Rhema – A Word
One of the blogs I follow is Pursueliving and, as I was reading her latest blog, I noticed she used the word rhema (pronounced ray-mah) . And I was reminded of why I write. It happened back in 1987, when I was running a small import/export business in my hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona.
I received a phone call from a man named Joe and Joe asked me if he could use some of my products for a fund raising venture. Joe was the leader of a youth group of young Indian kids on the Peach Springs Reservation about sixty miles west of Flagstaff. And, as it turned out, Joe was also, like me, a retired police officer. I was eager to help and I said I would figure something out. We set up two dates to meet with the group. The first meeting would be to pick-out the products they thought they could sell at a reasonable price and the second meeting would be after I worked out a plan; using their criteria.
The last twenty miles of the trip took me off the main road and onto an old dirt road to the reservation. And when I arrived, they were all standing outside their community hall to greet me. Joe walked up and introduced hisself and then introduced me to an adult member of the tribe and about thirty-five youth from about six to sixteen years of age. And then he introduced me to a tall black man named Bill McBain.
No one explained who Bill McBain was or why he was there and I didn’t see as it was any of my business. But it was to become my business in a very marvelous way.
I stood at the front of the room while the kids sat at tables in front of me and Joe and the adult Indian and Bill McBain sat to the side. I spent the best part of ninety minutes going over several different products that I could get for them and they were all showing great enthusiasm. All except Bill McBain.
He was staring at me with such intensity that it was making me nervous. He never said a word; never had a comment as all the others did. I had decided that I would approach him when I finished and ask him why he was staring at me so hard. But, when I wrapped it up, all the kids surrounded me; shaking hands and thanking me and, when Joe and I set a date for the next meeting, I noticed that Bill McBain was no longer in the room.
During the next two weeks I worked feverishly pulling the plan together; printing brochures and sales receipts and such and by the time I finished and was getting ready to drive back to Peach Springs, I was feeling uneasy about the whole thing. I prayed all the way down the highway; asking God to give me peace about this. For some reason I was beginning to think that this was not what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
I was halfway down the dirt road when I stopped my car and got out. There was nothing around for miles except sand, sagebrush, wire fence and three scraggly cows. I started singing, praising God and I began to cry. I prayed, God, what is it You’re trying to tell me? I know something is happening here but I don’t know what it is. God, please, You know how dense I am; I need You to make it plain to me so I can understand.
I stood there for about ten minutes and nothing happened. I shrugged my shoulders, got in the car and drove on to Peach Springs.
They were all there; everybody excited and laughing and jumping around. We went inside and Bill McBain was sitting exactly where he sat during the first meeting. I smiled and nodded and he smiled back. It didn’t take me long to explain the plan and, even as I was talking to the group, I was thinking in my head, Bill McBain, you ain’t getting away this time. I’m going to find out who you are and why you are making me feel so uneasy.
And I nearly ran to where he was seated. He stood up and shook my hand; a very serious look on his face. I’m six feet tall and I had to look up at him. And before I could say a word, he asked me, “are you a Christian?”
Wow! Where did that come from? Yes, I answered, and said, “why?”
And if I live to be a hundred and twenty like Moses, I will never forget the words that spilled from that man’s mouth. “I’m an evangelist down here at Joe’s request to help work with these kids. When you started speaking at that first meeting, something came over me. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time so I have been praying for you these past two weeks. Are you ready to hear what I’m about to say?”
It was weird. I’m thinking what the heck is wrong with this guy? But I said, yea, I guess so. What is it? And he said…
“Just before I came here tonight I received a word from God about you. I believe God has instructed me to tell you that He wants you in the ministry.”
I was stunned. I had no reply. I couldn’t even think of a question to ask. What I was thinking about was the prayer I had uttered out there on the dirt road, and I wondered if maybe that was about the same time God was talking to Bill McBain. I’ve certainly heard stranger tales since I became a Christian. I finally said thanks and told him I would get hold of my pastor. He said that was a good idea. As soon as I got back on the highway, I found a phone (no cell phones in 1987). It was around ten thirty at night but when I told Steve, my pastor, what McBain had said, he told me to go straight to his office; that he would be there when I got there.
After I explained to Steve May, my pastor, what Bill McBain had said, Steve said, “Jack, do you know what a rhema is?” When I said I had never heard the word, he explained to me. A rhema is a Greek word and used in the bible it means “a word from God.” For example, the word rhema is used in John 3:34, 5:47, and Revelation 17:17.
He said that I had had a rhema, a word from God; he said it was a word of knowledge given to Bill McBain by God for me. And I thought about my prayer on that dirt road when I asked God to make it plain what He wanted from me. Then I started crying again. I said, “Steve, I’m not worthy.” Just like I’m crying now while I’m writing this. It’s been a while since I have thought about this and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Praise God.
The following year I was fifty-eight years old and I started a two year journey through seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. During those two years I wrote an article about my relationship with my father. It’s titled He Never played with me and it was published in Home Life Magazine in 1990. When I was told I should have it published by friends who had read it, I thought that was a crazy idea but when someone mentioned that writing might be my ministry, I said, “Okay, I’m going to send this to one publisher, I’m not going to spend the next few years sending it to one publisher after another. I’m going to pull a Gideon. If that one publisher decides to publish this article, then I will have to accept the fact that writing is my ministry.”
They not only published it, they paid me fifty-two dollars for the right to publish. I was flabbergasted to say the least. And since then I have written four novels and at least four gospel songs. I self-published two of those novels. The first one sold a couple hundred copies; the second one sold about twenty. I have finally come to the conclusion that perhaps God did not intend for me to write fiction. So, here I am, writing what He tells me to write, when He tells me to write it.
And until He tells me different, this is the way it will be. God speaks to me through His word and I pass it on here on the blog. He also speaks to me through other people just like this lady who used the word rhema. I knew as soon as I read it that I had to tell this story.
Have you had a rhema lately? If you have, I implore you; do not ignore it as something silly and do not think like I did that you are not worthy. None of us are worthy; Moses wasn’t, he was a murderer. Abraham wasn’t; he was a liar. David wasn’t; he was an adulterer and murderer. And the twelve Apostles were mostly uneducated fishermen. You see my point?
If God searched the world over for a worthy person to do the work He has for us, He would never find one. We are all sinners saved by God’s Grace. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors…” “He has committed us to the message of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:20 & 19)
Everyone of us has been called by God (we didn’t choose Him, He chose us) so, find out what it is that God has called you for. He will reveal it in His time. God bless you all.
J C Corcoran
Oh, by the way; here’s a most interesting part of the story. Just two days later, I was in my office in the back of my house. I was supposed to be ordering the products the kids from Peach Springs Reservation had decided on but, instead, I was sitting there thinking about Bill McBain and how my pastor had explained it to me when the phone rang. It was Joe from Peach Springs.
He apologized profusely but said that the kids and he and the council members had decided that the fund raiser was not the best way for them to go. You would have thought I would be upset at that but I was smiling the whole time Joe was on the other end apologizing over and over. I knew why God had set up those meetings. Thank you Jesus.