I did not yet understand many of the ways in which God works when He leads people into their possession. A lot of the things I am sharing with you I learned in hindsight as I looked back and meditated upon what God had done.
I understood the requirement for faith to be manifested before God’s provision would be seen, but one of God’s ways that I had not yet discerned was that, when He takes a people into the land, He will also remove all idolatry from their midst. I have shared about my struggles with covetousness, and the repeated disobedience that I had engaged in. God would have to break off this root of idolatry in my life in order to bring me into the land.
I did not fully appreciate this fact, and it caused me to have some false expectations regarding what God would do for us. I thought my faith would be met with a perfect provision on God’s part, and indeed it was, but God’s perfect provision was not anything close to what I had anticipated. When I left my employer to pursue full-time ministry I had a lot of debt. Just before embarking upon a life of trust in God’s financial provision for us I had been offered a new job that paid significantly more than I had been making. I was given a raise of about $15,000 a year.
As I viewed this windfall, I acted once more in disobedience. My wife had been wanting a van for some time, and although I should have known clearly at this time that it was not God’s will for me to incur more debt, I justified this purchase as I had done earlier ones. The justification was somewhat different this time, for I truly had no interest in buying a van. It was purchased to appease my wife who had not been very pleased with me in recent months. I used a quotation from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth as the basis for my justification. Paul said:
I Corinthians 7:32-34
But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.
I reasoned that I was not unmarried, so I had to give thought to pleasing my wife as well as pleasing the Lord. This is actually a right understanding of Paul’s words, but my application was all wrong. Husbands are to give thought to their wives, and they are to be willing to subjugate their own wants and desires in order that they might bless their wives. I reasoned that I did not really want a van, nor did I want any more debt, but I did want to please my wife. My action was in this way cast as being very unselfish, and even sacrificial, but God was not fooled.
The apostle Paul never intended to convey to men that they should disobey God in order to please their wives. Yes, men were to lay aside their own personal preferences in matters in which they had received no command from the Lord. They were to give consideration to their wives in a multitude of ways, but they should never use a desire to please their wife as a reason to disobey God. It was not God’s will that I should take on more debt. This was a fact He had made known to me very well in prior days. God did not buy into my justification, and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I had now crossed a line where God would have to chastise me severely. God would make sure that this van, which I bought in 1999, was the last item I would ever purchase on credit.
It was in March of 2000 that I was cast out from my place of ministry among the body by my fellow ministers. The months leading up to this time were very painful and tumultuous and I felt a need of getting away for a period of time that I might hear from the Lord. I had just written the book The Remnant Bride and had felt led of the Lord to create the Heart4God website to share teachings with the body of Christ. I had no source of income other than God, and I wanted to hear from Him regarding what He would do in our lives. I was casting around for direction, and had even thought of joining a ministry in another state. I took my family to Mississippi for a week to visit with my sister’s family, and while there I found a place apart and I sought to know God’s mind.
My sister lives in a rural area of Mississippi, and directly across the street from the front of her house is a large field. Day by day I would sit in a chair on her front porch with a notebook and pen and my Bible, and I would wait upon God to speak to me. I was ready to write down whatever He spoke, and I was not disappointed. I filled up many pages while I was there.
Some months earlier I had watched the movie “Forrest Gump,” and I was struck by a particular scene in the film. Having made a fortune in shrimping and through investments, Forrest returned to his hometown and he began mowing grass for the town for free. He just rode around all day on his riding mower cutting grass. I have long enjoyed cutting grass, whether with a push mower, or a riding mower, for I have found it to be a time when I can focus upon the Lord and what He is speaking to me. At the time I watched this movie my life was filled with conflict at home and at the church, and I looked at Forrest spending his days mowing grass and I envied him. I wished that I could get away from all of the turmoil and just mow grass all day long while communing with the Lord. This was the most appealing scene to me in the entire movie.
When I arrived at my sister’s house I noticed that the field across the street had been planted in grass, for the owner intended to start a sod farm. As I sat on the porch each day I would watch the owner mow the grass with his tractor, and I was caught up in the peacefulness of this occupation. One day I spoke to the Lord and said, “I wish you would give me a job like this one of cutting grass, where I could forget my troubles and simply ride around and commune with you each day.” The Lord responded by saying, “I have indeed called you to a ministry of cutting grass, for all flesh is as grass. Yet those whom I use in this ministry must first allow Me to cut the grass in their own lives.”
These words came to me very clearly, and I wrote them down in my notebook. I then looked in my Bible for the Scripture that speaks of all flesh being as grass. I found the following verses:
A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of Yahweh blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
I understood the Lord to be telling me that He was calling me to a ministry of removing the flesh from people’s lives, but that I would only be fit for such an occupation by first allowing the Lord to deliver me from the bondage to the flesh that was present in my life. This thought was both pleasing and disturbing to me. I wanted to be used of God as a minister to His people, but I did not look forward to the process I would have to go through to be prepared.
Later that day when my brother-in-law arrived home I asked him how large the field was across the street. He said he was unsure, but it was either 60 or 66 acres. This was a further confirmation of what the Spirit had spoken to me, for the number six represents the flesh man throughout Scripture. Here was a field before me representing fleshly people, and God had told me He would one day call me to a ministry of cutting the flesh away from mankind.
There is much Scriptural precedence for such a calling. Perhaps the clearest type of such a ministry is the practice of circumcision, which is a cutting away of the flesh of the foreskin. The circumcision of a male is attended by much pain and discomfort that lasts for days. Similarly, when man’s carnal nature is dealt with by God, there is pain that accompanies its removal. There is a passage of Scripture from the Old Testament that is full of insight relating to this matter.
So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, Joshua is a type of Yahshua. Joshua was not born in the wilderness, but was one of the two men who were still living at this time who had been brought out of Egypt. This too points to Christ, for of Him we read:
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.”
Joshua was called out of Egypt, and he was circumcised in Egypt. Egypt stands as a type of the world. Christ also was called out of Egypt, and in the greater type for which Egypt stands, the Son of God learned obedience and His flesh was broken and nailed to a cross. This brings to mind the words of the apostle Paul:
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Immediately after Joshua had led the Israelites through the Jordan River and into the land of promise, God commanded him to stop and circumcise all the males. This is a picture of the work of Christ in removing the flesh from all those who would enter into the inheritance set before them. As an awesome confirmation of this work that was to begin in my own life, I had just crossed over the Jourdan River, which is about ten miles from my sister’s house in Mississippi. When we went by a sign announcing the name of this river I was impressed by the Spirit that it was significant. Later I understood that God had just brought me across the Jordan and now I was also to allow Him to cut away my flesh.
We read further of this ministry of Joshua:
Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. Then Yahweh said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
The ministry of the removal of flesh is actually one of great blessing, for it removes the reproach of Egypt (the world) from the children of God. Those who perform this ministry must be prepared even as Joshua was. They must first have the flesh removed from their own lives, and then like Joshua they must spend time in wilderness places where their hearts are tested and they learn to trust in God.
When God calls a person to a ministry of cutting grass, they must be prepared to have their own lawn mowed. Even after God spoke to me about this calling upon my life, I did not appreciate all that I would have to go through to be prepared. Much pain was ahead, and there would be times where I could do nothing aside from surrendering to the knife in God’s hands and then waiting before Him for healing to come. We cannot bear this removal of the flesh all at once, so God works on us measure by measure. He knows exactly what each one of His children can bear, and He is committed to doing a thorough work in each of them.
From the book:
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