-sized endeavor that only He could pull off. 

I was reluctant to share it with anyone.  I briefly mentioned it to Mike and asked him to pray for God’s plan.  I knew that the plan needed him, or at least God had seemed to say that Mike would be a big part of bringing it into reality.  I didn’t tell Mike this.  I have rarely discussed it since then with anyone, although it has been on my mind frequently.  I was waiting for God to speak to others and confirm the vision.  But, God was clear to me that I needed to be willing to do this even if no one joined me.

Tonight my brother Mike poured out the ideas for a ministry that were floating around in his head.  I am not ready to talk about the details yet, since God is still showing us His plan.  But, they seemed to line up perfectly with the vision that God had given me months ago.  Conformation.  Mike even repeated the call from God to be willing to do it even if no one else joined! 

After we talked about this for some time, he asked, “What do you think the next step is?”  I said, “I believe the next step is prayer.  We need to make the first step prayer so God can show us the first step, because I have no idea!”  We agreed that we will have to get on our knees earnestly, passionately, and frequently until God does this, whatever it is.  This goes hand-in-hand with my commitment from earlier today, to increase my prayer (see previous post).  If God is going to do anything He will do it as an answer to the fervent prayer of His people, fully submitted to His will.

We are adamant that we will only pursue this mission as long as we are confident that is is God’s plan and not ours.  We have seen similar ventures fail because they were the creation of man and did not find their origin in the perfect mind of the Almighty God.  I firmly believe that I serve Jehovah Jireh, God our provider.  If this is truly His plan he will provide the seemingly insurmountable resources required to accomplish His purpose.

Tonight I read in Genesis, chapter 28, where Jacob lays down with his head on a rock and receives a vision from God.  God showed Jacob a glimpse of His plan, what He wanted to do through Jacob and his family.  The is the covenant that God first made with Abraham.  When Jacob awakes, his response is to consecrate the place and make a vow to the Lord.  He promises God that he will make him his God and serve Him his whole life (with his family and all that he owns) as long as God promises to protect him on the journey he is about to undertake and to provide food and clothing for him and his family. 

Tonight I want to make a similar vow with God in response to the vision that he has given me of what his plan is:

God my father, all that I have is yours to use for your glory and to further your kingdom.  I will go wherever and do whatever you want me to do.  Use me in whatever way serves your supreme will the best.  I know that I am yours.  I have been bought and paid for by the precious blood of Jesus.  I know and believe that you want the best for me and my family’s lives.  I trust that you will provide for our needs like you promised in Philippians 4:19.  I consecrate, set aside, and designate my family for your plan.  May you lead us and help us to lead others in your way.  May the light of our lives (your light) so shine that others see you in us and glorify you.  May I never serve in my power, but solely rely on your Holy Spirit to draw men to you.  Empower us to do your work, and show us your plan.  Amen.

This morning I was preoccupied with thoughts of work, all the many things I have to do to get caught up, the endless train of seemingly meaningless tasks that require so much thought and energy.   Monday morning, and I was dreading starting the workweek.  I hit snooze too many times and got up with almost no time left to spend with God. 
  
I didn’t spend much time reading the word.  But I did pour my soul out to God in prayer like a psalmist asking Him why I haven’t felt close to Him or heard His voice in a while.  “God, you say if I draw near to you, that you will draw near to me.  Why does it seem like you are not here?  Don’t hide your face from me.”
  
I got in the car and headed to work, continuing in my prayer.  I remembered the subject of my post from yesterday, how we should live each and every day as an adventure.  I started praying along those lines.  “God, what is your purpose in my life today?  Who can I minister to?  Who do you want me to share your kindness with?  Speak to me and I will be willing to obey”.
  
Then something happened.  Suddenly the words “go to the hospital” just popped into my head from out of nowhere.  It came in a quite whisper, not loud or obvious, very subtle.  It was so strange and random.  I prayed, “God is that from you?  Do you want me to go to the hospital . . . right now?”  I heard no other words.  But my heart began to yearn to take the next exit and drive to the hospital.  I resisted the impulse.  This is crazy.  What would I do when I got there?  They don’t just let random crazy people roam the halls.  I don’t even know exactly where the hospital is.  Besides, I HAVE to go to work today.  I have way too much to do.  I’m behind already.  That can’t be God’s voice.  He wouldn’t ask that.  If I don’t show up it won’t go over well.  What would I tell them, “uhh, I have to go the . . . umm, hospital.  Oh, nothing is wrong, and I have no idea why I need to go there, I just do.”
  
