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The voice of God? Or is it just your imagination?
Human wisdom based on what we know? Or is it prophesy? How do we know?

I recently met up with some friends who are church planting out of their home nation and will soon be leaving and moving back to the capital of their home nation. We spent the weekend together praying for the church they are leaving and for their future calling. For a while before I travelled there I had felt the Holy Spirit wanted them, after their move, to have a national role of some kind where they shared the Gospel and worked to inspire the church across the country, calling believers to be united in serving their own people. Although they might benefit from an official “job” with a church or organisation the key was for them to hear, receive and obey the Lord’s call on their lives. On arrival I found they had been invited to be the acting senior pastor of a large church in the capital. So the question of whether they should take the “job” was the main topic of conversation.

On the Saturday afternoon we went for a walk together through their town and out into the surrounding countryside. As we walked we talked and prayed.

There came a point when I said, “No matter what else you do, I feel it is important you walk the length a breadth of the land sharing the message of the Gospel, inspiring God’s people and calling them to unity. And by length and breadth I do not mean walking from the top to the bottom and West to East in some symbolic way. I mean going everywhere.”

As I finished saying that we turned a corner in the road and there between the buildings was an oblong field. It had been ploughed and the soil disturbed. On the far side were two men. They were clearly walking up and down systematically. As we watched it became obvious what they were doing. It was something I have never seen with my own eyes before. The lead man had a bucket. Every few steps he placed his hand in the bucket, took a handful of grain and was spreading it it carefully across the land. He was hand sowing seed. He was hand sowing the length and breadth of the land.

We all knew, instantly, that the Holy Spirit had joined in the conversation. What had been subjective (my opinion) had become objective (God’s coincidental confirmation).

My my friend went over and enjoyed a few moments with the sower and his friend. He shared how he was a sower as well. How he sowed the seed of the word of God. They laughed a joked together for a few minutes. My friend then asked for a lesson of how to hand sow most effectively. Good fun!

Sometimes faith is faith simply because we are trusting only the subjective. Insisting on seeing in order to believe means that a person has misunderstood faith. But it is also true that the one we believe in is able to confirm his word in the objective world through signs and coincidences. To always merely trust in our subjective feelings is a sure way to error. The objective test and the “is this in line with what we already know about God from Scripture” test are necessary brakes (or encouragement!) to what we think or feel the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do.

Exactly what my friends will do I don’t know. That is between the Holy Spirit and them. One thing I am certain of is that the Lord was speaking to them and confirming his word. My hope is that, even if they do take the job, it will not become a guilded cage for them, but rather a perch from which they can fly.