“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).
This is a brief and thought-provoking verse of scripture that forces a Christian to ask, how did I get where I am in the kingdom work of God? Especially, the people active in one of the Five-Fold Ministries of the Gospel of Jesus, i.e., Apostle, Prophet, Preacher, Teacher and Minister. I was really feeling the heat in the furnace of affliction when God plucked me up and placed me exactly where He wanted me. I was burning in the midst of a fiery trial when God spoke to me and said “Fear not, for I am with thee,” I believed him and was no longer afraid of the heat or getting burned.
I am certain that God had spoken to me before, and like many Christians I went on about my business, choosing not to heed the still quiet voice. I even made a joke of the fact that God had reached around me and chosen my younger brother to preach, twenty-five years to his credit, and was saving me for something else. I was both right and wrong, I was right in that He had chosen my brother first, and yes I was wrong about the something else part. God’s will is indeed something else, it is His and His alone. Don’t be misled by the contemporary notion of “Divine versus Permissive Will of God,” there is only one Will of God, it is Divine and it will be done, I am living proof.
What I failed to realize the first, second or third time God spoke to me was; if you do not respond where you are He will put you where you won’t have a choice. I knew better, but I kept telling myself I am not ready. I made every excuse in the book to avoid doing what God had chosen me to do a long time ago. So, God being God—the Great I Am That–I Am cast me into the furnace of affliction. Believe me when I tell you, you have not felt heat until God decides to turn it up a notch, you get warm in places you did not even know you had places. I was afflicted with divorce, sickness, sadness, emptiness and the wrath of the long arm of the law, man’s law.
One night while sleeping, trying to rest my tormented mind and escape the heat of the pressure that was coming from all sides, the Lord spoke to me in a vision. The image in the vision was that of an old man, frail, bearded, with a one-piece garment and a belt around his waist waving his hands above his head as if he was trying to get my attention. I approached him slowly, upon reaching him, He said: “The blessings of the Lord are upon your head, and His word shall be your sword.” This time God had my undivided attention, it was time to wake up and drink the coffee. I was absolutely certain God had chosen me it was time to be about my Father’s business.
God wasn’t done with me, a second vision really rocked my rocky world, it occurred about two months after the previous vision. A still quiet voice spoke firmly to me, it said; “Teach them the truth, so that they may not be deceived.” My calling had been placed before me as clear as the tip of the nose on my face. I had been chosen—picked out from among the rest of my comrades, to preach and teach God’s divine truth. Since then I have committed my focus to teaching and preaching the bible deeply, consistently and accurately. Beyond that I have determined to simply depend on the Lord.
He has lifted me from the furnace of affliction. “Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.” (Colossians 1:25) There are many ways, thanks to advances in technology, to preach and teach the word of God for your benefit—that you may not be deceived, as well as, my benefit—obeying the voice of God. It is a great feeling to know God has chosen you to do something as important as preaching and teaching His word to His people. Be blessed and bless someone in Jesus’ name.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