The God of the improbable and impossible
"I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth? ….. The prophet who has had a dream should say it is only a dream, but the prophet who has heard my message should proclaim that message faithfully. What good is straw compared with wheat? My message is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces.” (Jeremiah 23:23-24, 28-29 GNB)
My campus pastor, Pastor Cliff, sent me a reply yesterday about my email to him about the body being tapped by God to open doors by which things might be changed in my situation; financially, employment and family. He said that “Sure, that was a possibility….” And “For the record, I didn’t say you should move away but in the absence of God’s open doors, you should explore all the avenues.” The burden is still on my heart that I’m supposed to be in Holly for the season in which I am on this journey…..and it is the Body, not the Band, that is supposed to walk in this journey with me for this time…..and the invitation has been soundly rejected under the nice automatic Christian responses. It is no matter, it would seem, as God whispers things in my ear and calls me…to a dream surrendered and a far bigger hope than I could’ve imagined for His service.
The dream that I’ve had where God is calling me out of the country of my birth and the country in which I have spent the whole breathe of my life of forty-one years in is as real as the seat upon which I sit, the computer I type this on and the other sensory data that comprises my world. It is alive, evolving into a sharper, concise and frightening (to my former self, which still seems to squeak its fearful disappointments into my mind) picture of what it would shape up to be….a church plant, teaching the godly masculinity that I’ve been shown, with the radio station “gospel hour” utilized to reach those who think Christianity is just a part-time, Sunday thought religious experience instead of a evolving, living and changing lifestyle that demands its voice to speak of the wonders that have been found and the love that is experienced. Powerful disciples who stand in the garden of their gifts and produce amazing fruit.
God brought me to Jeremiah 23:24 today…..”No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?” God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. “The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, without the interrogative, "I am a God near, saith the Lord, and not afar off". The meaning is, that God is alike near in one place as in another; which is a very great truth; and a very comfortable one it is to the people of God, to whom he is near in all places, and at all times; he is a present help in time of trouble; he is near them, to hear their cries, and grant their requests; he is near to give them assistance in a time of need, and to deliver them out of all their troubles; to afford them his gracious presence, and to indulge them with communion with himself; to communicate all good things to them; to speak comfortably to them; to take them by the hand, and lead them in the way everlasting:” John Gill writes about this facet of God, “He is at their right hand to uphold them with his, and to strengthen them with strength in their souls; to advise and counsel, and direct them; to rebuke their enemies, and save them from them that condemn them;” and indeed there are no people like them, who have God so nigh unto them, in all things they call upon him for; and though he may seem at times to be afar off, and stand at a distance from them; when he hides his face; withdraws his gracious influences; does not appear at once for their relief in distress; but suffers them to be afflicted in one way or another; yet in reality he is not; but is nigh unto them when they call upon him.” That is why I have the simply complex statement, “God is………” on the display screen of my cell.
And it appears that He is showing me that He is the God of impossibilities and improbable things. And the dreams I dream are too small to fit within the scope of what He would do with this broken and fearful man. He is a far bigger dreamer, far bigger provider and a far bigger visionary than I could ever imagine Him to be.
Once again, as with the original small scope of the Call that I had back in October of 2004, comes the walls of impossibility….the realistic (in terms of human involvement) improbability of fruition….and the passion without outlet. The “God will as God wills” statements of the past seem hollow and empty….and inadequate to describe this disappointment and moodiness that pervades my soul. Once again, it is the consequences of my past that come full circle to put me in a place where it would seem it is improbable that God could want to use me in that way; as a missionary to any country, let alone a foreign one.
