I have a confession to make. Science just isn’t my “thing”.
Chemistry was not elective in 9th grade, and in hindsight, I think I had better chances of becoming fluent in Chinese in 10 months. Seriously. I'm also certain that speaking Chinese would have been more practical than being fluent in... "elements and things that go "oops" in the lab..." just saying..
I wasn't completely hopeless... I knew something. (Notice the singular quantity of that word?) Uh-huh. I knew that H2O meant water (even if I didn't understand why) but the question never came up on a test. When you also consider that they never gave me any credit for writing my name on each blank piece of paper I handed in... yeah, about that big fat 0 at the end of the term... oops. ComBUSTED?
I needed one science credit in high school to graduate (insert panic!), but God had mercy on me and made it possible for “Canadian Geography” to count as a science credit. Oh Canada!
Even when the children ask science related questions, I will often respond with an apologetic “I’m sorry, guys, that seems to fall under the science category... so, uhm, call Tia.”
I have another confession to make.
Theology seems just as daunting to me.
Both are such vast, complex subjects, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. My saving grace is that I have a passion for God and it keeps me motivated to learn more about Him. Science? Notsomuch.
I don't consider myself to be very intelligent. I learn by simply experiencing and seeing life through analogies, and then acting on what I learn through the power of choice. Teachers whose teaching methods match my learning style are rare. What I lack in intelligence I pray I can make up for in faith. And wisdom. And on a good day, maybe humor. Or something.
So imagine my excitement for a moment when I recently stumbled upon a stirring analogy that mixed physics and theology!
Jesus told the disciples just before his death that soon, He would no longer be among them, but that they would be better off with the gift of a counselor that He would give to them upon His death. (John 14:16)
What could possibly be better than having Jesus physically by your side, in the flesh? Isn't He the ultimate counselor? So could anything be better than walking side by side with Jesus?
Being filled with the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, the Holy Spirit is a gift we're all given, so why is it that not every life shows evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within?
It all points to Spiritual Physics.
The only thing I know about physics is that two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time. I think there is one exception, something to do with light or something – you’d have to ask someone much smarter than me about that... I vote for Tia. She qualifies for MENSA. I'm really not kidding. She's that smart, and somehow, she manages to put up with me!
It dawned on me that the same is true spiritually within our own bodies -- our lives --our spiritual lives. As Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit, but it only FILLS us in direct proportion to how EMPTY we are. We can not be filled with ourselves and also be full of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual physics!
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate gentleman, He has to be invited in, and won’t take full control unless our control is first surrendered.
Our kids have a game of holding their breath when we cross a bridge. Only one of the kids has made it across the Miramichi Bridge while holding their breath, and none have made it across the Confederation Bridge, thank the Lord! (The Confederation Bridge is over 8 miles long...) I know that they'll come up for air at some point, just the thought of them not breathing oxygen in grieves me. Even though I'm driving and can't see the kids while they're holding their breath, I can tell who gave up first because I hear them gasp for air as they become desperate for oxygen.
I imagine God feels the same way about us. He's waiting for us to breathe in the Holy Spirit and let it fill us and sustain us... but when we're refusing to breathe, it grieves Him deeply. He knows we'll eventually "come up for air", but every moment without the Holy Spirit is like a moment without vital oxygen -- it's detrimental.
If the Holy Spirit is as important to Christians as the air we breathe, why aren't we filling our lives with the Holy Spirit? What does it take for us to be desperate for the Holy Spirit? Where is our hunger, our thirst, our need to breathe the Holy Spirit in? Why aren't we breathing every breath for Him, and if we're not breathing for Him, are we really living?
The reason we aren't filled with Him can normally be summed up with a four letter word.
We only want to give the Holy Spirit control if we know what it will cost us, what it will require of us, what His plan or His will is for us... but why? What are we afraid of? Do we not trust His truths, do we not trust that He is Who He says He is? Do we not believe in Him and what He is capable of? Why not? Were we not there the 360+ times His Word told us "do not fear"?
We have every reason to trust Him, and absolutely NO reason not to.
