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September 10, 2007

Learning to Listen to God and Not to Man

One of Dr. Forrest’s most deepest trials came immediately before he was scheduled to graduate from Nyack College. One day while crossing the street, he saw a man who was a well-known preacher. In fact, he was so well-known that he later became president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Richard reasoned: If anyone can help me, surely, this man can. Therefore, he stopped the man and asked him if he knew of a church where he could serve as pastor following graduation. The answer he received was not what he expected.

“Richard, you can’t preach,” the man replied without hesitation. “I wouldn’t discourage you for the world, but in all honesty and fairness I have to tell you, you don’t have it in you. God didn’t call everyone to preach, my boy, and it seems to me you would be far wiser to get a job, become a good Christian layman, and help support those who can preach.” The man continued speaking words that devastated Dr. Forrest. “That’s an honorable profession, too, my lad, and we don’t have enough Christian laymen who are concerned with supporting those who can engage in preaching and doing missionary work.”

As soon as Richard could get away from the older gentleman, he did. And he headed straight for his room where he fell on his face before God and began praying. His hopes and dreams had been shattered, and questions of doubt tried to besiege him, “What can I do now?” “Where can I turn?” “Was I mistaken?” “Lord, didn’t You call me to be a pastor?” Immediately, God’s Spirit spoke to his heart, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” There was a pause and then a strong sense of peace surrounded him, and finally, these words put an end to his doubts: “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”

Most of us know there is wisdom in the counsel of godly men and women, but there comes a time when we must stand alone with God and surrender to do His will, His way, and in His timing. Others may not understand why we choose a certain path. From their perspective, our actions seem like folly. Yet from God’s vantage point, they are in keeping with His will, and we are on the right path.

Think of the thousands upon thousands of lives that have been touched by God because of the ministry of Dr. R. A. Forrest. The ripple effect of his decision to obey God instead of the voice of man continues today. The fact is: we are reading these words because Richard Forrest made a decision to set the focus of his heart only on one thing: doing what God called him to do. Today or perhaps this week, you will face some type of discouragement. The enemy will lean close and whisper “give up.” “You can’t do the work or answer the call. You are not talented enough. Let someone else do it.”

In that same moment, God will reach out to take your hand and say, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Dr. Forrest followed God, and if he were here today that would be His prayer for you—follow and obey the Lord.

(Taken from the online devotional book Grace in the Wilderness © 2007 Portions of this devotional were adapted from Achieving the Impossible with God.)