Monday, September 12, 2011

Spirit in you Vs. Spirit with you-That Sanctification Journey

Have you ever had one of those times when you are reading something that you have read, like a gazillion times, but you catch something that you missed before?  That happened to me this morning.  It was one of those "whoa, stop, back the train up" moments!

I'm on week 23 of Disciple Bible Study and this week focuses on the second half of the Gospel of John.  What caught my eye happens to be in the second half of verse 17 in chapter 14 talking about the Holy Spirit:
"...You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."
The note in the Wesleyan Study Bible says this:
"The Spirit is already with the disciples but will not be in them until Jesus breathes on them." 
 The thought that popped into my head was "there is a big difference between the Spirit being with you and the Spirit being in you!"  Then I started thinking about how many people are in this very situation?  Which then led me to ask myself how many times have I had the Spirit with me or even in me and chose to opt out on what I was being asked to do?  Ah ha!  Maybe this is the process of Sanctification that Wesley was talking about!

There have been times in my life when I have felt completely alone and totally abandoned.  But as a Christian I know that is not true.  The Spirit is with me.  I may not have realized it, or felt it, but I was never truly alone!  And in hindsight, looking back on those moments I can see where the Spirit was working in me in ways that I did not realize or acknowledge.  I think there are a lot of people who can say the same thing (in hindsight of course).  God was not only with them but working in them, they were just so overwhelmed or distracted to realize it at the time!

There are times though, when I know that the Spirit is not only in me but also working in me and asking me to do something that I am not so sure about doing!  You think to yourself, "well if God wants it done, you will just joyfully agree to do what is being asked of you."  WRONG!  At least in my case, that's wrong.  Yeah, there is this little thing called "free will" which can sometimes be the "opt out" choice.  And there have been times when I have exercised that choice!  Of course, you would think I would learn that no is not the best answer yet, time and again, I make the same mistake!  Yup, my name is Trudy and I still mess up on occasion!

Macarius spoke about this in Homily 15  Even some of the saints and leaders of the early church stumbled.  He described it as "not having obtained to perfect charity".  Nowadays, we would call that "perfect love".  It's no wonder that Wesley talked about the process of Sanctification being a journey of going from "glory to glory".  Hopefully, with time, as you mature you get better at following the lead of the Spirit but we're imperfect and sometimes we will "miss the mark".  I miss the mark and I have to admit it and ask for forgiveness.  I am reminded daily that grace is a wonderful thing!

Oral Roberts used to tell the story of how he started Oral Roberts University.  He said that he asked God why he was the one being asked to do this when there were others who were far more qualified.  He said the answer he got back was "I did ask them but they won't do it!"  Makes me wonder how many times God has had to ask someone else to do the things he asked me to do in the first place?  I shudder to think!

So for those of you who have been in a similar situation, take heart!  You're not alone.  The Spirit is with you. The Spirit is in you.  The journey of Sanctification continues and God's grace abounds!  You're going to make mistakes, but God will still love you and he will provide opportunities to use you to share his love!  I may not have faith in my ability but God...I have faith in HIS ability!  And I am so grateful that he can find ways to use imperfect me!  Trust in the Lord because he can do all things, no matter how imperfect we may be!

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