All the ugliness in your life that you’ve taken for granted can be healed by the Spirit
I shall give them a new heart and put a new spirit in them; I shall remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh. –Ezekiel 11:19
Glory be to him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.-Ephesians 3:20
It seems an odd question, but every once in a while when I’ve got an audience I ask people who their favorite person of the Trinity is. Not that we’re picking one to the exclusion of the others, but the person you pray to most. The vast majority of people pick God the Son, which makes sense. He’s easy to picture—a young bearded guy in sandals. He was like us in all things but sin. He experienced what we experience. He died on the cross to save us. In all, rather an accessible God.
A good number say they find themselves praying most to the Father, resting in the love of their divine Daddy. Though he doesn’t have a body, his revelation of himself as Father makes him easy enough to imagine.
But the Holy Spirit doesn’t get a ton of love from your average Christian. He’s hard to picture and harder to understand, a fiery wind or a flaming dove who maybe inspires you in some indiscernible way. It’s awfully hard to have a relationship with a person you can’t picture. So most of us claim his name when we cross ourselves and do little else to love him.
Mercifully, God doesn’t seem to be terribly particular here. And whether we worship the Spirit the way we ought to or not, he’s part of our lives. He works in us and through us, teaching us to pray and giving us wisdom and counsel and all the rest. But I wonder how much I’m getting in the way, clinging to control of my life rather than letting him work. Particularly today, as we celebrate Pentecost, I think the Spirit wants us to give him a chance to make us new.
Because the Holy Spirit isn’t just a cool breeze to make us more comfortable, he’s a mighty rushing wind. He’s a consuming fire, an animating force that rips out our stony hearts and gives us living, beating hearts of flesh. That’s a terrifying thing. It’s major surgery. But our ability to love has atrophied and we’re twisted in on ourselves. We need the Spirit of the living God to work in us if we want to live.
And if we do—if we truly invite the Holy Spirit to do his work in us, to be Lord of our lives and drive all that we do—we will be absolutely shocked by what he’s able to accomplish. When Scriptures says God’s power is able to do “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine,” that’s no exaggeration. And it’s not just a promise of miracles from without; this is God’s power at work in us. Which means that he can wrench open our fingers clenched around anger and resentment and give us forgiveness. It means that he can take years of entrenched doubt and turn it into faith. All the ugliness in your life that you’ve taken for granted can be healed by the Spirit.
I’m not saying it will be healed, because I know that God knows better than I and sometimes the best answer to a prayer is “No.” But often I think that what stunts our freedom in the Spirit is that we’re afraid to let him work.
We’re afraid of what he’ll do in us and we’re afraid of what he’ll do through us. If I invite the Holy Spirit into my life, what if he starts moving in me to preach the Gospel? What if it happens at unreasonable times? What if I become one of those ridiculous holy rollers?
He is able to do infinitely more than we ask or imagine. So yes, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation because of the gifts the Holy Spirit unleashes. But you also might find yourself speaking hope to a woman in despair or being prompted to talk to someone who needed to be noticed. You might find yourself with the words to speak the love of God or you might just start seeing people with more compassionate eyes.
I don’t know what the Spirit has in store for you, but I know that it’s something stunning because I’ve read the Acts of the Apostles and the lives of the Saints and because I’ve paid attention in my own life to the incredible work God does when I surrender to him.
Today begins what used to be the Octave of Pentecost, an eight-day celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Let’s spend the week inviting the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. I think we’ll all be amazed at what he can do.
Meg Hunter-Kilmerwrites for her blog, Held by His Pierced Hands, and travels around the country speaking to youth and adults and leading retreats and parish missions.