PART SIX– Harvest Haven to Surprise Visitors (cont.)
However, it’s not about doctrine, abusers, bad experiences, or other externals. It’s about the heart. When I approached Jan on her spirit of bitterness, she seemed to not want to hear it. She insisted that only God was her judge (a common fallacious argument). She insisted she would look only to Him for teaching, correction, and direction, not to man. She completely wrote off the notion of legitimate ministries and authorities in the Church, brushing aside the manifold Scriptural testimonies of God giving ministries for the edification of His Body:
“And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 MKJV).
She then faulted me and intervened with her daughter and son-in-law so that her daughter’s attitude toward us was suddenly transformed from enthusiastic to highly contemptuous.
It was out of this experience that the paper, The Big Lie Exposed, was birthed. The basic truth is that God comes and speaks by men, except where He calls and chooses one to send him to others, an exception rather than the rule. An example of this is Moses, whom God approached directly to lead Israel from Egypt to Canaan. Other examples are of God anointing John the Immerser to introduce the Messiah to Israel, and Saul of Tarsus, whom He chose to be an apostle:
“Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead)” (Galatians 1:1 MKJV).
The Scriptures are replete with examples of people led and ministered to by men of God. Jan’s stance helped surface or crystallize this truth for me in a new way. I realized she rejected me because she chose to reject the Lord. Jesus had this to say to His disciples:
“The one hearing you hears Me, and he who despises you despises Me; he who rejects you also rejects Him Who sent Me” (Luke 10:16 MKJV).
By the way, Jan and her daughter were smoking marijuana at the time and justifying themselves. It is a remarkable thing how sinners can be so critical and judgmental while living in their sins, but that is the contradiction of sinners. They crucified the Lord and hastily cleared away His body so that they might not defile the approaching Passover.
We tried to reason in a godly way with Jacob. Paul says: “I remember that Jacob went through quite a trial with Rinann, and truly contemplated whether to continue on with her in her attitude of rejection towards us and the Lord. I recall visiting with him one day, and there was a definite heaviness on him, and he was considering what to do. [We had written to him.] He decided to stay with her, and when I saw one of them next, it was Rinann at the Good Food Store. She seemed to be gloating about being pregnant, as if to say, ‘I won!’”
Jacob flowed with his wife, who flowed with her mother. The original sin of Eve in the Garden of Eden plays itself out time and again – man following the woman in sin rather than obeying God. Rare is it when God calls a man and he obeys God instead of his wife.
Even when men appear to follow and obey Jesus Christ, it is often because their wives have permitted them to do so. Most often (not always), the wife has no reason to object to her husband “getting religion” because his calling is not of God but of men, so she senses no threat to her earthly security, pleasure, and wellbeing. The onus, however, is on the man, because the choice is his as to whom to obey.
The vast majority of people professing faith in Christ are grossly ignorant of Him and His will. For example, Ruth had a witch on a string hanging over her kitchen sink. It was a Halloween object. I said to her, “Ruth, think about it. You want God’s blessing in your home, don’t you? How is it that you have that witch figurine hanging there? Didn’t evil and sin cost Jesus Christ His very life?
“Doesn’t the Bible unequivocally condemn witchcraft? Does the Book of Leviticus not direct the Israelites to execute witches? Yet you commemorate and honor them. How so?”
I went on to tell her such objects attract God’s wrath rather than His favor, assuring her that it wasn’t a matter of superstition, but of spiritual reality. She removed the witch, but I wasn’t so sure she had the conviction to do so.
I also pointed out religious pictures or crosses as equally condemned by God, according to the Second Commandment. I told her of how God had spoken to me in March of 1976, crying that He was hurting because His people were doing such things and consequently perishing in their ignorance and disobedience.
Ruth was reluctant to submit to her husband. Religious people have a real problem with deference to authority. In their pride and self-righteousness, they’re blind and hard-hearted; their doctrines and beliefs take precedence over both God and neighbor. They don’t honor parents or husbands, they don’t honor authorities in their churches, and they don’t honor ministries of God.
