Joseph Herrin (03-01-2012)
Boondocking at Walmart
(click on image to enlarge)
I have been sensing that changes were coming to my life, and that of many other Christians. On a personal level I had noted how the air brakes on my bus/motorhome had been locked up for some time. Also, having been injured when struck by an automobile last September, I had been rendered physically immobile for a season. This past month Yahweh sent a skilled mechanic to fix my brake problem, and my leg has also healed to the point where I am walking and riding my bicycle again with much freedom and liberty.
As I regained my mobility and had the physical ability to travel once more, I began asking the Father if it was time for me to leave the RV park that I have had my bus camped at since January 1, 2011. It entered my mind that the end of February would mark fourteen full months that I have been there. Fourteen is a number that is used in the Bible to signify transition. The Father revealed this to me back in 1999 when I was being led of the Spirit to leave my job as a computer professional and to begin a full-time ministry of writing and teaching while looking to the Father to supply every need.
At that time, I had been with my employer for fourteen years. As I was praying about God’s direction, seeking to affirm what I was sensing the Spirit to be speaking, I sensed the Father directing me to look in the Bible to see how the number fourteen is used. I knew that oftentimes the first mention of a number in Scripture reveals some attribute of what it signifies. When I did a search on the word “fourteen” in my PC Study Bible program I was presented with a list of every occurrence of the word, with a snippet from each verse showing the context. The very first usage of the word “fourteen” occurs in Genesis 31:41, and the following words are what I saw on my screen.
“I worked for you for fourteen years…” (NIV)
There was a leaping in my spirit when I read this back in 1999. I knew the Father was indicating that a time of transition was at hand. He was leading me into new ventures, into a new realm of ministry. I was also to learn that He was leading me into experiences of suffering and tribulation such as I had not previously known. At the same time, there was always a sufficiency of grace and great encouragement from the Spirit to continue the course.
The passage that the verse above is found in is speaking of Jacob as he is departing from his father-in-law Laban’s house. This was a time of transition for Jacob. He was heading into new experiences, and new trials, while also having a sufficiency of God’s grace for every event.
As I pondered whether I was to stay at the campground longer, or depart at the end of February, I began to sense that the time of departure was at hand. As the end of the month approached I did not yet have the money to pay the next month’s site rental. Yahweh had always supplied what I needed to pay the rent at the RV park before the end of the month, as it was always due on the first day of each month. I was not worried about my provision. Rather, I saw this as an opportunity to further prove the Father’s direction. If the money arrived before the month was out, I would have to consider whether to stay longer. If the money did not arrive, I would view the fact as another sign that it was the Father’s will that I pull up stakes and head down the road.
One sister in Christ has been led of the Father to send a financial gift each month. She began doing so during my stay at the RV Park, and has continued for many months. Her gift alone was sufficient to pay the site rental. On February 28th she sent me an e-mail stating that she had been delayed in sending a gift. She said she would put a check in the mail that day, but if I needed it sooner to let her know so she could arrange to send it by other means.
Here was an unusual event. I sensed that it was the Father who had delayed this sister in sending a gift. He had done so to confirm His will for me to depart where I had been staying and to embark on whatever new thing He has planned. I wrote this sister in Christ back and told her to not go to any special effort to send her gift sooner. I was confident that God was in control of all things.
That same morning (February 28th) Randy Simmons called me. Randy has traveled with me in ministry, and during the past year or more he has been very active in ministering on the streets of Macon to the homeless, to alcoholics and drug addicts. Yahweh has been using him in extraordinary ways. Back in May Randy met a sister in Christ who was ministering to the same group of people on the streets of Macon. Sister Veronica, as most of the people call her, is a widow in her late 50s, and leads an extraordinary life. When her husband died seven years ago she set out at the leading of the Spirit to minister to homeless people across the country. She went trusting God to meet every need, to provide and care for her. She has traveled from California to Florida, and the Father led her to Macon, Georgia last year.
Randy and Veronica began ministering together, and the Father has continued to do a work through them, opening up to them many avenues of ministry to the poorest members of society. Randy has been living with his widowed grandfather for about five years, and when Mr. Stanfield met Veronica he invited her also to stay at his home in the country outside of Macon. Prior to this Veronica had been living out of a car she had, staying at local hotels, at the Salvation Army, or wherever the Father offered her provision. I have never met a sister like her who demonstrates such a lack of concern for her personal situation. She does not worry at all about her safety, expressing confidence in the Father’s care for her, for she is doing His work. She is not focused on material possessions, being content with food and covering. (Content seems like a shallow word for her. The word joyful is more fitting.)
