By: Richard Gazowsky
The scenario that I’m about to describe has happened numerous times in my life…It has taken me many years to “see the light”, but God showed me I was actually attempting to manipulate Him through my own selfish desires and ways. The simplest way to describe this is for you to picture a person who receives a word from God that simply says, “I am going to bless you with a new car.” Instead of the person waiting upon the Lord to do exactly what He said, bless him, the person takes it as God’s will and approval (even at the radical point of saying it is a command from God) to go out, chose a car of his or her own liking, sign a six-year contract for a loan, and then blame their bondage to the financial commitment as obedience to God. When the truth of the matter is, their disobedience, coupled with manipulation, put the person in the difficult financial position.
This scenario actually plays out in thousands of Christians’ lives every day. That’s because we never face the stark realities of what it means to truly obey the will of the Father. The reason I’m writing this blog is not to fill you with condemnation, but to reveal the beautiful pathway of obedience that lies before us all in doing exactly what God says, and means. I have seen the scenario that I’ve just described play out at many different levels of life ~ influencing the direction companies take, the paths churches embark on, and decisions countries make. I believe God is simply offering us the ability to make these kinds of decisions completely according to His will.
King Saul was told by God to annihilate the Amalekites and to destroy everything they owned. Months later King Saul found himself on the smoky battlefield with his soldiers, eagerly anticipating the great spoils of war because they’d experienced how easy the victory had been. Suddenly the thought came into King Saul’s mind that he must make good on the commitment that he made to the men when he became their king, and give them their just rewards for a job well done. And, to appease God for the slight variation in His command, King Saul would offer sacrifices to the Lord. Great! Wasn’t King Saul so smart, that he thought he could placate God by his offer of compromise.
We read that Samuel exposed this completely fruitless effort by King Saul to change God’s mind. How foolish King Saul was that he felt God could be manipulated through sacrifice. Samuel told him, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Like I said, this scenario has happened to me numerous times in my life.
The Lord once led me to organize an event in a San Francisco stadium. I knew it was the Lord who had told me to put on the event, but God’s instructions ended at that point. But I felt that since I was the leader, pretty much every decision was up to me. Boy, what an arrogant presumption! The event ended up being a financial disaster, and it took my church many years to recover from it. Of course I never let the real facts be known publicly, because the event had made us famous and put our name on the books as a “significant” San Francisco church. I had been unable to admit what went wrong until just lately, when I felt a need to expose my own manipulation of God’s word. That’s really what went wrong.
Last week the Lord told my family and I, through a prophecy by Timothy Snodgrass, that we were to go to Mount Diablo and perform a prophetic act. Timothy didn’t mention what the act was to be. The next day Timothy prophesied that we would turn one dollar into a billion. On Saturday the Lord spoke to us to go to a mountain that is just north of San Francisco. We prayed there for about five hours. The Lord kept telling us not to leave, that it was not time yet. Then, near the time of sunset, God spoke to three of us and said, “You must go to Mount Diablo at the crack of dawn to do your prophetic act.” That meant that we would be going to Mount Diablo before our 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning service, the first of two I was scheduled to preach that day.
As dawn was breaking we reached the base of Mount Diablo. Within minutes a park ranger happened to come by the gate entrance. He asked me, “Why have you come so early? The park doesn’t open for another hour.” Then, he unexpectedly said, “Well, I’ll let you in anyhow.” While we were driving up the mountain, the Lord spoke to us that we were to drop a dollar bill into the wind and let it float out over the Bay Area. That was to be the prophetic act. But when we arrived at the top of the mountain peak we found there was no wind blowing to carry the dollar bill anywhere.
I told the family I would obey the Lord anyhow and do what He told me. As soon as I felt the tiniest puff of wind I held a dollar bill up above me and let it drop. It circled down to the ground and lay at my feet. I felt something wasn’t right. The result didn’t have anything to do with what I’d seen in the Spirit. We all then looked around for the best position for the wind to blow, and for the next 1 1/2 hours we waited for some sort of gust of wind to blow. Finally there was a slight breeze, so I quickly threw the dollar in the direction of the wind and I watched it sail into some bushes on the side of the mountain below. I looked at my family and said, “Well, I guess this is the best that we can get out of it.”
We all then hopped into the car and started driving down the mountain. Suddenly my daughter, Rocki, became very quiet. I then said that something didn’t feel right in the Spirit. She said, “Dad, you’re right. Yesterday I saw a vision of us holding a dollar and the wind was blowing so hard that it knocked the hood of my jacket off my head. The wind then seemed to grab the dollar from my hand and it flew off into the sky. I believe that is the prophetic act that God is going to do for us.”
“But, honey,” I said, “we already tried. We waited over an hour and a half on the top of the mountain!” “Yes, dad”, she said, “but isn’t the whole thing God is trying to teach us, is to be obedient, to have patience, and to wait upon Him ~ no matter if it takes all day? Didn’t Brother Timothy say that this prophetic act would turn one dollar into a billion? If needs be, couldn’t we wait a whole day for something like that?”
Ouch! My daughter’s words stung like fire in my heart. I saw once again my own personal manipulation of God’s command in trying to make it conform to my convenience. I immediately turned the car around and drove back up to the top of the mountain. I grabbed another dollar from my pocket and walked out to the edge of a cliff, held it up, and waited for God’s wind. I was resolved in my mind that it didn’t matter how long it took, I was going to wait for the Lord.
After the waiting went on for another hour, I realized that we wouldn’t make it back in time for the 8:00 a.m. service. I started calling some of my associate pastors to see who could cover for me. Then, while I was on the phone with one of the pastors, Rocki called out, “Dad, give me the dollar!” I ignored her because I was busy on the phone. She rushed over and ripped the dollar out of my hand! Startled by her sudden movement, I took my attention away from my conversation and watched in stunned silence.
The wind suddenly rose up, blew Rocki’s hood off her head, the dollar flew from her hand and sailed up towards the sky, and soared thousands of feet through the air towards the San Francisco Bay Area far below. Wow! This was exactly how Rocki described it in her vision. She waited on God and now His wind was carrying it away. This experience was simple, but truly profound, because it taught me what I hadn’t been able to learn from books. The necessity to wait on God for the right time at the right place!
So often we leaders say we’re going to do exactly what God wants us to do, yet we’ve already conjured up a whole bag of tricks, pre-made decisions ready to fit into the so-called flow of the Spirit and perfect will of God. Your manipulation and presumptuous sin is so convincing that the loyal followers on your staff profoundly admire you for being true to yourself, while all the time you have violated God’s command. I have done this too many times. And, to be honest, I was about ready to commit the same manipulation again concerning an event that was to be held on New Year’s Eve at the Voice of Pentecost. The Lord had told me that this event was to be His event, and He wanted it to be a party. Immediately I began preparing to meet with staff members to start planning the party. There I went again! It was my manipulation, instead of the fulfillment being done by God.
It took about a week of prayer for my air to bubble to the top, and for me to see how God must fulfill His own words with His own actions ~ instead of mine. One of the problems we have as leaders, is we make the assumption that because we are given more authority and power we are to use that authority to control everything. The truth is, we are to use the new authority and power to allow God to control everything. And believe me, He has got a better idea. What His plan is for our New Year’s Eve service, I yet don’t have a clue. But I’m sure of this one thing: it’s going to be fresh, exciting, and will completely blow us all away. I can’t wait to see you there on December 31, 2011, starting at 9:00 p.m. It’s scheduled to end at 12:30 a.m. ~ but that’s up to God…
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”