Those whom the religious people call their pastors are usually expendable. If offended with so much as their pastor’s clothing, the congregants simply walk out or begin the process of looking for a new hireling. Shepherds are never sure of their position with their sheep because the sheep wield the staff and the crook, whether by majority vote or by the judgment of a few powerbrokers in the congregation. Democracy (people’s rule) in our Western culture takes precedence over theocracy (God’s rule), unlike in Biblical Israel times.
I’ve often had afterthoughts and things to say to those with whom I have visited, in which case I’d write them. So when we returned to Lethbridge from Missoula, out came the typewriter to write two letters three weeks apart, addressing the aforementioned and other issues with each of them.
There were others we met in Missoula, including a woman named Cheryl, who was searching and wondering where she should go if she left the church systems that weren’t feeding her. “To the Lord,” was my reply. People go to men or to God. Men destroy, but God saves. God feeds the sheep while men feed on their sheep. To go to men takes no faith, but to go to God takes faith indeed:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 MKJV).
He is unseen; He is obscure, not comely that we should desire Him. Isaiah prophesies:
“Who would have had faith in the Word which has come to our ears, and to whom had the arm of the Lord been unveiled? For His growth was like that of a delicate plant before Him, and like a root out of a dry place: He had no grace of form, to give us pleasure; men made sport of Him, turning away from Him; He was a man of sorrows, marked by dis-ease; and like one from whom men’s faces are turned away, He was looked down on, and we put no value on Him” (Isaiah 53:1-3 BBE).
Cheryl wished to hang on to her religious pictures and believe her husband’s profession of faith as a Christian, though his fruits declared otherwise.
This I know and speak, not out of bitterness, as some may suppose, or as it may appear, but nothing will have gone well for Ruth, Jacob, Rinann, Jan, Cheryl, or the others who have heard and rejected the call to obedience to God, preferring their pleasures. I will hear of their lot, and have nothing to be ashamed of or to celebrate.
In Missoula, there were also Hilary, Bob and Kathy, Amanda, Ron, and others. Many had come to hear, just as the Lord had told us would happen. Every last one went their way. What did they want? What were they looking for? As Isaiah cried, “Lord, who has believed our report?”
It is so often said people have a hunger for truth. I don’t find that true at all. I see them hungering, but not for truth. I see what Paul the apostle wrote:
“As Scripture says, ‘not one person has God’s approval. No one understands. No one searches for God. Everyone has turned away. Together they have become rotten to the core. No one does anything good, not even one person’” (Romans 3:10-12 GW).
What are people after? Can it be truth they really want, seeing they reject it when it’s presented to them? Is the truth not presented to them in an effective manner? And how is it that multitudes are so prepared to believe the most preposterous of lies? The more outrageous the lie, the more acceptable. Here’s what I saw in Missoula, which was representative of how it is everywhere, which Paul prophesied would be in the last days:
“They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure” (2 Timothy 3:4 CEV).
So what are they looking for? They’re looking for those who’ll give them those pleasures; they seek heroes, entertainers, “titillators”:
“The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 GNB).
Paul records a vision he had in early 1996: “I saw Kerri coming to me, in a long robe and, looking at me, disrobing. I did not see her nudity. A few months later we were married.”
We all enjoy gifts. We love to get something for nothing, though the wiser will tell you there is “no such thing as a free lunch.” Wanting something for nothing is one of the reasons I’ve gone to many garage sales and a few auctions. One of the writers of Proverbs said:
“He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes shall live” (Proverbs 15:27 MKJV).
We attended an auction when St. Michael’s Hospital of Lethbridge was closed. I was already thinking of community life at the farm. What would we need? The auction had all sorts of construction materials, kitchen appliances, and stainless steel equipment, some of which we bought though we really didn’t know if we’d need it. Were the prices good? I didn’t know – I just bought. Some of it we used, some we resold, and some still sits.
Looking for bargains, we attended another auction in Fort Macleod when Van Maanen Construction was selling out. Some things seemed worthwhile, others not. Auction prices depend on bidders and their moods. They had an excellent turnout and most things sold for good prices – good for the sellers, John and Garret Van Maanen.
