“Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6
The verse quoted above was the first that I had committed to memory after truly beginning my walk as a Christ follower at the age of 24. From relationships to career moves to where I would serve in volunteer and paid ministry positions, I would ask Him to open the doors that He wanted me to walk through, while simultaneously closing the others.
Growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco and later living in both Los Angeles and San Jose, I was used to a more urban style of existence and grew accustomed to the resources that the big cities had to offer. If someone would have told the 25 year old me that I would end up living in the relatively rural Rogue Valley in southern Oregon in my 30’s and 40’s I would have said there was “No way!”….
God has a good sense of humor that way.
I was newly married and my wife was going up from California to Oregon on a regular basis to visit her parents and her sister’s family. Every time she came back home in tears, telling me how much she wanted to move up there so that she could be with them. I was resistant for the first year or so as I tried to figure out how it could really work career wise. I would pray about it and had no peace. There were more visits and more tearful returns. I kept seeking the Lord and then one day…. I had a very real peace about it that was quite unexpected. ‘Are you sure, Lord?’ The peace never left my heart. I remember telling her the news. She was over the moon. I probably had a slightly more bewildered expression…. think Chandler on “Friends”….”I’m going to Yemen….”
I remember the drive into the valley and seeing a double rainbow as I pulled into Ashland, OR. I took this as both an “atta boy” from God as well as a confirmation, a signpost if you will, that I was where I was supposed to be, to be used by God for His purposes. Looking back it’s easy to see the how God has placed me in different roles and relationships. I’ve lead worship at multiple churches in the valley and come alongside some great pastors who I now consider great friends. With all that said, there are two moments that stand out to me more than others….
One was a call I received from a young guy early in his college career. I had gotten to know him when I had first moved into town and was helping with a high school youth group. I was leading worship and he would play with us from time time. He reminded me a lot of myself during my late teens/early 20’s. Long haired, edgy, guitar playing kid who was looking for something more….who didn’t want to get caught up in the “boring” traditions and trappings of religion but knew there was something deeper out there in the ways of God. I considered us kindred spirits, just separated by a generation or two. Over the course of about a year he endured the unexpected loss of both his Dad and his sister. I had seen him at both memorial services and I ended up getting a message from him after his sister had passed, saying that he really needed to meet with someone. That initial meeting turned into weekly meetings that went through his college years. We talked about the UFC, 80’s heavy metal, faith, workout programs, Jiu-Jitsu, family, countless heavy, deep and real questions and most importantly, Jesus. We dove into the scriptures and read various books together….”The Barbarian Way”, “The Way of the Wild at Heart” and other “spiritual discipline” related themes. We tackled each week like a spiritual workout and I truly believe that those sessions refined us both. He went on to the University of Washington and received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. We still keep in touch on a regular basis and I know that without a doubt, in God’s loving sovereignty, that relationship was one of the reasons I was transplanted here exactly when I was.
The second that really stands out to me happened just a few years ago. I had become friends with the owner of one of the establishments I frequent multiple times per week for food and drink. Over the course of knowing him, he had gone from one not interested in the things of God to really beginning a solid walk with God. Then one day, I picked up a voice mail on my cell. He was in tears…. ‘Hey man. I’m at the shop. She left me. I’ve got a gun and I’m finishing my note….I don’t know man…I just really need to talk to someone….I don’t know…’ I called him back and told him to promise me that he wouldn’t do anything until I could get there. I walked into the shop and he was crying at a table with the note in front of him. He was determined to end his life when I arrived. His mind was made up. In a very matter of fact way I told him that it simply wasn’t going to happen and that I would not allow it.
There was a battle that day…not between my friend and I but between the demons and I. I could feel it in a way that I had never felt before and I was righteously enraged at them. I felt an enormous amount of power and spiritual strength inside of me that I knew was coming from God. While my friend spoke I listened and prayed…. ‘I come against you in the name of my GOD, the mighty Warrior and King!’ I bristled inside my soul. My enemy was not going to take my friend out. Not on my watch. We talked and prayed for four straight hours. I reminded him of his boys who needed their Dad and that I knew he wouldn’t want this to be the legacy that they were left with. By the end, we were both mentally exhausted but he was no longer on the ledge. The demons were crushed and driven away. God had battled, taken me along and won the day….
If nothing else significant were to happen during my season here in southern Oregon, those two instances and relationships were more than enough of a reason for my being summoned here.
What about you? Are you seeking Him to direct your path? What signposts has He put up for you to remind you of your calling? Remember the scripture, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) If you’re seeking His face and His purpose for you in this life, there will by plenty to do…. and it’s a great adventure. Rise up, Warrior Soul! The battle awaits.
“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior.” Jeremiah 20:11