Before I truly met the Lord in a personal way, I was pretty suspicious of this idea of spiritual revelation and communication with God. When I heard Christians saying things like, “I just wait to hear what God will say,” I always felt like that was simply something to say, like a mantra, so that the heart could rest at ease amidst otherwise inexplicable troubles and challenges. This idea of the prophets communicating directly with God and God directly inspiring Christian thought and direction seemed as likely to me as Santa responding to my Christmas list. That simply would not happen. This was my position when it came to the idea of spiritual revelation.
The emergence of the fruit of the Spirit is most often a surprise. The fruit of the Spirit is not a developing seed that we can observe as it grows. The seeds are simply planted and, depending on the soil, they grow. They grow constantly and usually without our knowledge. One of the fruits of spiritual growth I experienced was a total reversal of my old beliefs about spiritual revelation. In other words, as I “conversed” with God, God began to talk back in very perceptible ways.
What I mean by, “conversed,” is that there seemed to be a heightened response time to prayer. This doesn’t mean that every prayer was answered or that I received everything I prayed for. However, I saw responses to my prayers when it came to spiritual leadership: which way to go so as to better serve him and bring glory to him. I saw a shift in how these prayers were answered in real time. In some instances these answers came before the prayer was even finished. It is such an experience that inspired this series of reflections.
Early one Saturday morning in Daegu, South Korea, as I was walking to the first Bible study of the weekend, I found myself making my way down the usual list of intercessory prayers for family and friends. At this moment in time there were several members of my family, distant and immediate, that were encountering obstacles and challenges in their lives. I found myself asking God what I should pray, and how I should pray, for each of them. Before I could finish my “prayer for prayer,” my train of thought and inner-monologue seemed abruptly interrupted by four distinct statements. These statements were statements I had never heard before and was not in the process of constructing before they suddenly appeared. They came suddenly. Out of the blue.
It went like this:
Father, above all else, give me;
Courage to take you into the storm,
Clarity to find you in the storm and,
Joy when I discover you in the storm.
I was amazed at the clarity of the prayer. Not only did it apply to all of my family members and simultaneously address all of their distinctly personal issues, it related three ideas that I found so foundational and applicable to all Christians, regardless of where a person is in their spiritual growth. They were three things that I believe all Christians should be mindful of as we take each progressive step along the narrow path following the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Over the next three weeks, we’ll be looking at each of the three parts of that prayer: courage, clarity, and joy. Join us on Thursdays, and comment with any questions.