There was a question on Facebook recently asking, “Do you use a fan at night?” And I was happy to see that many people said yes. I am one of those who turns my oscillating fan on low so the air blows across my bed each night. The wind gives me peace and helps me sleep, as well as the sound of the fan moving back and forth.
I just came to realize that the experience of having a fan blow over me each night is a reminder of the Holy Spirit in my life. The Holy Spirit that came with a loud rushing wind on Pentecost continues to blow over me in many ways throughout my life, giving me peace, inspiration, strength and rest. It is the Holy Spirit that moves over me to guide my steps and give me the words to say to others about the good news of Jesus Christ who came to comfort and save.
Fans cool us down when we are hot and uncomfortable, and the Holy Spirit calms us down when our souls are troubled and cools us down when we are hot under the collar about frustrations in life.
I am always put at ease with these words from Scripture: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). The quiet moan of the fan as it turns points to the groanings of the Spirit expressed to God on my behalf.
So often, I have discovered, the work of the Holy Spirit is ignored, forgotten or taken for granted, but the truth is that it is the driving force of our Christian life, so if a little fan at bedtime can remind me to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s active role in my spiritual growth, then I am grateful.
Recently my shower in my bathroom was not working properly. Water was only dribbling out of the shower no matter how far I turned the faucet on. The culprit? Clogged holes in the shower head. After many attempts to unclog the holes, I ended up buying (and installing, believe it or not!) a whole new shower head with completely unclogged holes. The result? A strong and steady flow of water that pours out immediately with a simple turn of the faucet handle.
The experience made me wonder how many other things are clogged up in various ways in my life that need to be unclogged. I think of sadness that clogs up the flow of joy. I think of anger that blocks the way for love to pour out. I consider the frustrations of the past that stop me from freely springing forth with attempts to try again.
How do we get unclogged? The prophet Hosea puts it to us this way: “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3). We need to keep going, to keep flowing, to let our God unclog what is preventing us from moving forward. He showers blessings upon us that break through the barriers to a happy, holy life. Sometimes that unclogging means an entire system replacement of our former way of life, leading to spiritual renewal by the Holy Spirit (like changing out the whole shower head). And sometimes it means daily having Jesus dig out the gunk of sin building up in individual little aspects of our lives (like taking a toothpick to every shower head hole each morning).
Either way the end result is a release of constant streams of goodness from above that enable us to be free of sin and refreshed for new life in Christ. Be made clean in him today!
I use the microwave to cook most of my meals these days, and I have realized that I have come to expect food to be ready to eat in 5 to 10 minutes, no matter what the entree may be. A turkey dinner, a meatloaf, a lasagna all take the same amount of time when it comes to frozen dinners.
The expectation I have fallen into of short time frames actually is part of a cultural phenomenon called microwave society, which is the mindset of wanting (and nearly getting) everything “right now.” Now nearly everything can come to us on demand. There is no waiting around for things for a long period of time anymore, or at least we as a people do not put up with waiting.
What has happened as a result? Patience has almost disappeared. We have become very restless and anxious as a consequence. But the Bible reminds us that patience can be a very necessary and beneficial part of life:
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains (James 5:7).
Patience makes what we are waiting for more precious and waiting allows for growth and maturing to happen in the process. The people of God were patient in waiting for the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, thousands of years after the promise was made. So it is only natural that we are called upon to wait patiently as the followers of Christ for his coming again to take us home with him to heaven. In the nearly two thousand years that have passed since Christ’s ascension, the Church has grown and matured and developed a closer relationship with our Savior. We have become more willing to let things happen in God’s time. We know that the wait will one day end with a harvest of blessings that can never be taken away: everlasting life with Christ. Isn’t that worth the wait?
One of my favorite verses in Scripture is when God promises Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17). In this poetic way, God is saying that Abraham’s descendants will be beyond even counting. And this was before Abraham’s son Isaac was even born. Abraham had to trust these words purely on faith in God’s word.
I think of times when I look up to the sky at night and marvel at the multitude of stars I can see. Then I think of times I have been on the beach and seen thousands of grains of sand slip through my fingers and toes along seemingly endless expanses of seashore.
I find it interesting that God paired stars with sand, with stars from above and sand from the earth. It is a reminder to us that God is in charge of both the heavens and the earth. No part of creation is beyond his reach and his handiwork.
In the end, the message of stars and sand is one of blessing—abundant blessing. We are in the capable hands of a God who richly provides for us, far surpassing our imagination or comprehension. We, like Abraham, can only put our faith in God and trust that he will care for us in beautiful and myriad ways, with twinkle and texture, sparkle and shimmer.
He would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 5:16
The Bible tells us that Jesus would get away to desolate places in order to pray. At first blush, it sounds a little counterintuitive. Shouldn’t Jesus be out and about with the people and doing miracles all the time? That is what many expected of him who kept following Jesus wherever he went. But we must remember that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine. He needed time away to regroup and be inspired and filled up again, just like we do.
It is alright to take a break, to get away from it all, to be by yourself for a while to talk to God and get recharged for service in Jesus’ name. We can’t do everything and there are only so many hours in the day. We need to be realistic and practical about what can and cannot get done in a day. The Spirit will guide us to what needs to be done first and foremost and what can wait until later and when it is time to stop and care for yourself and your own needs. It is called self care and it is not being selfish. It is being kind to yourself when you are running on empty and it is allowing yourself the chance to be renewed by the Lord is your mission and purpose.
Consider today where your “desolate place” can be and when you should escape to there to be blessed by rest in the Lord.
There are many songs in Scripture that the Church at large has incorporated into the liturgy. While we may not sing them as often in church these days, they are worth remembering as part of the sound track of our souls, on a continuous loop in our life of faith, if you will. Take a look:
The Benedictus (Zechariah’s song): Found in Luke 1:67-79, this song (meaning “blessing”) is from Zechariah, sung in praise to God for the birth of John the Baptist, born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age, after years of waiting and hoping. God had great plans for this child, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Let the words of this song lift you up when you are amazed at what God has done.
The Magnificat (Mary’s song): Meaning “to magnify,” the title of this song by the mother of Jesus highlights Mary’s desire to focus closely on the ways of God that are counter to the ways of the world. Lowly are lifted up and the mighty are brought down. This reversal of fortunes is all part of God’s design, of which we are a part. May these words from Luke 1:46-55 wash over you when you are feeling down and out. You will not remain there, these words declare.
The Gloria in Excelsis (Angels’ song): On the night Jesus was born, angels on the hillsides near Bethlehem glorified the Lord in song while shepherds listening in. The song recorded in Luke 2:14 is a celebration of heaven coming to earth and peace taking the place of chaos. This is a perfect song to remember when things get confusing or out of control. There is Someone who can calm us down.
The Nunc Dimittus (Simeon’s song): Old Simeon sang this song that means “now let depart” when he held the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple. He knew that he could leave this earth assured by God of his salvation in the Messiah who had come and was cooing in his ear. Christ had come for all as a bright light dawning upon us, Simeon saw. Let this song from Luke 2:29-32 carry you through any times of doubt you may have.