21. My Vision I
For eighteen years I have carried a word inside of me, a word I have never let go of, holding to it by faith, knowing that God does what He says. But outwardly, by the sight of the eyes, that word has been dead for 14 years. God spoke to me, now, in late September, 2012, “I will finish the word I planted in your heart.”
21. My Vision I
Last weekend we listened to a brother by the name of John Gray share a word at Lakewood Church. The brother was hilarious, but inside the laughter, he drove home an incredibly important truth concerning the Word of Christ and how He brings forth God’s purpose. He pointed out that when Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick, He spoke a word – “This sickness will not result in death.” That word, as the Author of life and reality, went into the tomb where Lazarus would be placed and was there, waiting for him before his dead body was laid there.
Then, as we know the story, Jesus waited until Lazarus had died and was buried four days before arriving at Bethany. When Jesus stood before the opened grave, He stood there as the Finisher. He spoke, “Lazarus, come forth.” The word that He had already spoken as the Author responded to this word which He spoke as the Finisher, and Lazarus could not remain in the grave.
I felt a great excitement stirring inside of me as I pondered that word. Then, early the next morning, as I pondered that stirring, God brought this word home to me, personal and real.
For eighteen years I have carried a word inside of me, a word I have never let go of, holding to it by faith, knowing that God does what He says. But outwardly, by the sight of the eyes, that word has been dead for 14 years.
God spoke to me, now, in late September, 2012, “I will finish the word I planted in your heart.” Let me back up a bit.
When I gave my heart back to the Lord at age 19, I asked Him to give me a wife. I wanted to be married with all my heart. But for a few months I was not certain if it was God’s “will” for me or not. Then one day, in September of 1976, I was lying on my bed, crying out to God, “God, what is Your will? Can I be married, or am I damned to a life of celibacy?”
He spoke to me. “What does My word say?” The only thing that was in my mind was “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I replied with those words. Then He said, “Is not My word My will?”
Understand that the skill of winning a woman’s heart is not included in the disability of Asperger’s. Winning a woman’s heart seems to be a skill given to most young men. For many years, I watched others win the heart of their beloved, and I watched her walk down the aisle to them. But I could not do such a thing. The moment I thought I liked a girl in that way, I could not speak with her.
Then one day, in September of 1981, God spoke a sovereign word to me, “Maureen will be your wife.” Maureen was a young woman, 18 at that time, who lived in the same community in which I lived, Bowens Mill, in Georgia. I had spoken to her a couple of times in passing. I saw her every day. The witness of God leaped in my heart every time I passed her, all through the years of waiting.
I could not win a wife for myself; I could not speak with her.
Then one day, in September of 1988, in the center room of the college in which we had both enrolled, in the Blueberry community in British Columbia, I asked her what courses she had taken. She replied! Maureen Mack talked with me!
Then one day, in September of 1990, Maureen walked down the aisle to be my wife. Two days before, I had stood before the family at Blueberry and said, “I know now that God does what He says He will do.”
For fourteen long years, wanting to be married most every day, the word God had spoken into me as the Author of my faith waited for God’s finishing word. For nine long years, hearing God speak to me over and over that Maureen would be my wife, that Authoring word of Christ waited in my tomb for the hour when Maureen would walk down that aisle to stand by my side.
Everything I write, every claim I make concerning God, comes out of that word of certainty: “I know that God does what He says He will do.” My belief that God will do what He says is rooted entirely in my certain knowledge that God spoke to me, and then, out of my own utter inability, God did what He had said.
After we were married and our son, Kyle, was a little boy, our time in Canada was coming to an end. We had exhausted the student/teacher visa extensions that Canadian immigration was willing to give us. A number of people at Blueberry were facing the same departure date. Everyone assumed that it was “God’s will” for all of us to immigrate back to Blueberry. So we were busy trying a number of ideas for immigration.
In the middle of that I was filled with a great disquiet. I knew that Blueberry was not the place God had for Maureen and I. But everyone expected it, so I went along with the pursuit, yet filled with an agony of heart.
