God has asked me to do many things that became great opportunities and resulted in seasons of
great joy. One of these was to come to Fiji to run the CMF School of Urban Missions and pastor
the CMF International Church. Another was to plant a church in New York City. Both of these
were wonderful opportunities filled with satisfying, joyful times. However, in both cases, the
season ended and I had to respond to God’s voice to give them up. Doing so was incredibly
difficult and heart wrenching. Nevertheless, I obeyed the voice of God.
My experiences have taught me that God will ask me to do things that are difficult and will cost
me what I have come to greatly value. When God spoke, in both cases, I had to make the choice
to obey. I had to leave those two excellent churches because God required me to do so. In 1998, I
heard God tell me to give up pastoring the CMF International Church in the Harbour Centre in
Fiji. It was incredibly difficult because my wife Nancy and I loved our people, our church and
the CMF. Being part of all this was such a blessing to us. In 2006, God required me to leave the
church I planted in New York City. Like the CMF church, it was filled with wonderful people.
Both times were incredibly difficult. Both required that I choose to obey. To this day, Nancy and
I still have sorrow over having to leave the people we came to know and love so much. We do
not have any sorrow over our choice to obey. He is God and we are His servants.
Never question obedience to the voice of God. He always knows best for all concerned. Here
is the point I hope you will grasp. My obedience to leave Fiji and go to New York City resulted
in my supernatural healing from Cancer. God knew just what I needed. He had doctors waiting
on the other side of my obedience, who would supply my need for very special care. Their care
and God’s miracle-working hand restored my health. My obedience both times insured that we
would fulfill our destinies. We would not be stopped.
When you serve God, times of disappointment and hurt are inevitable. I am eternally
grateful for God’s loving grace to direct my steps. Still, in both instances, I did not want to go.
Leaving Fiji or New York City would not have been my choice. Each time God spoke to me to
leave, it was emotionally difficult. It was just plain tough. Still, the conclusion of each act of
obedience became the door to my blessings. Each led me away in great sadness, but then, to
greater joy. Now my world has expanded globally and my ministry continues to reach out
beyond the borders and limitations I used to have. As always, God was faithful and knew exactly
what He was allowing to happen in my life. As my journey continued, there would be great gain
ahead. God was taking me from a sense of pain and loss to something eternally fruitful and full
of potential I would otherwise never have realized.
God will not waste your pain. He will invest it for your future success and for His glory. I
have learned that when the cost seems to be overwhelming, stop counting the cost and start
counting it all joy. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various
trials,” Take yourself beyond counting the cost. Remind yourself that you could never count the
number of the thoughts God has toward you, and you could never find or measure the limits to
His grace. He will not abandon you in your journey to serve Him. He will be there for you and
will take you through to your destiny.
I want to share some lessons I learned from these two times when I was obedient to the voice of
- Obedience to the voice of God must take precedence over your own feelings or desires, whatever they may be. Obedience always demands some sort of test. Knowing it is time to obey God, and accepting change, will be a test of your will. Your obedience will help you learn that God is more interested in your personal growth and eternal fruitfulness than He is in creating or allowing you comfort zones, no matter how fruitful they seem. When you flourish most is when your faith is challenged in the face of some kind of an uphill climb. It only makes sense. God is the ultimate Coach, trying to get you to gain the best He has for you. This requires a challenge to your feelings, desires, and especially, your faith.
- The voice of doubt never changes. It is an easily recognized pattern. It will always challenge what God has said and try to convince you to disregard His words. The voice of doubt formed its patterns as the serpent spoke to Eve. These patterns recurred all through the Bible. Satan even tried using doubt to tempt Jesus in the desert. In Acts, Chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John were threatened. The Sanhedrin demanded they disobey their divine charge to preach and abandon their God-given purpose. They refused. This same voice of doubt continues today in countless places and will be with us until the Lord returns. Doubt always tries to take God off the throne. It coerces us into putting ourselves, something, or somebody else on it. It does this by casting misgivings on both God’s credibility and His sovereignty.
- The remedy for doubt never changes either. It too, is a pattern: We are to embrace our obedience, join it with our faith, and continue with it into the future. Then, as our faith flourishes, doubt withers away and loses its voice. It may not always be easy. It may require you and me to fight for it.
- God never makes a mistake. He always knows best – all the time, every time. He is incapable of making a mistake. He is absolute in faithfulness, infinite in power, and rules over everything. It is not possible, given the perfection of His nature, for Him to fail. Here is the conclusion of the matter. “Fear God and keep His commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13.) Obedience to the voice of God is never to be questioned. Just continue to go with Him. You will be fine. Trust that He knows what is best, because He does. He already sees the end from the beginning. His desire for you is that you be fruitful to the maximum and make the incredible difference you can make to the people He sends you to. You are a winner and a champion for Jesus. Act like it. Never let anything or anybody tell you otherwise.