Joseph Herrin (08-17-08)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Spirit of Christ has perfectly ordered my steps in sending me out with a message to the nation at this season. As I mentioned, He orchestrated the matter where I would set forth on the date 8-8-8, a number that pertains to Christ as well as to oxygen. (See the blog titled Gospel Chemistry if you missed this one.)
This significant date turned out to be merely the beginning of a myriad of profound symbols that the Lord set before Randy Simmons and I as we ventured out to begin the ministry to which the Holy Spirit had appointed us.
And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
If you will listen to the audio messages from this week of meetings you will find that God has a specific call upon the life of each son and daughter, and Barnabas and Saul are not exceptions, but rather the norm. God will order our steps with the same preciseness that He ordered the steps of these early apostles. As He does so, we will find that there is a cross for all of His children to carry, but there will also be abundant comfort in attendance with the cross as God speaks a word in season to sustain the weary and fainthearted.
A couple days before I left out on this trip, I went to have lunch with my daughter Kristin who lives about an hour away from me in Georgia. As I was approaching the place where she works a squirrel ran out into the road in front of my van. It was so close that I did not even attempt to step on the brake, and the van struck the squirrel and it somehow made it all the way to the other side of the road where it collapsed in the grass and lay dead.
Now, striking a squirrel in Georgia is not a rare occurrence. Squirrels are very double minded creatures. They will run out into the road and when they see a car coming they will act as if they will run back the other way. Then they will decide that they will instead cross the road, only to change their mind again. It is not unusual to see a squirrel change direction several times as a car approaches, and it is this double mindedness that often leads to their death.
When I struck this squirrel the Spirit impressed upon me that this incident was significant. He reminded me that vehicles represent ministries, and I was driving the van God had provided for me to carry out the ministry appointed unto me. I understood the Spirit to be saying that this ministry would be the death of double mindedness.
I later shared this event with Randy Simmons and he was immediately impressed by the Spirit also having sent it as a prophetic message. I shared with him that the message could be understood in a couple of different ways. The first was in how it related to those carrying out the ministry.
About six years ago the Lord set before me a very similar opportunity to go out on the road and begin a ministry of traveling and teaching. He had delivered my family and I from all worldly attachments of house and furnishings, and He had wonderfully, and very remarkably provided a motorhome for our family and outfitted it with everything we needed to go out on the road.
In the book Evidence of Things Unseen I wrote about this experience. Traveling and teaching was a thing I was very desirous of doing, and on the one hand I felt a tremendous joy at the thought of being led of the Spirit to those places and people He desired for me to speak to. I felt a great freedom in not being tied down to any location, having the liberty to go wherever the Spirit of Christ directed. As I thought of these things my spirit was elated.
In the very next moment I would think of the difficulties and trials of such a walk. I had no money in the bank and would have to trust God daily for the provision of my family. I thought of the possibility of getting out on the road and running out of money in some city I did not know, or of the motorhome breaking down leaving us stranded. The Spirit told me I could trust God to meet every eventuality, but my mind was filled with anxieties and the awareness of my own weakness and doubt.
The Lord led my family to go to Jekyll Island and to spend a month there as a family resting and enjoying the fellowship of one another. On the drive there my mind kept jumping from thoughts of joy at the liberty of what God had done and was calling me to, over to thoughts of fear and anxiety. The result was a profound double-mindedness that kept me from experiencing peace and walking confidently before God. If you have read my testimony in the book mentioned, you already know that I asked God to give me a break from this faith walk that I had been in for two years, for I lacked courage to go forward and needed some time to heal from all the slings and arrows that had wounded me in this difficult period. The vision of traveling and teaching was put off to a future time as the Lord answered my prayer by opening a door for me to take a job teaching computer management at a local technical college for a period of two years.
The Lord’s recent message to both Randy and I was that we would not be able to fulfill the ministry to which we were called unless we cast down all unbelief and trusted Him implicitly to guide and sustain us as He sent us forth. I was greatly resolved to do so, and I have maintained a great measure of peace in my heart allowing me to set out on 8-8-8 into an open ended adventure that God alone knows where it will lead and the experiences we will be met with.
Randy is very much like I was six years ago, yet to an even greater degree. He has wrestled constantly with God’s revealed will that he is to travel with me in this ministry, though God has confirmed it to him on a number of occasions and through various means. Randy immediately saw himself as the squirrel, and even the week prior to our leaving he had confessed to me that he would not know whether he would be going along with me until the day arrived, and that he rather anticipated that he would not go. He said this despite the fact that he had quit his job at the Lord’s leading some months earlier in anticipation of the Lord sending him out with me.
