Friday, November 23, 2007

An Encounter With God 11/24/07

For the last two or three months I have been so, so tired. I was feeling battered and bruised from this 3 1/2 year journey through the desert that I have been on since quitting my job in April, 2004. As soon as a person agrees to go with God on his/her way to their Promised Land they step right into the desert. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert... the Israelites upon leaving Egypt spent 40 years in the desert. The desert is the place of testing, preparation and growth which for me included the stress of, at times, not having enough money to make my house payment or pay my bills as I learned to trust God more and more for my provision. At other times I found myself in the midst of a lack of resources for this or for that in the ministry. Of course, every time, God has provided. The challenges and tests of faith have been great and they have become a part of my testimony. However, after 3 1/2 years I was worn out and just couldn't tale another test from God. But faith comes only when we reach the end of ourselves and at the end of our resources. I was so tired and worn out from the desert, I couldn't face another test. Consequently, my communication with God was very one sided. I did all the talking and did very little question asking because I didn't have the physical stamina to pass another difficult test of faith. Consequently, out of self-defense I figuratively put my fingers in my ears and quietly closed the door of my heart.

On Tuesday, November 13 I was staying at my sister Theresa's house in Virginia to speak at a church in nearby Culpeper. I decided to go out for an early morning walk to pray. I began speaking to the Lord out of my tiredness saying, "Lord, I need..." Suddenly the Lord turned my self pity into praise. I opened my eyes, lifted my head and looked around me. I began to thank God for the beautiful morning and for the beautiful backdrop of Virginia's countryside. As I walked along this country road, I thanked Him for the ministry and the privilege of sharing the story of my journey with others. My grateful words turned into songs of praise and soon I found myself clapping along and rejoicing in Him with all of my heart. After about 25 minutes, I turned off the paved road onto an isolated gravel road. I came to a rise and stopped, I looked up into the sky, opened my heart up to God and said, "Lord, I have done everything you have asked me to do. I have gone everywhere You have asked me to go and I have said everything You have asked me to say. What do You want me to do now?"

Suddenly, I looked all around me and everything near me was glowing. Even the trees above my head were glowing. It was almost as if a cloud surrounded me and the area around me. I knew I was in the presence of God. I felt His closeness to me. "I love You, Lord." I knew He was right there listening to me. So close. So close. I can't explain it, but I knew God was right there. It was like I could almost see Him, even though I couldn't see Him. I began to weep and I said, "Lord, I want to go further with You." And as soon as those words left my lips, the Lord graciously took away all the scars, all the pain, all the dust and all the pressure from this journey I have been on since quitting my job 3 1/2 years ago. Immediately my heart was made new and fresh. My circumstances hadn't changed, but I was changed. Suddenly the Scripture, "He made His ways known to Moses" (Psalm 103:7) came to my mind. I dropped to my knees and though tears of gratefulness I cried out to God, "Lord, I want to know Your ways. How can I continue to go to churches and other places to tell people about Your ways, if I don't know Your ways myself?" I made a heartfelt appeal, "Show me Your ways."

Suddenly I noticed a car was coming on the nearby paved road. I got up off of my knees and wiped the tears from my eyes just in case the car turned on the gravel road where I was. I didn't want them to think this man on his knees in the middle of the road was a crazy man so I continued walking further down the gravel road. The car passed by on the paved road without turning my direction, so I walked back up to the rise where I had been with God. I tell you this to say that I literally could feel myself walk out of the presence of God when I left the rise and I felt myself literally walk back into His presence when I returned to the rise.

After a time, I walked slowly back to my sister's house as tears continued to stream down my face. "I am wrecked. Lord, I am wrecked." I entered the house and found Theresa, my brother-in-law Jeff and two others who had traveled with me from Texas engaged in conversation around the kitchen table. I sat down to join them uncertain as to how I would tell them about what had just happened to me. Just then Theresa turned to me and said, "Steve! You are all aglow." I ducked my head as tears once again streamed down my face. "I have been with God."

When I returned home from Virginia I decided to look again at "The Dream Giver" by Bruce Wilkinson because I seemed to recall a part of the journey to our "land of promise" that involves God removing the scars and dust from the desert. As I reviewed the process I found it, "sanctuary" that marks the end of the desert and God's preparation for us to face our giants down in the valley. It's time to take on and take out some giants! Praise the Lord for books like "The Dream Giver" that make clearer the patterns of God as we head towards our own personal Land of Promise. It's time to pick up some stones and head down into the valley.

May the Lord bless you.

In Christ,


Stephen P. Burke, Director
The LORD Will Provide
P.O. Box 1926
Temple, Texas 76503
(254) 780-3591

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!' (Isaiah 6:8)

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