The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (Proverbs 20:27). A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure (Proverbs 16:9- Amplified). I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye (Psalm 32:8). For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14).
I’ve made a decision to postpone my Ethiopia trip that was supposed to begin this Sunday. This has been a heart-wrenching decision for me personally. These trips take much planning and preparation. Bruce McDonald is a veteran missionary and travels in other countries constantly, and I know that he needs my help ministering on this particular trip. I need to go and visit with the pastors and congregations of our 16 churches in Ethiopia. I need to speak personally with the pastor we support monthly who lives in Ethiopia.
But I cannot act against the voice of my own spirit speaking to me. The Lord ministers to us deep inside our spirit. This is deeper than thought. Some call this an inner knowing, a hunch, a premonition, a gut feeling, or an inward witness. All these terms speak of our human spirit as it senses the Holy Spirit bearing upon it God’s will. This is so much deeper than the clamor of thought and the agitation of emotion.
Over the past weeks, I’ve mused and prayed about my Ethiopia trip. I began to notice an unsettledness within. I’ve said nothing to anyone, not even my wife. You have all kinds of thought plummet you when you take these missions trips regularly; thoughts of safety and precarious travel issues. I am accustomed to these kinds of mental bombardments based on fear. And I brush these things aside as I in faith act on the Word of God.
Yet this inner unsettled sense hasn’t left me. Yesterday, I called my prayerful mother. My mother has an unusual prayer life. She doesn’t pray mental prayers. She prays as the Holy Spirit assists. She prays and the Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom manifest while she prays. Three times in my past, she has prayed me out of threatening circumstances.
In January of 1984, my car almost careened down a 20 foot embankment during an ice storm. Her Word of Wisdom filled praying delivered me from death. In 1995, she and my father prayed after my father had a dream where someone came up to him and told him: “Mitch is dead.” The next day I was in a car accident that totaled the other vehicle and left all involved without a scratch! In 2004, little did I know that my appendix had ruptured during the first leg of a missions trip to India. While on a plane from Raleigh to Atlanta where I would connect with a British Air flight across the Atlantic to London, the Lord spoke sternly to my spirit: “Don’t get on the next plane until you know what’s wrong with you.” I felt horrible physically. I obeyed and was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital near the Atlanta airport where I spent nine days recovering after emergency surgery and subsequent infections. Later I found that my mother had prayed Holy Spirit inspired prayers, “Lord, don’t let him get on that plane, Lord, don’t let him get on that plane.” When I returned home from the hospital, my mother told me, “Mitch, you would have returned home in a body bag had you gotten on that next flight.” I know the value of heeding the voice of God!
This past Wednesday, after I told my mother that if I followed my heart, I would cancel my trip, and I think I should, she responded, “Praise God, thank you Lord!” She then proceeded to tell me that her Holy Spirit inspired prayers for this trip were, “May he cancel his trip to Ethiopia.”
I don’t know why, and don’t need to know. If the Father wants me here this time, then it’s just fine with me. Believe me; I have more than enough to do. I guess I’ll know later why He didn’t want me going. Or the Father may choose to never tell me. And that’s just fine too. There is always blessing in obedience.