Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Spirit...

Forgive me a minute while I spread some good news.  It's something that has always been, but it took me a while to figure it out.  I've called upon its strength so much in the last week and a half that I want to share what I have learned in hopes that it opens the eyes of just one person who might be reading my words.

This verse sent chills up my spine:
And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God's possession - to the praise of his glory.  {Ephesians 1:13-14}

I can't tell you how old I was when I first heard the Gospel.  The miraculous story of the birth, the life, the crucifixion, and the rising of Jesus Christ was as much a part of my DNA as my brown eyes.  Some of my earliest memories involve church whether it be hearing the Creation story in Sunday school or Sunday evening ice cream suppers.  I don't remember the moment in my life when I heard and believed, and oddly enough, I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't feel the presence of God within me even though I didn't fully understand what it was.  It wasn't until I was well into my twenties, after the birth of my first child, that I started to read and explore the Word Of God for myself that I realized that little quiet voice inside of me was God's Holy Spirit.  The Spirit had tried its best to direct me through so many times in my life, but I didn't understand, and, unfortunately,  I didn't listen.  Once I recognized the voice, though, I became so much more aware of its presence.  

... his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  {John 10:4b}

Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."  {Isaiah 30:21}

That doesn't mean I haven't been rebellious or untrusting since then.  I wish I had not, but I am certainly far from perfect.  There have been moments, quiet moments thick in spiritual battle with my own little demons, that I haven't followed His direction.  But over the last few years, I have tried desperately to be more tuned into Him, more aware, more attentive to that quiet Voice and Presence.  Some times are easier than others... most often I have to quiet the noise in my head to hear the Voice, shutting out the influence of my own sinfulness and frail humanity.  Listening to His direction isn't always the default choice of my brain or the easiest to carry out, but the benefits of following His guidance is worth it in the end.

There are other advantages of the Spirit as well.  Look at these two promises from Romans:

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  {8:10-11}

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.  {8:26-27}

The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside my body.  The first time I read Romans, I remember reading that passage over and over and over.  I couldn't move past it... it gave me chills to know that God cared enough about me to put that much Divinity within my sinful body.  It began a long process of trying to live better, trying to be more worthy as the Spirit's dwelling place.  And, of course, the process still rages on today.  

The second promise takes my breath away, and I fully know it to be true.  God's Holy Spirit is our ally. When I got the call last Monday that my mother had suffered a seizure or a stroke, I hit the floor.  Literally, my body fell to the floor, and I had no words.  There are no words in those moments.  There is nothing adequate to pray.  I could lie and say I was calm and prayed God's will be done, but I did not.  I couldn't.  It's my mother.  I couldn't pray at all... all I could do was put my face to the floor and cry out to God.  But the promise is that in moments like those, we don't need words because we have the Holy Spirit.  He speaks for us when we are unable.  He petitions our Creator when we are at a loss of words.  

The past nine days have been a blur of emotion, a complete system overload.  But deep inside of me, if I quieted my mind, my doubts, my fears, I could hear the Voice saying, "It is well.  Just be still."  It's hard to be still when there's so much going on... hard to quiet the madness in your head.  But He is there with all the strength and power you need and then some.  That is what I learned, what I experienced first hand.

So how do you get it?  How do you find it, tap into it, get your heaping dose of the Spirit?  

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you..."  {Jeremiah 29:12-14a}

Now, I don't claim to be a Bible or theological expert.  I'm just a Christian with a love for the Word.  And I fully believe that we don't need to be scholars to read the Word of God and understand it.  Salvation is not just for the elite or overly intelligent.  It's for all who accept and believe.  I think the common denominator you'll find, though, in Christians who fully embrace their Salvation through Christ, is the quest.  The search.  In order to find God, Jesus, the Spirit, you have to start looking.  He beckons you to do so, but you have to make the step.  

This may sound radical to some of you reading this, but I don't care.  God is radical.  Grace, love, salvation, and the Holy Spirit make no sense to a logical mind.  And, to be honest, the less sense I make to the world, the better I feel about what I believe.  I would rather be radical than worldly.  

Seek Him.

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