I have found over the decades that the Lord speaks to me most clearly through a combination of personal experience and scripture. The latter generally interpreting the meaning of the former in a way that is Christ-centred and can provide the basis for Spirit anointed preaching and teaching. I have long believed that it is through such “prophetic” ministry that transformation will come to the Church in Australia.
Recently I have been under huge stress. With up to 20 online meetings a week, Zoom and WhatsApp, some of which I must lead with up to 20 faces on my screen, things were getting too much. When we add all this to my normal writing and mentoring, I was being overwhelmed. Then one day, over a quite minor issue, I lost self-control (Galatians chapter 5 verse 23) and got really angry with my wife. (All fixed up now.)
A few days after the above incident I was out praying early in the morning. Quite frequently I ask the Lord to speak through my prayers, preaching and writing in a prophetic way. On this occasion something came over me, surely the Spirit of God, and I felt so deeply unworthy of serving the Lord that these normal petitions couldn’t cross my lips. The sentiment was, “‘We are unworthy servants” (Luke 17:10). My heart was being assailed by the Holy Spirit, for, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew chapter 12 verse 34). Like Peter deeply embarrassed, I fell on my knees before the Lord (Luke chapter 5 verse 8). Obviously, apart from the grace of Christ, my sin discounted me from speaking for the Lord. This was a healthy experience, but there was however something much deeper to come.
Seeing the End
It was a few weeks after the above encounter, as I was out praying in the midst of a storm (1 Kings chapter 19 verses 11-12), that the precise word my wife had used to describe my anger outburst came to mind. This unpleasant but fair word was “fury”. Suddenly a bright light from God broke into my spirit revealing to me that my anger was the exact opposite of the truth of the gospel. There is no way that the heavenly Father could ever be furious with my wife as a forgiven and justified child of God. She, me too, will be “presented blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). This is the truth of the End into which believers will be immersed forever. Praise the Lord. “Fury” however is exclusively the fate of the damned (Romans chapter 2 verse 8). In my anger I had been led astray by the prince of darkness (Acts chapter 26 verse 18) to act out the exact opposite of the Truth as it is in Jesus.
Light from Light
Amazingly, just as Jesus declared of himself, “I am the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12), he says of us, “you are the light of the world….let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew chapter 5 verse 14, 16). Paul exhorts us, “you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians chapter 5 verse 8). By sharing in Christ, spiritual illumination has become as much of our identity as God himself “is light” (1 John 1:5). This is an incredible grace and one which is rarely appreciated or fully lived out. I thank God for the painful experiences which have opened up my inner eyes to such amazing spiritual depths (Ephesians chapter 1 verse 17-18).
We are commanded at times in scripture, especially in periods of unworthiness, to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians chapter 11:27-28) to see if there be any wicked way in us (Psalm 139 verse 24). The entrance of the light of the Word is painful, but it is glorious (Psalm 119 verse 130), because it is a re-enactment of the death-and-resurrection of Jesus. May the Lord speak to us deeply.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html