Reading time: two minutes.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Okay, good advice. How exactly does one go about hearing from the Spirit in the first place?
I’m proud of our Lutheran theology of the Holy Spirit. We have historically sought to avoid the extremes of “enthusiasm” (as the Reformers called it) and a complete neglect of the power and work of the Spirit in our lives. We believe that all depends on the work of God, by the Spirit, in our lives, but hesitate to call every thought or inclination a vision from the Lord.
So how do we listen to the Spirit? I think the enemy of the Spirit’s voice is noise. Today, a couple of thoughts about tuning in to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Quiet is often under-valued. Time alone in silence is so important for the spiritual life. Henri Nouwen said, “Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” That’s pretty good. Each morning, I try to get to my quiet place before I hear the radio, TV, even my wife Carol, and open God’s Word. I want to hear His voice before my brain clogs with “fake news.”
Sometimes the clamor that interferes with the Spirit’s voice is my own internal voice. Most pastors have trouble with negative self talk. It’s a constant battle to be still and know. Elijah struggled with that (1 Kings 19:10, cf. 14!)
Of course, hearing from the Spirit means spending time in God’s Word; quality time. Quiet, unhurried, meditation and reflection time. Navigators Director Lorne Sanny had it right: “If your output exceeds your input, your upkeep will be your downfall.” We need input. The word of the Lord is all we have. How glad to know He still speaks and wants to be heard.
And we test the spirits, to see if the guidance we are receiving is from the Lord. Remember that love builds up, so the Spirit’s guidance to us will always be beneficial to ourselves or someone else. The Devil tears down. Be very cautious of destructive, negative messages.
Keeping in step with the Spirit… That’s the tough part, isn’t it? A guy named Arthur Murray made a fortune teaching people to dance by pasting footprints on the floor. Sometimes I feel about as “in step” as a Bambi trying to walk across the ice. Not exactly Fred Astaire.
That’s what’s so great about grace. We quiet our hearts and minds so that we might hear. God speaks and we seek to follow. We slip and slide and splatter and sometimes fall. His grace prevails. He lifts us up, whispers His still, small voice, and we set off again.
I think Spirit-led is something like that.
Thanks for reading.
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