This is part two of a multi-entry blog series titled “Lessons I Learned in the Desert.”
Before I deployed, I decided I was going to lead at least one small study group through a book outside of the Bible. The first study I decided to go through focused on a subject that I felt compelled to learn more about: The Holy Spirit. Thus, I decided that I would lead a small group through Francis Chan’s Forgotten God.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know a lot about the Holy Spirit, and I had a lot of prejudices because of some of the people I’ve encountered and how overly focused they seemed on the gifts of the Spirit. To me, it seemed like they thought the Holy Spirit was vending machine and prayer gave them magical gifts from the vending machine. These people didn’t seem to care about God the Father or Jesus the Son, but only about the “giftings of the Spirit.” I admit that may sound harsh, but those are the kind of encounters I’ve had!
Also, I had always thought of the Holy Spirit as an “it” and not as a “He.” There is definitely a difference in the two, although I had honestly never thought about it. I rarely thought about the Holy Spirit or how He works in me and through me in my daily life. The tragedy is that my ignorance of the Holy Spirit had inadvertently led to an incomplete understanding of the Triune God! By not understanding the Holy Spirit’s role in my daily life I was missing out on the power of God living inside of me and, at least intellectually, distancing myself from God.
Although I knew about “it” from a head-knowledge perspective, now I know “Him” in my heart. He’s been there this whole time, I just never knew it! Now I’m aware of the Spirit’s power and role in my daily walk. Galatians 5:25 tells us to keep in step with the Spirit. It’s hard to have a daily walk with God when you don’t even know who’s walking beside you.
One of the ways that God demonstrated how the Holy Spirit works is through someone else. Right when our group first started our study of the Spirit, someone asked me to pace him during the run portion of his PT test. I grudgingly said yes, even though I didn’t really want to. I had a feeling that God was going to teach me something through this experience. The night before our run, I was studying the Holy Spirit and learned that when Jesus talks about Him in John 14:16, the Greek text uses the word “parakletos.” This word means “counselor” or more literally “someone to come along side.” Coincidence? The next day I ran alongside my friend for his PT test and he got the best score of his whole Air Force career! Because I, a faster runner, ran alongside him, he did better than he would have done on his own.
This is one of how the Holy Spirit helps us. He runs alongside us in our life and gives us the power to live lives that honor, please, and glorify God. Forgotten God really challenged me to ask myself whether or not I was relying on the Holy Spirit to empower me in my daily life. Was I taking steps in faith? Or was I relying on my own talents and abilities? It’s hard for the Holy Spirit to work miracles through us when we never take a leap of faith right?
There are many more things I learned about the Holy Spirit during and after the study, but perhaps the most important is simply the fact that I am never alone. The Holy Spirit is always with me no matter where I go and He will always give me the power to serve God in whatever capacity I am called.
For more information on the Holy Spirit I encourage you to read Forgotten God by Francis Chan, check out the free e-book published by Re:Lit called A Primer on the Holy Spirit, or listen to the Mars Hill Church podcast about the Trinity from their Doctrine sermon series (or just watch it below).