A couple of years ago I read a multi-part devotional teaching about the Holy Spirit. I confess to having a harder time understanding the Spirit part of the Holy Trinity than I do God the Father or God the Son. I soon realized that I needed to concentrate more on relying on this amazing gift we’ve been given of the Spirit of God right in our own souls. And while I didn’t have a Pentecost-like experience of revelation, I gradually began to understand how the Holy Spirit could work in my life.
Truth be told, I found it a little intimidating at first. I had reached a point in my life and in my grief of knowing that God wasn’t just “out there somewhere”; He was and is near to us always. We create the distance, not He. But, getting comfort from the close presence of God is a bit different than having Him dwell right in my heart and soul. That feels like a heavy responsibility. Maybe I’d better tidy up my house.
But, how to do that? Hm, maybe the Bible has some things to say about this.
In John chapter 14 Jesus talks to his disciples about his impending departure. The disciples are worried and confused over his words. Jesus tries to comfort them; although when their conversation ends it seems that they are still unsure what he means. The fact that John writes about it is evidence that he and others recalled Christ’s lesson later. What Jesus told them is straightforward: believe that the Father and the Son are one and the same (v 11); love Jesus and keep his commands (v 15); and, if they do these two things, Jesus would ask God to give them an advocate to help them and to be with them forever after Jesus is gone (v 16).
Other translations of this passage use the term Comforter rather than Advocate. Wow. What an extraordinary gift to a grieving parent. A Comforter that will live right inside you. God’s Spirit is as close as your own heart to comfort you as well as to be an advocate to God in the spirit (just as Jesus was in the flesh) when you can find no words to pray (Romans 8:26-27). That’s not scary. That’s amazing.
Even more, the Holy Spirit doesn’t just hang out there waiting for us to need comfort or intercession. The Holy Spirit can be active. I read a wonderful wording of Galatians 5:22-23. “If you allow it, this is the kind of fruit the Holy Spirit can grow in your heart: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against any of these things.”
I’ve talked about in other posts that my initial grief at hearing of my daughter’s fatal accident was so all-consuming I could do nothing but curl up on my bed sobbing and moaning. After a while I recognized my cries and moanings as prayers. There were no words. It was a long time before I had words to pray. But, the Holy Spirit carried those moans to God on my behalf.
By the time I read the devotional about the Holy Spirit, I was three years into life without my daughter. I was still grieving – I will be the rest of my life. But, I was praying with words and I was ready to listen, learn, and allow the Comforter and Advocate to help me exhibit God’s work in my life. I bought a small stainless steel bracelet engraved with the fruits of the Spirit that I wear every day. My little bracelet reminds me of the garden my soul should be and the bounty the Holy Spirit can grow. It’s a reminder of who Jesus is and the qualities he exhibited when he walked the earth. The same qualities I should exhibit if I want to reflect Christ in my life.
I still fall short every day of exhibiting every fruit. I pray for forgiveness every night and thank God for helping me when I stumble.
And, I’m glad I let the Spirit in. Even if my house is sometimes messy.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.Psalm 19:14
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