I sought God for His answer for us.
Then, in January of 1993, God spoke a word to me. He said, “Blair Valley will be your home.”
That word God spoke to me means two things; let me explain both.
First, Blair Valley was the name of a new Christian community that some were planning to start in the Peace River region of British Columbia. The community property had been a former move community called Shiloh. But Shiloh was empty. Everyone who had lived there was gone. At it’s height, Shiloh numbered over 200 people, and there were buildings there to accommodate their entire life together. But by 1993 all the buildings were derelict, filled with rat and squirrel mess, and collapsing into ruin. Only a few were worth fixing up for use.
The remaining communities took turns attempting to maintain some semblance of the former Shiloh structures. Maureen and I had spent a week or so there a couple summers before as caretakers. It was a haunting experience. I have never lived in a more beautiful place, soul-grippingly beautiful, yet it was a ghost town, filled with the memories of glory and bitterness, victory and defeat.
Maureen and I shared what God had spoken to me with the Blueberry elders. They all witnessed to our leading immediately. Yet, we could not move to Blair Valley; the only way we could live there would be to immigrate to Canada. In 1972 immigrating to Canada was as simple as filling out some papers at the border. Since the late 70’s, every prospective immigrant must meet their strict requirements through a long process. We could not meet any of those requirements.
In June of 1993, Maureen and I, with Kyle, moved back down to Oregon, to my mother’s place. We were in Oregon for two years.
But the word God spoke to me included another dimension as well, something far beyond a wild and isolated valley in the Canadian wilderness. Through the spring of 1993, God began to open my spirit to that other dimension at odd times when I was before Him. I saw only dimly, very dimly, but I saw towards a level and reality of Church life and my own place in Christ that I had never experienced in move community, not really.
Then, after moving to Oregon, in November of 1994, some friends we had recently met invited us to go with them to a Thanksgiving weekend retreat at Christian Renewal Center near Silver Creek Falls State Park. Christian Renewal Center was a retreat or camp. On Thanksgiving weekend, it was a Christian community. About a hundred people gathered. We ate together and worshiped together through a number of planned meetings and events. Maureen and I felt right at home; community was our life. It was a time of thanksgiving.
In that place, I witnessed and walked among a good people, beloved of the Lord, who, though they certainly were not “in the move,” yet they loved the Lord, and His jealousy over them was evident.
I loved the place. Christian Renewal Center was a series of cabins, lodges, chapels, rustic and woodsy and comfortable, scattered on a wooded hillside. It was filled with Bible verses and Christian emblems, holy and devoted. Just below the main lodge where we stayed there was a small rose garden, and by the rose garden a prayer hut. This prayer hut was an A-frame, maybe 8’ by 8’ at the base. Inside was a cot, a chair and desk, and an electric heater. The window looked down to the valley bottom.
I met with God in that prayer hut. He spoke to me. And everything God spoke was inside that word, “Blair Valley will be your home.”
God gave me a vision of His heart for His church, and there in that prayer hut He planted that same heart inside of me. I had no idea what it meant, I only saw by heart. Today, everything that I write comes out of and is the embodiment of that vision.
But I also knew that everything God meant, He meant it, for me and my family specifically, to be fulfilled in that wild and isolated valley in northern British Columbia, Blair Valley.
Immigrating to Canada was not possible for us.
Then, in April of 1995 I was laid off from the cabinet shop where I worked as a cabinet installer due to a down-turn in work. In May, as I was mowing the yard, the thought came to me that maybe we could obtain a new teacher visa and return to Blueberry Christian Community where we had lived for several years. We spoke with the ministry there; they sought visions to confirm our return and told us over the phone that the visions were “positive.”
We packed all of our belongings into my large Step-Van and our little car and drove back north into Canada. Before landing permanently at Blueberry, we spent a few weeks at Graham River Farm again for the second Graham River Tabernacle construction “weekend.”
After, as we walked up the path from the river crossing into Blueberry Farm, a horror seized my heart. We had come to the WRONG place. We had come because I, in my own reasoning, could not see any other way for us, somehow, to arrive at Blair Valley. Yet I knew, all through my heart, that we had come to the wrong place.
That sense never left me once for the next year-and-a-half. Yet we had no means of doing anything about it.
Maureen and I sat down with one of the leading elders at Blueberry within a day or two. I told her, “I know that we have come to the wrong place.” She paused a moment and then said, “Have you considered Blueberry?”
I love and respect the ministry at Blueberry. A few months later, I walked a season with them as an elder, fully part of the elder’s meetings and the ministry and governance of the community. Yet I must say this, for truth’s sake; the Blueberry ministry did very badly by us through that issue; they neither regarded nor respected our hearts, but assumed that there was “something wrong with me.” We submitted to their covering, yes, without reservation. Yet my heart was constantly violated without answer. Had they honored my heart and prayed together with us for God’s answer, everything would have been different. Yet this all was God’s doing, the Tomb into which He took the vision He had birthed in me.
Several years later, the leading ministry at Blueberry, John Clarke, an apostolic ministry for many years in the move of God, sat down across from us in a living room here in Houston with his wife, Nathel. The two apologized to us for the wrong way in which they had covered us and asked us for our forgiveness. We gave it to them freely, with all our hearts. They had also stood before all the brethren in the British Columbia communities and publicly apologized to them for the same thing.
I do not say these things to accuse anyone, but to shine the light of Christ upon the holy, and to share with you somehow the Tomb God was forming for the Word He had spoken.
I want to speak, now, of the carrying of this vision, of the word God had spoken to me and the vision of His Church, holy and pure, that He had planted in my heart, carrying it through that final year-and-a-half at Blueberry, the most difficult and crushing time of my life. I also share these things to shine the light of Christ upon the dealings of God with my own heart.
God instructed the children of Israel to walk around the walls of Jericho thirteen times in silence. It was His intention that they see, with all clarity, that they could not do what He had called them to do. Only when the word He had spoken had proven out the depths of the tomb, did He command them to shout. And the walls came tumbling down.
First, we discovered, shockingly, that the attitude of the Blueberry ministry towards Blair Valley had sustained a 180 degree flip. Now they were hostile to the small group of people remaining there, and they were hostile to Maureen and I ever moving there. We sought visions. The visions were strongly positive, yet we were told they were negative. We saw the visions received for our return to Blueberry, visions we were told were positive. They were negative. They showed a couple come to a certain place with backpacks on. All the time they were there, they never removed the backpacks. All the time they were there, they could not find peace, though they sought it with all their hearts.
Yet through this time, we went through the formal process of immigrating, submitting all the paper work and fees, getting physicals, and so on. The hope of my heart was that we could finally escape the hell we were in and move to Blair Valley, if we were able to immigrate. We visited the brethren at Blair Valley when we could and found such a peace and joy when we were there.
During this time, I was digging a sand tunnel under our home to install some plumbing. As I was resting in the cool quiet under our house, God spoke to me. “You have a sectarian heart,” He said, disapprovingly. I looked at what He meant and said, “Yes, Father, I guess You are right.”
It was during this time that I came to the conclusion (not from God) that there was something desperately wrong on the inside of me. I was walking as an elder with the elders in the kingdom of God, and I could not discover why I could not move easily in the things that seemed so easy for them. It was during this time that I watched the logging camp in icy winter, far from civilization, contending with God: “God, can You save such a wretch as me? Am I beyond redemption?”
Yet I shared Christ, and I moved in full integrity and honor.
Finally, by late September of 1996, seeing the madness in the eyes of a fellow elder as he attempted to convince me why he was “closer to God,” than another brother his same age, a brother who had devoted his life just as certainly to the kingdom of God, but who was “not an elder,” when I saw the raving madness, I knew that it was time to go. I knew that to become “an elder” would be to deny everything real God had planted in my heart concerning His life in His church.
We put a few things in our little car with our two young children in the back seat and drove back to Oregon, our hopes and dreams crushed and gone.
