Testing the spirits- Nate

1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This past Sunday we experienced the presence of the Spirit of God in our worship together. Who is like our God, that dwells with the lowly?

In my preparation for teaching on depression, I was deeply concerned that the content of the talk or perhaps even my delivery, might come across insensitive to the place that many find themselves. As a result, I found myself praying for God’s heart on depression. Asking that God would replace my own feelings toward depression with what “Word” God might have for His body within Genesis. I was continually submitting myself to the Spirit of God, asking for direction and an openness to whatever God might want to do.

In the nine o’clock service, I sensed a spirit of openness to the message. After the service, I was able to have a few significant conversations that affirmed to me that God, in fact, was present and was speaking a “Word” to His children. But, after the sanctuary had cleared, I began to feel an anxiety start to come over me as the eleven o’clock hour approached. I was concerned about having attitude of “just doing it all over again” and of me not actually being in a place of submission to what God might want to do differently for the next service. I began to feel this sense of antagonism toward the message, especially concerning the Biblical texts that dealt with spiritual authority and advocating for others (John 12 and Matthew 8).

As I began the eleven o’clock talk, part of me was fixated on this “spirit of antagonism” to the message. So, there I was, standing in front of everybody, on stage, recognizing this feeling and I began to verbally process. You can hear it on the podcast, I said something to the effect of sensing “antagonism in the room” after the Psalm 91 interpretive dance/ballet expression. I then moved on, talked through what I had prepped for the message, the anxiety dissipated and I again felt God’s presence throughout.

But, after the service, I was unsettled about what I had felt in the beginning, when I took the stage. My statement about “antagonism” was later addressed by two people I trust, one in conversation and the other in an email. They expressed to me very clearly that they had sensed quite the opposite of what I had said. They said they had sensed an openness in the room and not antagonism. When I heard their words I was immediately challenged deep in my heart. I did not know why. How did I get this wrong? What was I responding to that they, clearly, were not?

So, I inquired of God. I asked God why I had sensed this other “spirit”. His response to me was shocking.

I heard God say the word: “you were reaching”. This was accompanied by a feeling of “being called out”. I sat with this for a while in a contemplative state and felt God correcting me and comforting me, all at the same time. God was teaching me to not over-reach His work. To not over-reach or try to muster something in my own strength or my own influence. God reassured me that simply lifting up Jesus is enough and that the Spirit of God applies the truth of His Word to people’s hearts. That it is God’s work and God’s responsibility to draw people unto Himself.

There was antagonism in the room but what I didn’t realize is that it was coming from me. I was trying to run the show. I had a specific response to the message in mind. I was looking for a specific response that would show me the move of the Spirit of God. And God was settling me into a place of submission, saying ” Nate, I’ve got this!”.

Being reminded by Him that I am in His capable hands brought me Shalom.

I am so thankful for the honesty of the responses that challenged me and encouraged me to engage with God around this “other spirit”. To ask “God what are you saying to me?” And in His response to be reminded that God has a plan to care for, deliver and prosper His people in just the perfect way. And this has helped me to trust that His care and discipline of me, in fact, is a sign of His great love.