Some people go through their whole Christian life, without ever really experiencing what life is like, living with the Holy Spirit.
I know, because I’ve met loads of Christians just like it. And if it wasn’t for my upbringing, I’d probably be one too. After all, how do you know to chase after more if you don’t know more exists?
When I talk about experiencing the Holy Spirit, I’m not talking (necessarily) about falling over, jumping up and down, loud, emotional worship music or any of the stuff you might expect, it’s about such a profound, dizzying change on the inside of your insides, that you know you’ll never be the same again.
It changes everything, it draws you in, it sends you out.
It nudges you to be different.
It changes you, it encourages you to be more.
It shines a light on the dark stuff that no one else sees.
And then you find yourself wanting the same for others.
And without any kind of judgement, the ones who haven’t experienced it, are way easier to spot, the ones who need it are much easier to find. And you become very, very aware that you need it more and more each day.
I blogged last year about an amazing experience I had at work and again last week, the same chap (unexpectedly) prayed for me and there it was again, that fire in my guts to be different.
It’s been burning there quietly behind the scenes all week. It’s been a busy, challenging week in many respects and me and my big mouth have got me into trouble. But there in the background, was that gentle sweet nudge in the ribs, come on Cummings, you can do better than this.
I haven’t always listened and instead have tried to come up with my own flawed human solutions (WHY do I keep doing this???) and then this morning, I was struck by something I’ve read lots of times before in Romans 8:
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6 NIVUK)
Suddenly realised that despite getting something so lovely and fresh from the Holy Spirit again, that my mind was still being governed by what we used to call ‘carnal thinking’ or what the NIV (brutally) refers to as ‘death’.
I guess it’s what they also call, ‘stinking thinking’. Or in my case, a pretty bad attitude, a big mouth and a tendency to try and fix things myself.
But there is a better way. I know there’s a better way because the dramatic encounters I’ve had with the Holy Spirit over the last few years, constantly remind me of that.
I really don’t want to be that ‘carnal Christian’, the one who fixes things on her own, who lives as though the world’s problems could be fixed with logic and words.
I want to be one of the life-filled ones, who sees problems, people and dramas through the eyes of God, the kind of Christian who’s walking into a situation, praying first, talking second. The kind of Christian who’s listening to the whisper of the spirit; what does he want to say? (Not what do I want to say!)
I’ve experienced life like this. It’s real.
It changes everything and I want more of it. And the only way to do it, is to do it.
Because when we choose to sidestep the ‘death thinking’ around us and instead choose to live in the life-giving thinking of the Holy Spirit, we see and experience life differently. It’s a whole new level.
And it’s a level that lots of Christians may never experience. Oh, not because God doesn’t offer it. He does. It’s there, threaded through the extraordinary lives of the disciples, the crazy lives of the Old Testament prophets, the mind-boggling New Testament miracles.
It all points to a God of fire, of life, of Damascus-road transformation. But from a distance, it can seem like maybe that’s not for me? Not for today? Perhaps ‘logic’ gets in the way? Perhaps it’s just safer to sit on the shore?
And it’s true, it is ‘safer’ to stay away, because an encounter with the Holy Spirit, a life lived in that presence is terrifying. It’s challenging. It’s incredible. It’ll turn your world upside down in all the wrong and in all the right places.
I’ve waded in the shallow end and I’ve done a running jump off the diving board. And I know which I prefer, which I need, which I want.
Once again, I find myself ready to get out of the kids’ pool, ready to dive back into the deep end.