PARTNERING WITH GOD
I know I have written several articles in the past with regard to following the Spirit and waiting on Him to move and so forth. But the Father is continuing to teach me about this in deeper and deeper ways, and I want to share with you what He revealed to me on August 9, 2016 as Blake and I were having our evening Bible study.
Like many of you, I feel like I am in a constant state of having to make very big decisions. Some of the decisions I have to make will forever affect the future of my ministry, my family, and everyone that's around me. At times, the choices that are before me are so heavy that I feel like I'm going to be crushed under the weight of contemplating what to do. Should I go this route or that route? Should I make this move or that one? Father, what do you want me to do? Do you ever feel like that?
Yesterday the weight was so intense, I spent my daily workout time walking around the track crying out to the Father for help in which way to go. I did not want to make a mistake. I've made too many of those in the first 42 years of my life already. This time, I was not going to make the decision based on what "seemed" best; I wanted only HIS will to be done. This article is dedicated to all of you out there that really want Him to direct your path, but you just don't know how. Let's start with the words of the wisest man that ever lived: King Solomon.
"Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.". -- Proverbs 3:5-6
I have quoted this verse for years in both my spiritual journey and as a pastor. For years I ministered to people, to couples, and to teenagers, encouraging them with this very scripture that is filled with so much truth. But I can tell you for a fact that until now, I truly had no idea what it actually meant. This verse is so powerful and so full of truth for how to partner with God and stay in His will that I simply could not believe what I was missing when the Spirit opened my eyes to what's been there all along.
Let's face it. We all depend on our own wisdom, understanding, experience, and intelligence to make good decisions in life. We just do. Then when we get in a pickle, we cry out to God and beg for Him to send us a sign, or, better yet, an email telling us exactly what He wants us to do. I don't know about you, but I have begged the Father to just tell me what to do and I'll do it. As I walked on the track yesterday, I cried out to my Father in tears, telling Him that I would be the best employee He has ever had if He would just speak to me like He spoke to Moses, face-to-face, and tell me what to do! This intimate and emotional conversation I had with my Abba is what began a move of the Spirit in my life that overwhelmed me with revelation that not only unlocked how to actually know which way to go, but also how to be right in the middle of His will while doing it.
WE ARE NOT EMPLOYEES
We all have jobs. We all have bosses and authority figures in our lives. And deep down, even though we all seem to buck the system of authority and pretend that we want to "be our own person," the truth of the matter is science has proven that we all just want to be told what to do. We're lazy. We're sheep. We all just want someone to give us a "Honey Do" list that we can work through mindlessly. All you men know exactly what I am talking about. How many times have you begged your wife to just give you a list! We don't want to think about what to do. We just want a list so we can get it done and move on!...lol. Isn't this exactly how we treat our heavenly Father? We just want Him to tell us what to do. We don't want to work for it. We really don't want a deep relationship. We want to just be His employee.
For those of you that are married, have you ever had a conversation with your spouse that went something like this?:
Wife: Honey, I'm kinda offended.
Husband: Why are you offended?
Wife: Because you didn't call me today while you were at work.
Husband: That's because I was at work, and when I'm at work I'm busy. Plus, you didn't tell me you wanted me to call.
Wife: I shouldn't have to tell you. You should know that I want you to call me.
Husband: How on earth am I supposed to KNOW you want me to call you? Am I supposed to read your mind?
Wife: If you really loved me you would have made time to call me.
Husband: But I can't read your mind! You're getting mad at me for not being able to read your mind!
Wife: You used to be able to.
Wife: Back when you had time and loved me.
Husband: Honey, for crying out loud, if you want me to love you, just tell me what I need to do and I'll do it! Stop playing games with me. I'm not Jesus! I can't read minds!
Wife: You're certainly not Jesus. That's for sure.
Husband: Honey, you're testing my patience with all this nonsense!
Wife: I knew you didn't love me.
Husband: I do too love you! And this whole fight wouldn't have even happened if you would have just told me to begin with what you wanted me to do instead of making me guess!
Wife: If I wanted a slave I would just hire a handyman from the classifieds. I don't want a slave or an employee. I want a HUSBAND!
Husband: (walks away and says to himself): What on earth is she talking about? I AM her husband. Women. You can't live with them and you can't live without them. Oh no. Now she's crying.
