Whenever I share about the nine years of wilderness we experienced when we first moved to the States, something about the story resonates with other people–especially the length of time we were there. It seems to give people hope that they, too, might emerge from their own desert experience with their faith stronger, and prepared for the next stage on their spiritual journey. I would make one comment here from our experience/mistakes: learn the lessons the first time round–it saves God having to repeat them!
Photo Credit: Gita Rau (Creative Commons)
For us the end of the wilderness came in a way that I can neither recommend nor endorse.
We gave God an ultimatum.
In the March or April of 1996 we told God that whether we heard him or not, if things hadn’t changed by Christmas, we were going back to the UK where at least we could make a living as doctors.
There were three areas where we asked for change:
- That he would speak to us again
- That we would find a means of making an adequate income
- That our church situation would change
That Spring, we were invited back to the UK to share at a conference. I remember standing at the window of the conference accommodation we were staying in, gazing out at the beautiful British countryside when a thought from left field came into my mind:
“You will be part of a move of my Holy Spirit again a second time.” I instantly recognized this as God speaking to me. What a relief to hear his voice again!
We had lived through the British charismatic/house church movement–wonderful times of God’s blessing which had changed the face of British Christianity. Could God be about to do something in the States? Another move of his Spirit? What would it look like?
From that time onwards, Jesus started speaking to us again.
Back home in Texas, Tony was acting the teenager one day, playing basketball with the kids when he injured his knee. After two or three months, there was no improvement, and so he finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon who advised surgery. The forty-five minute operation was a success, but the bills were a shock. We were part of a Christian sharing co-operative where believers donated to cover each others medical costs every month. Tony was so horrified at the bills that he called the surgeon and explained how the bills would be paid, and suggested the doctor might like to lower the cost. Much to his surprise, the doctor asked how much he felt comfortable paying and they finally agreed on a healthy discount. Every other provider did the same.
For several years, we had been crying out to God, asking him to provide us with an idea to create wealth. The basis of our praying had been Deuteronomy 8, especially verse 18 which, in the NKJV, says this:
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
I had the idea that maybe we could discount the medical bills for other members of the group too. Tony called the company with the suggestion and they jumped at the idea of a doctor discounting their medical bills. The phone call was on a Thursday; Tony started working out of our tiny spare bedroom on the Monday; by the following Friday it was obvious that this was a way we could make a living.
Over the past fifteen years, The Karis Group has expanded to offer a variety of services and we now have around seventeen employees. God answered that cry of our hearts.
For those of you who have been through the wilderness, how did the Lord lead you out? Do you have any advice to offer to others who are still in the middle of their wilderness?