Provision for the Journey

 

Walking in the natural is feet on the ground with solid earth bearing our weight. We determine the direction of our journey by processing information. Is it time to move? Is this the right house to buy?  The information we take into consideration will include lending rates and financial feasibility, the school district our children will be in, who our new neighbors will be.

But we are summoned to a supernatural walk. The record of both The Old Testament and The New reveals a body of believers whose journey cannot be explained by the natural. They were supernaturally led, supernaturally borne by the power of God.

Walking in the supernatural is wings spread upon the invisible in the sublime ecstasy of flight. We are borne toward what we are meant-to-do by revelation, which incorporates but surpasses information. Are we really meant to move? And where are we meant-to-go? Is God is calling us to a land we do not know?

Heb 11:8-10
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise . . .

In Scripture, faith is illustrated as a supernatural journey in which we determine by revelation what God is calling us to do, and then we draw on the strength of the revelation to obey.

The Biblical concept of revelation means something declared, imparted, made known, pointed out, or shown to us. . . it is more intuitive than intellectual . . . it comes via the spirit instead of the mind. The concept of revelation presupposes an awareness of suprasensory reality outside the normal range of cognition [1]  . . making faith a supernatural modality, with the capacity to bear you where intellectually processed information cannot.

Many who long to spread their wings are earth bound because they only know how to process information intellectually — not knowing what to do with revelation, when it comes.

 

Matt’s and Ashley’s Journey

Matt and Ashley so loved the house he had grown up in, that they bought it, when his parents retired and moved away, though it took a large mortgage. That was where they wanted to raise their family forever. The house was perfect for them in every way.

But seven years later, both of them began to discern the same message coming to them from different Scriptures and devotionals — telling them they were meant-to-move.

“Get out of your father’s house and go to a land that I will show you”

 “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain”…“turn and take your journey…”

 “He has set the land before you; go in and possess the land…”

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

The revelation of a place where God was going to bring about His purpose and His provision for them stirred them strongly. . . but there was a tug of war between the summons to what they didn’t know and the well loved familiarity of what they did know.  Ashley struggled with leaving the physical space made sacred by their memories. The kids begged not to move.  Matt could not imagine ever feeling as content or as deeply whole in another place . . . but as the message grew more and more clear, they determined to obey.

They began to pray, “Where, Lord?” . . . “Speak, Lord” . . . asking for revelation.

Matt describes the process by which God led them:

He spoke to us through Scripture, but He also spoke to us through sermons, through our devotionals and dreams . . .  through the words He spoke into our spirits and thoughts He planted in our hearts . . . through chance conversations and the insight of other believers.

Time and time again, He would send confirmation reinforcing a prior word to us,  at precisely the moment we needed it.  This uncanny timing revealed the undeniable evidence that He was present in the unfolding circumstances.

Matt and Ashley were being called not just to a new city and new home, but to a new life. They were being summoned out of a fast paced expensive city lifestyle maxing their reserves into a simpler life — marked by giving up much of what they thought they needed — to become more dependent on Him. God kept telling them that He was calling them to greater favor and blessing: to abundance, to a calling, to a destiny, to a promise.  These would become theirs as He led them to the place they belonged – just as He had done for Abraham.  Matt describes one point in this process:

One day when I was struggling with the cost of leaving, my reading that morning described Mary’s flask of spikenard, her most valuable possession, and how she broke it to pour it out on Jesus’ feet. That morning, He asked me if I was willing to yield my “spikenard,” my most precious physical possession, the house I had grown up in, as a love offering to Him.  Everything in me answered, “Yes.”

Their journey was anything but easy.  Keeping their home ready to be shown on a moment’s notice for a year and a half with five children ten and under took its toll. For eighteen months they were constantly frustrated in both selling their home and finding the new one. But they were so certain of what they were both hearing, and God was so faithful to bring them just the right word reinforcing their faith, when they most needed it, that they never doubted they were on the right track.

