“Into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
Peter, Stephen, Barnabas and Paul (Acts 4:8, 6:5, 11:22-24, 13:9) were all filled with the Holy Spirit, as were many of Jesus’ followers (Acts 2:1-4). These four in particular committed their spirit into the hands of the Father, submitted wholly into the power of the Spirit’s leading.
Peter brought thousands to the Lord and became the head of the church in Rome. Stephen told the truth, and before he was martyred forgave those who murdered him. Barnabas was known as the encourager, and introduced Saul, later known as Paul, into the disciples’ circle. He mentored Paul during his first crucial years as a follower of Jesus. And Paul’s life was completely transformed when he gave his life over to Jesus and allowed the Spirit to guide his heart and mind.
When we listen to and abide in the Spirit, we become more loving, more joyful, more peaceful. We show more patience, kindness and generosity. We have more faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we choose to ignore the Spirit, we become smaller, our vision becomes dimmer and our hearts become hardened.
“Being born again by the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, as surprising as God Himself. It provides a freshness all the time in thinking, talking, and living – a continual surprise of the life of God. It gives us new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.” Oswald Chambers, January 20, My Utmost for His Highest
When I forget that my heart and mind are lifted and empowered by the Spirit within me, my choices and words do not lead others – or myself – closer to the heart of Christ. When I forget that the Spirit reminds me of the words and love of Jesus, I do not lead others – or myself – into the embrace of my Father. When I forget God is with me, I forget to extend the abounding love and expansive grace He increases in me.
As I commit my spirit to His Spirit, I allow my mind and heart to be transformed daily. It enables me to more clearly and more often hear His voice. This act of surrender gives me the courage to follow His commands to love in His image. This willingness to abandon myself to Him brings me peace of mind and the ability to see others through the eyes of God.
“We do not become hopeful by talking about hope. We become hopeful by entering darkness and waiting for the light. We become hopeful by being honest with one another about our pain and then waiting, together, for God to show us a way toward healing.” Mark Yaconelli, The Gift of Hard Things*
The Spirit gives us hope in circumstances when we cannot see it. Abiding in the Spirit, we are buoyed by the promises of light, healing and inheritance. Bonded with the Spirit, we can know, if not today, there will be justice, equality and unity. In relationship with the Spirit, we aspire to the heights of God’s love and grace.
To paraphrase Yaconelli, what if we could listen to the anger of others as a cry for justice, a plea for respect, a prayer for safety? What if every time we felt anger we, rather than succumbing to the enemy of rage, we stopped, let the Spirit still our mind, and listened more deeply? What if we decided we were willing to bridge the gap between “us” and “them?”
Lord, I pray that You open the President’s heart to compassion and graciousness, You give Congress and the country a thirst for unity, and awaken us all to the solidarity of Your purpose through Your love and grace.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi
*©2016 Mark Yaconelli, The Gift of Hard Things p.99, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL