On a certain day, waking up, I felt “not so perfect.” “Perfect” would have meant I could have basked in the presence of God’s glory, and simply rejoiced in him for a good long while, perhaps an hour. It would have meant spending time with my journal in hand, jotting down a few things, praying over certain things, and reading the Bible (not necessarily in that order). This morning was a little different. I needed to go for a walk. I grabbed my umbrella, because it was overcast, and headed out the door.
I had intended to walk all the way up to Bloor, which was 2.5 kms away. But as soon as I got to the No Frills (about 1 km away), I felt the sudden urge to just dump my plans to walk up to Bloor, and buy a few goodies, to bless my wife, who was at home cooking breakfast. What I really wanted to do was to buy her a pastry. I did not do that every day! It would be a surprise and a blessing.
I walked into the No Frills and noticed fresh strawberries on sale. I had to buy one of those. Then, I bought some yogurt, and a few other things. But either I missed the fresh pastries, or they simply did not sell them, and I did not have any “unction” to ask anyone about them, either, as to whether or not there might be any fresh pastries lurking in the corner, somewhere. So I just ditched that idea altogether, because it was not on my heart — right then and there, at least.
Gotta pay attention to the heart!
“… for out of it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart was key. The heart was paramount. Who else lived there? Well, I was a follower of Christ and, as such, the Holy Spirit also lived inside of me.
“But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.” (See Romans 8:9)
Well, there I was in the store. And it wasn’t just me in that store. It was me and the Lord! No wonder I didn’t have the unction or the leading to search with all my might for that pastry that my wife would love. Because it wasn’t the time! This was just a precursor to the “real deal.” The “real deal” would happen soon enough. Not now! I paid for my stuff, and gave the girl a small message to read (which she gladly accepted). Then, I left.
I still didn’t have the pastry, and wasn’t even sure I was going to get one, at this point. I headed out the door with two bags in hand. For sure, I was not going to walk all the way up to Bloor at this point with two bags, and my umbrella in tow. It was time to head back home.
The Rain of Oppression
It was about an 8-minute walk to our house. It was raining lightly. But there was another “rain” in the air. What was it? Something was raining down, and it genuinely felt like some type of oppression, or spiritual power.
What was happening?
I tried to command anything evil to depart from me, but it was not working. I walked a few blocks more, but the rain just kept coming — not the physical rain, but the rain of oppression. Where was it coming from?
I realized that something was very wrong!
I confessed, “I’m absolutely confused! I have no idea what to do! Lord, help me!”
I had made a mistake somewhere. I had surely “missed it” somewhere along the way. I thought to myself, “I had peace going into No Frills. All was fine. When I came out, even, all was fine.”
I remembered a premise that I had learned years earlier. Whether this premise was entirely Biblical or not, I’m not sure. However, it certainly was valid on numerous occasions, and might indeed be proven to be entirely Biblical. The premise, taught by Loren Cunningham of YWAM (Youth with a Mission), was, “If you have lost your peace, go back to the last place where you knew you had it.”
This premise seemed to apply in this case, at least, because the more I walked towards home, the more grief I felt! It would not take me that long to walk back to the No Frills — or somewhere around there, at any rate — and I really didn’t want any more of this oppression. If, for some reason, I needed to go back, the Lord would make it clear.
I turned around.
All Oppression Ceases
I took just one step in the opposite direction and all the oppression immediately ceased! It seemed like Loren Cunningham knew what he was talking about!
I kept walking. All was clear. No oppression. I was in “glory land”! The heavens were no longer brass, raining down oppression. There was glory in the air!
If you disobey the Lord …
“Your sky that is over your head will be brass, and the earth that is under you will be iron.” (Deuteronomy 28:23)
Somehow, I had disobeyed the Lord, but now, I felt like I was in “glory land.” In my obedience, the hand of the oppressor was completely removed from me! The heavens were no longer “brass,” but glory filled the air!
Wow, if only I could live like this all day!
In all of this, God was looking for a place in my heart. It was my heart he wanted to fill!
“… be filled with the Spirit …” (Ephesians 5:18)
Could I actually “keep the peace” internally between me and the Lord? We were on a mission — together.
“The Spirit himself testifies … that we are … joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:16-17)
God not only desired to use me, but to work with me! As long as I was willing to be obedient. That was the key. I was now hearing and obeying. The peace was tremendous. What a turn-a-round!
I came to a place up the street where the Holy Spirit said, “Stop!” So I stopped. What was there to lose if I failed to stop?
Only my peace. So I stopped! It was time for some declarations.
This was God’s kingdom at work. I felt like God was saying, “Speak victory over this land in Jesus’s name!” So I spoke. The Lord would not have asked me to do this if I was walking in the opposite direction, because I was not walking in obedience at that point in time. But now I had made a complete “about face,” and he could now use me for his glory.
