In his 1980 commencement speech at Spelman College, theologian Howard Thurman said,
“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
It was an appropriate word for those embarking on a new chapter in life. The truth of his words to those young women and men reminded me of the word Christ spoke to his disciples right before they began a new journey.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13
While these words were given at a time of graduation, the truth they contain is not limited to a certain time in life. Throughout our lives we will need to discern the way ahead. How will we share our gifts? How should we invest our time? This level of discernment requires deep listening and can take place at any stage in life. Discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit means peeling away the layered sounds of our ego and our fear, our lust and our woundedness. It is tempting to mask our desires as the Holy Spirit’s call or to confuse our longing to please God with the urge to please people. Parsing these impulses requires honest reflection.
The good news is that the Holy Spirit does not give up. Truth will no slink off to a corner and sulk if it is missed or misunderstood. That which is genuine and true will continue to nudge and whisper. The Holy Spirit will persist in pointing us towards truth. The genuine mark of the image of God cannot be eliminated. It remains and it will want to lead us to the light.
The Holy Spirit will always want to lead us to trust and faith in God. The Holy Spirit will put us into a position wherein we can grow into the fullness of Christ. You will know you are following the sound of genuine and walking in the way of the spirit when you see the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control sprout forth from your path.
May the uncertainties you face become opportunities for you to practice, grow, and celebrate faith.