Then there is a third thing. It is yet more than the message or the man, or than both message and man together. It is this: the Holy Spirit controlling the man who embodies the message. I mean by controlling him that he has surrendered himself to the Spirit's control. And, further than that, that he cultivates the Spirit's presence.
There needs to be a habitual cultivation of the Spirit's presence and friendship, even as we cultivate our human friendships. There needs to be time spent alone, habitually, with the Book of God. I do not mean just now merely studying the Bible to get better acquainted with its contents. Something more than that—thoughtful meditation on its truths; the quiet, steady holding of one's self open to the searching and stimulating and enlightening influence of this rare Book. The Spirit speaks through these pages. Yet it is to be feared that many a careful student of its pages does not get deeper in than the print. He doesn't know and meet the Person who speaks in the print and through it.
Then, beyond the quiet time with the Book, there is the holding of one's whole life open to the Spirit's suggestion and subject to His direction. He guides through our thinking. And sometimes He guides us when our thinking, for some reason, has not gotten up high enough for Him to guide through it. Samuel thought that David's oldest brother was God's chosen one. But into his rarely sensitized inner ear the Spirit said "No." His thinking wasn't keen enough to be the channel through which he could be guided. But he had learned to hold his thinking subject to a higher power.
One time Paul thought it would be good to go over east into the province of Bithynia, and even tried to make a start that way. But the Spirit made plain His plan that they were to go in just the opposite direction, to the west. Had Paul's thinking been more open to the Spirit's touch at that point, he wouldn't have made the false start. But he was wise clear beyond the great crowd of us. For at once he dropped his own thought-out plans, and did as he was bid.
The keener our mental processes are, the better informed we are, the better poised our judgment—the better can the Spirit reveal His plans to us through this natural channel, if it is open to Him. But there is one thing higher up than our thinking powers. And that is the spirit-perception. The mental isn't at the top. It's a step up to the spirit floor, the highest of all.
Some men of splendid ability and training and consecration are constantly hampered because they insist on living on the mental floor. All their decisions are made there, not subject to change from above. And the Holy Spirit, who is the Commander-in-chief of all the forces in this campaign, is unable to use them as He would.
They haven't got the sensitized inner ear of the quiet time that would lead them up into higher, broader service. They go faithfully plodding along on the lower level. The Spirit can use them, of course. He does; but never to the full The Spirit of God controlling the man who embodies the message—this brings fulness of power in winsome service; and only this can. It is not by keenness of thinking, nor fulness of learning, nor shrewd, well-balanced judgment, but by the Spirit of God working through these, and sometimes working higher up than they have reached.