"GONE FISHING"

BY: David Wilkerson"


  I want to speak with you about a unique experience that
          is shared primarily by those who yearn to go deeper in
          Christ. It has to do with a tremendous spiritual
          letdown that usually follows periods of fresh anointing
          and divine revelation. Only those men and women of God
          who have had a unique touch from Him can understand the
          deadlock and dark plunges that follow spiritual highs.

          It is the testimony of spiritual giants in all ages,
          that the most severe temptations, the most oppressive
          battles - follow soon after the greatest spiritual
          experiences.

          Paul's thorn in the flesh came after his greatest
          revelation - soon after he had ascended into the third
          heaven and witnessed things too awesome to describe.

          Daniel set himself to pray, and in a spirit of
          intercession he was given wisdom and revelation.
          Freshly anointed with the Spirit of Almighty God, he
          was cast into a lion's den.

          The three Hebrew Children entered into a pact to live
          holy, separated lives. They became spiritually and
          physically wise and enlightened beyond all their peers.
          It got them a fiery furnace. Their spiritual hunger
          resulted in revelation, which in turn brought on an
          even deeper spiritual test.

          Christ Himself could not escape the inevitable test
          that follows great anointing. He was led into the
          wilderness to be tempted of the devil immediately after
          the Spirit descended upon Him as He came out of
          baptismal waters. He went directly from revelation to
          temptation.

                        

                           A Personal Experience

          I have just recently come through a nearly
          indescribable experience. It started about 6 weeks ago
          at a convention in Dallas, Texas. At the conclusion of
          my message concerning the sufferings of Christ, the
          Spirit of the Lord came upon me in a mighty way,
          literally taking possession of my entire being and
          through my lips began to exalt the Lord Jesus. Only
          three words were spoken - "Glory, Honor, and Praise."
          Over and over, higher and higher, the words poured
          forth like a rushing river.

          I was suddenly swept away in that river of praise, and
          I felt my spiritual man leaving the auditorium. My
          praises were now joined to those of angels, of heavenly
          hosts around the throne. Hundreds sat in silence as I
          collapsed in the pulpit. Although my physical body lay
          prostrate in that auditorium, my spiritual man was no
          longer on this earth. I was with the worshipping hosts
          near God's throne. What freedom I felt to praise. What
          marvelous light - so warm and comforting.

          I thought, "This must be what saints of all ages have
          seen of the heavenlies." In the spirit, I was
          rejoicing, falling down before him crying out, "Glory,
          honor, and praise. Worthy is the Lamb."

          I cannot describe that experience fully. I do know I
          will never be the same. In His presence there was no
          thought of seeing Moses, or Abraham, or any of the
          patriarch, not even Paul. There was no desire to seek
          out family or friends. I saw clearly why there would be
          no marrying. I saw how unimportant the question is,
          "Will we know each other in heaven?"

          None of these things mattered. There was no concern for
          streets of gold, or mansions, or even reward. Christ
          was everything - all-consuming, all fulfilling,
          all-satisfying. There was no room for no more. No
          earthly memories. No human attractions. In His presence
          there is fullness of joy, at His right hand there are
          pleasures evermore. It was the revelation of Christ in
          eternal glory that was so overpowering. Truly, in Him
          is the fullness of the Godhead.

          I knew at that moment that the joy and ecstasy of
          heaven is not static or level. The joys, the revelation
          of who Christ is will be ever unfolding, all through
          eternity. We will have an ever-expanding capacity to
          enjoy His glory throughout eternity - with newer and
          greater joys and revelations. We will grow in the
          knowledge of Him, and that revelation will give us an
          ever-growing sense of joy and peace. There is a peace
          that truly passeth all understanding.

          I did not want to leave that glorious scene. My praises
          had become one with the eternal voices of worship -
          while multitudes worshipped, it seemed as but one grand
          and glorious voice. It was awesome! I began to realize
          how little we know of the glory of praise, and how our
          praises blend with the praises of all saints of all
          ages-into one glorious, eternal chorus.

          And what glorious light! It permeated everything!
          Christ radiated, not rays of light, but diffused light
          that brought life, comfort, joy, and a sense of
          nearness to Himself.

          I knew that what I was experiencing was not a result of
          any personal holiness or spiritual goodness on my part.
          It was simply God answering my desperate hunger and my
          inner cry to know Him better - that alone was allowing
          me to taste just a little bit of His glory.

          When I awakened and sat up, my wife was relieved.
          People thought for a moment I may have had a heart
          attack. But she was at ease when she saw the glory of
          the Lord on my face. The afterglow was so powerful, it
          was a long time before we spoke a word to each other.

