How do we know when we have heard from the Spirit?
This is the question I pose to you, as we reflect on the Apostles’ Creed Week #8
“I believe in the Holy Spirit”
What does the Spirit sound like? How do we allow ourselves to correctly interpret what we have heard? Isn’t this a risky business? And aren’t people going to think us a bit strange?
Maybe, but then, I think that maybe this is the key….
Allowing ourselves to go into strange and unfamiliar places and when we find ourselves there, leaning in to listen with our hearts as we travel deeper into the plans God has made for each of us.
John the Baptist, who seemed very confident from his mother’s womb on being lead by the Spirit, even questions Jesus when he desires to be baptized in Matthew 3:14 “But John tried to deter him saying, “I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?”
This is how it is: God is in the unexpected things.
I have just finished a tremendous week of mountain top experiences at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures 2014 in Malibu California and this thing I know for sure: We were filled with the Spirit each night as the great crowd that gathered sang praises in worship of our King. It was, as always, truly spectacular.
But my week had a rocky start as I traveled on Sunday to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes just north of Frederick, near Mount Saint Mary’s University. It was a beautiful day and the sounds of nature filled the air around me. As I walked the path through the woods, my heart was filled with praise for God’s beauty and I drank in every detail of the scene. Just then, I stepped wrong and went flying…falling and ending up staring up at the sky. Luckily, nothing was hurt but my pride, but this made it difficult to regain my inner peace. I began to let myself wonder why God would allow such a thing to happen to me on such a beautiful day. Yes, I began to feel sorry for myself.
What a confidence stealer just as I approached this week of travel.
The spirit shows up in very surprising ways, I have learned, and we can not plan or script how things must happen to us. And so, we march on… ever smiling and trusting that God is there in all things guiding.
The sounds of Pepperdine still ringing in my ears as I flew home yesterday and I found myself savoring every moment and asking God for the take away from the lectures.
I have to say there were many sounds of the Spirit all around but the most resounding moment for me was at the beginning of the lectures when Pepperdine Bible Lectures Director Rick Gibson began the conference with a heartfelt apology for the extreme heat and for the less than perfect check-in situation with regards to keys malfunctioning. I am sure he felt like he had drawn the short straw for the evening, but I am here to tell you Rick Gibson, your apology and the tone it set for the entire Lectures was pitch perfect! and I want to thank you for sacrificing your dignity and stepping into your moment, because I assure you, your apology was Spirit lead and it shouted loudly to me:
Yes! Sometimes people fall….Sometimes people have to take responsibility for things out of their control!
The Spirit of God can sound like the beauty in nature or a mighty chorus, but it can also be the sweet little girl who quietly sits next to you while you cry and hands you a tissue to wipe away your tears.
Yes, the sounds of God’s Spirit can show up in surprising ways…and really it is more about our willingness to hear it as we travel through our day.
And so, as I flew home yesterday, deep in thought, looking through my notes to find the greatest lessons of the week, ….my thoughts were interrupted by the little girl in the seat behind me as she began to kick my seat harder and harder until she finally broke into:
ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM!
and I stopped and I smiled and I said “Thank you Lord Jesus….
that was just what I needed.”
Praise God the source of all our gifts
Praise Jesus Christ, whose power uplifts
Praise the Spirit, Holy Spirit—Alleluia, Alleluia….Alleluia
Thomas Ken 1674
Enjoy the infinite variety of the sounds of the Spirit this week:))