When I discerned that God would once more have us to move I began meeting regularly with my family to pray for God’s direction and provision to be made known. We were specific in those things we asked for. In particular, we desired a house with at least three bedrooms so Kristin and Josiah might have their own rooms. I considered that a fourth bedroom would be even better, that I might have an office to set up my computer and have a place to be able to pray and write. We also asked for a place in a country setting, though I suspected that this would mean that I would have to go back to a dial-up connection for Internet access, which is a real detriment when trying to maintain a website and attend to a large volume of correspondence. I also wanted something that would be close to $500 a month, though many people who move into this area have found that almost anything under $600 a month is run down, small, and in bad neighborhoods. As a final specific point of prayer, I had told my family several weeks earlier that I felt God wanted us to locate in the area of a small town nearby named Byron, Georgia.
Our family had only been praying for a couple days when my daughter began corresponding with a young lady who had recently began practicing headcovering. As they were getting acquainted my daughter told her that we were going to be moving soon, and when the other young lady asked her where we were going to move, Kristin informed her that I felt we were to move to Byron. This girl responded by saying that she lived in Byron and that her dad had rental property in the area. She volunteered to ask her dad if he had anything available, and a couple days later she got back with my daughter and told her that her dad had a four bedroom, two bath home that was located on their family farm in a secluded location. She said I should contact her father if I was interested.
What this young lady described was exactly what we had been praying for, and I sensed that God was once more going before us in these things. Only once in the past five years did we have to look for a place to live. We moved approximately ten times in this period, and in only one move did we actually have to look around to see where God would have us to live. In all of the other instances God had brought the provision to us. I determined to call this man the next morning, which was Friday February 13.
On Friday morning I considered that, should the man agree to rent to me that day, I did not have the money on hand to pay both rent and deposits. I prayed and felt that the Lord wanted me to check the IRS website to see when my tax refund would be deposited. When I did I found that $790 was to be deposited into my checking account that very day. This seemed providential once more, since the means to pay for this house coincided exactly with the opportunity set before us.
I called the man and he was very interested in showing us the house. They wanted a quiet (not rowdy) family to go into this home since it was on their family farm and they lived on the other side of the land, as did some other relatives. We agreed to meet at 3 PM to view the house, and we prayed again as a family before we went. We asked the Lord that if this was where He wanted us that He would give us favor.
We met the man’s wife, and she turned out to be someone who had formerly worked at the Houston Healthcare Complex during the same time I was employed there, and she recognized me. She and my wife hit it off very well, as did their daughter and my daughter who were meeting each other face to face for the first time. The husband was very busy, as he is also a home builder, and he only dropped by briefly. I asked him if he wanted me to fill out any paperwork, and he said no, that he felt good about us renting from them. We gave them a check for the rent and deposits and began moving in the very next day.
The rent was close to the amount I had prayed for, and the home was only four years old, in great shape, and in a beautiful country setting. It had four bedrooms, which we desired, and was just outside the city limits of Byron. It would take less than five minutes to be in town. Amazingly to me, although the home is on a farm it is served by two types of high speed Internet access. DSL and Cable Internet are both available. The owners also allowed pets, though we were required to pay a deposit. There were absolutely no impediments to our moving to this new location. It was as if the Lord had swung the door wide open and said, “Here is my provision for you. Enter in!”
Even with so many affirmations of the Lord’s hand in this provision, I was troubled by stepping out and renting this place, for the memories of our experiences in Montezuma were still fresh in my mind. Twice God provided places for us there, only for us to then see all financial provision dry up, and I dealt with the agony of not having the money to pay our rent. My faith was being tested severely, as the Father was seeking to deliver me from the fears that tormented me. I had been struggling to understand why God led us to endure the things we experienced in Montezuma, for I had such high expectations and a very profound disappointment. Although I knew God was teaching me lessons there (It was there the Spirit led me to write the book The Divine Quest), there was much I didn’t understand and this lack of understanding was producing an unrest and lack of peace in my soul.
Just a few days after we had moved into this home, my wife and children were going off, and my daughter was to spend the night away. I was sitting in a chair by the front door anticipating a quiet evening by myself, and I was watching my daughter come in and out as she was constantly remembering one more thing she wanted to take with her. On her last trip she grabbed two things and headed for the door, but when she got there she changed her mind about a book she was going to take and she turned around and placed it in my hands, told me good-bye, and was out the door and gone.
I looked at the book in my hands, and it was Hinds’ Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I had never read this book before, but I had the feeling that I had been set-up by the Spirit. My family had just left. I was all alone. And God had just placed a book in my hands which I felt a strong witness that I was to read. I began reading the book and as I did the Spirit witnessed powerfully to me and the tears began to flow. I read of the main character, Much-Afraid, and how the Shepherd led her out from her relatives the Fearings. I read how the Shepherd led her to one journey after another where her fears assailed her and had to be overcome, faith had to be exercised, and her will had to be laid upon the altar. As I read I was reviewing my own journey, and I began to understand why my Shepherd had been leading me down the paths He had asked me to take. It has been His desire to free me from all fears and to learn an unshakeable confidence in Him.
I then understood also what he was doing in our current situation, for once more He had led me to a place where I had only enough money to pay for the first month’s rent and deposits, and where the landlord required that the next month’s rent be paid on the first of the month, only two weeks later. (The first month’s rent is for a full month, but the second is pro-rated. I know some will be curious.) God was asking me, “Will you trust Me once more? Will you dwell in perfect peace this time without listening to the voices of anxiety, fear, or evil forebodings?”
