Last night Pastor Bobby took me and Jerry up to Love Faithfully Ministries, a black church in Leland, to hear a visiting minister Pastor knew back in the day and hadn’t seen in over ten years, Scott Stimson. Apparently this dude was involved in the early days of NLCF. I felt quite comfortable in the place because the people that were assembled had a passion for God, and since they came out on a Tuesday night they also obviously had an availability to His purposes. Passion and availability mark the ground that God walks and works in.
The praise was very vibrant, the speaker’s teaching was challenging, and he also spoke prophetically to several people. It just so happened he started with me. I don’t have the exact transcript (the church pastor said he’d send the recording to our church, since Jerry and Pastor also received prophetic words), but the gist of the thing was this:
He said as he looked at me he envisioned a large tree that looked as if it was about to bear fruit. Though all the conditions were right for the fruit to grow, and my expectation was that the fruit was forthcoming, the fruit had nevertheless not materialized. He said he saw the branches hanging low with many leaves, but the fruit had not come, and I had been disappointed. He said it was nothing I had done or not done that had caused this situation, but just the timing of the Lord – it was simply not time for the fruit to come. But he said I was now entering “a fruitful season,” and that I would begin to see the fruit I had expected and longed for. He said God had given me “big dreams, even in the time of your early teens” and that God would accomplish those things in His time. He repeated the phrase “a fruitful season” four or five times as he spoke to me, indicating that it was present. Now.
I will transcribe the message if I ever receive it, but that was the crux of the message. I try to pay attention to both the written and the spoken Word of God. There was just no doubt that the word was from the Lord’s mind and knowledge.
I began seeking the Lord in earnest when I was a teenager, after hearing the ministry of Wade Taylor one evening. Brother Taylor was not a particularly good speaker in terms of organization and his manner of speaking, but when I first heard him something was ignited inside. It was somewhere in Maryland, and he was speaking exegetically from the passage in Exodus about Moses and the burning bush. I remember excitedly going home and telling my Dad how he was saying “all these profound things” and Dad smiled. It was a seminal moment because I realized that the Word is more than just a story, or a philosophy, or mental assent to certain truths: it is alive, it speaks to our real lives as we find ourselves in this present age and reality, and it is limitless in depth and scope. But it cannot be successfully or helpfully approached apart from connection and relationship with its Author.
Not long after hearing Brother Taylor for the first time, I went to a conference at the Bible school he founded, Pinecrest Bible Training Center in Salisbury Center, NY, and God visited me and helped me during that time through various ministries. That is where many of the “big dreams” were imparted to my spirit with the laying on of hands and prophetic utterance, and where I began learning how to pray, how to worship, and how to read the Bible. I view that weekend at Pinecrest as the start of my “path” in the Way (and ways) of the Lord. So when Brother Stimson mentioned “big dreams from your teens” that period is what flashed through my mind.
Time passed and I continued to seek the Lord. Jess and I were attending Abundant Life Church in Georgetown, Delaware. That is where I took my first steps in writing about the Word and public teaching, speaking with fair regularity on Sunday mornings, leading Bible studies and a men’s group. The pastor, a fine, loving man named John Betts, was also seeking the will of God and mentioned that eventually I might be on staff at the church, or that they might look to establish a Bible school in that county where I should teach. But nothing ever came of anything and I became discouraged. I began to focus on the “darkness” and “lack” that I observed in the church, and I wondered why there was so little desire for the things of God in most of the people. Eventually I quit going after 15 years or so because I felt like the entire thing was a charade for me personally (and maybe for most of them): it all just felt never-endingly lifeless. I started working for Pepsi while at Abundant Life, and my life became more and more consumed by work.
So yeah. A time of looking for fruit and not finding any. In the Pepsi years – nearly a decade – everything seemed to be a dead end. Spiritually (the church/ministry situation), vocationally, financially, residentially (with our house in Laurel not selling for a year), educationally and even bodily (with debilitating sickness), every effort and every righteous desire and the sweat from every pore of my being just seemed to lead to absolute nothing. And the whole time I wondered what was wrong or what I should do differently.
I have much to learn.
Timing. A certain place. A certain man. A certain time. Everything will come to pass. Everything will surely come to pass.