I’m running out the door, late, as usual. Across the street my neighbor is sitting alone, on his porch. He doesn’t look up. He doesn’t acknowledge me. Yet, I hear a silent nudge in my heart, saying, Go over and talk to him.
But, I have a meeting to attend. My neighbor is a recovering alcoholic who has recently left the path. His wife is forcing him to move out, saying, “I won’t live with a drunk.” I helped him pack a U-haul over the weekend. I let him borrow my car to take his son out to the park. He thanked me. I learned the next day that he had picked up a bottle of whiskey on the way back from the park. No, I didn’t want to go across the street to talk to him.
I went on my way and didn’t think much about it until I saw the scripture for this Sunday. In Acts 16:9-15, Paul has a vision. A man from Macedonia appeared in a dream saying, “Come over to help us.” This meant crossing the Aegean Sea and starting a new ministry in Europe. Paul already had his hands full with Asia Minor. He had meetings to attend.
In a few weeks it will be Pentecost. One of the things we rarely talk about is the most common experience of the Holy Spirit, the way we receive these little tugs on our heart. I believe that these diminish when we ignore them. If we want the Holy Spirit to be conversational, to have an open relationship with God, then we must intentionally choose to listen. We will go across the street when nudged. We respond to the crazy dream that says come over here and help.
This can be a most inconvenient relationship. It will cause us to miss meetings. Paul was successful in his new mission, but he had some tough trials during the start-up phase. He was jailed in Philippi. He must have wondered if the dream was just something that he ate.
As it is often said, we are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful. To be faithful we must be attentive. We must pause. Set aside our agenda and purpose-driven life. If we listen to one nudge, others will come. People will think us crazy. We will develop a habit of crossing the street for no obvious reason. And through us, the Holy Spirit might help someone.