Maybe this is an effect of my story; dreaming impossibilities so that I can prove the declaration of my father that I’ll never amount to much more than a garbage collector (no offense intended to those who are) and only then if they take pity on me. I have many of those dreams; writing a published book, being a counselor, going to the University of Michigan (Go Wolverines!) in pursuit of a degree, finding that one true love that will be with me, fight for me and leave only when the Lord calls them home. It everything I’ve done, both before God and after God, has been a failure. Family, finances and ministry all never seem to settle into a routine of successful operation that many within the Body claim and so many declare is the mark of a ‘true’ believer. Life is simply a step by step recreation of desire, faith and near disasters that haunt the sunlight of my days. Many will say that this is because of the presence of sinful pursuits in my life, others that I am not applying the knowledge and truth of God to the struggles that I face and only a few, a very small few, will look at my life and say those foreign words (to many a Christian’s vocabulary)……spiritual warfare, “You, my brother, are under attack.”
Some say I’m a walking testimony to God’s grace, mercy & forgiveness and would be a great minister while others just laugh at me quietly behind the masks of their ‘Sunday’ dress and utter the automatics of “I’ll pray for you”, “God will as God will” and the shadowy, ambiguous “Follow the ‘yellow brick’ road” mantra of sitting back and watching what happens. Living life on the edge of peace, joy, happiness and still proclaiming God even when the faith is low and the heart is beating slower with the passion is not a realistic Christian, born of the blood and redeemed of the Lamb. In the quietness of their darkness, shielded from the ‘brethren’ and even themselves, their greatest fear is to stand before that White Throne of Judgment and be told it was all a ‘joke’ and the universalistic, human-induced reality of ‘love, peace, tranquility through the power of your minds attraction’ was the way to go…….the lifetime spent in dogged pursuit of God was nothing more than a race they didn’t have to run. They are so fearful of starvation that they’ll eat any fruit, declaring it good and tasty as the bitterness and rotten flesh of the fruit slides down the gullet of their illusion and corrupts their new soul with its enticing aroma and peaceful deception.
Very few will walk the miles and miles of this journey close to starvation, on the edge of spiritual death, clinging to that hope of finding food….gorging themselves on it when they do…and stumbling on….brought once again full circle into that cycle of starvation, hope, substance. “Rinse and repeat” people of the darkness, their spiritual lights cloaked in the filth of its stench for the clandestine missions for those deep in the enemy’s hands. Living on the edge between being accepted within the human institution of corporate church and being accepted within the secularized world…..being more than they appear to be, taking on the illusions of those they are trying to reach without becoming what they are trying to save. A living, breathing testimony where the hand of God is visible beyond denial, is evident beyond all explanation other than faith and is lived peaceful in peace’s absence sustained only because of the hope that is undeniable, a promise that cannot be broken and a God who holds their hands even in the disobedient times and calls them to account, calls them to forgiveness, calls them to His work even after failure and loves them where they are while enticing them to go beyond the logical, the mystical and the corruptible into a pure, righteous and joyful relationship that they will never achieve in the lifetime they live on this world.
It is these people who walk into the wilderness without a clue of their path, guided only by the word of God to go…to a land I will show you…with their families in tow, trusting on a promise given in the foolish reality of life of something beyond life’s capability to give. Who walk into a dream with no provisions and leave a legacy of orphanages that have led generations of abandoned, thrown-aways through a realized life of love without limits, compromise or costs. Who have left sermons of their testimonies that inspire and guide countless generations years and years after their deaths with the same message, the same notes led by a voice long since silenced upon the air of this world but preserved to be carried by faithful servants and supporters into the void of the world. Who leave their multi-zero salaries and get into a travel trailer to go where God leads and trust in His substances, His direction and His promises. Those who follow in the footsteps of greater men and carry the vision into the fruition of God’s covenant despite other’s disapproval and disbelief. It is those people who stand before Christ and ask for Him to move in their lives; finances, health, family, worries….and say they believe, yet cry out for Christ to help their unbelief.
A people who trust in God to provide, giving what they have been given into the hands of another without question or condition, based upon the direction to which God spoke to them. Who are weak but not pushovers who will believe the whispery and hollow promises of false prophets no matter how ‘good’ it sounds, who bring themselves into account well before the mobs can be formed (and the Christian church has its mobs) and face their persecutors with honor and dignity, assured this worldly invention of human-judging-human in the spiritual warfare of life is of no consequence and the judgers will someday be the judged, by the standards and rigidity of their own standards. A people who live by a rock-embedded foundation that forms the spiritual house of their souls, fit to be changed as the architect provides new innovations, new ideas and clearer eyesight to the craftsman.
