I grew up among whispering live oaks and pines. I scampered with other kids into the woods or frolicked with them among the tree cluster in our yard. When no one else could play, I climbed into my favorite oak and imagined myself queen of a living castle. In my tropical state, I could enjoy those branches year-round with one caveat.

Florida is the lightning capital of the world. At the first crack of a thunderstorm, my mom insisted we rush indoors, unplug all appliances, and stay off the telephone. Our desire to play often outweighed our fear of a strike. We tended to dally before responding to the warning. Another page or two in my book before leaving my perch in the oak. A few more minutes in the woods.

The rumble grew. Black skies burst into a torrent, drenching me as I ran down the muddy road toward home. A crash resounded with a brilliant streak in the next door lot. Splinters flew as a smoking tree split in half. I paddled my hands and feet through the sheets of rain until my sneakers sloshed onto the front porch. My tee shirt and shorts clung to my skin like plastic wrap.

Mom repeated her advice about hearkening to the first sign. Thunder offers directions. Listen to them.

Unlike thunder, the Lord tends to offers us gentler and more subtle directions. His signs might include scripture, things happening around us, or a message spoken to us from His servants. Not every rumble is a message from God, but He provides us with His Spirit to discern them and guide us.

I still get engrossed in play. Watch another hour of television. Sleep a few more minutes. Browse the internet. Sometimes God encourages extra relaxation. Occasionally, a faint whisper into my heart advises me to shorten my recreation and make more time for prayer. Connection with the Lord’s discernment depends on a healthy habit of prayer and meditation. I must choose to resist the distractions in order to listen to the Holy Spirit.

After morning prayer and worship, I recycled some containers at the mall today. I felt free to browse through a few sale racks. After a while, an inner nudge reminded meI didn’t need anything and indicated it was time to leave.  I walked outside to greet an inky sky. Thunder rumbled across the parking lot. I strolled past the oak-shaded spots and climbed into my car. Two initial drops of rain hit my windshield, but I drove out of the storm’s path before the downpour began.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for Your guidance, as it protects me from graver threats than lightning. Lord, please keep me steadfast in prayer and train my ears to stay open. Let my soul be drenched with each loving message You whisper. I don’t want to miss a single word.

 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

“pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18). 

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground”(Psalm 143:10).

Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

 I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days…And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:28-29,32).