It was December 21, 2008, after two years of seeking God relentlessly (Heb 11:6 Gen 15:1) God confirmed through the laying on of hands and a word of prophecy that I was called to be a shepherd – a pastor. Ezekiel 34 was deposited into my spirit weeks earlier while sitting in a mental institution. Yes, God spoke to me in a mental institution. Better than fiction. I could make dozens of jokes about it. Kinda hard not to – except it happened.
It was a two week evaluation during my four years in jail before going to prison. I had repented and received Christ (Yahshua) as Saviour on January 7, 2007, and mainly used the two week vacation as an opportunity to evangelize, piss off a few demons and hopefully hear from God.
After returning to jail I still needed confirmation about my calling. I wasn’t 100% sure that this “Word” was for me, and from God at that. Being skeptical came naturally, and my faith was no exception. So, during a church service we were allowed to attend in a secure area of the jail, a husband and wife team came in. He gave a short message, and then played worship music. He would often pray for people, and they would sometimes have visions. She would pray, and sometimes have prophetic utterances. I needed a prophetic word, so I stood in line for her. During my wait, I prayed silently in my mind, “God, if you’ve called me to be a shepherd, then confirm this through your servant (the woman). I attest that she had absolutely no idea about my experiences with God, or my silent prayer. ” I prayed not in arrogance (demanding God), but in faith, expecting an answer. Somehow I knew I would receive an answer from God. I have learned over the years that unfortunately, this is a rare alignment of the body of Christ willing to be used properly, our faith in action and God granting us the knowledge we seek at the moment we seek it.
I was next up for prayer. “Do you need prayer?”, she said. “YES!” I replied. “Take off your shoes for this is holy ground.” she began. “I see a staff in your hand.” she continued, “I see a staff in your hand.” she repeated. “God has called you to be a shepherd – a shepherd – a shepherd – a pastor. God has called you to be a pastor!” It felt like warm electricity going through my body. I was surprised that I didn’t cry. I smiled. Somehow I knew that God would speak. I believed, and the Creator of the Universe reached into my life, and confirmed that the Bible is true (Ezekiel 34), that I had a specific purpose he designed me for (Pastor) and that He cared about me, and saw redemptive value in my life. MY LIFE? The life I was sure I had ruined. A life that He chose to salvage and redeem. I asked the woman, “I always understood pastor’s to also be preachers, and I am not a preacher.” I protested. “Aaron, God has called you to shepherd His people – to lead them and care for them. You are a Pastor, but there will be preaching involved.” She spoke the truth, as I have pastored God’s people while in prison for 15 years. I was already doing it unbeknownst to me, before my calling was confirmed. And as prophesied, I have also done my share of preaching. I do feel joy and great power flowing through me from behind the pulpit, but getting up there still causes tremendous anxiety, and awe that God chooses to use me. Or maybe I should still be in the mental institution. I’ll let you decide.