It is curious the way no one was allowed to spread the news of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead. The prohibition was obviously felt to be understood as temporary: after all, I read it again today as the text for June 14th. in David Strutt’s beautiful devotional book, “Sanctuary.” (Pray for David, by the way. I have just had word from David that he has ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and his leg is in plaster.)
As I read Luke 8 afresh, I was reminded of a time when my friend Howard and I were visting one of the fruits of the Lewis Revival. In the midst of conversation this lovely old man just happened to mention a time when his daughter had been raised from the dead. He did so in an unaltered tone from the conversation that had been flowing before that revelation. Indeed, Howard and I looked at one another as if to say to one another by our glances, “Did he just say….?” Right at that moment, the phone went and this is what Howard and I heard:
“Yes, it’s yourself. I have some boys in just now. I was just telling them about the time you were raised from the dead. Speak to them.” The phone was handed over to us. “Yes, that is what happened. It was quite wonderful really.” End of conversation! The conversation moved on to our host showing us a 24 hour world clock he had received after speaking to a meeting of over 37.000 people when he was in his eighties. That is the age God allowed him to start sharing things! In his delightful island accent he said, “Yes, this clock, it is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing really, if only I knew how to work it!”
How different the approach to God’s miracles today. When something like this happens, it is placarded across the Chritian world. The person involved becomes an object of intense interest, public property, to bolster the faith of believers, that our God is real after all and still doing wonders. They become a curiosity, used, perhpas even to the point of being abused like the elephant man or a circus freak or curiosity. The Christian world had no interest in them before and soon they are no longer flavour of the month. Today’s news, tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping. Interest soon passes to gold dust falling somewhere or some other such phenomena, or the person tours the charismatic church scene themselves telling the same story again and again as though God had only acted one time in their life in any way that was worth speaking about. God is cheapened and so are they.
We need wisdom to know when and what to speak about God’s wonders. This incident in Luke 8 is not an isolated one. There were other times Jesus told people not to share marvellous happenings or miracles they had experienced. The reasons may have differed from case to case, but in Luke 8, I think the instruction to silence was to save the young girl from uncaring attention. Sometimes we speak as though God’s glory is His only concern. Actually that is wrong scripturally. He cares for vulnerable people. That is part of His glory. Seeking glory at the expense of others is the glory a tyrant seeks. It is not who the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is.
Is there something to learn from all of this? We live in days when there seems to be a demand that we tell all and share all. It is probably a reaction to a time when people were told to keep silent and much hurt and harm went unnoticed and covered up. However telling of our hurts or even the wonders God has done for us does not always help, though we might think it always would.
Can God do something wonderful for you and trust you for your own sake to be silent? Can you trust God if there should come a time when you feel a check from His Spirit on what you are about to say, indicating you are to keep silent about an injustice, and not be constantly biting your lip, longing to tell of it? The reason may be because He cares for you and can see consequences of harm coming your way if you speak at the wrong time. It may be of course the other person to whom you are speaking, is not trustworthy. I have come across shocking things in the world of charismatic conferences involving world famous names. Leaders threatening other leaders that they will reveal what was spoken between them in confidence in order to bring them down. Even gifting from God – gifts of the Holy Spirit – can be abused, so never be overawed by a person’s gift into thinking it must mean they are trustworthy or that they are in a good place with God. You need to know both when to speak and who to speak to.
I happen to have a gift of discernment of spirits. It is not something I sought. It was just given when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit while training for the ministry, whether I wanted it or not. I got it before I understood it! I know the difference between when I am thinking something and when the Holy Spirit is revealing something about what is going on in a life or situation or conversation. I cannot turn it on or off. I never quite know why it kicks in some times and not every time I or others think it would be useful! I have never known the Holy Spirit’s disceernment to be wrong when it happens! It is a difficult gift to handle. For example God showed me not long ago that a minister of international reputation was demonised but continuing to minister in the charismatic scene. I know I can never say who it is publicly, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, even after the person dies, as I believe they will within a short course of time. I hope the person lives out their remaining time in the peace of God rather than in the torment of their troubled soul, but have no assurance from God that they will. I cannot know what God has now shown. I can hope and pray, unless he tells me to stop. Accepting a gift has imitations, and staying within the bounds of its limitation and the anointing upon it, is part of the fear of the Lord.
Keeping silent can show as much of where you are spiritually as speaking out boldly and truthfully. Sometimes of course God gives the go ahead to speak out, but I wonder if in today’s climate both in the secular and charismatic world, we are not hearing God saying as often as He is speaking it, “Be silent. Trust in me.”