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The Voice in the Woods

John 1:19 This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 20 He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” 22 “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”

My dad took me deer hunting when I was twelve years old and I remember the hunt and I was very fortunate that a doe came up over the hill and walked into one of the bullets I fired. I was so scared I would do something wrong, and when I pointed my 16 gauge shotgun (with slugs) at the approaching deer I thought to myself "I hope I can hit this deer because I am really doubting I can." But to my surprise I shot and the deer went down and then so did I. I was so shocked that I had actually killed a deer and the emotion of the whole deal hit me and my legs lterally went weak and I sat down in the leaves. It took a while to gather myself and then I got up and ran toward the deer with trembling legs and hands. I realized I had not only gone on the hunt with all the preparation, huntings clothes, orange vest, warm hat, gun, and of course, bullets. But I actually killed a deer!! The anticipation of the moment had long been in my mind as I imagined what it would be like to kill a deer, and then actually do it. When i saw the deer was actually dead I did the primortal scream aaagh!!! It was such a release and such a special thing to see a dream become a reality. My dad came running up the hill and said I heard you scream. "Are you all right?" I said "I did it. I killed that deer."

When I realized that God had a great plan for my life and I surrendered to His call on my life I dreamed of people hearing the gospel and coming to a saving faith in Jesus. That dream was ever etched in my mind on a daily basis, but the reality of it happening was

beyond anything I had every imagined. After coming on staff at First Baptist Church in West Plains, Missouri I was given a list of names to "visit" who were prospects for our church. I had never done the "visit" thing before and I was learning in real time what that was all about. I would go to the door of a person I had never met and find out about their church background and invite them to our church. Walk away, good visit, not punches thrown by them toward me. I'm done!! After a while it became the minister thing to do and I got pretty good at inviting people to church, but I would walk away thinking "There's got to be more than this." And there was. On one particular visit at a prospects door the thought came to mind "what about their relationship with Jesus?" There was such a strong impression in my mind to ask them about who Jesus is to them. So, I did.....

When asking this particular person if they had ever received Jesus as Savior, they said no but they had been thinking about it lately. WHAT?? The next move was mine and I took a shot at it and asked them "Would it be ok if I told you how to do that?" To my surprise they said "Sure." Wow. They said yes....what do I do now? I stumbled through some scripture references and then just got to what Jesus had done for me and how I came to know Christ and what He was doing in my life right then. I almost felt a need to apologize for the cryptic way I had told them about salvation, but to my surprise when I looked into their eyes I could see they were tearing up, so I took the next step and said "Would you like to receive Christ now?" To which they replied in a hurried "Yes." The dream became a reality and it overwhelmed me so much that I started sobbing as they prayed the sinners prayer. What an emotional event. God let me be a part of this experience and see someone bound for hell reverse course and be bound for heaven!! My knees went weak, but I held it together after this whole thing and then made it back to my car and sat there for a second and then I let out a victorious "yessss!" It wasn't a week or two before they came forward at the invitation time of the service and we presented them for baptism. God lets me see a little bit of heaven every time this happens and I LIKE IT!

John the Baptist in verse 20 came right out and said "I am not the Messiah!" Then they asked him "Then who are you?" John said "I am a voice crying out in the wilderness!" John knew his position in this whole thing and I know my position as well. I am telling those who are lost about Jesus and clearing the way for the Lord to do a great work. To clear the way for the Lord is like me getting my fears and assumptions out of the way in my life and telling others about His saving grace. I too become a voice. A voice in the woods!! The woods is the world I walk in every day of my life and my voice is made to declare that Jesus is here and He is saving the lost. That is not only a part of my life, but it is my life....

So let your voice be heard out of the woods of the world you live in and share your testimony and be that one who is crying out. When you become that voice others my come up and realize your life is screaming loudly "Jesus Saves!" Let the dream become a reality and God will put you in the midst of the life-changing gospel call and He will use your testimony as a light that shines in the darkness. And yes, you will become The Voice in the Woods!!

The Pilgrimage continues.....

David Warren

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