Sometimes God speaks and the message is crystal clear and the plan unfolds quickly before me. Sometimes he has to hit me upside the head with a baseball bat. (figuratively speaking, of course) Here of late, I believe God has been speaking, and I've been a bit slow to hear (or listen) and the message is about as clear as mud to me. I mean, I am beginning to "get it" but... I don't get it!
Here's the thing...
It began a little over a week ago. I was having one of those nights where I suddenly am wide awakened a little after 3:00 AM. This has been a pattern for me for more than 25 years, that when God wants to speak to me, or rather, that he is drawing me into a deeper time of prayer, I wake up usually at exactly 3:13 AM, but I've noticed that time varying at times in recent months. (I'm going to have to explore this variation to see if there is something to that as well.) Anyway, this particular night I woke up, and about the time I started to pray, I received a text message on my phone. I glanced at the number, did not recognize it and continued to pray. A few minutes later, the phone rang and it was the same number, and it was an international number, but I did not know where from. I answered it and the voice on the other end began to tell me that he was from Kenya and how he had been reading my blogs and would be very interested in having me come to Africa to preach and teach. Truthfully, I thought it was a friend of mine playing a joke, and then I remembered that the number was an international number. I spoke with him briefly and told him that while I was humbled, there was no way I could make a trip to Kenya right now, that finances were just too tight. He asked me to just pray about it it and that he would be in touch. Interesting... but I'm thinking, "yeah, right."
Well, a couple of days later, I received a message from a friend in the ministry who is in Europe. He told me that in prayer, he kept feeling impressed that I was to come to Europe, to do meetings in Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and other spots in Europe. I told him that I'd love to, and that it had been more than 11 years since my last trip there, but that we just could not do it financially. I explained that we were getting ready to have 2 kids in college with absolutely no governmental aid and that it was a strain to do what we needed to do to our own home. He said to me, "Bishop Darrell, just pray. I believe God is setting a door for you to walk through." I have to admit, I was a bit of a smart alec when I replied, "Well, God's gonna have to speak to me loud and clear and rain gold coins from the sky, because that's about the only way I could do this." He laughed and said, "Don't tell God what is impossible."
OK... today, I'm just finishing up my sermon for tomorrow and getting ready to do some work on visitors packets for tomorrow when I received an email from another friend in Europe, wishing me an early happy birthday, but then telling me that as he has been praying, he saw me preaching in Africa, and several European countries. He said that he felt impressed to contact me and to tell me to begin making preparations for what the Lord was going to do in my ministry. So... I'm sitting here thinking: How? I have a church to pastor and don't see how I could be gone for several weeks or a couple of months. Where does the money come from? It's expensive to do this type thing... and not only that, I have my kids college and a home to take care of. When? Is this something God is wanting soon, or is this something off in the future? Why me? I mean, with all the preachers out there... why me, that pastor of 45-50 people in hole in the wall, Illinois. Why me?
I'm listening... but I'm wondering. I sure don't understand it and I cannot figure out how. But if this is the Lord beginning to speak something new into my/our life, then I am quite excited to see how he's going to pull this one off. I'll be honest... typing this, I've almost hit the delete button about a dozen times... because I'm struggling with doubt. But I'm waiting... and I am open... if that is really you Lord.