Monday, January 7, 2002
When the President of the United States declared a war on terrorism, the lives of millions of American military personnel suddenly changed dramatically. Some of the first to be affected were the crews of our major combat ships, like aircraft carriers. In a matter of days, thousands were shipping out. Reporters were trying to guess what their destinations were. But, of course, not even the crews knew. Except for a few commanders, their orders were unknown.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Shipping Out, Orders Unknown."
Actually, that kind of mission is nothing new for those whose Commander-in-Chief is Jesus Christ. He often asks us to ship out, orders unknown. Whether or not we do determines whether or not we experience the plans He designed for us.
Paul understood this "sealed orders" thing - as evidenced by his response in Acts 20:22, our word for today from the Word of God. The elders from the church in Ephesus were very afraid for Paul as he considered going back to Jerusalem. They knew there was major danger awaiting him there. Here's Paul's response: "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." In fact, Paul did get attacked and he got arrested in Jerusalem. But that arrest led him to fulfilling his lifetime ambition - to carry the Gospel to Rome. He was transported there as Caesar's guest -- at Caesar's expense!
Now it could be that your Lord is pushing you in a direction that has no map, lots of questions, and not many specifics. You only know that there is this Holy Spirit compulsion to take that step. It may very well be that your Lord is asking you to board that ship -- orders unknown. All you know is that He wants you on that ship.
Remember, God usually leads by revealing one step at a time, not the whole plan. Your mission is to take the next step. And God's leading tends to work this way - you take a step, you see a step. The waters of the Jordan River didn't part for God's ancient people until they stepped into the water. We'd love to have it the other way - "How about You part the waters, Lord, and I'll step in." No, it doesn't work that way. It's like that automatic door at the grocery store. The door only opens as you start walking toward it.
In Deuteronomy 1, as God was leading His ancient people into a future with many questions, He answered the three issues that might be keeping you from moving out. First, the obstacles. Well, God says, "The Lord your God will fight for you." So, whatever is bigger than you are, God is bigger than it is. So much for the obstacles. How about your inadequacies? "The Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son." OK, so it's His strength, not yours. So much for your inadequacies. What about knowing which way to go? "The Lord your God went before you on your journey ... to show you the way you should go." So much for knowing which way to go.
Soldiers of Jesus ship out even when their orders are unknown. And when they do, amazing things start happening - waters part, doors open, enemies flee, walls fall down. "Going, not knowing" - that is often the path to the greatest victories you have ever seen!