We had been in Montezuma, Georgia for four months. Our time had started off with great promise, but had ended with tremendous disappointment. I had felt certain that the Lord would use this people as a core group to begin to raise up a people to His praise. I had prayed for such a people for ten years, and I had truly believed the Spirit was indicating that now would be the time for a people to come forth who were a people of faith, a people marked by their passion for God and their love for one another, a people who were both led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In my spirit I was greatly perplexed. I wondered if I had failed somehow in my intercession for this people. I wondered if I had even heard God correctly about His desire for us to participate with this fellowship of believers. Yet, as I looked over all the tremendous confirmations we had received, as I considered the myriad of ways God had come through for us time and again, and as I understood the necessity of the incredible sifting work He had performed in my life, I realized that He had been with us the entire time. Why then, did we not see victory among these people? Why had I witnessed another body turning back to a dependence on the flesh, and why did I know rejection again?
It became painful for me to think about this time in Montezuma, and the pain was increased because I did not have any answers to my questions. The Spirit reminded me of Paul’s words:
II Corinthians 4:7-9
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…
Paul said that he also knew times when he was perplexed. Paul encountered times when things just did not look right, and events did not turn out according to his hope and expectation. Despite times of perplexity, Paul said he did not despair. My dictionary defines despair as “to abandon all hope, loss of hope or confidence.” I did find myself experiencing times when I was tempted to abandon all hope and confidence that I would see the things God had promised to me fulfilled. I found myself intentionally avoiding any thoughts about our experiences in Montezuma, for I could not arrive at any answers that would bring me hope or comfort.
My Father knew just what I needed to recover from this tumultuous and painful time we had just passed through. I had no desire to write, and nothing was arising in my spirit that was needing to be shared with the saints. I wanted to take a break from the ministry God had called me to. God provided the outlet I needed. Our friends had many remodeling jobs to be performed on their house, but due to health problems they were unable to complete these tasks themselves. I had worked in the area of apartment maintenance and home repair for some years, and I had the skills necessary to do the work.
Over the course of the next couple of months I worked with my son Josiah to do a variety of jobs. We re-bricked a fireplace hearth, and painted rooms and hallways. We replaced countertops in the kitchen and removed a wall mounted oven and turned the space into a pantry. We installed a drop in stove/oven combination and spray painted the range hood to match the other appliances. We sanded and painted kitchen cupboards, and laid flooring in a utility room. We built a table to fold laundry on, and installed ceiling fans and light kits, and we did work out in the yard as well. All of this manual work proved to be good therapy, getting my mind off of the perplexing problems to which I could find no answers.
When we had been with the Mills for about two months, the Spirit spoke to me through a prophetic word I read on the Internet. The word was posted by Mark Kaphaem, and it was titled Stay in the Game.
Injury time Out – Do you want to stay in the Game?
Today in prayer the Lord showed the following to me.
I saw a big football game going on and it was an injury time out. There was a player down on the field and the question from the Coach was “do you want keep playing, do you want to stay in the game.”
The Coach did not ask him how bad he was hurt or where the pain was. He just asked him if he wanted to play, if he wanted to stay in the game.
Then I saw a field with hundreds of players down with injuries. Some would only be out for a couple of plays. Some would be out for a couple of weeks. Some would be out for the rest of the season and others had career ending injuries.
I then saw the Lord walk up to each one of these players. He just held out His hand and if they wanted to stay in the game He would pull them to their feet and they were instantly strengthened.
I believe the Lord is allowing a brief injury time out right now.
Are you down on the field? It is up to you. Do you just need a quick breather or maybe a couple of weeks off? Or is this a season ending injury. Maybe you are hurt so bad you just want to go home.
The Lord is coming to you. Do not let your injury determine your decision. For if you want to play, if you want to stay in the game, He is there for you. He is reaching out His hand.
The Coach wants you in there. For despite all you have been through, He believes in you. And there is no injury His love cannot heal.
I felt a strong witness of the Spirit as I read this word. I had been injured through all of the troubling events we had known in Montezuma, and I had taken a time out. I had quit writing, and I didn’t even want to think about rejoining the game. It seemed to me that the life I knew before, when I was employed as a computer professional, was so much simpler and less troubling. At times I envied those who could go to their jobs day after day, receive their pay, and live their lives with seemingly little struggle. I was wrestling with despair. I had enjoyed the past couple of months where I did not have to get out on the field and get knocked down time and again. It was sort of pleasant sitting on the sidelines.
I knew, however, that I could not remain where I was forever. God had called me to minister to the body of Christ, and I could not be satisfied returning to the life of ease I had known before. I did not want to miss out on the high calling of God in my life. There were many wonderful promises He had made to us as a family that I knew could only be entered into if we stayed in the game and did not turn back. I confessed to God that I wanted to get back in the game, despite my injuries. I asked Him to heal me and use me once again.
Almost immediately after this the Lord placed it upon my heart to begin writing again, and the book “The Mark of the Beast” flowed forth. The anointing of the Lord was more evident upon this writing than perhaps anything else I had written to this time. Many of the things revealed in this book came to me as I sat down to write, for I had formerly never considered much of what was written. I felt incredibly helped by the Spirit as I wrote, and I knew the Lord was fulfilling what He had promised. When I had said I wanted back in the game, He was faithful to raise me to my feet and fill me with renewed strength and power to continue.
I did not want a career ending injury, or even a season ending injury. I just needed a breather. The Lord was then able to raise me back up again. Our Father in heaven deals with us with great compassion. I have seen this over and over. In moments of pain He has often given me some special token of His love, and when the fires of refining seemed unbearable He would often take me out of the fire for a time and let things cool off.
At this time, God did not give me any understanding of the experiences we knew during our months in Montezuma. I was still as perplexed as ever, but God encouraged me to return to ministry without having the answers to all of my questions. The ability to continue to follow Christ when things don’t make sense is another part of the maturity He desires to see formed in us. I had to choose to know perplexity without giving in to despair. I had to choose to continue in hope and confidence that God would fulfill all of His promises to us if we would just follow Him wherever He would lead.
Over the next few months I continued to write and pray, and God enabled us to help our friends with expenses by buying groceries and doing much of the cooking. At the end of five months we knew it was time to move on once again. The Spirit was urging us to step out once more and to trust Him for all of our provision.
This was a great test for me, for the last two homes God had led us to rent He only provided the resources for us to pay the first month’s rent, and each time we ended up being forced to move after only two months. His grace was seen in that He always had another place prepared for us, yet I agonized over being subjected to the same circumstances again. Once more I only had enough money to rent a home and pay the deposits, and we would have to look to the Father to provide the resources for us to continue to remain there.
I was tempted at this time to insulate myself from the further possibility of enduring more reproach and trials by seeking another job in the computer field, yet I knew in my heart it was not the Lord’s will. It is a difficult thing to make ourselves vulnerable by returning to a situation that is identical to one that we found to be very painful in days past. It is not unlike someone who survives a plane crash forcing themselves to return to flying, or someone who receives a painful injury returning to the same occupation in which the injury was sustained. God knows our struggles, and He is sympathetic toward us. The word of God states:
Yahweh is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
He would lead us once more to make ourselves vulnerable before Him, but He would also give us many assurances of His presence with us, and we would see His mercy manifested on our behalf.
This excerpt taken from the book Evidence of Things Unseen: