Today, I took my weekly prayer-hike in the mountains above our home. I love this scheduled appointment with the Lord. I come away refreshed and renewed each week.
As I finished my hike, I stopped at a hillside concert area called, “The Britt”. The Britt is positioned on a sloping grass hillside that provides a music venue each summer for some of the best music acts on earth. The month of August is devoted to classical concerts. Each morning the orchestra practices in the refreshing morning air for the coming evening concert. It is a great place to cool down after a long hike. I stopped to listen to the music and sat under a tall pine tree.
As I sat there I heard the Lord say to me, “If your voice is not perceived as crying from a wilderness place you are probably not announcing the coming of the Lord.” The reference to the ministry of John the Baptist was obvious to me, but there was more. As I meditated on what I thought the Lord said, I began to realize that when God is about to do a new thing He will give someone a word that may seem as strange and unusual as the words and ministry of John the Baptist.
New and unusual instructions from the Lord can be dismissed because they don’t resemble the sound of what we are hearing because it is uncommon. Commonness can dull our hearing over time because we have a tendency to tune out all but the familiar.
We all want to appear normal and be part of the crowd, but that need must be parked if we are going to allow God to speak to us and through us the new things He wants to do. We spend a lot of time crafting our self-image and our presentation. This crafting can radically change what God initially said to us. The problem with some of this is that we are actually crafting our words to create a self-image – what we want others to see in us. Jerry Cook recently told a group of us that the problem with our self-image is that it is usually fake.
While we never want to be odd for odd sake, we do have a lot of Bible that says the saints of God simply told it like it was and let the words fall where they may.
Many times I try to figure out the varied perceptions people may have about me and the words I speak. God wants us to end that fear-based way of living and risk the platform of a wilderness where our words may cause an interruption in a slumbering culture.
Like John the Baptist, his message of repentance was shouted from the wilderness and historic records indicate that the entire population of Jerusalem, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, left the city in response to his voice and walked out into the wilderness to listen. When they got to the wilderness the messenger looked as strange as his message sounded, yet what happened was profoundly supernatural. Heaven opened up, a dove came down and the voice of God spoke. I will risk my image and my cultural status if these are the kind of results obedience brings when we speak as one in a wilderness.