Randy called me two days ago and informed me that his living arrangement at his grandfather’s house had come to an end. That door had suddenly been shut. Both he and Sister Veronica were seeking to know what God would have them do next. Yesterday Veronica mentioned to Randy that the Streams In The Desert devotion for the day began with a scripture that spoke of launching out into the deep. Randy said that verse struck him as appropriate, for the day was Leap Day, February 29th. It was time to take a leap of faith, trusting God for guidance and provision. Yahweh is continually pressing His sons and daughters forward to a life of faith where every action is directed by the Spirit. Where He leads, we must follow.
Observing these changes in Randy and Veronica’s lives served as further confirmation that a time of transition was at hand. I sensed that it was the Father’s will that I leave the campground this morning. I did not have the money in hand to go to another campground, but my bus can be parked anywhere. I was impressed to drive over to Walmart, for they allow RVs to stay overnight in their parking lots. I had boondocked at the Walmart RV parking lot before when I had my camper/van, or prior to that when I had only a car.
I do not consider this to be a hardship. The weather here in Georgia is very pleasant right now, requiring neither air conditioning or heat. I also have plenty of food to eat, and a means to cook as my bus is equipped with a propane stove and oven. It also has a potable water system that runs off of 12 volt batteries, and the library is just a short bike ride away so I can plug into power and use my computer to write. One of the things that Yahweh is seeking to elicit from the hearts of his sons and daughters in this hour is contentment with His provision. I have often written on this subject, and will no doubt be emphasizing it again in days ahead.
As Yahweh leads a remnant of His people through wilderness experiences in the days ahead, their victory will largely be predicated upon their contentment with the path He chooses for them. Will they be content to no longer have the abundance of Egypt? Will they murmur or complain as those who are experiencing great hardship? Or will they give thanks and praise to God for all things?
The lives of the children of Israel are set before us as an example. They were NOT content with Yahweh’s provision for them. He led them into a wilderness experience where He gave them water from a rock and manna from heaven, but they cried out for flesh to eat. What would it take for you to murmur and complain bitterly before God? My heart is full of thanksgiving. Yahweh has given me a bus. It is a roof over my head. It has a comfortable bed. I have food to eat. I have food and covering and I am content (I Timothy 6:8). Actually, I feel liberated, free and joyous, as I anticipate those opportunities ahead.
The Lord even sent me a roommate some weeks back. A brother in Christ that Randy and Veronica introduced me to was in need of a place to stay. I had an extra bed, and sensed the Father would have me offer for George to stay with me. George is in his late 50s. He had ended up stranded in Macon through the providential hand of God. He had spent time sleeping in parking decks, on loading docks, and for a time in a car with two other men and a large dog. You would be hard pressed to find a man who is more content with his present provision. George does not mind at all if we are parked at Walmart. He is lacking for no necessary thing.
This morning I was reading the news and saw a report on another Costa Cruise Ship that ran into problems. There was a fire in the engine room, and the entire ship lost power with over 1,000 people aboard. The ship had to be towed to port. The passengers who had been feted with every possible luxury, with endless food and banqueting, had to endure several days aboard with no air conditioning, no running water (not even for toilets), eating only cold sandwiches. This story struck me as a parallel to that experience Yahweh must lead many of His sons and daughters through in this hour. How will the people of God respond? Will they be thankful for the fact that they are alive and have basic necessities? Or will they complain bitterly as if they were enduring some great hardship? The apostle Paul states that the example of Israel is set before us so we will know what displeases God.
Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of Yahweh; and when Yahweh heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of Yahweh burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
Many Christians today are simply spoiled. They have been affected by the sense of entitlement that saturates American culture. Let them go spend time in a third world nation, carrying water in containers from a polluted water source miles away, washing their clothes in the waters of a polluted river, or going to bed night after night with a gnawing hunger in their belly, then they will know how blessed they are even when their abundance is taken away. Paul told Timothy:
II Timothy 2:3
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Yahshua Christ.
