For many years I have been walking a very fine line, and I probably still do and will continue to do so. When we walk along the edge of an abyss, we are often not aware of what we are doing until much later. During these times of grave danger, God must be carrying us and His Grace must be keeping us. I remember an incident that illustrates the delicate equilibrium of my heart and mind.
Shortly after I married Rebekah, my younger boy, John, gave me a small loquat tree. The seedling tree came from a larger tree growing in his yard and which I had pruned and picked many times. I planted the young tree very carefully where I could see it easily. I fertilized it, kept the weeds away, supported it with a stick, and even placed chicken wire around it to keep intruders out. I did all I could to encourage the seedling to grow into a big, healthy tree.
One day, to my great dismay and distress, I saw that the crown of the tree was broken off. How the break happened I do not know. I was terribly shaken and hoped that the tree would produce some other healthy shoots. It did, but about a year later, the same thing happened! Once again, I experienced deep emotional pain. The tree, however, recovered and became more bushy than tall.
About four years after I had planted the tree, my older boy, Peter, was old enough to drive. Both he and John came to visit me. I showed them the tree. At that moment I knew that if the tree should die, I would not be overcome by anguish and despair. Today I realize how unwholesome our affections for things, pets, and people can become. Should we lose them without being prepared, the grief and pain can devastate us.
From time to time, I take inventory to see if I have become dependent on others in an unwholesome way or have allowed others to lean too heavily on me. I do not want to collapse; neither do I want others to collapse, because our trust has been misplaced. When we develop unhealthy dependencies, we are sure to be disappointed. The only arms that never move and are always open and waiting are the everlasting arms of Jesus. I praise Him for keeping my little seedling alive long enough for me to learn this.
Of all the things I have needed to learn during these past twelve years, the most difficult has been to recognize the voice of God. I did not intend at the beginning of this account of emphasizing this aspect of my life. Most likely I have done so because I have been attacked in this area and find a need to explain and justify myself. Hopefully, my explanations may help others. Those who choose to walk with God often walk a lonely path.
It is often difficult to know when and with whom we are to share an experience, a vision, a dream, or a word of prophecy that we have heard. We have all become very cautious because it is so very painful to be ridiculed or misunderstood as we share what is sacred to us. It is wise to be cautious. We are not to share every personal revelation.
There may be some who read this account who have never had the experience of hearing a prophecy given. The experience is beautiful, especially meaningful when you know the words are specifically directed to you. How does a person know? It is difficult to explain. When it happens, you will know that you have been in the sovereign presence of the Most High God.
I would like to share with you a prophecy that was given at an assembly of believers. It was electrifying to Rebekah and me and many of the others present. This occurred during our honeymoon, which we spent joyfully at a family Bible camp near Crestline, California. During the prophecy, a tape recorder happened to be on so that we are able to share the prophecy here word for word. Those who question this beautiful gift as an authentic expression of the heart of God will hopefully have all possible doubts erased.
(Given through Mike Doyle on July 3, 1973 at Camp Seely)
There have been other occasions when God spoke to us, and they were perfectly timed to meet specific needs. On the same trip that took us to Austin in February of 1981, we also went to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had the opportunity to attend a chapel service at the Oral Roberts University campus. Vicki Jamison was ministering to the student body during this service. God used her as an instrument of both prophecy and healing for my wife. Vicki first spoke in tongues and then interpreted her words. Her gifts are explained in the first book of Corinthians, chapters 12 and 14. These are the words that Rebekah received:
Yea, this night haven’t I even shown thee my ways,
Yea, haven’t I even shown thee this night that unless those be agreed, how can they walk together.
Yea, many of my children have attempted to walk together, yet they are not agreed. But I am saying unto thee that I am going into every area of the life of my children; and yea, I am searching those areas out; and yea, I am searching deep into the hearts of men; and yea, I am building my body even this year.
Yea, even this year shall my body begin to rise in a way in which it has never risen before. And yea, it shall rise in power.
Yea, it shall rise in might.
Yea, it shall rise even in truth; for yea, I shall go about into even thy homes.
Yea, I shall go into thy church.
Yea, I shall go into thy worklife.
Yea, I shall go when thou art alone.
Yea, I shall go when thou art with thy family and yea, I shall change,
Yea, I shall alter,
Yea, I shall cause my Spirit to come upon thee.
Yea, thou shalt know that I am God.
Yea, thou shalt see the mighty face of God.
Yea, the hand of God shall lead thee. Only I say this unto my children, submit ye unto my Word.
Yea, submit even unto my Spirit, for it shall guide thee into all truth.
Yea, it shall show that which is true.
Yea, it shall cause thee to turn from thy error.