Although you might laugh, this conversation is not far from the truth in most marriages. A wife desires her husband to know her so well and be so sensitive to her that he can pick up the subtle hints she puts off in the relationship that will cause him to meet a specific need. When a husband picks up on those vibes and seeks to meet those needs, the wife feels loved. Anyone that receives something from someone else that is needed without having to request it will always feel more loved than if they have to ask for it. A wife is not looking for a mechanical relationship where she has to tell her husband how to love her. She is looking for someone to partner with her. When he begins to love her, she responds, then he responds, and a beautiful dance is initiated, creating a love song that rises to the heavens. Can you imagine a relationship where one spouse says, "How should I love you?" Then the other spouse says, "This is how." Then the other spouse says, "What do I do now?" Such a dialogue would not be a fluid and beautiful love relationship but more like that Sprint commercial where the guy walks every 10 feet asking, "Can you hear me now?"
In the same way, our heavenly Father is our Bridegroom and we are His Bride. It is a passionate and intimate love relationship.He is not looking for slaves, employees, or hired servants. He's looking for a love relationship. He knows our needs so well that He provides things for us that we don't even realize or recognize are from Him. And He desires us to know Him so well that we do the same. Instead, we spend all our time asking Him how to love Him, what we should do, and where to go to the point that we kill the simple love relationship we both desire.
WHERE'S THE EMAIL?
So let's just ask the question: Why doesn't the Creator just send us emails telling us what to do? Why not just send an angel or talk to us face-to-face like He did with Moses? Why does He want us to cry out to Him? Because it's a marriage and not a workplace. He is our Husband and not our Employer. If He sent me an email or talked to me face-to-face like He did with Moses, I would do what He says to do - like a robot - but I would most likely not have a deep relationship with Him. I would not be His intimate Bride.
When this revelation began to come to life, the Spirit started speaking to my inner man. He said, "Son, what you think is frustrating, I consider love. When you travail over how to please Me and beg for My assistance, telling Me that you only want My will to be done, that kind of heart is what pleases Me. When you pause to acknowledge Me like that, with great trepidation as to which way to go, that is what I call 'love.' That is what I call 'having relationship.' You are thinking of Me. You are considering My ways. You are choosing to not lean on your own understanding, but are choosing to come before Me to let Me know that you are thinking of Me and desire to please Me. Shall I withhold My plans from such a heart of love? Shall I not direct your steps into My paths when you have expressed such a deep desire to please Me?"
When the Spirit finished opening my eyes to how HE views Proverbs 3:5-6, tears filled my eyes. I began to see all the mistakes made in my past relationship with Him and how I was even leading the ministry He gave me. The way I had always read that scripture before was to simply dedicate all I did to Him and for Him and to just acknowledge Him in all that I put my hand to in His name. Without knowing it, my entire life had turned into a ministry machine, doing my best to use what He has given to me to bring as many people back into Covenant and closer to His Kingdom as I could. And since He never sent me an email, I just kept steaming on ahead at light speed, trusting Him to bless it all in His name. I left Him behind more times than I realized, sometimes only catching glimpses of Him as we crossed paths. He sent me signs to try to slow me down. He spoke to me directly several times to do so. But how do you slow down? What on earth does that mean? What does it even look like when you are a director of an international ministry, a senior pastor of a growing congregation, a husband and a father of six children, just to name a few? I was so busy trying to DO the will of Yahweh that I barely had time to even "acknowledge" Him. And I didn't even know how to do that the way He has shown me now, anyway. So let's look at the verse again and pull this all together.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." -- Proverbs 3:5-6
Let's break this down. First it says to "Trust in Yahweh with all your heart." The heart is the seat of the emotions. He is telling us directly what the number one influence is in our lives that drives us to make decisions. Our emotions: what WE want to do or what we THINK we are to do. When we are guided by emotion, we're susceptible to the spirit of fear, anxiety, anger, and a whole host of other feelings that can lead us down a path of destruction. The first part of this verse tells us that we are to trust in Yahweh and not our emotions. Specifically, it is telling us to trust our emotions to HIM. We are to fully give them over to Him and surrender them at His feet, admitting that they could be deceiving and only He can know the truth of them. When we entrust Him with our emotions, we are removing the opportunity for them to be the main factor in our decisions.
Secondly, He says to "lean not on your own understanding." After emotion, the most powerful influence in our lives when it comes to making decisions is "leaning on our own understanding." Leaning on our logic. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight. Yet because we are not really taught how to do that, we default to living our lives like we're single, making decisions based on what we think is best based on the logic of the circumstance and our own understanding. Let me give you a personal example to illustrate this.
