“God wants to talk to you as much as he talked with David, Isaiah and other people of the Bible.”
When I first read this claim, I was stunned. Could that actually be true? I thought God did his speaking through the writers of the Bible. Theologians explain those biblical truths, and so I needed to study theology, and while at it also study philosophy. I was on my own to apply those insights to daily life. Application was mostly sanctified common sense.
Learning the difference between newness and nowness helped. God isn’t going to tell me new truths beyond those in Scriptures. The Bible is still the standard by which to determine what is God-pleasing. But he can and will guide me in applying those truths now to situations I encounter.
Here are some other discoveries. God speaks in whispers of thoughts that enter into my thinking, not in an audible voice. Some whispers are very time-specific. God whispers in the conversation called prayer
Have you ever had the thought pop into your head that you should visit someone right now to offer valuable help? Those may have been experiences of the Holy Spirit at work in your thoughts. In my workshops, I arrange for discussions in small groups. Almost always each group has someone who has a story to tell about acting on such a thought and having a good result.
One woman driving home from the grocery had the thought that she should visit an old friend right now. Her friend was getting ready to bake but did not have eggs. The storyteller was able to give her the eggs she had just bought. That welcome interaction led into a lengthy discussion of issues in the friend’s life. The storyteller was able to share her experiences.
A story like that came in the first workshop I did. The pastor reported afterward the relief of several participants that such thoughts can be seen as a whisper of the Spirit. They weren’t crazy, and this was more than just coincidence.
Twentieth-century Norwegian Pietist Ole Hallesby notes that Jesus knocking on the door in Revelation 3 is appealing to those who were already Christians. He sees Jesus knocking at the door of a believer’s thoughts to initiate the conversation called prayer. We think of prayer as words we say to God that can often seem empty. But something exceptional may come when we finally get engaged in the informal conversation. God in his grace initiates the relationship of conversational prayer. We find ourselves responding.
The most practical “nowness” emerges from recognizing the Holy Spirit as the dove that came down from heaven to rest on Jesus’ shoulder. I envision the dove of the Spirit on my shoulder whispering into my ear godly thoughts about what to do as I think about specific situations I am encountering. Of course, we should also imagine the Enemy sitting on the other shoulder and whispering his view.
One such encounter happened when loading groceries into my car and discovering a jar of jelly that had not been bagged and thus wasn’t paid for. What should I do? It would be a big pain to go back inside and stand in line again. Besides, it was only a few dollars. A mile down the road I turned around and did what I was supposed to do. The Spirit prevailed in that internal whispering contest in my head.
Can anyone prove these are genuine encounters with the Spirit? No more than anyone can “prove” beyond doubt that God exists. The writer of Hebrews explains that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Then he goes on to receive encouragement from the “great cloud of witnesses” who have lived out strong faith in previous generations.
Be encouraged by the cloud of witnesses today who react to whispers from God and live daily Spirit-driven lives. Find time to hear their stories. Share your stories of specific experiences.