In writing to a family member the other day, I found myself explaining my feelings on the importance of our three year stay in Oklahoma which began back in 2006. The purpose of that adventure was to follow the Lord’s leading and finally attend Bible College! I say finally because it was not only a dream I held since the late 1970’s, but a battle I fought throughout the years since the initial call to ministry at a Youth snow camp that my wife and I attended in our first position as Youth Ministers.
When I first got the clear calling I spoke to our Pastor who explained the need to attend seminary in order to best fulfill the Lord’s directive. So I went back to school, got my BA and then began filling out the paperwork to attend the denomination’s seminary located an hour or so away in Berkeley, California. Early in that process though, I hit a snag when both my wife and I felt the Lord telling us that this wasn’t the time or the plan (at that point) that He wanted us to pursue.
Shortly after that I came across a book that literally changed my wife’s and my life, put an almost unquenchable fire and hunger in our hearts for the Word of God and introduced us to the ministry and Bible School that I would eventually attend in Oklahoma. But during the ensuing 30 years or so, I fought the battle of when and “if” I would ever get to attend Bible College!
By 2004 I had settled in my heart that it was not God’s plan for me to go and that my years of practical experience, countless college level classes, seminars and conferences as well as the untold number of books I read and studied from would have to suffice. It looked at the time, like if anyone was to attend Bible School from our family, it would be our oldest daughter!
So, during the summer of that year a group from our church drove across country to attend a church leadership conference at the ministry’s USA campus in Oklahoma. Our daughter accompanied us on the trip so as to become more familiar with the Bible School campus and offerings. And that’s when my life completely went into a tailspin!
On the opening night as my wife and daughter and I sat with a few thousand other excited participants and listened to the head of the world wide ministry, I was suddenly drawn off onto a rabbit trail and distinctly heard the familiar voice of the Lord clearly say: “Now is the time. I want you to attend school here!” Well, you’d think that I would have been happy wouldn’t you? But no! I got VERY upset and began to argue with the Lord saying that I had already been through all this and had FINALLY settled in my heart that I wasn’t going to get to go!
But alas… He had different… and as I have come to learn… far better, more important and timely plan that needed to be accomplished! Looking back now, as I wrote in the letter I mentioned at the beginning of today’s post, it is very easy to see and discern the Lord’s divine purposes for our obeying His command. I explained to the family member that my wife and I would NEVER been able to handle, go through and stay strong in the midst of everything that has happened in our lives since the negative diagnosis concerning my wife’s health.
I can also now see how it was His perfect timing as He needed us to complete our schooling and come back home in time to be a part of the changes that would be occurring in our parent’s health. And maybe more importantly was the effect that the move would have in the lives of our two youngest children who experienced some very trying times, grew in leaps and bounds, ended up attending Bible School as well, met their spouses and are now living strong, satisfying and successful lives to the glory of God!
As for my wife and I… God not only knew what was ahead for our personal battles, but I believe He also had a good idea of how folks back home would react to the sudden change in our lives (and theirs!)… and therefore how we needed to be SATURATED and FIRMLY established in His Word!
As I thought about that situation this morning, it suddenly dawned on me why some considered our initial reactions and steps taken in response to the announcement of what was occurring in my wife’s brain, as rather out of sync to the “logical and practical steps” that “should be considered.” We returned home having just spent three intense years being filled and trained by precept and example through a specific process of saturation in the Word of God both in classes at school and in the community of faith that surrounded the college in Oklahoma.
We entered into the process with the advantage of having fulfilled one of God’s specific purposes for us attending Bible College at the exact time He told us to go! I have said it time and time again, that I am familiar with many folks who know a lot about the message our churches teach, know alumni who have attended our school and may even have been there for various conferences over the years (just like I had!), but don’t really understand the full impact because they have not lived under the umbrella of the love and excellence that is only attained by attending school and being involved in the ministry there. In some respects you might say that we had an unfair advantage over those who didn’t go!
I think the same is true for our understanding and practical application of the Word into our daily lives. I have come to learn over years in the ministry that many Christians have a strong head knowledge of the Word but are sorely lacking when it comes to the practical application of it. As I studied the Word this morning I heard that small still voice inside me say, in reference to our knowledge and understanding of the Word, that: “It has to get beyond your head and into your hands!”
Our years in Bible School fine-tuned and focused the power and truth of God’s Word and our unbending confidence and trust in It so that we could accurately apply it when the rubber hit the road upon our return home!
If you are facing any difficulty today… no matter how small or impossible it may seem… your answer is in the Word! You just need to take the time to study it and then get it into your hands… in other words… put it to use in your life! James 1:23 tells us that we have to not only be a hearer of the Word but also a doer! Head knowledge does us NO GOOD if we don’t apply what we’ve learned into actual experience in our daily lives!
When I came walking into the dining room this morning with my trusty blue merle sidekick trotting along at my side, I had to stop and sigh as I glanced around the room into the kitchen and living room of our new home in awe of what the Lord has done for us since our return from Oklahoma. In some respects I can’t hardly believe that it is all ours… but reality says it is… and that it is all the product of our faith as we took what we have learned in the Word and put it into practical application in our lives!
What do you think? Can it work for you??? YOU BET! Remember God says that He is not a respecter of persons! (See: Acts 10:34) So I encourage you to get to work! Feel free to dig into life and get your hands dirty… doing the things that God’s Word tells you to do! Have a great day, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Whose Word am I expecting to put into action today?”