Written Messages

YES, LORD (Book)

By Harald Bredesen

Introduction

Ever wonder what kind of a guy Abraham was?

I mean, can you imagine a character just pulling up stakes in his home town, packing up his dad, his wife, his close relatives, and all his considerable earthly possessions in a big unwieldy caravan, and wandering from country to country-without even knowing where he was going?

Can you imagine this same legendary figure, now an old man, taking his grown son up on a mountain and actually raising a knife to kill him, believing that God had commanded such a terrible thing?

"Yes, Lord."

Have you ever, in your imagination, tried to savor the personality of a man like Moses who obeyed a "voice" coming to him out of a burning bush? A meek man like Moses who would leave his sheep after 40 years of hermit-like existence and dare to approach a powerful world monarch and command him to release Egypt's whole slave population? And present himself as their "wagon-master"-to lead over 2 million people to a country none of them, including Moses, had ever seen?

"Yes, Lord."

Have you ever wondered how Gideon felt when he stood shivering in the night air, looking down at the massive Midianite camp, about to give the order to his "troops"? An order to 300 mystified men to break the earthen pitchers in their hands, exposing 300 ridiculous torches, and to blow on their trumpets with all their might-deliberately waking up the thousands of sleeping enemies below?

"Yes, Lord."

Would you like to sit down with incredible old Elijah and ask him if he didn't feel just a little bit foolish (and a whole lot scared) when he challenged the 450 prophets of the heathen god Baal? I mean, can you picture yourself, with thousands of people watching, standing before an altar with a dead ox on it, ordering young men to douse and soak the whole business with water three times-and then shouting into the skies for God to suddenly burn the altar down, without even a match? Mightn't you have felt foolish and scared?

"Yes, Lord."

Well, I think I've known such a man as these. His name is Harald Bredesen.

Oh, Harald will cringe at the comparison with these mighty spiritual giants. He's painfully aware of his shortcomings and his many flops, as you're about to read for yourself.

But so was Moses. Remember, he tried his best to get out of going down into Egypt, listing all his obvious drawbacks to God. But when Moses finally got around to saying "Yes, Lord," God did amazing things with him!

Harald is about to tell you how long, how painfully long, it took him to quit trying to work out God's promises with his own schemes and to experience the heady thrill of the yielded Faith Walk.

Sort of reminds me of Abraham. It took him a while, too.

But each time Abraham said "Yes, Lord," God led him into a new miracle-and the Lord seems to like Abraham's kind of faith, doesn't He?

I really think that knowing Harald Bredesen is a little like knowing Elijah, too. Because even after God answered that dramatic and seemingly foolhardy call for fire, consuming the ox, altar and the 450 prophets of Baal-Elijah soon experienced doubt, fear and depression. He ran off into a mountain cave and hid, even asking God to take his life!

It makes me think of the time Harald . . . but you'll soon be reading that for yourself.

My point is not that Harald Bredesen is just by nature a spiritual giant. Far from it. He's flesh and blood, strength and weakness, fear and faith-just like me.

The thing that has thrilled me about Harald in the several years I've known him is that he is so willing to say "Yes, Lord"-and because of that he has lived the wonderful adventure you're about to share.

He and his remarkable Gen have already followed in some of the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah-miracles trail them wherever they go. They know this Jesus that they speak about-intimately -and He "works with them, confirming His word" as they act upon it.

And best of all, they've given me and thousands of others the realization that there is the potential of Moses, Elijah, Gideon and Jesus in each of us-as we learn, like them, to say "Yes, Lord."



Chapter One

Two a.m. I was tired that spring night in 1946, so tired that I sat down on the curb alongside the Empire State Building as I waited for the bus. When it finally pulled up, I took the side seat by the door, leaned back against the window, and closed my eyes. Then it came, a voice low but insistent and frightening. It hadn't come from anyone on the bus but from somewhere inside of me.

I knew it was the Lord, and my stomach turned to jelly at His words. Preach to the people on this bus.

"But, Lord, I can't. I'm a Lutheran minister and Lutheran ministers don't preach on buses. It's unheard of. What would Dad think, if he knew? What would my seminary classmates say?"

