After receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in April 1974, I wanted to learn everything I could about it, what exactly had happened, who the Holy Spirit is, and what this would mean to me.
And so I read, studied, prayed, and studied some more, especially the Gospel of John, Chapters 14-16.
For Mother’s Day that year my children gave me a small Bible to keep in my purse, and every day I would take it out at lunch time to read as I munched on a sandwich. Every time I found a verse about the Holy Spirit, I underlined it in red ink.
(I still carry that little Bible in my purse. The print seems to have gotten a bit small over the years!)
One Sunday as I was driving home after church, I heard the Lord speak to me, very softly but very plainly. “Why didn’t you do what I asked you to do?” Grief hit me like a ton of bricks.
He had given me a word of prophecy for the adult Sunday School class I attended. But I was very new to the class and I didn’t know many people yet. Sitting toward the back of the room, when I heard the Holy Spirit’s voice I wasn’t sure it was real. But he persisted, giving me a short few sentences and nudging me to speak it to the entire class. My heart rate had gone up, my palms got a bit sweaty, and I kept my mouth shut.
I’d had no idea how to get the teacher’s attention, how to actually speak that word to him or to anyone else, much less the entire class. And so I had kept silent.
Driving on while the tears came, I asked the Lord to forgive me. And I promised, whatever the circumstances in the future I would obey him. I would use wisdom, understanding, courtesy as much as possible, but I would obey.
Believing that situation would come up again, I promised myself to learn how to actually give a word from God to other people. Than meant more reading, more studying, and more praying!
Then one day I came across John 2:5. Mary, Jesus and the apostles were attending a wedding in the little town of Cana, not far from the town of Nazareth, when an embarrassing situation arose. The wedding host ran out of wine.
How did Mary know about that? Maybe the servants told her, maybe a family member told her, the scriptures don’t say. But Mary then told Jesus, who basically said to her, “What does have to do with me?” But this was his mom, these were surely her friends, and she knew — she KNEW he could do something about it.
Mary told the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”Jesus did say something to them, they did it, more wine appeared, and the wedding day wasn’t ruined after all.
It was a remarkable and wonderful story, but it was Mary’s command to the servants that stuck in my mind. They became my commitment to the Lord then and there, whatever He said to me to do, I would do it. Speak a word of prophecy? Yes. Go somewhere? Yes.
While studying for this post, I found several good examples from the Bible:
(1) Philip was one of the first deacons. He was enjoying a very successful miracle ministry in Samaria when the Holy Spirit spoke to him, telling him to go somewhere else. And he did. When he did, he discovered the Ethiopian in the chariot and led him to the Lord. (Acts 8:26-29)
(2) In Acts 10:19, 11:23, the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter, gave him a vision of a sheet with unclean animals in it, had a conversation with Peter about that, then told him to go with the men at the door to the house of Cornelius. He did, and many people were born again and received the Holy Spirit that day — while Peter was still preaching!
(3) On Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, Paul and Barnabas wanted to go further north into Asia but the Spirit told them NOT to go. Why? The Lord gave them a vision of a man from Macedonia begging them to come west, to help them. They realized that the Lord was directing them to go there, instead of to Asia. And so they did. (Acts 16:6-10)
Many times since those early days the Holy Spirit has given me words to speak or places to go. Some messages are personal for just one person, some are for a small group, and occasionally for a whole congregation. These days, most of those words are published first in Esther’s Petition, then shared on other of my social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter.
When he tells me to go somewhere, even if it’s just around town to a particular place, on a specific day at a specific time, I’ve learned not to wonder why. I just do it. And even if it’s halfway around the world! See below.
I’ve written several posts about times the Holy Spirit has led me to go somewhere or do something, some ordinary things, some unusual. In every case the timing was important. Here are two that I’ve written about before:
Here’s one I haven’t written about before — one day the Lord spoke plainly, clearly, and with no further explanation: “Go get a passport.” Now, I had no plans to travel outside the United States, why would I need a passport. Why? I asked. He didn’t answer.
Well, I knew it really was the Lord speaking, and I’d learned by then that he always had a reason for his instructions. So I went down to the local passport office, applied, and within a short time I had a passport. I filed it away with my birth certificate, marriage license, will and insurance papers.
A few days later, while doing volunteer work as a writer for OM Ships, my boss Hans van Baaren came into my office and said, “You need to see one of our ships in person. Let’s send you to Iceland.” He was probably puzzled by the odd expression on my face!
I just said, “Okay.” Now I knew why I needed the passport! Not long afterward I found myself aboard the Logos II in Reykjavik Harbor, interviewing crew members and taking photographs for OM Ships online and print publications.
Well, there’s a lot more I could relate, but as you can see it’s truly been an adventure for me, being led by the Holy Spirit over these years. It’s one that continues.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. … 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:14, 26)
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatian 5:18, 25)