On listening to the Holy Spirit

My mind wandered a bit while listening to Dave Gibbons. Not in a bad, bored way. In a good way, the sort of way that is sparked by an interesting story or a brilliant comment that launches my brain into tangential directions.

He shared a story during his talk, a story about his mom. When he was younger, college age or so, he had a premonition that his mom was going to die. Instead of going off and away the whole summer he made the decision to spend his time with her, a woman who worked nonstop to provide her kids with a better life. She worked twelve hour days, about six days a week. He could have moved on and had fun. But he had that whisper. And he listened to it. He spent time with her. Took her to work, ate meals, shared moments. Some key moments. In late Fall she was killed by a drunk driver.

Dave Gibbons listened to this whisper and he was given a time with a dear woman he can treasure for the rest of his life.

He heard. He listened. He acted.

Discerning the Spirit isn’t necessarily a hard thing. I think the Spirit speaks pretty frequently and pretty broadly. The Spirit is the Spirit of life, and where life happens the Spirit is there. Moving, shaking, steering, pointing. Sometimes in grand ways, sometimes in seemingly restrictive ways.

We all, I think, hear the Spirit. But not everyone listens, and probably no one listens all the time. It’s a dance, and we’re not very good dancers.

Learning to hear the Spirit is not a matter of getting up one day, hearing a loud voice, and then walking that direction. Hearing the Spirit is listening to the small whispers on a regular basis, that say go, or stop, or wait, or jump. Almost always these are little things, and they happen all the time, every day maybe. Ninety-nine percent aren’t of any particular importance. Just little things, bits and pieces of life that add a sliver of smoothness or a tinge of chaos.

Do we listen to that voice?

The more we do the easier it becomes to hear, and to discern. Teaching discernment is almost impossible because of that fact. It’s a habit not a lesson.

And sometimes it’s counter-intuitive, pushing us into hardship, out of the flow, away from our ambitions. If we respond, however, we find a boon, a participation with God in which he trusts to push us more, sometimes even in the direction of more struggle, so that on the other side of this we are truly and wholly free, free to dance and sing and be.

With the Spirit, the little stuff is all the stuff. It adds up and is a constant training to determine who we truly are and who we truly want to be. We are confronted with moments of Hell or Kingdom at almost every juncture, and when we choose the better path in each wee little moment, we are literally choosing life.

Even if that means people disagree with us. They, after all, can’t give us eternity the way God can, just a bit of wan judgment that’s really not all that threatening in the long run.

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