Listen

November 20th, 2007 • Category: Book of Acts
by Tyler Connoley

Today’s Scripture: Acts 16:6-10 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tyler Connoley):

I often hear people complain about the fact that God doesn’t seem to speak to people in visions “like in Bible times.” How much easier life would be if an angel would come to us, command us not to be afraid, and then tell us what God wants us to know. How nice to have Cornelius or a man from Macedonia show up in a dream and ask us to visit his house.

The fact is that people do have visions and dreams today, and I suspect they aren’t any more rare than they were in Bible times. However, what we have in Acts is a record of the significant events in the life of the early church. Peter’s vision of the sheet and dream about Cornelius would obviously be one of those momentous events. Same goes for Paul’s dream about the Macedonian man.

In Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith, Reynolds Price recounts the two vision he’s had in his life. In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Price said something like the following regarding those visions: “I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some sort of mystic who has visions all the time. I’ve only had two visions, at very trying times in my life.” Of course, those visions were significant enough that he felt he must include them in his personal book about faith, just as the early apostles included their visions in the book of Acts.

Most of the time, however, people follow a more mundane leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This was also true of the apostles. In today’s Scripture we have two examples of Paul following a leading, and not a vision. Verse 6 says, “having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak.” Verse 7 says “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” I think these are examples of Paul listening to the gentle tugging that occurs in one’s heart when one is attentive to the Holy Spirit.

Visions and dreams are rare occurrences, but the Holy Spirit has been given to us as our personal guide. The Holy Spirit speaks in a gentle leading that often feels more like a gut reaction: “I shouldn’t go there,” or “I need to pray for my mother.”

Thought for the day: Do you listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your everyday life? Or are you waiting for a grand vision before you do what you know you should?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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