In this article, I will tell a tale from early in my Christian life. Well, truth be told, I was not living a Christian life at all when it happened.
Some back story. I had had an experience with the Lord before the event about which I am about to narrate. He had made Himself known to me while I was sitting on the front porch of a hotel in the town of Chelan, Washington. That day, I had come to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was real. But I knew almost nothing else.
It is the next event in the Lord’s sovereign, merciful work to bring me to the knowledge of Himself that befuddled me for decades. I was sitting on the shotgun side of an old pickup truck in someone’s driveway. There was a dried-up bush in the area between the driveway and the garage.
First, however, a little more backstory. When I was a drug-using “freak” as we called ourselves back then, I had heard an album by a group called Seatrain. On that album was a song entitled Song of Job. It was a fairly accurate telling of that biblical account (I listened to it again after I became a Christian.), although I did not know that at the time. One of the lines of the lyrics was, “And from the whirling wind, God Himself spoke.”
Having supplied that backstory let’s return to the old pick-up in the driveway.
As I sat there, the wind blew up in that dried-up bush by the garage, and in that event, the Lord spoke to me. He spoke just one word: “Trouble.” I knew that God spoke out of a whirling wind. Let me be clear. In neither of the above events did I hear anything with my ears, except, of course, the wind in the bush.
I had no idea what that word “trouble” meant, but I knew it was God. At the time, I was quite a distance from what we would call a Christian. I didn’t know about repentance. I didn’t know what it meant that Jesus had died on the cross and been resurrected. That’s the truth of it. You can believe it or not believe it. However, please do not claim that it isn’t biblical for God to speak to people who know little of Him. I offer as biblical evidence a man named Abraham, a cupbearer, a baker, the pagan Abimelech, and, most notably, Nebuchadnezzar. You also might want to take a look at Saul and the messengers in 1 Samuel 19. I’ll throw in Balaam’s donkey for good measure.
Off and on during the years that followed, I asked the Lord what that word “trouble” meant and why had He spoken it to me. Decades later, He began to unveil what that word “trouble” was. It has eventually come to define a central aspect of my ministry.
A few times, late in those years, I would have a sense of judgment when I was outside, when the wind was blowing through the trees. Just a sense. And, of course, the memory of that experience in the Bay Area was always present. But it was only four or five years ago when I began to realize more fully the meaning of that word, “trouble.” What happened one day in Spring made it quite clear. Laurie and I were helping her father’s widow sell her belongings so she could move from her now too-large house. I stepped outside as we were waiting for a buyer to arrive. There was a beautiful, large deciduous tree in the yard of the house across the road. Suddenly, a wind blew up in that tree, and the Lord gave me a terrifying sense of coming judgment. It was so strong that I went inside the house and broke down crying.
Therefore, I am compelled at times to announce that God’s judgment is coming. It is not just an ideology or theology drudged up from some obscure Bible passage. Far from it. It is a coming reality made plain in Scripture. Jesus Himself spoke of it: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).1
And Paul: “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5).
And Peter: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
And Jude: “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14–15).
And John: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12).
God’s judgment is coming. It is coming as surely as the wind blows.
1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Gif courtesy Bing images.
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