Toward the end of the conference, the keynote speaker took public note of the painting, commented on the feather, and offered prophetic perspective.
“First,” he pointed out, “my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. A quill is a pen. Many of you here need to be writing, writing out your experiences in God.”
Then he went on to tell the story that stuck with me; I don’t know whether he spoke of a real practice, or of a vision he had had. He told of an Eskimo who needed to feed his family in the winter, so he travelled out on the ice, where he found an air hole for a seal, the seal that he wanted to bring home to feed his hungry family.
He waited for the seal by the air hole, but he knew that the seal would see him waiting there, harpoon in hand, so he brought out a feather, and put it on the surface of the water in the air hole. The feather may distract the seal, or it may obscure his vision, but those are not the real purpose of the feather on the water.
When the seal came near its air hole, the feather would vibrate from the changing pressure in the water, from the bubbles under the ice of the seal’s exhalation as he prepares to inhale in his private air hole.
The Eskimo never needs to actually see the seal. He waits until the vibration of the feather indicates that the seal is right there, and he strikes without having seen the seal. Then he cuts the hole larger, pulls the seal out, carries it home and feeds his family. The prophet said that the feather was also a symbol that the “Lord’s family is really hungry; they’re starving. The Lord is looking for some seals to take to feed his family.”
The feather is also a lesson for us in trust. The Eskimo never saw the seal he was hunting until (and unless) the successful conclusion of the hunt.
I believe that we are in a day when we need to learn how to obey when God says, “It’s time to strike” even when we don’t see what we’re striking. It’s time for us to move forward with what God is doing in us, what he’s calling us to, even if we don’t know what that is or where it will take us.
Let’s discuss some theory and practice of discerning the times, discerning our times. We live in interesting times.
First, Let’s establish that discernment is a good thing. The Book addresses the topic. First, the Bible celebrates these particular boys who had good discernment:
Jesus is more forceful on the topic.
Yes, he’s chewing out some religious leaders, but the reason he is chewing them out was because they couldn’t discern the times. Specifically, they couldn’t discern what God was doing, and the Son of God rebuked them for it.
It is that important that we discern what God is doing in our day. In these outrageous times, I am convinced that it is more important than it was in previous generations that we understand our times, that we discern our times correctly.
I want to set something of a foundation for where we’re going. Let’s start with Jesus. He’s a pretty good foundation.
I feel the need to re-emphasize some basic truths from this passage. There’s nothing new or controversial here.
· Jesus is the Word of God incarnate.
· He was alive before the beginning of creation.
· Jesus is God.
· Creation happened through him.
· Apart from Jesus, there was no creating going on.
One of the stones of this foundation that we’re laying is this: Jesus is the Creator. My point is this: Jesus is that it is well documented that Jesus is creative. I would argue that he is the source of all creativity, the fountain from which all of his creation draws from in their own creativity. Creativity was in Jesus’ blood before he had blood, before blood was invented, before the molecules that would eventually make up blood had been formed.
The New Testament adds to this:
If Jesus was creative for that very first week of creation, then the Book says that he remains unchanged. He is still creative. The guy who declared, “Let there be light!” is still that guy. Creativity is a part of him.
God identifies himself as a God who does new things. We could get technical and point out that “I will do a new thing” is an Active Participle, which “represents an action or condition in its unbroken continuity.” In other words, it could quite accurately (and more clumsily) be translated, “I do new stuff. That’s who I am!”
Then he adds, “You’re going to know it! You’re going to experience my new stuff!”
This is pretty basic: If God does new stuff, then he is doing new stuff. If Jesus – who is unchanging – is creative, then he is still creating, still doing new stuff. If this is who he is, then it’s who he is.
Therefore we should expect new stuff to happen. We should expect God to do new stuff. New stuff in us. New stuff around us. Things that nobody has ever seen before. (The Hebrew word חדש speaks about something that’s brand spankin’ new, and is contrasted with other words that mean rebuilt or renewed.)
I’m making a strong point about this because it seems that whenever someone says, “God is doing something new today!” someone crawls out of the shadows and snarls, “No he’s not!” Their justification for their narrow mindedness generally comes from Hebrews 13:8 (quoted above), or from their own self-centeredness: “I ain’t never seen that before, so it can’t be God.”
It has often been pointed out that the greatest persecutors of the latest move of God are very often the members of the last move of God. But it is to us specifically that God says, “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old!”
“Quit measuring things by the past. Stop looking back to what I did before. That is not what I’m doing now.”
OK. God is doing new things in our day, things that have never been seen on the earth before. But God isn’t the only one who’s doing things that we have never seen before. How do we discern between the unfamiliar thing that is God and the unfamiliar thing that is not God.
This is the rabbit trail that God led me on this morning. We must be able to discern our times. We must be able to discern that which is God from that which is not God.
Here’s where it got awkward for me, where it became unfamiliar to me: I cannot use my mind for that task. “But I have a good mind! It works well!” I argued. He agreed, and added, “but your mind is limited to what it knows, what it remembers, what it has seen before, and – from that – to what it can imagine. That’s insufficient. You must discern these times with your spirit.”
If God is doing new things in our day, things that have never been seen on Earth, then we must use a tool that is capable of working with things that are new, never before seen on the earth.
May we learn to discern well, to rely on our discernment, and to receive the new and different and unusual things that God is doing.