Thirty-five years ago, I sat at the back of Kensington Temple, the London church I now pastor. I was a newly baptised member and God spoke to me very clearly: “I have a plan for your life, and a work for you to do.” I told him I was ready. I had read in the Bible how the disciples left their nets to follow Jesus, so I left my “nets’ too! I rushed out to fulfil God’s will for my life – and fell flat on my face! What was wrong? An elderly Christian woman gently explained to me that I had run ahead of the Lord. I had heard God correctly, but it was not yet his time.
Around that same time, in 1972, God gave me a mental impression of a map of Africa. I was born in Africa, and the Lord seemed to be saying, “Where you came from you are going to return.” The impression was that I would be going back again and again, As soon as I grasped that, the map changed to one of South America. The message seemed to be the same. Fourteen years later, in 1986, I finally set foot back in Africa! I have returned many times since, and each time God has revealed his ministry and power.
Then, in 1991, nineteen years after I saw the map of South America, God opened the door for me to go to Brazil. Of course, I could have gone many times before through my own efforts, but I waited for God’s timing. I took a small team with me and the Lord was with us in a special way. He gave us prophetic words for many of the people we met there. In particular, he gave me a prophetic word for a large Christian denomination. I preached two or three messages to that movement, and God is now visiting them in a new way. A fresh wave of spiritual renewal has broken out! It took nineteen years, but in the fullness of time, God released his power and blessing.
God unfolds his will progressively, and it must be followed progressively. Each step must be according to God’s particular way for you. God does not reveal his will by floodlighting the area in front of you.
The picture here is that of a shepherd carrying an oil lamp, as he makes his way home in the night time darkness across the craggy hillsides. As he takes one step, the light swings forward just in time for him to see where he is to put his next step. As so he goes on, step by step. That is how the will of God unfolds for you. You have to go at his pace, one step at a time. If you are willing to wait in patience and in dependence upon him, he will make his will known to you and fulfil it, both in his timing and in his special way for you. Be patient and wait on the Lord both for the when and the how.
Over to you
Now it is time for you to begin to seek the Lord for your situation. Call upon him and tell him exactly how you feel. He is concerned about you. He wants you to walk in the light of revelation and not to grope in the darkness, looking for his will in strange places. He wants you to know him and his direction for your life, because he loves you. Ask him to lead you and speak to you.
Get to know God’s Word, the Bible. Make sure that you are reading it regularly and getting to know it thoroughly. Don’t neglect the times of public preaching and teaching in your church. That is often where you will hear a word from the Lord. Also, it is good to join with others who also want to study the Bible and do it together in small groups.
Finally, invite the Holy Spirit to be your friend. Let him be who the Lord Jesus gave him to you to be – your guide, your comforter, your counsellor and your helper. He is living in you, so learn to hear his voice. He will give you ears to hear, if you ask him. Don’t chase experiences, but stay rooted in the Word of God, and allow him to guide you through it. Through his power and his presence, the living Word will come to you. It is a good idea to keep a journal or some kind of record of what the Lord says to you. I find it extremely encouraging to look back over the things I have received from the Lord. It helps me piece everything together and to discern his hand in it all.