Even though I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I feel like I just met Jesus a few years ago and mostly I feel like a brand new Christian. The church I was with even used different language for many things, so I have had to learn a new dialect of “Christianese” myself the last few years. One of the most surprising aspects of my new life in Christ was meeting “Mr. Holy Spirit.”
I had experienced many times in my life where I got what I called “revelation.” To me this meant something that God told me that I could not know by my five senses. The times that I got revelation were always thrilling, exciting and affirming to me. Often it was about little things that helped me – like where to park or to get that pair of shoes that I didn’t think I had the money for, but when I got to the register they were actually 70% off. That might sound silly, but I really needed a pair of black shoes and I really didn’t have the money and I remember feeling this urging to get these shoes that I didn’t see how I could afford.
I had been pursuing paying attention to promptings that seemed to come from God more keenly for a couple years before I put my heart on the altar to Jesus. And a strange thing happened after I intentionally submitted myself to Jesus as my Lord. As much as it had seemed I “heard” God …and as much as it seemed I was hearing God more, once I rededicated my heart to Jesus and really, truly began to look at him as my Lord, I began to feel, to hear, to sense the Holy Spirit. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what it was! I felt like it was the Holy Spirit and yet, my Christian upbringing had some different teachings about the Holy Spirit and I really wasn’t sure what this was. I’m still not sure how to reconcile the version I grew up being taught with what I feel now and I’m not going to delve into that theology in this blog. The voice I was hearing didn’t sound like God sometimes sounded to me, and I’d heard Jesus speak to me at times earlier that year, and it didn’t sound like him….I’d also been relieved of some, uh, well, evil spirits earlier that year and, well, it didn’t sound like them either. I knew it was good and I knew it was helpful, but I really wasn’t sure what “it” was!
I remember one of the first conversations that week with the Holy Spirit. It went something like this:
HS: Jenne, Get up and go get a glass of water.
Me: No, no, I really don’t feel like getting a glass of water. So, here’s how I do it. When I’m ready for a cigarette (I still smoked then), I’ll go outside, smoke cigarettes, then when I come back in, I’ll get a glass of water and then go to the bathroom.
HS: (in a tone that I will say sounded grieved) I know how you like to do things. I’m telling you to go get a glass of water.
Okay, so I will say that old me would never have believed that kind of conversation was legitimate. Those were things I could have known by my five senses. So, anything I could know by my five senses, well that was not revelation. That was maybe what we called “inspired.” Like the spirit of God in me would bring something to my remembrance. Except this wasn’t a “remembrance” of the need to drink more water. This was a straight out conversation. This was instruction, my response and his response.
At that stage of my life I had a gazillion bad habits. And the Holy Spirit began to convict and instruct me on, it felt like, all of them. By a few days into this, I was calling him “Drill Sergeant Holy Spirit.” And no joke, within a couple weeks I heard one of my favorite speakers say, “Don’t call the Holy Spirit Drill Sergeant.” I thought, oh my goodness, who let that guy into my thoughts??!!! Did you tell on me Holy Spirit??
But I really needed that type of help in my life at that time. I also found that he has a way of saying things to me that as shocking and confronting as they are, they don’t cut my heart the way things said by people have felt. He has a way of delivering tough news with such gentleness.
He didn’t only convict me though. One of the strongest and strangest experiences I had was that same week of me beginning to know the Holy Spirit. I was walking down the hall from the kitchen (with that dang glass of water!) when I realized I was walking in a very strange manner. Okay, I know this is going to sound crazy. I don’t know how to explain this to you. He didn’t “posses” me, but well, my feet were moving in this unique way. I felt very happy and in a good mood.
I came into my bedroom and I said, “What is this?” And the Holy Spirit began to give me instructions. He explained to me that my right leg was my anchor leg and my left leg was my “feeler” leg. He began to download all this information to me. I stood there, grinning ear to ear, not having a clue what it was for, saying, “Okaaaayyyyy.”
The next day I had a whole incredible experience where God led me to a local park, down trails and at one point, okay, I know this sounds crazy, but Jesus was telling me I was going to go off the beaten path and I was arguing with him and not wanting to do it, but there came this point where after a great deal of wheedling and whining on my part, Jesus persuaded me off of the beaten path and onto a leafy floor of a deep wood.