 

The Safety of Stepping Back to Look at The Whole

In my own walk, there are times when I wonder if I’ve misunderstood what God has said. Have I leapt to a wrong conclusion? Have I gotten off track? I’ve learned how crucial it is to step back and look at the whole. It is easy to lose our way, to mess up the puzzle, if we go too far pressing pieces where they don’t fit. I see this all the time — believers taking a few passages from Scripture, a single coincidence, the first thought that hits them in the morning — pressing these together to mean what they don’t.  The Scripture is true, but how we divide The Word, our interpretation and application of it may not be. When we tax the meaning of Scripture and devotionals into messages they do not bear. . . attaching meaning to an unfolding circumstance that is not there . . . we may think we understand what God is saying . . . but be actually losing our way.   Not everything that causes our heart to leap with the possibility “this is God” — is — God’s plan.

Fear of making a mistake grounds many a believer from flight. They would rather walk in the natural, processing information intellectually than to make a mistake walking in the supernatural, processing revelation spiritually.  But, what is faith?  Which walk is most like what we see in The Bible?

My security against getting off track, my confidence that I am understanding God rightly  is greatly strengthened by stepping back to take a look at the whole.

For instance, in Matt’s and Ashley’s case, there was a lot in a certain subdivision that felt like the place God might be leading them.  They both felt it strongly. It matched many of the criteria they had carefully outlined. But as they waited for confirmation, none came, and the downside to that plan became evident.   Standing back to look at the whole intellectually, protected them from going in the wrong direction that pressing too hard on what they felt intuitively might have taken them.  They felt sure there was something about that lot, but when they stood back to consider the whole, the were convinced they needed to move on, trusting God to clarify as He led them where they were meant-to-be.

When we stand back to see the whole, we bring the two paradoxical processes by which we understand what God is saying into dynamic balance. We weight both information and revelation. We utilize intellectual processing and intuitive, spiritual processing.

The home to which God finally led them — it stands across the street from the lot in the subdivision that first made their hearts sing.  That piece of the puzzle was not wrong, it belonged, they knew it intuitively. But it had to be placed rightly into the unfolding plan.

Why is this story important?

Your ability to hear God is at risk. There is a war taking place, inside the church, whose aim is to wipe from your mind the possibility that God speaks to you personally, the possibility that He speaks in any way other than Scripture. And there is a war taking place, in the world, whose aim is to pull you so devastatingly off course that you will lose your way, encouraged to find God’s voice in defiance of Scripture.

There are those in the church who I deeply respect, whose grounding in Scripture is a beautiful thing to see, whose defense of Scripture is a calling from God . . . but whose theology grieves me. I’ve read their articles and listened to their leaders present their well organized, very well thought out, vigorously defended conviction that “those who think they hear God speaking to them by any means other than Scripture, are dangerous to the faith and utterly deceived, because God speaks to no man today by any other means than Scripture.”  They deny that God speaks to us and leads us now, as He spoke and led believers in former times. Many of our most famous church leaders, authors, teachers, and preachers belong to this camp.

They denounce experiences of hearing God like those I’ve chronicled throughout this website — as deception and a threat.

Parallel train tracks run side by side, but they merge on the horizon. This camp of believers and I have two very different ways of approaching the mystery of our hearing God, but I sense there is important truth we each defend, that merges beyond our sight.

I am not going to fight them, but I’ve got to be sure that I don’t get off track.  Just as I have to protect myself against leaping to a wrong conclusion and getting off track in my journey, I have to do the same in my theology. It is crucial to step back and look at the whole. It is easy to lose our way theologically, to mess up the puzzle, producing a picture that is not true to reality, because we’ve gone too far, pressing pieces where they don’t fit.

Lord, keep me from taking a select group of passages from Scripture, interpreting them and pressing them hard “to show” what Your Word does not.  The Scripture is true, but how we divide The Word, our interpretation and application may not be.  Lord, keep us from subverting the very Word of God, when we tax its meaning into theology it will not bear. . . we may think we are the valiant defending the truth . . . and yet not be.  Cause us to stop fearing, even hating each other for the threat we see in the other. Remind us that if we belong to You, there is truth in us, worthy of being listened to. Cause us to step back and look at the whole, receiving as revelation through our worthy adversary, what You have yet to show us Yourself.  Keep us from placing undue reliance on our interpretation of any single portion of Scripture.  We are so much safer, less vulnerable to going astray, if we step back to look at the whole, to be sure that what we think You are saying fits with the whole.

