Experiences of life are the teachers that eventually bring you from the desert into your oasis of life. There is no way to avoid this journey that rubs the rough edges off your character and transform you into the polished gem that can reflect the glory of God. It is never intended to be an easy road to travel, but those who endure to the end and allow the process to be completed will finish the course of life fully satisfied and rewarded.
After over fifty years of active ministry I still experience the transformation of my life as well as the ministry that God has entrusted to me. I have had many opportunities to throw in the towel and quit. Sometimes the complexity of everything overwhelms me.
We can have confidence through every trying time when we allow God's peace to rule instead of worry, fear or doubt. If we allow God's to be in control, we can rest and know that He will work out every detail.
"The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever." Isaiah 32: 17
I began my ministry in May 1965. I had surrendered to the call of God while attending a youth camp in the summer of 1962. After graduating from high school I began to preach revivals and youth conferences in Texas. I also traveled with my dad and assisted him in tent revivals from 1965 until August 1966. It was at this time I recognized God had a plan for my life and I surrendered to His divine purpose.
After high school, I went to Houston, Texas and enrolled in Southern Bible College. It was there that God taught me to study and to pray. I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching and influence of some of the greatest men and women of God who had an intimate relationship with Christ.
After college, God guided me to help and learn from other pastors. One of those great men was Dr. John Osteen the founder and pastor of Lakewood Church. He was the mentor in my life for over twenty-five years. Under his influence I learned to flow with the Holy Spirit and allow the gifts of the Spirit to operate and minister to the needs of many.
For the next thirty years I witnessed God moving in my life. I was a pastor for sixteen years. Doors opened for crusades and pastor's conferences in other countries around the world.
And then in October 1998 my wife Carol began a battle with physical afflictions. She had 13 blood clots in her lungs. Then in 2002 she had a stroke, and once again her faith brought her through to victory. In May 2006 she received a report of cancer. The news was devastating as we listened to the doctor's diagnosis. The next three years were an intense struggle.
It was during that time, I chose to quit traveling and stay home to care for Carol. If I had it to do over again, I would make the same choices to be there and stand with her. Those years were probably the loneliest and the largest, driest desert that I have ever walked through. But God's love was there and His grace undergirded us for this trial.
In January 2009, Carol received a sure Word from God that she was nearing the threshold of entering into the presence of God. I will never forget the day. She called for me from the bedroom. As I entered the bedroom I saw her sitting in her chair with the biggest smile and a look of peace and contentment on her face.
She told me that God had spoken to her and that she had finished her race and was the winner. She was going to Heaven and it would be very soon. She then began to cry and thank me for standing with her and devoting my time to care for her. The words she spoke to me that day were prophetic concerning my future. "God is going to honor you for your faithfulness and He is going to accelerate your ministry and bring it to where it should have been. He is going to restore the years that were lost during this experience. God is going to give you a wife that will enhance the ministry as much or more than I have. She will be the one to help fulfill the vision that He began in 1965."
Two months after Carol died, I received a phone call from Dr. Ron Smith (also known as "Papa Ron") confirming the prophetic word that Carol had spoken to me. Papa Ron prophesied word for word what had been spoken by Carol. He even added a statement stating that the lady that would be my wife would be 57 years of age at the time of the wedding.
Those words of hope gave me confidence that God was not finished. He was going to give me the grace I needed to press forward and complete the task that He called me to fulfill. The first nine months after Carol's death were difficult emotionally and spiritually.
God began to unfold His plan for me. Doors opened for me to go to Columbia, South America and also to go back to England where God had used us to minister and teach for over fifteen years. During 2012, God spoke to me to move to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I sold everything and relocated my ministry to New England. God's peace ruled my heart. (Col. 3:15-17)
Though it was challenging for me to learn how to live by myself, I developed a deeper relationship with God. I learned how to lean on God and let Him be a help to me. He told me that not only was He a husband to the widow, but He was also a wife to the widower. (Isaiah 54:4-5)
I had almost resigned myself to being alone for the rest of my life and forget what God had promised me through Carol and Papa Ron. I became content to serve God by myself.
But when I obeyed and relocated to New England in 2012, I didn't realize that God was putting the puzzle of my life together, positioning me to meet my wife to be. It just didn't happen like I would have thought. And often things don’t happen the way we think, so we dismiss the promises the God made for us too soon.
Pat was the church secretary at my friend’s church. I noticed her character and how well she dealt with people. I always liked talking to her, but then I noticed that I really liked being around her. She had been through a divorce in 2009, so she was also single.
I asked her out to see a movie in the summer of 2013, and she turned me down. I am very persistent and I didn’t give up. So in November, we had our first date. Through the next couple of months, we spent a lot of time getting to know each better.
I had planned a two month ministry trip to Texas in the early part of January 2014. Pat and I had gone bowling before I left. It was then the Lord spoke to me and said that my wife was right there in front of me. About that time, she turned around and smiled at me. My heart melted and the rest, as they say, is history.
On Saturday May 31, 2014 we were united together in a Covenant Marriage Ceremony. Now we are embarking on the journey of faith and ministry together. Our lives are both more fulfilling than what either of us could have hoped for or imagined. God knew what He had planned for our lives long before we knew it. We flow together in ministry and just love what God has done for us. Our job was to keep going, even when it was difficult and just trust that God had our best interest in mind.
God wants you to understand that He has not forgotten His promises to you either. Even though it seems like there is no hope for the reviving of the vision, it will be completed. The Children of Israel came to the brink of the river. Then they had to decide to cross over it to enter into the oasis of life and fulfillment that God had promised them. They were probably amazed when they finally crossed over into the blessed land that God said was theirs.
There were obstacles, but as they obeyed God and were faithful, they began to eat the good of the land. So you will also enter into this phase of your life as you obey God and begin to appreciate and enjoy the abundant life that belongs to you.
This is the day of rest. This is the day of completion. Trust God. Be quick to obey. Let this be the first day of the rest of your life.