The Holy Spirit will guide you in all truth (John 16:13)
How does that work?
Subtly, I think.
I’ve listened to friends tell stories about powerful visitations of the Holy Spirit. Inevitably the tale begins with, “Now, promise me you won’t think I’m crazy.” Then comes the account: an angelic visitation at a young man’s bedside, a miraculous healing of a broken leg, a dream of Jesus saying, ‘come home,’ a vision of a pillar of fire, a divine voice answering a grieving mother.
For my part, I have had no experience with visions, prophetic utterances, or words of knowledge. I don’t disbelieve my friends’ stories. I’ve just had different experiences. God, after all, treats all His children as individuals; He comes in ways that are distinctive for each of us.
In those times when I’ve been most aware of the Holy Spirit at work, I’ve perceived it as gentle nudging. Why don’t you make that phone call you’ve been putting off? When I finally break down and dial the number the person on the other end usually says, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about you!”
That’s not to say the gentle nudge is always a pleasant nudge. Sometimes it can be downright irritating. When I’m wallowing in self-righteous injury, mentally replaying the wrong that has been done to me, I sense a quiet reminder: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In my frustration, I argue back, “I don’t know how to pray right now!” Try the Psalms. Just flip to somewhere in the 50s and read over a few. Grumbling I turn to Psalm 55 and begin to read. “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore me in my plea; hear me and answer me.” Halfway through, I realize that the Holy Spirit is guiding me into truth – applying scripture to my life. I read “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you,” and I weep.
At times, that quiet nudge is a warning, Beware, don’t go there. Other times it is a reward, Look about and see the glory of the Lord.
I’ve taken to calling this “sanctified intuition.” It’s not some special insight that comes ecstatically. Rather, the Holy Spirit uses the words of scripture to shape my thoughts and my awareness. The more I study scripture, the more the Holy Spirit applies it to my life in these quiet moments. I’m learning what it is to be still, to listen attentively to that small voice.
So that’s how it is for me. How about you? How does the Holy Spirit operate in your life?
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