We returned home from Church and placed the kids down for their naps. My wife and I decided to take a nap as well, but my mind continued to race. I was wide awake thinking about whether or not to take the leap of faith and write a letter to my friends and family. Then, out of nowhere, it felt as though a bolt of electricity shot through me. I decided then and there that I was being asked to get moving. So, I jumped out of bed, sat down at my computer and began typing a letter (written in August 2005). I worked on the letter Sunday evening and finished it Monday night. On Tuesday at work I sat at my computer staring at the email to my friends and family with the letter attached. My finger hovered over the ‘send’ key for about 5 minutes. I realized that by sending the letter, I was getting in the game, while at the same time, trusting God. With a quiet prayer, I pressed the send key and stepped off the ledge. Would God catch me?
As expected, the letter sparked a lot of conversation. Jesus never promises us that we will live a nice, peaceful life if we follow Him. In fact, he tells us the opposite will happen:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Mathew 10:34-36)
Jesus is telling us that when you follow Him and wield God’s sword (His Word), expect hostility from not just your perceived enemies, but your family members as well.
I realized early on that it’s hard telling the truth when everyone wants to believe lies. Lies they’ve been told their entire lives. We all struggle with rejecting the truth because we don’t want to believe it. Initially, we’re much more comfortable with the status quo – regardless of where it may lead us. I certainly didn’t want to believe it, but through prayer, it became clear to me what was and was not the truth. Whether or not I wanted to believe it, the truth is the truth. If you know the truth and realize that everyone is buying into lies, would you tell them? If you knew the most important thing in the world, but also knew no one would believe you – could you still communicate the message? This is where true faith and trust in the Lord come into play. I could not stop doing what the Lord was asking simply because others rejected the message. I had no idea what was next, but I had the feeling that my life was about to change forever – I wasn’t disappointed.
Over the next couple of weeks I felt that I was being asked to write a 2nd letter. I also felt that I was being given a different message this time – the Lord’s judgment on our nation and a date – November 11. Honestly, even though I felt strongly that this was given to me by the Lord, I couldn’t do it. Writing about what was happening in the world and relating it to Bible prophecy is one thing, writing about judgment and specific dates is something else entirely. I began to pray that if this was from the Lord, I would need some specific guidance from Him. Even though I felt strongly about doing this, I needed evidence that this is what the Lord wanted me to do.
As these weeks progressed, I listened to more and more of Mike McClung’s (Lionheart Ministries) CD’s on spiritual warfare and bible study. I would check their website periodically for new bible study materials. On a Wednesday in September I was viewing their website when I noticed they had a prophecy ministry available on Thursdays. I could schedule a time (for 20 minutes) and their prophecy team would communicate any messages that the Lord gave them. I felt led to this ministry, so I scheduled a time for the next day.
I arrived on time and said a silent prayer sitting in my car in the parking lot – ‘Lord, if this is what you want me to do, then please make it clear, and I will do whatever you ask of me.’ I then walked inside to the sanctuary. I met three women in a small room and they began to speak to me after initial prayers. The first woman began with, ‘I see numbers all around you. The Lord is communicating to you with numbers….that only someone with your training can understand….’ They told me things that were currently going on in my life and things that would happen in the future (some of which has happened since then). It was a truly amazing experience. I left there knowing that the Lord wanted me to write the 2nd letter. So, after only 5 weeks since I sent the first letter, I emailed the 2nd letter to friends and family (written in September 2005).
A few days after sending the 2nd letter, I was sitting in class on a Saturday morning at UT. I believe the topic was corporate tax law…so I wasn’t exactly engrossed in the lecture. At 9:15am, I decided to take an early break and walked outside the lecture hall and across the patio to the bathroom. When I came out, I started back across the patio, but decided to stop and admire the morning sunrise (the view from the patio overlooks the UT campus and Neyland Stadium). As I stared at the sunrise, I decided to close my eyes and say a quiet prayer. I slowly opened my eyes after praying and noticed that I had inadvertently walked right into the middle of a message that someone had stamped on the railing in big, black letters – ‘NO MORE WORK’. I took a couple of steps backward while the Lord’s small, quiet voice told me, once again, that this message was for me. It became clear that I would be asked to leave work as part of the Lord’s plan for me. As with previous messages, timing was everything. If I had seen this a few months earlier, it wouldn’t have meant anything to me. Now, it was clear that I would leave my present job at some point in the future. The question became – how far in the future? I would later learn that the answer was – much sooner than I thought.
I continued to give my letters to friends and those that were interested. I wasn’t sure where this was leading, but I was committed to following the plan laid out before me. I gave my letters to a couple of classmates and never focused on trying to figure out the plan. I realized early on that what I was doing was part of a plan much bigger than myself. There was no way I could figure it all out – better to simply follow where I’m led – one step at a time. One of my classmates happened to be an HR manager for the local Knoxville newspaper. I never thought much about this, except that I felt led to send the letters to him. Nothing happened for a couple of months and I began to wonder if I had misread the message God was giving to me.
