We Christians worship the Creator of the world, who is manifested in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.
I had the stupidest idea of who the Spirit of God was until this year.
I used to think that He was some invisible ghost-like figure who roamed the aisles of the church at invitation-time, begging folks to come forward and say the “sinner’s prayer”. I thought He could be easily scared away (a.k.a. “quenched”) when the microphones messed up during my pre-sermon “special music” or when the electricity went off during the most emotional climax of a sermon. I thought that He was there to help me to “witness” door-to-door, so long as I got the words right and asked all the questions on my “Share Jesus Without Fear” card in their proper order. I thought, in short, that He was sensitive. That I had some kind of control over His ability. That He was…tiny.
Boy was I wrong.
This year, this “tiny” Holy Spirit of God pulled out the big guns and blew my ridiculous theology to smithereens.
He has, by the grace of God, revealed to me who is who in this relationship.
And guess what?…
Mrs. Gore is the tiny one.
I used to try so hard to cultivate Christian growth in my life. We had lists, you know. Each Christian needed a daily quiet time, a daily prayer time, an accountability partner, a journal, weekly church attendance, and a scripture memory chart. We would check them off if we accomplished them and berate ourselves if we didn’t. I would never try to downplay the importance of those Christian disciplines – they are all good things, after all – but I had it so backwards. My devotion to all of the above was about as deep as Baby Betsie’s bathwater. Two or so days a week, I would get “serious” and sit with my Bible, struggling over what to read. I would try to pray through the ACTS prayer, devoting two minutes to each subject. I would memorize a stack of scripture verses written on organized note cards that I would misplace a month later…
I worked “so hard!” to be a good Christian. And the saddest thing is that my best efforts were actually quite lackadaisical and puny.
It was when we moved to Kentucky that things really began to change for me. All of a sudden, by the sweet grace of God, the girl who thought she had it all figured out found herself kinda speechless.
Was it the outstanding expository preaching and teaching that did it? Was it marriage to a godly shepherd and question-answerer? Was it simply my time to be on the receiving end of God’s amazing grace?…
I don’t know. Maybe all of the above, with a strong emphasis on the last one.
But what I do know is, I have been changed.
It used to frustrate me so much that I didn’t love to read my Bible on my own. I would struggle over it, I would cry over it, I would try new methods, new devotional books, new schedules. And then Chris gave me some advice one day as we sat in our tiny seminary apartment that has changed everything about the way I do this Christian life. He said “pray and ask God to give you a love for His Word.”
Come again? That was so simple! And yet it was so ridiculously obvious. Why had I not thought of doing this before? Why had I exhausted all of my own ideas and efforts before going to the One who can breathe life into dead bones?
Even still, I was a bit skeptical. It sounded too easy.
I began to notice that Chris gave this advice quite often. When I was doubtful of my salvation, struggling over whether or not I was “born again”? Ask God to give you faith, he said. When I was having great trouble loving and forgiving a fellow believer? Ask God to give you love for them and to change your heart, he said. When I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety over what the future held? Ask God to chase away your fears, he said.
This advice slightly annoyed me…
I wanted to do something.
I wanted to MAKE myself a better person, a more devoted follower, a less hypocritical believer.
But, as usual, Mr. Gore was on to something. As I slowly began to understand and acknowledge that my abilities to be holy were limited indeed, and cried out for help, God began to answer. He sent me the Comforter. You know, the Holy Spirit. That “tiny” part of God that I had kind of ignored for all those years…
And as a result, I have been swept away.
The Spirit is a master craftsman. He takes words that you could not understand for years and years and plants them in the deepest part of your soul where they spring forth and flood darkness with light, blindness with sight. He pursues you like a hound, never leaving you as you are, always asking for more, even in the night when the rest of the world is at rest. He surrounds you when you are weeping on your knees, confused, unsure of what lies ahead, and quietly ministers to you when no one else could possibly understand how badly your heart is broken.
He is not tiny.
For years and years, I had exchanged the truth for a lie. I thought I could measure God’s love for me in the things I had…my health, my happy marriage, my obedient children, my possessions, my spick-and-span church, and in the things I did. I told others about the redeeming work of Jesus and ridiculed works-based salvation, all while trying to generate goodness and obedience in my heart.
But when this amazing Spirit of God turned on the lights, revealing to me my nakedness, my depravity, my white-washed exterior…oh, dear God, He took away everything.
And in its place, He gave me this gift — the gift of a still, small voice — and the greatest avenue to knowing and understanding and loving Jesus.
Best. gift. ever.