In 2007, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit as I was writing up my first piece of business in a new company I had just started working for. It was a check. But instead of heeding it, I brushed it away because the product I was setting out to sell had been around for a long time, was approved in over 30 states (I was told), and had produced great returns for many clients around the country. It was logical. Instead of listening to the still, small voice I know I heard, I leaned on my own understanding. I didn't know then that within the next year we would see the largest stock market crash in history and that the entire industry for which I worked would crumble, leaving my clients bankrupt and me on the hook for what the government calls fraud. Although I meant no harm to my clients and truly thought the product I sold them was a great one, my decision to lean on my own understanding and ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit cost me a hefty price. A price (in the physical) that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
When we make decisions based on logic and our own understanding, it's like playing Russian Roulette. Why? Because our understanding is limited. We can't see all the variables that can happen because of the decisions we make. However, the Spirit knows and understands every angle of every circumstance, as well as knowing the future and how those decisions will be affected by it. This is exactly why we are not to lean on our own understanding. It's limited. And we are taking a great risk in getting it wrong and creating more problems for ourselves and for others.
IN ALL YOUR WAYS
After we submit our emotions to Him and decide not to lean on our own logic, intelligence, and understanding, we can then move to the part of the instructions that tell us what we CAN do. "In all your ways acknowledge Him." This is the power part of the scripture. If we fully understand what the Spirit is saying here, we will not only deepen our understanding of how to partner with the Spirit, but we will deepen our understanding of how to partner with our spouse, as well. How? Because, in general, people are always looking for acknowledgment. They want to be noticed. They want to be thought of. If you are a husband, your wife is created to operate in much the same way that your heavenly Father desires to operate with you. She wants you to think about and acknowledge her in all you do. This is what she means when she wants you to "read her mind." When you acknowledge her existence in everything you do, (consulting her, valuing her, asking for her input and assistance), this is how she feels loved. And in return, she will give you the desires of your heart and fulfill you to the depth of your soul.
In the same way, the Father could absolutely tell us what to do in extreme specifics. And sometimes He does because of the critical nature of the situation. But in most circumstances, He's like the wife that's at home while we men are at work. He's there just waiting by the phone for us to think about Him, to cry out to Him, to seek His advice, His counsel, and assistance. It is in this kind of withdrawal, where He remains a bit hidden, that causes His Bride to seek Him. And this is what makes Him feel so loved. It is not in the ritualistic ways of keeping this commandment or that one. It is in the heartfelt person that is partnering with Him and asking Him to help them and train them HOW to keep His word, His commandments, and His decrees in a way that truly pleases Him.
In Hebrew, the word "acknowledge" is "nakar." It means "to look intently into, to respect, to know, regard, recognize, discern, pay attention to, or be acquainted with." When we slow down long enough to look intently into His word, to pay attention to His voice, to regard His thoughts and to know what He desires, He is sure to direct our paths. There is nothing in this definition that says that we just do whatever we do and give Him glory along the way. To acknowledge something, one has to STOP long enough to do so. And it is in that pause that the Father begins to feel appreciated and loved...just like our spouses do when we pause long enough to acknowledge them.
This is what the Spirit meant when for almost two years He was telling me to slow down. I was doing all I could to use my gifts and to reach the world with the message He had put in my heart. But He wanted a deeper connection. I was riding my bicycle with all my bible books in a bag slung over my shoulder, peddling my little heart out until I was about to collapse in exhaustion. We were making great headway, and so much fruit was being produced, and we greatly desired to do the will of God. But if I would have slowed down long enough each day to keep my ear to His chest, listening for that subtle sensitive change in the Spirit, He would have shown me how to not work so hard at peddling. He would have taught me how to drive a flying race car that is not limited by some of my own strength and giftings.
MOSES AND THE ROCK
From here, the Spirit explained to me why Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land when all he did was hit the rock twice. After all he did and after how many times he interceded on behalf of the children of Israel, he made one mistake and he lost the right to enter the land! To our "understanding," this seems quite unfair...even harsh. But the truth of the matter is that Moses had a completely different relationship with Yahweh. He was an employee. Yahweh spoke to him face-to-face and gave him clear, verbal, billboard-sized instructions that could not be misinterpreted or confused. Some were even written in stone by His own finger.