          That night I thought I could never again go down into a
          valley of despair. Hadn't I seen a glimpse of His
          glory? Was it not the greatest single revelation in my
          lifetime? Had I not set my heart to abandon all fleshly
          ways, to go all the way with God? Certainly some would
          think such an experience is emotional, too charismatic,
          or even unscriptual. But no one can take from me what I
          experienced - it was too sacred and awesome.

          It was less than a week later that I entered into the
          driest six weeks of my life. I seemed to go from the
          heavenlies, to agonizing emptiness. Not that I once
          doubted His love for me. On the contrary, I loved Him
          more than ever. My salvation was never in question.

          I had thought tremendous growth would soon follow. I
          would increase in spiritual revelation by leaps and
          bounds. My hunger for Him would be answered by
          ever-ncreasing divine wisdom and biblical revelation.
          The Scriptures would open more easily. Prayer would be
          more glorious. Instead, the heavens seemed to shut on
          me. My prayer life became stifled, and a spiritual
          dryness crept in. I felt like I was stymied, as though
          I was losing spiritual ground. One brother explained to
          me that my present letdown was God's way of getting me
          down to earth, and to avoid all such further emotional
          experiences. But in my heart I knew his remarks came
          out of his own spiritual deadness. He was letter
          perfect, spirit bankrupt.

          Certainly God was not in hiding, for He has promised to
          never leave or forsake us. Yet He seemed to have
          stopped the flow of spiritual energy. But deep within
          me I could sense a purpose in the trial. I knew I was
          experiencing a trial common to many others.

          T. Austin-Sparks was a pious English minister who had
          received tremendous revelations concerning the
          indwelling of Christ. He is one of my favorite authors.

          A dear lady wrote to me this week, telling how she
          first discovered his writings. It touched her so
          deeply, she sold all of her possessions and went to
          London to sit under his teaching. She personally heard
          him confess to his students that every new revelation
          he received of Christ's glory was followed by satanic
          attacks on his physical body. He would experience
          terrible gastritis and stomach pains, sleepless nights,
          and extreme loneliness. Few of his students knew the
          price he paid for such deep revelation.

          In one of his writings entitled HIS GREAT LOVE, Brother
          Sparks shared some of his insights on the subject. He
          wrote:

               "We have a lot to say about the fullness of
               Christ, of the church which is His body, and
               of identification with Christ. All these are
               great truths, great conceptions. But what I
               find is this, that we have not come to an end
               of God's thoughts yet. I am very glad of
               this; but it is the most painful thing we can
               know, that we will never come to an end here,
               and in order to go on into a further stage
               something has to happen to us, get down to
               the bottom and clean out of all that has gone
               before us. We go through a new experience of
               death and desolation and emptiness, of
               hopelessness, in order to come to something
               further on in the divine revelation.

               "We thought, 'Now, we have come into the
               fullness of God's thought. Now at length we
               are seeing what God is after. We are
               expanding.' We get on with that for a time
               and it fills our whole vision; and then
               everything is as though it were nothing, and
               we go through a terrible time. Oh, yes, it
               was right, it was true, but it was not God's
               whole end.

               "My experience is that it is through just
               such a history with God, of repeated
               desolation and emptyings and sparings after
               wonderful unveilings and times when you feel
               there cannot be anything more, that you are
               brought up again into something further on,
               with your vision enlarged."

               

                            Peter Went Fishing

          The greatest revelation the disciples would ever
          receive focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It
          was the first day of the week, and the disciples were
          hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.
          Suddenly, there He was, in full resurrection glory -
          victorious over death, hell, and the devil. He showed
          them His hands, His feet, His pierced side. Then He
          breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

          What glorious truths were coming forth. Revelation upon
          revelation. A new anointing, a new commission to go
          forth in His name, power to bind and loose, victory
          over the power of sin.

          It was too much for the disciples - especially Thomas.
          He reacted with passive despair. Peter said, "I go a
          fishing." Other disciples went with him.

          It was as if Peter wanted nothing more to do with the
          high cost of revelation. Had he not failed one test
          already? From that proud boast that he would never
          forsake his Lord, to despair of denial. Peter could not
          take it all in. I think I know nearly exactly what he
          said to himself as he headed back to his fishing nets -
          "I'll never make it , I'm too dull to understand the
          way God works. I can't comprehend the cross, and how
          will I ever understand His resurrection? I'm making no
          spiritual progress - after all this time I've spent
          with Him, I have understood so little. Let those who
          are brighter than me go on with Him. I'll always love
          Him, but no more delving into the deep thoughts of
          Christ. I just want to do my own thing, in my own quiet
          way."

