The Swift and the Sure

 In All Church of God, Columns

Logo: For Leaven's Sake

By Sam Collins

I’m acquainted with people who seem to have little difficulty knowing which way God is directing them. They continually insist that the Almighty is clearly telling them what he wants them to do. At every turn they encounter either a burning bush or the audible voice of God. On the other hand, after fifty years of following Jesus Christ, I have yet to see so much as a smoldering hydrangea or hear the sound of God clearing his throat.

Not that I don’t get nudges from the Holy Spirit. But sometimes the meaning of those nudges is more complex and subtle than clear-cut and obvious.

Recently I grappled with an important decision, like a man wrestling with a particularly affectionate boa constrictor. I prayed, pondered, considered, and weighed the options more than a few times. This is not unusual for me. Restaurants have been known to change to their early-bird dinner menus while I’m still mulling over the breakfast juice selections.

In the end, God did not precisely enunciate his wishes in my ear or send a skywriting angel with a smudge pot to create an unequivocal message in the heavens. But as hours turned into days and days into weeks, I slowly grew sure that I knew what the appropriate choice was.

Over the years I’ve become increasingly convinced that clarity about the will of God does not come to everyone in the same way or at the same pace. Some people sense the movement of the Spirit quickly, like musical savants who can recognize a melody after but one or two notes, whether played on a grand piano or a tissue and comb. Others, like me, need the entire song repeated at least a half-dozen times before they can tell the difference between a Mozart sonata and “Turkey in the Straw.”

Isaiah heard the voice of God saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” His rapid response was, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa 6:8 NIV). Gideon, by contrast, put out so many fleeces in his attempt to confirm what God desired that it threatened to make Israel a land overpopulated with naked sheep (Judg 6:36–40).

The key factor in being true and faithful to God does not lie in how speedily we apprehend his intentions; it rests on how consistent and persistent we are in taking the time needed to be sure that the gut feeling we have is his Spirit and not the jalapeño-encrusted veal cutlet we consumed at supper. Where the will of God is concerned, the reward goes not to the exceptionally swift but to the reasonably sure.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Church of God Ministries or, at points, even the writer, but are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek to hopefully provoke a leavening bit of laughter and a smidgen of thought.

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