As I begin this installment, I want to express something. I feel certain and have confidence where I believe my life is going – my wife and I are going to have a larger marriage and a larger family. Yet, as confident as I feel about that, and the seeming ease with which I write was not always there, of which I think this installment and the next should adequately reveal.
My journal has several entries on September 09, 2012 regarding the previous night’s (September 8’s) Havdalah service. This first entry may seem like it doesn’t directly correspond to the events, but it does. Here is my first entry:
Last night felt big, with reception of some direction. But first, I noticed that attendance numbers have gone up, and more ministers are attending and [the Havdalah leader] asked me to put them into the rotation, which is somewhat odd, but fits the timing of what is going on. So while I organize scripture and prayers, my specific lead role is changing and I’m not sure how much longer it will be.
But, back to [the Havdalah leader], I talked with him… saying, “Look at the increased numbers, the attendance, this is because of your faithfulness, God has done the work. Later when the numbers are more, you’re not tempted now, but later when the numbers are bigger don’t think it is because of your efforts; it’s not. It’s God. Stay faithful and he will increase the people.” I also told him, “Preach the truth. Later when people get upset and leave… know that it is God pruning that tree. Don’t be discouraged.”
Later, immediately following services [a brother] prophesied. One of the [individuals] to receive prophecy was [the Havdalah leader]. [The leader] was told the worship would grow, increase in number and be an assembly that supports others. I thought that was cool and verification of what I told [the leader]. Baruch HaShem!
What is important about that entry is that I do believe that what I spoke to the Havdalah leader was later verified, at the end of service, by the brother who gave the prophecy. I gave the Havdalah leader my thoughts privately. The other brother gave his publically. That brother and I said essentially the same thing.
Before I move to the bulk of the content, I want to share the following experience. On the same day September 09, 2012, my journal contains the entry “Prophetic Prayer”. In that entry, I wrote the following:
Last night at Havdalah, [the brother who had given prophecy] told me that I have the gift of prophetic prayer. He said he had already told Mary, but waited to tell me. He said he knows I have (can perform) prophetic prayer because when I was praying with him… he said that I nailed it “hitting the nail on the head” regarding him and some very specific issue. To him this confirmed the gift of prophetic prayer.
He wants and encourages me to keep growing and learning the gift [of prophetic prayer] because it gives the pastor power, not power to control, but power of [confirmation], that the prophetic prayer confirms to the hearer that God is using me.
First, until I was making my way back through my journal, I had actually forgotten about this event. But I include this entry because of the nature of the exchange. Over the length of “My Story” I have written about several events that I have come into contact with regarding spiritual matters. As far as I remember, this was the first time that anyone expressed that I had and should use the above specified gift.
The only way that I know that something like that is true is to have the one I prayed over give me feedback. I have prayed over and prayed for many individuals, couples, and families. But this was the first time that a believer returned to me and informed me explicitly that I, without prior knowledge of their situation, referred specifically to their situation. Humanly, there is no possible way. Divinely, as guided by the Spirit of God, it is possible.
It seems though the only way for me to know if it continues is to have another person give me their feedback. Even if I never receive any more feedback, I take it from that one instance that something powerful happens during prayer, and if God is willing to use me in that moment to give encouragement to others, then that is a great occurrence.
As I move into this section, which I refer to collectively as TWO CHOICES, I want to share something. Over the last week or so, as I have been reading my journal and writing these Installments, I have found myself reflecting back on those events. I can’t help but relive some of the feelings that I had during that time. It makes me have uncertainty, making me apprehensive. It is not a feeling I like.
Having those uncertainties brought back to the surface is uncomfortable. The last few days I have found myself contemplating those events. Like I said, it made me apprehensive. Mary and I spoke about these things and I continued my prayers. It was worth the effort to revisit this, and it is worth it to pray and know that upon my window sill sits a mother in her frill. I write for many reasons, one of which is to let her know the course of events and that God leads us both.
I will begin this section, and I will finish it in the next Installment. On September 09, 2012 my journal has an entry entitled: “TWO CHOICES”. In it I wrote:
Last night at Havdalah, I shared with [the Havdalah leader] my situation. I’m unaware if I should stay calling [that Messianic Synagogue home], or if there is more. [The leader] said he thought both.
