The kindness of the woodshed
“Close your eyes.”
I closed them, and I assume everyone else in the room did also, but since my eyes were closed I can’t really prove it.
I was participating in an exercise in hearing from God. The person leading the exercise went on to say that someone in the room would receive a tap on the shoulder. Everyone else would be listening for what the Holy Spirit had to say to that someone, without us knowing who it was. These exercises are usually rather fun, and they provide low-risk practice for those who are just beginning to understand that God really does love to communicate with His kids.
As I sat I heard a short sentence. I waited quietly, in case there was more.
After a minute or two, the leader asked who heard something and began to wander the room, offering the microphone to those who’d received words.
And that is where I found myself digging in my heels.
It’s not like it’s the first time it had ever happened, but somehow this time I was keenly aware of the situation. This time it was in my face, staring me down.
Oh my word…why do I have issues with having my voice amplified?
Now let me be clear. It’s not an issue across the board. When I am in front of a group of people for the purpose of speaking, I use a microphone. When I’ve done stage work, I use a microphone. There are planned times when it’s just practical: if I don’t use a microphone, people won’t be able to hear what they need to hear. I’m quite fine with that. If you hand me a microphone, I’ll use it.
This, however, was different. I had to decide I had something to say and then voluntarily step up and take the microphone and say it. Not because it was my turn, but simply because I had something important enough to say.
I sat and listened to what others had heard. It didn’t take me long to talk myself out of what I’d heard, because it didn’t fit at all with what others heard. Whew, good thing I didn’t open my mouth!
Fast forward to later in the evening. I found myself standing in front of the woman who had been tapped on the shoulder. All those words the others had spoken were for her. I hadn’t offered what I’d heard, so she had no idea I’d heard anything at all. She began to describe what she was seeing and hearing while others were listening to the Spirit for her.
I felt the color drain from my face. The word I’d been given was a direct instruction that explained to her what to do with what she had seen at that moment. It was precise and accurate and had I given it, it would have been exactly on time.
But I didn’t. So it wasn’t.
I looked at her and apologized. I then told her what I’d heard. Her eyes got big.
“I am so, so sorry,” I said. “I should have spoken up and I didn’t. Please forgive me.”
“You were stealing my blessings!” she teased with a smile.
Ouch. “You are right. That is an absolutely correct way to put it. Yes, I was, and I’m so sorry.”
She was forgiving and good-natured about it. I smiled, but inwardly I was heartbroken. How many times have I done this? I don’t even know.
And as the evening came to a close, I knew the entire incident constituted a sobering trip to the woodshed for me.
This needs to go. This is not tolerable anymore. You’ve come a long way, but you still have issues with your voice. They work against you, not for you. They work against Me.
There was nothing to say to that other than “yes, Sir.”
I know it’s not about hearing the sound of my own voice amplified. That’s weird, but not enough to make me refuse to spontaneously volunteer for amplification. There is something different wrapped up in this.
I also know that the timing of this isn’t accidental. God knew exactly what was going to happen and how I would respond. And He knew how to let it become a bucket of ice water in my face to wake me up to the fact that it’s a problem that actually affects others. Until I felt pain over it, I wasn’t likely to understand how much of a problem it is or be willing to receive correction.
I’m not quite sure how to correct it. Just making myself do it doesn’t correct it. It addresses the behavior, but not the issue that drives the behavior, and somehow I think He’s after more than forced obedience in this.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not about behavior management.