Most of my adult life, especially my Christian life, I have heard people proclaim and claim that God leads and God speaks. For the longest time, I did not agree with that notion. I believed that all a Christian needed was the Bible and believed that the Bible was sufficient for all things spiritual.
Yet somewhere around 2010 or 2011, I started praying like I had not prayed in the past. Not sure if it was out of urgency, necessity, or something else. But a year or so before I left the pulpit, my prayer life began changing. Then on into the years after I left the pulpit, my prayer life was significantly different.
I needed God’s leading. Wanted God’s leading. Yet I found myself in the midst of a situation that was difficult to describe.
In my mind, I was still rolling around this concept of ministry. My reader may recall that I previously discussed the leading I was given regarding establishing a church or doing mission work (Installment 31). From prayers and meditation, I chose to start an ecclesia.
With that in mind, I will write about one of the initial contacts I had with the lady from the previous Installment. Somewhere in January 2013, I sent that lady correspondence. In it, I shared that Mary and I believed that God was preparing us for a new ministry direction, a ministry that would challenge some of American culture.
Like I have expressed in other places, back in 2013, regarding what was happening, what it meant, my personal internal wranglings, I felt like I was inside a washing machine. Now though, I truly feel that if I was to be led to contact her today, I would not begin with something so enigmatic.
Back in 2013, while I was unsure, Mary kept praying and meditating about this situation. And there were times she got her own enigmatic leading. From January 15, I made a notation that she had the expression “has spread the lonely leg” come to mind.
What the heck does that mean? How does that fit into my/our situation? I wasn’t lonely.
I have heard many Christians proclaim that God gives you peace and when you have peace then it is God leading.
Well, you want to know something? It can be God leading, and you as a person simply don’t like it, and it is not peaceful to you. But NO ONE tells you that. Well, I’ll tell you that.
God does not mind taking you out of your comfort zone in order to get your attention. Since Jesus suffered and was uncomfortable, and the same happened to Moses and the Prophets, honestly: what on earth makes disciples think that following God is all rainbows and sunshine?
So I am here to say that following God is NOT easy. Learning to hear him is NOT easy. Learning to hear his voice is NOT easy. That is because he challenges you.
I was challenged to think about biblical marriage. I was challenged to think about my own marriage. At first, I somewhat reluctantly accepted that a man having two wives was acceptable to God. But as sure as I sit here, I was not willing to accept that marriage for myself, and my interactions showed it. Now, however, the story is different, I actually look forward to having a multiple-wife marriage.
Back on January 15, 2013 Mary and I had a conversation. One of the things she told me was “It’s getting a little easier. I sure hope we aren’t fooling ourselves. His words don’t return void, but ours might, so if it doesn’t happen, does that mean it is our words?”
That pretty much sums up where we were. On that same day, I wrote in my journal:
I do believe that we have heard things. I do believe we have been given insight…. But I also have to admit that we could be mistaken. Only God through the unfolding of events will we know.
Parts of my journal tell me that I was ready for the marriage. But looking back, I think it was more like I was trying to encourage and convince myself.
Mary continued her meditations and prayers, and I made some notations about it. She still was led to understand things that I can’t quite understand.
On January 16, 2013 I made the note that Mary had the following come to her mind during her meditation: “You’re calling me – Air1”.
How about this one from the same date: “It also requires that I have a sanctity license.”
Or how about this one: “Texas loaded.”
Or this one: “banning a newborn.”
What do those things mean?
So let me share with you a part of my journal entry from January 22, 2013 entitled “Isaiah 52.7”
As I was working on my next poetical image, I simply [prayed and] asked God ‘What am I missing?’ …
…this brings me to my newest image ‘Baby’s Feet’ with Isaiah 52.7. I prayed asking God for help and the word ‘servant’ came to mind. So I Googled ‘servant’ and found hands reaching toward clouded heavens. Then I searched ‘serve hands’ and found a couple more images, but I felt like I was missing something. So I prayed and then words I believe I was to search on ‘tender precious’ but I added the word ‘heart’. I looked at the results, nothing felt right. So I removed ‘heart’ and Googled again, this time I saw an image of a baby’s feet, it was used by a children’s home… but the image made me think of Romans 10.15, “how beautiful are the feet”. So I was going to put that on the image, but I realized Romans 10.15 referenced the Prophet, Isaiah 52.7, that I put on the image.