Well, following services, I approached [the brother who had given prophecy] wanting him to help me ask of God what to do. He basically told me I already know, and that when he [the brother who had given prophecy] told me, “God is waiting on you Ray” [that] God is waiting on me to make a choice, establish a church, or world missionary. Well, I was kind of stunned. But [he] grabbed my attention, unswervingly, when he said, “Two choices” my mind went immediately back to April/May. Needless to say, it was difficult for me to sleep last night. Working on about four hours of sleep. Not too tired, more pumped than anything.
That one little interaction got my attention. From that moment on, I contemplated and considered, meditated and prayed, and had in-depth conversations with Mary for nearly the entire month of September. Those two words “two choices” sent me into a reflective tailspin. Mary and I have come to have a much better understanding and appreciation for things we had to contemplate.
When my reader goes through the following entries, the reader might become confused, that is to be expected. I, myself, was confused, and that confusion was not really resolved until years later. I include these entries to reveal the moment that I was in, the struggle that I had, it was real, and was life changing.
I have many entries about “Two Choices”. I include most of them, but some of them are pages long. As I have navigated through my journal regarding “Two Choices” I have tried to share those thoughts that I think capture that moment in time and my inability to either see what was truly happening about God’s intended direction of my life (which is to have two wives and a larger family) or my absolute unwillingness to accept that God could have possibly led me to such things.
September 09, 2012 – TWO CHOICES: MEDITATION
On the way to work…, I realized that I feel ill-prepared to start a church, and worse for mission work. This was after hours of prayer and meditation last night, much sleeplessness.
This decision is bigger than the April/May test. I think I am to establish a church more than embark on mission work. I have already considered these things, and I am leaning toward local church work, establish a church, even though I know it has its own difficulties.
I find intriguingly interesting that just two or three days ago, I was asking God, “Ok. Where are we going?” hmm. He is definitely telling me.
I find it interesting that last night at Havdalah, [the brother who had given prophecy] told me that I was called to and already doing pastor work. This came to my memory when I [talked] with Mary and mentioned that bus driving was a type of pastoral work. But, back to [the brother who had given prophecy].
I asked [that brother], “How? I was trained to preach not pastor.” He basically told me that I was already walking in it. I have not really considered myself pastoring in any way, but I do recall [the statement], “Pastor, stay with the people.” … I never really paid much attention to the constant referral to me as “pastor”…. I knew [a leader] saw me as a “pastor” but I never saw myself as a “pastor”. Now, I have to reconsider things.
I have decided that I have the skills for both local work and itinerant (mission) work. I am aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. God KNOWS my strengths and my weaknesses. I am proven to myself that when I left to my own choices, my choices fail me. I therefore do not abdicate my choice, but appeal to God’s greater wisdom and desire that he provide the path and tools and companions to accomplish his will.
Notice in that journal, I am still looking to God for his direction, wondering how he will lead. From that last entry, my reader can tell that I initially thought that “two choices” was only about choosing between ministerial work or mission work.
September 11, 2012 – TWO CHOICES: MEDITATION
The narrative begins here, or so I think, but I never thought I would actually need to record details, but it seems necessary.
First of all, Mary is aware of the events from April 1 to May 10, thus nothing is hidden from her. However, to my knowledge, no one else knows, aside from what is to be my journal entry. So here we go.
Last Havdalah, I spoke with [the leader] about not knowing where I should go: stay with [the Messianic Congregation], [or] go become a minister… which was interesting because the week prior, at Havdalah, I made the announcement that I knew my days were coming to a close at [the Messianic Synagogue because] God had put in me a desire for change.
After Havdalah, I spoke with [the brother who had given prophecy] about these things. I did so because he spoke prophetically to several that night, and all I wanted from him was for him to ask God, at some point during what would have been his coming week, “What should Ray do?” Well, I did not have to wait. [He] informed me that God is expecting me to make a move: decide between two choices, either establish a church or mission work.
Well, not until after I had decided to let God guide me in that decision, did it occur to me that mission work could mean itinerant preaching. I pondered if God had permitted me to know that because I appealed to his wisdom regarding the choices. But I have to go back to April and Mary and establish that test, for this entry to make sense, and to have full awareness.
[I have discussed those events in previous installments.]
Then there was the message from [the brother who had given prophecy], “God is waiting on you to choose: establish a church or mission work.” April 1 through May 10 took on a whole new meaning, all because of two words: two choices.
Privately, I began to wonder if I had been fearful. …
I was momentarily tempted to meditate for 40 days on these two choices establish a church or mission work, but decided it unnecessary.
I received the information from [the brother who had given prophecy] after Havdalah. I spent hours talking about it with Mary, and hour in prayer before I finally fell asleep. I woke, surprisingly, refreshed and able to drive for [work].