Yea, it shall cause thee to turn from rebellion and yea, thou shalt be obedient and pleasing unto me; yea, for those who will please me in everything they do; for I say unto thee my children—Yea, be submissive to my Spirit. Yea, to my Word: Yea, even unto those that I have placed among thee. For whether it be the government; yea, whether it be thy elders; whether it be thy husband; yea, whether it be to one another. Be submissive unto me; yea, be submissive as unto those around you. I have said in my Word, submit one to another in the fear of the Lord.
And yea, I shall be great upon thee. Yea, my hand shall lead thee unto great things, and thou shalt be a conqueror for me. For I shall lead thee and thou shall conquer the enemy, for he shall have no place to attack thee. For thy walls shall be built, and yea, he that keepeth his own spirit is as one who has mighty walls. And yea, thy walls shall be great, they shall not have cracks or holes; for as the enemy does go around your building, yea, your walls, he doth seek for cracks and he doth seek for holes. And yea, thou shall have no holes, and he shall go on hopeless, and thou shalt be a defeater of the enemy. And yea, thou shalt lift up the brokenhearted. Yea, thou shalt be a Repairer of the Breach in the walls, for thou shalt have no holes and thou shall be able to repair the breach because thou hast no holes.
But even as I have said unto thee before, and I say unto thee even this night, I shall say unto thee in the future, submit ye unto my Word. Let it set thee apart even unto me. Yea, let it sanctify thee, even this night it shall be given thee if thou wilt be submissive to my Spirit, if thou shalt go where my Spirit goes. Yea, and you shall walk in the light of my Word and you shall know me, and shall know my face, and my hand shall be heavy upon you.
Thus saith the Lord even unto His children here this night.
But this is the hour and this is the day,
To acknowledge our support of the ministries involved, I have specifically stated where this prophecy was given and through whom. As I explained earlier, the Holy Spirit sometimes communes directly with our human spirit; at other times, the Holy Spirit uses an intermediary. Not long ago we received a letter with the following words of encouragement:
This is the power and this is the way;
Say not I will not be used this particular day,
For you shall see that you are well on your way
To something that is new and fresh, it shall start,
And it shall go forth from here and it shall lodge deeply within your own heart.
You will not recognize yourself in a week or even two,
For your heart is being today totally renewed.
The Spirit of Truth does abide within,
But now He makes His glorious, wonderful way in which your life shall begin.
For that selfsame Spirit moves within you this hour,
To confirm with signs and wonders His own delivering power
So that you will say I have seen and I have touched and I have felt and I have known.
But my son and daughter, I will tell you a truth,
One that you shall know and you shall not know alone.
You shall also have healing hands, and the anointing of the Spirit of the Most High God shall flow in and through you.
Even though you have not asked nor suspected it would be true,
You shall be used by God in a way that is wonderful and new.
REJOICE, REJOICE, for the Spirit says to you,
Life is coming into you in a way that is fresh and glorious and wonderful and new.
Open your hearts for He is walking in,
He is there and He is going to flow,
This is the day—NOW—you shall begin.
In the name of Jesus, just walk in it! Just walk in it! Just walk in it!
February 8, 1981
Earlier I mentioned that songs have been very helpful, healing, and instructive for me. Very often I merely enjoy a song but do not know why. At times I ponder the words of a song for quite a while until its meaning finally becomes clear. I remember the song “Big Bad John.”
Peter and Rebekah:
My dear children—Yes, I have overflowed your cup. I have filled and overfilled my work in the cup of your lives. The flow of my Spirit shall continue to run over in your lives so that other cups may also be filled. As my Spirit flows out of you, it shall flow into the hearts of many of my children who are holding out their cups in expectancy. Many are waiting for their filling, and I shall use you as a deep well of my living water. The water is sweetened to perfection by the sweetness of my Spirit in you. You are one cup—given for many.
The lyrics of the song speak of a man, who stood six foot six and weighed 245 pounds. He was a drifter and it is told that with a crashing blow he sent “a Lou’siana fellow to the Promised Land.” In subsequent stanzas he is redeemed and is given a new name. He becomes like Samson in the Bible. He becomes like a giant oak tree. During a mine cave-in, he shores up the timbers with his huge frame. Everyone is saved except “Big Bad John.” A tombstone seals “that worthless pit;” and on the stone are written these words, “At the bottom of this pit lies a big, big man. BIG JOHN.”
“Big John, Big John” – Words and Music by Jimmy Dean
Ev'ry mornin' at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn't give no lip to Big John.
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn't say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said "Hi" to
Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight over a Cajun Queen
And a crashin' blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Loosiana fellow to the Promised Land
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin'
Miners were prayin' and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought that they'd breathed their last-'cept John
Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell|
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed a saggin' timber, gave out with a groan
And like a giant oak tree he just stood there alone-Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out "There's a light up above!"