And yet, so many of us are paralyzed by fear.
If there is one thing I understand about fear, it's that the author of fear is satan -- he holds us prisoner to fear when he wants to rob us of what God can do through us. He distracts us from our focus on God because as long as we're distracted by satan, we're not serving God -- that is exactly what satan hopes to achieve. We need to remember that we can not serve two masters. We can not serve ourselves and God, just as we can't serve satan and God.
By giving in to fear, by giving in to satan, we are robbing ourselves.
So instead of reaping a full harvest, we decide that perhaps we only want a tiny little bit of Holy Spirit -- "Just a little Holy Spirit appetizer, on the side, please? Hold the dressing... Fat free, calorie free, oh and risk free too while you're at it, eh?"
What are we trying to do, find a size zero Jesus?
By not giving Him all of us, we're telling Him that we don't want all of Him.
Do we realize at all that this also means that we're also not benefiting from all He has to offer?
By avoiding what may require effort, faith, cost... we're missing out on supernatural blessings and gifts that can't even be measured...
Our unwillingness to surrender all to Him costs us an abundant harvest, a fruitful life. It has eternal consequences. Beyond that, without being filled with the Holy Spirit, an outsider could mistake us for a non-believer... the evidence that points to God just wouldn't shine through, since it is the Holy Spirit who is vital to producing genuine fruit of the spirit.
Fruit of the Spirit?
How do we know we're not filled with the Holy Spirit? Lack of spirit, lack of fruit. That's why The Word says "fruit of the spirit"! I know, it seems like such a basic, elementary thing to you all, but I'm just cluing in, so
If I needed to determine whether or not my life was bearing fruit of the spirit, I would simply ask myself some questions such as:
- Do I love all others, even those who hurt me, with the love Christ extends to me?
- Does my life radiate intentional joy at all times rather than circumstantial joy?
- Do I have inner peace?
- Do I exude patience in all circumstances?
- Am I kind to others at all times in my thoughts, words, actions, even behind closed doors?
- Does my life reflect the goodness of God to others?
- Is my life ruled by faith or by fear?
- Am I gentle with my thoughts, words and actions, or am I angry, bitter, careless or indifferent?
- Do I have self-control over my flesh, or does it control me?
Remember my learning style? Analogy and
The emptying isn't going to happen on it's own, it has to be our conscious, intentional, free will choice.
Like me, there are likely some things on the list of 9 questions that you can't say "yes" to confidently... I believe that my two biggest struggles are with patience and self-control. Although if you were to compare my patience to what it was 2 years ago, the contrast is so ridiculous, you could say that I'm doing well... but I know there is much room for improvement -- ask my kids about my patience when they get up from their beds for the 10th time, for example. I get a little sour -- hey, you could call it sour grapes :) Either way, lack of patience is either rotten fruit or no fruit at all, and it's an area that needs Holy Spirit intervention. As for the self-control, why don't I exert some self-control right now and NOT go there? Ahem.
So by some perspectives maybe I'm doing "ok"... but am I?
By whose standards do we measure our success? Is it good enough to be a "good person", to be popular, to have a great job or to be nice to others? Is it enough to throw some money at a good charity once in a while to ensure that we're "kind" in the eyes of others and that we've done our share? Is it good enough to show up for church on Sunday? Is it good enough to say all the right things? Is it good enough to have all the right excuses for not doing the right things?
Is it good enough to simply call ourselves believers or Christians? Even Adolph Hitler claimed to follow Christ... did his life bear fruit of the spirit? In the mirror of life, did he reflect Jesus? Do we?
We can all easily succeed in this world by the world's standards, believers and unbelievers alike... but is that the standards by which we, as Christians, are called to live? Doesn't Jesus require more of us than that? Shouldn't our life have an eternal impact by producing a fruitful harvest for His kingdom?
Anyone can be a "good" person... so what sets us apart? What does our life sing that says "I am Yours and You are mine!"?
It's our choice.
Spiritual Physics: Being completely empty of ourselves so as to give the Holy Spirit complete freedom to fill us and bear abundant Christ-like fruit through us, for Him.