Occasionally I stumble upon an old article I am have written years ago and am
gripped with its current relevancy and value. That is true in regard to this one.
While my 70+ year-long ministry has witnessed numerous disappointments
and failures on my part I have also been blessed by astonishing manifestations
of the Holy Spirit. Many of these can only be described as "Miraculous." That
is true now. In this issue of Gentle Conquest I am sharing a report from long
ago. It emphasis a vital truth about the Holy Spirit's work that we should
experience frequently in our daily lives.
Looking back, I can say with Jacob, "Surely, the Lord was with me when I
knew it not!" Genesis 28:16. The "Spirit-led" life is available to every
believer. Laborers, housewives, retirees, and all saved people, should
anticipate God’s miraculous leadership in the ordinary routine of their living.
The Holy Spirit involves Himself with the totality of our lives and does not
limit His guidance to "spiritual" matters only. Let me illustrate from my own
experience what I mean about the Spirit’s unusual leadership.
Once, in Rome, I was escorting a group of Americans through the Forum, was
below ground in the old political prison, when an elderly lady in our party fell
and fractured her hip. For the moment, I panicked, not knowing how to get
help. Rome is a city of millions. We were scheduled to fly home the next day
and she refused to be taken to a hospital. Without knowing why, I suddenly
left her, raced up the steps, and began running down a crowded sidewalk to a
huge, circular intersection a block away.
The place was mobbed, traffic was snarled, there were no traffic lights, and the
area where I headed was jammed with cars. Many were blowing horns. As I
ran, my actions seem illogical. In my mind, I said, "Charles! This is foolish!
You don’t know where you are going! Go back to the woman and help!" Even
so, I kept running. The moment I reached the intersection, out of breath and
confused as to why I was there, I looked up, and a short distance away saw a
van driven by an American Missionary. He recognized me and waved, I
signaled him to come, told him of the crisis, and in a few minutes, the woman
was on her way to the hotel. I had made no phone call, contacted no help. Yet,
here I was, a stranger in a city of millions, and the Holy Spirit directed me
with absolute precision to the exact spot I needed to be. There was no way my
meeting the missionary was accidental. I was guided to that special place.
Another time, when I boarded a plane in Miami for South America, I
discovered that friends from Delray Beach, Florida--a husband and wife--were
on the same flight. They were going to Cartegena, Columbia, and I was
continuing to Medellin. When we realized we would both be in Bogota at the
same time, they said, "We want you to meet our friends there. How may we
get in touch with you?" I suggested they contact the American Embassy. I
would leave the information there since I did not know where I would be. Like
Rome, Bogota had population of multiplied-millions. We parted in Cartegena,
I continued to Medellin, met a group of American biologists there, flew next
to Bogota with them, moved into a hotel, and told the Embassy where I was.
But I never heard from the couple on the plane.
A short time later, the biologists told me about another American who lived in
Bogota and felt that I should meet him. Reluctantly, I called the man, spent an
interesting afternoon, learned much about the huge, over-crowded city, and
amazingly--that he knew my wife’s family in Georgia. He apologized for his
wife’s absence, explaining that she had driven to Medellin to bring friends
back to their house. A short time later, I left Bogota and returned to the U.S.
My friends soon called, disappointed that they had been unable to reach me
and that I failed to meet their hosts in Bogota. When they called the family’s
name, I was shocked. That was the same man I had visited! "I did meet him!,"
I said, "Americans in Medellin gave me his name! You did not introduce us
but God did!" I was more amazed when I learned the reason their friend’s
wife was absent that day was that she had driven to Medellin to bring them
back to their home. To this day, I have been unable to identify the "spiritual"
motive the Holy Spirit had in that strange meeting. I know only one thing:
Totally without my knowledge, I was specifically guided to that home.
One of the most astounding "meetings" in which the Holy Spirit directed me
took place on a ship in Dikali, Turkey. I was retracing the missionary journeys
of Paul and visiting sites of the Seven Churches of Asia. We were trying to get
ashore in Western Turkey to visit the ruins of Ephesus but were handicapped
by a storm at sea. Waves were treacherous, there was no gangplank, and
passengers boarding the tenders had to step directly from one to the other. This
was hazardous as the two vessels rose and fell independently of each other.
When my turn came, I miscalculated the step and fell about three feet, landing
with my elbows in another man’s lap. I was not harmed and we both laughed.
When I learned he was an American, I asked which state he was from.
"Georgia," he answered. "I live in Georgia!," I replied in amazement. "Where
in Georgia?" "Atlanta," he continued. "I’m from Atlanta!," I half-shouted.