And there, on that deep, leaf covered ground, the instruction from the night before suddenly made perfect sense. I couldn’t tell what ground was secure by sight. My right leg was my anchor leg. My left leg was my feeler foot to test the ground while staying secure with my right leg. And he led me to an amazing spot that I may one day share about, but it was a meaningful and powerful afternoon that I spent with God in a wood hidden from sight.
In John 14 Jesus was so excited about making a way for the Holy Spirit to be available to all of God’s children permanently.
John 14: 16, 17, 26 CEB
I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. (v 17) This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.
(v 26) The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.”
Jesus told the disciples that having the Holy Spirit would be BETTER than the personal presence of Christ alive on the earth. His disciples had a tough time swallowing that. But what I’ve realized the last few years is that while my ability to sense God and my ability to sense Jesus Christ can change at different times, it seems like I can pretty much always at some level sense the Holy Spirit. That in itself has been a tremendous comfort to me as I have gone through some very intense, difficult times where I have felt far from the Father, distant from the Son. The consistent sense of the Holy Spirit in times where I have felt turned around and uncertain has helped assure me that I am not lost, even when I cannot see clearly and my emotions feel in upheaval.
He’s helped me SO much the last few years. He helps me remember the peanut butter I forgot I needed to pick up at the grocery store. He helps me cook! He gives me recipe ideas, and helps me save a lot of meals from going into the trash!! He tells me at times who is safe and who isn’t safe when I’m out and about on streets and buses. He’s given me directions, both walking and in the car – he is way more reliable than G.P.S. He’ll tell me which teaching I need to listen to from a selection– no, not that one, that one. He helps me know what meal I’ll be happy to eat when I’m ordering at a restaurant. I am telling you, the guy is a genius!!
He helps me know I’m not going to catch the next bus sometimes so that it helps me not get upset when it rolls by, and I’m too far away to run and catch it. He gives me a “heads up” on a lot of things that feel challenging for me.
He is a comforter. One morning before I found out a job assignment ended, I felt his joy show up full force in my kitchen. He is so enthusiastic about all my problems, and honestly I can feel like, Are you crazy?? One time I had no job and no money for rent, it was as if he was rubbing his hands together in glee, saying, “We haven’t had this much fun since last August!!” And I said, with my face so scrunched up, and my head feeling like it was going to explode, my voice coming out in a high-pitched squeak, “Last August? Wait, that’s the last time I didn’t have rent. Wait, you think this is FUN??!!”
I also feel like Holy Spirit will take on me on about as many adventures as I will say yes to. But I finally feel like I realized the last few years that I don’t have say YES to every adventure that the Holy Spirit invites me on. I think Holy Spirit is um, very adventurous, more than I am always up for!! But that’s me.
One friend used the comparison of riding a bike. She said for her Holy Spirit was the the hand that steadies her course on the bike. After sharing some of my experiences with the Holy Spirit she said it seemed that for me the Holy Spirit was the friend who rode on the handlebars. I looked at her, a question in the tilt of my head and the furrow on my brow as I didn’t ever remember having a friend ride on my bicycle handlebars.
She elaborated, the friend who rides on your handlebars blocks your view so you can’t see where you’re going, but they make the ride so much fun. That is such an apt description for many of my experiences with Holy Spirit adventures. There is an excitement and an energy I often feel with the Holy Spirit and though I am convicted he never leaves me, when I come up against his boundless, infectious enthusiasm in my feelers I don’t know that I can muster a desire to resist his invitations.
I do believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit work together in communion. I cannot explain it. I don’t know how they work together, and I used to think I needed to for it to be legitimate. Now, I’m big enough to accept that I’m not big enough to understand a God who created the heavens and the universe. But I am so grateful for the companionship of the Holy Spirit. I’m so thankful for his guidance, his conviction, his genius, his help, his joy, and yes, for his comfort. We have a good, good Father who gives good, good gifts and the Holy Spirit is a good, good gift!!