I had an unexpected exercise today in listening to the Holy Spirit.
At work, we have a koi pond. I sometimes go and spend a few minutes there, relaxing, meditating, praying. I usually go as I walk from a morning meeting held in another building.
As I left the meeting today, I really needed to go to the bathroom. So I was going to hurriedly walk back to my building, skipping the pond. When suddenly, I heard a voice in my head: “Go to the pond.”
We expect the Spirit of God to lead us — and sometimes, to speak to us.
Did you know that Jesus promised “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to his followers? To put it a weird way, I suppose you could say we are possessed. We cannot live the Christian life otherwise; as Jesus Manifesto puts it, “Jesus Christ could not be a ‘successful’ Christian, and He admitted it.” From the Vineyard church, I learned that Jesus did all he did not from his divine nature, but by being filled with the Spirit, obeying the leading of the Father. We are to do the same. Naturally supernatural, we expect the Spirit of God to lead us — and sometimes, to speak to us.
If you have never heard God speak to you, here’s the quick rundown: I do not mean a literal voice. (Very few people have had that experience.) I mean that voice inside your head that sounds a lot like your own voice. It is very close to your imagination, because the realm of imagination and creativity is the realm of the prophetic, where God speaks. The only way to get better at distinguishing between that voice and your own is through practice. Usually, it’s sort of muddled.
But once in a while, it is as clear as a verbal conversation…
I heard the inner voice say, “Go to the pond.”
“What?” I replied.
“Go to the pond.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I have something to show you.”
“But I really have to pee.” Remember, when I go to the pond, I usually spend a little time there.
Then came the surprising response: “It’s OK, this won’t take long.”
So off I trotted, wondering what all this was about. I wondered how long it would take, since God might show me something but I could easily miss it — especially because my bladder was putting a clear time constraint on this detour.
I reached the pond, and gasped.
There, capturing my attention in the center of the pond, was a fantastic bird. A blue heron! (Much like the photo above.)
I laughed. I did not stay long, of course. But as I hurried on, I quickly called Kay to tell her about this odd experience. I said, “Remember, we used to call this sort of thing ‘close guidance.'” (That was our term for specific instructions, like “Turn left.”)
She said, “It sounds like God gave you a practicum.”
Huh. A training exercise. We used to have these fairly often during seasons of heightened awareness of God’s presence and activity. I wonder what might be coming next.
Have you ever experienced “close guidance”?