“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” 1 Peter 2:21
Growing up, I had gross misconceptions about what was important to God. I looked at things from a worldly perspective and it took years to learn enough about God to adjust that perspective to begin to glimpse life through God’s eyes. Gradually I learned that God was not looking for vessels of gold or silver as much as He was looking for AVAILABLE vessels. In other words He wasn’t looking so much for the talents and gifts we bring to the table, as much as He wanted us to give Him what we had and then to follow the example of Jesus–with an eternal perspective.
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6.
Jesus is the perfect example of how we are to live our life on earth. I believe He is coming back in my life time and I’m asking Him regularly how I can best please Him. I keep sensing in my spirit the same message over and over….”follow My example” and “remember that this world is not your home.”
Let’s face it… life is messy and complicated. Sometimes we don’t recognize God’s handiwork until enough time has passed and we look back and see how God accomplished something eternal in and through our messy lives.
Putting years of history into a few words is challenging and difficult to convey clearly. We’ve all heard the saying, “beauty from ashes.” Well, in my mind that can illustrate … that in spite of being human, flawed, making choices that were not the best decisions, God can still accomplish something eternal that benefits us and His kingdom in ways that we do not expect. If… we continue to trust Him and follow His lead.
Decades ago Dale and I agree on a major life altering decision that we both felt God was leading us to make. We’ve not shared this before and it has been decades since it occurred. But possibly God will use it to help remind others through what we experienced… of what is important to God.
The following story came as a result of learning how to incorporate what Dale had experience after the airplane crash into our real lives.
In the early years of our marriage, Dale talked about how the crash changed him. I would say, “A lot of people have accidents, but it doesn’t change them the way you’ve been changed.” Throughout the years I would often ask him questions, like “Did you leave your body?” “You saw heaven, didn’t you?” I knew he must have had a profound spiritual encounter. Because the only thing that would make sense of everything I had witnessed about his life is that he had visited heaven.
Years later, we came to a major crossroad in our lives. That’s when Dale finally told me the whole story. Right after his journey to heaven, he had promised God he would never share it with anyone until God instructed him to. After forty years, God led him to share it with me.
Not once in all the years I have known Dale, has he done or said anything or made any directional choice that did not reflect the reality of his experience in heaven or his unshakable faith in knowing God.
Once I learned the whole story of Dale’s journey to heaven, I understood entirely why he was so changed. So many things about him and his responses to things made sense for the first time. Just hearing about his experience changed me too… and my understanding of life on earth, heaven, death, and even of God.
I had grown up as a preacher’s kid. My dad was a pastor in small town churches and always needed a second or third job to keep food on the table and pay the bills. Throughout those years, I met many missionaries who spoke at our churches, and they were always just as poor and needy as we were. The ministry lifestyle seemed like too much of a struggle. I knew that was not the life I had any interest in. One thing I determined as a teenage girl—I’d never marry a preacher or a missionary.
I first met Dale at college a little over a year after his accident. He made a big impression. He was the first young man I had met who seemed to love God more than anything or anyone else . . . yet he was not religious about it. I thought he was the most attractive guy on campus because of his genuine heart.
Dale’s body still had signs of his many injuries, including some problems walking. He was also skinny after being in a wheelchair and then on crutches for so long. But what most impressed me was his amazing heart. We would sit and talk for hours about everything. We talked about God and spiritual things, and even now I can scarcely believe how special it was.
One day he told me in no uncertain terms that he was going to become an airline pilot. His sheer conviction surprised me. I had never met anyone with such steadfast faith. This was before I learned the reasons for his faith.
I tried not to discourage him, but given the obvious obstacles, there was nothing in the natural to indicate he would ever succeed at such a lofty goal. Besides his physical obstacles, he had lost much of his memory—including how to fly airplanes. He would have to learn to fly all over again.
Still in the process of overcoming many injuries, Dale didn’t seem to recognize how those challenges could possibly keep him from reaching his dreams. I had never met a person with such clear, unwavering belief and expectation. How could anyone know God that well? Could I have that kind of faith . . . that God’s Word is absolute and immovable?
To make a long story short, we fell in love, got married, and I was incorporated into Dale’s family and his life of faith. He had already spent the previous summer on the mission field, wanting to give something back to God for all God had done for him.
A couple of months following our wedding, the two of us headed back to Peru to work on the mission field once again. Dale speaks Spanish and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ in many places throughout Peru. Then we spent the summer preaching in the jungle villages of the Aguaruna Indians—an incredibly primitive tribe of people in the jungles of northern Peru. Surprisingly, one of the young Aguaruna men that Dale befriended and ministered to has been serving as a pastor of a Spanish speaking church in Southern California for the last several decades. That missionary journey began our life of volunteer ministry, which has never ended.
* * * *
What occurred after Dale’s journey to heaven and the many healing miracles that followed, were unexpected turns which God orchestrated in our lives.
In his upcoming book, Visiting Heaven, you will read about Dale hearing “the voice” in the cockpit. That was the first of many communications from God asking him to surrender something.
Dale had become used to receiving from God and having his prayers answered. He received healings and understanding as his body was miraculously restored following the massive injuries. He rejoiced at the fulfillment of his dream to be strong enough to fly for a major U.S. airline . . . and so much more. I also became accustomed to receiving from God as I believed for these things with Dale. It was an exciting time of our lives.
But after Dale surrendered his vocation with the airlines—a decision I fully agreed with—we were left with virtually nothing. No income and no clear plan. So, Dale went back to driving trucks, and we started a small business in our garage where he began training pilots. These were meager beginnings, and we worked harder than I had ever dreamed anyone could. We never borrowed money, always remaining debt free, and tithed on every dollar.
