Praying for direction is something I think everyone has done at least once if not once per week. We all want to know what God’s will is for our lives and where He would have us be or go. I believe the more we seek out the will of God, depending on how we approach it, will either lead us closer to God or cause us to drift farther apart from Him. It comes down’ to how much control we are willing to give up. If we are only willing to give up a little or none, we will tend to be frustrated and drift farther from God. The more control we are willing to let go of, then the closer we will actually get to God.
Ever since giving into letting God lead, a lot has changed in my life. I truly didn’t start giving up control until after I had moved down to California. Since then everything has changed. I married my son’s mother, got more involved in the church, felt the call to ministry for the second time and this time I answered, and more and more and more has changed since. Each time I gave up control, God showed me a new phase. Each time I gave up control, I ended up closer to God.
My wife and I had been praying for direction for us, for our ministry, for our family for years now. A few years ago, we had decided to lay down our abstinence classes in seeking God’s will for the program deciding that we would only do them if God directed us to. Later on, while sitting in church, I heard God tell me that He had never asked us to lay them down in the first place. This has lead us into seeking even more the direction He would have us go.
A couple of years ago, we started to discuss about where we should be, if Thousand Oaks was the right place. I don’t remember why it even came up, but it was involved in us praying for direction. We continued to pray about what we were supposed to be doing and where. During that time, we continued to attend church weekly, did our own devotions and bible studies and we both enjoyed listening to sermons online from a variety of pastors. This is something I would encourage everyone to do throughout the week. If you aren’t doing this, then it is like going to Souplantation and eating all that you can eat on Sunday and then not eating the rest of the week.
During this time, we watched a video by Paul David Tripp based on his book, “Dangerous Calling.” In this one particular segment, he was talking about pastor’s losing their awe of God. That all inspiring reverent approach to God and what He has done. God’s work had become mundane for the pastor. This started me thinking about my “awe factor” of God. Had I lost my awe? Did I even have an awe of God to begin with?
Later on, I was watching a sermon by Francis Chan where he was talking about when he discovered his awe while reading Isaiah 6 where Isaiah is taken to the throne room of God. I went to chapter 6 and I started reading about the throne room over and over and over. I could see where it could cause awe in someone. But it didn’t hit me there. I kept reading and praying and reading but nothing. Then one day, I read verse 6 and things started to unravel. That is unravel in a good way. It started with the angel taking a coal from the altar. My first thought, honestly, was what are they sacrificing in heaven? There’s no death in heaven! Then I remembered that the tabernacle that Moses built was a replica of heaven. When I looked there, I noticed that the altar to sacrifice was outside of the tabernacle. But the altar that was inside was where they burned incense continually. In Revelation 8, we see that the incense is the prayers of the saints.
This hit me hard. The awe that I was looking for rushed over me.
The angel that stood guard in the throne room, who covered his face and his feet in reverence of God, plucked out a coal that was from the prayer of someone to cleanse the lips of Isaiah. This Cherubim new nothing but the reverence of God and his whole role was to keep evil away from God. (Not for God’s sake, but for the evil’s sake, since evil could not survive in His presence.) This is why he took the coal to cleanse Isaiah’s lips in order to allow Isaiah to stay there.
The fact that the coal was a prayer of someone else changed how I prayed. Is my prayer worthy of being burned on the altar in the presence of God? Psalm 141:2 says.”Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” As I consider this when I approach prayer, the awe fills me up to overflowing.
Not long after, we were going through the book, “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman with the youth group. In one chapter, he shares a story about a girl who was very well know in her school and loved by everyone. She was a strong Christian and it showed in her relationships. One day she was killed in a car accident. At her funeral, her father read one of her last entries in her journal to the packed service of her friends and classmates. In her journal, she wrote, “Today I prayed a dangerous prayer…” It goes on to explain that she prayed that she would go wherever God would have her go.
Given my new approach to prayer, and add to it this idea of the dangerous prayer, I was ready to give up more control than I have ever done. What I didn’t know was where God would have me go. That almost sounds like a duh statement. After talking with my wife about what God was leading me to do, I prayed that prayer. I had never felt called to be a missionary in Africa or South America or any other country. I didn’t know if this prayer would start a change in my heart for that or not. But it didn’t matter because I was giving up control and letting God direct me.
This started opening up new doors that I had never known about before. God started speaking to me in ways I had never experienced before. It was as if He was speaking to me in themes each month for month after month. First it was wait. Then it was, “Go up this mountain but don’t worry because I will show you the path, just keep walking.” Then it was get out of the boat and walk where you don’t even think you could walk. This lead me to resign my position as associate pastor at my church. We were sure that was it; To focus on our ministry. (I will write more about the “themes” later on.)
Seeing a mountain peak that is a mile higher than you are can be awe inspiring. But what about the awe of God? Shouldn’t it be even greater?
But there had been this idea that had gotten into our heads. The thought of moving to Colorado. Not just a thought of moving anywhere, but to Colorado. Specifically Colorado Springs. Random, yes. I was born in Colorado Springs, so when the thought came into my head, I pushed it out as my flesh trying to direct. But then my wife started talking about it. As we sought the Lord in this, other things started happening that were “out of the blue”. Our pastor’s son got engaged and they decided to get married in Colorado Springs. We had a close friend come to us and tell us that while she was praying for us, all she could think about was Colorado. Our own daughter, who at 3 years old, named her stuffed animals with names such as Beary Bear, or Fishy Fish named a giant stuffed fuzzy star, “Colorado.”
Each time God showed us a new thing, He has opened another door, showing us the next little bit. God truly became the light unto our path. In the book of Ezekiel in chapter 47, his guide takes him along the river flowing from the new temple and as it goes, it gets deeper and deeper. This is how it should be when you walk with the Lord. You get deeper into the living water. And the trees along the river will “bear fresh fruit every month, because the water flows for them from the sanctuary.” As you have your foundation in the Word, in church, in fellowship and prayer, the Spirit in you becomes deeper and deeper and you produce more and more fruit through Him. And as we took each step, God started doing new work in our lives. He has brought in speakers for our abstinence program. He also provided a grant from a public school for our program. Both of which we had been praying about for years. Now I am working for a Christian organization that provides back office support for non-profits and missionaries here in Colorado.
You can look at that river in Ezekiel as flowing FROM the temple or AWAY from the temple. Almost like seeing a glass as half empty or half full. If you see it as flowing FROM the temple, originating at the temple and going out then you see the work the Lord does as you go out. If you see it as flowing away from the temple, then you see more of doing things in your own power as you go out. The question is, “Are you flowing FROM the temple or AWAY from the temple?” What does it look like when you leave church each week?
What would it looked like if you prayed that dangerous prayer?
Not everyone is called to another place. Most are called to be right where you are and everyone is called to reach out to their neighbor. For us, God called us to Colorado Springs. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is we are going to continue our ministry in the schools in Thousand Oaks teaching abstinence. God has opened up doors for that to continue. We are still going to work to get the message of purity and living purely for Christ out there into schools and youth groups. What that looks like in Colorado? God knows. We have just seen His faithfulness come through each time we take another step, be it a step on a path he has shown us or a step out of something we know and onto something that we have no idea that we can even walk on.
Mike Rosell of Potter’s Field Ministries said it best when he relayed what God had told him back when they were just starting in ministry, “Quit making excuses why you can’t do something and start letting God do something.” Give your control over to God. Let Him do the work and watch the fruit that happens.