Sometimes these blogs arise out of simply musing on something that I feel the blessing of God resting upon on any given day, but sometimes I do feel God indicates with real clarity what I have to write about. I am part of the charismatic tribe, though there is much talk at present in that fold that I cannot hold my hand on my heart and agree with. As charismatics we can often erroneously think that with the help of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we should be able to see everything clearly, but Paul in the context of teaching about spiritual gifts and encouraging us to seek them, says in 1st. Corinthians Chapter 13 that even with all the gifts we see as in a mirror (in those days, polished metal or a piece of glass which gave at best a partial reflection). Real clarity does not seem to be the norm; clarity about some things perhaps, but not always about everything. Truest and fullest clarity lies beyond this life.
I have known a few moments of astonishing clarity when God has told me people’s names by the Holy Spirit on rare occasions or on equally rare occasions given me a sort of video clip in my mind’s eye of something that a person I am speaking to may have been doing earlier on that very day. (To be honest, such clarity scared me whatever it did to the folks I was speaking with!) Such clarity seems to come when it comes and not always when I wish it would – in fact it hardly ever comes when I wish it would and has usually come at times and in settings where I wish it wouldn’t, as I know it might not be well received. Such moments do not thrill me, but rather give me another grey hair. I have however said to God back in the mid 90’s, “Whatever, with whoever, whenever and however You will, work in me by Your Spirit to bless people.” Makes me think we should be careful about what we vow or ask; that could be the subject of another blog someday. Some of you might find your minds drifting now to the disturbing story of Jephthah in the Old Testament; if they haven’t gone there, leave finding out about him until another day. Actually, I felt the fear of the Lord after writing that last comment; but I will leave it in so that you know my thinking is imperfect and sometimes wrong. I have no right to counsel delay, so I will just give a warning if you feel drawn to that particular story by God’s Spirit: if you read it, it may shake you and disturb your peace: there are some disturbing stories in the bible which of course is all God-breathed through the varying contributions of its writers.
I guess if there was clarity all the time, then our relationship with God would suffer. There would be no need to trust, no need for faith. Our relationship with Him could become impersonal and robotic and our “spiritual lives” would shrink. I felt however today that when I asked the Lord about the blog, He took me back a few years to my Father’s death. In the year or two preceding his death there had been several times when it looked as though the end of his life was near, only for him to rally again. However the time came when driving to Ayr once more, I really did hear the Lord with clarity: He simply said, “Kenny, I am sending you to close your Father’s eyes.” I knew that it was time for my wonderful Dad to leave us and go and be with Jesus; the Jesus whose sin bearing death He loved to sing about; the Jesus about whom he had borne witness to hospital staff even a day or two before he passed away, asking them, “Do you know Jesus? You can know Him too. He wants to be our friend.”
Why write about this? Well, I think what my Heavenly Father wants me to share is this: the fact that on that occasion God spoke to me with unusual clarity about His will and purpose for my Dad, did not mean there was nothing for me to do. It did not mean there was nothing to pray. Along with other members of the family I prayed for the peace and the presence of God to be with him, and when the end came it was very quiet and very peaceful, a sad but holy and precious moment. Knowing God’s Will is not meant to produce inactivity. “The Will of God” is not the same as fatalism which makes our activity and input irrelevant.
I noted not long ago that when Jesus spoke in Mark 13 about the judgement that was coming upon Jerusalem, He added this word of counsel: “Pray that it won’t happen in winter.” (Mark Chapter 13 verse 8.) In the purposes of God, judgement was coming, but that did not mean there was no room for people to pray. Jesus was saying that people’s prayers could affect how and when the will of God, and the purposes of God were worked out. God wills it to be so. I find that amazing!
I hope you are living by active faith in the will of God and are not guilty of the charge of believing in “fate.” Accepting the will of God is not fatalism. In fact I believe there is no place for a belief in fate when we have a relationship with a Living God and a Living Saviour to whom we have become family and friends by sheer grace and the cleansing, atoning power of the cross. God’s children, the people of Christ, believe in the purposes of a God with whom we can have a relationship, in which our thoughts, behaviour, actions and prayers have huge influence and significance. Divine sovereignty and our responsibilities are somehow linked. That wee phrase on Jesus lips in Mark 13 proves that link. I am not saying I fully understand it, but it is there.
There are times in the bible where after many pleadings and warnings God says that even if the champions of intercession in the Old testament were to pray for a coming calamity for Israel to be averted, it would make no difference. For example, Jeremiah in Chapter 15 of the book that bears his name said, “Then the LORD said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, pleading for this people, I would not help them. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!” Again, this is a million miles away from “fate.” It is said in the context of an announced purpose of God to which Israel refused to respond in repentance and in renewed loving obedience to their God and to His ways. There are of course times when God makes an oath about something, and that does bring a certain unalterability into the equation, but that is a subject for another day.
“What is the point in praying any more about this?”Are you feeling such sentiments about some situation right now? Beloved, there is every point. May God encourage you to be involved in how He fulfils His plans and purposes in, for and through you, His beloved child.
Working with my Dad in the years when he was a baker in the family business, “Kelvin Dairies” in Possilpark, Glasgow, are some of my most precious memories. I hope you will enjoy being with and working with your Heavenly Father today and every day.
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