A people who’s faith goes beyond the ‘smooth, lulling and deceitful message’ of the false church, the false prophets and worldly influence to judge the theological and doctrinal by the faithfulness of the Word, unchanged, unaltered and alive under the hand of its author, inspiring the hands that wrote it and the minds who were heavy with the need to write the eternal into the temporal. A people who follow a Truth that is enlightening, living, full of the warm embrace of love, and a penetrating depth that consumes them to speak, seeing to disrupt the enemy and shatter the illusions of his lies but is uncomfortable, dreadful and convicting even to them but ever more so to those wicked and unclean in the world who run from it with no hope of finding peace from its presence that invades “heaven and hell…..earth and the seas…..” as John Gill puts it…..to the utter ends of the earth or the recesses of the human mind. As God says, “I can see your falsehoods, no matter how well you think you cover it, and at that moment of its commission.”
A people who live by the truth of Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” When these people speak the Truth inspired and authored by God, sinners are convicted and converted by its power, disciples are drenched in the thirst of the Word and convicted with the commission's call and a world is transformed against impossible odds and improbable hopes.
I face the same closed doors, the same hardened and shallow hearts that have plagued the continued desire to answer the call, to be shaped in the forge of the Master Blacksmith, into the sharp, doubled edged sword that pierces my own heart when it is weld for the battle that is joined. Willing to be wounded, destined to be killed and only desiring that one more soul, one more heart, be transformed by the powerful testimony of God's grace, mercy and love in the life of this redeemed sinner.
I am not one who speaks prophecies, though I do believe in the power of God to bring such pronouncements to His people through the god-fearing body of His children for the edification and supplication of them. I don't speak tongues, but believe that there are some who speak what God would have another hear in a way that brings Him glory and undeniable authority to thus communicate with His people. God is still working within the lives of His people in the miraculous ways He has and continues to do, it is not my experience that dominates such belief, but the Word of God alone.
I also know that prevalent in the westernized and culturized 'corporate' church of today, there are many more who speak in prophecy and whirl the empty words of their own brokenness as God's words….and there are those who induce within themselves for their own distortion a language that bears no understanding because it is the fevered attempt of a sinful humanity to mimic God. The harvest work that the Lord has prepared is ripe for gathering but the workers are few.
That said, I will speak my dream to paper, not for the edification of human agendas of agreement or approval…..but for the fire brought by the righteous and the mighty God….so that it would be shaped not by my desire but the desire of His movement and work within my life to be an effective, passionate and equipped servant for His kingdom purposes. Casting it free from the confines of my inner most into the light of His being, so that He might walk into the formation and preparation of such movement and declare my discernment of God or not……I’ll speak the completeness of the vision given to me that day in October, it’s content and structure unknown and unrealized fully and completely at that time, as God took my reluctant agreement and began shaping me for that fullness.
This is a part of my story, its formation and the groundwork for the purposing of it at this moment in my life shaped and molded even in the sinfulness of my denial of God and the bitter war waged against all that His children claimed to stand for, from long ago. A realization long ago realized, upon that February day so long ago, that even in the midst of my rebellion, God was there….drawing me back into His arms and working for His purpose my life to be a living testament to His grace, mercy and love….above all, His love. A friendship borne of the wrong beginnings that has continued to develop throughout the ups and downs of my life even as our paths wandered down separate paths and the experience of a culture from the eyes of one of its people from a personal level that speaks to my direction in the years since my rebirth.
The utterance of an idea put forth as a half-joke. The beginnings of a turning towards the breath of life. The collection of talents, skills, spiritual gifting and passion brought together under the clarity of vision, causing that the essential click of God’s purpose for me within the context of God’s larger story…..and the startling confrontation with the very essence of my fears, known and worked by the enemy for the purpose of preventing the promised joy and peace of walking in such a grand tale. When God beckons to us to move into His work that He is doing, we must change….facing our greatest fears through the crisis of belief that is endured and overcome through faith and experience.
