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Day 23: Gifts of the spirit

“the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Have you ever wanted a personal trainer? I have. Stop laughing. I really have. There are times when I think of course I would exercise more regularly and lose weight if I had someone who came to my house and woke me up (gently and sweetly of course) and got my big butt on the treadmill and told me what a great job I’m doing and thoughtfully and appealingly suggested how I could do things better and not eat that gallon of ice cream ever again.

Except I’ve never actually hired a personal trainer and I don’t really ever plan to. Why? Because my gut – the one I should be working on – tells me that it won’t exactly go the way I just described. Ok, the trainer would probably be as nice as s/he could be, but I have envisioned in my head someone more like an Army sargeant yelling his head off at me and telling me what a waste (waist) I am. I don’t think I can take that kind of rejection!

And truth is sometimes I just don’t really want the Holy Spirit in me. Now, before you go and burn me at the stake for that heresy, lemme ‘splain.

If I’m being honest, I am really selfish. I want what I want. I do what I want. I never liked the idea of a little angel and a little demon sitting on my shoulders and telling me what to do and why. I don’t really even want to think about it. I just do it. Nike told me so.

And the society and culture we have these days applauds that. Our sensibilities are so broad now that you really can do nearly anything you want and you will find any number of people encouraging you and asserting your right to freedom and the right to make your own choices. For every blogger telling you what to do, there are countless bloggers telling you why you shouldn’t do what people tell you. It’s a free country. Run around in it.

That mentality sneaks into Christianity. We wrestle against our sinful tendencies, but giving in we just say, well, I’m a sinner. What did you expect? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid.

But God knows we cannot live rightly. God knew from the dawn of time that we would epicly fail to choose the right path every time. and so He, once again in His grace and mercy, sends us help. Not just some really nice and inspiring dude with great abs, either. He sends us Himself. He sends us His strength and fortitude. He sends us a Helper, the ultimate Helper, the One who gets the job done and who knows us through and through. and it’s not like a puppet on a string that we learn to obey and live. It’s like a puppet made into a real boy, given the strength and ability to do – to breathe – to act – to move – to sing – to smile – to worship.

It may feel at times like God wants us to be puppets. It was in my most rebellious days that I resisted God’s control of my life and wanted to make my own way and do my own thing. But praise to God that He didn’t let me get any farther, that he pursued me all my days, that His love reached to my lowest places and pulled me out of the darkness. I realized then that I wasn’t a puppet for his pleasure, but a child of his pleasure. I wasn’t just some toy and plaything. I was given a name and a purpose and a place at his table, a royal identity and a host of gifts too wonderful and amazing to believe. There are times I forget this standing I have. There are times I forget what has been freely bestowed on me. There are times I try to grab back the controls of my life from the Spirit and sometimes I get them and make a mess of things. How quickly we forget.

But unlike Pinocchio, we don’t have to prove ourselves worthy. We are given the gift of grace and redemption upfront. We only need believe and submit our lives to the only one who can save us and change us from the inside out.

I pray for my husband and I to always be Spirit driven. That we would seek to yield all our controls to Him who is able to keep us from falling. I pray that we would be quick to see when we are fighting the truth and the Spirit that is shaping our hearts. I pray that in our marriage we would submit our gifts and our joys to each other, to be useful, to serve each other, to encourage each other, and to sharpen each other. I pray that God would give us opportunities to use our gifts (oh hear us, Lord!) and to grow in them. I pray that we would see love as our greatest gift, and the Love of God as our highest calling.

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