A timely and important word for you and me in preparation for 2024…
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I write this blog somehow knowing that the truth of those Scriptures will provide much needed assurance in the coming year. To understand that, let me share a couple personal stories with you…
In the summer of 1978, as a young copier salesman on straight commission, I arrived early at the office to pray. I needed all the help I could get.
While praying for the day, I suddenly saw a picture of myself in the future, standing in an arena with 5000+ people in attendance. In this vision, I was the speaker at a secular event.
The thing was though, I was too scared to do a copier demonstration in front of more than 2 people, let alone speak to thousands in arena at some secular event. It was never even a remote aspiration of mine!
Almost 30 years later, upon returning from Panama, I called my administrator Cheryl to get caught up on things. She told me that the largest seminar company in the world had called and invited me to speak at a few events with men like Zig Ziglar, Robert Schuller, Brian Tracy, etc.
I told her that I would pray about that but she told me I was too late. She had already accepted on my behalf. So, a few weeks later as I was behind stage at my second of three events, I asked my host how many folks were in the arena. Turned out, there were 5,500.
At that very moment, as I was being introduced to a secular audience, I realized this is what God had shown me in my early 20’s. I was overcome with emotion as my name was called and I had to run up on stage and give my talk.
The thing is, not only had I NEVER desired this, but I had done nothing intentionally that would ever create such an opportunity.
My steps were ordered by God, even though I was completely unaware until the final moment.
This was not a coincidence, which I believe is why he told me many years in advance, so I would realize it was Him. It had always been Him.
But there’s much more…
Back to February of 1985. I had lost my marriage, my children, my homes, cars, everything! I had gone from feeling on top of the world to feeling quite buried under it.
As I woke up on the couch of a friend’s home where I was staying, I turned on the television to help me wake up. The 700 Club was on and while watching, the image on the screen appeared to change.
To my astonishment, I saw myself being interviewed and I saw my name on the screen. Of course it wasn’t possible, but that’s what I saw. It so freaked me out, that I shut the TV off and went for a walk to pray and ask God what had just happened?
I had never once in my life thought about being interviewed on Christian television, let alone the number one rated Christian TV program in the world. After all, I felt like a complete failure and was dead broke and spiritually depleted.
In my prayer walk with Him, I asked God one question… “Will I ever be established again?”
He replied by telling me to look up 2 Chronicles 7:17. Here’s what I read… “AND AS FOR THEE, if you will walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; verse 18 continues… Then will I ESTABLISH…”
This was a word from God for Solomon, but it was also a direct answer to my question. I was not previously familiar with that passage. Hadn’t read the Bible in far too long but I knew He had just spoken directly to me.
I told Him that I would do my part and tell everyone about Him, but if He didn’t do His part, I couldn’t tell anyone. When He got through laughing, it was on!
I would love to tell you the amazing, hard to believe (but true) story of what happened in the next few hours, but it will make this story too long and I don’t want to lose sight of the big reason I’m telling you this.
Fast forward about six years and we had just written Psalm 91 – The Ultimate Shield in response to Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. Our first print run of 25,000 was sold out in 3 weeks. The next 25,000 copies were sold out before they came off the press. As was the next print run of 40,000 copies.
We had a runaway bestseller on our hands!
We literally could not print them fast enough. So I called the 700 Club and got them interested in covering the story. They sent out a film crew to interview me, film the books coming off the press, etc. I was in effect, trying to bring about that vision of me being on the show that I’d seen in 1985.
It was working.
But then, the war stopped while my next print run of 65,000 books was coming off the press. Nobody wanted them and The 700 Club never aired the story. So much for me trying to make that work! It was a bit like Abraham trying to fulfill God’s promise for a son via Hagar instead of Sarah.
Skipping ahead to the year 2000, I had just finished writing Selling Among Wolves – Without Joining The Pack and was a guest of the publisher at the annual Christian booksellers convention being held that year in New Orleans.
A group of women approached the publisher’s booth where I was, and asked if I knew who wrote the Selling Among Wolves book prominently on display.
I lightheartedly told them that I did know, because I happened to be married to his wife! Once they got past my attempt at humor they asked me what qualified me to write such a book.
As it turned out, the woman asking the questions was the senior guest coordinator at The 700 Club. After a brief discussion, she invited me to be on the show and I was booked for an October interview.
Finally! This was it, I thought. The fulfillment of that vision I had seen some 15 years earlier.
On the day of the interview, as I was getting dressed in my room on location, a call came in to inform me that the LIVE interview would not happen due to events unfolding in Israel. However, because I was there, they would still do the interview and it would just air the next day.
But the uprising in Israel continued and my interview got kicked down the road, day after day, week after week, until I finally accepted – it too would not happen.
That brings me to January of 2001. In a rather spontaneous moment, with circumstances perfectly timed, we decided to go to Sarasota, Florida to consider moving there.
On the last day of fruitless searching as I was walking out of yet another real estate development office, I heard a salesman calling after me, “Sir! Sir!”, but I pretended not to hear him and hurried to my car.
Being the persistent kind of fellow, this semi-retired realtor followed me to my car where I still pretended not to hear him. That is, until he knocked on my driver’s side window. Reluctantly, I rolled down the window and heard him tell me about what he thought would be the ideal place for us.
