By David Stahl

One of the most assuring thoughts we can have of God’s love is His ability to go ahead of us.  This means He knows what we will face before we get there.  This means God knows what we will need in order to do that which He wants us to do before we know we need it.  Before we left for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia a brother who had already gave me $6,800 for airplane tickets gave me an additional $2,000 in case we needed the money to secure the venue for the crusade.  I have purposed in my heart to return the money if we did not need it well we did not need it for the venue, but for airplane tickets. To make a long wonderful story short we missed (I have never ever missed my fight) our flight (now this was God’s idea I can go into details that will just make you marvel) and needed to head home as planned on 3 June.  We went to a travel agent (who confirmed our ticket for our original flight) of a good friend and purchased tickets the same day (which is unheard of in Africa) and the cost for two ticket was $1,826.  God had gone ahead to cover the tickets before we left. God had planned for Pastor Foster to ordain Elders and for me to minister in a church where 39 people re-dedicated their lives back to Christ and us leaving was not going to stand in His way. During the service Pastor Abebe was talking about his American friends and I thought he was talking about Pastor Foster and I, well again God has His plans and we have ours.  Down the aisle came a team of 15 Americans from Kansas on a mission trip they sang a song and took their seat for the teaching.  After the service I asked the pastor where in Kansas they were from and he said, “have you ever heard of McConnell Air Force Base? We are about five minutes from the base.”  Which I replied, “as a matter of fact I do.  My son Daniel and his wonderful family is taking orders to McConnell Air Force Base.” Who would have believed this meeting happened in Africa? God would have because He goes ahead of us.  God goes ahead of us not to make our way easy, but to make our way meaningful and to serve as lessons for our spiritual growth and development.  When I heard we missed our flight it was like someone kicked me in the stomach, but even through this God was working in us and our situation. God is always doing this if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.            

I was brought in the past by the Lord into an intense and pleasant prayer pattern.  The Holy Spirit always flooded me with the Lord’s presence and power.  The personal joy was so great that three hours in such an atmosphere seemed like merely 30 delightful minutes.  It lasted only several short weeks. Then the Lord left it.  What a disappointment!  I attempted to force its reinstatement by forcing myself to be on my knees daily for long periods of time.  But the Lord was no longer interested in continuing this past pattern. He wanted to bring me into another prayer pattern. After some days in my attempt to get the old prayer pattern moving the Lord came and stood behind me and asked, “What are you doing on your knees?” He certainly did not want to be involved in what I was doing.  “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, “this is the way, walk ye in it when you turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left,” (Isaiah 30:21)No voice behind you is a good sign.  Some believers are distressed over the fact that they never hear God’s voice. Do not be too concerned.  In disobedience and out of the will of God the Word says, “You shall hear.”  Now that is true and that becomes necessary, but what about a walk of obedience? God’s speaking may be very infrequent or even nonexistent in a walk in His will. Once we are in God’s will there is no need for His speaking unless there is a change in His will.  We simply continue to follow in obedience. He goes before us as we follow in obedience.  We have heard His direction.  On the other hand we may not have been conscience of His leading. Something got us going on the right track.  We may hear His voice in front of us as we go in obedience or we may not hear His voice as we continue on the proper path.  Do not be overly concerned about His silence, but rather focus your attention on Him going before you.  The Lord goes before us.  The Lord is there.  That’s a fact.  If He goes in front of us then He arrives before we arrive.  He goes before us.  This is a needy and valuable anchor. We should recognize feeling or no feeling that the Lord is present and He got there before we did. This is a tremendously valuable truth to the person who finds himself in the difficult situations and circumstances. It would be to our advantage to know (before we wake up and discover that we are in them) that we are on our way to the wilderness.  For if we know we are on our way to the wilderness, it will help to cushion the shock of the wilderness when we do arrive in that land of stark contrast. If the Lord goes before us He knows the circumstances to which we are coming into. This indeed is an anchor for our soul.  It will hold us in difficult places. Our Shepherd goes ahead of us.  What a great comfort.  He knows every place which we experience in the whole of our lifetime.  He has been leading you; He has gone ahead. The Lord is our Shepherd who goes ahead; He knows where He is leading me.  He goes there before He begins to lead me there. He walks ahead of me as he leads, “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them as the sheep follow him.” (John 10:4)He allured her into the wilderness, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her.  I will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her.”  (Hosea 2:14) By His wonderful approaches He allures her.  He did not lay all His cards on the table.  There are hidden factors. She did not know where she was going. It is in His mercy and love for us God keeps certain factors hidden from us.  If we knew that we were going into the wilderness chances are that we would balk and turn another path.  But the LORD is clever and entices us, “Come, come right this way.”  God’s call is always to come up near Him. “And the Lord said, here is a place by Me and you shall stand on the rock.”  (Exodus 33:21) This is the initial invitation; this is the initial leading into the wilderness where spiritual growth and development can happen in us. The promise of Him leading us into the wilderness comes with another promise, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” (Song of Solomon 8:5)  We go to the wilderness to have our questions answered, where no one can hear us scream. God leads us into the wilderness so we can learn to lean on Him. In order for truth to be an anchor, it must grip our inner being.  It is not to be gathered by mentally assenting to it, although that certainly will help somewhat. We must remember truth is not mental gymnastics of the spirit, if we are to have faith in the truth and if we are to gather truth it will be by the Holy Spirit by His work in our lives (through His dealing and judgments) and revelation.  God measures man by how much revelation of God he possesses.  Revelation is God’s measuring stick. On our part it will necessitate an ongoing surrender to the ways of God.  More and more surrender in us the more truth will grip us. Regardless of the circumstances or the situations in which we find ourselves, we will know and live the truth. It will be a sure anchor for our soul.

All along the way God made tweaks to us and our plans that improved what we thought should happen. We thought a two day crusade God thought three.  We thought a big crusade in Addis Ababa, well God thought a huge crusade (about two hours drive from Addis Ababa) in Nazerate.  If God is not tweaking our plans then we are in charge and He is on the side lines.  Another brother was to go with us to Ethiopia making us a team of four, but he listened to people as they put fear into his heart. God cannot use a coward either we will trust God or we will believe men.  He was not flexible enough in God and lacked the faith to be able to go along for the ride with God.  He wanted months of prayer and meeting preparation with all of the churches involved in the crusade, but God does not need such plans all He needs is men and woman with a heart for Him and people, thus he missed out on the many 100s of folks that were saved and rededicated their lives back to Christ, and most important he missed out on the work of God in his life taking him to the next level of power and glory in God.  I knew from the start with my brother (he also knew) this was what God wanted to do in his life, but he chose to turn back (not his first time) because of fear and because of an spiritual unstableness in him not getting his way. Ministry is not about us it is about Christ and all along the way God goes ahead of us to make our way rewarding.  What a stark contrast and difference in brothers.  One could anticipate what God was doing even though he did not have all of the details yet he was led (gave almost $9,000) by the LORD and made a difference in God while the other brother could not anticipate nor had any clue what God was doing because he wanted all of the details, his way, and lost out on all that God had for him. You know wanting to know things got Adam and us into a lot of trouble. Let us just go along for the ride knowing God loves us and goes ahead of us.