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The Net of Prayer’s prayer campaign launched me into the wilderness. Its overall prayer goal was to “free God’s chosen elect from the Broken Cross system.” The moment they attacked this Broken Cross system, my exodus was set into motion. In about three weeks, I resigned from the church that I had started, and three weeks later, on December 30, 1981, I put all of my household goods into storage and left Las Cruces with whatever a small car could hold.
Life would never again be the same. I did not know what lay ahead, nor did we have another place to go. I knew that I would never be a pastor again, but I did not know that I would have to spend 414 days (“Cursed Time”) under divine discipline. Neither did I realize that God would also turn this into a time of intercession. I had to walk through all of this blindly.
Blindness was probably the most difficult part of it. Not knowing where we are going or what we should do added uncertainty to the journey—especially when responsible for a wife and three young children. We drove north to Minnesota, where my parents lived. As soon as we crossed the southern border on January 5, a powerful north wind hit us, and the temperature dropped dramatically.
We arrived at Redwood Falls that night in a blizzard, and by the next morning it was -30F. The wind chill factor was -82F. We were snowbound for a full week, because the car would not start. Finally, the temperature got up to -8F, and we continued our journey to Curtiss, Wisconsin, where my wife’s father was pastoring a church. There we rented the downstairs of a very cold house and stayed there for the winter.
A second blizzard hit us on January 16, and then a third, each dumping more than a foot of snow with temperatures at minus 30 degrees.
The Prayer Campaign
Meanwhile, the NOP prayer campaign concluded on January 27, having lasted 76 days. This was followed by a “Victory Celebration” until the 30th. I was still unaware that they had been engaging in spiritual warfare. Years later I came to see that this 76-day cycle was the first of two cleansing cycles, back-to-back, which would start the new Prophetic Year. I do not know if these cycles had been occurring previously or if they began in 1981-1982. My records only go back to November 1981.
Recall that the angry pastor had called me on the first day of the prayer campaign, November 12, 1981. Somehow he found my telephone number in Wisconsin and called me again on the last day of the prayer campaign, January 27, 1982. This time he vented for two full hours. Neither he nor I knew that he was marking the end of the 76-day cycle that was to set the pattern for the rest of the year.
If I had known then what I know today, I might have foreseen a very difficult year that lay ahead. The second 76-day cycle ended on April 13, 1982, and it was the day I came under an unpayable debt. It marked the start of a time of bondage for the rest of the year.
Prophecy that Seems to Fail
That year was not all bad, however. In late March I received a word of prophecy at a Passover conference, which greatly encouraged me. The prophecy answered four questions that I had presented to God less than two weeks earlier. It made me realize just how important the gift of prophecy was in the church. God had given the five-fold ministry to the church, and the need for those ministries did not end with the death of the Apostle John.
I finally broke through the hearing barrier on June 5-7, 1982, and then I thought my troubles had ended. But I had merely opened a door. I had much to learn. Just because we can hear God’s voice does not mean that God will tell us everything that we want to know. Also, when God does not reveal what we believe we must know, we tend to “hear” what we want to hear.
In the years to come, I learned about the difficulty we all have with heart idolatry, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:1-11. A heart idol is usually a strong desire or belief, coming from the flesh, that takes priority over the word of God. In my case, I naturally wanted to be delivered from my bad situation. God gave me encouraging words, knowing that He would indeed deliver me in His own time. But I wanted deliverance now.
Having learned to hear His voice, I thought that I had learned the main lesson that God wanted me to learn in my wilderness experience. In a way that was true, but there was more to it than that. My “Cursed Time” sentence was for 414 days for being in a (pastoral) calling that was not mine. This was a fixed amount of time.
Cursed Time is a grace period to give us opportunity to repent and to reverse course so that we may avoid the execution of the sentence at the end of the cycle. But repentance itself does not cancel the cycle early. It only ensures that when we reach the end of the cycle, we will live to see grace, so that we may be restored to Blessed Time (490).
At the time, I understood none of this, of course. My journey was just beginning.
The Dungeon Revelation
One of the first things that God told me in June of 1982 was that I was “like Joseph,” who had been sold by his brothers as a slave in Egypt and who spent close to 12 years in the dungeon on false charges. As I contemplated this, I could not bear to hear about a 12-year dungeon experience. So I believed that in my case it meant 12 months.
