Last night I sat with a cup of spiced tea in my hands next to my son reading a book. The pages were lit by only the fading sunlight of dusk and a warm-scented candle. The soft soundtrack of Pride and Prejudice played over the stereo as we read his library book about…StarWars droids. Even still it was a lovely setting. It sounds picture perfect…
Until I tell the rest of the story.
Upstairs a storm was brewing. Emotions were high and were being unleashed all over the floor. Literally. The pads of the feet were not being used to travel the carpet. An all out rolling and kicking temper-tantrum was underway.
Creating a calm setting amidst the chaos is our new approach. Giving more credence and attention to the peaceful and quiet rather than turning over the entire state of the house to fits is our current training in Life After Rehab. We are trying to practically retain sober-mindedness when everything around us seems out of control. It’s not an effort to just ignore, but to speak calm truth in short increments. I think it might be working. The issue is a strong-willed child who will stop just short of every extreme measure imaginable to be in control. (I don’t know who passed that gene down!) It’s hard to remain light-hearted and tranquil when your name is repeatedly yelled across the house. It’s difficult to stay upbeat and truth-filled when someone is telling you over and over that you are wrong and unfair.
All this practice and training in my parenting is forming something else in me as well. I am learning more about the Holy Spirit in this process. I am learning that while candle-lit space travel on the pages of a borrowed book takes extreme focus during a spinning child-tornado, it is still possible. It’s exactly the kind of challenging work the Holy Spirit does. It’s the precise task the Holy Spirit has been doing since the beginning of time…order in the midst of chaos.
If we truly believe that God is triune–three persons in One–then the Holy Spirit was there at the beginning of creation with God, the Father and Jesus, the Word. He was the Holy Spirit that traveled across the expanse of the waters, stirring motion into the wind, creating a pattern of currents in otherwise haphazard air. He was the very breath of God that was blown into the lifeless clay lungs of Adam, triggering inhalation and exhalation, contraction and constriction–a whole organized system of life. The Spirit is a powerful force. His movement has not once ceased since that first day of the world’s birth. If I say I have relationship with Jesus, and acknowledge God as my Father, then what of this Holy Spirit? If He is an equal part of the Triune, then should not my relationship be equally yoked with Him? Should I not be conversing with the Spirit just as I commune with Jesus or the Father?
In my weary and parched land of parenting, the Holy Spirit hovers the dusty sand, ready to spill itself over my desert. He has power to turn my weak, my tired, my poor into churning oceans of bounty and blessing. There is an oasis to be had, even in the midst of the hot dry sand storm.
I am learning…slowly…but nevertheless, learning how practically to live in the presence of the Spirit even when circumstances seem far from Him. When I find myself overcome with Him, I am content. I am peaceful. I am tranquil. I am trusting. And I am entirely without control. It’s not by my own power or will that I find myself with my cup of tea smiling. It’s not a vision board or positive thinking ritual that seduces me to happiness. It truly is the joy of the Lord. It is His kindness, mercy, and goodness that compels me. It can seem so trivial…”okay, yeah, yeah, the ‘Holy Spirit’ makes you happy even when kids are throwing fits.” But until you experience the true satisfaction that comes with calling on the Holy Spirit to overwhelm you with peace, and then you actually sense it, it won’t ever sound legit.
How do I learn this? What’s my homework? I take risks. I am learning to take risks on the Holy Spirit. I ask and wait…then just hope that He shows up. I listen and wait…and do whatever I think I might be hearing. It could merely be a voice in my head…it could. And I am sure that sometimes it is my own consciousness self-talking myself to do little good deeds. But there are times I hear a faint urging to do something that would normally be uncomfortable and outside my comfort zone. So instead of ignoring it, my spiritual science experiment is to take the risk of actually doing it, without hypothesizing. I do it, then wait and watch for any sign of change. Little by little the Spirit is revealing to me genuine fruit. There is a field of little outcroppings springing up as I take these risks. I am looking into this land and seeing a future harvest rising. My risks are fruitful, even if I don’t see everyone of them flowering into something. The more I venture into trusting, the more I am learning to discern His voice from my own. I am learning what seeds to plant and where. And I am learning how to sit and quietly watch the grass grow.
His voice tells me, “have some spiced-tea”, even though it’s still a hot and humid September in Houston. His voice tells me, “light the fall scented candle…in fact, light two of them so that you can’t escape their fragrance, and mine.” He urges me to sit and breathe deep and marvel at the face of the sweet child by my side, to fluff his hair and tell him he’s dashingly handsome. His voice tells me to pray for my upstairs child who has gone wild. He whispers in the quiet of my heart reminders of His truth and His love and His sovereignty. He hums a sweet melody in my ear that paints a picture of a future adult with a strong-willed passion for Him. He breathes power into my being…restrained power to be calm, peaceful, and orderly.
He gives me just the right thing to say as I walk up the stairs into the danger zone.
His might overwhelms me. Emotions dissipate. I envision Jesus on the rocky sea boat telling the waves and the thunder to stop, and all stood still. That same other-worldly presence stands on the bow of my stairs, hushing the fury. The air softens, the dust settles, and I pray over my troubled child. And then, my sweet confused one asks for forgiveness.
Had I tried to control the situation, the Spirit would have been snuffed out or, at the least, pushed over to the corner. I am learning. I am learning Life After Rehab lessons that I thought I knew, but that are gaining depth and circumference. And these new understandings involve risk and patience.
How do you take risks on the Holy Spirit? Teach me. I am eager to learn and am all ears. I believe the Spirit is at work in all of us. I believe that in community we gain a richer and more realistic view of the trust seeds the Spirit is sowing. In taking the risk to share, I believe we encourage each other to invest future risks on the Holy Spirit. Let’s learn from each other these spiritual fundamentals.
And it truly is risky business. There is spiritual opposition to the Holy Spirit. None can overcome the Spirit, but darkness sure tries. It’s scary to think that stepping out in faith might make us spiritual targets, but isn’t it worth it? Shouldn’t it be worth it? I’m in…at least right at this moment I’m in. I’m learning the value of this risk also. The fear is not as great when walking with a powerful Spirit. And He’s there for the taking.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13
I will ask for more of Him, the “Him” who is the neglected person of the Trinity…the Him who dares me to trust…I will dare Him to come…and take a risk on what happens.