Pavel Goia, DMin, is the editor of Ministry.

You will not be able to move to your seminary—at least not today!” So spoke Mr. Clark, our neighbor from across the street. Like Caleb and Joshua, Daniela and I could see the giants that Mr. Clark and everyone else saw. Cumulus clouds, sometimes called cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus clouds, sometimes called thunderheads.

“You will not be able to load your stuff into the truck—at least not today!” So said the moving truck driver. He spoke the obvious. By now there was thunder, there was lightning, the wind became strong, and rain started to fall.

“In seconds, there will be heavy rain. It will destroy your furniture, your books, and everything you have!”

But there was something our neighbor didn’t know. Like Caleb and Joshua, Daniela and I had already seen God at work. Following graduation, our money was gone, so was our student housing. A friend, Mr. Ralph, accommodated us and our furnishings—free of charge. There was something our truck driver didn’t know. We had been accepted into seminary with no money for moving expenses. A truck moving two pastors to the seminary was scheduled to pass through our town. The moving company notified us that one of the pastors had canceled but fully paid. They said they could take us and all our belongings—free of charge. We knew what God could do.

So, I told the truck driver, “Let’s act in faith. The rain is not heavy yet. Let’s load!” The clouds got darker, and Mr. Clark stood shaking his head.

“I agree with your neighbor!” exclaimed our truck driver. “We can’t pack in the rain, and I have a schedule to keep, so I’ll have to leave without your items.”

At that moment, Daniela and I knelt behind the truck. Right there in the street, we asked God to hold back the floodgates until we could load all our furniture and all our boxes. It took four hours with not one drop of rain. The second Mr. Russell closed the truck’s back doors, the heavens opened. Rain poured down in buckets. Our truck driver and our neighbor stood spellbound. They told everyone who came by that they had witnessed a miracle. We smiled. Now they could see what we had seen.

Firsthand

In Matthew 28:6, 7, women went to Jesus’ grave with some spices prepared for His body. The angel there first told them not to be afraid, and second to “ ‘come and see’ ” that Jesus was alive. We often emphasize the third command the angel gave them, “ ‘Then go quickly and tell his disciples.’ ”1 But we often miss that before the angel told them to go and tell, he bid them come and see.

You have nothing to tell others unless you have seen it yourself. Nothing to give unless you receive it first. Nothing to share unless you experience it first. Isaiah 43:10 says, “ ‘You are my witnesses.’ ” You cannot be a witness in a court of law based on what someone else has seen. You must have seen it yourself.

Isaiah saw the Lord, and it changed his life. He shared the story and worked powerfully as a witness for God. Two demoniacs saw Jesus, and they told the whole city. A woman at a well saw Jesus, and she told her whole town. Zacchaeus saw Jesus, and he called all his friends and shared his experience. Paul on the road to Damascus saw Jesus, and his ministry turned the world upside down.

Taste and see

The essential preparation needed for any sermon is to taste and experience God for ourselves. John says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (John 1:1). Unless we experience His transforming grace in our own lives, we cannot preach with power and witness with success. God is calling us to spend time in His presence in order to have a firsthand experience of Him. He’s calling us to come and see—then go and tell.

  1. Scripture is from the New International Version.

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