Monday, May 24, 2010

Pentecost Musings

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost!  It's a day--no, a whole season--for remembering that after Christ ascended, He did not leave us alone.  He told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come, and when He came, He came in power with the sound of a mighty rushing wind.  Before He ascended, Christ assured his disciples that they would do even greater works than His, once He had gone, because of the power of the Holy Spirit in them.

We receive the Holy Spirit as one of the gifts of salvation, and He is always with us.  Yet it is also possible to grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit and be depleted of the Spirit, for Paul tells us, "Be continually filled with the Spirit."  Christ taught, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing," and Paul proclaimed, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Christ is with us and strengthens us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes it's hard to see the line between doing in my own strength, and acting in the power of the Holy Spirit. My intention is to be committed to God--to His will, His plans, His purposes and His direction.  I try to choose my course--my actions, my plans, my attitudes--to line up with His.  I pray for His continual strength to do what I believe He's called me to do, and I think He does empower me to do so much more good than I could do if the plans were only my own.

Yet I know I get off course at times.  My good intentions fail in moments of anger, frustration and disappointment when something interferes with the plans, and it is in those moments that I most need the fruits of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness and self-control.  It is in those instances that I realize how much more Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled I want to be.

So what helps?  Today, I need to remind myself.

1)  Waiting expectantly, just like the disciples in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost.  The expectation is key; I think it is an exercise of faith to believe that if I ask, I shall receive.  Exercise strengthens!

2)  Explicitly giving Christ the rule of my heart.  I envision the throne of my heart and ask myself, "Who is spending more time there, me or Christ?"  I confess that I often put myself there, and I ask Him once more to seat Himself on that throne.  I put myself once again under His rule.

3)  Reminding myself that apart from Christ, I can do nothing, or "no good thing," as some translations render the verse.

4)  Consciously trying to love.  What would be the loving action, the loving word, the loving response?

5) Living by this verse:  "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs with gratitude in Your hearts to God- And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." 

To unpack:  Reading God's word, listening/singing songs of worship, giving thanks, and dedicating all my works and words to God.

In this year of great busy-ness, I have not much time for doing the things of God--for reading my Bible, for journalling, for devoted prayer times.  It feels, in some ways, like I have been crossing the desert, with minimal provisions to sustain me.  But by God's grace (and in answer to my prayers for mercy, I'm certain), I have been able to maintain many of the attitudes on this list.  As I look it over, I see that it's more about being than doing, more about choices than actions.

I remember I once placed a post-it on my mirror on which I had scrawled, "Who I am matters more than what I do."  It feels like this past year, I've only had time to choose who I am--I've had little choice at all about what I do.  Somehow, in this time of difficulty and stress, I think I've managed to grow in choosing who I am going to be, though my family knows how inconsistent I am.  But overall, I am going to choose not to feel guilty, but to be thankful for the many times that I know the Holy Spirit has helped me, in His strength, to bite my tongue, to give a soft answer, to do it myself with a servant's heart, to stay up late and help, to not complain.  I will encourage myself to keep asking, waiting, and expecting.  I will keep trying to love, to submit, to give thanks, to worship and to dedicate my thoughts, words and deeds to God.

I look for an end to this difficult season, but I will be thankful for what it is teaching me!


Anonymous said...

Jeanne, Beautiful posting! I forwarded this link to others. These are the desires of my heart, too, yet I fall far short of what I would desire...Love, Pianomum

Jessica said...

Ah, Jeanne, I'm grateful I got to read this. Especially the who we are being more important than what we do . . . God's been re-teaching me that one this past month too!