Yet we could not find place in Oregon; my mother had moved to Minnesota. Oregon was a closed door to us. In November we drove back up to some friends in Vancouver, BC. My wife and children stayed with them while I bussed back to Blueberry to pack our household belongings into our Step-van. I parked the van at Shepherd’s Inn on the Alaska highway and bussed back to my family.
But meanwhile, just before I had arrived back at Blueberry, a packet had come from Canadian immigration. We had an appointment with the Canadian consulate in Buffalo, New York for January, 1997.
Some friends back in Oregon gave us a thousand bucks. Crushed and empty, but grateful to God for all of His goodness, we drove down through California and then across the country to Bowens Mill, Georgia where we had once lived, where Maureen’s parents still lived. I worked there to earn the money for Maureen and I to fly up to our immigration appointment.
When we arrived at our immigration appointment we had nothing. We had no job in Canada, no ability to support ourselves. Yet our belongings were all there, and we had a home promised to us at Blair Valley. The immigration officer knew only that we were living in northern Canada (as I realized later); we did not even think to tell her otherwise.
By our weakness, we were approved for immigration to Canada. All we needed was to make it back across the continent, then to go back down to the BC-Washington border and “Land.” I’ve done a lot of driving in my life.
Because Maureen was carrying our daughter, Katrina, I returned to Blair Valley by car just with Kyle – in April of 1997. Maureen and Johanna flew up in June. We lived at Blair Valley for a year and a half. It was a time of such peace. All my memory of Blair Valley is good; there is no pain there. As an Asperger’s man, that is unusual that I could say such a thing. Only in the last few years, as I have come to know Christ my life, has the harsh reality of a life filled with unknown pain and confusion receded into the background.
Yet here is the Tomb God took us through.
We could not remain. In late August of 1998, we moved to Fort St. John. A few weeks later the remaining family, an older couple, were also compelled to leave; they dared not endure an isolated winter alone.
Blair Valley Farm was no more.
Why did we leave? I hardly know how to give an answer.
If I were to take you to Blair Valley right now, you would be staggered at it’s incredible isolation. You have likely never been in so remote a spot. And you would be staggered at its beauty, at its sense of “a chosen place of God.”
I love the wilderness.
The isolation created two problems, neither one that big of a deal for us at that time. First, we could not devise a means to earn money on which to live. Try as we might, no idea we generated could possibly have succeeded. Second, and a bit more important, isolation is not conducive to the ministry of Christ.
Now, when we first arrived at Blair Valley, there were two couples living there, both without children, Rick and Shirley Annett and Kars and Minnie Kiers. Our three little ones were the only children. But before the first winter came on strong, Rick and Shirley, just a few years older than Maureen and I, moved to town through the week to earn the money to pay off some debts from needed car repair. They came out every weekend to be with us. Kars and Minnie were older and retired. Thus, for much of the time, the outdoor needs of living in a remote spot in the Canadian wilderness lay primarily upon Kars and myself.
The problem was that by the end of the summer of 1997, I no longer had the strength to work physically any more than part time. That winter was really low for me physically.
So – I was unable to do the physical work required, and I could find no way to support my family beyond the child support we received from the Canadian government.
Yet, the truth is, neither problem was any big deal. I trusted in God and walked with Him. I lived surrendered to His ways for me. However, I gave out as the easy answer for “why we left,” that we were unable to support ourselves in that remote spot. And that was certainly true.
I did not “try” to “make” the vision God had placed in my heart for a different kind of community experience happen. I do not and cannot do such a thing. But it was fairly clear that my ideas were not received by the others there. I did not push them, but their lack of receptivity most certainly discouraged me. Since then Kars and Minnie have passed on, and Rick and Shirley are very much following on to know the Lord in the same way we are.
So, through the long winter of 1997-98, I had much time to think. I began writing my first letters to send out through that winter, titled “Times of Refreshing.” I had a few subscribers – all by mail.
