Friday, February 19, 2016

We Said Yes (Close to the Edge)

Now, we're close to the edge.

A couple Sundays ago in church we were encouraged to say yes to the will and plans of God.  I nudged April and said everything in our lives and how we live, right now, is shaped by our yes to God.

Last Sunday, while I was listening for the Lord's voice in reading scripture, the quiet impression from the Spirit told me Yes was the rock group that recorded Close to the Edge.  It dawned on me it was YES!  The joy of the Lord came upon me with spontaneous laughter.  It was wonderful.  Close to the Edge has inspired me this past month because it relates symbolically with what I was told.  I'm on the precipice of stepping into a deep, deep calling in God.  Close to the edge.  Yes!

Our original callings were in a denominational schematic including pastoring congregations. We said yes to the voice of God however it came to us. We said yes to our formal affiliation to a denomination as leaders in training, and, then in practice in ministry. Our yes was reciprocated with salaries, housing and other benefits. My yes to God included a yes to a denomination.

My own calling in relationship with God had ebbs and flows.  After years of service to congregations and the denomination, my passion grew cold and passive, and, then through a series of encounters with God via scripture, worship, prayer and small group gatherings, I was positioned to say yes again.

A dear, spiritual woman said to me every time we crossed paths for a about a year, "You're a prophet."  I was still in ministry, sitting in my office, preparing for a Bible study at church and thinking about what Karen told me.   Suddenly, as if someone spoke into my ear, God ask me, "What if you are?"  After crying and in a state of shock, I said out loud to God, "If I am, you need to bring people into my life that show me what it is to be a prophet these days."  With tears in my eyes after the most pointed encounter I'd had with God next to my original calling into ministry, I said yes to God, and people came into my life.

Bill Johnson, a pastor and author from Redding, CA, preached at New Freedom Church  in Webb, AL outside Dothan. Months before he came into my life through CDs and the internet.  He taught me about the roll of prophets in instructing and empowering believers to hear the Lord and act on what he says.  That first night I heard Bill preach in person he said he believed he came to this region to ask communities of faith and individuals if they would say yes to God for what the Lord was preparing to do in these days.  That night, I said yes.

April and I learned more about our giftings and expressing them in love in the years that followed.  This also involved risk.  We risked our reputations as educated, dignified clergy persons, in addition to careers and related benefits, to defend, and even host, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, revealing the Father's heart in expressive worship, laying on of hands for healing and impartation, and preaching with boldness.  We called congregations to step into deeper relationships with God in Christ through the giftings, power and love of the Holy Spirit.  We'd said yes to God.  We asked fellow believers to say yes, as well. They didn't merely refrain from saying yes.  They said no. 

We grew in a new perspective of seeing ourselves in God being instruments, conduits of bringing heaven to earth.  I was given a prophetic word from a friend who told me a vision he had of me at a fork in a road. I went down one spur that was full of debris. I turned around and went the other direction. I went very quickly to the end. He also told me of seeing me in his spirit traveling fast on an interstate.  I came around a bend where there was an exit ramp.  If I took it, I'd be taking a route few took, but I had to decide quickly.  He later saw me ascending a mountain.  If I took the path, I'd get to the top eventually, but it took a long time.  I decided to get off the path, scale the mountain through underbrush and made it to the summit much more quickly.  On the summit, I laid aside bags I carried but didn't need anymore, sprouted wings and soared to unknown destinations. Even with mysterious dreams and visions conveying fully what only God knows, I still say yes to God.

Everything is shaped by the yes.  We're living where we are because we said yes to God.  We knew what it was to have abundance in the past and to have little in these days because we said yes to the Lord.  We know what it is to live on rich moments of worship in the Lord's presence that trumps human wisdom because we said yes to God.  We know what it is to look absolutely foolish, immature and stubborn by the world's standards because we said yes.  We know what is to lose friends, comfort, stability and sleep because we said yes to the Lord.

There is a cost to saying yes and not being moved.  There is also a reward biblically for not relenting and being faithful to what you believe you've heard from the Lord.  We're close to the edge.  What lies ahead still remains only in the heart of God.

April dreamed recently of an operation. I was to have a new small heart implanted into my groin.  I'm told when one dreams of a groin that symbolizes fruitfulness.  The heart symbolizes new life.  We're close to the edge of falling into a deep, deep calling in God that involves supernatural fruitfulness.  We're not sorry for saying yes.

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