Have you struggled this year with feeling as if you have little control over your emotions, fears, maybe even your patience? Perhaps you feel a sense of disconnect—even from Jesus. Are you starving for intimacy—a deeper, more empowering relationship with Him in these days? Maybe you have thought to yourself, “If only Jesus were right here with me, He could tell me what to do. He could help me with all that is weighing on my heart.”
Imagine how the disciples felt after Jesus left them. They truly knew what it was like to “do life” with the Messiah.
Jesus Did Not Leave Them (or Us) Empty Handed
Fully, bodily, Jesus was present with His disciples. Amid turmoil, He was their peace. Intimate fellowship seeped into meals and conversations as they walked, worked, and laughed. When their frailty was displayed—when they sank, fell asleep, ran away even—Jesus loved them still. What could be as wonderful as (literally) walking with the Word in the flesh? Yet, Jesus informed his friends that it was to their advantage that He would leave, for He would send the Helper to them.
The disciples had witnessed their friend ravaged, beaten, killed. They knew the exhilaration of His resurrection. Their eyes beheld the heavens as He ascended. And then they waited. It was a time of great uncertainty—like no other in the history of the world. When we peek into Acts chapter two, we discover that the glorious gift indeed came, just as Jesus had promised. The Holy Spirit fell upon them. He filled them. He was given just as freely and fully as Jesus had given of Himself in the flesh. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, proceeded from the Father and brought testimony regarding Jesus.
The Holy Spirit allowed Stephen, full of God’s grace and power, to boldly proclaim Truth before he was stoned to death. The Spirit directed the decisions of the infant Church. The Spirit opened the heart and eyes of Paul. The Spirit led, set-apart, and guided—He was the Counselor that Jesus spoke of—He was indeed good and necessary in order that they might fulfill the work of spreading the gospel.
The Fruit of the Spirit Is Evidence
When we consider the Spirit of God moving, we might think of incredible events taking place as a result—a sea splitting in two, a grave giving up the dead, twisted limbs being straightened, or revival breaking out. While the Spirit of God is no doubt working in momentous ways, He is also at work in each of us. The most incredible way He displays His power is within our hearts. Personally, I know the greatest miracle I will ever behold is that I know Jesus as my Savior. The Spirit of God has done a work in me. He brought me from death to life. He continues to lead, guide, protect, woo, and surround me with His perfect peace—even when I feel tossed about, impatient, lonely, or afraid.
Without the Spirit of God, we find ourselves depleted, defeated, and in a losing battle with our flesh. You are producing evidence of the Spirit of God within you. That evidence is known as the fruit of the Spirit (found in Galatians 5). They’re the little attributes that stack up within your day—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those nine attributes display the working of the Spirit within you. It does not mean you will not fail. It does not mean that the Spirit has failed you or you have failed the Spirit when you struggle. It means He is at work within you.
There’s Hope in the Darkness
The Spirit of God within you does not come and go. He does not show up only when you are standing, steady with confidence. He is present, and fully so, when you are a tangled, sobbing heap on the floor. For the jagged, wounded, raw edges of your heart he brings healing. In loneliness He brings comfort. In darkened grief and anguish He brings hope. When fear paralyzes, He brings freeing boldness. The Spirit is just as present, just as wholly within you when you cry out:
“I cannot forgive.”
“What will happen to me and my family?”
“I cannot climb out of this dark despair.”
“I cannot gain ground over this sin.”
“I have no worth or value to offer the Lord.”
God has already sent to you a helper. He has filled you—even when you are slipping, sinking, feeling like running away. He loves you still. He is not asking you to muster up the courage or trust anything within yourself. He is your help. He offers you counsel, strength, grace, and comfort. If it were possible, if you could see it, you would find that your inventory is full. You cannot be filled more than you already are, but you can be aware—you can choose to operate as if the Spirit of the Living God dwells inside of you, because, if you are a true follower of Christ, then He does.
Most likely you are not going to be standing on a street corner proclaiming Christ to a hostile crowd who have picked out boulders to project your way. You are probably not being threatened with imprisonment or extensive persecution. Maybe you just want to be able to make it through your day without screaming at your kids or to show respect and tenderness to your spouse or to be freed from paralyzing fear or unstuck from seeking the approval of man. Maybe you just want to sense contentment and peace.
We do not know how God will meet our needs. We do not know how God will sort out the deep wounds in our hearts or how our jagged edges will find healing. We do not know how we will walk out of fear and despair and into a place of contentment and peace. We don’t know what is waiting for us in the days ahead. But we are guaranteed that the Spirit of God is with us, offering counsel, extending hope, and providing direction. And we know that He is ever-present.
The Spirit of God Is a Gift
Remember the intimacy with Christ known by the disciples? Recall how much they relied upon the Lord in their times of sinking doubt, sorrows, and daily frustrations. We can know the same intimacy. We have the same close, good, advantageous, constant, and reliable source through the Spirit of God who will always point us to the Savior. He is with us in our day to day struggles. He is with us when we are no longer sure of His love and compassion. When we invite the Spirit into whatever we are going through, we are inviting the power, peace, and presence of God to be fully with us.
We have a choice—be led by the Spirit of God or to be led by the flesh, fears, and idols that derail us. It seems obvious which would be the better choice. But so often we fail to recognize what is readily available to us. We can be tempted to believe that we lack because of disappointing behavior or failures, as if we have not paid our dues enough to enjoy the privilege of the presence of the Spirit of God. But our redemption is a gift. Jesus’ work upon the cross was a gift and the Holy Spirit, sent just as Jesus said, is also a gift. Take captive the lies Satan wants you to believe. His desire is that we feel powerless, stifled, and stuffed into the corner.
Do you fall upon the reliance of the Holy Spirit? Or are you trudging, endlessly depleted and defeated? You live in a world that is hostile to your faith; it certainly is not going to point you to Christ but will remind you over and over again that your self-sufficiency has a limit. If anything, you are being overrun by the world, screaming, “You are not safe, not enough, not heard!”
If only Jesus were right here with me.
My friend, Jesus has offered you what He offered His chosen disciples. He has sent the Spirit of God, who will guide you into all Truth. Jesus is here with you. He is your peace, your hope and comfort. He is the answer to your problems and suffering. Lean upon Him, put your reliance fully upon Him, listen to His voice as He gives you understanding of the Word of God. Recognize this glorious gift, given freely so that you might always know that Jesus is near.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yea, deep things of God. —1 Corinthians 2:10 (NKJV)