I felt we had done well in this episode as we had placed ourselves unreservedly into the Father’s hands, knowing that if He did not come through for us, we would be in a real mess. We had stood faithful against that tyrant called time, and had continued to look to the Father to deliver us. Yet at the very end, my faith had indeed been tested severely and I had not been perfect in my faith, and I must now tell you about it.
When I finally got the man on the phone who would be our landlord for the next two months, I was dealing with anxiety and fear. I was still looking to the Father to deliver us, yet I was also willing to “help him out” a little. If this man did not rent to us, we had no other prospects and we were to be out of our home the next day. As I spoke to this man on the phone I learned that they had never rented to others before. They had a family farm with a dairy and large family house, and some distance removed in the middle of a field was a double-wide manufactured home that they had bought for their five sons to live in for a time after each one got married. One son and his wife were just moving out, and the other sons seemed to be years away from marriage, so they decided to rent the home out.
The price was excellent, less than half of what we had been paying, and though we rented the house without seeing it, we were to find that it was a beautiful home that had been well kept and it was situated with a lovely lawn, and the lawn was itself surrounded by pasture land, making it very scenic and peaceful. The owner did not require a contract to be signed, nor did he require any deposits. Both of these things were wonderful since I did not know how long the Father intended us to be there, and I did not have much money at the time.
When I spoke to the owner on the telephone I asked if there was anything he wanted to ask about us, and the only thing he asked was whether we smoked, for they didn’t want smokers in the house. I assured him we did not smoke. As I was on the phone my family was waiting with baited breath to hear the outcome of my conversation, for they were also desirous of knowing that they had a place in which to move the next day. As my daughter Kristin listened to me speaking to our soon to be landlord, she pointed to our two dogs, and I knew what she was indicating. She wanted to know if I had mentioned to this man that we had two indoor dogs. I politely ignored my daughter, for the thought flitted across my mind, “What if the dogs are a deal breaker, and the man refuses to rent to us because we have dogs? Where will we turn?”
Now, if I had a perfect faith before the Father I would have told the man about our dogs, for God was able to work a divine thing upon the owner’s heart, or He could have led us to another home that was suitable, or any number of things. God was not worried in the least about us being homeless, or left without provision, for the One who fed an entire nation for forty years in the wilderness, who caused their feet to not swell nor allowed their clothes to wear out, the One who caused water to come forth from a rock, was neither anxious nor worried about anything.
At that moment, however, I found that my eyes were not on the Savior who could walk on water, but they were upon the wind and the waves that were raging around me, and I began to sink beneath the waves. I did not tell the man about the dogs, and I justified it to myself by considering that I was not lying, I was merely withholding information that he had every opportunity to ask me about. I had even asked him if there was anything he wanted to know about us, and he had merely asked if we were smokers. Besides, our dogs were housebroken and I was confident that they would not do any harm to the home.
When we moved in I found that my heart wasn’t at ease due to the fact that I had not disclosed to the owner that we had dogs. The owners had some corn planted in the backyard, and they asked us if we would allow them to maintain the garden until the corn was ready to pick, which we were happy to oblige them in. The wife of the owner would come over every day or two to weed the garden, or do something to it. I found myself working to keep the dogs inside and out of sight whenever she would come by, and I noticed my wife doing the same.
Before I go further in this story I want to tell you about our moving day. We moved things in several loads, and the last thing we left to move was our dogs. We planned on taking them along with the very last load, which mainly consisted of things from our refrigerator. This was primarily to keep the dogs out from under foot while we were moving things into the new home. It was late in the evening when we went left our former home with our dogs. My wife had turned our keys into our former landlord, and it was now after dark. As we drove the thirty miles to our new location we entered into a storm.
Not long into the trip the wind began to blow savagely, and dark clouds were overhead. Things got steadily worse as we got closer to our new home. Lightning was flashing continuously and the rain was coming down heavily. Off in the distance we saw an electrical transformer blow up with blue flames shooting into the air. Along the road were woods and pecan orchards and the wind was blowing so hard that pieces of trees, from single leaves to large branches were breaking off and flying across the road. This debris was raining down so thickly that it reminded me of being in a heavy snow storm. The debris literally covered the road so that the lines on the pavement could not be discerned, and at one point we drug a sizeable limb under our car for some distance. I did not get out of the car to remove it because the storm outside was so ferocious.
I have never been in a worse thunderstorm in my life, and I would not have been too surprised to see a tornado appear. When we arrived at our new home the power was out due to the storm, and we turned on our weather radio to hear warnings of severe thunderstorms with winds of 60-70 miles per hour. There were actually two separate storms that moved through, one right behind the other. This was a foreboding beginning to our stay at this new residence, and over the next two months I contemplated how in this way God had shown us prophetically that our time in this place would be filled with spiritual storms.
The first few weeks in our new home went fairly well. Other than being nervous about what our landlords might think when they discovered our dogs, things were going well. I had paid a month’s rent when we moved in, and all our bills were paid up. I received a refund check from a retirement fund I was required to pay into while I was an employee of the state of Georgia, and it amounted to 23 hundred dollars, which was another confirmation from the Father that He would take care of us. I mentioned previously of the Father speaking to me through Psalm 23 on the 23rd day of the month, that He would be our Shepherd and we would not want for any necessary thing. This sum of 23 hundred dollars we received was a testimony to me that God would continue to meet our needs.