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
Now there's only one left down there to save
With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
Now they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
**At the bottom of this mine lies a BIG BIG man** Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
Only recently did I fathom my fondness for “Big Bad John.” I love to help. My wife once said, “You are happiest when you have a roomful of persons needing help.” She was very close to being right. In fact, when a situation is considered hopeless, when others have tried and failed, it is then that I am challenged and motivated to the limit. Within bounds, there is nothing wrong with this kind of zeal. Those who were single-minded in the pursuit of their goal have made many noble accomplishments; but there are also many recorded and unrecorded shipwrecks. After a period of great activity and accomplishment, one finds it easy to slip into a time of depression and despondency.
In my professional career in the computer field, I was challenged by the fact that others had tried and failed. For six years I worked with a zeal that bordered on a state of frenzy. The tendency is to abuse oneself during such a period and become totally spent, both physically and emotionally. I was guilty of doing that. Like “Big John,” when the job was done, I caved in. I was bankrupt.
If we do not learn from our mistakes, the cycle repeats itself. After we recuperate and get our bearings, we throw ourselves into some other project with the same zeal. My subsequent challenge was to raise our hyperactive son, whose prognosis was bleak. Already at the age of seven he had produced an array of angry and confused individuals who had tried to help him.
After working with him for eight years, I was totally worn out and had no strength left to direct or correct his life. However, by the Grace of God, the downward spiral of his life was eventually reversed. We were able to channel his hyperactive personality into many constructive activities. This time I did not collapse, because there were other meaningful and interesting projects that had captured my attention.
For a large part of my life I had an unreasonable need to excel for all the wrong reasons. I, with the emphasis on “I”, wanted to be “Big John.” I wanted to be the deliverer who would lead the people out of our modern-day Egypt. I wanted “to set the captives free.” It took a long time to set aside what I would call my “savior syndrome.” I needed to wake up and recognize that I am called to be His helper, that Jesus is the “giant oak tree, that Jesus is the “man scorned and covered with scars,” that it is His Spirit in me that is “willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”
I still enjoy “Big Bad John,” “The Impossible Dream,” and similar songs that can challenge and stir one’s innermost being, but they no longer take me into a world of unproductive fantasies. Maybe I have learned my lesson. No tombstone needs to commemorate my passing from this world, but in the world to come, I would love to be greeted with these words.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:21
Songs can give us enlightening clues about our own personalities. When they deeply affect us, we should take time to ponder their meanings. The following lines offer much for reflection:
THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong,
To love pure and chaste from afar,
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far;
To fight for the right, without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!|
And I know if I’ll only be true,
To this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest,
And the world will be better for this;
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars.
Another song that I want to leave with all who like music and weddings is called, “The Camel Train.” It must have been inspired by the angels of heaven. The first time Rebekah and I heard the song, we thought that it had been written especially for us; and thinking that it might have been especially written with Peter and Rebekah in mind was another clue that heaven was smiling upon our marriage. Right or wrong, we interpreted the words in our favor. Many have already used the song as part of their wedding ceremony. This practice may become tradition for those who seek a marriage relationship ordained by God. These are the lyrics to the song:
The Camel Train
Words and Music by F. M. Lehman
‘Twas a day in early springtime, by an ancient wayside well,
Eleazar paused to rest his camel train;
He had found a bride for Isaac e’er the ev’ning shadows fell,
And his weary journey had not been in vain.
So he took the fair Rebekah, decked in jewels rich and rare,
Back to Abraham and Sarah far away;
Where Rebekah loved her Isaac and he loved Rebekah fair—
Oh, it must have been a happy wedding day!
So the blessed Holy Spirit from the Father God above,
Has come down to earth to find a worthy bride;
For our Isaac over yonder has prepared His tents of love,
For He wants His fair Rebekah by His side.
We have left our kinfolks gladly, we have bid the world good-bye,
We are going to that land beyond the sea;
We shall soon behold our Isaac in our home beyond the sky—
What a happy, happy wedding that will be!
We are on our camel journey to the land beyond the sea,
Where our Isaac waits to meet his happy Bride;
What a holy consummation! what a glorious jubilee,
When we see the fair Rebekah by His side.
That will be a joyful meeting when the camel train comes in,
When Rebekah leaves her camel by the way;
When we close our weary journey ‘midst the joyful noise and din—
That will surely be a happy wedding day.
Oh, get ready! — the evening shadows fall!
Don’t you hear the Eleazar call?
For there is going to be a wedding;
Our joy will soon begin—
In the ev’ning— when the camel train comes in.