Our view of things is often colored by our experiences and the expectations that go with them. A soldier knows he will be called upon to endure difficulties. He is going to have to tramp for miles with a heavy pack on his back day after day. He may have to serve in wilderness places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Heat, dust, fatigue, danger, and a lack of creature comforts are part of the experience of a soldier. Paul urges Timothy to consider himself a soldier in service to Christ. Then his mind will be prepared to endure hardship with thanksgiving, rather than complaining about every obstacle and inconvenience.
Three summers ago the Father had me park my camper/van on the premises of the rescue mission in Macon the entire summer. The county jail was across the street, and behind me was a drug infested neighborhood. I would often hear gunshots at night. I did not have a place to hook up to electricity, or water. The days were hot, and it often did not cool down enough to sleep until near midnight. The Father showed me I could get a membership at a gym downtown for $34 a month. I could shower there daily, swim, and work out. I could go to the library during the day to write, and to a coffee shop with free Internet access in the evenings. I left my van parked and rode my bicycle all around the downtown area. It was one of the most enjoyable summers I can remember, and some of the least expensive living I have ever known. The difficulties made the blessings seem all the more delightful.
Back in 2004 my wife left me. I was asked to leave the home we were staying in as guests. I had $5 in my pocket, and it was July in Georgia. I had an older model Ford Tempo, and I was asked to take our two dogs with me. That first night I went to the Walmart parking lot. The same one I am parked at today. This strikes me as significant. That marked a new phase of my walk with the Lord. Today I sense new things at hand as well.
I remember back in July, 2004 awakening in the morning in my car and being anxious about what would come next. Where would I live? How would I eat? What would I do? It is obvious in hindsight that Yahweh had prepared all things for me. There was an afflicted path to be walked, but I would never walk alone. His presence was with me. His watchful eyes were upon me, for I was a son.
I went into Walmart that morning in 2004 with fear beginning to beat inside my chest. When I went into the restroom the Father put a sticker on the stall door just for me. It read “Fear Not! Isaiah 41:10.” I returned to my car, pulled out my Bible and read the verse.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
It has been nearly 8 years since that day when I spent a night at the Walmart parking lot where I now have my bus parked. Yahweh has not failed in any part of what was promised. He has strengthened me. He has helped me time and again. He has upheld me and caused me to stand. I had no need to fear. His eye was always upon me.
Today, I have an excitement and anticipation of what God will do next. I believe doors for a wide and effectual ministry are about to open. Moses had a great ministry, but he had to follow Yahweh into wilderness places to find it. The comforts of Egypt had to be left behind. Moses traded the pleasures of Egypt for the reproaches of Christ (Hebrews 11:24-26). What he gained was the knowledge and friendship of God.
I anticipate that Yahweh will invite many more this year to take a leap of faith, to follow Him into paths unknown, to trust Him for every need, to place their lives in His powerful hands. A brother in Christ from another state called me this morning. God put it on his heart to withdraw his name for consideration for a very prestigious, well paying job. Yahweh had shown him that he was calling him out of the pursuit of worldly success and was leading him to wilderness places. This brother sensed that the doors the Father wanted him to enter would not open until he first acted in faith and obedience by shutting this door. Like Moses, he had to choose the way of Christ’s cross over the allure of the world.
The world, and a worldly church, will say such ones are making a fool’s choice. Of this remnant the Spirit testifies:
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Are you listening to the voice of the Father? Have you committed to go wherever He leads, and to do whatever He asks of you? God has not promised you the prosperity and blessing of the world in this age. Rather, He states that those who give up such things will receive a hundred times as much in the age to come, and eternal life.
Get ready for the leap. Your invitation is coming.
Brother George – One Happy Camper
Addendum: The following notes were sent to me on recent articles. I thought they were excellent and worthy of sharing.
Glen Pickren wrote in response to the posts on women working at home.
I think I may have shared this with you previously, but since I think it fits so well into your current writing I thought I should remind you. Prior to the 70’s there would be little controversy in the Biblical role of woman. Also, in those days a typical family could easily support the family on the husband’s income and this was true at almost all income levels. Today, that is no longer true.
