The Right Answer. One day ten years ago, I explained to my four-year-old that God had made her unique, like no one else ever created, with special gifts for serving him. “What’s my special gift?” she asked.
I was inclined to tell her that she’d find out as she got older. Instead, the Holy Spirit prompted me to say, “Why don’t you ask Jesus yourself?” She toddled off to her room and returned later to report: “He told me my special gift is kindness.”
In the last ten years, that word has stayed with my daughter and has borne fruit. Without being prompted, she has sought opportunities to exercise and develop her gift. Had I merely told her to wait, or even said that God had given her an especially kind heart, it would not have made the same impression. I believe the Holy Spirit inspired me to have her pray that day so that she might get the message straight from him.
—A.B., Jacksonville, Florida
Comfort and Assurance. Recently my husband brought up some areas of dissatisfaction in his life and mine that were weighing him down. Though it wasn’t his intention to hurt me, his remarks left me feeling very sad, angry, and cut down. I didn’t even want to be near him.
Realizing that my reaction was not what God wanted, I prayed all day that the Holy Spirit would enlighten my heart to understand what was happening and what to do. As I turned to him, I was reminded that the Father loves me deeply and that Jesus’ redemption has made me beautiful in his sight, despite my sin and weakness. Comforted and reassured, I was able to stop judging my husband and to forgive him. I also prayed that the Holy Spirit would help him with his needs.
Later, when my husband and I spoke, he asked forgiveness for his harsh words. We promised to help each other overcome our areas of weakness, and we prayed together.
—J.N., Baltimore, Maryland
A Change of Heart. I saw myself turning into a nagging mother and irritated wife. I didn’t like what was happening but felt unable to change. Then one day I read 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out.” Based on that promise, I began asking the Holy Spirit to help me become a more loving mother and wife.
One way the Spirit is helping me to change is by alerting me when I slip into negative behaviors. On one such occasion, we were running very late getting ready for church, and I was barking at the kids to hurry up. We got in the car and rushed off, and then I realized that I had driven away without my cell phone. I needed it to call a friend to arrange where to meet after church. As I began to fume, I sensed the Holy Spirit alerting me to my anger and reminding me to pray. Once I did that, I calmed down. I told my kids I was sorry for my angry words, and I asked them to help me in the future by getting ready on time. I also asked them to pray with me that we would be able to find our friend. Of course, she was right there outside the church when we pulled up!
—C.O., Phoenix, Arizona
Help When You Need It. In the early 1990s, when I was a project manager for a small group of programmers, a customer called to report a problem. They were unable to locate an employee record that was stored in our giant mainframe computer. I set my staff to work searching through our databases for this record, which was indexed by Social Security Number. We were having no success. At five o’clock, my manager called me into his office: “No one goes home until we find the record!” But my team was tired and we were running out of ideas.
I called home to tell my wife that I would be late and described our predicament. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, she said, “Why not ask your guardian angel for help?” Though I hadn’t thought of him for some time, I was desperate enough to try anything. So I turned to my guardian angel, addressing him by the name of Raymond Paul. (Years ago, my second-grade teacher, Sr. Francis William, had told us to name our guardian angel: “This way, you will remember to call on him when you are in trouble.” My two best friends in that class were Raymond and Paul. Not wanting to offend either of them, I decided to use both names).
Within a minute or two of asking Raymond Paul to help me, I was inspired to try a different method for searching the database. I typed in the command, hit “Enter,” and knew I had found something. My computer screen began to display not one but many records containing the SSN of the employee we were searching for.
“YES!” An excited cry escaped my lips, and my staff began to crowd around my monitor. “How did you find it?” and “What did you do?” were echoing all around me, but I could not respond. My eyes had drifted to the right side of my screen, where the employee’s personal information was being displayed. As I watched, mesmerized, the entire screen filled with his name, over and over again: RAYMOND PAUL RAYMOND PAUL RAYMOND PAUL. Someone finally shook me from my trance, looked me in the eye, and repeated the question: “How did you find it?”
“Do you really want to know?” I asked. They did, of course, so I explained the entire story. And thus began my informal ministry at the office—talking about God with any coworker who had an interest in spiritual things.
—G.G., Ann Arbor, Michigan