God Speaks; Are You Listening?
By Tanara McCauley
I was a new Christian, gobbling up the Bible and eager to serve the Lord. That opportunity to serve soon arose through one of the students who attended the same Bible college as my husband and I. The student (we’ll call him Drake) had recently moved to the area with his wife and kids.Drake was by all appearances a super-Christian. God permeated his every sentence and action. I had been praying for my husband—whose old friends drifted away from him as he drew closer to God—to find a strong Christian to bond with; and I assumed Drake was an answer to that prayer.
On a warm spring day, Drake invited us to his family’s modest apartment for Bible study. The meeting morphed into a discussion about sharing the Gospel, and through Drake’s animated passion we ended by deciding we would begin a Saturday street ministry of packing lunches and sharing Jesus with the homeless.It sounded like a great idea, especially for a shy person like me who believed that going completely out of my comfort zone would somehow show God how much I loved Him (remember: new Christian).
As we established the details of our newfound ministry I began to feel something in my heart—a stepping back of sorts. It was an unfamiliar feeling, but so distinct in its origin that I knew it was the Lord. I questioned Him in my mind, but the only response I received was a continuance of the uncomfortable stir which seemed to warn me.“Let’s pray,” I said. It even occurred to me to check with the Bible college administration since we were all students there.
Drake, however, rebuked me. “What’s there to pray about?” he asked, “God’s word commands us to go into the world and share the Gospel. We know it’s His will, so we just need to do it. It’s kind of like love. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do you have to ask His permission to love somebody?”It sounded right. And being a babe in Christ I felt a little foolish for challenging someone as mature and grounded as Drake. And even though the feeling in my heart didn’t go away—and the verse “pray at all times” (Ephesians 6:18) flashed through my mind—I credited my hesitation to shyness and accepted that we would go forward with our plans.
In preparation for our first outing we went to buy supplies. Drake suggested my husband and I pay since we had no kids and more money. I had no problem with that suggestion, but the stir returned accompanied by the verse, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21:24). I shook it off, not wanting to feel like I was judging Drake or his commitment.When we went out that first Saturday it was everything I expected and wanted it to be: amazing. I ate and talked and exchanged hugs and stories with people who were eager to hear about God, and happy to know someone cared.
The only downside was Drake. That internal spiritual nudge that would come and go became a constant whenever he was near me, and when he spoke my insides churned in some sort of opposition against him.The next Saturday I woke up with a storm raging so fierce inside of me that it made me tremble.
“God, what is this?” I asked. The verse that came to mind seemed to be in direct response to my question: Put on the full armor of God.I grabbed my Bible and prayed Ephesians 6 like my life depended on it, and I asked God to reveal to me whatever it was that was causing such turmoil. I didn’t get up until the trembling ceased and I felt His presence around me like a fortress.
We went out to the same place with more students from the Bible college (who had contributed) and started handing out lunches as usual; but when it came time for the men to go witness to men and the women to other women, Drake chose to come with the women.I don’t know what had occurred between Drake and his wife before we went out to serve, but whatever it was resulted in Drake shadowing her—and showing who he truly was on the inside. Things got very ugly right there out in the open in the presence of all those people who looked at us as a representation of Christ. Sparing the bulk of the horrific details, he even bit her.
My husband and the other men quickly contained the situation, then confronted Drake when we were back in private quarters. As the conversation ensued, and Drake’s inner-man became more evident to us through it, Scripture rolled out of my heart into the forefront of my mind to reveal everything God had been speaking to me:Test every spirit (1 John 4:1)
Beware…you will know them by their fruit (Matt 7:15-20)
I will counsel you (Psalm 32:8)
In my eagerness to serve the Lord, I’d circumvented all the warnings and gone ahead in my own strength, which resulted in a public display that brought reproach on His name. I also discovered later that had the college administration known about our plans from the beginning they would’ve stopped us, because they were already watching Drake and planning to remove him from the college.I learned several valuable lessons through this experience: 1.) to seek to please God and obey Him instead of esteeming men, 2.) to listen to His voice in whatever way He chooses to speak , and 3.) to know without a doubt that He does indeed speak to His people.
What has God been speaking to you? And, just as important, are you listening?