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August 29, 2017

Watching the drama that is unfolding in southeast Texas has been very interesting for me. I have found it to be emotional as I watch those being rescued. Knowing what it is like to be cold, wet, tired and hungry and then to get help is something we have firsthand experience with. We also know what it is like to lose all that you own so this only increases our empathy. As I see this situation play out I am touched by the kindness of others as they help rescue those in need. I began to think of how many in this world need rescuing spiritually just like those in southeast Texas. I don’t have much but I offer this little help to you today.

As we began our descent into poverty and homelessness we were trapped in a little blue house in P.E.I. There we underwent a transformation as God began breaking us down. We had no friends and little contact with the outside world. God was drawing us to Himself but it was difficult to know what He was saying because our emotions frequently overwhelmed our thoughts. It was hard to hear Him speak. Our ‘self’ was screaming out in anger and rebellion because our ‘self’ nature didn’t want to die. This is common in the wilderness. Somehow we had to get past ‘self’ to hear God. It took us a great deal of time to understand this but eventually we got it.

Now as you walk through the wilderness there are definite lessons He will lead you on. The lessons will be different for every person but there are some elements that will always be the same. The first and most important element that is key to everyone going through a wilderness is to really dig into listening to God. This is critical for our relationship with Him will be tested to the core in the wilderness. We need to learn, early on, what He is saying so we can trust Him when things get really dark. If you lose that connection, you will not make it. Now I had spent years learning to hear His voice and had spent a great deal of time taking long walks to speak with Him. Wanda, on the other hand, would take her Bible, devotionals, journal and candles and would listen to Him speaking through His word. She learned a great deal about how God speaks to her and maybe one day she will tell her secrets to others in this blog. So together Wanda and I had developed a solid foundation for hearing Him. None of that, however, would help us in the darkest days of the wilderness.

When it gets so bad that you don’t know if you will live or die, taking long pleasant walks in the woods or sitting around a candle lit room reading the Bible is not an option. These were luxuries we gave up when we went homeless. Plus, the situations we found ourselves in were so stark that often all we could think about was survival. When you are in survival mode in the wilderness physical circumstances often overwhelm spiritual awareness. All you can do is get through the next few minutes. When it gets down to that it is hard to hear the voice of God but that was exactly what we needed to do. He was the One leading us and therefore we had to learn some way of hearing His voice when the storm was raging. Thankfully He gave us a remarkably simple solution that we have used steadily for the last 9 years.

There are many books in the Bible, each with a number of chapters. Each chapter is rich in wisdom and has layers of revelation for those that would meditate on it. The problem is that there is so much, where do you start to look when you need help. We have read through the Bible many times (and Wanda has it practically memorized) but that actually worked against us. In desperate situations it was easy to pick up the Bible and to read well-known, encouraging verses. The problem is that ‘self’ is so sneaky that it can easily interfere, leading us to what we ‘want’ to hear and away from what we ‘need’ to hear. When things are tough we may ‘think’ we are reading what God wants us to read but in reality ‘self’ can ‘cherry pick’ Bible verses that support itself. Trust me it is easy for ‘self’ to convince us that it is the Holy Spirit’s leading when it is not. So what we needed was a foolproof way to bypass ‘self’ and let God tell us what we needed to hear rather than what we wanted to hear.

I give full credit to Wanda for coming up with this wonderful idea that helped us through our darkest days. Wanda wrote one chapter of a Bible book on a little piece of paper (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Genesis 3, etc., etc.) until all the chapters in the Bible were represented. We took all these little pieces of paper and put them in a plastic baggy. You could possibly use a bowl or something else but when you are homeless and likely to get wet you need to keep the paper dry. Now that we had our ‘Scripture bag’ it was ready to use. Now every time we were in a bad spot and needed God’s revelation to help us through we would begin with prayer. We would ask Him for His leading and wisdom. Next we would ask Him to guide us to the direct chapter we needed to read. After this prayer we would draw a little piece of paper from the bag and read the chapter. The key for us was to LOOK for Jesus in that chapter. By placing ourselves and our circumstances in the reading it became a rhema word for us that day.

Now this may seem simple but that is how God operates. It totally eliminated any interference by ‘self’ and allowed God to speak through His word directly to our situation. I cannot tell you how many times He spoke in a way that gob smacked us. I also have to add that there were also times when we were very confused by what we read. Those times we had to press in and learn what God was saying. That stretched us and our faith immensely.

You could write all those chapters out yourself but I am offering to you our 'Scripture bag' file here. If you have a printer, you should be able to print out this file and create a 'Scripture bag' all of your own. Remember that the 'Scripture bag' does not replace a growing conversational relationship with Jesus but it certainly will help when you need Him to speak directly to you. This is our little way of providing some practical help to those that are going through the wilderness.


Homer and Wanda