"Where do you work in Atlanta?," I asked. "I’m a pastor ..." By this time, I
could hardly believe my ears. "I’m a pastor too," I answered, "Where is your
church?" He was answering, "Ponce de Leon Avenue and Oakdale Road ...,"
when I interrupted. "My church is on Ponce de Leon Avenue and Oakdale
Road!" Foolishly, I asked, "Which one?!" (There were only two churches at
that intersection--mine and a Lutheran Church.) When we both recovered
from the shock he said to me, "I think the Lord wants you to know that no
matter where you go--anywhere in the world--He can have someone there to
help you." And he was right. The Holy Spirit is our "paraclete"--the One who
travels beside us to give guidance and direction even when we are unaware. In
that "accidental" meeting, I was guided to the very lap of a neighbor-pastor.
Not long ago, I was sitting in Detroit’s huge airport, having already met
another friend from South Florida, when a young woman rushed to me.
"Pastor Charles!," she exclaimed, "I prayed that I would find you! I told God
that I wanted to talk to you!" I recognized her immediately as a former
Moslem, now a dynamic Spirit-filled Christian who had worshiped at Grace
Fellowship in Boynton Beach, Florida when I was the pastor. In an excited
voice she kept talking, "I am on my way home from a mission trip to
Mongolia. On the plane I read your book, The Edge Of Glory, and prayed that
I would find you! I did not know you were in Detroit but God has answered
my prayer!" She dropped onto the seat beside me and shared exciting news the
Holy Spirit was doing in central Asia. The Scripture says, "The steps of a
good man (or woman) are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way."
Psalm 37:23. From opposite sides of the globe we were both guided to one
tiny spot by the Holy Spirit. In 1977, I received the Holy Spirit’s wonderful
baptism and discovered a new world around me. One of the regrettable
changes was that I lost a lot of old friends and found myself having to start
over with new ones. That loss of friendships was very painful. The following
year I returned to Florida, rejoicing in the Lord, but feeling very much alone.
When I learned of a Pastors’ Prayer Meeting in West Palm Beach I hurried to
it. The men I met were all delightful, welcomed me into their fellowship with
open arms, and understood the pain of separation I was encountering.
After the meeting I went to Morrison’s Cafeteria, was sitting alone at my
table, and watching others entering the dining room. A young man I had never
seen before, left the serving line and walked toward the tables. As he
approached, the Holy Spirit distinctly said, "He is your brother. I want you to
meet him." As soon as I finished my meal, I stepped to his table, introduced
myself and said, "The Holy Spirit says you are my brother ..." "Sit down!," he
answered quickly, "I am glad to meet you!"
As we talked, he told me about his own encounter with the Holy Spirit and the
changes it brought to his life. A moment later, the Spirit spoke again; "Show
him the card in your pocket." There was only one --a business card that had
been given to me by a pastor at the prayer meeting that morning. I removed
the card, handed it to my new friend, and said, "Do you know this man?" He
looked at it and then jerked his attention back to me, "Yes! I know him," he
answered, "This is my prayer-partner! Where did you get his card?" Briefly I
explained about our visit that morning.
There at the table, we rejoiced at the goodness of God in "putting the solitary
(me) in families." Psalm 68:6. Later, we parted, he going his way, I another,
and for a long while I sat in my car, silently awed at what the Lord had done.
God not only guided me but identified a total stranger as my "brother." At that
moment my wonderful Friend, the Holy Spirit, spoke again, "You only think
you are alone, Charles," He said, "You have many new brothers and sisters
here in Florida whom I will bring to you." Acts 18:10.
I want to share one other memory with you: I was in a telephone booth in
Brighton, England, attempting to call a pastor friend in Wales but unable to
correctly operate the system. Through the glass I saw a young oriental man
using the adjacent phone. When he stepped out of the booth I stopped him,
"Can you help me?," I asked, "I can’t seem to dial correctly ..." He apologized,
explaining that he had the same problem. We immediately got into
conversation and when I asked where he was from, he answered "Bangkok,
Thailand." "I have a friend in Thailand," I answered, "Charlie Milbrodt, an
American missionary ..." "I know Charlie!," he answered happily, "I am his
chauffeur." In the next instant, we grabbed each other, hugged like long-lost
friends, rejoicing as if we were old buddies, when we had known each other
less than a minute. We were both foreigners in Britain, thousands of miles
from home, but connected by the Holy Spirit in a surprise meeting. Such is
the wonder of the Holy Spirit’s leadership! Such is the love that exists in the
Body of Christ! Such is the joy of a Spirit-led life!
While you and I may be able to point to such miraculous situations, there are
millions more of which we know absolutely nothing. Only God knows the
countless times His providence protected us when we were not aware of it.
Perhaps when we get to Heaven He will give us a re-play of our lives and
show us the blessings of His unseen grace. You may be asking, how does a
believer intensify his Spirit-led life? First of all, seek the baptism or "filling"
of the Holy Spirit. Become sensitive to Him. Learn His ways. Recognize His
voice. Let your life "flow" in His guidance. Surrender your choice to His.
Then, step back and watch Him do it! Acts 1:8. Ephesians 3:19; 5:18. An old
hymn-writer expressed his joy this way:
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught.
Where’re I go, where’re I be,
Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me!