(April 28, 2023) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share…
Over the years you’ve probably heard how certain Christians heard the Holy Spirit’s whisper and responded to some calling from God. How the Lord has used their response for His kingdom, let alone a local church.
Like C.T. Studd the great British cricketer who gave up everything to become a pioneering missionary to China, Africa and India… because he’d heard from God he responded, ‘If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.’
Maybe you also heard about someone who didn’t respond and missed out.
We would dare you to believe that the Holy Spirit is ‘for real’ and wants to use you in different ways to share God’s goodness with needy folk.
Now we won’t hear God thundering from heaven these days (well… probably not until we meet our Lord in glory – Revelation 12:10, 14:2). Rather we can learn to discern the Holy Spirit’s gentle leading, like a whisper in our ear, in our inner being.
Dare be listening
Heard experienced servants of Jesus speak about ‘that quiet voice’, directing about something current or soon to be? Prompting some decision-making?
Our own experience has been that it is always wise to respond to that ‘still small voice’ heard by Elijah (1Kings 19:12), that ‘gentle whisper’(NIV), ‘quiet, subdued voice’(CJB).
Yes, there are times when that sacred voice seems a mere whisper from heaven, but you can know that you know that you know it’s God. But note: This ‘knowing’ comes about through having developed a close relationship with the blessed Holy Spirit – that great friend whom Jesus promised in John 14:16NRiV.
As we discover more about the Spirit in scripture, how He spoke to and guided the early church, and we commit to kingdom service, we will know in our heart that He’s there for us! Jesus promised this when He talked about this great friend: ‘He will guide you into all the truth… and He will tell you what is yet to come’ (John 16:14), that ‘the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you’(v15).
Reminds us of a line from the refrain of C. Austin Miles 1912 hymn, In the Garden – ‘And He walks with me, and He talks with me…’
- Proverbs 3:6Message encourages, ‘Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.’
- Hebrews 3:7-8aMge warns ‘… the Holy Spirit says, “Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear…”’
Dare be bold
Of course He’s not talking to us all the time! But on certain occasions, special moments, especially when we need guidance or direction, He has something He wants us to do.
Our triune God –
- Has our interests on His heart,
- Wants His interests on our heart,
- Desires others’ interests– those ‘love thy neighbours’ – also to be our heart!
The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). This icon left encourages us to move in faith with boldness! Any Christian can minister to anyone… we don’t have be pastors, but we must all dare to be available however God wants to use us. And be bold!
A simple, personal example… last Sunday we visited a nearby church, having sensed the Holy Spirit wishing us to do so. So we dared to say, ‘Yes, Lord’ and went along.
Then the surprise! As we arrived we just knew that we – visitors, strangers – would be ministering to some people there. That soft voice in our ears, our hearts!
It was a great service, Jesus was lifted high and glory given to God. During the prayer needs moments, the Holy Spirit told me the person I (Robert) would be ministering to. Doing the right thing, I cleared it with a pastor… and after the service I was able to bless that person abundantly, all with the Spirit’s anointing.
Maureen too had the joy of ministering to a young person nearby. Going for after-service coffee we were also used to unexpectedly bless another couple from God’s family. How the prophetic word means so much to hungry, needy Christians these days! Again all glory goes to our loving God, not us!
Dare be obedient
Regarding boldly saying, ‘Yes, Lord’ we share some personal experiences here…
I (Robert) will promptly confess that good Christian wives often hear from God before we hubbies! Many times over the past 60-odd years of marriage when I said to Maureen that ‘I believe the Lord would have us do…’ she’d smile and say, ‘I sensed that six months ago – but I wanted you to know from God and then let me know.’ Duh! We guys can be dense at times and just ‘don’t get it!’
When Maureen and I would dare make whatever moves were involved – to a new city, interstate, new ministries, whatever – we always discovered God had it all planned and everything would fall into place. Even new secular occupations before we went fulltime in our ministry.
We’d know that we’d heard for God and one thing would lead to another… perfectly in God’s good timing! Unfortunately, Maureen always had to do the ‘hard work’ of packing up, putting furniture into containers and boxes.
I will never forget the year I was in Bible college fulltime and only saw Maureen and our young kids at weekends… Maureen made those family weekends fantastic! Unfortunately the college closed down after four months. I had given up a managerial position for college and was now uncertain what the future held, found a lowly parttime cleaning job and began Bible college studies at home! (By God’s grace, Maureen had a fulltime job… receptionist at a new mental hospital, was chauffeured to and from work each day in a black limousine!).