I am now going to tell you something that will likely surprise you. At first it may sound as though I’m bragging but read on. God had some unexpected course changes for us.
In a few years, we had a booming and successful business worth more than twelve million in today’s dollars. Our growing aviation company trained pilots to fly jets like the Cessna Citation and Learjet. We also conducted aircraft sales and had a charter company that flew celebrities, CEOs, and the wealthy. We managed a fleet of corporate jets and other aircraft, including some we personally owned.
By this time, we owned several homes, drove luxury cars, had a business limousine complete with a full-time chauffeur, and enjoyed a live-in cook and maid. We were blessed to have a sizeable amount of cash in the bank besides and enjoyed traveling with our children. Our life had become far more than I had ever dreamed possible. Certainly, we worked hard, but God had clearly blessed our efforts.
During this same time, we launched a non-profit ministry and began using the aircraft we managed and our funds to minister—taking teams of lay people, food, clothing, gospel tracts, and the Jesus film, to over fifty countries. We saw tens of thousands pray to receive Jesus. Countless people from all over the world were miraculously saved and healed. So many miracles of every type happened while we were out on the front lines ministering. It was truly glorious.
Then, at the height of our prosperity and business success, something happened. One day I rode in the limo to surprise Dale at the Hollywood-Burbank airport, where he was being picked up after returning from Berlin, Germany. He wasn’t expecting me to be there. And I didn’t expect him to tell me something that would change . . . everything.
The moment I saw Dale, I could tell something was brewing. His face was tight with apparent stress. Things weren’t normal. Then he explained what he was sensing from the Lord. I knew God must have spoken to him while he was in Berlin and was not surprised—as that was not particularly unusual.
But what he told me God had said was a surprise: “Total surrender. Total obedience. Total dependence.” I was shocked when he described that God wanted us to surrender our business, our possessions—our everything—and depend entirely on the Lord. It was obvious he was nervous about how I would take this extreme message.
I admit I was shocked . . . but not for the reasons expected. I responded to his revelation by sharing that I was shocked because God had been preparing me for weeks with the same prompting. In my spirit, I knew God wanted a full and complete surrender of all our earthly possessions.
Dale and I talked for days and prayed diligently. We both knew it was true. God was directing us to give it all up. Give it all away. We were being challenged to let go of the things we had accumulated and fully trust Him for our needs.
God was asking a lot, and it wasn’t an easy decision. On the other hand, it actually was easy. God had asked. Who were we to say no? He had given us so much and blessed us beyond measure. Nothing of this world is worth more than a surrendered and obedient relationship with the Lord. We knew heaven is real. We knew this earthly life is temporary. We knew when we said yes to Jesus as Lord, He would call the shots. We knew it would always be for our good. What we had to learn was that it would not always be easy. In fact, it would prove to be incredibly difficult.
We sold or gave away all we had. It took almost an entire year. With the funds, we built an orphanage in Guatemala and a medical clinic in Peru. We funded the building of churches in various places where we had previously ministered.
People thought we were crazy. Dale’s dad thought he had “lost it.” Some wondered if we had joined a weird religious cult.
We learned the hard way that many of our friends were not interested in having a relationship when we didn’t have money or earthly trappings. God pruned us. He pruned us deeply and taught us how to trust in Him more fully. What powerful lessons we learned—most often in the valley of great difficulty—eternal lessons that are too valuable to put any price on.
We absorbed invaluable truths. The Lord taught us things that helped us overcome terminal cancer a few years later. Things that prepared us for the difficult last days—the days we are living in now.
God has made it clear that He wants us to let go of this world and hold on to Him. Complete surrender and complete obedience. There is nothing wrong with having things—unless it prevents us from clinging to Jesus with our all. These days, we are still trusting God for His provision every day.
In the Bible we find Jesus telling His disciples how to live a righteous life and what it looks like to follow Him.
“The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” Matthew 19:20–21.
My take on this scripture is that because the man was rich, he relied on his possessions for security. It appears he lived a godly life and believed Jesus was the Messiah but likely did not know the loss he faced by holding onto his riches. The lack of trust in God that can occur when we have “more than enough” can rob us of eternal blessings. I am not saying it robs us of heaven, but of the fuller blessing God would like to give us.
I’m not saying that everyone reading these words should do as we did. I am saying, however, to listen to God’s voice and do as He instructs. He wants only good things for His children . . . even if the process is difficult. But know that He looks at your life from an eternal perspective, not a worldly, temporary one.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” 1 John 2:15–17.
What’s in store for Dale and me now? We believe we’re living in the last of the last days before Jesus returns. Our assignment seems to write books, make videos and help prepare those with hearing ears and pliable hearts to hear the voice of the Lord and to walk in His ways. We have faith in His Word—His precious promises . . . that glorious victory is ahead, both during the process and at the end.
If your heart is stirred, I’d like to challenge you to follow Jesus as your example. Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ today. Fully surrender your life and future to His will. Be filled with His Holy Spirit. Make God’s Word the final authority in your life. And allow Him to lead. Follow Jesus . . . He is your example.
If you do that, you are ready to begin your own adventures of faith.
Remember, with God nothing is impossible!
Not sure you’re going to HEAVEN?
Then click on the following video link: “Jesus said, You Must Be Born Again.”
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW of “Visiting Heaven: Heavenly Keys to Living a Life Without Limitations” by Capt. Dale Black, on Amazon.com.
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View More Messages From Heaven Blogs:
“Thank you so much for sharing the Word. And giving insight on who we are in battle with.” Stephen
“Thank you again Brother Dale and Paula! So glad we have your wisdom and guidance through the Holy Spirit in these last days.” Sharon