I often set aside time to spend in nature in order to listen to what the Spirit would like to say. As a mother of two young children, it requires advance planning and some amount of sacrifice for our family, but my husband and I both know this is a life-giving and restorative time for me to have on a regular basis so it remains a priority for our family.
Although I don’t tend to engage in conversation with others during these times of listening and being receptive to the Spirit, sometimes people will cross my path and they often seem to have been appointed to talk with me in that moment.
Today was going to be one of those days. As I got out of my car I wondered at the autumn beauty surrounding me. The birds were singing and the leaves seemed to dance in the wind, creating their own kind of worship music to the Lord. In the distance I saw a woman seated at a picnic table. I thought she looked beautiful there, so I took a picture of her to capture the moment. As I snapped the picture, something in my spirit stirred deep within and I began to feel as if I were going to cry. All at once, I knew that she had just been given terrible news: she had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she had come here to the park to grieve.
This type of supernatural impartation of knowledge by the Holy Spirit to our minds cannot be obtained through natural ability or study and is called a “word of knowledge” in scripture. We have many examples of this gift being used for strategic purposes. We read about Jesus speaking to the woman at the well about her private life, which leads to a whole town learning about him. Peter received supernatural understanding that Jesus is the Son of God when that fact had not yet been clearly presented. Elisha repeatedly received knowledge by the Spirit of God about when and where the king of Syria planned to attack Israel, each time enabling the king of Israel to be prepared and well defended.
Words of knowledge cannot be obtained by effort, but they are given as gifts of the Spirit for his specific purposes and at a time of his choosing. Sometimes they are given to prove the Lord’s authority or kindness to the world, sometimes they inform our strategy in ministering to others, and at other times they simply prompt us to pray.
In this moment my heart was deeply moved so I decided to come closer to see if she would like to talk. I approached her and admitted I had taken a picture of her amidst the autumn backdrop and offered to send it to her if she liked. She seemed to invite conversation and we began to chat. After a few moments she shared that she had just received some terrible news. She had just come from the doctor’s office where she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she had come to this park to think. It was a lot to take in. As we sat there together I was able to grieve with her, cry with her, and sit with her in her pain. I wasn’t sure how welcome it would be, but I asked if it would be okay to pray with her. She grabbed my hands and heartily welcomed it. We prayed together that day amidst the pain of it all and afterwards she asked if we could stay in touch. The next day I became friends with her on Facebook and found that she had posted the most beautiful story of being ministered to in the park by a “visiting angel.” Although I was not an angel she understood God had sent me to encourage her and she saw his heart was to prove his constant companionship and loving-kindness to her during this very painful time in her life. He is so good to send his hands and feet to serve those in need!
I have often wondered how many people we cross paths with during our day to day who need to experience proof of God’s love. Thankfully we don’t need to have a word of knowledge to minister to those around us, but if we create space to be available to God and listen he often gently guides in unexpected ways, ministering to us and those around us!
Would you like to be more available for God to speak to you?
What are some ways you tend to feel connected with Jesus? Is it through listening to music, walking through nature, meditating on scripture, or worshiping with others? He relates to each of us in very unique ways. Dr. Myra Perrine’s book: What’s Your God Language is an excellent start to discovering your unique spiritual temperament.
What rhythm would you like to build into your daily or weekly schedule to make space to simply enjoy his presence and listen?
Get some helpful ideas on creating intentional spaces to listen to God in our free e-book, Active Listening: Inviting the Spirit to Speak.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christy Marino leads Prime, CRM’s movemental prayer initiative which partners with CRM teams to accelerate spiritual breakthrough at the team, ministry, and regional levels, positioning them to more effectively catalyze and steward gospel movements. She lives in Brea, California with her husband Joshua and two daughters, Joy and Grace.