Listening :: By John Lysaught

I’m a stubborn man. I like to do things my way and don’t like to be told what to do by others. Am I a jerk? No, I am a very likeable guy who gets along with all people and am enjoyable to be with. Well, that’s my perception at least. Yet when it comes to listening to God through the Holy Spirit, I’m not so good at that, for again, I’m stubborn in that part of my life and it is a weakness I have (which I’m a work in progress with Jesus).

I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still need a lot of work, some fine tuning to get me right. Will this take a long time or months, or days? I don’t know but listening to the Holy Spirit is a struggle for me because I’m not sure whether it is me talking to myself or if it is the Holy Spirit guiding me. I guess I’m just not in-tune completely. Yet sometimes the Holy Spirit is very clear to me and I do listen. Right now I can think of two major examples of when the Holy Spirit spoke to me very clearly and I listened and everything turned out just fine.

The first example was when I was a police officer in Las Vegas, NV. I was married at the time to my now ex-wife. She was a preacher’s daughter from a small town where we both grew up. Shortly after I finished my bachelor’s degree in law enforcement I tested and got hired by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department in 1997.

We packed up and moved. Shortly after leaving a small town in Oregon to the big city life of sin city Las Vegas, my wife fell into the Vegas lifestyle. She got into drugs, had multiple affairs and became a stripper. Needless to say, within three months of us being there the marriage fell apart and she left me and our two-year-old daughter. I could rarely find her and she would pop in and out every once in awhile to see our daughter. I was in the police academy when this happened.

Shortly after graduating the academy I was assigned to the worse part of town with a training officer and worked until 1:00 am four days a week. There was an incident that happened that really got to me and made me realize how dangerous police work was in that city and my mortality.

The gist of the story was that after a shift, I and another officer in training went to a bar and grill to relax and go over our stories for the day. Fast forward about an hour and six gangbangers came in to rob the place. We took action and it was six against two. We got our butts whooped and there was a gun in play by the bad guys and a car that tried to run us over.

I could have easily been shot because the guy I was wrestling with on the ground had the gun and I wasn’t armed at the time (off duty). He got away from me because two of his thug friends were kicking me and hitting me while I was wrestling with this guy on the ground. The other group had my partner on the ground beating him pretty good. They knew we were police officers because we announced it to them. He was armed and they while they were beating him they were trying to get his gun.

We could hear sirens coming towards our direction and so the group ran to their car, tried to hit us and pulled a gun on us as they were driving by. Thankfully there were not shots fired but we were beat up pretty good. This incident made me realize that if I got more seriously injured or killed, who would take care of my child? Her mom was nowhere to be found and we didn’t have family in town.

The next day was my day off and I couldn’t get it off my mind so I prayed and cried out loud from the bottom of my heart to God and asked what I should do. Then I was surrounded by a voice that told me to “Quit and leave Las Vegas.” I, of course being stubborn, argued with this voice and then the voice told me again, “Leave Las Vegas or you will surely die here!” I said, “Okay,” and the next day with great angst and tears flowing down my face, I turned my badge and gun in and quit. I moved back to the small town Oregon again.

The only job I could find was working at Wal-Mart. I went from making about 40k a year to minimum wage. I couldn’t afford a place so my daughter and I lived with the ex-in laws for about a year. During that year I met my current wife (married now 15 years). I then sold insurance for a few years and then joined the Army as an officer. During my time as an officer my daughter saw her mom sporadically for years. Then I got assigned and unaccompanied tour in South Korea.

While in South Korea, my ex-wife came and parentally kidnapped my daughter (she was 10 then) and the judge said that since I was out of country, they could not stop her from taking my daughter. I asked for a reassignment from the Army and thankfully through God with a slim chance of getting it, I was reassigned back to the states. I went to where my daughter was, with the court papers in hand showing I had exclusive custody and brought here back home to Oregon where I was assigned at a recruiting battalion.

Needless to say a large custody battle ensured. Because her mother and her new husband had more money than me, they fought for custody until I ran out of funds and I lost custody of my daughter. This is where God, through the Holy Spirit guided me very clearly again and I listened.

I was in my seventh year in the Army. I had planned to make it a career and was a captain by then, waiting for company command. The Holy Spirit put it strongly on my heart to resign my commission and leave the Army. I asked why for I didn’t know why He wanted me to do so but this time I didn’t get an answer and without arguing I resigned my commission and was out of the Army six months later.

