Guided by the Spirit
By Pam Cress of Pleasant Hill, IA, USA
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” —John 16:12–15 NRSV
At the hospital where I worked as a chaplain, a doctor asked if I would see a woman who had been brought in by ambulance a few days earlier. A bystander had called the ambulance after seeing the woman sobbing and repeatedly dipping beneath the water as she stood in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico. Since she did not speak and had no identification, medical staff members did not know what to do. They thought the chaplain might try.
I introduced myself to her. As she sat in silence, I joined her on the bench and began to pray silently. Eventually I left for other responsibilities, but I returned at the end of my shift. When I resumed my place beside her, I continued to pray the Spirit might help me know how I might aid her.
Prompted by the Spirit, I began to whisper how much God loved her and wanted her to be whole. After hours she whispered back! She whispered of seeking forgiveness in baptism in a church that believed one should speak in tongues immediately on rising from the water as evidence of forgiveness. She had not done so—even after two baptisms. She desperately wanted to be clean. She decided she would keep baptizing herself in the gulf until she had evidence of God’s acceptance by speaking in tongues.
As she wept, too frightened to speak aloud, I continued to softly speak of how beloved she was of God and that tongues was a gift not given to many and always for a purpose. I pulled out my pocket Bible, and together we read scriptures about grace and God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ.
She found her voice and her acceptance in God’s love. After her release from the hospital, she sent me a note about her new walk of discipleship and peace as she journeyed with a new community of faith. I offered my own prayer of thanksgiving for the Spirit’s constant care and guidance—even at the end of human knowing.
Prayer for Peace
Forgiving God, thank you for your tender, yet powerful love, which can overcome all brokenness. Help us seek the brokenhearted and assure them of your love and peace.
Spiritual Practice: Voices of God
What is the voice of God saying to us? Do we hear the whispers of God’s longing for shalom—God’s dream of beauty and wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the voice of God calling to us in faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise?
Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the pursuit of peace and justice? How does the call of shalom continue to come to you through the many voices of God?
Today, God, I will listen to the whispers of your love.