So when I was going to sleep at naptime I asked God to talk with me, give me some insight. …
What I like about that journal entry is it reveals a little bit more of my part in the process. I began by asking God a question which revolved specifically around me, “What am I missing?”
From there it was a process of praying and listening for ideas, and finding something that matched what I felt/believed matched the leading I was being given. The result was the above image.
Yet, my journal also reveals that when I added my thoughts, it didn’t work. For me, I can recall that event happening, but without this entry I would have had no explanation for how that image came to be.
So when I read [past tense] my journal entry and that I had to remove “myself” from the process (my inclusion of the word ‘heart’ in order to find what I was looking for), it helps me see how God helps me become creative and part of his leading, which became an image I shared on my FB wall.
Before I close, let me share a journal entry from January 22, 2013 entitled “Tallit and Guarded Sapling”.
Last week, I went walking with only myself, my flashlight, and my tallit [prayer shawl], at dusk. I walked and prayed. [At a specific location where I live], I sensed God wanted me to stop. I stopped.
There God let me know that I need to listen [to him] and trust him. I replied that I thought I did trust him…. But God made it pretty clear that I don’t trust. Making it known to me that I would walk backwards down the hill, eyes aware, full walk speed, but would not walk [forwards] down that same hill, full walk speed with eyes closed, because I don’t trust.
So I closed my eyes and started walking, something in the pavement caught my attention, so I opened my eyes. Crap. So I stopped.
I resumed my walk having a visual of my intended path in my mind as I stepped into some grass, I opened my eyes. Crap. ‘This is not where I am supposed to be,” my brain said.
“It’s where I want you.” I heard in my spirit.
So I closed my eyes and kneeled down, and prayed “What is it that you want me to see?”
I felt like I was given permission to open my eyes. I saw a tree with a sign in the ground at the trunk, “Prayer – America’s only hope – 2 Chronicles 7.14” and I noticed tall bushes at the corner of the [building], I noticed… a bench, grass, and a sapling with a miniature white picket fence surrounding it.
So I closed my eyes, and prayed “What are you trying to get me to see?”
“Put on your tallit.” I heard in my spirit.
So, I put on my tallit.
“Open your eyes and tell me what you see.” I heard in my spirit.
Framed out was everything, but the sign “Prayer – hope” and the sapling with the picket fence. I took the sign “Pray – hope” and concluded “there is hope in prayer”.
“So what do you want me to see?” I prayed.
“That is you.”
And I was looking at the sapling, small yet protected, yet the fence had access points, because the fence did not completely encircle the sapling. Tears came to my eyes, yet so did appreciation – I’m so small, but protected. But my brain added, “Yes, but when full-grown the picket fence comes down, because fewer things threaten the tree.”
So, I shared that experience with Mary. In doing so, God permitted me to minister to her and one of the things I was able to see was a vision of Mary as a 3-4 year old girl, hair of a toddler. Very heart warming and innocent. Both of us, so young, tender. Amazing.
You know, I had forgotten all about this event. But I am kind of glad that I recorded it into my journal.
I think the moment is telling. There I was in the midst of actually starting to communicate with a lady about the direction I thought life was going and communicating with her about things. Yet, back then, I wasn’t too sure about things. That protected sapling image conveys where I was. I look at it now and think to myself “Some of it makes more sense now.”
But you see, a sapling, while protected, is still a tree, and that sapling receives rain and sunshine from above, all in the hopes that it will bring forth the life that it is intended to be. As a sapling, I grew, moving forward through 2013, trying to understand the larger events around me.
Blessings and Shalom