I passed the exit to the hospital.  The feeling didn’t subside.  I took the exit to my work.  “God was that REALLY your voice?”  No response.  “God please confirm it.  This is so crazy I really need to know it is from you before I just abandon reason.  A though comes to my head; do you care more about what seems reasonable to you than you do about doing my will?  I don’t answer. 
 
I wish I could write here that I blew off work and went to the hospital, but I didn’t.  I walked in to work from the parking lot feeling totally defeated and convicted.  I was the one praying and writing for an adventure and asking God to guide me today, and I couldn’t follow His direction because it was too inconvenient, and because I wasn’t sure it was really Him and not me. 
  
I still don’t know if it was really God telling me to go to the hospital or some completely random thought from my subconscious.  But, I whish I had risked being crazy so that I didn’t miss what God was potentially going to use me to do. How convicting and revealing.  It shows the level of my commitment to Him (or lack there of).  Why did I care more about my job than His will?  God offered me the adventure and I chose the routine.
  
In 1 Kings chapter 19:11-13, Elijah has an encounter with God.
  
And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
  
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
  
God was in the gentle whisper!  We need to let the gentle whisper be enough for God to guide us.  I kept asking for the thunderous voice, the earthquake or might rush of wind.  God was trying to teach me to listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.
 
I think the question He asked Elijah in that passage is important, “What are you doing here?”  What are you doing with this day, my will or yours?  Today my answer was, “my will Lord”.   Don’t make the same mistake I did.  Don’t miss His purpose in your life today!
 
Jesus, forgive me for not obeying the gentle whisper, the still small voice, of the Holy Spirit.  Please continue to whisper to me.  Give me the courage to trust blindly in your will.  Help me to consider everything as lost for your name.  Thank you for your promise that you never give up on me, and that you will complete the good work you began in me.

This past year (2007) God has worked amazingly in my life.  I have grown by leaps and bounds in my walk with Him.   I praise God that I am not who I was a year ago. 

That being said I start this new year knowing that this is going to be a tremendous year for what God is going to do through me.  I believe this because of the journey He has taken me through in the last couple of months.  He has slowly and steadily broken me down and helped me surrender so much of myself to His will.  For the first time in my life I feel I can honestly say that He is the center of my daily life.  When I wake up in the morning, He is the first thing I think about. 

For the past 2 months I have been struggling, praying, and yearning to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so that I can actually be effective in service to Him.  I have been so ineffective on my own up to this point.  I am so fed up and frustrated with trying and failing as a missionary for Him.  Last year God helped me to realize that I was failing because I was doing it from my power and not His.    This started the journey of self-searching and surrender that led me through complete frustration and feeling like this quest would never end. 

 Then a couple of days ago (January 8th) while I was praying and reading a book called They Found the Secret“,God revealed something to me.  I was reading the chapter on W. Ian Thomas and God showed me through the words of that great man of faith that He had already given me the Holy Spirit, I just had to believe Him and choose to live in the power that I already had at work within me. 

I got down on my knees and prayed to God, “Jesus, I believe that you have given me your Holy Spirit and I choose here, today, to walk from here on out in your power and not mine.  Tomorrow, may you speak and act through me in what I do.  Help me to always be an example of the triumph we have in Christ Jesus”. 

I claimed 2 Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be unto God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and makes manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place. ” 

For me it was the act of faith that I was lacking previously.  I had to accept this fact unwaveringly and step out with it.  After I prayed this prayer I didn’t feel anything differently.  I just believed that something had changed. 

 The next morning I woke up and had my daily quiet time, like usual.  There was no great sense of closeness or feeling of power.  But, as I  went to work I believed that I was now filled with the power of God.  I found myself taking risks I normally would have done and inviting people to our weekly bible study.  And there did seem to be something different in the responses I got.  No one came to the bible study the next night.  But genuiene interest was expressed, and one person mentioned the next day that she regretted not going. 

I know that this is just the beginning of what God will do if I continue to fully yield to Him and let Him work through me.  If I stop trying to do it myself, I believe He can and will use me to do great things for His kingdom this year.  I will keep you updated on what He does!

Praise and glory to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith!