Joseph Herrin (09-27-2013)
In the movie Forrest Gump the image of a feather floating on the wind is used as a metaphor for the life of the main character. There is never any sense that Forrest Gump has planned his life, for as he often states, he is not a very smart man. He simply takes life as it comes. The life that comes turns out to be quite remarkable.
As Christians (those who are disciples of Yahshua) we are invited to embrace a similar life. The wind that bears the feather aloft can be compared to the Holy Spirit, for it is He who sets the course of life for those who yield themselves to His guidance. I have remarked when I share the testimony of my life that my experience only began to be viewed as exceptional when Yahweh told me in 1999 that I needed to surrender myself to go wherever He would guide and to do whatever He would command.
It is quite natural to experience fear when Yahweh confronts a man or woman with the call to let go of the reins of their life. We find comfort by being in control. The unknown frightens us. Yet, there is no other alternative if a person wants to walk as Christ walked, following in His footsteps, qualifying as one of His disciples. Yahshua always gave the same invitation to those who wished to be disciples. “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
It would do no good to ask, “Where will You lead me if I agree to follow?” The fact that we are not told what our experiences will be provides an opportunity for faith to be manifested. What ultimately wins the day for a remnant of believers is that they come to reckon that, despite their fears, God can be trusted to choose for them the optimal life to bring them to spiritual maturity and qualify them as sons who are worthy to rule and reign with Christ in the ages to come. This is a critical matter, for those who will not entrust their lives to God, those whose fears, or carnal desires, hinder them from surrendering to Yahweh’s guidance are judged to be unworthy of Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
I remember during my wrestling with a life of surrender and faith that I came to the conclusion that my life would lack fulfillment if I spent the remainder of my life devoted to a God I could not trust. Such a life would be wholly dissatisfying both to myself and to Yahweh. Though I was an extremely fearful man, and timid, I chose to cast my life into the care and guidance of the Father, recognizing that at the end of my life I would know only regret if I failed to do so. The journey since that time has been quite remarkable.
We see the Israelites given the same invitation as they departed Egypt under the leadership of Moses. They were leaving everything behind that was familiar. They did not know what lay ahead. They only knew that Yahweh was guiding them with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They had only two options. They could move when the cloud moved and remain in the will of God, or they could choose to guide their own lives.
Tragically, many Christians do not recognize that the same choices confront them. They can choose a Spirit directed life, or they can choose for themselves where they will go, what they will do, and what life they will live. Surrendering to follow Christ will always lead to wilderness experiences. There will be trials and testing; there will be times of humble provision, yet those who embrace this walk will find themselves being transformed from the slave mentality of Egypt to that of divine sons. Those who choose to remain in control of the direction of their lives may avoid experiences they deem to be undesirable, but they will also disqualify themselves for the promotion Yahweh would have bestowed upon them. They will forfeit an imperishable inheritance.
I Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
The story of the Exodus from Egypt and the journey through the wilderness to the land of the Israelites’ inheritance serves as a parable of the normal life of a Christian. The journey began at the first Passover. The Passover lamb was slain in Egypt, and was to be eaten at once. Moses gave the Israelites the following instructions.
“Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand...”
What do these things signify? They serve as a pattern for the Christian life. Those who come to Yahshua for salvation are to be ready to follow Him at once into whatever experiences He has prepared for them. We first partake of the Lamb of God while we are citizens of Egypt (a symbol of this world system). Yet we are not to remain in the world, for it is a place of bondage. We must have our loins girded, sandals on our feet, and staff in hand, ready at once to answer the invitation of Christ to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” The believer is to yield their life to be guided by the Spirit as surely as the Israelites were commanded to follow the pillar of fire and cloud.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The church has failed in communicating this truth to those who are born again of the Spirit of Christ. Many saints, myself included, consequently do not face this invitation to surrender their life to the Holy Spirit’s leading until later in their Christian experience. I am observing a number of people receiving this call at this time. Many more will be brought to this crisis of decision in coming days. Yet, it will ever be a remnant who answer the call.
In a parallel illustration in the Scriptures, we read that after 70 years of bondage in Babylon, Yahweh moved upon the King of Babylon’s heart to release the Jews to return to Zion. A majority of the Jews who had gone into captivity had found Babylon to their liking. It was a place of great commerce, wealth, and many physical comforts. The journey back to Zion would be long, arduous, and beset with perils. Upon arriving in Jerusalem the people would know austerity and much hard work as the city had been razed and its walls destroyed. As a result, only a remnant of the Jewish people in Babylon answered the call to return to Zion, the city of God.
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
One from a city, and two from a family, are not large numbers. So too there is only a remnant that are heeding the call to follow Yahshua wherever He would lead them. The journey to Zion, the mount upon which the overcomers will stand with Christ, is a challenging one.
