Friday, August 24, 2012

Don’t Be Afraid of the Nudge

by Rev. Randy Carter

For years, I have used the word “nudge” to convey the reality of the work of God the Holy Spirit upon our lives. It is certainly not original to me; I am sure I read it somewhere though I cannot remember where or I would give proper credit. Nevertheless, the nudge that comes from the Spirit is that moment when you sense God leading you toward an action, a word, or an internal decision. Most of us can describe this nudge with both a spiritual sense and a body sense. That is, we know God is nudging our spirits and we feel it in our bodies as well. It can be a weird feeling in your stomach, like butterflies in the stomach causing you to be nervous. It can be a quickening of the heart rate accompanied by deep breaths trying to remain calm. Sometimes is a physical feeling of peace, lightness, that confirms for you that the Lord is leading your toward something.

When we get that holy nudge, there really is only one proper response: obedience. But, if we are honest, we are very often afraid. Is this really God nudging me? Is this truly the Lord leading me or just my own thinking? Could God be directing me toward this or is my lunch being disagreeable with my stomach? We are very often afraid to accept the nudge, act on it, and trust that God is leading. It is all too easy to talk ourselves out of doing anything with the nudge. I know I have done this many, many times in my life. “Not right now, I am right in the middle of work.” “No way, I’d look crazy if I did that.” “Let me pray on it for a little while longer.” Even when we have a deep sense of the Holy Spirit’s nudging, it is easy to dismiss it.

The interesting thing about these holy nudges is that the more we dismiss them, the easier it becomes to keep dismissing them. And, the more we act in obedience, the easier it becomes to act in obedience. Further, the more we act in obedience, the better we become at discerning the Spirit’s nudges. Obedience trains us to hear and detect these nudges more readily, and obedience helps us discern the Spirit’s nudges from impulses that do not align with the purposes of God.

Paul tells the church in Ephesians 4:30 not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God and in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we brush aside the holy nudges of the Spirit, I think we grieve the Spirit of God that delights in using our lives for His glory. When we dare to act in obedience to the holy nudges of the Spirit, I think we are filled with the Spirit to do the very thing we have been nudged to do. So, let’s take the chance on the next nudge that God is at work. Dare to take a step in obedience and see how God leads. Do not be afraid of these holy nudges, even the ones that at first seem outlandish. Check the nudges against what you know of God through the Scriptures. Share the nudge with someone whose faith you trust. And, then take the chance on obedience!

The Lord be with you all, Randy

Randy Carter is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hillsborough, NC. This article first appeared in their church newsletter, The Messenger.

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