Hearing God: An Amazing Story
By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Ministries Director
I have been blessed by the numerous e-mail responses that I have received from this audience regarding hearing God’s voice. Many of you have shared dramatic stories of the Lord’s leading. Others have shared how they have had difficulty knowing whether they are hearing God’s voice or not.
To encourage the people who read these columns I thought I would share a personal testimony of a time when God made His direction very clear to me in a time of transition in my life.
I want to emphasize the many channels through which God communicated to me during this major life change. I also want to point out that while I sensed the Lord’s leading, I was very concerned that I move forward in His timing. I wanted to obey God, but I didn’t want to rush out in front of Him, or wait too long to do what He was calling us to do.
I served for a time as an associate pastor in a local church in Pennsylvania. After more than five years on staff I began sensing that the Lord wanted me to leave this church to complete my ministry training. Relations were beginning to become strained between myself and the senior pastor. While we remained friends, as time went by I began to recognize that we had differing leadership styles and different visions for the church.
In more than 10 years of serving the Lord I had learned that you don’t make major moves in your life because things are uncomfortable. Sometimes God places us in difficult situations because He wants to grow our character. Other times He puts us into a tough spot so that we will be there to pray for His will to be done. Over many months I had sought the Lord in prayer about my situation at the church. I came to the conclusion that in this case either I needed to leave the church, or the vision needed to change.
Transition was inevitable, but how it would come about was unclear to me.
And so I waited for the Lord to guide my steps. In the meantime I went about my duties at the church, working as unto the Lord. As my mother taught her seven children, “bloom where you’re planted.”
In this time, God did some dramatic miracles in that church that to this day cause me to be in awe of His power. In the course of a year we were given a full-price offer on the downtown church building with no parking that we had struggled to sell for years. We were also given a warehouse a block away. We later sold that warehouse and used the proceeds to help purchase a church building that had parking and wonderful facilities — at a fantastic price. At the same time we were given — yes, given — 21 acres of prime land in one of the most desirable parts of town. This donation was without strings — it was truly miraculous.
And yet in the midst of all this I did not have peace — one of the seven keys to God’s guidance.
I began to consider my options. I had ministered in this city for more than ten years. It would not have been difficult to go down the street and start another church. I was also a part of a national network of churches, and some of these congregations had expressed interest in me coming to work with them. But the more I prayed, the more I believed that God wanted me to go on for more education.
A friend had recently bought me a book called Manners and Customs of Bible Times. As I sat on my front porch reading it I was struck by the lives of Moses and Paul. Both men were highly educated, and both made a significant impact on their world for the Gospel. I decided to look at various seminaries across the country. As I investigated, my heart kept coming back to Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
After much prayer and discussion, I decided to schedule an appointment for an interview. I was beginning to feel peaceful about this direction, but there were still many stressful hurdles to cross — paramount in my thoughts was God’s timing in the transition. I had learned that in the mouth of two or three witnesses all things should be established. So I asked the Lord for confirmation.
I prayed that God would make His will clear to us.
The following week clarity began to come to me. I received a telephone call out of the blue from my friend Steve Schultz in Florida, a respected prophet who I had grown to love and trust. He travels around the world ministering and prophesying in local churches. “Craig,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on there, but I felt like I needed to call.”
Now when a prophet like Steve Schultz calls because he felt led by the Holy Spirit, you need to pay attention.
“I’ve been praying for you,” he continued, “and I feel like the Lord is saying that you are coming in to a time of transition. I believe you need to get ready because God is about to make some major changes in your life.”
Wow! Talk about confirmation. I filled him in on what I was feeling and he said that it witnessed with his spirit. We hung up the telephone and I rejoiced, wondering what the timing would be for this transition.
Two days later another minister friend called from New York. “Craig, I don’t know what’s going on there, but perhaps the Lord is leading you into a time of transition.”
Another two days passed and my former pastor called from Indiana. Guess what he said…
“Craig, I don’t know what’s going on there, but I feel like the Lord is saying you need to get ready because you’re entering a time of transition.”
I had heard from the Lord as to His will, and I knew that I was to go forward with the plan. Now I just needed to discover His timing.