After I made the declarations, which was an act of obedience to the Lord, I then continued to walk forward. There was yet another spot in the road where I sensed the Spirit was telling me, “This is a good place to stop.” Yes, I was listening now. He had my full attention!
Was this really God speaking to me? It seemed like he was motioning for me to consider going inside the McDonald’s.
McDonald’s was right there.
Now McDonald’s had pastries. So I thought, “Maybe that would be a good place to get a pastry.” I walked in.
I was immediately met by a man who worked there, who at that very moment was giving out free pastry samples! He said, “Do you want to try one? It’s caramel and apple.”
I said, “Which one is the apple, and which one is the caramel?”
He said, “No, it’s a single flavor, caramel and apple.”
I tried one. I said, “It tastes great!”
That then took care of my need for pastries. But there was an even more important need. For the Lord had not sent me there merely to buy pastries, but for the sake of some souls. This was the “victory” that I had sensed the Lord calling me to declare earlier, “Speak victory over the land in Jesus’s name!” And I had done it.
Declaration often precedes victory.
What did victory taste like? Victory meant salvation of souls. That was the “main reason” why I was at the McDonald’s that day. Otherwise, I could have bought pastries anywhere. But it was not “anywhere” the Lord was leading me that day. It was directly to the McDonald’s! Some very important souls were on the Lord’s heart that day.
But did not the Lord love everyone? He did. Yet he will specifically send people to speak to other people about Jesus, depending on the prayers of others, and depending on their specific situation. Thus it was that he sent me to that McDonald’s that morning. And I really hardly ever walk into a McDonald’s!
The Moment of Decision
It was now the moment of decision. What about the evangelistic tracts that I had to give out? I had three in my hand (and many more in my pocket). I told the man, “I have three messages here.” I carefully fanned them out so he could clearly see the titles of all three. Then, I added, “Please choose one.” He did.
There was a girl who had been standing right next to him. I said to her, “There are two more. Would you like one, too?” She gladly took one.
There was yet one more girl in view. She was also “in” on this same conversation, looking right at us when all of this happened. I could almost hear her saying, “Don’t leave me out! I want one, too!”
You could see that this thing was beginning to “catch on.” If her two friends took one, what was she missing out on? I said to her, “I’ve got one more. Would you like it?”
She said, “Yes.” And it was gone.
All that was so easy — as it almost always is. For there are souls eagerly desiring for a message of truth, a message of hope, a message of inspiration — something to give them something to hold onto.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest indeed is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
Thus, three tracts were given away. That’s three souls who, like every soul, will live for eternity. But where? If they trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it is not “glory for a day,” but “glory for all eternity,” that they will experience. It is God’s joy, peace, and goodness, that they will be able to bask in for limitless years! Think about it!
Our job is to reach them for Christ, with the incredible, life-saving, message of hope and victory through Jesus Christ. It’s not a religion, but a relationship with the living God! And oh, it is amazing!
My spirit was satisfied. The Spirit of God inside of me was satisfied. I felt his presence. I felt his joy. I had done the job he had asked me to do. And now it’s your turn.
What is the Lord asking you to do? The difference between “peace” and “no peace,” or “confusion” and “no confusion” is often a simple act of obedience. And that obedience will be required daily. It’s not difficult once we revector ourselves, and turn ourselves in the opposite direction. Just like I did that day, you may need to “repent” and walk in the opposite direction, either figuratively, or literally.
What is Repentance?
To “repent” means to make an “about face.” It is to walk in the opposite direction. I repented that day, because I turned around and walked back (after I sensed the very clear oppression). God rewarded me for that, mightily!
Now think of the Lord. Think of his will for all of mankind. His will is that all people should be saved from a future without Christ. For it is not his will,
“that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (see 2 Peter 3:9).
What does a future without Christ look like? It means to be separated from God forever. On the other hand, what does a future with Christ look like? It is righteousness, joy, and peace. What a difference! That difference is an eternal one! God longs that all people should come to know him personally, which means getting to know the God of love, who sent Jesus to die for our sins.
Now I imagine, if you are reading this, you already know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. But if not, he invites you today to experience his goodness, simply by trusting in him. It is not “religion” he is looking for, but a relationship. What does a relationship with God really look like? Is it religious? Not really! If you really want to know, look at what Jesus did in the Bible! He did nothing to impress anyone — and even when they wanted to crown him king, he refused. That was a temporary refusal. One day, he shall be king over the entire earth. One day, he shall rule in victory. One day, he is coming back.
Today, he’s asking you to surrender your heart to him, so that he can reveal his amazing heart of love and goodness to you. He’s willing to take all of your sin (and he already bore it on the cross), if you will trust in him. He wants to relieve you of the emotional, and eternal, consequences of that sin, which is separation from God forever. If you will trust him, then he will come into your heart, by his Holy Spirit, who will indwell you, forever. This is what the “exchanged life” is all about. It is about Jesus taking your place of suffering (on the cross), and receiving his righteousness as a free gift.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.