          In one way or another most of us react to spiritual
          letdowns in the same manner of speaking. In our
          frustration we mope about, getting lazy about
          spirituals - neither hot nor cold. We move into
          spiritual vacuum. We end up wanting to pray, yet with
          no motivation to do it. We are pricked in our
          conscience because of our neglect of His Word, but the
          desire to dig in has gone. It is a fretful condition to
          be in.

          We know the Lord has called us to go on in Him, to go
          deeper - but because we do not understand our despair,
          we fall back into our old ways. We get stagnant. Worst
          of all, we begin to feel guilty for our lethargy. Our
          fears mount that we will never measure up to what God
          wants for us. So we will go back to busyness - some to
          shopping sprees, others to their hobbies. Some seek
          release in building something or starting a new
          project. The time once spent with God in growing, is
          wasted on some form of "fishing" - and in an
          ever-increasing bondage to details. We become frivolous
          and indecisive.

          How many times I've told the Lord and myself - "I'll
          never understand the things of God like I should. The
          more I read, the less I seem to comprehend. I am so
          dull, so spiritually blind, I can't seem to retain what
          I read and hear. The hungrier I get, the less I seem to
          grow. I seem to take two steps back for every step
          forward. Why is it that other men of God get such clear
          revelations and they know so much about Christ - and I
          struggle, fast, pray, and see so little. Lord, am I
          making any progress at all?"

          Brother Sparks has an encouraging word along these
          lines. He wrote:

               "We may adopt different courses in our
               perplexities, in adversity, under trial. When
               the Lord hides Himself and we cannot see Him,
               or hear Him, and we do not feel that He is
               with us, He seems to be so far away and to
               have gone right out of our world. All we were
               expecting seems to have come to an end, and
               we do not know where we are, then we are
               prone to go some way that we choose for
               ourselves, and begin to take alternatives to
               steadfast love.

               "It is a positive challenge, because these
               are experiences, these are tests, that the
               Lord allows. It is not a wrong thing to say
               that there are times when the Lord hides
               Himself, when the Lord lets us feel that we
               are left alone, when the Lord seems to close
               the heavens to us so that there is no
               to-and-fro communication. Everything that we
               had looked for, expected and preached, seems
               to have come to an end and to have broken
               down, and we are just left in what seems like
               the ruins of everything.

               "The Lord just does do that, and particularly
               does He do that sort of thing when He has
               people in view who are going to count. People
               who are going to count for Him go through
               deep experiences like that, and the object is
               to get them onto a basis which will make it
               possible for Him to use them. We will never
               be used unless we can stand on our own feet
               in the storm. We are useless to the Lord if
               we go to pieces when everything around us,
               and in our spiritual life, seems to have come
               to a deadlock. If then we give it up, we are
               of no use to the Lord. The whole question of
               future usefulness to the Lord is based on
               upon a love for the Lord which does not give
               up and say, 'I go a fishing.' 'I take an
               alternative to following the Lord, I take an
               alternative to going on with the Lord because
               of this situation.'

               "This is why the Lord came back, once, twice
               - 'Follow Me,' 'Follow thou Me.' 'You went
               back under trial, under testing - now follow
               thou Me.' And you have got to follow and go
               on following when you cannot see Him, when
               you do not know where He is, you have got to
               go on. These are the kind of people, and
               these alone, who will be used as Peter was.
               The basis of everything was that kind of
               personal love to the Lord Himself, not for
               what He was doing for Peter at the time, but
               for Himself. Oh, that is difficult - God only
               knows how difficult it is - to love Him for
               Himself when He does not seem to be doing any
               thing for us at all. That is the challenge of
               love."

                      

                                Conclusion

          Peter did go fishing, and at the Lord's command he cast
          his net on the opposite side and gathered a tremendous
          harvest of fish. Later, while Peter separated his
          catch, Jesus said to him, "Lovest thou Me more than
          these?" In other words, "Peter , if you love Me, get
          back to where you were. Follow ME - Feed My Sheep. Stop
          doing your own thing - wake up! If you love Me - that
          love will turn you around and get you back on the road
          of growth and usefulness."

          Are you going through a most difficult right now? Are
          you spinning your spiritual wheels, in the doldrums of
          dryness? Are you finding it hard to even understand or
          explain what you are going through? I have one question
          for you: do you really love Him? That is all He asks of
          you, a love that obeys. You are experiencing growth
          pains. It's all a part of becoming mature in Christ.
          God has His hand on you more than ever. Satan knows it,
          and is trying everything within his power to sidetrack
          you with lies and distortions. Move on in blind faith
          until the joy returns - and it will. Ride out your
          storm, and don't worry about measuring up. You will
          come through on the other side realizing how much you
          have grown. Don't ever again let your own deadlocks or
          dry spells bring you to despair. Rejoice in them - they
          are part of God's plan to bring us into His purpose and
          thoughts.

         

 


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