Have you ever been cut to the heart by what someone says?
That happened to 3,000 people who were listening to Peter on the day of Pentecost right after the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The Book of Acts reports that when the disciples were anointed by the Holy Spirit various physical phenomena were seen and heard – the sound of a roaring wind and tongues of fire seen coming to rest on the disciples as they began to praise God in different languages.
Some who were present accused the disciples of being drunk, but Peter stands up and skillfully defends what is happening. He boldly witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Quoting the prophets and psalms, he explains the historical basis for what God is doing in their midst.
Luke reports, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and asked Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)
When we are “cut to the heart” by someone’s words, the Holy Spirit is usually convicting us of some truth or reality in our lives. We know deep within our being that we must act on what we have heard.
Many years ago, at a Life in the Spirit program, I experienced the presence of Jesus Christ in a new and special way. While at first believing that this experience was real, I started to have some doubts. So, I sought prayer from one of the prayer teams to confirm that what happened was indeed real.
After they prayed over me and I started to walk away, a priest who was part of the team took hold of my arm and said, “You don’t believe!” I looked at him, startled, and he said, “Oh you believe in God, but you are not sure that he has answered your need. God doesn’t think you are half as bad as you think you are. If you will just accept his forgiveness and love, good things will start happening in your life.”
I was cut to the heart by his words. While I had not shared with them what my doubts were, he spoke directly to them. How could he know what I was thinking? While I didn’t fully understand that evening what was happening, I later came to realize that the Holy Spirit had given him a word of knowledge for me, affirming my earlier encounter with the Lord and his forgiveness and love.
Like the people Peter spoke to on Pentecost, the words of the priest became a watershed moment, leading me to put Jesus at the center of all aspects of my life, including my marriage, family and work life. While I don’t always meet the expectations of the call, my life has never been the same.
God loves to speak to us in the words of others, in scripture, and in his quiet whisper to the heart.