the person I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving

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If you could hear the inside of my mind, you’d hear me daily thanking the Lord for my husband, our community, and His constant provision of food, home, and flat out help.

This Thanksgiving week, I find myself thanking God even more often for something else – His Spirit inside me.

Do you know this person of God? Who is He to you?

There are many perspectives, different and alike, about Holy Spirit out there:

“The Holy Spirit is neither a passive presence nor emotional excitement.  The Holy Spirit comes from God’s presence, but he is not God’s pervading divine fog floating over the world.  The Holy Spirit is a person, separate and distinct from whom Christians identify as God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.” Tim Burns

“The Holy Spirit is the Spirit set apart, belonging to God. He is God’s power and presence among his people.” Kevin DeYoung

“The Spirit’s all-consuming passion is to exalt Christ to the end of the earth.” John Piper

“The Holy Spirit is God living inside of us.” Chase Culbertson

“Jesus promised a Helper of the same kind rather than of a different kind. The Spirit is the parakletos, the one who comes alongside. Jesus said He would “be with you forever … he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). In other words, His ministry is both permanent and personal.” Alistair Begg

Graciously, I have always believed in the Holy Spirit of the Bible. What I found in recent years, even recent months, is how much I was NOT depending on and interacting with Him as a real person.

Let me say loudly: there is a vast difference.

There is a difference between knowing things about this person of the Trinity, and engaging with Him personally.

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For me, change has happened seemingly slowly, in varying instances and circumstances. (p.s. does anyone else find it fascinating how God is an endless treasure of discovery? we’ll never get bored.)

Without Holy Spirit, our praying would be flat, tiresome, only a task on a checklist. Without Holy Spirit, God would feel distant, too far away for us to even consider talking with Him.

Engaging with Holy Spirit is how we enjoy and interact with God, how we are connected to the Trinity. Holy Spirit is the binding element, the circle drawn around us, God, and Jesus… knitting us together forever.

Born out of, well, desperation, I’ve discovered a deep need for communion with God. Walking through chronic pain, serving in church ministry, desiring to love well, I realize how tired I am of hearing and listening to my own self-talk, because it’s usually filled with self-doubt, shame, or hyper-judgement. My natural opinions and limited understanding tend to only sink me. I long to hear what God has to say, on anything and everything.

A missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, had spiritual vision that kept her strong in the face of hostility. She once wrote: “Keep close, keep close. If you are close you will be keen… You will drink of His spirit… You will live to share your joy in Him. Nothing else will count for much.”

Understanding Holy Spirit is our key to spiritual eyes. We were created to walk closely with our Creator, and by the gift of His Spirit, that fellowship begins the moment we decide to follow Jesus, and continues to grow.

Without cultivating and enjoying this inward rhythm of communicating and cooperating with God, I don’t think we’re fully alive.

 

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How can we cultivate a relationship with Holy Spirit? In my experience…

  1. Learn the facts. Search the Bible for places He shows up. Become familiar with His purpose and characteristics.
  2. Get all your junk into the Light. Confess it. To a friend, in a journal, out loud to God in your car. We often feel like we can’t get close to God because of our sin. He knows every detail about us, even those we think are hidden. Clear the air. I promise you’ll only find a loving embrace waiting for you. Romans 8:26 says the Spirit knows we’re weak and comes to help us.
  3. Carve out quietness. This had been challenging for me, but an easy place is the car. I will leave the radio off and ride in silence. Talking to God or letting my mind wander. Creating head-space for Him to direct my thoughts.
  4. Ask God for understanding, and thank Him for this wonderful gift. Titus 3:4-7 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” He has called us friends! (John 15:15). 

 

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I’m in the middle of book written by Jan Johnson called When the Soul Listens. This book is mostly about contemplative prayer, which in my words basically means pausing my whirling thoughts to meditate on God so that I am changed.  

“Contemplative prayer is prayer in which we still our thoughts and emotions, and focus on God’s own self in an unhurried way. The stillness of contemplative prayer helps make us aware that God is truly with us and allows us to hear when God chooses to nudge, guide, direct, or even challenge us. Contemplative prayer is reflective and expansive, allowing us to set aside our notions of what we think should happen and open ourselves to receiving God’s help in refocusing our thoughts and feelings about life situations. Contemplation — thoughtfully considering God’s desires, even waiting on and delighting in God — reconnects us with God in the midst of our scatteredness.”

Holy Spirit is our means of this beautiful exchange. Constantly present. Steadying us. Putting Jesus at the forefront of our worship.

This week I am most thankful for moment-by-moment life with God.

But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! Jude 20-21 The Message

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