Last summer, I was at a restaurant picking up a to-go order. I noticed the woman who was ringing up my order was limping. Out of seemingly nowhere, a thought popped into my head, “I should ask if I can pray for her leg.”
“Haha, nope. That’s weird. I’m not going to do that,” I thought to myself. “I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me. I don’t even know what is wrong with it. It might be a lifelong condition. That would be uncomfortable! Where did that thought even come from? I mean, it would be a nice thing to do, and it might make an impact on her, but it could also be really weird, and she might think I’m crazy.”
As I drove home, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should’ve prayed with her, even to the point where I almost turned around, but the same inner dialogue began again, and I kept driving.
As you probably noticed, there were multiple issues with my inner dialogue. Why should I care what she thinks? Who cares if she thinks I’m weird? Did part of me doubt that God would do anything about it? Or was I mainly just concerned about my own image?
I’ve processed through some of those thoughts since that day, and I’ve also been thinking about what it means to listen to God’s voice and obey his instructions.
Parents have written rules for their children; don’t hit, always say please, ask permission before eating candy, etc. In the same way, God has written rules for us (I don’t like using the word rules to describe this, but that’s for another time). Don’t lie, don’t lust after someone who isn’t your spouse, don’t murder. Okay, I do my best to follow those. I’m a pretty “good” person.
But something that God has taught me through this experience is that not only do I need to follow His “written rules,” but I also need to listen to and obey His voice. Parents have written rules for their children, but children are also expected to follow verbal directions anytime they hear their parents’ voices. In the same way, God speaks to us and expects us to listen in the moment.
God speaks to us and wants to use us to further His plan. It might be something that seems small to you, such as a random thought to check on a friend or someone you haven’t seen in a while. Or maybe it's something uncomfortable like feeling the urge to pray for a stranger. Listening and following the guidance of God’s voice through the Spirit is not always comfortable. It’s not always easy or convenient either, but the more we do it, the more we will be able to see the effects of God working in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Who knows what would’ve happened if I had prayed for that woman, but it taught me that obeying God isn’t just about being a kind person and not doing bad things. It is also living in tune with the Spirit and following the directions of His voice even if they aren’t written down anywhere. As you go about your day, I encourage you to slow down, listen to the quiet (or not so quiet) nudges that the Holy Spirit lays on your mind, and pray for the courage and strength to hear and obey His voice even if it is inconvenient or uncomfortable.