Now I was off work. I had worked harder that day than perhaps any in my life. Something was driving me. Or was I motivated by my curiosity? Well I should have been! I sped straight to the berthing and got to my rack as soon as possible. My rack was a top rack. On most Navy ships the racks are stacked 3 high. So mine was the third up from the deck and in a cubicle across from the TV lounge. Years later as a second class petty officer I took many buses when the USS Jason (which was my ship then) had made a stop in Guam which was where the Holland was that year (1984) just to go look at the rack where I had had such an experience with God. It was like a trysting place for me. The rack was still there, but the TV lounge had moved!
I pulled myself up into that rack and wasted no time. I started praying as if I was a storm. I had determined to beat on the gates of heaven (excuse the idiom), so to speak, until the Father opened His door and answered my cry and answered my question and solved the mystery. I thought I would be able to get somewhere with God because I used to spend whole nights with God in prayer at times and learned how to travail in prayer. I THOUGHT I KNEW HOW ALWAYS TO prevail with God and even had seen healing and outpourings of revival influence of the Holy Spirit in answer to my prayers, so I dreamed I would get through!
They say "He may not come when you want Him but He's always right on time!" Take Lazarus for example. The Lord did not heal him as requested. He waited and let him die first! The question is do you want mere power or do you want to know Him in life? How about knowing resurrection life?
I started first in my prayer by asking, "God, why did I lose my keys this morning? Are You chastening me? Do I need to be straightened out? Is it true that I'm an un-submissive rebel who is what my thoughts are saying and these brothers and sisters are saying. Is this the devil accusing me, the brethren, or are you convicting me? What am I doing in a city without a local church? Did You bring me here to get me away from it? Lord, if it ain't Your will for me to be in a local church reveal that to me. And if You want me to be here to raise up the church, I got to have a word from You. What is happening to me? What is going on in my life? I am torn up!!!" I got desperate before ………… God? I kept on and I said "God, I just got to have an answer from You, You know?" and went on praying and praying and praying. Then I said "Lord, don't be quiet to me, lest I be like them that go down to the pit." And I prayed and prayed and prayed. And I tried to pray with everything within me. But there wasn't much within me because there was .. no unction or movement of the Spirit. .. .. .. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever prayed and it seemed God wasn't listening? Have you ever prayed and it seemed He had just shut His door for the night, had gone to bed and just wasn't interested? How many times have you just lost faith because it seemed He was saying flat no, or "SORRY, I DON'T CARE." Or .. "I'm on vacation to Holland or Bermuda." From the beginning of my prayer and on there was no inspiration of any kind. Even when I called on the name (which ALWAYS brings the Spirit whether you feel Him or not but you usually do when you call on His name!) of the Lord Jesus. There was a metal frame which was a sort of overhead for the rack which housed the reading light, etc. and that piece of metal seemed to be as far as my prayer went up and then bounced back into my face. I felt like a piece of dead wood and felt as if I was wasting my time and getting no where. The heavens were not only just brass heavens, it seemed as if there WAS no heaven and as if God didn't even exist! Now I don't know if you have ever prayed in a situation like this but one thing is for sure. Most people give up and quit when they don't feel anything. Especially when they feel like I felt like less than not feeling anything. Like a mouth full of sand! Like getting no where. Like having 3 million problems and seemingly God is not interested in a one of them! I mean probably not! After all, there is no indication that He is. He seems to be taking no notice whatsoever. Let me warn you! Do not lose faith in love of God. Sometimes God will allow a feeling like this for a lot longer than what He allowed it for me!
After one hour of this kind of "dead wood" praying, I got tired. I was completely exhausted. After all, I had worked hard that day. I had worked until the sweat poured off my body. I had worked until my whole breathing and heartbeat had changed its pace for some extent of time! (Not really! I'm not THAT awesome! C'mon!)I had worked until I was well spent and worked myself up into a energized state to where everything was go! Go! Go!, but the body comes to a point where it turns around and says, no! No! No! I was suddenly sleepy, exhausted, worn out, defeated, tired, confused, frustrate, miserable, lonely and flat out exasperated all at once! I find it impossible to describe. So I decided to give up. And here I had almost vowed earlier in the day and had determined that I was going to spend all night in prayer to God if I had to and knock down the door of heaven! I was going to take Jesus literally and 1. Ask 2. Seek 3. Knock .. until the door was open and I received from God, but alas! Here's this guy who had been so determined and who was the same guy who's spent many a rough night in prayer getting answers from God giving up just like those guys in the garden so long ago! Here I said "God where are you? Why won't You even come near me (ha! He was so close it could not even be conceived!)? After an hour of that I was totally wiped out.
