Monday, June 20, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Fullness

I spent some time with a friend last week and we were talking about the Holy Spirit. Her and I both are in different Bible studies, with separate groups of women, from different churches, working through the very same book. A book on the Holy Spirit. Likewise, our churches, separate from each other, have honed in on the very same topic as well. As trend in my life, repetition means somethings up. And well, it’s all quite interesting if you ask me.

So, this book o’ choice is called Forgotten God, by Francis Chan. To say it is “good” hardly does even the cover justice. (And the cover is pretty rockin’.) This book is awesome! Not particularly because of who wrote it, or really what was written, but because of how God is using it in my life. It’s a simple book presenting truths evident in the Bible, yet it’s powerful. I’ve yet to finish, and have actually just made it through chapter three, but it has strategically, and at time frustratingly, challenged everything i’ve learned, believed, and than subsequently lived out of the Holy Spirit. How’s that for a holy shake? (It’s good for my head- don’t worry about it.)

The Holy Spirit was nothing more to me than a “fuzzy feeling” when i was about to screw up, and an ambiguous “i think this is what he said” voice when I needed a little direction, and a “get me outta here” feeling when it manifested itself a little outside my nice box. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen God work in my life, and in those around me, in really powerful ways. At times, I’ve felt the Spirit move and speak very powerfully, but it has never been fully. I’ve never related to the Spirit, or considered that I may grieve him with my actions. Years have been spent walking around chest puffed (can girls do that?) with a nose pointed at the “Spirit filled” as if my poised Christianity was somehow righteous. As if a life lacking God’s power could ever be masked for self-controlled. For all the folks whose “holy rollin’ antics I once questioned, I was wrong. You get it. You get that the Spirit is alive and active. And you understand that he is powerful and beautifully moving his Church to do big things.

How’s that for a lesson in pride? Yikes.

So, this is what i keep returning to: the concept of fullness.

The first chapter cautions us not to consider the dwelling of Spirit in terms of quantity. “He has more Spirit than I do.”, “They have more of the Spirit at that church.” Negatory. It’s all or nothing. On the day of Pentecost, it says that the people were, “filled with the Holy Spirit.” He dwells completely, in all of who he is, within us. Not a part of him, or portions of his character, but all of him-entirely- in my life.

Now, check this out. This Spirit, the one who fully lives within me, is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. I think that assumes a certain fullness of power and authority that we’ve gotta consider. And if i boldly venture on, I think i’ve got to ask what my life would look like if I actually got that?

OK. So here’s the deal. When I pray for peace or patience, or forgiveness, this is my thought process: “Dear Jesus, my life is chaotic. Fix _(fill in the blank) . Give me some(fill in the blank).” Ok, it’s usually not spoken quite as blunt as that, but my general thought is that God will come though and “bring a little peace” to a certain situation until it passes over. Until things smooth over.

Yea, there are some issues with that. Actually, there are a lot of issues with that.

See, the Word promises me differently. Romans prays, “May the God of hope FILL you with ALL joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom. 15:13) Not a little hope to get by, and a little joy to carry you through. He quantifies it. He says, ALL. Jesus says in the book of John that he came that I might have life and have it ABUNDANTLY. Not haphazardly, kinda cool when I’m doing well. He says full, abundant life. It’s pretty straightforward. Jesus also says that he instructed us with what he did so that his joy would be in me, and that it would be so FULLY. When Jesus is promising the Spirit to his followers just before he returns to the Father, he tells them that when the Spirit comes, “he will guide you into ALL truth.” He says that this Helper, the Holy Spirit, will teach me ALL things and help me remember ALL that Jesus said. He will guide me into ALL truth.

In regards to asking God for things, he says “Sweetheart, ask and receive-- that your joy may be FULL!” Ok, so maybe God doesn’t drop the sweetheart, but you know, he was thinking it, I’m sure. God says to ask him and trust him to come through for big things so that our joy may be FULL. The Word says that the Spirit strengthens and empowers me to comprehend the great love of God, that I might be FILLED with the FULLNESS of God. As the Spirit reveals, I can start to grasp the great love of God, and in that am filled with who he is.

These are the promises of the Word. What’s with this praying for “some” of anything? When God moves he moves. When he provides he does so fully. When I need peace, he gives it. Fully. When he promises joy, he delivers it. Fully. When I need to hear truth. The Spirit guides me into it all and will teach me. Fully.

I’m done with asking for little things. I’m done asking for parts of things, pieces of fruit, and expecting God to come though every now and again. No. He has asked me to ask him for big things and live out fully what he has given me. So I’m doing it and i’ll wait expectantly trusting that God’s word is trustworthy. He will do what he said he will and he will do so fully!

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