Well, if all goes to plan (qualified by James 4:15) this time next week Jacqui and I will be in Washington DC. Essentially a holiday with the opportunity to meet up with Jacqui’s family in East Liverpool Ohio and possibly in Atlanta during a stopover. Her father is American and we will be visiting his grave in West Virginia.
Moreover, it gives us an opportunity to meet up with the folk from Christ Church, Charlottesville in Virginia, a university town 120 miles to the south west of Washington. Just two years ago their bishop helped open our Ministry Centre and Bishop Shannon now suggests we link up with this large evangelical church in his Diocese.
At this stage I am not sure what this means but I sense that the Holy
Spirit is somehow involved in all this. My experience is that he
often works most effectively through our intuition. We are not quite sure why we have come to a certain conclusion but we sense it to be right nevertheless.
A college friend of mine, now a senior consultant psychiatrist, came up to speak at a service here at Christ Church way back in 1999. He was telling me, possibly in an unguarded moment, that he normally makes his diagnosis of a new patient within 10 seconds and spends the rest of the consultation trying to justify his intuition.
He’s in good company here. No less a person that Bill Gates proclaims
“Often you have to rely on intuition.” For if the truth be known,
much of our mental process goes on without our being conscious of it.
Often we have made our mind up even before our minds have been engaged!
This insight can be critical, for our subconscious often processes information better than our conscious mind does.
Last Thursday you may have heard “In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg” on Radio 4. The learned panel discussed King Solomon the ruler from the Old Testament renown for his wisdom – although strangely he finished a failure through lack of judgment (“all those foreign women!”). But nevertheless “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”
1 Kings 4:29.
The key words here are “God gave.” But this was a particular gift given in grace by God to a special man at a critical time for a particular purpose. But now that Jesus is raised from the dead this Holy Spirit inspired gift is available for anyone who has decided to follow Jesus. Any disciple can access this gift of the Holy Spirit.
All we do is ask. Just read James 1:5.
Clearly an important component of wisdom is intuition, a sixth sense even. It may be a gift but one nevertheless to be developed and
practiced. For we need to learn to think with the mind of Christ.
Regular Bible reading, along with some reflection, has an important part to play here – more goes in than we sometimes realize. Intuition doesn’t come from nowhere and so we need to train our minds.
I often wonder what was happening in the apostle Paul’s mind as he travelled with his companions across Phrygia and Galatia in Acts 16 when the Holy Spirit kept him from preaching the word in the province of Asia. Then, one verse later, the Holy Spirit would not allow them to cross the border over into Bithynia.
At the time it seemed the logical thing to do – it was what they were planning and it made perfect sense. But clearly they sensed that this was not the way God was leading them. It may have been no more than a holy hunch, a sense that this is not where God is taking us.
I guess what we need here is confidence in our own intuition, to recognise that this is how often God works. Otherwise we face the ever-present problem, especially in areas of church life, of paralysis by analysis.
So in the words of the prayer book collect for Pentecost we simply pray to God for right judgment in all things, not least when to follow our intuition.
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.