Hello dear friends!
It has been pure sweetness to spend the last five days with my sisters, Joni and Della, just at the base of the High Sierras in Nevada. Nearly each day we put on our hiking boots and "head for the hills." All three of us love to hike and enjoy discovering together the beauty we find in all God has created here in the mountains. Each corner on the trail brings new delights and adventure, and this week I, along with my sisters, experienced something we have never seen or heard before.
On Friday night a snowstorm hit, so Saturday morning everything was covered with a pristine blanket of white. We decided to go ahead with the hike planned for the day, and I am so glad we did. Two hours into our hike, we found ourselves in a snow covered winter wonderland that looked as if it had come from the pages of some fanciful children's storybook. We stopped in awe of the scene...the beauty and the stillness of the moment mesmerized us. And then we heard it before we ever saw it. The sound seemed to come from the heavens. The wind hit the mountain high above us, racing down the mountainside whipping the treetops near us into a whirling frenzy. We had never seen or heard anything like it. And then, it struck US! At first, we turned away in fear but just as quickly, turned to face the gust...to take such power in for that short moment. Honestly, it was exhilarating to stand before such a force as it filled the air with sparkling ice crystals reflecting the sun like millions of tiny diamonds suspended...floating all around us!
In that moment, the verse from Acts 2:2 came to mind: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting." Can you even imagine what it must have been like the very first time the Holy Spirit was released on this earth to do this new great work? He sounds like He could hardly wait! I wonder if when the Holy Spirit hit that house it was a scary few moments for all within...probably...until they realized what the Spirit brought, and then they were overjoyed, in fact, so overjoyed that the people near them thought they were drunk!
The Holy Spirit! In them! In us! The law no longer reminding us over and over of our sin; but, instead, the Spirit reminding us we are a new creation created for good works and empowered to do them. The Holy Spirit! A pledge given to remind us that our inheritance is real...it's waiting for us and until then we have this Wonderful Counselor! That is power and that is something worth getting excited about!
However, during all my years as a young Christian, I very rarely heard of the Holy Spirit except a mention of Him at the end of prayers or maybe in a song or two. I never learned of the truth that He lived in me and that I had the power to live righteously. Why would many in the church not want to mention this great gift of the Spirit into our lives? Could it be that maybe there is a smidgen of fear. C. S. Lewis said that Aslan (the lion who was used as an analogy for Jesus in his Chronicles of Narnia Series) "was not a tame lion." Well, the Holy Spirit is not tame either. He makes me uncomfortable sometimes. He does not do things the way I would do them. He does not answer my prayers the way I picture them being answered. And my life...well, sometimes He takes it places I was not planning on going. No, He does not fit neatly into my plans. Instead, if I allow Him, He will put me right into the middle of His wonderful, beyond my imagination plan! And I get to participate as much or as little as I choose.
Maybe it's scary to give Someone with such power complete control? Maybe the lie that Satan feeds a good portion of the church is that the Holy Spirit is scary and you can live life much more comfortably without Him. If you think about it, that is the perfect lie for Satan to spread. How sad that some Christians do not realize the power of the Holy Spirit at their disposal simply by asking, listening and choosing to obey.
As I walked back down the trail that afternoon I couldn't help but notice some of the pine trees that lined our path. A couple in particular caught my attention. One giant redwood obviously encountered some trouble. About a third of the way up its trunk, it jutted abruptly out and then continued straight on into the bluest of skies. Another had been denuded of his branches on one side of its trunk and still it grew on. These great beauties were not perfect, but, I'll tell you what, they kept on growing anyway.
As Kay says on our last day with her this week"...the flesh is still very much alive. But, free woman, you are not a slave; you have a choice. You can choose to walk in the Spirit." Life stuff might happen to us...our flesh might creep in and ding us a bit, but, girl, we are going to keep walking...keep growing, because like a mighty wind, He has entered our hearts and given fresh, new life, sparkling with the promise of all we can be!
Love to you, my ever growing sisters!