After really hearing and heeding that call, we find ourselves in the position of having to hear and heed other calls from our Good Shepherd leader. Calls to pray and yield ourselves to prayers like, “Not my will be done, but Your will; Your Kingdom come.” We are further told by the One we seek to follow, to do things like denying ourselves, taking up our crosses to follow Him -- and there’s a whole lot more, too.
Where there is a genuine sheep who has genuinely entered the sheepfold through the door of the Good Shepherd; there is usually an honest effort made to hear and heed such calls.
And initially, after the flurry of the excitement of the honeymoon period of being born again, water baptised and baptised in the Holy Spirit, we often find that married life with Jesus is not such an easy thing, especially if you really want to love Him and obey Him. You find that His ways are not naturally your ways, and it seems so costly to have to give up your ways in exchange for His.
You may feel that it is as if Jesus has you in some sort of “boot camp,” which may seem never-ending. So some opt out of boot camp, but probably keep going to church. Some may fall away completely. Some choose to stick it out in boot camp.
The boot-campers, every now and again, may look at the church-goers and feel angry that God seems to be unfair. The latter seem to “get away with so much.” But, if you remain a committed boot-camper, the Spirit which God has placed within you, gives you the grace to persevere and to get to the place of true heart surrender -- in every area of your life. A few years ago, the Lord gave me the words for a song. As I penned them, I realised they were a true expression of where the Lord had finally brought my heart …
Where You go
I will follow
Where You lead
I will go
Beloved Shepherd of my soul
I live to do Your will
Be exalted, O Holy Lord
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
All to You I do surrender
Upon the altar of sacrifice
I love You
With all my heart
Where You go -- I will follow
Where You lead -- I will go
The Holy Spirit gave a beautiful tune for the song, to one of our worship leaders, Cindy Nelemans.
So I began to sing the song -- over and over; over hill and down dale in my spiritual walk; on the mountaintops and in the valleys. Every time I expressed such sentiments to Him, I felt as if surely my heart would burst with love for Him and from Him.
Something was happening. I realised He was setting me as a seal upon His heart, and His seal was being set upon my heart (Song of Songs 8:6).
And then the waters came, the floods of test-upon-test (Song of Songs 8:7). Such as I had never known in my life, such as we had never known in our lives as a family.
The Holy Spirit exhorted and enabled me somehow to keep on singing and not to shrink back, even though He was leading through fire and water. “Follow me” was the ever-present cry of the Good Shepherd, speaking through His Holy Spirit -- “and don’t murmur or complain.”
Jesus, or course, proved His faithfulness to keep going through the flood and fire.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you (Isaiah 43:1&2).”
“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it (Song of Songs 8:7).”
Finally, months later it was over. “It is finished,” breathed the Spirit.
Boot camp, so many years of boot camp (in my case, I’m ashamed to say, close to 20 years) and the rushing floods (of outward adversity and affliction) had brought forth something within -- a transformation, a heart transplant, a Garden of Eden where I could walk unashamed and naked, in the cool of the day, constantly able to hear His voice. With the tree of life at the centre of the Garden.
“For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody (Isaiah 51:3).”
Such is the good God wants to do us in the end… a Garden of Eden within, leading us into our personal Canaan or fullness of destiny -- without. It all makes the rigors and self-sacrifices of boot camp seem pathetic by comparison. If I had known what I know now, I would never have resisted God in anything, for even a moment.
And heaven, the other side of eternity and the fullness of the Kingdom is yet to come. Oh joy unspeakable, and full of glory!
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (John 14:21&23).”