In his book “Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” (book/DVD) Francis Chan says there are two big things that tend to inhibit our relationship with God and our reliance on the Holy Spirit:
1. Comfort (maybe our lives are too safe)
In his experience, as in mine, we feel closest to God when nearness to him is a necessity rather than an option. The Holy Spirit is described in the Bible as the “Helper” and the “Comforter”. But what reason could we have to rely on a helper or a comforter if our lives are carefree and comfortable? Sometimes cares and discomfort are what’s needed to push us into a space we should be but refuse or delay going to.
This disruption of our quest for permanent but artificial comfort is the work of the Holy Spirit. He is calling us to a life of reliance and, often, insecurity – and it is an exciting life! Many people resist this because they’ve adopted safety and security as an idol. This needs to change.
“To expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us and, if persisted in, to grieve the HS into silence”
2. Volume (maybe our lives are too loud)
Multitasking anyone? When was the last time you experienced one uninterrupted hour? In our distraction culture we are training ourselves to accept as normal the opposite of what God requires for relationship – long, sustained, uninterrupted periods of time.
When we are accustomed to constant brain activity via email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter etc. we find it difficult to spend quiet, uninterrupted time with God and others with whom we are supposed to be in a relationship.
Our lack of intimacy with God is often due to our refusal to unplug. Jesus didn’t have electronic media distractions to deal with but he regularly had mobs of people following him, and yet he was disciplined about taking time to be alone with God. As with everything else, we need to follow his example in this.
I’ll never forget the day I read this paragraph from Eugene Peterson’s book “The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction” for the first time:
The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.
I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself — and to all who will notice — that I am important.
BUT, he goes on
How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?
I as a Pastor am not immune to this curse of busy-ness.
How can the “still small voice” of the Spirit compete with all of the distractions in our lives? He doesn’t try to. He just keeps speaking, waiting for you to turn down the volume of everything else and listen. When everything else is turned down and you can hear him he’ll tell you “This is the volume at which you were meant to live.” Keep turning down the volume on your life until you hear him. The problem is likely NOT that he’s not speaking, but that the volume of the rest of your life is so loud that you can’t hear.
The Holy Spirit filled those first disciples and equipped them in every way to be fruitful participants in the mission of God. If we will open our hearts and lay down our lives they way they did, he will do the same for us.
“The point of the HS is to enable those who follow Jesus to take into all the world the news that he is Lord, that he has won a victory over the forces of evil, that a new world has opened up, and that we are to help make it happen.”
|Books and Authors Recommended in This Post|
|Eugene Peterson – “The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction” (buy book)|
|Francis Chan – “Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” (buy book/DVD)|