Thursday, June 25, 2015

Experiencing the Holy Spirit in Ordinary Life

Paul's prayer for the people of the Colossian church, asking that they may "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:9-10 ESV

Discernment is "spiritual understanding" or "perceptive knowledge". Each day we are faced with struggles and stresses calling for greater understanding, for deeper wisdom and bringing new opportunities to share Christ's love, to bear fruit for His Kingdom. Henri Nouwen says this about finding God's voice in everyday, ordinary life:
"We should invite the Holy Spirit into our direct experience, into our thoughts, memories, worries, and plans. Instead of seeking a life free from pain and suffering, we should trust that Jesus is present in our pain and suffering."
During an intensive Survey of the Bible course a few years ago, about 20 of us spent nearly 10 months together for 2 or more hours a week studying. We learned an immense amount of information about God's Word but also experienced a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. A young couple, Andy and Jillian, were part of that group. Within a year of the study, this dental student and news anchor relocated when Andy began a dental residency with the Air Force, taking with them their new baby girl, Violet. Then - ordinary life changed with a new pregnancy and a Down Syndrome diagnosis. (You can read her blog and their story here!) Faced with this unexpected unknown, raw emotions of disappointment and uncertainty poured out. With soul-searching questions, this family embodied the process of discernment through real-life experience, through pain and suffering.

Nouwen goes on to write, "We need to acknowledge our suffering honestly - our loneliness, regrets, sadness, hopelessness, and anger - then open our hearts to the One who loves us in every detail of our lives." By inviting the Holy Spirit into their heartache and doubt, Andy and Jillian placed their emotions and decisions in God's hands and discovered His peace and hope! Anderson was born on New Year's Eve; a new life, a new year, a new beginning!

Paul's prayer continues, "May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father..." Seeking God's voice requires us to invite the Holy Spirit into all the messy, ordinariness of life and then listen. God's goodness and love never change, and He uses circumstances to make us stronger, grow our faith-walk, teach us dependence on His mercy. God loves us and embraces us as all the details of life unfold. Today marks Anderson's phenomenal recovery from open heart surgery last week to repair two holes in his tiny, 5 month old heart. Bring all your life to the Creator, and prayerfully ask Him how to move forward! ~ dho

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