Way back, in the early part of this year, Michelle, Jennifer, and I were texting or FB messaging (I don’t remember which one it was, exactly) and one of them said something about how great the HS is. I was confused, and wondered what in the world High School had to do with our conversation. I read and reread that message, and slowly I realized they weren’t talking about High School at all. The HS in that message was the Holy Spirit. Good grief, I’m slow to catch on sometimes!
The three of us got a good laugh from my misinterpretation and, even now, we sometimes refer to the Holy Spirit as the high school.
I’d like the HS to be recognizable when he shows up in my life. Or, in conversations in my life.
Once (forgive me if I’ve told you this, already), H and I went to hear someone preach and, while the words were good and the intention pure, something was missing. I could not put my finger on it. I thought about it for days, and wondered why that message felt itchy, like a rogue tag in the neckline of my sweater. One day, I asked H about it.
“Remember when we went to that service the other day?” I asked him. He remembered and, when I asked what he thought about it, he didn’t give it a rave review (not that I advocate giving reviews to sermons, mind you — this isn’t IMDb or Amazon.com we’re talking about). H is kind and he would never throw a preacher under the bus. He knows what it takes to put together a sermon, and he knows how it feels when a sermon misses the mark. I asked him what was missing from that sermon and he said, “Well, when I preach a sermon and it goes like that, it’s usually because there’s no anointing.” In addition to being kind, H is also an old soul. Have I ever told you that? He is young at heart, but he says things like “the anointing” and he calls shorts “short pants.” He also wears bow ties. (He wears them well. Very well, indeed. But I digress.)
The anointing. That’s the Holy Spirit. Jim Cymbala says another way to think about being anointed with the Holy Spirit, is to think about being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here’s the thing: When a person decides, Yes, I’m going to go all in with this Christianity thing. I believe the things Jesus said about himself. I believe what the bible says about God. And, I believe I have missed the mark and that Jesus made it possible for me to have a relationship with God, and that none of all of that is based on how good or right or cute I am. I believe God loves me because he can’t help it and because he is Love. It blows my mind, but that’s what I believe. Well, when a person says those things and makes that commitment, the Holy Spirit shows up as kind of a permanent live-in teacher, always helping us figure out how God sees all of the stuff in our lives — our finances, our relationships, our understanding of God, our understanding of ourselves, etc. — and points us in the direction of the best options (whether or not we pay attention is an entirely different story altogether).
Sometimes, however, we need an extra dose of the HS. We need reinforcements. We need someone bigger and smarter and calmer and more gracious than ourselves to meet whatever the need may be in that particular moment. Those are the times we need a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. Preaching is one of those moments, I think. And so is that time between carpool pickups at school and getting dinner on the table. And so is that time when your friend betrays a trust. And so is that time when your teenager stays out past curfew. Again. And so is that time when you find yourself grumbing under your breath at your husband on the way to church. Or, so I’ve been told.
Chuck Swindoll once said, in moments where God is clearly calling on you to speak up or to show up and it all feels way outside your comfort zone, the best thing you can do is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In other words, the best thing we can do when we have no idea what to do is to say, “I sure could use a bit of that anointing right about now!” And then, whatever the situation may be, release it, and let the Holy Spirit take over.
Yesterday in church we observed our last communion service for the year. We shared the bread and the cup together, and H reflected on the year that has almost come to a close. He dubbed 2013 “The Year of the Holy Spirit” for our little congregation. There were murmured Yeses and Amens when he said it. Looking back, it’s hard to deny. We came into this year with our back against the wall, and nowhere to turn but to the HS. Everything on paper said we should have closed our doors and walked away; we should have given that old church a respectable memorial service. And, who knows? Maybe we will some day. But that day is not today.
In 2013, our little congregation took a deep breath and let the Holy Spirit take control. Talk about scary! And spectacular!
Sometimes, I think we neglect the work of the Holy Spirit, and not just in our churches. I think sometimes we leave the Holy Spirit hanging when we’re sitting in our living rooms, or in traffic, or in the waiting rooms and board rooms of our lives. We leave the Holy Spirit hanging and life gets itchy, and we can’t put our finger on the reason why.
Honestly, I often forget all about the Holy Spirit. I’m not proud to admit that. It’s gotten better over the years, that’s for sure. I think a patch of rough years tends to make a person more familiar with the Holy Spirit, you know? It’s in the comfortable, easy-going seasons of life that I tend to slip back into talk about only Jesus and God, and leave the HS sitting in the back of the bus. I want all my years to be Holy Spirit years. I want to say that here. Out loud.
I’d like the HS to be recognizable in my life. In all of my life, and for all of my years.