You may wonder at the source of Randy’s hesitation. I have found that our double-mindedness often arises from the same source; fear, doubt and unbelief. The doubt and unbelief are a common denominator, while the fears are different according to the individual. Randy’s particular fear arises out of a deep sense of personal unworthiness that leads him to feel great anxiety and to manifest panic attacks in social situations. In days past he often coped with this by drinking or taking prescription drugs that alter one’s mood. God has separated Randy from both of these coping mechanisms, and this leaves him facing his fears without any worldly crutches to lean upon. God alone must be his source of victory over the spirit of fear.
Randy’s fears are heightened at the thought of being among Christians in a group setting. Not only does he find that most Christians have little familiarity with the demons that have tormented him, and the gutter life it led him to for many years, but Randy has been in church services before and has listened to believers gush about how much they love God, and how happy they are in Him, and how their lives are so victorious and he cannot relate to all of this positive emotion. Randy is one of the most honest men I know. He will fully disclose the failings of his life and the wretchedness of his own heart. He understands that he is not even close to loving God and other people in the way that Christ did, and wonders why God chose him to go out with me in the first place. Randy reminds me of Nathaniel. He is a man in whom is no guile, and I am very often convicted by his searching appraisals of his own deficiency, knowing that there is a tendency among Christians to wear a facade of happiness and victory when in fact they are far from living the overcoming life. His honesty encourages me to a more honest appraisal of my own life.
The day came for Randy and I to leave Georgia and it was fear of failing God more than anything that led him to get in the van to join me. He prefaced it by telling me that he was no different than he had been on our previous trip camping where he wrestled daily with remaining and ended up saying things that should not have been spoken as his inner torment spilled out. Yet he was willing to go, and I took that as a sign of God’s prevailing in Randy’s behalf.
Things went pretty well until we got to Kentucky. We had left at 8 in the evening to avoid the heavy traffic, and it was now late at night. We stopped to get gas and to eat a sandwich at an Arby’s restaurant. It was there that the enemy chose to attack him with a withering assault of fears and doubt. As we walked out of Arby’s Randy told me that he couldn’t do this. I did not respond, knowing that argument would be futile, and I postponed conversation as I intended to stop just a bit further up the road to rest for a couple hours.
When we got to the rest stop Randy’s fears began boiling to the surface and he was evidently agitated, but trying to show restraint as he did not want to speak in anything he would later regret. He asked me how he could get a bus ticket back to Georgia. I told him that I would purchase one for him if that was his decision, but I suggested he wait until we get to our destination in Fort Wayne for the ticket would not be much more from there than it was from Kentucky, and I was hoping he would have a change of mind.
I tried to rest a couple hours, but Randy was very restless, and was giving into complaint, which very frequently happens when people do not want to go where God is directing them. (Remember the Israelites in the wilderness?) Finally, I spoke to Randy. I told him that there was good reason that God had sent us out together. Yahshua sent the disciples out in pairs that they might encourage one another. If one can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight. I told him that God had sent both of us out to face giants in our lives, and I had to face down my anxieties and fears as well as he. If he turned back I would still have to go forward, for I could not turn back, but I would have to face every enemy alone.
I shared with Randy that the message God had given me to share with His people was a very difficult one. Even if he never spoke a word, it gave me great encouragement to know he was there, for I knew that he fully understood and agreed with the message God had given to me. Randy truly sees the judgment coming soon and understands the message of suffering and the cross better than most Christians I know. He has often shared these truths with others, including almost all the members of his family, though they are often met with indifference and unbelief.
I reminded Randy that he had told me some time ago that he had my back, and it meant much to me just to know he was sitting out there in what is often a hostile environment to the truth, and I would feel the absence of his presence if he turned back now. Randy listened, but he was not persuaded. As soon as the sun arose I got back on the road, having not slept at all. I spent the time praying. I told the Lord that I had offered to Randy every advice I knew to give in the previous months, and I was unable to change his mind. I asked Him to do what I could not, and to set signs and testimonies before Randy that would convict his heart.
As soon as we got on the road the signs began. First there was a large billboard that read “Hell is Real!” We had just had a conversation about the overcomers in Christ where the thought was mentioned that only the overcomers were promised to be spared from the second death, which is the lake of fire (Revelation 2:11). Those who shrink back from the will of God are not numbered among the overcomers. They will be cast into the lake of fire.
We went a short distance and it seemed every road sign had the number 22 in it. Some even had the number 222, which is the model number of the van we were in, representing the ministry of two witnesses sent out with a message of the disciple’s cross and an end to the flesh. One sign read “Shepherdsville - 22 miles.” I told Randy the significance of the sign was that the Shepherd was dwelling in a place of flesh cutting and crucifixion and so must we. A short distance later we passed a Greyhound Bus on the side of the road. Steam was pouring from the rear of it. I told Randy that if vehicles represent ministry that there was one which was going nowhere. It was a Greyhound Bus ticket he wanted to purchase to go back to Georgia.