And I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.
I am always delighted when I meet a son or daughter of Yahweh who has accepted the invitation to follow Yahshua to Zion. To find those rare individuals who are yielding their lives to the direction of the Holy Spirit is a great privilege. For these past two weeks I have been blessed to fellowship with one such son of God.
Nicholas and Champ
The photo above shows the young man whom the Father directed me to come spend time with the past two weeks. Nicholas did not start off well in life. He comes from a broken home, and he fell in with some evil influences while in the public school system. At the tender age of 16 he was condemned as a criminal and locked up. He initially spent time in a Youth Detention Center. When he turned seventeen he was transferred to the prison system in Georgia. He has spent the past four years and 4 months behind bars.
As tragic as this may sound, Yahweh used this experience to good effect in Nicholas’ life. Being deprived of liberty, and subjected to many fearful experiences in an evil environment, Nicholas turned to God. He repented of his sins and devoted himself to obedience to Christ.
It has been my honor to correspond with Nicholas since 2011. He received all of the newsletters I have created for men in prison (88 in number), and rejoiced in the spiritual truths Yahweh was teaching him. I discerned from his letters that Nicholas was a sincere disciple of Christ. He expressed things to me that I clearly recognized to be the hallmarks of a son of God. He was coming under submission to the leading of the Spirit of Christ even while in prison.
Nicholas has been able to share more in depth with me during these past weeks about his prison experiences. I have known much joy and satisfaction as I have listened to his testimony. While in prison Yahweh began dealing with Nicholas in many ways, causing him to subject his will and desires to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Nicholas shared with me about God’s dealing with him about his eating while in prison. Inmates are allowed to go to the prison store and spend up to $60 a week on various items, most of which is food. It is common for inmates to live on potato chips, cookies, snack cakes, and other junk food, though they are provided meals from the prison kitchen. Nicholas had been eating lots of junk food, but God began dealing with him about this. He told Nicholas to not even go to store call for a season. He also began directing him to eat the vegetables and fruits provided in the prison meals, rather than trading them to others for desserts and other less healthy items.
It was an adjustment for Nicholas to begin eating turnip greens and potato salad. He described these experiences to me. Often the greens would be cold by the time they were served. He spoke of how he had to swallow them quickly without chewing because the Father was directing him to eat them. Over time he grew to like these more healthy food items. He would express appreciation and thanksgiving to the Father for everything that He provided. He did not take anything for granted.
Nicholas shared with me how the Father even told him to not accept free food from others when it was offered to him. He told him to be content with what was on his food tray. For a time this left him with a sense of being hungry throughout the day, but this quickly faded. Nicholas also had been spending hours each day working out, lifting weights, but the Father began to deal with him on this matter as well. Yahweh spoke to him, telling Nicholas that there would always be someone bigger and stronger then himself. He did not want Nicholas leaning on his own strength and abilities to deliver him from threats in prison. Nicholas obeyed, and quit working out. He lost nearly 30 pounds of muscle that he had gained, and it pained him to see how scrawny he looked. Yahweh was faithful, however, and always kept him safe from evil men and violence while in prison.
There was also a season when the Father began telling Nicholas to stay up and not go back to bed whenever he would awaken at night. Sometimes he would awaken as early as 2:00 A.M. and the Father would tell him to stay up. It was a battle at times, but Nicholas would spend the hours praying as he walked back and forth in his prison cell. In all of these experiences Nicholas was learning to buffet his body and keep it under subjection. The spirit man was flexing its muscles, while the flesh man was not permitted to do the same.
This attention to the voice of the Spirit is one of the common experiences of those who are sons of God in training. Yahweh will direct His sons and daughters to do things that appear strange to others, even those who call themselves Christians. The life of a disciple of Christ is by necessity a Spirit-led life.
I have been impressed with Nicholas’ resolve to continue in a life yielded to the Spirit now that he is out of prison. Nicholas will turn 21 years old on November 4th of this year. Yahweh spoke to him while in prison and said that He would perform a quick work in his life for the days are short before the return of Yahshua. He is truly advancing quickly in spiritual things.
Since his release, Nicholas is daily looking to the Father to direct His steps. He is at rest, not trying to force anything to take place. There are a number of things he believes to be the Father’s will, such as taking the test for his G.E.D., getting his driver’s license, and acquiring a job. Nevertheless, he is not actively pressing anyone to help him achieve these goals. He is looking to the Father to order His steps and to make a way for him to accomplish His desires.