That was it. I was not only through, and empty, and spent, and tired, and depressed, and lonely, and rejected, and like I didn't have a friend in the world, and defeated, and down, and frustrated but I found it within me to be angry! (How could I? Oh Lord!) I was angry with the Lord that He wouldn't give me even the time of day. So I said "Fine!!!" I said "God, You don't want to talk to me tonight????? FINE!! GOOD--BYE!!!!!! See You tomorrow!" And it was as if I hung up the phone .. with a slam! Then I rolled over.
I tried to go to sleep .. but I couldn't go to sleep because my scalp was itchy (now pay close close attention once more) and I was murky and murky and sweaty and … wow! I had skipped taking a shower. I had been so desperate, and needy before God that I had put my dirty smelly body in that clean rack and I had not cared. There I was scratching my head over and over, down, miserable, depressed, had given up, tired, sleepy, too dirty to sleep, to tired to get up and do something about it .. my misery was complete!! There you go! I was dead! Boom!
Through long years in the military I have learned and seen that this not taking a shower thing I is quite a problem for sanitation as it effects other sailors even in such close quarters with others. Many times we had to call Medical to come inspect some guy because the guys was stinking up the berthing for everyone else. Sometimes we even took revenge ourselves and bodily took the guy and put him into a scalding hot shower and took a steel brush to the guy's bare skin and turned it red! Of course this is no longer tolerated in the military today, but we sure got the guy clean!
Back to my story. If ever I needed a jump start, it was then. I was totally lonely, emotionally sick, mentally depressed, spiritually and physically exhausted, rejected, without hope (except for the glimmer of being able to call my wife the next day-- but I thought she would put me down for this too and felt I could share none of this with her - but even though I was looking forward to her and that's what kept me alive, I was still missing her terrible), and now I can't go to sleep! I'm in total misery! If ever I needed God, it was then.
And then ..
then .. God spoke to me ..
.. in a still small voice "Kevin ..
My ears perked up as He again said "Kevin .. you need to take a shower." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THAT woke me up! First I laughed. "H.. heh ha!" Then he said it again. Here I am. I'm torn to pieces within and totally upset, right? And here God comes to me and seemingly ignores all that and instead tells me I need to take a shower!!! Then I got mad! I got so mad at God and I said:"WHAT!!!???!!!
What is this???????????????????
I'm DYYING INSIDE and You want me to take a SHOWER????
"WHAT IS THIS??????!!??????"
Then the Lord said "Get out of your rack and open it up and get a book by Witness Lee. It's entitled 'The Genuine Ground of Oneness.' Get it out and start reading the first chapter." I thought "Oh, thank God, God is going to speak to me, but he's going to do it through a book by Witness Lee. OK, maybe I'm getting' somewhere!"
The Keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens!!!!
So I got the book out and crawled back into my rack and turned the reading light on. Now I had somehow bought this book in San Diego and had it all this time but had never started reading it as of yet. The first chapter was entitled "Oneness in the Four Great Acts of God." So I started reading it, right? And it talks about the keys of the kingdom of the heavens! Witness wrote that when the church is built up, the keys of the kingdom of the heavens work in power but when the church is not built up the keys CANNOT work in power. Then I said "Praise the Lord! That's why I lost my keys this morning!!!!" The lights turned on!!! I said "That's why I lost … because we got in disunity and we lost the oneness, we weren't built no more. I lost the oneness with that couple and we had no more oneness anymore and because of that we weren't on the ground anymore. There was not at least three stones built on the ground anymore right? So God didn't have any building anymore so the gates of hell could come and prevail. Then I said "That's why hell was all over me!!! That's why Satan could come and attack me last night!!!!"