Why did I leave? My theology had brought me to a complete end. I lived without hope. I knew I could never “make it.” I knew that I twisted New Testament verses to defend my theology, and I hated that. I knew that I ignored all kinds of things God says in the New Testament, and I hated that. I knew there was something desperately wrong with my understanding of the salvation of God, but I did not know what it was.
I was without hope.
It was sometime in those dark months that God whispered to my heart, “Give My people hope.” I had no idea what hope was, let alone how I was to give to others something I did not possess.
I became angry at the arrogant sectarianism of the move – claiming that others who were experiencing God different than we were were of the devil – “an outpouring of demons,” someone called it. Yet I knew people who enjoyed a closer walk with Jesus in holiness and love because of that so-called “outpouring of demons.” And I also knew that Jesus said that calling the Holy Spirit a demon is the one sin God will not forgive.
But God had spoken a word into me, and I had no idea how it could ever be.
In the spring a ministry we trusted at that time came to Blair Valley and told Maureen and I that we could not stay in that isolated situation. She spoke as strongly as she could, as from the Lord, that we must go. The problem was, in spite of the word God had spoken to me, “Blair Valley will be your home,” I agreed with her, mentally, and in the discouragement of my soul. I knew that we must leave, not just Blair Valley, but that entire fellowship.
And so the question has always been there. “If we had stayed, would God have shown Himself mighty, would He have taught me all that He has done in the years since, would He have birthed the word He spoke in a manner more glorious than we could imagine?”
I will never know the answer to that question nor do I consider it. I do not judge myself nor accept any form of condemnation. The accuser has no place in me. All of my Father’s ways concerning me are perfect, and there I leave it.
For three years I had attempted to walk with others with whom I was not agreed and under a church order and “covering” I no longer witnessed to. I know, all through the fabric of my being, that is a bad idea. I had attempted to believe God out of poverty. I would never take my family back into poverty; poverty is as empty and futile as a heart consumed by an abundance of possessions. Neither one is of God.
Why did I leave? Because I was numb and frozen inside. Because I had no hope. Because I could not see my way. Because I was finished with the false “covering” that was the move.
I may have left Blair Valley, but the vision God planted in my heart, the word He spoke to me, has never left .
I tried to get a teacher’s certificate in Fort St. John so that I could somehow support my family. I soon realized that British Columbia would never give me such a thing. In the summer of 1999, we made our way to Lubbock, Texas. I hated leaving Canada and putting our immigration at risk, but I could see no other way. If landed immigrants are gone from Canada more than a year, they lose their status. We got an extension, but when that time came to an end, we had no means to return. We were stuck in Texas. It was with great sorrow that we lost our status in Canada. Then Blair Valley was sold to a private party. It no longer belonged to community.
I could still dream, but it seemed Blair Valley was cut off from us for good.
Yet God had spoken a word into my heart and that word has never let me go. God filled my heart with a dream and a vision of a community of Christ issuing forth from His heart. That dream has only grown. I cannot be turned from it.
Yet I am incapable of causing it to happen. I simply do not have the necessary people skills to convince others to join with me; I do not have the physical strength to “work and work” to make it happen, and I do not have a dime’s worth of money beyond my family’s needs.
Remember there were two parts to the word God spoke to me. The first part was the specific location, Blair Valley, the second part was the heart vision of a teaching community, a community of Christ. I slowly let go of the first, convincing myself that God could fulfill the heart vision anywhere – and He certainly can.
Yes, we walked away from Blair Valley because we could not stay, but the word God spoke into me has never left my heart. For eighteen long years, wanting to be joined with others in the fulfillment of the vision that rules my heart most every day, the word God had spoken into me as the Author of my faith waited for God’s finishing word. For fourteen long years, hearing God speak to me over and over that same vision, that Authoring word of Christ has waited in my tomb for the hour when God does what He says He will do.
Since we left Blair Valley, I have called forth the vision of God in my heart, though I see it not.
For four years, God immersed me in John Eldredge’s wonderful books. Every chapter, every page filled me with great hope that God would do what He said He would do. All through God taking me all apart, I lifted up my heart in faith, calling forth that vision out of the emptiness of my present experience.
