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action of the Spirit.” Of relevance to counseling,   on them or suggest they pray about a different
             He further believes that the Spirit is especially   aspect of the issue. When people claim that they
             concerned  with  helping  the  marginalized  and   hear nothing, we work with what thoughts went
             powerless; His power liberates rather than op-    through their mind during the silence, or so-
             presses (Welker, 1994).                           metimes I share my thoughts. In working with
             The Spirit also acts in inspiration and illumina-  trauma survivors, I ask them to see Jesus in the
             tion, guiding us in external and internal truth,   memory. They often sense a peaceful presence,
             convicting us of sin, and helping us know the     and sometimes tranquil imagery, like a field of
             mind of Christ (e.g., Mk 13:11; Jn 16:7-11; Acts   flowers.  My  experiences  illustrate  the  multip-
             4:8-12; Gal 5:18; Levison, 2013). This action is   le  manners  of  divine  communication.  In  the
             ongoing. Pinnock (1994, p. 242) states that “re-  above section, we reviewed some theology re-
             velation is not a ‘closed system of timeless truths’   garding who the Spirit is and how He acts, now
             but can continually prove fruitful and confront   we need to consider how He speaks and how we
             new challenges.” He notes that even Mary re-      can best hear the voice of God.
             flected upon revelation (Lk 2:19). This balance   First let us examine the nature of spiritual com-
             between spiritual experience and reason is em-    munication. In the Bible, God speaks through a
             phasized by Levison (2013), who writes partly     burning bush (Exodus 3), a whirlwind (Job 38),
             in response to excesses associated with the cha-  and  dreams/visions  (Genesis  28:10–19;  37:5–
             rismatic  movement.  He  notes  that  the  spirit-  9,  Matt.  1:20–21;  Acts  10:9–18).  At  times  he
             breath is a reservoir of virtue that needs to be   speaks loudly in silence (1 Kgs 19:12). The mes-
             cultivated;  we  need  both  scripture  and  spirit,   sage almost always relates to guidance for the
             both ecstasy and edification, and both inspirati-  people of God and/or furthering his kingdom.
             on and investigation.                             It is therefore prudent to be cautious about ex-
             In  my  counseling  practice,  I  have  often  wit-  cessive  extrapolation  to  counseling  situations.
             nessed the work of the Holy Spirit. But the chal-  Nevertheless,  the  manner  of  communication
             lenge is how we identify this work, which we      is  varied  and  imaginative.  From  a  theological
             discuss next.                                     perspective, Rudolf Otto (1927), in his classic
                                                               work on the “idea of the holy,” notes that divine
             Spiritual Discernment                             experience is mysterious, numinous and non-
             I  am  frequently  pleasantly  surprised  when  a   conceptual.  In  more  contemporary  literature,
             patient tells me that I was reading their minds.   Dale Allison (1995) claims that divine commu-
             Saying  the  right  thing  at  the  right  time  is   nication is always indirect, always ambiguous,
             perhaps  a  result  of  clinical  experience,  inter-  and always a whisper. Henri Nouwen (2013, p.
             personal  perception,  intuition,  a  nudge  from   182) similarly believes “God speaks in whispers,
             the Holy Spirit, or, most likely, a combination   signs, and symbols, in a still, small voice that
             of these. Saying nothing is very helpful at times,   requires theological reflection and spiritual in-
             although many people are uncomfortable with       terpretation,” and Thomas Keating (2002/2011)
             silence.  When  I  ask  Christian  clients  to  pray,   claims that God speaks through inner impressi-
             frequently they fail to wait for a response. Alt-  ons, intuitive faculties, and deeper places than
             hough God is always more capable than us, He      external senses or reason; His first language is
             is gentle and respectful, not imposing himself.   silence.
             I  therefore  suggest  that  people  spend  time  in   Although  these  authors  may  overstate  their
             silent listening. Often they receive insights that   case, it makes sense that the breath of God, the
             clarify matters we had been discussing. Someti-   water that washes, the fire that renews, would
             mes they are reminded of a past experience (of    not necessarily speak in rational type manners,
             which I had no knowledge) that sheds light on     although  his  message  is  always  sensible.  This
             current issues. Once God gave a patient home-     awareness may help us when we consider how
             work! Occasionally they “hear” something that     to recognize the Spirit. The word discernment,
             seems  contrary  to  my  biblical  and  personal   derived from Latin, means to distinguish one
             knowledge of the Lord. I will then gently questi-  thing from another. The Old Testament uses va-

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