Then Bro. Lee was saying in this chapter "before the Lord's Recovery came to this country we have seen none of the kind of spiritual warfare that we see today. We in the Recovery are small in number, especially compared to the Roman Catholic Church and the major denominations. Although we are small in number and seemingly insignificant, we are fiercely attacked and opposed. Behind this attack and opposition is the power of Satan, the gates of Hades. Before the Lord began to recover the church life in this country the power of darkness could afford to be at rest. But now that the Lord is in the process of building up the proper church life, this power rises up against the church. But the church has the keys of the kingdom of the heavens and these keys will prevail over the gates of Hades." WOW!!!!!!!
So we've GOT to have the building! Or Hades will prevail over us. Right? So I realized this. Wow!!!!!! This is hitting me heavy, right?
The Inward and Outward Aspects of the Church
Then the next section of that chapter dealt with the matter of balance!! It was entitled: The Inward and Outward Aspects of the Church. He went on to say "Now that we see the importance of the church, most Christians only care about the inward aspect" or the testimony or the spiritual aspect and all that, right? But they don't care about the outward aspect, the appearance, or the ground of the church. They don't care about the ground of unity. "However it is ridiculous to care for one aspect and neglect the other.. we should have regard for the wineskin that holds the content.. the wine and we should have a high regard for the wine." Without the wineskin the wine cannot be held. The wine is going to leak out. Without the proper container or the Body built up in unity how can God dwell in it? Without the temple built together how could God have a house? How can He have a container? Without the proper vessel you cannot hold the liquid. Right? And then he said "Our very existence as human beings testifies that we must care for both aspects. As humans we have an inward aspect - our soul and spirit and we have an outward aspect, our body. Although we appreciate our spirit and soul, we devote a great deal of attention to the care for our physical bodies. Actually most of the things in our culture are designed for the care of our physical existence. We dare not minimize the outward aspect of human life." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then I said "THAT'S WHY GOD IGNORED MY INWARD NEED TONIGHT AND HE TOLD ME TO TAKE A SHOWER!!!!!!!! Because before I ever got in that rack I should have taken a shower. But you see Christians today they care about the spiritual but not about the outward or practical things of the ecclesia (I hate the word "church") but instead they just want to take care of the spiritual life. And as a result they don't have much life at all. Because they don't have a proper container to HOLD the life! It's leaking out!!!! See they don't have the proper unity. Then I said "THAT'S why God told me to take a shower!
It is here I'm going to insert a parable that was given me on these things. I share this parable elsewhere in a letter of mine that was later made a chapter of this book which you will see again in another section of this book. The parable has to do with balance. How there must be balance between the spiritual aspect of the Christian life and the practical. Actually the practical is sometimes the "container" of the spiritual and there will be no spiritual content left after it all leaks out if you don't take care of the practical things first! Sometimes the physical and practical comes before the spiritual but sometimes it doesn't so I've learned the hard way you must be careful. However, there is ALWAYS the need for balance between the two and for taking care of the wineskin as well as the wine. Here I would also once again refer you to Frank Viola's book: "Rethinking the Wineskin." My allegory is about a father who lives with his children in a condominium where the kitchenette is upstairs. Right next to it is also a living room where there is an expensive blue carpet. In the refrigerator is a carton of chocolate milk. The little children do not like the regular cups the father gives them but would rather have the paper cups. However in this story the paper cups are not made with the proper wax even so they already have holes and have sprung a leak. But these children know how to really "pray" so to speak and unceasingly cry out to Dad for the chocolate milk and hold onto their cups and will not let them go. Finally Dad gets mad and goes to the refrigerator and pours the chocolate milk at the kids even though he knows it will not get drunk and will stain the carpet all because the kids wouldn't quit crying for … what? REVIVAL of course!
So you see? Both mysteries of that day had been revealed: 1. The Keys 2. The shower first before meeting the spiritual need.
Then the Heavens opened and God spoke to me the way I had wanted Him to speak to me all along. It might as well had been an audible voice it was so powerful but it wasn't. first I was suddenly so filled with the Spirit from waaaayyyy deep within that there could be no mistake as THAT is where the voice came from. Also this voice seemed to resound throughout the entire universe and its power shook me through and through and there was no doubt about the authority in that voice as to Who it was speaking. Rarely has God spoken to me like He did that night and usually He just moves in your spirit so you know the scriptures and does not make a habit of things like this but this time it was different and there is no doubt as I have tested it with every possible test. He said these six words only:
I WANT MYYYY BODY MYYYY WAY!!!
