Hiding Behind The Cross
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 8
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I was 18 years old and headed to India on a preaching trip for the summer of 1989. Until this trip, I had never preached before, but being a pastor’s son, there was an assumption that I could also communicate with people like my father.
The great day of our first of many meetings had finally arrived. We had flown thousands of miles—practically around the world—for this opportunity. It was a beautiful day, and the sun was out. The people of India came to hear us all speak. Anticipation filled the air.
When it was my turn to speak, I had no idea what to say. “How long should this be?” I asked, looking at my team leader.
“Oh, about thirty minutes,” he said, patting me on the back as I approached the microphone.
“Thirty minutes!” I gasped trembling. “Maybe ten minutes.” Wiping my forehead, I gazed at those beautiful people of India, all waiting for my message. I froze. My throat was so dry I had difficulty speaking. My tongue seemed tied. I felt I had nothing to give them. All I could say was, “I will remember you and tell the Americans back home to keep you in their prayers.” I could not think of anything more to say, so I quickly sat down. I knew my team was disappointed in me.
The others on my team seemed to have no issue speaking, but I just could not talk. Meeting after meeting went by that summer with the same result each time. When it was my turn to speak, everyone knew what would happen. I would trip over each word, stumble and stammer talking very little and then sit down.
Why Would You Send Me Here?
I felt totally ineffective and bound up. At one meeting, I managed to rattle off a story I had once read, but still I was not anointed, nor was I able to communicate well. I knew people on my team were amazed that a pastor’s son could not speak at all.
I felt like a failure and began to question God, “Why would You send me here to let me fall flat on my face?” That summer, 1989, was a disaster! I absolutely swore off any preaching for the rest of my life. After all, I could NOT speak.
Sometime later, I prayed this prayer:
“Dear Lord, please use my past for Your glory. I give it to You.” By giving it all to the Lord, I also gave Him all my plans for the future. Suddenly, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to go to Bible school to seek God and pray for His will to be done in my life.
God led me to Pinecrest Bible Training Center, located in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in New York. There I began my maturing process. The founder and president of the school Wade Taylor took a special interest in my life and became my spiritual father for the next 23 years until his passing in 2012. God began to instil in me His character and qualities, and I became His man, not my own. He gave me a love for people I had never before experienced.
I had to Surrender
Before too long, I heard God calling me. I had to surrender and stop running. I realized then I was going to do what I vowed I would never do—be a preacher of the gospel. On a mission trip with my Bible school, I headed to the island of Jamaica. My group was a preaching team, the same type of mission trip as the India trip. We all shared in tent meetings, churches, and open-air meetings. Our team was separated into groups, and we were sent out all over the country.
The night was slowly creeping upon us as we walked along the dirt road leading to the church on Hamilton Mountain not far from Ocho Rios. My heart was beating against my chest like a hammer pounding nails. What would this night hold? I was nervous because I knew I was the main speaker for the evening. Sergey, a Russian brother from Bible school, and I were teamed together, and we had spent a lot of time praying for the evening meeting. We were warmly greeted as we entered the church and took our places.
“Pray for me, Sergey,” I whispered in his ear.
“God will bless you, Brother,” he responded with a wink.
The singing ended, and Sergey got up to speak. After a short while, he sat down, and I knew I was up soon. Oh, God, please anoint me. I cannot do this without You!
“It is so good to have Evangelist Steve here tonight,” Bishop Farrell shouted, startling me from my prayer. “He is a mighty powerful anointed man of God! Everyone praise the Lord as he comes to preach to us tonight!”
I trembled as I walked the long way to the stage and pulpit. The only thing I wanted to do was hide away from the people.
“Oh, God, I thank You for Your anointing,” I prayed as I approached the pulpit. Thoughts of India flashed through my mind, but as soon as I stood before the people, something different happened. When I opened my mouth to preach, I felt the fire of God within me as I said the name JESUS! It stirred in me like a raging river. Every word I spoke seemed penetrating and full of meaning. My tongue was literally set free that night, and as I walked the platform with tears in my eyes, I was preaching under the power of God. I could not believe my own ears. I was actually speaking unhindered!
When I gave the altar call for salvation, 20 to 25 people responded. I just stood there in utter amazement as people filled the front. During those two weeks in Jamaica, I led nearly 100 people to Christ. That first night, God impressed something so profound to me that it has changed my life.
“Do you remember India, Steve?” Father said.
“Yes, Lord,” I answered.
“That was your strength. Now, do you see Jamaica?”
“Oh yes, Lord,” I replied, my excitement rising.
“That is My strength in you. Remember where your dependency comes from!”
He is Your Source
And then I understood. God had allowed me to fall on my face in India to show me who my source was. I needed to learn that my dependency should always be on God, and today there is not a service that goes by that I do not ask God for His anointing to minister. I find a back room, fall to my knees, and ask Him to hide me behind the cross as I lean on Him. I realize that if anything is going to happen in a meeting, it must ultimately be the Holy Spirit’s doing, not something I could ever work up.
I am nothing unique or extraordinary, for I am just a broken vessel that depends on Him.
Jesus must always receive the glory. If we think the reason for God’s power in ministry is because of our strength or ability, our pride starts to get in the way of His work, and we become a useless vessel. God went out of His way to teach me such a valuable lesson, using what seemed then to be a horrible trial. The experience is priceless and close to my heart. I have never forgotten this principle, and it has become the foundation of our ministry for the last almost 30 years. I hope my story will encourage you too.
It is important to remember that it does not matter if people forget our names if they know and acknowledge the name of our Jesus. It is the King of Glory’s name that will change both heaven and Earth; it is His name that transforms lives. It is His name that will deliver a depressed soul from despair and set him on higher ground, filling him with a fullness of joy found only in His presence.
God is seeking men and women who will hide behind the cross and not care who gets the credit—those who will get on their faces before God to become what He had in mind when He created them. Humility and meekness speak to God’s heart of one who is willing, able, and usable for God’s purposes instead of their own personal agendas. So, the question is: do people see Him when they look at us?
Hide behind the cross and remember where your dependency comes from my dear friend.