The older I get, the more I find myself relying on the peace and wisdom I have been given through the Holy Spirit.
Do we “work” at resting or put “effort” into letting go? Or can we fall into the River of God and allow it to buoy us through the rapids and eddys of the journey of life?
We live in a continual and reoccurring state of turmoil. One day may run smoothly; the next day chaos reigns. How do we function in a world where circumstances fluctuate daily or even hourly? How do we remain calm and resist the roller coaster of worry and stress accompanying such undependable conditions?
We live, some of us on one side of a bridge and some of us on “the other side,” with a roiling river beneath us. And because we allow these circumstances to define, overwhelm or dictate us, we never take notice of the bridge which can connect us all.
When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will take you by the hand and guide you into the full truth. He will make sense out of what he hears from the Father; he will remind you of the words I said and tie them together for you. He will disclose to you what is about to happen. (John 16:13)
We live in our individual worlds of worry and stress, of decisions we need or think we need to make in order to survive or thrive. And sometimes, in those individual worlds, our stresses can turn to depression, anger or fear.
Instead of lobbing rhetorical grenades across the bridge or curbing conversation using phrases like, “You’re on a different path than I am,” to, “You’re a heretic” and other ugly names, let’s identify common ground and listen to each other. Instead of lowering our heads to say and do what we’ve always done, let’s pause to allow the Spirit to work in us before being right becomes more important than reflecting Jesus.
We may well be on different paths, but our destinations may very well be the same. If we only make statements or point out flaws instead of ask questions, we don’t make room for listening to each other or the Spirit. When our default is to think the worst instead of the best about someone, it’s a sure sign we’re failing to focus on the One who abides in us.
Our words and our way are to be holy. Philippians 4:8 says we’re to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. If we’re focusing on anything besides God, we’re inviting sickness and sin within; we’re hopeless without His holiness. When I’m tempted to think the worst instead of the best about someone, it’s a sign I’m failing to focus on whatever is lovely. Lasting recovery in a relationship only happens under the same conditions holy does. Make no mistake, when we find our happy anywhere but in Christ, it’s hazardous to our health…Healing happens when He is the heart and home of our hope. (Wendy Macdonald, wendylmacdonald.com)
The flawed activity of striving causes us to focus on ourselves, on the journey we think we should be on, on the image of a god (and others) we create from our own image and expectations. Sometimes, we even narrow the choices we think we have before us, when other choices beyond our solitary vision may be wanting our attention. But when we give ourselves breathing space, and partner with the Spirit, His wisdom allows us wider vision.
The vision of the Spirit allows us to see choices we have not seen before, forgive offenses we have not forgiven before, understand issues we have not understood before, love people we have not loved before.
Just as a gentle breeze cools a hot summer day, the Spirit tempers our anger and calms our fear. The Spirit expands our heart with grace and compassion, ready to overflow onto others. The Spirit knows when we are teachable in order to absorb new understanding, thus renewing our mind. The Spirit knows exactly when we are accessible to be raised to new heights, when our minds and hearts are available for transformation.
The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of everything I have ever told you. And I’m leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. This will leave you well and whole, not abandoned or bereft. So don’t be troubled or fearful. (John 14:26-27)
As the Spirit invites us into relationship with the Father and the Son, we are drawn in by love and grace. We are encouraged to stay open and allow the ease of this relationship to flourish and fill us. As a result of floating in His River, we see our own reflection differently. We see our Father reflected back when we look into our own eyes. We see Jesus when we look at others.
Our heart begins to take on the love and grace for others which Jesus had. We find ourselves no longer fearing people, but embracing them, just as our Father embraces us. Because we discover we are no longer people without worth, but worthy sons and daughters of a God who loves us not for who we might become, but for who we are right here, right now.
God is the bridge that unifies us. There is no difference in our hearts; He loves you and He loves me equally. Whatever other choices we think we must make, our primary choice is to love each other the way He loves us.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. (1 John 4:18)