When God Speaks
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Shortly after I started on the road to recovery and restoration after going through a divorce in 2000, I had an experience that made it clear to me without a shadow of a doubt that God speaks to his people on a regular basis.
I am not talking about hearing an audible voice but I am talking about more than a hunch that pans out.
I was struggling with the idea of whether or not God would once again use me in pastoral ministry.
I had heard all the arguments against this from people’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:2 where it says an elder needs to be the husband of one wife.
I also knew that their interpretation was heartfelt and if taken at face value might have some merit.
I also knew that this interpretation flew in the face of some very basic teachings in the rest of the Bible.
What I needed was God to speak to me.
For me, it was not so much about correct doctrine as it was about correct direction.
Even if divorce did not disqualify someone, the question was whether or not God wanted me to return.
Personally, I was not all that thrilled with the prospect.
God Speaking In A Very Supernatural Way
It was during this time that I told Him that I needed to know what He wanted to do with my life.
Over the course of the next 3 months, I received 3 prophetic words from 3 different people in 3 different churches by people who I had never met before.
By the time the last word came, I was sitting in the back row with my head down trying not to be seen!
Each time they told me that God was not done yet and that I was going to return to pastoral ministry.
I received my answer. But that is not the end of the story.
You would think that from that time on, God would lead me step by step and decision by decision with His voice.
In fact, the opposite happened. God went silent!
When God Seems Silent
Out of obedience to what I knew was the will of God, I started sending out my resume’ to the district overseers in the denomination I was part of.
You would think that after receiving such clear direction from God that the doors would start flying open right?
I received silence.
A few of them were polite enough to write me the standard “don’t call us, we’ll call you” letter, but there was not one inkling of an open door.
So I waited and prayed and waited some more.
Eventually, I thought that maybe God was going to use me outside of the denomination that I had served in for over 20 years.
I started sending out my resume’ to churches that were like-minded to that I had served in all those years.
Still more silence.
At this time I started asking God what was wrong.
I did not get an answer.
Trials Of Faith
I believe in faithfulness.
I believe in not despising small things.
I also have a stubborn streak that my mother calls donkey-like.
After about 3 years of being faithful to make myself available to serve, I realized that this was not just a season of silence, but a trial of faith.
I had received numerous rejection letters. The reasons for rejection varied from “not a good fit” to “unqualified” to “we have decided to look elsewhere.”
I knew that this journey was going to be tough since I had the scarlet “D” on my record and I did not offer the 2 for 1 deal of having a wife to help in the ministry and play the piano and work with children.
However, this was becoming ridiculous!
I was a seasoned pastor and church planter who had successfully planted and pastored 3 churches.
It was at this time that I started keeping records of how much rejection I was having to swallow.
The rejection letters were becoming a badge of honor.
Finally 8 years later, after sending out an impassioned plea to my church family that I had now been a part of for 30 years, and almost begging them to listen to my heart.
After being rejected 185 times from other churches, God spoke.
He opened the door. I became the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Pine Haven Wyoming.
Why Didn’t God Speak?
Trials of faith are just that. It is when our faith is tested that we find out how strong it really is.
When I was in grade school, we had a project of making a bridge that would hold the weight of a brick out of toothpicks.
Most of the kids made beautiful and elegant bridges with great artistic skill.
Not being an artist, I made a bridge that was glued every way possible.
It was ugly, bulky, and looked like a total failure.
How surprised the kids were when my bridge was the only bridge that withstood the weight of a brick being placed upon it.
Trials of faith test what we are made of and if we can withstand the weight that will be put upon us.
God didn’t speak because He was showing me what I was made of.
He was showing me that I could withstand more weight than I could ever believe possible.
What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Speak?
The answer is simple.
You keep on doing what you were told to do the last time He spoke.
I was told to be open to returning to pastoral ministry.
I could have given up.
I could have decided that all those people were just crackpots.
I could have decided that it wasn’t worth all the rejection. Trust me, many times I was tempted to do just that.
However, for me, it was a matter of obedience. I decided to believe. All things are possible to those that believe. That includes a divorced single man being called to return to pastoral ministry.
Evaluate how willing you are to be obedient.
During this process, I had to let go of my preconditions.
I had to let go of that return happening with the church family I had been a part of for 30 years.
I had to give up on “where I would serve.”
One of my preconditions was that it would not be in the middle of nowhere where it snows. I had spent most of my life living and working in snow country. I was sick of snow.
Once I gave up my preconditions and was tested to the point of despair, then God spoke,
And He kept speaking.
Today I am not pastoring in snow country. I am not in the middle of nowhere, but I am truly in a place I love shepherding a group of people that are a wonderful and diverse group of believers that have also been through their trials by fire and together
God is knitting us together to change a region of the country that has been labeled sinful. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds and together we are going to change the label to grace.