I stepped out in faith that God would take care of me and He did. I was blessed with a job offer that moved me from Oregon to El Paso, TX, where I have been now for nearly seven years. About four years later from moving to El Paso, the reason of the Holy Spirit told me to leave the Army came full circle.

My daughter was visiting me (she was then 14) and spilled the beans on what had been going on for the last four years while living with her mother. Long story short is that her mother and step father had taken out of school to supposedly “home school” her. She did some school work but most of her time was spent working in their illegal marijuana farm in Northern California and in a house grow operation in Las Vegas. I of course called child services and the police. They busted her mom and stepfather on Federal drug trafficking. They are now both convicted felons and I have had my daughter since she was 14 years old and she graduates, with honors, this summer.

The point was that I didn’t know what and why the Holy Spirit moved me to resign my commission, but years later, when my daughter stayed and lived with me, I realized through retrospect and by the Holy Spirit, that was why He wanted me to quit the military and get a stable job in one location: to be there for my daughter.

You may be wondering why I told you these stories. The point I want to make is that the Holy Spirit is there to guide us to our plan Jesus has for us and to guide us to make decisions that will affect us in the future. It may be immediate or it may be years, like in my case, to discover what the intent of the Holy Spirit’s guidance is for you. If I hadn’t listened in both above examples, I may be dead or my daughter may not have been rescued from her circumstance. You have to be patient and sometimes not expect an answer right away, but must trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

The Holy Spirit is here to guide us. Small decisions, large decisions, and daily interactions with people and situations; He is there to guide us. This lesson is for me, too. If you are in-tune with the Holy Spirit, He will not lead you astray for He knows what you need and what you don’t need. He knows what is best for you and will guide you to the right decision and the right things to do in your life to keep you safe, alive, and on the path to salvation. This may not be immediate, but may take time to understand why the Holy Spirit has moved you to do something.

The Holy Spirit has spoken to me as if He was in the room with me. He has spoken to me through putting a heavy feeling in my heart, and he speaks to me by that little voice in my head that tells me, “No, that isn’t a good idea,” as well as strong feelings about things when I’m faced with a decision I am having a hard time making—until I pray about it.

Another example is that I am ready to leave El Paso, TX and move on to progress my career. I’m content here, but my own desire has me wanting to leave to move up the ladder of career progression. Through one of my recent articles on being content, I have this strong feeling that we are to stay in El Paso for a time to be determined. I will be content until He moves in me again.

I’ve applied to jobs that I am totally qualified for that are out of El Paso, but I never get an interview. With that “feeling” the Holy Spirit has given me to be content where I am, I have stopped applying for jobs outside of El Paso with the federal government by which I’m employed.

Why He has not allowed me to leave, I don’t know. But I have learned that He knows what is best for me and my family, and for now I am to stay in El Paso until it is His time for me to move on (if He ever lets me and that is in the plan for me). I don’t know Jesus’ plan for me, but it is obvious that my work in El Paso is not done yet.

How about you? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit? Are you stubborn about it like me? Do you choose not to listen to the Holy Spirit? I know when I don’t listen to the Holy Spirit, but do things my way, those things always fail or turn out badly. Then I look back and tell myself that the Holy Spirit had told me not to do what I ended up doing anyway and I feel pretty bad for not listening in the first place. Then I’m stuck picking up the pieces of what I messed up on to make things right whether it is with people or situations.

Listen to the Holy Spirit. He will guide you to what is right, just, and holy. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus will guide you to where He wants you to be and what He wants you to do or don’t do.

Like when I’m lacking, try to tune into that inner voice; the Holy Spirit that will guide you to no wrong, but only goodness and blessings. I find that when I do listen to Him, things always work out in the short run or the long run. When I do listen, I am blessed in ways that are amazing. I’m not talking about money or material things, but with life in general; relationships and personal growth in my walk with Jesus—my Lord and Savior.

I urge you all to tune into the Holy Spirit. It takes practice and you’ll make mistakes along the way, but the more you are in-tune with the Holy Spirit, the more easily it will be to distinguish His voice and guidance. Listen to the Holy Spirit and you will be blessed beyond your understanding and will not regret it.

Psalm 25:4-5: “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (KJV).

God Bless you all and may the Holy Spirit take over your lives and guide you to truth.

John Lysaught