Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday with Words: On Heeding that Still Small Voice

I am continuing to enjoy the wealth of insights woven into the narrative of Robinson Crusoe, an Ambleside Online Year 4 selection.   It's one of those books I don't think I ever would have picked up on my own, so I am grateful for AO from bringing it to my attention.   Here is a passage that struck me recently (and then I'll tell you kind of a cool story to go with it):
"This renew'd a contemplation, which often had come to my thoughts in former time, when first I began to see the merciful dispositions of Heaven, in the dangers we run through in this life.  How wonderfully we are deliver'd, when we know nothing of it.  How, when we are in (a quandary, as we call it) a doubt or hesitation, whether to go this way, or that way, a secret hint shall direct us this way, when we intended to go that way; nay, when sense, our own inclination, and perhaps business has call'd to go the other way, yet a strange impression upon the mind, from we know not what springs, and by we know not what power, shall over-rule us to go this way; and it shall afterwards appear, that had we gone that way which we should have gone, and even to our imagination ought to have gone, we should have been ruin'd and lost: Upon these, and many like reflections, I afterwards made it a certain rule with me, that whenever I found those secret hints, or pressings of my mind, to doing, or not doing any thing that presented; or to going this way, or that way, I never fail'd to obey the secret dictate; though I knew no other reason for it, that that such a pressure, or such a hint hung upon my mind: I could give many examples of the success of this conduct in the course of my life; but more especially in the latter part of my inhabiting this unhappy island; besides many occasions which it is very likely I might have taken notice of , if I had seen with the same eyes then, that I saw with now…"
~Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Now here's the story, which took place on the same day that I happened to read this particular passage:  It was Friday afternoon at the end of a tiring week.   That week we had welcomed several new missionary families, a couple of whom we had met in some stage of our journey to get here ourselves.  One of those families in particular had had a number of difficult circumstances to greet them on their arrival, so I knew they must be feeling tired and worn out.  After all, we had been in their shoes only a year before!  We have not yet forgotten about how exhausting a cross-cultural transition with three young children can be.   I kind of had a feeling that perhaps I should go check and see if they were OK in terms of groceries and meals and invite them for dinner in case they were not.  But then again, I was tired.  I sat down during quiet time that afternoon with a cup of coffee to read, and happened to read this passage from Robinson Crusoe.  The further I read, the more convinced I was that I needed to go and extend that invitation for dinner – all that talk about Robinson having learned never to ignore those unexplainable impressions that sometimes came to his mind and all (in his case it was in situations of potential danger, but I think the same principle can apply here).  So, I set down my Kindle and walked across the street to ask them if they'd like to come for supper.  Sure enough, they had nothing but a little bit of leftovers, so gratefully accepted the invitation.   We enjoyed a lovely evening of fellowship together.  And before they left they asked how they could pray for us.   Here we were trying to encourage them, and yet we too were able to share some of our struggles and be encouraged as well.  A double blessing that we would have missed if I had ignored that thought that I should go check on them and given in to my tiredness.  I think perhaps Robinson was on to something….


  1. I think these impressions are often promptings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. I try not to over-think this (Is it from God? Is it not?), but if it's clearly something good and right, I try to obey --even if it's challenging to do. What a great quote!