Two days ago Nicholas mentioned that his parole officer said he would like for him to attend a job fair in a nearby town. The elderly couple who have opened their home to Nicholas were unexpectedly away as a medical crisis arose and the woman had to be hospitalized. I prayed with Nicholas that if it was Yahweh’s will for him to attend the job fair that He would make a way. Nicholas explained to his parole officer that his host family were away at the hospital and, as he did not have a driver’s license yet, he did not know if he would be able to attend the job fair.
The morning of the job fair, Nicholas was outside the home, getting on the bicycle to ride over and visit with me when the phone rang. It was his parole officer. He asked if Nicholas’ was dressed. He told him he was going to pick him up and take him to the job fair, though it was quite a long drive out of the way for the officer. The Bible states:
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of Yahweh; He turns it wherever He wishes.
There is great peace and rest in knowing that Yahweh will both open and shut doors before us as we look to Him to guide our steps. I have found it to be a great source of comfort to know that Yahweh is directing me, for I desire to always be found where He wants me to be. In His presence there is grace and peace.
Yahweh made His will clearly known that I was to travel to West Georgia to spend time with Nicholas. I did not know how long I was to be here, or where I would go next. I knew only the next step in the path appointed to me. I have been staying at an Army Corps of Engineers campground as it is the only RV park in bicycling distance to the home Nicholas is staying at. The policy here only permits campers to stay for two weeks out of a month. I began looking to the Father to affirm His will for me in this matter.
There is no Wi-Fi in the campground here, and I had been using DSL for the past 11 months since I was parked on private property in Middle Georgia. In order to post writings and answer correspondence while at the campground here, I found it necessary to re-activate my Verizon broadband account. I then called Windstream to talk to them about canceling my DSL account, telling the young customer service employee that I anticipated traveling for at least a few months, and would be unable to use it. The customer representative told me he could suspend my billing for three months while I was traveling, and my billing would not re-start until January 4th. I agreed to this gracious offer, and upon hanging up I began pondering whether this date might be significant. I considered the possibility that the Father might have me return to Middle Georgia on January 4th.
After a week had passed, the Spirit began revealing that I was to move on after my two weeks were up here as there are no other nearby campgrounds, and Nicholas does not have his driver’s license yet. (I don’t own a car, and the distances are too far for bicycling.) The Holy Spirit began affirming that these two weeks were all the time Nicholas and I were to spend together at this time. I sensed a leading to call a campground on the Georgia coast that I have stayed at previously. It has become quite popular during the off-season (winter), and often fills up quickly, making it difficult to get reservations, especially at their monthly rate.
I spoke to the manager of the campground and he said he had a cancellation a few days previously that made one site available. He informed me that the site would be available from October 1st through January 3rd. The timing could not have been better. It would provide me with two days to stop in Middle Georgia to take care of some business before proceeding to the Georgia coast.
It is a great comfort to observe the Father directing our steps with such precision, giving us great grace. I will have DSL Internet service upon returning to Middle Georgia in January and will not have to pay for it in the interim. This was unexpected because I had to sign a 2 year contract when I enrolled for the service and was told there would be an early cancellation fee if I ended the service before that time.
Nicholas and I are both feathers on the wind. We are being led about by the Spirit of Christ. Yahweh is the One who is setting the course of our lives. We are simply seeking to discern His guidance and align ourselves with it. There is no striving in such a life, but simply a yielding to the hand of our heavenly Father.
Do not be daunted by any fear. Do not be dissuaded by carnal desires, or a yearning to live the life of your own choice. If you want to begin to experience an exceptional life, where the supernatural becomes commonplace, then you must let One who has all power and wisdom direct your steps.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
Addendum: In past blogs I made mention of a young British woman who has traveled alone to Mexico as a missionary. Eliana's blog can be found at the following link:
Eliana has a specific prayer need for September 29th. She purchased a small plot of land outside a small town in southern Mexico. She has contracted local workers to construct a simple home on the property. I believe the home should be about completed at this time.
One thing Eliana has had to contend with is a societal tendency to lie and deceive among the Mexicans. In some areas people think nothing of lying. Deception is a way of life. This has caused Eliana some stress and problems. The man who sold her the property, and the man who acted as her agent in this matter, both assured her that the property was considered private, not community property. Evidently in some areas of Mexico property is considered community, which basically means that the land owners are subject to the oversight of the community, and the locals can determine whether a person can live there, as well as having oversight of other property matters.
After Eliana purchased the property she found that she had been lied to and it is community property. Now that she has made improvements to the land, and is ready to move onto it, a community meeting is to be held to determine whether the locals want her to live in their community. They could force her to relinquish her property.
Eliana has said that there are some in the community who oppose her being there, but there are also some who are supportive of her. She has been led to look to Yahweh to intervene on her behalf. I am sure she would appreciate the prayer support of the body of Christ at this time. You can find Eliana's contact information on her website.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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