Sometimes the circumstance is a decision-making situation, not so much between good and bad, but between good and best. I hope that we all will be able to pray this to God:
Lord, whatever I know to be your will, I will do it. Regardless of the cost and regardless of the adjustment, as best I know in my heart, I commit myself to follow your will ahead of time. Lord, no matter what that looks like, I will do it.
That is a tremendous prayer of submission. If you DON’T pray this way, you can never say, “Thy will be done” because you are really saying “Thy will be done as long as it doesn’t conflict with my will.” DO NOT proceed until you can honestly say, “Lord whatever you want, I will do it.”
Physical Markers and Spiritual Encounters:
Physical markers were often set up as a reminder of someone’s experience with God. At the crossing of the Jordan River, tribes set up a pile of stones as a reminder of what God had done for the people, and the fathers would pass these stories down to their children (Joshua 4:2-3, 6-7).
There are a number of people in the Old Testament worth studying when it comes to an encounter with God:
- Noah (Genesis 6-8)
- Abram (Genesis 12:1-8, 13:1-18)
- Isaac (Genesis 26:17-25)
- Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22, 35:1-7)
- Moses (Exodus 17:8-16, 24:1-11)
- Joshua (Joshua 3:5-4:9)
- Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)
- Samuel (1 Samuel 7:1-13)
I chose to look at Gideon since I attended a Gideon pastor appreciation lunch just this week. The Lord came to Gideon while he was working and called hm to a difficult task. He knew he was not up to the task of delivering God’s people from their enemies, but since he had this encounter with God, he set up a memorial and called it, “God is Peace” since he saw God and did not die.
Fathers passed on these stories of God’s activity to teach their children about God’s faithfulness and deeds. Every act builds upon the previous act, like a pile of stones. The stories are told and retold, then adding what God had done specifically for them. They rehearsed the stories to future generations would have a context of how God dealt with his people. Each new step involved a person, and that person added his experiences to the story.
As we develop a spiritual inventory of stories, they are events that help us to recognize God’s movement in the past to help us prepare for God moving in the present and future. A spiritual marker identifies a time of transition, decision, or direction when I clearly know that God has guided me.
Personal Spiritual Markers:
God has been working in you since your birth, and we should recognize the events that have brought us to where we are now.
- G’Anne – In high school, I was interested in a girl who went to church and decided to go to church to be with her. I accepted Christ a year later.
- Scotty – I had decided to NOT go to college until my friend brought up the subject (after graduation) and said we could room together and get involved in the Baptist Student Union. I was accepted into college and met my wife at the BSU, and discovered my calling in life was into full-time Christian service.
- Bob – He was the campus minister who saw more in me than I saw in myself, and encouraged my to seek ways to grow spiritually, be obedient to God on campus, develop leadership skills and to consider seminary and Christian service.
- Kim – At college I met the love of my life and best friend. We have shared life and love for over 30 years. We embrace shared values, salvation in Christ, and commitment to him and each other. God has also called her into her own ministry, not just to be a pastor’s wife.
- Stephen – The birth of my son was the first time that God became a real person to me. It had been twelve years since I accepted the Lord; I finished college, then seminary, and then Kim and I were at our first church after seminary. Stephen came a month early and needed to be in the neonatal ICU, so with Kim in one hospital and Stephen in another, I was at a traffic light at about 9:00 one night, just leaving Kim, and on my way to see Stephen, on my way home when I cried out to God. I complained about the meaning of all this, what’s the point of the nine months, the anticipation, the preparation, the excitement, only to have my boy so near death. It was at that time that I heard the still small voice of God reassuring me that I was not alone. He said to me, “It’s going to be OK, I know what it’s like to lose a son.” I knew that no matter what happened to Stephen, Kim and I would still trust and follow God. We were not experiencing anything that God did not know about or experience himself. I named that place (like the Old Testament saints did) “God is my Peace” and “God is my Comfort” because it was that night I learned so much about the love that God has for me and my family. He loves Stephen more than I could ever love him!
- Allan – He was the pastor of our first church out of seminary, who was evangelistic and mission-minded. He left for the mission field and planted the seed of missions in our hearts.
- Don and Mickey – This couple challenged us to work in the area of home missions at the oceanfront, and to evaluate all that the world and the church had taught us and hold it up to the light of God’s Word. This was a very treasured time of ministry and relationships that laid a solid foundation for life-long ministry and walking with God.
- Zambia – It was in Zambia that I sensed the most satisfaction of being in God’s will, denying self and following God. The Great Commission was being realized in my life. The friends I made along the way are lasting and cherished relationships. I realized that I did not take the gospel to the Zambian people, but rather God was already at work there and I adjusted my life to join him in that work.
- Lemstone – As we left the mission field for a couple of reasons but our experience back home was difficult (I write about that a bit more in a previous post). God was silent. I could not find full-time employment in the ministry and felt abandoned by God and our denomination. The owners and employees of Lemstone Christian bookstore at the Galleria Mall (south of Birmingham) were praying for my family, and my employment, knowing that it meant I would leave the store. When I had the opportunity to interview in Richmond with the IMB’s Office of Mission Personnel, they called the employees off the floor and went to the stockroom and we prayed. They prayed earnestly for God to move in this situation. This was more than a workplace, it was the community of faith getting together to BE the church. To this day it was one of the most supportive work environments of which I have ever been a part.
I suppose that is enough storytelling for now, but the point is we should constantly watch for how God is moving, and notice the spiritual markers that outline and define our journey. All along the way I sensed that these were never decisions between good and bad, but between good and best. I was called to serve God and follow his lead whether I was on the field or serving in a church. He has called me to faithfulness to his will, purposes and his ways.