Dare be attentive
Then one Saturday, I heard that gentle whisper, ‘Buy the Melbourne paper, there’s a job in it for you.’ Now I never bought newspapers! But I did and went through so many pages of that thick paper, disappointingly dumping it with a sighed ‘Nothing there!’ Then I heard that soft voice, ‘Look again, Robert… you missed it.’ No thundering from heaven, just gentle guidance.
So I looked through again, page after page… Then I found it! A manager’s job… but in Adelaide in the next State, handling a product I know was beyond my knowledge, and another one I had never heard of! But that inner voice firmly said, ‘Apply.’ Maureen challenged me to send off a handwritten application (remember those days?). Within two weeks I had received an airticket and $100 expense money. Come Friday morning I hugged Maureen goodbye at 7am and was off to Adelaide!
I (we) had dared to say, ‘Yes, Lord!’ Turned out to be a full day’s interview but praise God I got the job with that international company and with the Holy Spirit’s help was very successful. Something else regarding being attentive to the Spirit’s ‘gentle whispers’… I phoned Maureen to tell her the good news – and the bad news: ‘Honey, they want me over here within two weeks. You’d better start packing ASAP!’
Maureen’s response blew me away! ‘Robert… I started packing as soon as you left at 7am this morning.’ Stunned I asked, ‘Why?’ (Or did I say, ‘Huh?’). Maureen had heard that still small voice whisper, ‘He’s got that position.’
The point here is that the Holy Spirit cares for all of us in every way! We just have to recognise His presence and voice… and dare to say, ’Yes, Lord.’ We say it again… with God one thing leads to another. That interstate move led to us both going to an evening Bible college, and on graduation planting a church in a time when no one was church planting.
Dare be movable
But we wrap this article up with a ‘sad note lesson.’
Some years later we were ministering in a country church and sharing prophetic words with the congregation. I (Robert) recognised a young man from Bible college evenings. The word for him included a clear challenge… dare accept a particular call from God. Chatting with him afterwards he told me he’d done nothing since Bible college, knew what ‘that call’ meant as someone else had prophesied it five years previous, but still wasn’t sure about accepting the dare.
Some five years I met him again, at another church. Asking if he’d accepted God’s patient calling to move on, he said he hadn’t. When I met him by accident yet another five years later he still hadn’t responded and now he knew that he’d missed God’s dare, and was saddened. I felt sorry for him, saw his disappointment, and comforted him as gently as I could.
A dream came to my mind… an unexpected one during that same Bible college time. In it, I was sitting near the front as usual and out-of-the-blue the president looked at me and asked me to find and read a scripture he wanted to share on. I didn’t move and he asked me again. Now I had clearly heard him, but having a new Bible, a different version to my old one, I wasn’t yet sure of my ‘way around it.’
I just sat there frozen. Then I saw sadness in his eyes, his face, and slowly he turned away to ask another student. Although it was a dream I realised instantly the president’s image represented the Holy Spirit and I should never be afraid to take on any dare from Him. I awoke, startled… but took on board the lesson learned. It was so clear that I should never be disappointing, never be afraid of accepting whatever challenge He would ask of me, even if I was a little uncertain that I could handle it!
Maureen too has had many challenges from God by that still small voice… accepting dares that took her beyond what she ever thought she could handle!
One time she sensed the Spirit preparing her for TV! Couldn’t understand what that was all about. Weeks later, out-of-the-blue her boss told her one Friday evening that he’d booked TV segments and she’d be on Monday morning promoting their products. A very edgy weekend for an inexperienced Maureen! But she dared trust the Holy Spirit and successfully did those segments for almost four years!
Even today we continue discovering what a friend we have in the Holy Spirit.
Dare be challenged
We share the above humbly, but pointedly: If you, dear reader, have a concrete relationship with the Spirit, know His soft voice and fully trust Him, you too can dare take on any challenge He proffers – spiritual or secular – even if it seems beyond you. With wisdom of course, which God will give ‘generously without finding fault’ (James 1:5).
Many scriptures indicate that God is delighted when we trust Him!
- Jeremiah 29:11, ‘I know the plans I have… for you… to give you a future filled with hope.’
- Matthew 6:25, ‘… don’t worry about your life…’
- Romans 8:28, ‘… God works all things together for… those who are called according to His purpose.’ Jewish New Testament comments ‘… from God’s viewpoint it is already accomplished, hence for us a certainty on which we can rely.’
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook
Thanks for this scriptural and personal exhortation, Robert & Maureen.
I too have known those definite times in my own experience when I heard that soft yet clear ‘voice’ of the Holy Spirit and it did not disappoint me.