At the time I was a licensed minister with Christian International Network of Churches (CINC) under Bishop Bill Hamon. One of the requirements for being in the network was that I attend two CINC conferences per year. I planned to go to an upcoming conference in Columbus, Ohio, and then leave from there for vacation and our interview at Regent. I knew that there would be time made available for prophetic ministry by seasoned prophets, and so I prayed that the Lord would give me clarity of vision and His timing in this transition.
With the busyness of the conference I was not able to make it to a prophetic session until the final day. It just so happened that my pastor and his wife were also there at that time. Beside them there were only a handful of others, and a prophetess I didn’t know named Sharon Stone.
After ministering to several people, Sharon called me up and laid her hands upon me. The words that came out of her mouth were both amazing and humbling.
“The Lord says, ‘I’m allowing you to stand in places of training. I’m allowing you to stand in places of co-laborship, and I’m allowing you to be one who is trained in diversity. And you’re getting to do all things that I might build an ability to know things from the inside out.’ For the Lord says, ‘Know this, there will be a day that I will plant you — you’re grooming for the anointing of the house now…'”
I began to smile as the Lord confirmed that there was to be more training. That was one answer, now what about the timing?
Sharon continued to prophesy,
“I saw a quick thing that the Lord was doing in the midst of you. The Lord says, ‘Know this, I’m changing your home … I am readjusting you, picking you up and I am transplanting you, just like someone whose pot is too narrow.’ The Lord says, ‘You’re root-bound. I’m picking you up and putting you in a bigger place.’ And the Spirit of God says, ‘You’re going to see that out of that place that I’ve centered you, I’ve located you, but I’ve also put you in a place where your children are going to be blessed.”
By now the tears were filling my eyes. One of my greatest concerns in this transition was for my children, and here the Lord promised that He would take care of them. Hallelujah!
The prophetess finished with these words, “I’m going to cause you to be one that no longer puts yourself down for areas where you seem to have lack of training, and lack of investment within the midst of you.’ For the Lord says, ‘I took Saul out upon the backside of the desert and I trained him. Son, I’ve had you in places of on-the-job training … No longer say that you are ‘less than’ because you did not follow the ways others would acknowledge that training ought to come.’ The Spirit of God says ‘Son, know this, I’m not holding you down, I’m holding you steady.'”
“And the Lord says, ‘Son, you’ll see that timing is the issue within your heart. But the Lord says, ‘As the sons of Issachar knew not only the seasons, but also the timing, I am releasing understanding within the midst of you that no longer is the heart made sick because of hopelessness.’ But the Lord says, ‘Son, you might be one that has an understanding of My time.'”
After receiving this word I met with the pastor. As you can suspect from this prophecy, he wasn’t surprised when I told him that I was leaving to attend Regent University. After a frenzy of painting and cleaning I put my house up for sale. It sold quickly — and with a decent profit. A few months later I moved to Virginia Beach where I enrolled in the Divinity School.
In the midst of that first year I began sensing that the Lord wanted me to minister through the media — a calling He had placed on my heart while I was still in high school. I learned that there was a special program in the College of Communication called Religious Journalism, where students spent half their studies in Bible training and the other half in the study of communication. I decided to schedule an appointment with my mentor and writing professor Bob Slosser. I told him that I felt like God was leading me to minister through my writing, and I asked him what he thought.
“Brother,” he replied, “There are a lot of right-thinking pastors out there. And there are an awful lot of right-thinking missionaries and Bible teachers. But there aren’t a lot of right-thinking writers and communicators. If this is what the Lord is speaking to you, then I encourage you to go after it with all you’ve got.”
His godly counsel shot through me like an arrow. He didn’t have to say ‘thus saith the Lord’ — I knew he was speaking God’s word directly to me.
Two years later I graduated from Regent University with an MA in Religious Journalism. I was hired in the Direct Marketing department at CBN as a staff writer. After another couple of years the Lord opened the doors for me to become Spiritual Life Producer and later Ministries Director for CBN.com — a position that allows me to minister through the media, just as the Lord had revealed to me more than fifteen years earlier.
What an awesome God we serve! He has been faithful. I have grown to know that no matter how difficult the road ahead may seem, I can trust that God is good and His word is true. And He has given us the seven keys to His guidance to “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).