The Pearl Of Great Price
On Wednesday evening we met in a large hall in Harrogate. I will never forget the way John Wimber began the meeting. He said, “I was planning to teach on healing tonight, but I feel like the Lord wants me to speak about the pearl of great price.” And then he said, “Some of you tonight are wondering about whether God is calling you into full-time ministry. You will know it's the Lord when there is no more time. When it is the last hour, you will know it's God.” I literally gripped the side arms of my chair. I thought to myself: “Lord is everyone here praying about going into full-time ministry? Are John's comments meant for me?” Through the course of the evening as John talked about his own life and calling, there were seven very specific statements that aimed directly at my situation. By the end of the evening I knew that God had answered my prayer for a sign. A few years later I had shared this story with John and told him how instrumental he was in my calling to pastoral ministry. John had then shared with me a very unusual experience going down the elevator right before he was to teach that night. He felt the Holy Spirit tell him in the elevator to change his teaching from healing to the teaching on the pearl of great price.
He told his wife, Carol, what he sensed from the Lord, but he also added, “But I can't do that. Everyone here is expecting a teaching on healing. What should I do?” Carol in her customary bluntness, said to John: “Well, John, if you are not going to do what the Lord tells you to do, why don't you quit Christian ministry all together?” John said, “Well, I can't do that.” To which Carol responded, “Then do what God told you to do.”
Rich Nathan is an author and the senior pastor of Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio. He also serves on the board for the Association of Vineyard Churches USA. ~
The Music Man At the time I got saved I had produced two albums - not singles, mind you - that were in the top 10 for the US. I was being offered a lot of money in advance to do more albums. I had to say “No.” I had to take all my stuff in my study and studio, put it in a truck and take it out to the dump. God wouldn't even let me sell it to anybody. He made it clear to me not to sell it. Without detailing how He did it, it is enough to know that when God wants all of you, He will make it clear what is standing in the way between you and Him. If you pay attention, you'll know what God is asking you to do.
During this time my wife and I went eight weeks without a paycheck. I was offered several opportunities, but the Lord said, “No!” These opportunities came while we were receiving groceries on our doorstep and living without air conditioning in the middle of a hot summer. I couldn't believe it! When I worked for the devil I made money. Now that I was working for God I was left with nothing, or at least that's what I thought at the time.
About fifteen weeks after I had come to Christ, a nice man in the church came and offered me a terrible job. I joined a work force as an ordinary warehouse worker. I have almost no mechanical skills, yet I was hired into a manufacturing plant that builds things. I had never punched a time clock, worn those kinds of clothes or gotten dirty in any job I'd ever had. I didn't know what it felt like to do that; it was so foreign to me that I would be sick just going into the building each morning. The thousands of hours I had invested in my fingers were being replaced with manual labor. I could play nineteen instruments professionally. Throughout the ordeal, I comforted myself in the back of my mind, thinking, God's just taking it away for a while, He's a good God, He's probably going to give it back to me later. But it never happened. God didn't say, “If you give Me that, I'll give you this.” He just said, “Obey me!” That was over thirty years ago. God didn't call me into the ministry right away, either. That didn't come until much later, after I had given Him everything. But I have never regretted any of this because God's plan for my life far exceeded my own. I can honestly say that my life is His life working in me, not the fruit of my own effort or skill. Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5). See, it's not my fruit, but Jesus' fruit. It isn't the fruit of my effort, my discipline, or my hard work; it's the fruit of His Spirit and work in me.