Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
Eighteen Months Later
27 June 2011
Recently I was having lunch with a friend and lamenting the fact that I've been unemployed for 18 months, and that I've yet to receive from God any clear direction regarding how He wants me to be earning a living. I was saying, "What I want is really simple: I just want God to tell me where to go and what to do, and I'll do it. I'll live wherever He wants, and I'll do whatever kind of work He wants me to do — all He has to do is tell me the details, and I'll immediately obey His instructions. That isn't asking too much, is it?"
The very next day, I was reading in the first chapter of Jeremiah (The Message version), and I was astounded to run across these words, in which God is speaking: "I'll tell you where to go ... I've given you a job to do." WOW! I felt like God was speaking straight to me, answering the previous day's complaint! I was SO encouraged! But that wasn't all ... a bit later I checked my e-mail, and found a regular e-mail newsletter that I receive from some Messianic Christians in Israel. I really like reading what Arni Klein has to say, because it often speaks to the depths of my heart regarding the journey I'm on with Yeshua. This time he was right on target once again:
"This is a very different experience from what we've known. In the past, all our moves and changes were clearly marked or sovereignly set by the Lord. But in this instance, the determining factor is the peace in our heart. It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. As various ideas and approaches have come up, we've needed to enter into them to see if God's peace settles there. Walking in this manner is stretching our faith out in a new direction. For us, simply following is much easier. He speaks ... we obey. To be led by an abiding peace requires a faith and trust that God is really there watching over us and is directing us even when we don't see Him."While unbelievers call it "coincidence," those who are in relationship with God can see, with the eyes of their heart, His hand behind such "coincidences." For me, these Scripture verses and this e-mail were direct and specific replies from God to my cry for direction from Him. Not the reply I was hoping for (because I want Him to tell me where to go and what to do), but reassuring and comforting nonetheless.
The experience that Arni writes about is exactly what I'm going through too. Simply following God is much easier: He speaks, we obey. But at this point in my more than three decades of following Yeshua, it's almost TOO easy. I've already learned that lesson, and a lesson learned is easy. It's time to graduate, to move on to harder lessons. God has spoken to me a couple of times during the past five years we have lived in Oregon that He is taking me on to more difficult lessons because I have already learned the previous lessons. I would be stagnating to remain at the same level which has become easy.
So now, like Arni, and I'm sure many other followers of Yeshua around the world, God is wanting me to learn to be led by a sense of His peace in my inner person, and not by the more obvious ways He has led me in the past. And like Arni, I need to have faith and trust that God is really there watching over me and directing me, even when I don't sense that He is. This lesson definitely IS stretching my faith out in a new direction.
The peace of God in my inner person is saying to me that it's part of His plan for me to be unemployed during this season of my life. To us Americans who were instilled with the Protestant work ethic and the proverb (NOT from the Bible) that God helps those who help themselves, such purposeful unemployment seems born of irresponsibility, laziness and stupidity.
It may come as a shock to many Americans, but the reality is that our American values and outlook on life are often OPPOSITE of what the Bible actually teaches. I believe that God is using my unemployment to purge many of those wrong ideas and values from my inner being, so He can align my heart and mind with HIS values and priorities. I also believe that during this season of my life He is preparing me for the next season. As I read in Jeremiah, God eventually WILL tell me where to go, and He eventually DOES have a job for me to do. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, His economy is not our economy (Isaiah 55:8,9,2).
There are plenty of examples in the Bible of people who walked by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Following are a few of the notable ones:
Following Yeshua is not following a map, nor a set of regulations, nor a religious routine. It's all about following a PERSON — walking WITH that person. We don't know where we are going, but He does. If we follow Him, we will get there, because He IS the way ... the way to the Father, the way to eternal life. Yeshua also said that eternal life is found in Himself, because He IS life. And that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father, because He and the Father are one. Yeshua is the center and the focus and the source of EVERYTHING.
So I'm following Yeshua, walking with Him, even though I don't know where He's leading me, because He IS the way. Like Abraham, I have obeyed and gone on a journey, even though I don't know where I'm going. Like the Israelites, I'm following the pillar of cloud (Yeshua). Sometimes the cloud stayed a long time, and I'm sure many of the Israelites wondered why they stayed in one place for so long. But they chose to obey and follow the cloud. Like them, when the cloud moves, I move. When the cloud stays, I stay. If I have to stay in a season of unemployment because the cloud is not moving, then so be it. And like the Wise Men, I too am following a star — Yeshua, the bright Morning Star, shining in my heart.
If I truly want to be a follower of Yeshua — what is commonly called "being a Christian", although that word has become very corrupted and has lost a lot of its meaning in our day — then I MUST trust Him to lead me, and follow Him wherever He guides me, even though I may often not understand all of the "whys." Either I am totally committed to Yeshua until the end of the journey, or else I must turn away from Him and totally reject Christianity — there is no going halfway, there is no middle ground. Either Yeshua is completely trustworthy, or else He is completely untrustworthy. Either He is the truth, or else He's a liar and a deceiver. Each one of us has to make that decision at some point in our life.
Of course, I'm positive that I will make mistakes along the way — who doesn't make mistakes as they learn? In fact, making mistakes is PART OF the learning process. For humans, it's often the way we learn. But my mistakes don't disqualify me from being a follower of Yeshua. I don't have to be perfect — only HE is perfect. And God is not shaken by my mistakes — He is much bigger than my failures; He is able to handle them, and turn them into something good. So there is no reason for myself or others to judge me because I don't follow Yeshua perfectly.
I'm sure that my decision to follow Yeshua completely, no matter what, would seem like foolishness to many. The scoffers would ask, "How can a season of purposeful unemployment be 'from God'? Isn't it rather simply indulging in laziness and self-delusion? Just recently didn't someone say that 'God told him' that 12 May 2011 would be Judgment Day? Anyone can just make up anything they want, and give God the 'credit'." The Bible has something to say about these unbelievers. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments." (1 Corinthians 2:12-15)
"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are." (1 Corinthians 1:20a,25,27,28)
"Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world's standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, 'He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.' And again, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; He knows they are worthless.'" (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
God's wisdom and man's wisdom are two totally different things. As for me, I'm going to live by what God thinks is right, not by what other people think is right, even if it makes me look like a fool in their eyes. Just like, in the eyes of the world, Yeshua laying down His life and going to the cross seems like the ultimate foolishness. Again, Paul wrote that "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18).
I like how the British rock band Delirious put it in their song King of Fools:
I'll live for You and try to be the king of foolsOr what John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard denomination, used to say: "I'm a fool for Christ — whose fool are you?" May we all follow the wisdom of God and be such fools!
I'll long just to walk before the King of fools
This article is 7th a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus) which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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