As it turned out, it was indeed a 12-month cycle, but it also applied to a 12-year cycle. Hence, my discernment was partial according to my ability to hear such a word. I was not wrong, but I did not have the spiritual strength to receive the full understanding. Neither did I understand how prophecy can have more than one fulfillment. I did not yet understand how prophecy can have both short-term and long-term fulfillments.
These were the valuable lessons that I was to learn in the coming years as I looked back on the early revelations that I received. There is no teacher like experience. Experience takes time. God created time so that events would not happen all at the same time. Hence, spiritual growth takes time as well, because we do not become spiritually mature the moment we come to Christ.
Years later, when I began to study the feast days and realized that these prophesied a progression in our relationship to Christ, I came to see how time played a role in this. When we experience Passover, we are justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb. When we experience Pentecost, we are filled with the Spirit. When we experience Tabernacles, we are perfected and are presented to the Father according to the law of the firstborn sons.
While some fancy that they can bypass time by walking in the Spirit, they usually end up deceiving themselves and blinding themselves to reality. God created time, and time must be respected and utilized for its created purpose. We may sometimes transcend time and space, as Philip did in Acts 8:39, 40, but we ignore it at our own peril.
Discouragement and Death
The revelation about being “like Joseph” discouraged me, because I was not prepared to spend even 12 months in this dungeon—let alone 12 years. In fact, I reached the point where I no longer wanted to hear any more encouraging words or promises for the future. I was tired of unfulfilled promises, and I told Him so.
Along with our ability to love, patience is one of the main measures of spiritual maturity. I was never a patient person. Over the years, God has made me patient in certain situations, especially in dealing with people, but I am still impatient with machines and computers and bad drivers on the highway. Beginning in 1982 God worked on my impatient nature by forcing me to comply with His timetable. Time was not my own, for I had not created it. Looking back on it, I can see that in my journey, teaching me patience was a necessary part of my spiritual growth.
By July 12 , I could no longer remain in Wisconsin, so we moved to Redwood Falls to live with my parents. This was the beginning of the final downward spiral. My mother was dying of cancer, and my wife and I took care of her while my father was working as an insurance agent. There was no work to be found in this small town, but my wife was able to work nights as a nurse’s aide at a rest home. It was not a pleasant job, but it provided some income. It also underlined my failure to provide for the family.
Then in October my second oldest daughter, Erin, developed kidney problems, and we had no choice but to take her to the University of Minnesota hospital for treatment on October 21st. Two nights later, while walking my wife to the nursing home for her night shift, she told me that she could no longer continue living this way. If things did not change by the end of the year, she said, she would have to return to Wisconsin to live with her parents.
I could not blame her, of course. Conditions were even more difficult for her than for me. We had both reached a crisis point, which I call my death experience. She could not stay, and I could not leave. My mother was weak and nearly bedridden. I had to take care of her.
I felt totally helpless at that point. As I walked home that night, I lost all hope. I was angry and frustrated with God, knowing that He had brought me to this point. I felt like I had been trying against all odds to maintain “faith,” but that God had pushed me over the edge. I wrote in my notes, “So far, I’ve taken everything on the chin and have come up fighting. Maybe if I give up and quit, He’ll stop beating me into the ground. It’s not fair… I just give up trying to please Him. I quit.”
For the next six weeks, I walked like the living dead, not realizing that it was necessary for me to die before He could raise me from the dead. It was by dying that we live. The flesh struggles to survive, but God in His mercy sets us free from our old man of flesh by leading us to the cross and giving us a new identity.
As God’s children, we think that all good things come from God and that all bad things come from the devil. I learned in 1982 to take all things from the hand of God and give no credit to the devil or to men, no matter what role they play. God is sovereign, and He has the power to direct all events in spite of the will of others.
Though I was dead, I knew deep inside that God had not accepted my resignation. I was totally helpless and saw no hope. There was nothing I could do except place my hope in God, knowing that if He did not do something, nothing would change.
And then, after six weeks in the grave, the light began to shine, and I was raised from the dead.