Dare I utter it for the disapproval of the Body, that westernized component of the misguided, mislead and self-serving of the Church that has given itself over to the cauterization of its faithful execution of God’s mission? Already, in its very ‘hopeful’ speaking to those around me have it been met with utter disgust, verbal reproof and even marginal acceptance…..no edification from those faithful within the Kingdom that would be a quiet assurance beyond the nagging and utterly unreasonable (in light of this world’s reality) of its reality. It has been a dream of mine, secular in its origins but surrendered and claimed for the Kingdom upon my rebirth. God is everywhere and He calls His children to greater things than they believe in their comfortable world of familiarity.
A distant land…….Paul had his Rome…..
I have my Australia…………
It is my vision that I go to Australia as a foreign missionary. There are many ways this seems both possible and impossible. Most missions in the Outback seem to focus on ‘indigenous’ missionaries, those who live in the country and are from it’s citizenship. I am not one that would be eligible for those missions. Others seem to want some other qualifiers that I don’t have. So, the method by which God will make this vision happen are yet to be discovered…….He simply tells me to prepare. First and foremost is the passport……..from there, God will answer His provisions to the source of the way that I will touch upon Australia’s soil.
One way that I seem to keep returning to is to become an foreign exchange student, to a missionary-focused college in Sydney to study. This study would equip me for the purposes of ministry within the country of Australia, emerging me and my family in the cultural climate there while I pursue a degree in Pastoral care. Sydney Missionary & Bible College would be the place of such studies, having the capabilities of meeting my family needs and pursue a full, in-depth study of theology under the cultural aspects of the people that I have the vision of ministering to once the degree is earned. But that is a very large dream that, like many things, has a rather impossible sized price tag.
I would pursue a Bachelor of Theology (BTh), which is a three year full-time undergraduate degree program offered for students without a prior degree (it would take nine years of part-time study to complete) and be equipped to be a full-time pastoral, evangelistic or Bible teaching minister for Christian ministry in Australia (as a pastor, assistant-minister, or student worker while in school). Entry into the program who be based on maturity and practical experience as well as a application of the IELTS (International Education and Employment English test) in which I would have to score a 6.5 average with no score under 6.0 in four categories of tests. The College does have family lodging and the overall cost of each year of study would be 20,000 aus (15,000.00 degree costs, 5,000 in books and other related cost) in addition to the basic needs of a family of three (child care, food, clothing, etc.).
Upon graduation, if not provided for before, I would seek a ministry position in Australia where the origination of this desire began and seek to establish and minister to a local nondenominational, bible teaching and discipleship making church that teaches men to be godly men, women to be godly women and families to seek God's will and purpose in their lives and pursue such in the battlefield of the world. In a nation who, as my friend describes it, is not much for religion….this is where I believe God would have me go for a season. Beyond that, the vision isn't formed, for I know that I would have to be ready upon the prompting of the Spirit to go where God would have me go, do what He would have me do and trust in His wisdom, grace and mercy to make the journey both fruitful and purposed for His kingdom. Wherever He would call me, if indeed the life we struggle with and the world we stand against is finally reclaimed by the return of our King and Messiah.
Maybe this is my journey into the lands where God would have me shine the brightest for His glory….much like Paul did after his Damascus encounter….disappearing for three years until Barnabus sought him out in Tarsus…and the missionary journeys began…..to lands far away….and eventually back to his native country “in chains.”
There are worries that wash upon my shores daily, problems that make this more of an improbability that reality…..and there are those who will say its running away or its for incorrect reasons, but I have faced that before and God has still called me into those places to which others would not believe He would dare….to speak for Him, to testify through the movement of my life to His glory, His mercy and His peace. So, believe or not…
Let my Paulian journey begin………………..I speak His vision for my purpose today….and until its fruition in His greater story…….
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