Now here’s the long and the short of it: I made a comment to John about how well they must have done at the auction. He contentedly replied, “All things are determined from above.”
His words stuck with me ever since. How true! Heaven determines what we pay for what we buy, and what we receive for what we sell. Who can say what’s too much or too little, or if it’s good or bad? If we pay too much, it may be judgment (correction) on us, or blessing on the buyer, or both. If we pay too little, it may be judgment on the seller, a gift to the buyer, or correction for both. God distributes wealth as He wills.
In conscience, I’ve been bothered as much or more by my “successes,” my “good deals,” than by my “failures” wherein I thought I had misjudged value and paid too much. It seems my “conquests” have served as often to correct me as have my “defeats.”
Here’s a trap for getting something for a bargain price: One grows to expect bargains and can miss opportunities on very reasonable deals. Indeed, one can, as God declared to me in 1987, “live inexpensively at the top or expensively at the bottom.”
As for dollar values, I’ve never found gain over all in my seeking for bargains. It has all balanced out in the long run. Spiritually and socially, seeking for bargains has cost me, dearly. Trying to get something for nothing, one inevitably gets nothing for something. It is irrevocable Law.
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Janice Noji was trying to witness of God to us at her office. In sharing my papers with her, she was disquieted and asked me many unlearned questions, which led me to believe she either didn’t read the papers responsibly, or simply understood far less than she pretended.
I wrote her a letter and explained how she lacked understanding. It wasn’t long before she notified us by letter on March 14, 1996 that due to personal differences, she no longer wanted our patronage – whether mine, Archie’s, or that of our families. I responded, rebuking her and prophesying that all would be taken from her unless she repented of her stance, not that I was asking or hoping for her to reinstate us as clients.
Shortly after sending the letter, in March 1996, I received a vision. I saw some desolate grounds. On those grounds wandered persons, mostly solitary, here and there, dressed in long, hooded, dark robes of poverty. These people seemed to be like lepers or starving beggars. They were gaunt and frail.
In the background, perhaps two hundred yards away, I saw a high, long wall, surrounding what seemed to be an ancient fortified city. One woman stooped down in front of me and picked up a stone to throw at the walled city. Her cast was so feeble that the stone must have landed no more than a few yards from her.
The Lord showed me that the walled city was Jerusalem and that those who were at enmity with her had no power to do harm. He showed me that the woman was Janice Noji, who, professing to believe, was really in antipathy toward saints.
Here’s the prophecy I sent to Janice Noji:
“Therefore, so says the Lord: I opened a door to you and gave you a business, a good business whereby not only would you prosper but help others as well. I gave you to be honored by many and you have enjoyed that prosperity. But because you have rejected My Word to you spoken by My servants for your good and have decided to hide and to return evil for good, therefore, unless you repent, I must remove My blessing upon you and replace it with cursing.
I will remove that which I have given. It will not now go well for you and those who have agreed with you in your evil deeds. I have spoken and when these things come to pass, you will remember that I spoke them to you. If at that time, you reconsider, and repent of your ways, and instead of cursing My servants, you bless them, saying, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord,’ and cease receiving and agreeing with those who practise rebellion and speak lies in My Name, then I will have mercy, unlike what you have had for My servants, and I will repent of the evil which I thought to bring upon you for your evil ways, speaking one thing but doing another, which I hate. I will no longer suffer you to take upon yourselves My Name in vain. I have spoken.”
I recall that Paul Cohen disagreed with my sending it (not that he disagreed with the content), particularly because it was me she offended and because it was a classic case of letting her do the evil to us without complaint, thus indebting her toward God, whereby He would then be free to judge her for good. I disagreed with Paul, sent the prophecy and have wondered ever since if it wasn’t of God or, if true, it was neutralized because I should have kept my peace. Certainly, it wasn’t manifest outwardly that anything changed at her office of practice, not that prophecies are always manifest outwardly. Often they are not.
As I look back, I say I spoke out of anger, using the Lord’s Name in vain. I should have heeded Paul’s counsel. I had no other witness for the letter and his was against the letter. Still, I have seen where in spite of how I’ve been wrong, God has used my wrongness as a stumbling block to those in pride and error.
