Elijah, my fiery namesake, was another favorite Bible character to me. I was very impressed by his obedience and awesome miracles. But what about Isaac as a man of God? I confess that I was, initially, less excited about him.
Can anyone number his miracles? Did he ever slay four hundred false prophets? Call down fire from heaven against his enemies? Or outrun the speeding "Volga" of King Ahab? Isaac did nothing particularly spectacular his whole life. He lived, had some rather unruly children, and died. Yet his life was not in vain. His story might not excite us, but he was a most spiritual man. Isaac was the heir of promise. All he needed to do for fulfilment was rest--rest and abide in God amidst his various difficulties.
His home, a camp in a wilderness desert, was the house of God. As a youth Isaac was a boy with a lamb's nature. He let himself be laid on the altar of bloody sacrifice by his own father, without protest or cries for help. As a grown man, he waited serenely on God to provide a wife. He was forty years old (his beloved mother, Sarah, had been dead three years) when God gave him the perfect helpmate, beautiful Rebecca.
But long BEFORE Rebecca came to fill his empty arms, Isaac needed to discover how to rest in God and trust him in every circumstance of life. How did Isaac do it?
Isaac could not read about God (and divine rest) in the Bible. There was no Bible! He was a shepherd like his father, Abraham. For such there was no Bible college or Nicene Creed or any other guide to the knowledge of God. Isaac had "only" the Spirit of God in the context of the realities of life. He had to discover God without modern "advantages". Yet Isaac succeeded so well that he became renowned for knowing God's rest. A generation of his descendants later perished in the Sinai wilderness because they failed to follow Isaac's example.
In my own future, resting Isaac's way proved a matter of life and death. After marriage, my wife and I lived in Dornesti for a time. We built a house that was designed to hold secret meetings of the underground church. I also kept Bibles there until they could be delivered to Christians in Soviet Russia. From about 1959 through 1974 the year of my escape, smuggling Bibles and nurturing the underground church in Romania and Russia were my primary functions in the Kingdom of God.
It was dangerous undertaking to supply Bibles to needy Christians in such areas. Our local police, alerted by the KGB, ransacked our home two or three times a month to find the Bibles. These raids could be expected nearly anytime of the day or night, but seldom were they expected in the very late night and early morning hours.
But one morning Aurica and I had just finished laying Bibles in a hole under the floor of a room and were astonished to hear the police at the door. They were early, and we were caught with the Bibles in plain view, covered only with a sheet of plastic to keep off the dust. Moreover, Aurica had laid more Bibles under some of our children's clothing in their room.
Aurica shuddered. Our executions for hiding Bibles were a foregone conclusion. Romanian police were known to torture people to death. All I could do was pray and refuse to give in to panic. The police searched the entire house, room by room, and passed by both caches of Bibles without saying a word, as if the Bibles were not even there! Angrily they stomped out of the house. The moment we were alone we realized what had happened. God had blinded them!
Some years before my marriage, I had gone to visit Sister Maria. Maria was my mother's old friend who had known much persecution but had survived every fiery trial. I knew she could pray and receive a true word of guidance from the Lord. Since I was entertaining the thought of a major trip for ministry to the southeast area of Romania, I went to her for prayer
This wonderful old saint prayed, and I was delighted when she told me she had a word from God for me. God said through her: "I will bless you on this trip. Step by step, I will guide you. You will see My hand. And I will bless you as I blessed Isaac." She also described what she saw while praying. She said God would set me gloriously free, and like a mighty eagle I would soar over the highest mountains and be a witness of Jesus to many people in foreign countries.
I was overwhelmed. But, even though her vision agreed with the words of the angel given to me as a shepherd boy, I could not then believe I was going to be set free from Romania. Yet, knowing how godly and trustworthy this woman of God was, I put the amazing words away into my heart for safekeeping and reference.
Later, as I traveled to southeast Romania, I had no thought of marriage. My thoughts were more taken up with the fact that I knew virtually no one along the entire route.
As I drove through the lovely, green hills and valleys of the countryside, God gave me the clear direction that Sister Maria had foreseen. I had already gone 300 kilometers when He spoke and told me what to do. Coming to Cluj, a city unknown to me, I was to turn right after the first bridge.
I crossed the bridge and pulled over to the right of the road. Some children rushed up to admire the motorcycle. I gave them some candy and instantly we were friends. "Do you know any Christians?" I asked. A boy pointed across the street. "Christians live there," he said. "But be careful, for they have a big dog. If you aren't a Christian, he will know it, and you are in big trouble."
Laughing a little to myself, I entered the fenced yard. As I entered I saw the big dog running at me. But then he skidded to a halt and his tail started wagging. A voice called out. I turned to see an old, white-haired gentleman beckoning to me from the house. "Welcome, brother!" he said. "My dog did not bark, so I know that you are a Christian. Please come in!"