At this point the word of Isaiah 55:8,9 became so much more true to me than ever before and I saw that, yes, its really true that we don't really see things from God's standpoint that readily. We see things from our standpoint and to get into HIS view and His ways which are NOT our ways and His thoughts which are NOT our thoughts we really have to be willing to lay our WAYS AND THOUGHTS DOWN AND TURN TO JESUS CHRIST! Isaiah 55 says it well:
- 8 The LORD says:
- "My thoughts and my ways
- are not like yours.
9 Just as the heavens
- are higher than the earth,
- my thoughts and my ways
- are higher than yours.
I've never heard such authority. I've never heard such authority before or since . There was so much power from those six words I can still feel the waves of the result of the Lord's speaking to me that night. It is like when a rock gets thrown in a pond. The waves will go out from it wave after wave after wave for quite awhile. And though the circles may not be as large then they were at first .. well, guess what? It's not like that with things eternal. Things of time wear out but the things out of the realm of eternity don't wear out, don't get frail, don't die and don't stop. The Word that God speaks is powerful forever and ETERNAL TOO!
So what does this mean? God wants all His children who meet in different denominations and different free groups, house groups -- it doesn't matter: He wants them to quit meeting their way and start getting together in His way. He wants them together HIS WAY! What does that mean? They are to be one assembly in one city! THAT is all who are Christians in a particular city or town need to see that they belong to each other and together whether they like it or not! But they meet with their different names. They are separate because of their different doctrines and they meet because of their different practices in different places, separate from one another, they don't even know one another and as a result the Lord doesn't even have His testimony. But if you'll come back to the oneness, in other words the local ground, in other words one assembly in one city saying we stand with ALL the believers. All the believers in this city are part of the one and only assembly that the scripture says is in this city because the scripture only allows one assembly (many home meetings of that assembly is OK!)and we don't dare take any other name and we don't dare be anything else or say we're anything else than what GOD SAYS we are .. then God will have His testimony! And Satan will be kicked in the butt!!!!
America is a free country. If I want to go to my house and go to my living room and sit in my easy chair with a bad posture and throw one leg over the arm of the chair then I can do it right? Can't I? Well of course I can! I can have my body my way because it's a free country! AND NO ONE IS GOING TO STOP ME!!! But how about giving this liberty to Jesus Christ? Do we give the Lord even this much privilege to get HIS BODY HIS WAY??? What about Him? I tell you its not fair!!!!! If you're not awake by now and listening to what I'm saying then I'll just tell you like it is and what kind of a person you really are whether you know it or not; whether you realize it or not! YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO CONSIDERATION FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BECAUSE YOU TAKE AWAY HIS WAY SO YOU CAN DO IT YOUR WAY!!! AND THAT'S WHO YOU ARE!!!!!!!! Ouch! And if that didn't hurt the way I intended it to, you're blind on top of everything else!
Here I am in America! If I want to slouch I can. It may not be good for my posture but I can do it cause its my body and I want my body my way!
January the 3rd, 1984
Next day I called my wife being it was Tuesday and she said how come you didn't call me on New Year's day? I was ready to come to you then. And I said it was a good thing you didn't because you would have been out in the street because I lost the keys to our place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do you see it? Because I lost the oneness hell prevailed and I lost the keys. Because I lost the keys, I lost my dwelling place! Because I lost the dwelling place, I lost my bride! Do you see it? I didn't have my wife because I didn't have a place to let her into.
Because God don't have us in oneness He doesn't have His Dwelling place. So He also has no expression because He has no practical Body. Because He has no dwelling He has no building. And what is He building? His Bride! Because He does not have His house He does not have His bride! So if we lose the oneness, we lose everything! If there's no oneness, there's nothing! Because the bride is something built up.
After my wife arrived Wednesday and in the days following there seemed to me to be a time better than our honeymoon ever was and that was a sign to me also.
There is something new about all of these things of course (of course I was delivered and the devil jumped in the lake! What do you think?) 1984 was the year Bro. Lee went Taiwan and started what he called the New Way!! This is no accident. It was the year he dropped the Sunday one man speaking the rest listening in all the local churches everywhere (unless some did not co-operate), let everyone witness on the streets and gave the ministry to all members of the Body. But more of this later. PRAISE THE LORD!!!