Friday, March 28, 2008

Recognizing the Holy Ghost: Providence or Paranoia

I think most people experience and recognize the workings of the Holy Ghost to some extent. Many people talk about having a 6th-sense, or feeling inspired or directed to live a certain way, to do certain things, or work in a particular profession. Many Christians may even feel that God has called them into a particular ministry or service. I think the Bible teaches how imperative it is for all of us to tap into this spiritual communication on a daily and even constant basis. However, with our noisy lives, it sometimes can be difficult to discern the feelings and promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Old Testament describes the voice of the Lord as a still small voice:

1 Kgs. 19: 11-12 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, two disciples were walking on the path to a village called Emmaus when the resurrected Lord drew near to them and walked with them and explained how the scriptures testified of Christ and then sat with them to break bread. Then the scriptures say their eyes were opened and they recognized the Lord whereupon he vanished. Then as the disciples discussed what they had just experienced and pondered how it was that they hadn't recognized the risen Lord earlier, "they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24: 32)

It was the operation of the Holy Ghost within them that caused their hearts to burn as the Lord spoke truth and spoke of how the scriptures from Moses to the prophets spoke of Him. But the disciples were slow to immediately recognize the feelings of the Holy Ghost, just as many times it can be difficult for us to feel and recognize the spirit of God immediately. But, anyone who has had a child could attest to the warm glow or "burning" they felt in their hearts when they first held their first newborn child. I can't help but think that God's Spirit would be a part of the joy and peace associated with such a tender moment. Jesus Christ taught the following about purpose and work of the Holy Ghost:

John 15: 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
John 14: 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 16: 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

I have to admit, LDS meetings can appear rather boring and drab to the outside observer. While LDS meetings are warm, peaceful, and reverent; there is no loud music, no shouting, and there are no 1,000 W loud speakers. This is because loudness isn't necessary to invite the Prince of Peace. All that is required is truth. When truth is spoken, truth alone is enough to invite the Lord's presence and for the hearers to feel His peace and His still small voice.

Sometimes certain warning thoughts come to mind and I wonder if I am just being paranoid or if it's the Holy Ghost. Paul taught perfectly how to discern paranoia from providence when he spoke of the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal. 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

A close friend of mine told me of an experience he had which illustrates the difference between paranoia and inspiration. While driving down a dark, winding rural highway God prevented him from getting into an accident. As he came over a hill he saw a mental image, in his minds eye, of a deer in the road. He didn't feel anxious about it, or nervous in any way. But as he came over the hill he responded to the prompting and applied the breaks. Just as he came over the hill the image he saw in his mind a few seconds before was there before him; the look of the trees, the roadway, and the deer. Had he not been breaking he would have hit the deer or wrecked trying to avoid it.

I have found that recognizing the Holy Ghost can be a very individual subject. But, in general, I agree with Paul that if a thought comes to mind that is associated with anxiety, nervousness, and worry that is probably paranoia. And it's not necessarily right or wrong to act on these instincts. But, I have found that when a warning voice comes from God to the heart and mind, it generally is accompanied by the feelings of peace, patience, and faith.

1 comment:

PoeticIntensity said...

Sometimes I have my disagreements with your doctrinal explanations, BroZ. They sometimes can come across as quite opinionated.

That said, I often times, however, find your explanations intriguing, well thought out, and inspired. Such is the case with this entry.

Thank you for writing this. *great* explanation of how the Holy Ghost works.