How many times do we run from the task God has called us to do?
Not long ago, I felt the Holy Spirit impress on me to make a phone call, but a busy schedule was holding me back. Many of the things on my to-do list were godly things: taking food to a family, helping with a Bible study, and going to choir. However, they were distracting me from God’s will. As Christians, how many times have we done our godly agenda but not the agenda God has called us to do?
The person I felt a prodding to call was my Uncle Larry. He had colon cancer, and his health had deteriorated over the past few years. At first, I felt I should pray for him. I would wake up with him on my mind, so I would pray. A week later, I heard a strong voice from within say to call my uncle. But I had a full day. A Bible study to help lead. I didn’t act.
Acts 8: Philip and the Ethiopian
As I shared with my husband about what God wanted me to do, I had another stirring within. I was reminded of a passage from Acts in which the Holy Spirit instructs Philip to proceed to a particular road to intercept a chariot:
But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and proceed southward or at midday on the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza. This is the desert [route].’ So he got up and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship. And he was [now] returning, and sitting in his chariot … reading the book of the prophet Isaiah. Then the [Holy] Spirit said to Philip, Go forward and join yourself to this chariot. Accordingly Philip, [went] running up to him … ” (Acts 8:26-30 — AMP)
Just like Phillip, I needed to “run” toward my uncle. However, I had many obstacles in my path that day. I had to meet the son of a choir member to give him dinner since his dad was in the hospital, and then I had choir practice. But to appease the Holy Spirit’s overwhelming prodding, I decided after I delivered dinner, right before choir practice, I would contact my uncle. Surely that would take this spirit of urgency away from my soul!
Standing in the entrance of the church doors, I called my uncle and told him that I thought God wanted me to come pray with him. His reply was something unexpected. He exclaimed, “Well, get your butt over here!”
His reply was out of character for him.
I said, “I can’t tonight. I have choir practice; we are practicing our Christmas music, and we are starting now!”
My mind was racing because the next day I had a Bible study. So I asked, “How about tomorrow at 1:00?”
He agreed to the time. The next day, I went to see Larry, and told him how God had directed me to call him. He said, “Yesterday, for the first time, I fell on my knees and cried out to God and told Him I wanted to give up. I could not do this anymore!”
He said it was the lowest point of his life because his pain was so great he felt his purpose in life was over. But, he said my phone call had given him hope.
I felt awful that I had delayed in calling him. I realized I had almost missed a God assignment.
The Holy Spirit Spoke Through Me
As I sat there with him, I suddenly became fearful because I didn’t know what God wanted me to say or do. So, I did the best thing to do when fear attacks. I prayed. I began praying for healing and for strength for Larry to fight his illness. As I prayed, I had a prompting to pray for a person (no name was given) that God wanted my uncle to speak to for Him. After our prayer, I sat across from my uncle looking into his eyes and asked him questions – questions not from me but from the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor … ” (Luke 4:18).
I wasn’t sure where those questions were leading, but it became clear that God was relaying something important for my uncle to hear. I said, “Isn’t it amazing how deep and great God’s love is to bring us together to pray for this person that you are to speak to?”
My uncle looked at me and said, “I don’t know who it is. Each morning, I ask God to show me who I am to speak to and share a message. When I go for treatments, I have prayed with people and for people. I have tried to go back to some of the people in my past and apologize for any wrong doings. I just can’t imagine who I am to speak to.”
I told him that God would tell him. I also said I would be praying for a name, and if I got one, I would let him know. Driving home, I asked God to reveal the name to my uncle, and a name came to me: David. David. God had given me the person’s name!
I called my uncle and said, “It is David. Do you know any David?”
After a long pause, He whispered in a voice so soft I could barely hear him, “Yes, and he needs prayer.”
“Who is this David?” I asked.
He said, hesitating, “He is my son.”
Later, I found out that David was in jail, and had been there for a while. I had not seen him in forty years.
I said in a quiet and slow voice, “I forgot you had a son named David.”
“Isn’t it amazing how God wants you, his earthly father, to let your son know how much God loves him, and how He sent God’s love to him?” I told my uncle I would be faithful in praying for him to have the opportunity to tell David how much God loves him.
In response to my words, I heard only silence. As it grew uncomfortable, I got the impression that Larry did not want to talk anymore. I said my good-byes and hung up the phone.
Submitting to the Holy Spirit’s Nudge
I do know that God used my call to Larry to share His love for his son. Since our conversation, I have not asked about David. I am waiting for the Holy Spirit to lead me to do that if He wants me to. I was just the messenger, and it is up to my uncle to decide whether or not he will share God’s message of love He wanted to give to David.
I was honored that God used me in this instance, and I learned something about my response to the Lord: I felt His nudge several times but didn’t respond as I had my excuses. But praise God, He kept prompting me even though I was fearful to obey. Like Philip in the Acts passage, I didn’t know what I would find when I acted, but I got more details after I went ahead and proceeded toward the “road” the Holy Spirit was directing me down.
Many times we don’t want to act when the Holy Spirit stirs us to move unless we know all the steps and the outcome. But – just like in my story with Larry – that is generally not how God works. He gives us the small act to do – and then He opens up the rest as we move in the direction He has asked us to go.
I had to trust God. And even though I don’t know the ending to Larry’s story with his son, I was still rewarded in knowing that the Holy Spirit used me to encourage and speak to my uncle. I felt peace because I had responded to God’s nudging in my spirit.
My challenge and prayer for each one of us is that we would be open to the Holy Spirit and not be too busy doing great things to do the greatest thing that God would have us to do!
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)