This all changed on Thursday, November 3rd. I received a call from Ina Hughes with the Knoxville News-Sentinel. She told me that my friend had given her the letters and she would like to interview me for an article to be published in the paper the following week. I agreed and we met for breakfast the following morning on November 4th. She interviewed me for an hour and I returned to work.
The article appeared in the Faith section of the News-Sentinel on Tuesday, November 8th 2005 (posted on blog) with links to my letters on their website. As I started reading the article, I noticed that she mentioned the company where I worked. I never told her where I worked, my friend must have mentioned this to her. I was initially worried about this (I knew the officers of our company would be sent any articles that included our company’s name), but realized that this was all part of God’s plan. Sure enough, later that afternoon I received a call from my manager – he was coming to Knoxville to discuss the article. We had a good conversation at dinner that night. He understood why I did the article, but made it clear that if I met with the media again about the letters, my employment with the company would come to an end. There it was – the message I had been given a couple of months prior – No More Work – foretold this moment. I had found the narrow gate. I had walked right up to it. The Lord was telling me what I needed to do to walk through it – leave my career and my dependency on the world behind. My manager kept talking, but what I was thinking about was the young, wealthy man that asked Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life.
“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mathew 19:16-22)
Every person who wants to know the Truth comes to this decision at some point. Every person who understands what is required walks up to the narrow gate. The question then becomes – can I walk through it? Do I really believe? Do I really want to follow Jesus? Can I give up everything to follow Him? The rich, young ruler walked right up to that narrow gate, but chose not to walk through – he couldn’t give up the world. Even though we rarely hear this in Church today – it’s made clear to us in the Bible that to truly follow Jesus and enter His kingdom, we must give up the world – we must overcome the world and really, truly believe. We must put our faith into practice. Now you understand why Jesus tells us to weigh this carefully. It’s not something that only requires us to believe with no sacrifice. If you truly want to follow the Lord, you will be asked to show Him. This isn’t just about what we say, it’s about what we actually do. I decided that from this point on in my life, I was going to focus on God and His kingdom – not this world.
I told my manager that I understood, but if I was asked to talk further about this, I would do so. He asked only that I give him a ‘heads-up’ if I did agree to meet again with the media. Before we left dinner, I told him that I was told I would leave the company at some point, I just didn’t know when. He seemed a little surprised by this. He was very understanding and I could tell that he didn’t really want to deliver this message, but again, that’s corporate life – conformity to the world. If you’re not regenerated by God, you do what the world asks you to do.
The next morning I received a call from the local CBS news affiliate. They wanted to do an on-camera interview about the letters and my thoughts on the end times. The one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that God will never force you to do anything. We are given a choice – follow Him or our own way. I had been told what I needed to do to follow Him and enter through the narrow gate, the question then became – could I actually do it? A few months earlier and the answer would have been no. At this point (again, timing is everything), I knew what I needed to do. I called my manager and told him that I was going to do the interview. He told me that he would have to relieve me of my duties. I could tell that he didn’t want to do it, but he had to do what he was told. I had done the same thing on more than one occasion when our company had mandatory layoffs. You don’t like it, but business is business. Protect the business at all costs. Before the week was over I did a total of 2 on-air interviews for local news affiliates, 2 local radio interviews, 2 interviews on 99X radio in Atlanta and a 2nd article appeared in the News-Sentinel on Saturday, November 12th (front-page headline). The news articles were picked up on the AP news wire and appeared in multiple cities across the U.S., including Las Vegas. It felt like a whirlwind……and then, everything got quiet the following week. I received many emails and did a radio interview for a nationally syndicated radio program, but eventually, the phone calls, emails and interviews stopped coming. I tried to convey the message that even though nothing happened on November 11th, nothing had changed. This was not a message from me, but from God Himself. This was all part of a divine plan – and our nation still faced His judgment.
I spoke to my pastor (Park West Church) a few months after all of this happened (and I was still out of work) and he gave me some good advice. He told me that if God is clear about what He wants you to do and gives you a message about your future – something that you’re going to do in the future – and you’ve got to endure to get to that point, what you’re really being asked to do is – have FAITH. Faith that He will always be faithful. Faith that He will not let you fall. I was going through a valley to strengthen my faith, so that in the future, when others are lost and falling, I would be able to stand. He was showing me the spiritual weapons I would need, weapons that would be vitally important to my future. Even though it was very difficult (I don’t like to be out of the action), I was asked to endure without a job for a long time. 15 months to be exact. In January 2007, when my savings were depleted I spoke to my pastor again. He told me that he really looked forward to talking with me and my wife when he saw us on his calendar. He said that the Lord had made it clear that it was time for me to aggressively go after a job opportunity. He said that I should not be ashamed of what happened in the past and to be sure and make contact with old friends. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders and it was time to go back to work. Within 4 weeks I was offered a job in Atlanta with better pay and benefits than my previous job. I was given a generous relocation package. My wife and I found a home in Atlanta and sold our home in Knoxville within a couple of days of each other. We’re on our way out of the valley.
Today is May 7, 2007. I’ve been working at my new job for a few months now. My family and I are permanently moving to Atlanta in a few weeks. Where does all of this lead? I don’t have all of the answers, but I know that wherever I go and whatever I do, He will be with me – guiding me every step of the way.