Jesus said something unpopular one time (as he was often wont to do during his earthly ministry; he was very good at sabotaging his own Messiahship.)
Here’s what happened:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…
John 6:66-68 ESV
“To whom shall we go?’ is a very useful question to ask.
Many people have adopted this answer by default: “Simple! I will find teachers that I like better!”
(They will not admit this is true, but this is what happens.)
Others respond, “I will go to nobody! I am my own man/woman! I will decide my own course!”
…and then proceed to do so.
Others go directly to the Source (Spirit inside), and say, “I do not understand this. Will you explain it to me?”
…and then wait for the answer.
Sometimes the answer will be pleasant. “Ah, that’s what it means! Thank you, Comforter.”
Sometimes the answer will be unpleasant: “That cannot be what it means! Shut up, Counselor!”
…and then later on, the conversation goes:
“Is this really what it means?”
“Yes, dear one.”
…and life goes on.
This is the way of hearing from Spirit.
It is the way of humility.
Few are willing to walk this path.
It can be a profoundly lonely thing, when one hears from God, unmistakably, and what they say, is unacceptable to those around them.
Sometimes you will say what Spirit has revealed, and you will find new friends who accept what you say, believe the same things (because Spirit has revealed it to them as well), and you find a new family.
Other times, you may be told something that seems like madness to you, and to others, and there is no wise counsel to appeal to, because nobody understands.
It is in those times where you have to make a decision:
Do I stay in the fire, and allow God to continue to burn out the dross—the need to have others affirm my path?
Or do I compromise, and say, “I will go back to the camp and submit to the leaders.”
There are some times where you make the right decision. You strike out like Abraham, headed for parts unknown.
Those who do this, and survive in the wilderness, and survive, and up changing the world forever.
There are others who say, “this is too uncomfortable. I wish for a good life for me and for my family.”
…and then they return to the camp.
We cannot become like Abrahams (and Sarahs)
on our own.
Self-effort will do you no good in the wilderness. You and yours will perish there, or yours will leave you, if you try to do it without the explicit, unmistakable calling of Spirit.
(This part is directed specifically at men. Women, please substitute your gender in accordingly.)
Any man who says, “I will back off of this plan for the sake of my wife and family,” does a good thing.
God will never argue you down from that plan.
He will continue to provide for you and yours, and take care of you, wherever you are, for the rest of your life.
He will honor you forever, for taking care of yours. Being a husband and father is one of the most noble callings there is.
But there is sometimes a higher calling, one which husband and wife go towards, together, with their children.
Being a patriarch is hard work. It requires husband and wife to work together closely, and raise their children in unpredictable circumstances.
Often the patriarch and matriarch do not understand what is going on.
They are being prepared for greatness, unaware.
That is what the wilderness is for.
You probably will not go to a literal desert to be purified. It is not needed. God can create a metaphorical ‘desert’ in the middle of the rain forest, or downtown Manhattan, or in the corn fields of Kansas, for you.
If you say, “God, I am in it for the ‘whatever’,” and then say, “I will do whatever you wish,” you do well.
Just prepare for what he says.
Sometimes it will be extremely enjoyable. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is very good. If you are not tasting His goodness, keep on asking until you do. (Tip: You are looking for New Wine.)
Sometimes it will be extremely uncomfortable. That means you are in the fire. Fire is extremely unpleasant. It is also necessary. ‘Fuller’s soap and refiner’s fire’ are not pleasant concepts.
Both fire and wine are necessary, to grow up in the faith.
You may choose only one or the other, and God will absolutely honor your choice.
Choose fire only, and you will burn out, and burn out others.
Choose wine only, and you will likely wonder why your life is going nowhere.
Both are needed.
Who will ask God for the ‘whatever’, and then follow through with what he tells you next?
I would like to meet you.
This is the way of the sons of God.