Guest post from Ganeida on The Quaker 'Stop'

 Over at Ganeida’s Knots, Ganeida has posted an excellent piece on the Quaker ‘Stop’ in response to our conversations here.  She has given me her permission to reproduce it here (Thank you, Ganeida!).  As follows:

My lovely friend, Ember, has been on a fascinating journey & has been sharing how the Lord is leading her while all of us wide-eyed & avid readers goggle at the ups & downs of her journey amongst plainness & simplicity in a very modern world. And when you find you are being led down the narrow paths, the paths that most of us avoid because they are so very narrow - & lonely - & require so much of trust because there is only the Spirit to guide & even fellow travellers will baulk & say, "Thus far & no farther," there are many stops & starts & false leads & retracing of one's steps to begin again. Amongst the old signposts is one I know as the Quaker *Stop*.

The old Quakers were unusual. Firstly they were unashamedly & unambiguously Christian in thought & practice & while this is no longer always so many of their thoughts & ideas remain. They were also what I would term charismatic - in that they were spirit-led. I know most Christian churches give lip service to the power & place of the Holy Spirit but far too often that's all it is - lip service. The reality of the Spirit is too frightening, too overpowering, too dangerous & so people hastily pack Him back in a box & close their ears. The Quakers, on the other hand, stepped completely the other way. Their whole philosophy of religion was, & is, that God is available to everybody; that no intercessor is necessary because each & every one of us can hear directly from God. Indeed, as God's children, there is something wrong if we are not hearing directly from God for ourselves.

I have talked about Quaker worship here. I mention it because both the *leading* & the *stop*, two sides of a single coin, have their origins in the depths of silence. They arise out of listening for, & then heeding, the still small voice of God.

Now the *stop* is not conscience which is: For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. [Romans1:20] There is set in the heart & mind of Man the knowledge of God, of good & evil, of right & wrong so that none will be without excuse on the day of judgement. That is basic. All of us, whether believers or not, instinctively know certain things are wrong because the knowledge of God is in us & all around us. Thus we know murder is wrong; theft is wrong; lying is wrong. I can't think of a culture in any age that has condoned these things whether they practise them or not.

If we indulge in certain acts our conscience will bother us because God is whispering that these things should not be so. At it's most fundamental the *Stop* is the warning to halt before proceeding on a wrong course of action into sin but it is also, in my experience, more than this. A *stop* can be a call to wait patiently until all those necessary are prepared & all that should be in place is in place before way will open to proceed. It can be a call to a complete halt allowing for greater light to reveal that a course of action is wrong & that one should no longer proceed along a designated path. It can be a call to wait patiently while others meant to journey with us catch up. It can be the call that there is a change of plan. It can be a place of enlightenment & also accountability. It's God's, "Whoa! Hang on & listen up!"

I like the old Quaker way of phrasing things. It speaks to my condition. It speaks of a people conditioned to patience, humbly listening for the voice of their God. It speaks, not of resolutions, but of the journey undertaken. "Way will open..." speaking of the patience to wait & allow God to work. "I felt a *stop* in my mind..." speaking of the humbleness to be corrected & directed by God Himself. It speaks to me of the practise of holy family because God is our Father & like any good parent He watches over His offspring carefully & because He loves us there are many yeses in our lives but there will also be the Nos, the *Stops*, the pauses for thought & reflection.

There is a delicacy about God. He is a gentleman. Where I go thundering about like a blunderbuss minus my manners creating Havoc & High drama, God quietly minds His Ps & Qs & waits to have my attendant ear & if I am listening carefully I will hear, "Stop. Wait. Proceed with caution. Way will open...."