In the rock incident, Moses was told what to do but he allowed his own emotion to trump the instructions and rebelled against God, committing the sin of witchcraft. It was serious. The rock represents Yeshua and was a picture of Him being struck by the staff of Yahweh for the benefit of the people (death on the cross). He was to be struck once. The second time He was to be called upon for the waters of salvation. The rock (Yeshua) was not to be struck twice and Moses had no idea he was messing with prophecy. The Father would be a hypocrite for killing Korah and company for rebellion and then allowing Moses to get away with it. The outcome for rebellion against authority and promoting oneself beyond the role (no matter how righteous the motive) is either banishment or death. Yahweh gave him mercy and banished Him.
So are you sure you want straightforward instructions and an email from God telling you what to do? Are you confident you would do it exactly how, when and where He says to do it? The consequences and judgment for disobeying a clear and direct order is far greater than what it would be for making a mistake without direct instructions. This understanding quickly cured me from wanting God to just tell me what to do. Judgment is already increased just for being a teacher of His word (James 3:1). Can I really afford to be judged anymore than I already am?
HOW HE SPEAKS TO HIS BRIDE
This brings us back to the way the Father speaks to His people now. I don't believe He wants a Moses relationship with His people. He wants to be sought out like a couple in love playing hide and seek. It's frustrating but exhilarating all at the same time when you realize that this is the way He planned it. It's a marriage. He wants us to try to read His mind. He wants us to know His heart so well that we will automatically begin to do His will without even trying. He wants us to partner with Him and acknowledge Him so much and so often, that HIS heart (Torah) becomes written on OUR hearts. Not a black and white list of what to do and not do, but a loving outward acknowledgment of who He is and what He means to us. We do things His way because He is our marriage partner and we live to please Him.
When we give Him our emotions in the situation, stop trying to figure it out with our own understanding, and pause long enough to really acknowledge Him and seek His face, THEN He does His part and directs our path. It is that simple and that hard all at the same time. When we truly understand this revelation, it will light us on fire in so many areas of our lives. So let's end by giving a real life example so we can learn how to actually apply this truth.
TO MOVE OR NOT TO MOVE
Let's say you worked for a company and that company wanted you to move halfway across the country. They offered to pay you more but that's not really the problem. The problem is that if you move, it will take you away from your church family, whom you love and fellowship with. Right now your life revolves around raising your family in a congregation that seeks His face and does bible things in bible ways and you don't know if this is the enemy trying to take you away from your destiny spiritually, or if it is the Spirit making a way for you to go somewhere that He desires for you to go.
The wrong thing to do is to make the decision off the money alone, as if it is the only variable. Our emotions might tell us to stay because we are emotionally invested. Logic says take the job transfer because it will be good for your family's financial future. What do you do? The first rule is you never make a decision in haste. If it is required to make it in haste, it is most likely the enemy. He doesn't want you to have the time to "acknowledge" your Husband and seek His face. From here, you fast, pray, and seek His advice and the advice of those you trust spiritually. In that process, you will start to feel the weight shift to one side or the other. He rarely gives the kind of 100% answer we're looking for. Remember, it's a dance. You move a little and then He moves a little. He's drawing you to His side with every breath you take. If you have had adequate time to acknowledge Him and you are up against a deadline, you slowly begin to move in the direction that you have the most peace about, keeping your ear against His chest the entire time, waiting for Him to remove your peace, give you a check, or close the door. As you move, He moves. Like I said, it's a dance. He's teaching you how to trust Him, not how to follow orders.
Most of us spend our time stressed out, full of anxiety and all emotional over what to do when. Like I said in a different article, it's not about what you DO, it's about what you BELIEVE. He understands that there's a language barrier and you aren't receiving emails. He DESIGNED it that way, so He understands how frustrating it can be! There's no need to get frustrated! He is pleased at the fact that you're going slow, acknowledging His role as your Husband, and allowing Him time to direct your steps.
Friends, His love for us is beyond what we can possibly imagine. His Son died to express it. The moment we stop and refuse to move until He is fully acknowledged is the moment He starts to sculpt the answer and direct our steps. If you acknowledged Him and you start to go in the direction web which you and your wife are in agreement and He lets you do so with no blockage, then it is His will. If He doesn't want you to go that way, and you went out of your way to consult with your "Spouse," then trust me, He would not allow you to go in that direction to begin with. He is required to fulfill His end of the deal and direct our steps when we acknowledge Him in all our ways.
When all is said and done, what is the heart of the matter? Stop being led by emotions and your own understanding and start acknowledging. Acknowledge your wife. Acknowledge your husband. Acknowledge your kids, your parents, your leaders, and people in general. Above all, look intently, respect, regard, know, recognize, pay attention to, and be acquainted with those you love.
Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He WILL direct your path. You can count on it.