When God uses others for a message
I will never say we speak for God, but can say that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can speak from God. When we pray for the right words to use and know that when we are speaking that the words from our lips are not our own because we’ve chosen to be gifted and guided by God within us, then yes, godly messages can come from us. You know you are speaking from God when unselfish love is shared, when your specific needs aren’t met, when life is honored, joy is felt, and peace is gained.
Perhaps this makes more sense when I flip it. We are gifted to hear from God through other people. It’s not just an auditory gift; sometimes we see the joy of the Lord shining in someone’s soul.
Consider the face of someone you see whose soul is lit when they sing a certain hymn in church. They’re not glowing from showmanship. It’s authenticity. They don’t even know they’re shining.
Or how about when a ministry is done well by hardworking souls whose passion is so invested in what God has called them to do that your heart swells. Think about those who have spoken up in times of joy or in times of prayer. You hear the individual’s voice; yes, they are speaking; but God’s words are coming through them. You have heard God, or a godly message, from someone in church. Maybe it was advice. Maybe it was a pat on the shoulder. Maybe it was smile, a laugh, or an unplanned touch of your hand. Maybe it was praise or a prayer. Maybe it was a tear in their eye because they feel your pain through your hard time.
God works His love in a myriad of ways. Some we see and understand. Others we cannot. One way God works His love into His world is through His people. I see this over and over with the congregation I serve. Your church community likely has this, too.
Oh, it’s true that we Christians do and say things that should never be said. There are times we put our foot in our mouth, react rather than respond, or think of ourselves (or, actually, think from ourselves) rather than allowing God as the Holy Spirit to speak through us.
We can also hold to our agendas, not God’s. Rather than stopping and listening to God at work in His church through other people, rather than seeing a possibility as a new ministry or a way to continue an existing one, God’s church becomes our church. We know it’s our church when how we think things should go trumps the Spirit of God at work in someone else.
God is never done creating new things, new opportunities, and new ways of learning about Him. Some of God’s work in others is easy on us. “Yes,” we think when we hear a spark from someone else. “That’s a great idea!”
Other ways of learning about God aren’t so easy—or obvious—to us. Sometimes we have to struggle in our love for others. God is at work in what others are saying, but it can be tough. We’ve been inflexible. We’ve even stayed away from church or from certain people because to let God move the way God wants His church to move challenges our thinking.
But one of the joys in my congregation is true elsewhere: we can recognize God working in others.
Think about a time when someone greeted you before worship and you knew your being there mattered. Think about the quips and the unintentional jokes during worship. Think of the love shared when someone is hurting, or a love is lost. Think about the time someone looked at you and you knew they were seeing your soul, and the care for your soul comes through clearly.
That’s God with a message to you through others. And it’s amazing, sustaining, and life-giving.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on September 18th, 2019. Pictured Lisa Hahn (left) and Judy Mitchell (right).