He arranged a viewing on the spot, and we went over to the home. We loved it and put an offer on it, arranging for the closing for the end of February. It had been 20 years since I had a home in my name, so this was exciting for me to be finally, once again putting down roots.
For reasons I no longer recall, after signing the contract, the closing date was moved forward to February 19th. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be telling you this story, because on the day we closed and took possession of our home where I was finally “being established again”, something else was happening.
As the movers began to unload, the realtor dropped by and said, “My son says he saw you on TV today.” I assured him I had been nowhere near a TV studio and his son was mistaken.
A few hours later, he came back and said he called his son and his son insisted he had in fact seen me on television that very morning.
So I asked him where his son lived. Turns out, he lived in Missouri, so I told him I had never been to Missouri, and had never done a TV interview there. His son must be mistaken.
But after he left, and after United Van Lines had finished unloading the truck, I began to wonder if perhaps The 700 Club had finally aired the program. So late that night, I put the small TV on a box, plugged it into cable and watched the replay of that morning’s show.
Well guess what?
It was the interview I had done back in October of 2000! And I saw myself on the screen with my name on the screen just as I had seen 16 years earlier!
On the very day I was being established again, my interview with the 700 Club was also airing – just like God had shown me!
So, the other day, as I was sharing parts of this story with my dear friend and esteemed colleague Eric Beck who helped put Michael Gerber and E-Myth on the map back in 2001, the profundity of it hit me like never before.
Was it in fact true that the steps of a righteous man were ordered of the Lord? Was it true that though we plan our ways, God directs our steps? Was it possible that He directs our steps when we have no clue He is doing that?
Well of course it’s true, but it’s also infinitely deep.
Not only had I done nothing consciously to make this happen, but think of all the moving pieces that had to happen with the cooperation of many others, none of whom had any idea they were playing a part in this pre-ordained script…
The 700 Club had to kick the show down the road for months and then settle on February 19th to air it. I have no idea who made that decision.
The closing attorney and both realtors had to change their schedule to February 19th for reasons I no longer remember.
My realtor’s adult son in Missouri had to be watching the 700 Club that morning and must have also heard from his father that I was an author.
The realtor had to persist in chasing me down in the parking lot and then try to convince me that I really was on TV that day, when I just thought he was mistaken.
The 700 Club had to be airing the replay the same day, but at night, and that show had to be available on whatever cable outlet we had arranged at a time when everything had slowed down for the day.
Had we moved in a day later or a day earlier, I would never have seen the show and would have missed out on the divine connection.
Moving into the new home would have been nice, but I would never have realized God’s hand in it.
It all had to work together for good, and it did without me or anyone else knowingly trying to make it happen.
So when Judy and I were discussing this the other night and we talked about some amazing things like this in her life where God had shown her precise glimpses of the future that later came to pass, we asked why God would show us these kind of things in advance?
And I wondered, how many times was God working behind the scenes where He hadn’t foretold us? Was it possible that He was always at work, and only on occasion told us in advance, so we would know to never take credit. After all, the glory does belong to Him!
I believe it was so we would know that God is directing our steps when we don’t even have a clue He is doing it. He’s working on our behalf, arranging circumstances for our good and we too often think, we’re the ones that are smart and making things happen.
Had He not shown me in advance, I never would have realized that it was Him. It’s always been HIM!
Though I do make plans, in the end, He directs my steps. Job 14:16 says he counts our steps. Matthew 10:30 says He numbers our hairs. He is intimately involved in our lives. As Solomon said in Proverbs 20:24, “A man’s steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?“
It is indeed a mystery to me. Or as Jeremiah said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
Add to that, that Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
So all this time I have spent worrying about things in my life or trying to “make it happen” was completely unnecessary.
Yes, we are to be about our Father’s business, and to work heartily as unto the Lord, but it adds nothing good when we stress or worry about outcomes. “Commit your works to the Lord and He will establish your thoughts.” (Proverbs 16:3).
When His thoughts become yours, run with confidence the race set before you, knowing that He is arranging things far too wonderful for you to comprehend or plan.
Put your trust – your absolute, full and complete trust in Him and watch to see what He will do.
When this really sinks into your heart, you will have found that you’re on your way to becoming a RAIN CATCHER instead of being under the pressure of being what the world likes to think of as a “rain maker”!
In 2024, I am committed to resting in the realization that He is directing my steps more than I had ever previously imagined. I encourage you to do the same. I have SO MUCH MORE I could tell you about this, but I will leave that for another time.
I wrote this today and am sending it now because your 2024 will be so much easier for you if you will rest in this truth. If you don’t rest in it, and insist instead on being “Mr. (or Mrs.) Make It Happen”, you will most likely have some measure of success, but it’s the kind the Bible calls, wood, hay and stubble. They are works. And they may be impressive, but they’ll burn up.
As we head into 2024, it is imperative that we learn to really, I mean REALLY, trust Him. You and I both are going to need this, like never before.
So let’s get started now and expect a glorious year of amazing outcomes where God, and God alone, gets all the glory!
Can I get a witness?