In the last blog I wrote about being open to the prophetic and it’s importance, something vital to every Church and every Christian. In this blog I want to raise the challenge as to how we can hear the prophetic.
Having grown up in a cessationist church with no expectation of hearing God except through a Scripture and the preached word, then getting saved in a Pentecostal Church and experiencing the baptism in the Spirit, followed by involvement in a charismatic denominational church, then independent charismatic, followed by new church charismatic churches/streams I’ve been on a journey of what it means to hear God.
Two or three years ago while leading a church open to and committed to the things of the Spirit, I found myself provoked as to whether I was really as open to the prophetic voice of God as I thought I was. It’s amazing how we can think we are! It wasn’t that anyone said it, in fact it had more to do with someone who struggled with the whole idea of prophecy, and it set me on a journey. A journey that was to have a dramatic twist.
I’ve heard and responded to God over the years, I thought I was doing it, but there are situations and circumstances that can make us blind.
I began to read, study and reflect afresh on what it means to hear God.
Then I went to a conference and while there attended a seminar on the gifts of the Spirit in a worship service – something I’ve always been keenly interested in. Little did I know, as I like to put it, God was setting up an ambush! Following some good teaching from the Word we were encouraged to get into groups, preferably with people we didn’t know, then wait on God and see what he might say. So that’s what we did – and for sure no on knew me. When people began to share, a lady shared a simple picture about a father and son walking on a beach, the boy had a balloon in his hand, but he had lost it, and was now upset.
Simple, but loaded!
We had been encouraged to discuss what any word might mean and pray for any who it might apply to, which we did. But as I left that room I was gripped, I somehow felt we had missed the point, and found myself thinking about what had just taken place and in a matter of moments, there was this sense of a conversation with God. God spoke to me saying I was the boy on the beach, the balloon I had been holding was gone and it wasn’t coming back. Then the thought/question, what would you do if you were that father, and this was your son? I found myself responding that I would get him another balloon, and with that I felt God say that’s what I’m going to do for you!
The balloon represented who we were connected with and a radical change in relationship, a leaving of our roots, roots rich in blessing and reaching forward into a new future.
Over the next few weeks as I shared with fellow elders we felt that God was clearly leading us to merge our church with another in another ‘stream’ – in fact it turned out that God had already dropped the idea into the mind of one of the elders. Over the next few weeks we began to explore it with the church. Again we found God had been preparing people. Time and again we found God speaking and confirming. In just over six months we had processed the detail and merged the church, and it has been proven over and over that it was of God – PTL!
It was radical and some outside the church wondered why we were doing it and did it, and the answer was simply we heard God and were responding to his voice.
Had I not felt challenged as to how willing I was to hear God through the prophetic, and we as leaders and a church not listened and heard, we would not be where we are today. If I/we hadn’t, would God be blessing? I think he would. Would it be God’s best? I don’t think so. God had something else in mind and he was working to get us there, and I’m so glad he did.
Over the last few weeks my wife and I have been reading through the Acts of the Apostles and we have been reminded again and again of the dynamic of the early church, a dynamic that needs to be recovered and maintained.
Through the journey I learnt again the need to hear the prophetic voice; to not dictate how God should speak, and to be willing to respond to it.
Was there risk? Yes, but if you want to serve God’s purpose and keep engaging with his will that will always be the case.
How willing are you to hear God? How open to the prophetic? Are you as willing as you think you are?