Have you ever thought you heard God’s voice and then everything after that seemed like it was falling apart? It’s easy to question and wonder if you made the wrong choice, or want to go back in time. However, sometimes we face difficulties because we made the best choice.
My Third Trip To Russia
When I went to Russia the first time, I hadn’t expected to learn Russian or ever return. But the Holy Spirit worked in a wonderful way and my heart began to burn with love for the Russian people. And by the end of the 10 day trip, I could read the book of First John well enough to understand it in Russian. It was a whole new alphabet (Cyrillic), but I picked it up in a few days and barely had to try.
I also fell in love with a young lady from Russia. We started talking for hours on the phone.
I found myself praying more and more for Russia and spending hours studying Russian. As I prayed, tears came, and then I started shouting, and at the same time, my body suddenly started vibrating like there was a force field around me.
I had thought my next trip would be Latin America. But I took a second trip to Russia. I think it was the happiest time of my life. Also, I had already been ministering healing to people for a few years, but that was the time period when unexpected miracles and angelic manifestations started to happen more frequently in my life.
When I got back, there was a notice of a lean on my house from the IRS, over a situation that I felt was unjust. They said I owed thousands of dollars in taxes from a few years ago. With all the penalties and interest, it was nearly as much as I had earned in a whole year.
In spite of that and other struggles, I was still planning my third trip to Russia. But it seemed like everything was going wrong. And when I applied for a document necessary to get a 3 month visa, the officals severely misspelled my name and wrote my birthday as 1958 instead of 1985.
Then my girlfriend broke up with me. I had planned to propose to her on that third trip. I was heartbroken and confused. Had I missed God’s voice, confusing it with my emotions because I was in love?
I didn’t have money to go on that third trip either. It would be very difficult emotionally not to go now. I had invested so much in Russia emotionally, in prayer, and in studying the language. But I wanted to follow God’s leading either way.
Satan Hindered Us
I went to an event where I heard Dennis Balcombe, the famous missionary to China, speak. As he spoke, I felt an urgency to go to Russia and study Russian. And various people, independently of each other, came up to me and said that God led them to hold my feet and pray for me.
Why would God have them hold my feet? The answer was clear to me. God was sending me.
Isaiah 52:7 (NRSV) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
I remembered this scripture:
1 Thessalonians 2:18 (NRSV) For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way.
I felt strongly in my heart that God was saying all the trouble was not because I wasn’t supposed to go to Russia, but Satan was trying to hinder me, and since I could no longer get the 3 month visa I should see if I could stay in Ukraine for a while and go from there to Russia.
Three days later, I felt that intense love for Russia, and it turned into a current of electricity going through my whole body, entering my head and going out through my feet. I now had no doubt that I was doing the right thing by going to Russia again, in spite of every circumstance.
When I set foot in Russia it was an indescribable feeling, like all of heaven was with me. It was a very beautiful time, with lots of words of knowledge for healing, even though it was very difficult because I was grieving. Honestly, if I had not gone on that third trip, the grief would have been much worse.
I haven’t been back since, but I still pray for the church in Russia and the nation. I still long to return.
Is God’s Word Testing You?
Sometimes, the reason you are facing trouble is not that you missed God’s voice, but is actually because you have been obeying him.
Mark 4:16-17 (NRSV) And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
Notice the phrase “trouble or persecution arises on account of the word…” Sometimes you face trouble because you’re doing the right thing. And notice the need for perseverance and endurance when everything seems contrary to what God has spoken.
Do you remember Joseph’s dreams which revealed God’s destiny for him? I can imagine, with all he went through, how impossible it might have felt for any of it to happen. He faced decades of discouragement. Scripture says God’s word kept testing him.
Psalm 105:17-19 (NRSV) He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord kept testing him.
Scripture says that God disciplines those he loves. Some Facebook meme I’ve seen a few times says “God’s discipline isn’t punishment for the past, but training for the future.”
Think about that. I think of missionaries who were on the brink of despair, at the end of their rope, and ended up seeing people groups turn to Christ. Like Heidi Baker or Bruce Olson.
I think of the wealthy businessmen who failed repeatedly and went bankrupt before their success.
God is glorified through the church, and he is glorified when the world sees what happens when His Spirit indwells us. He calls us to do exploits. (Daniel 11:32) That means not everything will be easy.
Do You Feel Like You Missed It?
At our wedding, a guy prophesied that my wife and I would be like Milton Hershey, who cared for many people. He not only employed them, but he built a city, making sure it had the best hospital and even an amusement park for his worker’s quality of life. And he opened a home for children.
That’s called “compassionate capitalism” as opposed to “crony capitalism!”
I wept because I want to take care of people. My heart resonated. And he didn’t know that we are related to Milton Hershey on my dad’s side.
Last year my wife and I started a business. We didn’t imagine how much pain it would cause us. (In fact, I had no idea how much pain moving to Brazil six years ago would cause me.) We are still struggling to keep the business from drowning us, putting in money from our own salaries to make payroll and pay for advertising to keep clients coming.
We have often wished we could go back in time and do things differently. It feels like “Boy, did we miss it!”
Then I remember that Milton Hershey went bankrupt twice before his success. And sometimes we learn by failure what is necessary for success. Or sometimes people find themselves on the brink of failure on the road to success.
Yes, there are things we would do differently if we could do it all over again. But all the trouble doesn’t necessarily mean we “did the wrong thing.”
And sometimes God leads us right into the middle of trouble because people have tremendous needs, and you, by the Spirit of God, have what they need. God plants his love in your heart, you weep for people, ask God to send you, and you find yourself in the middle of lots of trouble. When we walk into trouble with the reality of God’s peace dominating our hearts, we end up changing circumstances and bringing God’s peace into them.
Often when I write, I am just sharing how I encourage myself. And it ends up encouraging a lot of other people. Maybe you are facing trouble and you’ve wondered if you’ve took a wrong turn somewhere. Have you considered that the very reason you are facing trouble might be because you followed the Lord, not because you made a mistake?
And God has victory for is in it all!
A prophet told Paul that trouble was ahead:
Acts 21:10-13 (NKJV) And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
I think that though the prophecy was accurate, the interpretation got confused. They thought the prediction of trouble meant Paul wasn’t supposed to go to Jerusalem. But by going to Jerusalem, Paul eventually got to share the gospel with governors and kings. If you’re going to walk with God, don’t think it will always be easy, but God always has victory in store for you!
Acts 20:22-23 (NKJV) And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.