This summer I was privileged once again to travel to Colombia with a mission team. We were attending a Supernatural School of Missions Intensive and one of the sessions was teaching how to hear the voice of God, especially in a ministry setting while you are praying for someone.

During the activation part of the exercise, we were placed back-to-back with someone in the room while our eyes were closed so we wouldn’t know who was behind us. Then we were instructed to ask God for an encouraging word for the person at our back and were to wait quietly for His answer.

When I was being led to my position in the line of people (with my eyes closed) I was already asking God for a word or picture for whomever I was going to minister to.

I immediately got a beautiful picture of a Butterfly Bush in full bloom and butterflies flying all around it, feeding on it, and lighting on the leaves, all very colorful and peaceful.

I began wondering if there were Butterfly Bushes here in Colombia and how I was going to explain this picture I was seeing. This was all in my mind while the rest of the group was being positioned and getting lined up back-to-back for this exercise.

Then I heard the instructor say, “Ok, we are almost ready. Don’t ask the Lord for a word just yet, wait a bit. Let’s get quiet and still, let’s focus on Jesus, and begin listening. Is everyone ready? Now, ask Him for a word or picture or vision for the person standing behind you.”

Immediately a very distinct picture of a hammer came into my mind.

A hammer?? I thought, “That’s ridiculous! How can a hammer encourage anyone? Oops, I guess I got my word picture early, and I will just go with the Butterfly Bush. That one is so easy to see how it can encourage someone.”

I continued thinking this way, imagining what I would say to my person, how I would explain the bush, and all the possible things it could mean about their life. But the hammer in my vision got clearer and more precise. Now it was as if a spotlight was shining on it, and it was turning on a display … it just would not go away no matter how many times I shooed it away in my head!

Now it seemed to have a radiance about it, every detail about this hammer coming more and more clear. I was getting so frustrated and distracted
with myself and trying to recall the picture of the Butterfly Bush so I could really encourage my person. Then I began thinking, “Well, if He really wants me to mention the hammer, it’s probably a big burly guy behind me that will understand, and He will give me the words to encourage him when I tell him of this picture that just will not go away.”

Finally, we were instructed to turn around and minister our words and encouragement to each other.

You can imagine my shock when standing now in front of me was the most beautiful, cute, petite young woman with a big expectant smile! “Lord! What shall I do?” I asked. I chose the Butterfly Bush! It took quite a bit to
explain this picture through an interpreter, and I could see that it wasn’t landing all that well. She was being sweet, and saying “Thank you, oh that’s nice.” “Oh, how pretty!” etc.

Now the hammer picture in my head was so vibrant I couldn’t ignore it one minute longer. So I said hesitantly (through my translator), “I do have one more thing I think the Lord is saying, and it might be a bit strange…uh, I have a really defined picture of a … hammer.”

I was nervous to look at her…kind of peeked at her face with one eye…and she was beaming! She started asking the translator to tell me to hurry and tell her more about the hammer! So I described it in the best of detail as I could and could think of absolutely nothing encouraging to add to the picture.

She was soon in tears as she was smiling and praising the Lord.

When she could speak, she thanked me for the picture of the Butterfly Bush, that was nice, but the hammer was a direct answer to a prayer she had been praying for some time. She had been desperately asking God to mold her to Himself and when I spoke the word “hammer,” she felt in her spirit Him using His love as a hammer molding her to Him with such a force that she would not be able to fall away and will cling to Him steadfastly!

She was so excited about this answer to prayer that she spoke of it later to her friends at the lunch table, and even later in the week at a gathering where
everyone was giving testimonies of how God had touched them that week.

I wanted to share this story to encourage all of us that the Lord is speaking and loves to use our hearts, minds, and mouths to exhort one another. Hearing His voice for others can be so simple, as we surrender our thoughts and will to His and spend time listening for what He wants to do and say. And sometimes, we can get in the way, and take things into our own hands, like I did.

He is so full of grace that He will use our feeble attempts to partner with Him as He speaks into our lives and the lives of those around us.

He is trustworthy. And, He trusts YOU! Isn’t that amazing? The Creator of the universe, who speaks worlds into being, trusts us, in our simplicity, to speak His words to those around us, bringing answers to prayer, confirmation, exhortation, and maybe just the thing someone needs to take the next step.

Be brave!

Ask Him for a word of encouragement for someone today and watch Him display His immense love!

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