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Blog: Wit 'n Wisdom

          Janice LaQuiere




When God Leads


Janice LaQuiere

As I was growing up it was easy to know what direction my life should take. Usually, I’d hear a voice saying: “Come in and set the table.”  That direction came in the personification of my parents. As a child of Christ it is equally important to be in tune to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 30:21 promises that “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it...” In Galatians 5:25 we are instructed: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” But how do we know we are walking in the Spirit? How do we feel the inner prompting?

While out for a drive, I switched on the radio and listened to the fifteen-second news-clip, "The appeal of ex-police officer Larry Nevers has been denied…." My stomach knotted. Why do I care? I don’t know him. I had paid only cursory attention to the very public trial.

Two years earlier two police officers had been convicted in what the papers coined as a "police brutality" case. I had read the headlines; was aware of the sentence, and thought it was probably just. What I couldn't figure out was why my stomach now felt like a lead ball. As I drove home that day I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to determine for myself what the truth was.

I spent the next several weeks thumbing through old newspapers and magazine articles, laying my hands on all the information I could find. Despite knowing that God incited this desire in me I couldn’t but wonder what my family and friends would say. Would I be criticized? Or worse, would they listen with polite indifference? I knew that this high profile case with strong opinions would also compel me to take stand.

Repeatedly, this case was compared to the Rodney King beating in LA, and civil leaders on both sides of the issue continued to make inflammatory remarks. The city’s fear of a riot had driven a lot of public opinion. I continued to remind myself, I'm doing this for my satisfaction. I want to know who is right! A verse spun its way into my thoughts: "It is wrong for a judge to favor the wicked and condemn the innocent." Proverbs 18:5.

When trying to determine if the Spirit is leading our actions it’s important to remember that the Bible gives us the commands of God and the history of the Spirit’s movement throughout time. God is unchangeable. His love for justice and truth is a thread that runs through history. If our prompting is consistent with what we know, and who we know God to be, than that is evidence that we are being led by God’s Spirit.

As I read more about the case it became clear to me that regardless of what had occurred that November night the officers involved had been denied many of their Constitutional rights.  Detroit was a racial hotbed and the media and civic leaders quickly turned this into a racial case, but the facts said otherwise. With careful research I saw that the evidence pointed to an officer trying to stop a drug addict from pulling out a gun, and a suspect whose heart stopped because the exertion of fighting with police while on drugs was too much for him.

However, after having followed the Holy Spirit’s guidance I was in no better position to understand what, if anything, I should do or say. My voice isn’t usually heard above the din of an evening meal, certainly I wasn’t able to make a public statement.

Lord, I prayed. It’s been two years since this incident happened. This is old news. The officers are in jail, their appeals have been denied. My friends will think I’m crazy when I tell them how much researched this. Besides, what can I do?

As always, it is God that paves the way. We are only tools in His hands. If we fail to do what we know to do, than “the stones along the road will praise him.” Adversely, if his hand isn’t in our leading no matter how hard we try we’ll be unsuccessful.

One afternoon, about three months later, the phone rang. It was my good friend, Elizabeth. "Janice,” she said, “the other day you mentioned that you researched old articles at the library. How do you go about doing that?"

How do I tell her without letting her know what I was researching? What would she think if she knew? I answered, "What are you looking for?"

"Remember that so-called ‘police brutality case’? When those two officers were convicted?"

A chill crept up my spine. Was this the hand of God? "Actually," my voice squeaked and I steadied it, before I continued. "I think I have everything you need. I've been researching the case for the last three months."

When I first felt God’s stirring in me I didn’t understand his purpose for leading me in a direction that was against my nature.  My friend and I, both born introverts, became supporters, outspoken activists on the police officers’ behalf, and personal friends of one of the officers. Without specific intention my written views were published, and I was able to shed light on the true facts of the case to leaders who had formed their opinions based upon hearsay and headlines. Elizabeth served on Larry Nevers defense team. Together we were able to share with him the burdens and pitfalls of our legal system, as well as the joy when his appeal was granted and he was released from prison. In order to do so we needed to be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and be ready to take action when we heard His call. By doing so we became the instruments that God used to perpetuate His plan.

©Janice LaQuiere 2004