Some years before, I told Paul that if he married Kerri, she would “lead him around by the nose,” that he would be hers. Though he had turned away from seeking to be married at the time, these words would turn out to be prophetic.
Often God calls for the very thing a person finds most difficult to do, the necessary thing for his spiritual progress. Paul had a seemingly inescapable obsession to marry, and God was calling him to make himself a eunuch.
Here’s what happened to Paul in May 1996, in his own words:
On May 2, I was talking to Victor on the phone, and he asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know, although I now see that I was worried and in unbelief. Feeling compelled to answer, nothing came to mind. I confessed I had recently thought of marrying Kerri. The thought was like a daydream that had passed, but I brought it up anyway, grasping at straws. Surely, though, I hadn’t put away the notion of getting married.
What was really bothering me at the time was my inability to gain traction in the “securities” business (ironic name), my current job at A.G. Edwards. I was failing and insecure, floundering because I couldn’t see where to go from there. It was sheer unbelief on my part – where was the Lord? I was blinded by focusing on and thinking only of myself.
My daydream about marrying Kerri was a solution to the situation – I would be gaining security through a wife. I saw several favorable factors in this arrangement. I had what seemed to be a good relationship and friendship with Kerri, something rare and unknown to me since I had become a believer. Kerri had been following Victor’s counsel in the Lord for a while, which resulted in improvements in her life. She seemed much more stable and well-situated than before. She was attractive, though not a fancy girl, which I liked about her.
I had resisted dwelling on these things, knowing I needed to stay away from the thought of getting married. I was right in form, but not committed as needed to resist temptation.
When I told Victor what I thought could be the problem, he had no discernible reaction, but asked me to call back at an appointed time later that day. I figured I was in real trouble. When I called back, Victor told me he had talked to Archie and Marilyn about the matter and said, “We think you two should get married.”
I was taken aback, to say the least. I wasn’t asking or thinking of getting married, as in the past. And now I was going to have a wife, “finding a good thing,” instead of being reprimanded? Kerri knew nothing at all about this, however – what would she think?
I called and told her about what had just happened. She wasn’t tickled like me, but had cautious wonder at this unexpected turn. After the initial shock, she was in favor. She called Victor first, though, to hear what he had to say. She asked him whether the marriage was a good thing. (Knowing my past, she had good reason to wonder.) Victor contemplated her question and answered, “Yes.”
This assured Kerri and confirmed what I wanted to believe. I never asked the Lord or checked with Him myself. I was getting what I wanted, like Israel when they had their hearts set on a king. Trusting in man rather than the Lord always ends badly. God hadn’t finished His work with me, and I would get what I needed along with what I had wanted.
On May 10, Kerri and I went to a Justice of the Peace in Missoula to get married. When Victor asked us what we wanted for our wedding, we answered “a blessing.” He said, “There will be a blessing.”
And there would be, but not at all as expected.
On May 11, Paul and Kerri arrived in Lethbridge, and on May 12, we gathered at Archie’s home. Paul and Kerri claimed I promised on the phone to give them a blessing on their marriage when they came. Though I don’t recall giving that promise, I may have done so and will take their word for it. However, when we gathered to meet, I had no blessing for them. I wanted to give them one, but was restrained in my spirit from doing so.
Still, we had a special dinner for them. Why? I don’t know. If God’s blessing wasn’t on their marriage, why did we entertain any favor on it? Were we wrong or foolish in doing so? Perhaps we were; however, I’m reminded of how Israel rejected God as their king, wanting a man to rule over them. Samuel was upset about it, but the Lord told him they were rejecting Him, not Samuel. The Lord then sent Samuel to do Israel’s bidding and anoint a man to be their king. I did recall telling Paul that if they married, Kerri would rule him.
Paul and Kerri stayed until the 20th of May and headed back to Florida, where Kerri was still in the process of selling her house. Some time later that summer, Kerri returned to Canada for the cooking course she had enrolled in at the Lethbridge Community College. Paul returned later in the fall, after he had sold the house in Florida, being permitted to stay in Canada on Kerri’s visa. We had often tried over the years to find some way for Paul to live in Canada, but all avenues were blocked. Would he make it this time?