In this book the main character Much-Afraid is led down many perilous paths, and through roads of sorrow and pain. She is tormented by members of the Fearing family who dog her steps and continually speak words to her that are intended to turn her back from following the course the Shepherd is leading her down. The Lord reminded me that nearly two years earlier He had prophesied through my daughter with the words “You must learn to listen to My voice, and My voice alone. Put behind you all foolish thoughts of doubt and unbelief, for great is My reward to those who trust in Me.” My way had been made much more difficult because I had allowed the voice of fear to continually resound in my heart. I had continued to follow where my Shepherd led, but I did so in fear and trembling.
Much-Afraid finally determines to no longer listen to these voices, and at first she stops up her ears, but she is not able to hear anything at all. She later learns that an even more effectual solution is to begin singing praises to God whenever the voices of fear, anxiety and evil forebodings begin to speak to her. The Spirit had been speaking the same message to me for some time. He had been calling me to praise and worship Him in the midst of trials, and I knew that while we were at this house in Byron that Yahweh desired to bring me to complete victory in this matter.
When we moved to this house I noticed that the house number was 2440, which is commonly pronounced “twenty-four forty.” I had felt there was a significance to these numbers, but I did not immediately know what it was. After we had been in this house a few weeks, the Spirit revealed to me the meaning. The Spirit showed me that the significance relates to worshiping Him in the midst of trials and tests. The number twenty-four only occurs in reference to two things in Scripture, and the verses the Spirit led me to were in the book of Revelation.
And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever…
When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song…
And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God…
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”
We see here that the number twenty-four is consistently linked to God’s creation worshiping Him. Wherever the twenty-four elders are mentioned, praise and worship of God is also present. The number forty is a number associated with trials and testing, for example the Israelites were tested by God for forty years in the wilderness, Yahshua was tested for forty days in the wilderness, etc.. As I considered these things I sensed the Spirit telling me that He wanted us to worship Him in the midst of trials and testing. We were to have no lack of trials in which to practice this, for from the day we moved in we were beset with one test after another.
It was a great comfort to me that God should choose to bring me understanding of my trials. As I read this book by Hannah Hurnard I experienced a deep peace come upon me. It was as if the Father had come down to wrap His arms around me and to personally assure me that He is with us. I felt like I was having an intimate conversation with the Father as I read this book, and I knew He was answering my prayers for understanding to be granted to me.
In the book Much-Afraid is yearning to get to the destination, which is the mountains of spices. The Shepherd at times takes her down paths that are leading in the direction of the mountains, and hope grows in her heart, but then He unexpectedly bids her to follow a path that seems to lead directly away from her destination. These detours are great tests for Much-Afraid who wants so desperately to be at the end of the journey. Great crises are met with time after time as Much-Afraid must once more lay her will on the altar in order to choose to follow the Shepherd.
I could identify my own times when I have been brought to such crises, and I have battled with continuing on, or turning back. Time after time I have also been led to build an altar and lay my will upon it. In the book, as in reality, something of great value is gained every time she chose to follow the Spirit by taking up the disciple’s cross. At each fresh surrender there is something more of the sinful nature that is crushed, and a new release of the life of Christ within us.
I had been very intent upon wanting to arrive at the destination, and to know the fulfillment of God’s promises for my life and that of my family. Yet there is tremendous value in the journey, for the journey fits us to be able to receive the anointing and calling God has for our lives. As we travel through wilderness places, knowing many tests, our old Adamic nature is subdued and the life of Christ is brought forth to ever increasing expression. In the wilderness we leave behind all those things that have hindered us, and we come forth leaning upon Christ Who has become everything to the saint.
When Yahweh has tried us thoroughly, He will bring us up out of the wilderness and into the promises set before us. The Scriptures say that it is by “faith and patience” that we inherit the promises, and we are told that we have need of endurance. I believe there is a place of rest to be attained in our wilderness experiences. This rest replaces the restlessness we have known where we feel driven to be at the end of all trials and testing. There is a place where we simply become content to wait upon God patiently, and to endure with joy. When we attain to this place, then the Shepherd is able to bring us up out of the wilderness and into the glorious realms that lie ahead.
As I reflected on this book by Hannah Hurnard, and what the Spirit was speaking to me through it, a peace began to grow in my heart. Our present situation looked so very similar to those we had known in Montezuma which were very painful. Yet the promises of God are very precious, and the apostle Paul declares that the glory to be revealed in us is not worth comparing to these momentary, light afflictions.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
There is a purpose for every path and every experience our Shepherd leads us through. He is probably more eager than we are ourselves to see us arrive at the destination before us. Yet He bears long with us when we cry out for deliverance from our painful trials, for He knows that there are no shortcuts to glory. He does not wish that we should fall short of the glory of God in any respect.
I hear my Shepherd asking, “Will you simply follow Me? Will you take the course I set before you, and not shrink back?” He promises to be with us at all times, and nothing can separate us from His love. The overcomers in Christ are identified by the following simple statement:
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
I have had many expectations about what God would do at each place He has led me. I have watched three different bodies of believers shrink back from the path of faith before them when I had expected God to take each one into their promised inheritance. Things have rarely turned out the way I thought they would. When I have thought I was nearing the end of the path, there always seemed to be a further valley to travel through. Yet the Shepherd guiding me knows what He is about. I am learning to rest under His watchful and loving eye.
This excerpt is from the book Evidence of Things Unseen:
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