By Francis Frangipane
have discovered that, as we seek the Lord, our most difficult periods
can be transformed into wonderful breakthroughs into God's love. For me,
one such season occurred during the years 1979 to1981. The association
of churches with which I was aligned had fallen under spiritual
deception. Not only were its core doctrines increasingly seeded with New
Age influences, but immorality crept in, and key leaders began leaving
their wives for other women. I could no longer remain silent. As a
result, in 1979 I left my congregation in Detroit, Michigan, where I had
served as pastor, and traveled to the organization's regional
headquarters in Iowa. I came to plead for repentance. However, after
meeting with the senior leaders, I was asked to leave the group.
here we were -- we had left our church, we had no money, and we had
four little children; we couldn't even afford basic housing. Desperate
for anything, we finally found an old farmhouse in rural Washington,
Iowa. The home was over a hundred years old, but it actually looked much
older. After negotiating with the landlord, we were given a year of
free rent provided I did basic repairs to the house, such as cleaning
Even so, the house needed more than I
could provide. The furnace did not work well, so we installed a wood
burner stove in the kitchen. That first winter, it turned out, was one
of the coldest in Iowa's history. Frost formed on the inside walls,
spreading a foot or two around each window; wind chills dropped to 60
below, and even colder on several occasions.
warm each night, the whole family cuddled tightly on one large mattress
on the dining room floor, about 18 feet from the wood burner in the
kitchen. A fan behind the stove nudged warm air in our direction. My
nightly project, of course, was to build enough heat in the stove to
keep us warm until morning.
While I worked the fire, I
also would pray and seek God. The wood burner became a kind of altar to
me, for each night as I prayed, I offered to God my unfulfilled dreams
and the pain of my spiritual isolation. Yes, I knew the Lord was aware
of our situation. Though we had virtually nothing, He showed Himself to
us in dozens of little ways. I just didn't know what He wanted of me.
the seasons came and went, another child was born, and then we fostered
a young girl from Vietnam, giving us six children. Still, as the family
grew, the little area around the wood burner became a hallowed place to
me. Even in the summer, I would sit on the chair next to the stove and
pray and worship.
I would like to say I found the joy
of the Lord during this time, but in truth, though I gradually adjusted
to my situation, I felt an abiding misery in my soul. Our deep poverty
was an issue (I barely made $6,000 a year), but more than that, I felt
like I had missed the Lord. My continual prayer was, "Lord, what do You
want of me?"
Three years of seeking God passed, and I
still carried an emptiness inside. What was God's will for me? I had
started a couple Bible studies and spoken a few times in churches, but I
so identified with being a pastor that, until I was engaged again in
full-time ministry, I feared I had lost touch with God's call on my
In spite of this inner emptiness concerning
ministry, I actually was growing spiritually, especially in areas that
were previously untilled. I went through the Gospels, hungry to study
and obey the words of Christ. Previously, I had unconsciously defined a
successful ministry as something born of my performance. During this
time, however, the Lord reduced me to simply being a disciple of Jesus
Indeed, a number of things I thought were
biblical I discovered were really just religious traditions. The Lord
desired that I take inventory of my heart and examine those few truths
for which I would be willing to die. He said the truths for which I
would die, for these I should live.
like the timing of the rapture or nuances about worship style or
spiritual gifts dropped in their priority, though I still considered
them important. Rising to the top of my focus was a passion to be a true
follower of Jesus Christ -- to obey His teachings and approach life not
merely as a critic but more as an encourager. I also found myself
increasingly free to enjoy and learn from Christians from other streams
Yet these changes, though deep and
lasting, occurred slowly, almost imperceptibly. They were happening
quietly in my heart, and only in hindsight did I see what the Lord had
done. Throughout this time, I was preoccupied with feelings of
detachment from God's will. My prayer to know the Lord's plan for me
as I stood in the kitchen pantry, I repeated again my abiding prayer:
"Lord, what do You want of me?" In a sudden flash of illumination, the
Lord answered. Speaking directly to my heart, He said, "Love Me where
In this time and season, remember, I was
not a pastor or minister. I was a television repairman doing odd jobs on
the side to provide for my family. I hated what I was doing. In my
previous church I taught against TV, and now I was "laying hands" on
television sets and raising them from the dead! The Lord's answer cut
straight to my heart. I was awed at its simplicity! I asked, "Love You
where I am at? Lord, is that all You want of me?" To this He responded,
"This is all I will ever require of you."
eternal moment, peace flooded my soul and I was released from the false
expectation of ministry-driven service. God was not looking at what I
did for Him, but who I became to Him in love. The issue in His heart was
not whether I pastored but whether I loved Him. To love the Lord in
whatever station I found myself -- even as a television repairman --
this I could do!
A deep and remarkable transformation
occurred in me. My identity was no longer in being a pastor but rather
in becoming a true lover of God. Having settled my priorities,
amazingly, just a couple days later I was invited to pastor a church in
Marion, Iowa. In spite of all my previous anxiety about returning to
ministry, I did not jump at the opportunity. For I had found what the
Lord truly desired of me. Though I eventually accepted this call, my
focus was not merely on leading a church but on loving God.
What God Seeks
than one's ministry, God seeks our love. His great commandment is that
we love Him, ultimately, with all our mind, all our heart, and all our
soul and strength. If we love Him, we will fulfill all He requires of us
(John 14:15). And it is as we love Him that He orchestrates all things
to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
loving God is not hard. We can fulfill any assignment -- auto mechanic
or housewife, doctor or college student -- and still give great pleasure
to our heavenly Father. We do not need ministry titles to love the
Lord. Indeed, God measures the value of our lives by the depth of our
love. This is what He requires of all true God-seekers: to love Him
where we are at.
Lord Jesus, the revelation of Your
love has swept me off my feet. Lord, You have drawn me and I run after
You. Master, even in the mundane things of life, I shall express my love
for You. Consume me in Your love.
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, And I Will Be Found By You available at www.arrowbookstore.com.