I meditated on the choices…, each have pros, each have cons, I could do either, but which do I love? … Did I make the correct decision? I think so, but now I don’t know.
So after many hours of prayer, discussion, and meditation, I threw my hands in the air and proclaimed: “God I don’t know. My choices seem to always let me down. I give it to you.” …
That entry makes it clear that I am still to choose between establishing a church or doing mission work. The issue is that I couldn’t make the decision. So I decidedly put it in God’s hands.
However, at first, I didn’t think that the message about “two choices” correlated back to the events of April and Mary 2012. But as I navigated through that month, it seemed to become acutely obvious that the events of spring were correlated to the events of September.
September 12, 2012 – TWO CHOICES: ADDENDUM
With such as sensitive and potentially volatile entry like “Two Choices” and the discussions that ensued. I want to provide some additional information.
The revealing of this situation to Mary was anything but easy, however she took things pretty well, all things considered. Really how does one discuss such things? All I can really express is that she was anxious and somewhat… jealous. In order to reveal the magnitude of the test [of April/May], I explained as much as I knew how….
I truly feel for Mary, and can understand her response. Yet, in all this I tried to assuage fear, and convey to her that if the “Two Choices” were in no way appealing to me, then there really would have been no choice. …
…[M]y memory does not correctly recall [everything], but there is just no [suitable] way to express myself, and the purity by which I want to live, and purity by which I did my utmost to be during that test [in April/May], and now. I love Mary, would never want to hurt her, emotionally or any other way.
In fact, during this test, I examined Mary’s many spiritual strengths, one of which, in fact perhaps the strongest and most primary, being the reality that God helps me and Mary by giving Mary dreams. I have witnessed her dreams come to pass, there is strength in such things, has helped us both draw closer to God. Why would I willingly cast that aside?
I am still uncomfortable that April 1 to May 10 (40 days) occurred. Why did it happen this way? …
I am not really certain how the information to make a choice between establishing a church and doing mission work catapulted us into a discussion about the events of April/May, but it sure did. Suffice it to say, we spent a tremendous amount of time discussing the concepts of marriage.
While I am not yet there in my discussion, there are events that occur later in 2012 that confirmed that the events of April/May were actually happening. But as to how the two concepts intertwined, I am still not certain.
September 13, 2012 – TWO CHOICES: FEAR
Yesterday [September 12], it really set heavy on me that perhaps I had been fearful back in April/May [of 2012]. Fearful of the unknown. Fearful of how God would bring such a thing to pass.
So, with much trepidation, I spoke with Mary about this. Discussing fear, not really a big deal. Discussing what I believe I heard and what it could have meant – much different.
The nutshell of our discussion was: Are we ready to do anything that God says, no matter how crazy it might sound or appear to those around us? My example being what I heard in April/May. Mary replied, she would have to have confirmation, and to have things established by two or three witnesses, to which I could only agree. …
It was necessary to talk about these things. I communicated that I was too afraid to even talk to her about this back in April/May and too unwilling to face that path. So, I was fearful and I don’t want fear to stop me now. But, I also tried to discuss: Would we [have a marriage of two wives] if directed by God, as [wild] as it sounds? … I also expressed that I believe that [the] test [in April/May] was to determine things in me: Would I lead, be quiet, be courageous, or be fearful? Throughout the discussion: Could we do what God directs irrespective, without fear, in order to find the greater reward?
Mary, like me, hesitates. The test tests both of us in a possibility that we are not ready for, because it is uncomfortable, and frowned upon. …
I also expressed to Mary that the April/May test could have simply been something like Jesus’ in the wilderness: Would he be found faithful in following, to follow God’s instructions? Tough stuff.
So, I ask Mary to meditate, to pray, and see if God would tell her if I was fearful.
Today, Mary told me she was given: “Leviticus 20.1”. She went and read it, then told me to read it. 20:1 CJB: “Adonai said to Moshe”
She interpreted it to mean, God is going to speak directly to me. I heard her, then went and prayed and I pondered [a couple of things].
After praying, I got up read Leviticus 20…
I am confused. I thought I did the correct thing by giving the decision over to God, but I am stumped. Please Father, direct me.
With that entry, Mary and I took our discussions about marriage to an entirely new level. For the first time, it seems, we were wondering if the events of April/May might have been the direction that God was actually leading. Later in 2012, there would be a couple of things that would happen that would fit into this on-going event, and make Mary and I consider that something was truly changing.
Blessings and Shalom