The Still Small Voice

The Power of Discernment: Putting Things Right


Chapter Six, Part Thirteen


Putting Things Right

‘This time he found he could look straight into the Lion’s eyes.
He had forgotten his troubles and felt absolutely content.’
(C.S. Lewis)[18]

Someone pointed out a place to me last year in the Faroe Islands that has apparently remained resistant to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It happened as the result of a group of over zealous believers paying a visit fifty years ago, claiming that they could walk on water between two islands. Their waterlogged feet not only made a nonsense of their boast, but created a spiritual blockage that has yet to be fully overcome.

Without falling into the pits of condemnation, we need to face the fact that whenever we claim that the Lord has spoken, when reality He has done nothing of the sort, we risk setting up a stumbling block that others may trip over.

At the same time, John and Paula Sandford remind us in The Elijah Task that none of us graduate in the school of listening with our pride intact. God allows even those who are seemingly very mature to fall over from time to time, if only to keep them from taking undue pride in their giftings or achievements. If our hearing were perfect, we would quickly become unbearably complacent. Others would undoubtedly start looking to us to provide instant oracles, instead of seeking the Lord for themselves.

We must humble ourselves, therefore, admit our mistakes, and, if at all possible, do our best to put matters right. It is the enemy who wants us to remain crushed by the memory of the times when we have got things wrong, and it is perfectionists who refuse to allow themselves (or others) to make any mistakes.

Perfectionism is a faulty model because it makes us strive to be or to achieve something that God never intended for us. To have high standards is entirely praiseworthy, but perfectionism is doomed to futility – the devil keeps advancing the ‘finishing tape’ a few meters ahead of our efforts to reach it.

Trying to live up to such misguided conceptions is like saying we want to run a four-minute mile in four kilograms! It means we are using all the wrong measuring rods. We risk being forever at the mercy of endless compulsiveness until we recognize it as an enemy tactic, and the very opposite of grace.

May the Lord help us to see how and why such obsessiveness developed in our lives. May we not ‘worship in graveyards’ by looking to find inappropriate fulfillment with the wrong people and the wrong pursuits. May He recalibrate our spirits, too, away from the pitfalls of perfectionism so that we can be more open to the leadings of His Spirit.

For Reflection and Prayer

If I cherish iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not listen to me . . .

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

(Psalm 66:18, James 5:16)

If we find that we cannot rise above these tendencies and strongholds, we almost certainly need the help of someone who is less emotionally involved than we are. To quote my paraphrase of a well known advertisement: ‘The prayers of others can reach the parts our own cannot!’ The question is, will you let them close enough to help?