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I want to celebrate the way the Still Small Voice sows a gentle whisper into our hearts that, if He so chooses, has the power to crystallise into a powerful word that echoes across the seas as if amplified by a megaphone. When strong cross winds blow, the word often appear to fade from view, yet somehow, like a frail sapling, it survives the storm and emerges to fulfil all the Lord has in mind.

The Lord gave a word on Årland, an island between Finland and Sweden many years ago that he wanted to bring together Scandinavian and British intercessors to pray together for Europe – and to do so in Shetland. Kjell Sjöberg himself died a year or so later, but a number of people, including Roger Mitchell, continued to hold the word in their hearts, and the time came when the Lord led Ros and I to live in Shetland and to act on that word by arranging a conference that brought people together from the northern nations.

God speaks not only because He knows what He wants to do, and wants us to draw us into the loop. Whether we call them ‘words of knowledge,’ ‘prophecies’ or plain and simple ‘nudges’ following God’s ‘love nudges’ not only fulfils what the Lord has in mind in the short-term, but often leads to other doors opening.

I am sure you can testify to many occasions when the Lord’s prompting has opened doors and saved you much time and expense. May we be constantly open for the Holy Spirit’s promptings that sharpen our ability to be aware of things we could not know without His direct impartation.

There are two key principles to bear in mind: ‘Consult before Acting’ and ‘Obedience precedes Understanding. I think of a man we used to know who was well into his seventies when the Lord called him to serve the Church behind the Iron Curtain. As he approached a border checkpoint on one of his trips carrying urgently needed supplies, the Lord warned him to move a package from its hiding place, and to put it somewhere else. The only place the border guards checked in his vehicle was the place where the package had been.

It reminds me of how the Lord showed Elisha in great detail what the king of Aram was planning to do to Israel. The information was put to such good use that the king was forced to conclude he must have a traitor in his midst. [2 Kings 5:25ff. Cf 2 Kings 6:10-12]

We are not psychic if we hear such things: we are simply in touch with the Lord who loves to speak to His children. It is not only about matters of state, therefore, or when someone is going astray, that the Lord speaks.

Visiting in London one day, I was delighted to find lunch waiting on the table when I arrived at my hostess’s house. ‘The Lord told me to have it ready for you,’ she explained. ‘He told me that you are diabetic.’ I was doubly grateful: for the food itself – and for the reassurance that the Lord knows my need to eat regularly.

I can think of various occasions when we have arrived on people’s doorsteps having actually felt a check against telephoning first to see if they were free. Since the people only returned home minutes before we arrived, we would have assumed that they were out – and something precious or important would have been missed.

This is not to make a ‘doctrine’ out of not phoning before visiting. It is normally only courteous to do so. on one occasion i had decided to visit someone who had attended our conferences before; it turned out that she had married someone Ros had known at a medical Christian union and we had a really special time together that we would not have had if we had rung first and concluded that they were out. I love the precision of the Lord’s leadings – even though I am often so slow to act on it!

Following His leading will not always be convenient. We were staying with some friends on holiday one summer, and had more or less agreed to take them out for a meal one evening, when the Lord told me to stay in instead. At the risk of appearing stingy we stayed put, only to have a most useful time with someone who dropped by later that evening.

This is worth highlighting, because if we do not act on some nudges immediately, for instance to reach out to speak to someone, the opportunity passes by and is gone forever.

Occasionally, something is sufficiently important that He will give us a second chance. As a young Christian, I was walking down the Metro one day in Paris when He told me to go up and witness to a beggar lady. I resisted, arguing that it would make me late for church! (We can be very devious sometimes in justifying our disobedience!) When I put my ticket through the barrier and it refused to work, what do you think I did?  Remember that the Lord had been teaching me a lot about these sorts of things? Not a bit of it. Instead of pausing to inquire I went and bought another ticket.

The ticket certainly worked this time, but when the train stopped at the next station the Lord caught up with me – and there was no mistaking the displeasure in His voice. ‘I told you to go and speak to that woman!’ I made my way back and found her still there, crying out for somebody to come and talk to her. It was another valuable, if not entirely comfortable, lesson concerning the interplay between the sovereignty of the Lord and His specific leading.

How different such leading is from insecure or overly ambitious people who end up “using” prophecy as a means of controlling their flock to boost their ego and to tie people into their vision. False prophecy has caused immense hurt and confusion – especially where it has incited people to make specific sacrifices. May the Lord give us the discernment to sift the wheat from the chaff, and to guard against “intrusive” words that would lead us to embark on unwise and “soulish” ventures – but may we be alert to recognise what He is saying, which may well require real thought, prayer and obedience.

For Reflection and Prayer

We should never underestimate what God can accomplish through even the briefest word. One day, a famous guru was startled to hear the Lord say to him, ‘You are not God!’ This simple but far-reaching word began the process that led first to his conversion and then to a wide-ranging ministry, alerting young Westerners to the perils of eastern meditation techniques, and to the close parallels between them and certain mind-altering drugs. [Dave Hunt Death of a Guru (Hodder and Stoughton)]

Pray to be open and attentive to His nudges! If He directs you to pluck up courage and reach out to someone, do remember to make a note of their names and addresses. God can alert us at any time then if He wants us to get in touch with them again – but if we haven’t He can’t!