How would you describe your relationship with the Holy Spirit? For many of us, that’s not an easy question to answer. We’re not sure what to do with the Holy Spirit. We know He is important–third member of the Trinity. We know He is mentioned a lot in the Bible and sometimes seems to do some really amazing stuff. But in terms of our own experience of Him, we’re not sure what that is supposed to look like.
In the process of writing my book “More”, I was fascinated to delve into how the apostle Paul talks about his (and our) relationship with the Spirit. He talks about the Spirit so frequently and in such a personal way. In Philippians 1, Paul–who is writing from prison–talks about the “help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” In Romans 8:14 he describes how those are led by the Spirit are children of God. Clearly Paul enjoyed a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and he believed this is the privilege of every believer– to know the Spirit in a personal way.
What solidified this truth in my mind was a phrase that Paul twice uses in the New Testament to describe our experience with the Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 13:14 Paul writes, “May… the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all.” Fellowship. This word is the Greek word “koinonia” and it speaks of a significant level of personal engagement. In Acts 2:42, this word is used to describe how the early church enjoyed this amazing relational connection with one another. And yet Paul uses the word in terms of our relationship with the Spirit–that we can enjoy koininia with the Spirit of God.
For many years in my own spiritual journey, I kept the Holy Spirit at a distance. Honestly, I was a bit afraid of Him. I had heard weird stories about His activity and at times had felt “pressured” to embrace a particular manifestation of the Spirit. So I kept my distance. But within my heart there was a hunger for more of Him. This became the prayer and passion of my heart. To know and experience the Holy Spirit. That’s a prayer God loves to answer…but sometimes His timing is different than ours. And sometimes the answer comes through means we would not choose.
I discovered that He often uses pain and difficulty to move us toward a deeper experience of the Spirit. For me, panic attacks were one of the instruments God used to open my eyes to see how I had built barriers around my heart that unintentionally kept the Spirit at a polite, safe distance. In my desperation, I experienced Him drawing near to me in very real, personal ways–ways that hadn’t happened before.
I realize that everyone’s journey is different. My encouragement to you today is to open your heart to the possibility and promise of a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to do that in your life. You’ll never regret it.