“The word of the Lord came to him, saying...” (I Kings 17:2).
Elijah strode out of Ahab’s court, having faithfully delivered the message God gave him to share. Now what? He had no doubt that Ahab would be looking for him, but not to congratulate him! People did not confront a king casually. There was an expected cost: imprisonment, torture, and often death. Where should he run?
The Scriptures say, “The word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan'...So he went” (I Kings 17:2,3,5).
God spoke His Word to Elijah.
God said, “Go.”
“So he went.”
Those three words are profound. We would not have faulted Elijah for asking a few trusted friends for advice on this matter. We would have understood if Elijah would have run to a fortress or to a far kingdom that might have been delighted to protect an enemy of the king of Israel.
But Elijah did none of these things. God spoke His Word
to him, so he went! Because Elijah stood in God’s presence,
he lived in awe of the Living God. When God spoke, he obeyed.
How easy it is to mask disobedience by voicing our need for more clarity before we obey! Often, we are impressed with the will of God, but then we say that we need to pray on it before we move forward. Praying is good, but when we know a message is the Word of the Lord to us, we must act.
3:00 A.M. Conversation With God
It was 3:00 a.m., November 22, 2016, when God called me to wake up. It was not an audible voice, but rather the still, small voice of God to my mind and heart. I knew it was Him. Every morning, He fulfills Isaiah 50:4 by awakening me to meet with Him.
I jumped out of bed, threw on warm clothes, grabbed my Bible and a flashlight, and headed out into the starlit night into the woods and rocks near the mountain. I placed my Bible on a stump before me, knelt, and prayed. Nothing happened.
I knew God had called me out to pray. For months, my wife April and I had been asking God to guide us about how we best should serve him. At the time, I was fully employed in ministry in Clovis, California, and at the same time, directed a global nonprofit to equip parents to mentor their children as disciples of Jesus.
Both our local and global ministries were growing, and we
did not know what to do to continue to grow with both.
So, I asked God under the very stars He created, “Why did you wake me up and call me out to pray? What is on Your heart?”
There was no answer. The air was still and cool, the stars bright, the night dark. I waited in confusion. Maybe I should just go back to bed. I am hearing nothing. I thought to myself.
But I could not give up. When you know God is calling, you must press on until you know you have heard what He wants to tell you. I thanked God for His blessings and praised Him for who He is. I confessed my sins and asked God to cut out anything out of my heart, my life, that was displeasing to Him. I asked for faith to hear whatever He wanted to tell me.
Anchor In God's Word
I had peace as I waited on God. “Anchor what You tell me in prayer with what You first tell me in Your written Word!” I pleaded with God. “Give me a passage of Scripture that I can stand on later when I am tempted to back down from what You call me to do.”
Silence. Waiting. Then the still, small voice of God led me to go to Ecclesiastes 3. I reached for my Bible in the darkness, unzipped it from its cover, and opened it so that I could search for that chapter with the help of my flashlight. When I shone my flashlight on my Bible to begin searching, I was shocked! My Bible was open to a place that it never opens to — Ecclesiastes 3!
Ecclesiastes 3 is about God’s perfect timing. God has perfect timing in all things. Everything is beautiful in His time.
“Why did you lead me to this chapter?” I asked God.
“Because it’s time,” He spoke to my heart. “Time for what?” I asked, a bit confused.
“Time for you and April to put your feet in the Jordan all the way.” (Please read Joshua 3:10-17 for the story of Israel crossing the Jordan.)
Resign From Paid Ministry to Work as a Full-Time Volunteers
In the next few minutes, God told me it was time to resign from paid ministry. God said it was time we served Him as full-time volunteers, so that we could be free to go anywhere, anytime, at any cost, at His call!
“How will I provide for our family?” I asked God incredulously. I asked God if I should first find sponsors around the world who would promise to provide a workable annual salary, so we could care for our family expenses.
God said, “No. If you do that, you may take the glory for raising your own salary, and they also may take glory for funding you.”
Now my heart was pounding. God was telling me to walk away from my security and salary but also telling me not to secure my financial needs. How was this going to work? I wondered.
“Take this step by faith in Me. Only when you step out in faith and cut yourself off from all your security will you see how I will provide for you.” God challenged me. “I have urgency on My heart for you to do this!”
I wish I could tell you that I immediately said, “Yes, Lord! It’s a deal!” But I didn’t. I asked God again if I heard Him right. He affirmed that I did. I asked Him again if He really wanted me to do such an unbelievable thing. He said, “Yes.”
Believe and act or doubt and disobey? A rugged choice. God gave me strength to believe and act.
I trudged home in the pale dawn of a new day, scrambling in my mind for a way to tell my dear wife about what had just taken place. Doubts assailed me. The fear of criticism by family, friends, and colleagues wrestled with my faith in God and His Word.
I walked in the door of our home and cautiously into our bedroom. My wife was just getting up from sleep. Yawning and giving me a smile, she asked, “Did God give us an answer?”
“Yes!” I replied. “But we had better pray first.”
I tenderly told her, “You are under no pressure to agree with what I am about to tell you. God spoke. God is able to speak to you just as much as He can speak to me. Let’s pray for God to guide us together.”
We knelt down and joined hands in prayer. We surrendered what we wanted to God. We thanked Him for His care for us over all the years. We asked for Him to lead us together in unity.
As we stood up, April said, “So what did God say to you?”
God Prepared My Wife's Heart
I told her the story of God waking me up at 3:00 a.m., praying under the stars, being led by God to Ecclesiastes 3, and about my Bible falling open to that chapter in the darkness. I told her God was calling us to leave paid ministry, so that we could serve Him as full-time volunteers and be free to go wherever He called us and share the messages He had given us through His written Word.
With tears in her eyes and the peace of God shining on her face, April looked up at me. “This is what God has spoken. This is what we will do!”
I was in shock. I was ready for anything but this. God had gone before me and prepared my wife’s heart.
I knew if we just talked about God’s call that morning, doubts would crowd our minds. If we talked with others, we would endanger the speed of our obedience.
We knelt again and simply thanked God for being the God who still speaks. We asked for strength to obey swiftly.
We ate a quick breakfast and walked out the door. That morning, I turned in my resignation at the office headquarters to take effect in thirty-nine days. For thirty-nine days, we finished the work God had given us locally and prepared for the adventure awaiting us in 2017.
How would God provide? we wondered.
Call to Action
Live life by the written Word of God.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman \ Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org