Kerri’s mother, Suzie, didn’t like Paul. Her sister, Leann, and brother, Tim, didn’t welcome the marriage, primarily because we were Christians who weren’t in agreement or harmony with mainstream, nominal Christianity or any other established religion, such as Buddhism.
It’s interesting how people, even professing Christians, are more comfortable with one of their family members being a part of anything established and respected in the world, no matter if evil or silly, than with those who openly believe on and declare Jesus Christ as Lord. It doesn’t much matter if the alternative is anti-Christian, like Buddhism, Islam, Transcendental Meditation, or another philosophy or religion.
To be faithful to the Truth, one must be prepared to speak not just religion or doctrine, but the truth that personally applies to individuals. If there’s anything people don’t want to hear, it’s the truth about themselves. This is the common condition of this wicked world’s inhabitants. The truth is, Jesus Christ is Lord of All and the world despises Jesus Christ, His Nature and Authority.
Kerri wanted children. She said she just knew she was quite fertile and that they would have many children. While still in Florida, Paul and Kerri called to tell us she was pregnant. I had a mysterious, inexplicable feeling of lack of enthusiasm on my part. I wanted to share in Kerri’s joy, but couldn’t.
Soon after, Paul and Kerri called to tell us Kerri was spotting (releasing blood), asking our advice. We asked the Lord what was going on. They had no medical coverage, and as many know, a medical incident in the US can be costly. However, I thought it best they seek medical care, in trust that the Lord guided this way, so they went.
Some call it the best medical system in the world. But while American medical care is sophisticated, filled with high technology, who can afford it? Are there not simpler (and more effective) ways to diagnose, prescribe, and treat? Surely! The US medical system has become a tyrannical, self-serving behemoth.
Instruments, tubes, monitors, systems, and all kinds of personnel surrounded Kerri. They would have done more, like administered medications, had Paul and Kerri not refused. When all was said and done, she had simply miscarried, as expected; admittedly not pleasant, with potential for serious problems, but still simple enough.
Having no medical coverage and the per diem costs being astronomical, Paul and Kerri weren’t prepared to continue with hospital care. Kerri was released, and they were handed several bills for thousands of dollars. Paul paid some of them, but when he questioned them about others, they wouldn’t talk to him. He therefore declined to pay them.
The medical people weren’t asked to do all the things they did or the way they did them. Yes, they’re the “professionals,” supposing to know what’s best, but can’t medical care be more caring and so much simpler and more natural?
Doesn’t the patient know anything about herself? Wouldn’t it be far better to treat the patient as someone with some intelligence, and who has a say in what they do with her? The medical system has lost touch with, and is void of care for, the patient. At the root of the whole system, like every other problem, is greed.
Our best interests aren’t naturally regarded by strangers; we must recognize the need to take responsibility for our health. After all, we’re usually the ones more genuinely concerned about it.
My discomfort with Kerri’s pregnancy was not without cause.
I have witnessed no motivational writer or speaker describe and promote the power of unity, though no doubt many have, in diverse ways and from various perspectives. Obviously, there must be a degree of unity in any body, be it a business, sports team, club, army, government, community, family, or whatever, in order to prosper or succeed.
It occurred to me one day that there is so much disunity, inefficiency, and corruption everywhere, as in businesses, for example, yet they manage to survive and show a profit. Some even seem to thrive, at least financially. I thought, and said to all, “We of all people, professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and having all things common, should be able to live in unity. If we were to come to a place where we were fully united, not only in purpose, organization, or project, as with businesses, but also and especially in spirit and in faith, we could and would be unstoppable. Nothing would be impossible to us, nothing… Lord willing.”
Many are familiar with the story of how men once united themselves to build and thrive:
“And they said, ‘Come, let us build us a city and a tower, and its top in the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth’” (Genesis 11:4 MKJV).