Deliver us from our tortured inclination
to twist Your Word into what we want to hear. 

My experience, as well as the experience of countless believers since the time of Jesus, lines up with the whole of the picture presented in Scripture. We have the relational experience with God that we see in those of whom our favorite Bible stories tell.  God speaks to us, delighting to lead us by many means, as He makes Himself real to us.

*

With their backs against the wall, and a two week deadline until their home would belong to someone else, the purchase of their new house was jeopardized by the possibility of an appraisal that would not support the purchase price . . . At the eleventh hour, with five children and the need to move all of their belongings out, Matt and Ashley faced the possibility of not getting the needed funds.

Their realtor suggested they be ready to make an offer on their second choice. Revisiting that house, the kids ran all over shouting and loving it.  Matt and Ashley noted the great storage space. And when that owner dropped his price by a third, offering their second choice house to them for an unbelievable price — Matt and Ashley were thrown. Was this God?  Had they made a mistake? Was this the house God was leading them to, and not the other, as they had thought?

Matt threw himself into prayer. The next morning one of his favorite devotionals held this counsel:

A fight always follows illumination. 

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions… — Hebrews 10:32

Have you ever received a word from the Lord that gave you the exact direction you needed? If so, let me guess what happened next. Suddenly —BOOM! It seemed like all hell broke loose! The craziest circumstances erupted, seeming to directly challenge and assault that word you had just received from God!

If I’ve just described what you’ve gone through or what you are going through right now, be encouraged! You must be right on track! A spiritual fight usually does occur when you’ve been specially illuminated to the plan God has for your life . . .

Sparkling Gems, Renner, January 26

There was a word for Matt in this . . . it told him to beware of this offer coming to them when they were most vulnerable; it could be a direct challenge, assaulting the illumination they had received.  Matt stood back and looked at the whole.  He asked Ashley how she would feel if the 2nd choice house sold.  She told him it wouldn’t bother her.  He asked her how she would feel if their 1st choice house fell through.  She said it would break her heart.

Matt sums up what it meant to him to be hearing from God, to be coached and led by Him step by step when fear and confusion assaulted them . . .  many times.

We were able to push the fear away and stand on faith because we had heard so clearly from God for the last 18 months.  Because we trust Him, and He had confirmed His will time and time again in so many different ways, we were able to cling to His promises with absolute certainty.  Can you imagine what it would have been like, if we had not heard so clearly from Him?  It would be like floating in space without gravity – without anything to cling to or push off of.  Absolute helpless.

A few days later the appraisal came in over the selling price . . . the bank agreed to the loan . . . the deal was done.  “2” and “5” are the numbers God uses time and time again to indicate to Matt that this is His plan for him . . . Matt was born May 2nd   (5/2). In the Marine Corps he served in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines.   Ashley’s birthday is January 25th. A “2” and a “5” were written into the appraisal. And their new address? Their house number on their new street is “525.”  None of these is a puzzle piece to be pushed to an extreme to say what God is not . . . but when you stand back and look at the whole, there is a pattern that makes you smile, an intimacy of communion that my son and God share.

*

Like baby birds teetering on the edge of the nest, being urged by their mother to fly, the Spirit nudges each of us to spread our wings . . . to experience the capacity for which we were designed . . . to walk with God, being led by Him, in relationship with Him, learning to trust Him, learning to understand what He is saying to us — not just in the natural realm by information, but supernaturally by revelation.  

Be brave. Be careful. Understand there are forces — internal and external, in the church and in the world — aligned against your flight. But He is The One Who summons you to the journey that has to be supernatural, if it is with Him.

And with what lavish provision Our Lord and God, our Savior and King leads us forward.

*

 


[1] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, revised edition, Copyright © 1979 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

 

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  1. Denny Sabo says:

    Great note today Val. It was nice to hear Matt and Ashley’s story. Where did they move too? I hope you guys are “toughing it out” down in FL this winter. I went back to MT once about 3 weeks ago. The average temp was -12 when I was there. Beautiful but very cold. Love you guys, Denny

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