Command vs. Control
Jun 01, 2006
Every event which we call a miracle is unique and evokes praise and glory to God. But more often than not we think of miracles as unusual events, occurring only to great "men of faith" instead of to the average person. From my observation over the years, I have come to see that miracles ought rather to be a way of life for ordinary people. No one should have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to witness miracles.
Anyone who knows how to pray has the potential to see God perform miracles. In fact, every answered prayer is a miracle, because it is divine intervention in our ordinary lives. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to miracles, however, is that we do not ask according to the will of God, but rather to make life more comfortable for ourselves or for those we love.
In other words, most prayers are selfish. Like children asking parents for everything, hoping to get at least a few of our requests, we do not really understand the purpose of prayer. We view God as some kind of glorified Santa Claus. This is understandable in the case of spiritual children who have been fed on milk alone for years; but God desires a more mature relationship with His children.
In the 1970's I studied quite diligently after completing my college education, and this is where I really began to learn the Scriptures. One of the most important things I learned was that God was sovereign. REALLY sovereign, not just a lip-service assent that really thinks He is limited by man's will or by the devil's will. This began to drive me out of my dualistic mindset, by which I had leaned toward the idea that both God and the devil were sovereign in their respective spheres, each "trying" to control or influence mankind.
Then in 1979 I came to a dead end, or a "brick wall." In view of God's absolute sovereignty, how should I pray? Should I keep God informed of events on earth (which He already knew)? How could I ask for things that He had not given me, since I really did not know if these things would contribute to my spiritual growth? In the Bible there are plenty of examples where God trained His people in hardship and deprivation in order to bring them to a more mature relationship with Himself.
So I made a simple prayer, "Lord, teach me to pray." Oh, boy. Me and my big mouth. By 1982 my whole life was disrupted, I was out of the ministry, I lost virtually everything except my family, and we were brought down to nothing. It forced me to pray to seek His will. On March 20, 1982 I prayed to know four things that I simply had to know, or I felt that I would die.
Ten days later on April 1, while attending a meeting in Kentucky, a stranger walked up behind me and prophesied to me, giving me all four answers to my questions. Then and only then did I really understand the necessity for the spiritual gifts operating in the world today. Some teach that they all ended when John finished writing the book of Revelation. But on that day, I was glad that they were wrong.
I realized, however, that I could not forever depend upon other people to hear the Word of the Lord. I could not follow them around for the rest of my life just to know the will of God. I had to hear the voice of God for myself. Two months later, I did begin to hear, as I wrote in chapter 3 of my book, Hearing God's Voice.
At first, my hearing was immature, as it is with nearly everyone, no doubt. I wanted to change my conditions and could easily "hear" good things. I soon learned about the idols of the heart, which invariably get us into trouble and discourage us, making us think that it "doesn't work for me."
After a few months of total discouragement, God began to fulfill His Word, and brought me out of the dungeon without my help or effort, and according to His perfect timing that was unmistakable. The joy of the Lord returned, but now I had grown. I had crossed a great barrier that many fail to cross.
I then settled in to a longer stretch of learning to hear. During the following years in the 1980's, I ran into other insurmountable problems. The greatest problem was when I would hear the Lord telling me to do something, and when I tried to do it, I failed miserably. Then perhaps a year or two later--often on the same date of the revelation--the Lord would simply do it all by Himself, leaving me speechless.
"What is the point of hearing His Word, when we can't act upon it?" I asked my wife in frustration.
I eventually came to realize that He did not need my help. My enthusiasm to help God had to be subordinated completely to the role of servanthood. It was not my job to initiate anything, nor even to do what He said by the power of my own flesh--nor even by the power of my own spirituality. It was all to be done by Him through me or through other vessels.
The realization that God did not need me was very humbling. In fact, for years I had chafed while working various jobs, knowing that God had called me to the ministry, but frustrated that He seemed to be wasting a whole lot of my time. Only when I finally came to the place in 1990 where I gave up all hope of ever being able to convince God to put me back into the ministry, did He change the situation. I told God, "Well, you know where to find me if you need me; otherwise, I am content to just work here forever where You have placed me."
Keep in mind that all during this time of being out of the ministry, I had seen God work miracle after miracle. I had to learn that God works with us where we are, and He does not need people "in the ministry." In fact, His desire is to work miracles through ordinary people in ordinary jobs in daily life.
Once He took the romance out of being "in the ministry," then He felt it was time to put me there. This occurred in September of 1990. By that time, it was in many ways "no big deal." By that time I had learned to minister wherever I was. I had learned that we are all ministers already, regardless of the type of job or profession we have. No longer did I think dualistically of ministers vs. laity. We were all in this together as brothers.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of that training period was to learn the difference between control and command. I was not in control, but by the authority of God, I was expected to command whatever I heard God speaking. Control is a function of the dualistic mind, which pits good vs. evil, instead of seeing all as part of a single unified divine plan.
Storm? Tornado? Hurricane? What is its purpose in the divine plan? Only when it has served its purpose are we to command it to be still. This is what Jesus did when He walked on the water before calming the storm. Until He got into the boat, the storm had purpose in the divine plan. The disciples did not appreciate that purpose until later. But they were yet in training.
Control assumes that God is not quite sovereign. Command has total faith that He is sovereign, that He knows what He is doing, and that all things work together for good. To fully grasp this truth is the ultimate mark of spiritual maturity. I am nowhere near that place yet, but I am learning.
I believe that the day is soon coming when we will see a deluge of the Spirit, and miracles will become a practical way of life, not just for "great men of God," but for ordinary working people and housewives. I know that God has been preparing me for this for the past 25 years. And I know that He is preparing countless others as well all around the world.
This is the first part of a series titled "Command vs. Control." To view all parts, click the link below.