I could hear the throaty roar of the exhaust as the bus turned onto Lexington Avenue. I could feel the cold metal of the seat frame as I braced my hand against it. But my mind was reflecting on something that had happened 3,500 years ago, when Moses stood on Mount Pisgah. From it he could see a land flowing with milk and honey. He could see it, but he could not enter it. At one crucial point he had failed God.

Earlier this very night, through one of His servants, God had given me a glimpse of the glorious new life He had in store for me. But now it was as if He was saying, "You'll never be able to enter in if you deny Me this one act of obedience."

I thought, "But if I preach, everyone on the bus will think I'm a crazy fanatic." I wondered if an entire future really could hinge on just one act of obedience. "If I do obey, the worst they can do is kill me." The thought offered little comfort.

Shaking with fear and with no idea what I would say, I stood up and grabbed the steel post behind me. There were only eight people on the bus, but it seemed like a thousand. All of them were staring at me. "Lord, please don't ask this of me."

The Lord didn't answer. It was as if He was beside me, awaiting my decision. Finally I took my unwilling soul by the scruff of the neck and said, "Yes, Lord."

I hung onto the steel post for dear life and opened my mouth. He filled it. I found myself speaking with a power I had never known before. Every word was weighted like a pile driver. No one acted as if he might commit mayhem. In fact, everyone sat up and listened. A teenage girl leaned forward, hanging on every word. An old man halfway back began to weep. On my right a large woman was staring at me open-mouthed. I went over to her and asked, "Madam, do you know what I'm talking about?"

"Sure I do. You're saying we got to be born again." Her eyes became like two pieces of glass. Two other eyes, wild, cunning and jackal-like, leered out at me. Suddenly I heard myself saying, "You knew what those words meant once. You were a Christian. But then you had to choose between something you wanted and Christ. Now Satan has you bound hand and foot, and you're demon possessed."

"What if I am? You get away from me, or I'll call the police!"

By this time I wouldn't have cared had she called the whole United States Army. This woman was in the thrall of Satan, and I had to set her free. The question was how? We hadn't had any courses on casting out demons at Luther Theological Seminary.

When she stood up and pushed past me to the door, I followed her. I was so oblivious to anything except helping her that I didn't realize I was at my own bus stop. She leaped off the bus and started to run, screaming at the top of her voice, "Police! Police! Police!" When a squad car came zooming up the street, she turned and pointed a finger at me.

Two huge policemen jumped out, grabbed me, pushed me into the front seat of their car, and sat down on either side. I couldn't believe it was happening. What could I tell them? While preaching on the bus, I saw that this woman was full of demons and I was just casting them out? I spoke very slowly, trying to appear calm and self-possessed. "I am a minister. This woman has fallen away from God, and I am trying to get her to come back."

"Come on now," the officer on my right sneered. "What did you really want? A woman?"

I reached into my pocket. "Here's the key to Calvary Episcopal Church House where I live. If you'll drive me there, I'll show you I'm a minister." The officer behind the wheel snorted, "Sorry, sonny; you'll have to walk home. We're parked in front of it."

The whole thing was such a nightmare that I hadn't realized till then where I was. Convinced by the key, they finally let me go. I went up to my room, dropped my clothes on a chair, too shaken to hang them up, and fell into bed, knowing beyond a doubt that what had just happened had been the worst experience of my life.

The next morning I was still in such anguish I feigned sleep so my roommate wouldn't speak to me. It didn't work. "Harald, did you hear that woman screaming for the police last night? I wonder who was after her?"

"Who knows?" I murmured, my eyes still closed.

After he had gone, I sat on the edge of the bed and buried my head in my hands. "Jesus, You know I wanted to be led by Your Spirit, but look what's come of it-just terrible embarrassment. I could have ended up in jail, my career ruined."

The Lord dealt with me in a tender way that morning, to show me that if I was going to be an instrument in His hands, I would be up against not just flesh and blood, but Satan himself. He had given me this glimpse of who the real enemy was so that I might see my desperate need of His power. I wasn't sure how I would find His power or how I would connect up to it when I did find it, but that night's experience made me realize I'd better start looking.

Determined, I set out to find it.



Chapter Two...

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