So, the young lad was telling the truth about the dog! Amazed, I followed the kindly old man into the house and we were soon friends. Zadok, who is about 95 years of age now, still lives in Romania (as of 1989), shepherding God's little flock. He told me that he had been praying for God to send His servant to help him in the church that met in his home He was certain I was God's answer.
Because of these remarkable circumstances, it was obvious to me that God had led me to this house and this secret, underground church. Recognizing God's leading, I stayed with Pastor Zadok. At the meeting that night many people came. God blessed the meeting, giving me His word, poems and visions. These encouraged and strengthened the people. God was able to do such a work in their hearts that a powerful awakening of the people's faith broke out. I did not catch any sleep until late in the morning, when I lay down on the floor because there was no available bed.
Zadok also gave a word to me that was a perfect duplicate of the word from God given to me in Dornesti through Sister Maria.
I left Cluj and continued on another 300 kilometers. I was praying as I approached another large city. "Lord," I said, "I know someone here, but I don't have the address." God promptly answered and told me to go until I saw some sheep; then I was to cross the street and wait by them. Entering the city, I stopped by the first sheep that I saw. There were only a few sheep, a very small flock. I waited for something to happen. Presently, I saw a man coming. "Hello," I said to the shepherd. "May I speak with you?"
He listened as I started speaking about sheep. I asked if he knew the Good Shepherd, Jesus. He gave me a close and friendly look. "He is my Lord," he said. "I am a shepherd, too," I said.
After a few more words, the man led the way to his house. He too pastored a little flock of underground church Christians. Invited to the meeting that night, I was able to minister to the people with poems and visions that the Lord gave just for them. God was obviously blessing this trip with special opportunities for ministry. Before I could leave one of them had a word from God for me. He said "that God would bless me as He had blessed Isaac"!
I returned to the main road to continue my journey. At last, the distinguished profile of the regional capital of Timisoara came into view. It, too, was a large city, but far more Western and cosmopolitan in style than other Romanian cities. Its environs were very photogenic with a rich, productive plain, a forest, and a river.
As God had done all along the way, He directed me to a village on the city's edge, close by the Timis River. My uncle came from the house where the Lord had me stop! He had not seen me since I was a small boy, so he was very happy to see me after all these years. Now I was 24 years old.
I stayed several days with him, preaching short messages to the underground church that met in his home. I shared poems with them as well. At one of the meetings a man approached me with a word from God: "I will help you. I brought you here because I want to bless you like I blessed my servant, Isaac."
Word for word! Yet again God's promise concerning this trip had come to me unmistakably--for I had told no one. But I still felt I was not ready for God's "blessing." I was not looking to be married just yet. I had to tell the Lord how reluctant I felt, but I still wanted to obey Him just the same. The man of God continued the message to me: "Tomorrow morning, I will give you a sign. The sign will be this. The first girl you see tomorrow will ask the question, 'What are you looking for?'"
My uncle overheard the man's words. I was somewhat stunned.
The next morning my uncle asked me to go on a visit to another pastor-friend's home. We found the home, but he was gone. His wife said he was in another village visiting. So we continued walking. My uncle was in front when we came upon a lone girl in the street. She was sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house. I stopped.
It was as if a hand had reached out and grabbed my arm, stopping me in my tracks. I stood looking at the girl. "What are you looking for?" she asked demurely, in a childlike, soft voice.
My uncle, hearing the girl's question, turned around and laughed.
"We have been expecting God's servant to come," she added. "And I know you are God's child." I must have stared at her with my mouth open. Simply dressed, with a small scarf on her light-brown hair, she looked at me with shy, yet interested eyes. I wondered what to do.
I soon learned her name was Aurica (pronounced "ow-rick-kah"). She invited me to meet her father, a pastor of a church. I was taken into their home. All the family and people there soon heard the story. I too listened as Aurica told how God had answered her prayer. Long before I appeared, she had been praying and fasting. Someone gave her a word that God had chosen a husband for her, and that he would come to her home seven weeks after she stopped her fast. It was indeed so. I had come on the very day appointed by God.
In spite of all this, I still withheld saying anything about the promises and words from God I had received relating to Isaac and Rebecca. Still waiting on God, I wanted to seek Him and determine that this was truly His will. After I left her home, our paths unexpectedly crossed again, this time in the market place Of all things, she was buying some things for MY mother. I felt great joy and peace when I saw Aurica.
Returnng to Dornesti, I spent the next few months seeking God's will. Meanwhile, Aurica and I corresponded. We both knew that God could bring Christians together in marriage. I had heard of absolute strangers in Soviet Russia being brought together and married because God had chosen them for each other.
Finally, I knew for certain that God ewanted this marriage. I wrote telling Aurica. Within less than a year after meeting, we married in Timisoara, in a regular, daytime church service (1964) after alerting only the pastor and our own families and friends.
The pastor was preaching a message on Isaac and Rebecca when our wedding party entered the church! On seeing us, the people were filled with joy! Later, we enjoyed a reception in Aurica's home, with an entire village of several hundred friends, family and relatives crammed into the small house.