Over and over signs were attesting to God’s call to go forth in this ministry, but the greatest ones were yet ahead. When we got to the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky Randy asked me if we could get a ticket there. I told him if that was what he wanted I would do so. I got off downtown and saw an officer on the street and asked for directions. She told us where the bus station was located. As we were nearing it Randy saw a billboard out of the corner of his eye that arrested his attention. It pictured a squirrel hanging on a fence, and it had the caption in bold print, “Save the Squirrel!”
Randy was still to filled with fear to change his mind so I purchased a bus ticket for him which cost $111.00. I shook his hand, and left with a great heaviness in my heart. Somehow I knew that if Randy turned back now that God would not send him forth to the ministry appointed to him again. This was a critical moment of decision. I sat in the parking lot and prayed for a moment, then got back on the road alone.
I had gone only a short distance and the Spirit quickened to me that the price of the ticket was significant. It was exactly one half of 222, a number denoting the ministry God had called us to. I called Randy on the phone and told him this, but he had little to say. I drove out onto the Interstate and crossed into Indiana. I had continued to pray and had gone about 20 miles when my phone rang. It was Randy, and he had a question. He said he could not understand why God would disqualify him for simply refusing to go to this series of meetings (I had not mentioned the disqualification.) I reminded him of the Israelites in the wilderness, and how God had borne long with them. He had put up with their complaints and pettiness, but a time came when He required that they choose faith or fear.
God brought Israel to the border of Canaan and told them to go in and conquer the land. Ten of the spies brought back an evil report, saying there were giants in the land who were too mighty for them. The people refused to go forward at God’s command, and for their decision God said that the entire generation of those above the age of 20 would be disqualified. They would die in the wilderness. There are times when God tells us we must go forward or risk losing much of value.
As I was talking I pulled off the Interstate at an exit, hoping Randy would ask me to come back and get him. He said he felt bad since I had bought him a ticket, and the money would be wasted as it was non-refundable. I told him to not be concerned about that. His life and walk with the Lord was of much greater value than the price of a ticket. Randy then asked me to come back and get him. I told him I was going to fill up at a gas station at the exit and then would get him. The station there was a Love’s gas station. As I filled up the Spirit spoke to me that the van represented a ministry that ran on love. Though the message of the cross was hard, it was not a ministry of condemnation, but one born of love. It was right for me to be patient with Randy and to seek his welfare above all other concerns.
Randy was waiting outside the station when I arrived. He got back in and the rest of the trip was very much different. Randy’s attitude had softened, and there was a great humility in his speech. He knew God had done something profound. He said when he was waiting for me in downtown Louisville that a squirrel had come up in a lawn across the street and had sat there just looking at him. The squirrel was saved, for double-mindedness had been conquered. When I left the bus station the first time and was driving through downtown I stopped at a light and saw across from me a large building with a sign outside which read “Department of Corrections.” The road it was on was Liberty Street. The Spirit declared that His corrections always lead to liberty. When we respond to God’s corrections we will find ourselves being set free from the things that bind us. If we resist His correction, we will remain in bondage.
Randy still struggled throughout the week in attending the meetings, for all the reasons mentioned earlier. On several occasions he was close to bolting out the door, but he remembered what I said about his presence being an encouragement to me. In one of the most severe tests he even moved to another seat closer to the center of things where I could see him sitting there. After the meetings ended, the couple in whose house we had been staying said they felt the Lord would have them offer for us to stay on as long as we needed until the Lord showed us what was next. I sensed the Lord was in this offer and decided to stay. Randy, however, felt that he had fulfilled what he had committed to do, and was desirous of returning to Georgia.
Unlike the earlier time in Louisville, I did not sense that he would be disqualifying himself to do so, but that God would grant him this time of respite. When we arrived at Fort Wayne we found that the exit we were to get off at was exit 111A. There were two exits numbered 111, and Randy and I both felt this was significant, but did not immediately discern the meaning. On the day Randy left Fort Wayne, I shared with him that I believed it was a testimony that even as there were two exit 111s that the Lord was indicating that we would take different roads here.
I took Randy to the bus stop in Fort Wayne on Friday. He became emotional, and choked up as he told me that he had prayed and told the Lord that morning that he was sorry. I could really sense the great struggle inside him, as he did not want to disappoint his Father in heaven. He knew he was weak in this area of his life, and he did not want to be. With his voice breaking, Randy told me that he told God he was not turning away from Him, but he needed a break right now. I reassured him that it was OK, and I told Randy that I believed after a season God would send us back out together again, which Randy also confirmed.
That morning as Randy was deciding to go back to Georgia, he went to a park to think about the decision. He sat down at a bench, and looked down between his feet and saw some words inscribed into the concrete. He did not know what they meant, so he asked me when he returned. The words read, “Dios es amor.” They are Spanish for “God is love.” God had these words inscribed in concrete, for this is an unchanging fact of God’s nature. Even His corrections come to His children out of His deep love for them. He is committed to their freedom from all that binds them. What an awesome God we serve!
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