The Freedom Tower stands to replace the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attack. (Flickr/Phil Dolby)

For years, God had been trying to get my attention. It all began with seeing 9:11 on the clock on a daily basis soon after the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Rarely would a day go by when I did not see this number on my clock at least once. My family also began to experience this phenomenon. In fact, this continues to this day. At first, I thought God was trying to warn me of another impending terrorist attack. Then finally, after I had been seeing this for a couple of years, God gave me a revelation of what it meant.

I was on a plane heading into Atlanta one morning. As I looked down at my watch, I saw it was 9:11 a.m. As the plane approached landing, it suddenly stopped going down and reversed into a steep climb. It was a dramatic shift. Everyone on the plane was gripped by fear. Some began to curse aloud. I immediately began to pray in the Spirit. "Could this be why I had seen 9:11 over and over?" I wondered. "Had God been trying to warn me?" As the plane leveled off in the air, the pilot announced that he had aborted the landing due to an issue on the runway in Atlanta and that we would make another approach to land. He apologized for the abrupt change in altitude but said it was unavoidable.

With a sigh of relief and a racing heart I leaned back and shut my eyes. Just then the Lord said to me, "Pat, the 9:11 you have seen for so long represents Psalm 91:1. You have been so busy doing My work that you rarely spend time in the secret place with Me!" I immediately reached under the seat to grab the Bible in my briefcase and opened it to Psalm 91:1: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." God had been using the numbers 9-1-1 to awaken me to my own spiritual emergency. I was in need of a personal awakening.

Sooner or later we all need a personal awakening. No one can ever get too busy to spend time in the secret place. One of the major reasons Christian leaders with great power and vision burn out is because they do not slow down and seek the face of God. Often we think that being busy doing the Lord's work is the same as spending time with Him. I wonder how many people have drifted from God while leading others to salvation. If the devil can't make you sin, then he will just make you busy! Here I was traveling the world preaching the gospel, but I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a personal encounter with the God I preached about so boldly.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. It's epidemic in ministry today. We hold a microphone in one hand and a glass of water in the other, and yet we have forgotten how to drink from the Living Well for ourselves. We are dehydrated and don't know it. It is time for those of us in ministry to make up our minds that we will not wear on our sleeve what we have not hidden in our hearts, that we will not preach a message of life if we have yet to experience resurrection. We cannot give away what we do not have.

This revelation began a transformation in my family and me. God began to call us to a whole new level of intimacy with Him, a deeper place than we had ever experienced. We could no longer do life as usual. God was demanding more of our private time with Him. God wanted me to tie myself to the altar. I, who had stood in front of thousands of altars ministering, was now to lay down my life in total surrender. For me there was no turning back. It was either all or nothing at that point. I had to pursue this life of being totally submitted to the Father at a new level. The transformation I longed to see in those I ministered to, in my family, in the body of Christ, and even in the nation had to start with me.

That's how it always works. The transformation we seek always starts with us first laying our lives and our will on the altar. The most powerful place we will ever be is on our knees before a holy God. As Jesus did, we must disappear from the stage—whether that be a platform in ministry, volunteer work at church, or even the pursuit of advancement on our jobs—in order to find God on a deeper and more intimate level.

Pat and Karen Schatzline are international evangelists and authors who co-lead Remnant Ministries International and the I Am Remnant Movement. They are known for their passion to lead people of all ages into deep encounters with God. They are frequent guests on Christian television and radio shows such as The Jim Bakker Show, Sid Roth's It's Supernatural!, and Ask Dr. Brown, as well as on networks such as Daystar, TBN, JCTV, and GodTV. They have written several books, including Why Is God So Mad at Me?, I Am Remnant, Dehydrated, and Unqualified. Married since 1990, they make their home in Birmingham, Alabama. This passage is an excerpt from their book Rebuilding the Altar (Aug. 1, 2017).

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