It had now been nearly four years since the Holy Spirit had spoken to me at my sister’s house in Mississippi about being a cutter of grass. He had spoken to me through the following verse from Isaiah:
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.
The Spirit spoke clearly to me at that time and said, “I have indeed called you to be a cutter of grass, for all flesh is as grass, but I can only use those for this ministry who have allowed me to first cut the grass in their own lives.” I knew the Spirit was saying that He needed to deal with my flesh, before He could use me to deal with the flesh of others. God was about to speak to me again about cutting grass, and I was about to have my own lawn mowed (my flesh cut away).
The home God had provided for us in Montezuma was surrounded by a beautiful lawn of lush green grass. It was undoubtedly the nicest lawn of any home in which we had lived. This was a very remarkable fact to me, because, since the time that the Father had spoken to me about my calling to be a cutter of grass, every home we had lived in had terrible lawns where I could not get grass to grow. In one home that we were in for a year the backyard was devoid of grass. I borrowed a friend’s tiller and it would barely scratch the surface of the dirt. The ground was like concrete, concrete made of Georgia red clay. I scattered grass seed on it in vain, for the yard remained nothing more than dirt for the entire year we lived there.
The next home we lived in had never had a lawn planted in it before, being in a new development. The owner promised to plant grass for me when we moved in, yet it was four months before he was able to get anyone to come and do the job. The land was tilled with a tractor and prepared to receive seed. The seed was sown and straw placed over it to protect it from the rain, yet the day after the seed was sown a heavy rain came and washed all the seed away from the house and down to the edges of the yard and into the road. To the day we moved out we never had grass growing around the house. This was the house we were in just prior to moving to Montezuma.
You cannot imagine my excitement then when I saw the beautiful yard of grass around this home the Father had just moved us to. I thought that perhaps now the Father would open the door for me to begin to minister as He had prophesied to me. While in the previous two houses the opportunities for ministry were as barren as the soil surrounding our homes, but now we had a lush and fertile yard.
A couple years previous I had bought a used push mower at a yard sale for ten or fifteen dollars, and I had been using it to mow the sparse amount of grass that I had. Now I had the better part of an acre of thick grass to mow, and I thought of purchasing a riding mower to do the job. The Spirit closed every door that I knocked on as I looked for a riding mower, and I became convinced that He desired for me to continue using my 22″ push mower.
The Spirit has for quite some time spoken to me through numbers, and I noticed the prevalence of a certain number when we moved to this home. The house number was 2231, and the road we lived off of was County Road 22. When the Spirit showed me I was to use my push mower, the first thing I noted was that it was a 22″ mower. I began to wonder about the significance of this number, and I was certain it had something to do with cutting grass, that is, removing sinful flesh. Before I was to leave this house, which would be our residence for two months, the Spirit revealed the significance. I did a search in my Bible software for the number 22 and I came up with the following.
Jeroboam, the king who made all Israel sin with the two golden calves he set up reigned 22 years and God cut him off (I Kings 14:20). Ahab, the king who did more evil than all the kings who preceded him because of his wife Jezebel, reigned 22 years and God cut him off. Furthermore, the Scriptures record the following about these other wicked kings:
II Kings 8:26-27
Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. He walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did evil in the sight of Yahweh, like the house of Ahab had done, because he was a son-in-law of the house of Ahab.
II Kings 21:19-23
Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. He did evil in the sight of Yahweh, as Manasseh his father had done. For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook Yawheh, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of Yahweh. The servants of Amon conspired against him and killed the king in his own house.
The number 22 has a correlation to wicked kings. As saints we are a nation of kings and priests, and there are among the saints those who are also wicked, for they have allowed the flesh to rule in their lives and have not dealt with it as they ought to. The number 22 speaks of cutting off this wickedness from our lives, even as my 22″ mower was used to cut the grass that surrounded my new home on County Road 22. Another astounding confirmation of the symbolism of this number came at this time when a sister in Christ who sends out a daily Scripture, was led by the Spirit to send forth the following:
Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion…
During this period of time in Middle Georgia, we were running a rain surplus of more than 10 inches for the year. Much of this surplus occurred during the two months we were living at the house I am writing about. This made the grass grow tremendously fast, and it was all I could do to keep it mowed with my little push mower. About every other day I was out mowing grass for a couple hours, and, even doing this, it at times got taller than was desirable.
God often foreshadows spiritual realities with natural symbols, and the pattern is “first the natural, then the spiritual.” My grass cutting in the natural, preceded a flesh cutting in my life. Whereas I thought I was ready for God to use me in this special ministry toward others, I learned that I still had more flesh to be removed from my own life. One enemy that had been allowed to grow up in my life without proper pruning was fear. Some of these fears had kept me bound and had hindered me from walking in perfect freedom before God, as was demonstrated in the matter with our dogs. God wanted to set me free from this fear, and He used our time in this home to do just that.