The Still Small Voice

The Power of Discernment: When the Lord sounds His warning


Chapter Seven, Part Two


When the Lord sounds His warning

‘This man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.’ (Acts 9:16)

Truth, as we know, is the best psychology. The Lord told Paul plainly right from the outset what he would suffer for the kingdom, not least so that he could not claim that he was not warned.3

Just before we moved to Shetland, where Ros was taking up the post of senior midwife on the island, the Lord warned me that there was someone there who would dig her knife deep in Ros’s back. Having come from a senior position in an NHS Trust where unpleasant backstabbing was only too prevalent, this was not at all what we wanted to hear.

Ros enjoyed an outstanding relationship with the women and families she cared for on the island, but it did not take long for the Lord’s warning to materialise. She very soon came under intense pressure from a particular source. Like Alexander the Coppersmith who did so much harm to Paul,4 these constant attacks took a huge physical and emotional toll on us.

The pain caused by the threats and misrepresentations was excruciating, but at least we never had to waste time wondering if we had strayed out of His will by coming to Shetland in the first place. The Lord had been gracious to give us a clear-cut call!

Fire from the North, the international prayer conference for the northern nations I organised, would never have come about had we not persevered through what often felt like unbearable pressure.

For a start, people were quick to say that the location was far too remote for an international conference. I had no contact with Scandinavian Christians, and my concern was that even if they did get to hear about it, the travelling costs might prove too great. Moreover, Christians on Shetland had never hosted a conference for people from off the island before . . . would they rise to the occasion or resist it? The battle with the ‘but what ifs’ was intense. I proceeded with the all-important practical preparations, but inwardly I was still hoping for additional reassurance to use as a shield against these fiery darts.

One day, on a ferry crossing off the island, the Lord penetrated my dark cloud and spoke three profoundly reassuring things:

  • “You will be surprised by who I bring to this conference.” (I was)
  • “My deep peace will come.” (It did!)
  • “When Moses was struggling to lead the Israelite people through the wilderness and was on the on point of giving up he prayed, ‘Unless You come up with us, Lord, what’s the point of going on?’ Notice that he never said, ‘Lord, You’re not going up with us, so I’m not going one step further!’ If Moses had said that, you would have heard no more about him. As it was he kept the door open just wide enough to give Me the chance to come through for him. I want you to do the same.”

Wow! God really does honour those who give Him the chance to work!

For Reflection and Prayer

Thank You Lord that we live to this day in the good of the decision Moses made to trust You to come through for him. Thank You that You ‘turned back the battle at the gates,’ and overcame all the forces that were ranged against him.

Forgive us when we speak and act as though our trials are too great when, in reality, it is our love which is too small. Help us to embrace the royal road of repentance and the gritty road of perseverance – for somewhere along these paths Your presence will meet with us.

Be with all who feel like giving up and withdrawing from the fray. Help each one to use the ‘warfare’ verses of Scripture as a shield against confusion and despair, and as weapons of faith to advance Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

3 David Pawson, Unlocking the Bible (Collins) pp. 825-6
4 Eg 2 Corinthians 11:25-28. Truth, as we know, is always the best psychology. Knowing how easily we are deterred, however, the Lord sometimes chooses to say nothing for the time being about certain trials that lie ahead for us!