I re-started the Times of Refreshing letters for the sole purpose of, somehow, calling forth that word. I created YGuide and the hopes of an online business through the portrayal of a homesteading community for the sole purpose of calling forth that vision. I developed YGuide Academy for the sole purpose of calling forth that word.
None of these things went anywhere; I am not a salesman. No matter how well I write my sales pitches, few ever buy. Yet – even my desire to earn money online was solely so that we might move into a country place to see God birth the vision of my heart.
We began attending Lakewood Church, and I wrote The Jesus Secret. Every step of God putting me back together again, I called forth that word planted in the tomb. Sunday after Sunday, Pastor Joel filled me with such hope that now is our time, now is the season of the Lord, now God will do all that He has spoken, far beyond what we could imagine. How many times I have said to my family, driving away from a so-encouraging service, “Now we will see God do this thing!”
I send out the Christ Our Life letter to call forth that vision. I write and publish my books to call forth that vision.
Every connection with people I have tried to make has been for the sole purpose of seeing if God would use that connection to birth the word that fills my heart. Those connections have gone nowhere, usually ending in pain, but I will not despair. I will not quit; I cannot. The desire to see God do what He said He will do is so great. Even if I succeed in shutting it down, it never stays down. A few days later it is bubbling up inside of me as if it never left.
None of this has been “works.” I am incapable of “making” anything happen. I know that. Every step has been a speaking of faith, a casting my bread upon the waters. I told my wife this year that all I know to do is to give myself to the word God is releasing to me and to send it forth – that the Word itself that I share will build a house for us.
Sometimes my inability to prepare a place for my family in the midst of the horrors that are evidently coming upon the earth leaves me in despair. Yet I do not despair, but I cast my bread upon the waters once again in the blind but hope-filled expectation that it will return to me, that it will prepare a place for us, that the Word itself will birth the vision that grips my heart.
So when God spoke to me last Monday morning that now was the time of fulfillment, that now He was calling forth that word out of the tomb, I felt as the Psalmist in Psalm 126.
When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
I know this is true. I know this is His way. I know that it is His time, that it is the season of the Lord.
It’s a funny thing. Since we have lived in Texas, I have been fully willing for the Lord to birth the vision of my heart somewhere other than Blair Valley. There are many good reasons why He should do so. If it were up to me, I would likely stay in Texas. If I had the provision to begin a community property, I would pick a location somewhere inside northeast Texas. I like the physical characteristics of that area, and the Spirit of the Lord that seems to rest on that part of the country.
So I have looked for properties in northeast Texas. I even drove out of my way a couple of months ago to look at one. But in my searching, I found the perfect property right in the center of the area I had chosen. I have studied that property carefully on Google Earth and maps. It has a wonderful, secluded valley running through it, almost two miles in length. Down through the center of that valley is a creek called “Blair Creek.”
Blair Valley! But I no longer get caught in the enthusiasms of my mind. I wait for God in my spirit. I know by experience that the “right place” can be very much the wrong place.
So as the dream-laughter-singing joy of Psalms 126 rose up inside of me last Monday morning, I turned to Google maps. I swung back and forth between Blair Valley, British Columbia and Blair Valley, Texas.
I would very much have liked for the singing joy to rest upon Blair Valley, Texas, but it did not, not even. No, the singing joy lives only in Blair Valley, British Columbia. And so now I know; God will do what He said.
You know, anointed, godly, and caring people, counseling with me, have tried in every way they could to convince me that “Blair Valley” is nothing other than a piper’s dream, a foolish fetish of a man’s heart who has too many problems of reality to face and conquer to waste time with unfounded fantasies.
And until God revealed to me that Christ is my only life, every time I have ever raised the dream of my heart, it was shot down instantly without thought by whoever I was sharing with. Period, end of story. We shall see.
The writing of this vision is the same thing I have been doing for eighteen years.
Out of my own searing inability, out of my own bottomless lack, out of my own confusion and pain, I call forth that vision, I call forth that word.
God will do what He said!