And what did God say about that? He spoke of the power of unity:
“Then the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which they had built, and He said, ‘Now then, these are all one people and they speak one language; this is just the beginning of what they are going to do. Soon they will be able to do anything they want!‘” (Genesis 11:5-6 GNB)
He didn’t approve. Indeed, He stopped their project of unity:
“‘Let Us go down and mix up their language so that they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the city” (Genesis 11:7-8 GNB).
That’s why we speak thousands of languages today – it was God’s doing, not man’s.
And there are many kinds of languages – not just linguistic, but religious and doctrinal. Since that time it’s been known that God hasn’t blessed or approved of organizations, communities, denominations, and churches built in His Name, of which He hasn’t been their Author. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, rebuking them:
“Because you still live as the people of this world live. When there is jealousy among you and you quarrel with one another, doesn’t this prove that you belong to this world, living by its standards? When one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos’—aren’t you acting like worldly people? After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? We are simply God’s servants, by whom you were led to believe. Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do…” (1 Corinthians 3:3-5 GNB).
So I thought, “But what if God puts us together, and gives us that unity of spirit that’s missing in worldly organizations and which is so rare – ‘all for one and one for all’ (using Alexander Dumas’ expression)?” If God unites us, what a glorious thing we would have! There never will have been anything like it, except for the new Church, united for a time:
“The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had” (Acts 4:32 GNB).
It was manifest that we had little unity among ourselves, no, not even between Marilyn and me, wife and husband, who were not only believers, but also presuming or appointed to be spiritual leaders. God had to do something with us if we were to have communal unity, or we would be scattered to the four winds.
Unable to do all the work ourselves, we hired workers. Finding good, responsible farm laborers wasn’t easy. Many high school, college, and university students weren’t good workers, not even close. It was disappointing. We did, however, find some Mormons to be good. We knew of some Dutch people who worked well when we could get them – the Dutch Reform people have a good “Protestant work ethic,” training their children early.
I was cheap, looking for cheap labor and getting cheap results, while the more able went their way to find better pay elsewhere. I was a miser – what a pitiful thing to say of a Christian, especially a supposed man of God, but so true.
However, it is true that farm income has been a sorry misery. Farmers are forced to pay more to their workers than they make themselves if they want the work done. Many farmers have off-farm jobs to finance the “farm hobby” or “lifestyle,” euphemistically, wryly called. This obviously should not be, especially for those who take the risk, while providing a most essential commodity of life. But that’s farming for you in a corrupt world.
I was looking for people who understood and appreciated that, but there were precious few such creatures to be had, understandably so. At the time, we had little to offer them besides wages and some product; the land wasn’t organic as yet, though we renounced all chemical usage; we knew nothing to teach others in terms of agricultural knowledge, skill, and lifestyle, and we were all under great stress, hoping, I suppose, for some empathy and understanding.
It was hell, mostly of my own making, though. Had not the Lord spoken to me saying, “Don’t worry about the expenses – I can provide you with all that you may need or want; I will cover for mistakes and losses”? I’ve had a hard, unheeding heart. Still, the Lord remained true to His Word to me.
It was my idea that Sean move to the farm to live with Archie and Cathie. I told Archie frankly that I was hearing reports from Lois, her sons, and his own children of things they were doing and saying that weren’t good. I wanted to have a sort of conscience in their midst.
When I questioned whether Sean would remain with us, Archie said Sean would be “as good as gold.” Now Archie was resisting Sean’s living with them. Archie complained that he didn’t like the idea of being spied on. Not that it was my only purpose, but it was foolish of me to implant a conscience in their family midst. One doesn’t change anything with monitors, except to cause offenders to be resentful and to burrow deeper away from scrutiny.
However, I thought, “If you were honest, you wouldn’t mind exposure, and if you were open to what the Lord was doing, you’d gladly receive Sean into your home.” I may have even said so. I do recall persuading him that Sean could be of great help to them. He grudgingly accepted.
But with this action, the stage was being set for more. I do look back with regret at my thinking and resultant deeds, although I realize that my devices all served a purpose above and beyond my thoughts and ways as the Lord directed my steps.