Led by the Spirit, how does that work?

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons – mature children – of God. (Romans 8:14)

What does that look like, really? someone asked me recently. How does it work?

Here’s an example... Last Wednesday evening I left a class at church to drive home. Nearing West Palmetto Street, I began “knowing that I knew what I knew” – I wasn’t supposed to go home yet.

But if not home, then where? I wondered. I didn’t know anyone I could just drop in on, without prior notice. I had eaten supper before going to class, but perhaps the McDonald’s at I-95? Or the Huddle House near there?

No, not there, I felt in my gut. So I turned left on Palmetto, waiting for some sort of direction from the Holy Spirit. I live just three minutes from church so it didn’t take long to reach the driveway to my condo, but I knew I was supposed to keep going on towards town.

When I recognized Celebration Boulevard just ahead, I sensed in my spirit that I should turn right, and so I did. And suddenly I knew my destination – another McDonald’s, the one at South Cashua.

I was familiar with that place. During the week after Hurricane Matthew I had spent quite a bit of time there praying with people: folks whose electricity was out, exhausted hospital workers, linemen coming to and from repairing downed power lines, not to mention the weary McDonald’s staff themselves. Although my own power was also out for some days, I had plenty of food and water at home, I wasn’t there for that.

No, the Lord had sent me to that McDonald’s, one of the few places still with electricity and water, to encourage and pray for tired, worried, needy people. The lines were always long, the faces usually long too – there were plenty of opportunities to pray.

And Wednesday evening I had a gut feeling that I would find a needy person to pray for at McDonald’s. While the drive-through was busy, there were no other customers inside. Wondering if the cashiers and cooks were the reason for my visit, I took an order of french fries to a table and sat down.

I prayed as I nibbled, asking the Lord to bless everyone in the building and drive-through, to draw them to himself and meet every need, body, soul and spirit. Several other customers came in as I sat there but none seemed to be a specific prayer target.

I was down to my last few fries when a young man came from behind the counter out into the restaurant, talking on a cell phone. Going by the uniform he was wearing I thought he was probably the assistant manager. Around and around he walked, all the while talking on his phone. Then the voice of the Holy Spirit spoke plainly, “He’s the one.”

The next time he came near enough, I motioned for him to come sit with me. Putting his phone call on hold, he slipped into the booth with a polite, questioning expression on his face. He probably expected a complaint of some kind. I explained that I would like to pray for him, and asked if he believed in Jesus. He said yes, and told me his name.

I asked if there was anything specific he needed prayer for, and he became quiet and thoughtful for a moment or two. Then in a few sentences he shared a worrisome situation that had arisen about his job and his concern for his future with the company. I extended my hand, he took it and we prayed together about all that.

I ate supper at home before I came, I told him, but the Lord loves you very much, he wants the best for you, and he sent me here just to pray for you. He thanked me, I said you’re very welcome, and came home.

That’s how it works, being led by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it’s words, sometimes it’s knowing that you know what you know, sometimes it’s a gut feeling. The Lord can get his directions across to you in a variety of ways – if you’re listening, and if you’re willing to obey him. It may take some practice.

Also see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/encounters/

Right place, right time…

FRIENDS-TALK“We owe the world an encounter with the Holy Spirit.”

I didn’t understand just what that meant when I first heard it. I’m getting the idea.

One Sunday afternoon I was sitting in my easy chair with the TV on, reading a book and petting my cat when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Go to Barnes & Noble.”

Hmm, I wondered. I had plenty of books to read, why go to Barnes & Noble? The words came again, “Go to Barnes & Noble, go NOW.” So I got my purse and went.

I wandered around for a few minutes observing the other shoppers but not meeting anyone I knew, before picking out an inexpensive book. Still wondering why I was there, I made my way over to the coffee shop, paid for a cup of coffee and the book, then settled at a table facing the outside door.

Letting my coffee cool a little, I flipped open the book when clear as a bell, the Lord spoke again, “Get your nose out of that book.” Oh wow, I thought, that was blunt!

So I closed the book and slowly sipped my coffee, keeping an eye on the several entry ways into the coffee shop – and then I saw her, an older lady I occasionally ran into at community events. Her name was Elfie.

Spotting me about the same time, she brought her cup of coffee over to my table, and for the next hour Elfie poured out her heart to me. She said, “I know we don’t believe the same way on everything, but I do believe in prayer. Would you pray for me?”

She was about to go overseas on vacation, but on the way she planned to stop in New York where her daughter was in the hospital. Elfie was very worried about her. Sitting there in Barnes & Noble I prayed for Elfie and for her daughter.

We chatted a few more minutes, finished our coffee and went our separate ways, me to my car, her on into the Mall. I never saw Elfie again. She died last year.

I had a lot to think about on my drive home. Suppose I had ignored the Lord’s voice? Suppose I had put off going until later? I would have missed seeing Elfie.

I would have missed the opportunity to bless her, and to be blessed myself by obeying the Lord. Because I know, that I know, what I know — God wanted to help Elfie and her daughter, and he wanted to use me to do it.

That singular encounter made me mindful of how much the Lord loves people. It sharpened my spiritual ears and quickened my response time to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

And it changed the character of the encounters I have with people. That was the first time I had ever prayed for someone out in public, not in a church, or on the phone, or in the privacy of a home. But it was the first of many “right time, right place” encounters with the Holy Spirit since that day.