How to Get Help from the Spirit
I am not a preacher, but when a person finds great success in applying the scriptures into his life, it seems a shame not to share his experiences. Therefore, I'm taking the liberty to write about those things that have proven very useful to me.
There is much evidence around us that speaks of God's love for us. One such evidence is shown in my article called "Do the Innocent Really Suffer?" But here, I wish to cover the role of the Holy Ghost, another evidence that God loves us.
When I use the word "help" in this article, I'm talking not only about how the Holy Spirit teaches us, and witnesses of truth and of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, but also about how He teaches us additional insight into the scriptures.
Jesus promised that He would send us the Holy Ghost to teach us, and to comfort us. There are various scriptures that speak of how this Holy Spirit will not only teach, but also comfort us in times of trials (see Luke 12:11-12, John 14:16-17, and John 14:26)
I used to pray to God that He would teach me truths from the scriptures, or send me the Holy Ghost as promised in the verses above. But nothing ever happened, when I asked in this way. Only when I applied myself - in order to solve problems or to get deep into study - did I start getting help from the Holy Ghost. Also, when I turned my life over to God, this is when I had some very spiritual experiences with the Spirit. One particular story follows:
Many years ago I did graphics for a printing company. This was barely before the age of desktop publishing, so some physical paste-up was needed to complete my designs. The person who did the paste-up for me left the company, and a new worker was hired. Deloris was very gregarious, friendly and intelligent. I first did my work on a special machine, then gave my work to Deloris who finished with the pasting up of the various pieces, then took the artwork to either the department or client that ordered it, or to the next step which was to prepare it for printing.
Before long, I noticed that people were giving her credit for designing the pieces I designed. I talked to her about it, and she said she would be more careful about placing credit. But nothing changed, and Deloris became known as the principal designer. She also became the expert on what my machine could do, although she knew almost nothing about my machine. One time, when someone asked her about the capabilities of my machine, she gave them an answer without consulting me. This resulted in failed expectations on the part of the customer, and I was the one blamed for the problem. Deloris somehow convinced people that she was now my supervisor, and people went over my head to consult on jobs with her.
I tried talking to her again, with no success. So I talked with the head of our department. His reaction was a bit low-key, and hard to read. Later, when I complained again, I saw a look on his face that clearly reflected disdain for me.
I learned later from a friend that from the next cubicle, he overheard Deloris talking about me, and said that it wasn't good. This made me realize why people who were friendly with me suddenly turned dark when they saw me passing them in the aisle.
Since talking with higher-echelon managers didn't work, I decided to do something I've done in other similar situations: I was determined to be myself, and let people see how friendly and cordial I was. I hung pieces of my own artwork on the wall above my desk, and always had a smile for people when they passed me. In those other situations, people always eventually came around, evidently noting that their first impression of me was wrong. But here, nothing changed. Deloris was clearly a victim, and I was the scoundrel. I could see that because she was so friendly and gregarious, nobody could even imagine that she was being as I had claimed. Each time I had complained, I was unwittingly confirming more and more the negative things Deloris was saying about me, and the patience of my supervisors was growing thin.
Occasionally, a project came up that called for talent from our department. Even though I was more qualified to handle some of these projects, I was quite invisible by now, and Deloris was the one who came to mind when our department was considered. Here is one such scenario:
My company had a newsletter, and various participants submitted their articles for publication in the newsletter. Since I was the graphic artist, I was also the electronic typesetter. When I saw how the articles were written, I knew they were in sore need of some decent editing. So I polished each article. I didn't have time to write my own articles, because I was editing everybody else's, as well as entering all other jobs that came our way. One day, Deloris brought me an article she wrote, and asked me how she could improve it. I wasn't sure what she was trying to say, because she did not know how to translate her ideas and feelings onto paper. So I asked her specific questions. Once I understood her impressions and intentions, I rewrote her article, and turned it into a piece of dynamite.
Everybody was impressed with her article, and the company officials made her the new editor for the newsletter. Evidently no one knew I was the one editing all the articles. When Deloris told me about her promotion to editor, I must have had trouble hiding the shock on my face. This was evidently fuel for an apology from her, because she confessed, "I'm sorry, Sam; I have to seek as much praise and position at work as I can, because my husband tears me down constantly at home, until my self-esteem is down to zero."
That was about the last straw, after more than a year of continual attacks against my character, and a continual loss of opportunities. I went home, numb, and according to my therapist, I was now suffering from a minor nervous breakdown (I had commissioned the help of a psychologist in helping me to deal with what was happening at work). I was thinking, "Now that she's the editor, perhaps I shouldn't edit any more articles for the newsletter, so they can see who they chose." But at the same time, I remembered that when anything bad happened, I was blamed, but when something good resulted, then Deloris was the hero.
So, finally, after my therapist re-vitalized my nearly extinct will, I did what I'm promoting in this article: I went to the Lord, and turned my life over to Him. While I prayed, complaining to the Lord, a distinct message came into my mind: "Pray for her."
My response was "What?"
"Pray for her, like in the Beatitudes: Pray for those who despitefully use you."
I said, "I can't; I'm too mad at her."
The Holy Spirit Teaches Insight
Before I tell you what the Spirit said next, see if you can anticipate what He said. I had never heard such a simple insight into that scripture. In the 23-plus years since then, I've asked people to give me their best shot in explaining Matthew 5:44, and that specific phrase: "Pray for those who despitefully use you." To date, nobody - not even the most seasoned preacher - has given me what the Spirit told me that day. Nor have I ever seen it printed anywhere. He said, "Maybe if you pray for her, her husband will stop belittling her, and then her reason to persecute you will go away."
I was shocked. I never realized that there could be something deeper in that simple phrase, something that suggested ways to improve the quality of life.
That night, as I knelt to pray, I steeled myself, and included Deloris in my prayers. My prayer for her was short and insincere. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done. But I did it, because the Spirit invited me to do so.
The next day, it was a little easier. After that, though still not from the heart, it became easier to pray for Deloris's situation at home.
I had not communicated to Deloris that I was praying for her; I was still in the "silent treatment" phase. But after a week, she reported to me, quite delightfully, "You know, Sam, my husband isn't belittling me so much, now. It really feels good!"
I was too shocked to say anything . . . at least anything I remember. I was amazed that even an insincere prayer was heard by God, and answered!
So there it is, folks: Turn yourself over to God. Put your fate in His hands, and He will teach you what to do. My turning myself over to God was a sincere act. Much more sincere than my prayers for Deloris. But sufficiently so, that I actually received communication from Him. I know it was from Him, because I am incapable of coming up with the wisdom and self-evident truths He has taught me then, and on subsequent occasions.
Another way I discovered to get help and witnesses from the Spirit is to study the scriptures, not just read them. When I read the footnotes (maybe not all) and make charts or maps of the scenes being described, I get new insight, a feeling of great love, and more witnessing of God's love for me, and what He has done.
Since the Deloris incident, I have received even more insight into Matthew 5:44. You would think it would be difficult to get more than what I've described, but God's infinite knowledge and wisdom can help that to happen. If you wish to know what I've received write me privately, and I will be glad to share it with you.