Everything changed in the 70’s. I came to California after graduation from college and was hired as a trainee in 1971 for a starting salary of $650 per month (about $3.75 per hour.) That was not a large amount even then, but consider this — I rented my first apartment for $95 per month (less than 1/6 of my gross income). Today, a one bedroom apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood in a major metropolitan area in Southern California rents for close to $1,400. I can assure you that trainee salaries today are far less than 6 x $1,400 (over $100,000 per year.) So how did we get here?
Prior to 1973, mortgage lenders whose underwriting guidelines were established by such government agencies as the VA and FHA generally required that the total mortgage payment of principal, interest, taxes and insurance not exceed 25 to 30% of the HUSBAND’S gross monthly income if the wife was of childbearing age and could not prove that she was unable to bear children. That sounds incredible today, but that was the way it was. It was assumed that when a working wife had a child she would no longer work. The assumption was well founded because in those days that is what most wives did.
In 1973 two seemingly unrelated events changed everything. The US Congress, in response to the growing feminist movement, passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibited discrimination in lending criteria due to age, sex, race or national origin. Suddenly 100% of a working wife’s income must be counted. Second, we had the first Arab oil embargo which stimulated inflation. Those of us who are old enough remember gas lines, Nixon’s wage/price freeze and Ford’s Whip Inflation Now buttons.
In this inflationary environment housing became to be viewed as a speculative investment. All of a sudden the conventional wisdom was “buy as much house now as you can get.” Do you see the connection? Just as inflation heated up married buyers of real estate got a 60 to 100 increase in their qualifying income for a mortgage. Without this new purchasing power housing prices could not have exploded. But explode they did.
I remember a subdivision we financed in San Diego where buyers were putting deposits on homes selling for $60,000 that were selling for $120,000 when escrow closed six months later. The outcome was that by 1980 two incomes were usually a necessity to qualify for a home mortgage. By the turn of the century even two incomes were usually not sufficient for a first time homebuyer. In fact in many areas a new family cannot even afford to rent with two incomes.
Since we do not battle against flesh and blood, we should recognize the cunning strategy which has been so effective in the destruction of the family unit…
In the Bible we see a clear principle that the most severe judgments usually come as the Lord gives us over to the fullness of what we thought we wanted. Woman wanted to be like men and those who did not were mocked as being lowly housewives, barefoot and pregnant. So as you say they were led by temptation and herded by ridicule. We are now seeing the fruit of it.
What I hoped to illustrate was how the consequences developed. Yet, I think our Father will use this for good as refining fire for the church. Prior to the 70’s women did not have to make a great sacrifice socially and economically to care for their families. Even the unbelievers did that and could afford to live in a decent neighborhood on one salary. Today that is much more rare. So I think the Lord is placing us in a position where we must choose who we will serve — God or mammon.
Michael Shevlane wrote the following comments after reading the post on the Daytona 500.
I saw your article on the Daytona 500 and though I did not see the race, a couple of other things came to mind. Firstly, on the Saturday there was the second tier race at Daytona, the Nationwide Series, which I did not see either except literally the last couple of laps, as I happened to be buying food in an establishment that had the race on a large screen. I watched the last two laps as I ate, and I found the finale very interesting:
Basically, the cars were all together coming to the end of the last lap, when a chain reaction started, which crashed out all of the top ten drivers. The driver in 11th, a relative unknown driver who had never won, somehow missed all of the spinning, crashing cars and won the race. His car number was 30. This seemed very notable to me at the time, and it made me think of Joseph, who was the 11th brother, but ultimately gained preeminence before his older brothers. The number 30 is also associated closely with Joseph as the age in which he was raised up to the right hand of Pharaoh, and obviously has connotations of maturity. As far as the finish itself, I felt as though it symbolized the mature son coming faithfully through the midst chaos and confusion, and wreckage to emerge into victory.
I did not see the 500 either, but I could not help noticing that Matt Kenseth’s sponsor was ‘Best Buy’, and this made me think of the Lord bidding the church at Laodicea to “buy from me gold refined in the fire”. This would certainly constitute the ‘Best Buy’ possible, and also tie in to the refinement theme of the race. Furthermore, I looked up Matt Kenseth on Wikipedia and notice that he turns 40 on March 10th, less than two weeks after the race, which ties in again to the fiery trial symbol that you pointed out with regards to the race being halted with 40 laps to go.
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