Saturday, 18 February 2012

Coming up for air

Recently, in our church service, my Auntie got up to share a word that she felt God had laid on her heart. She shared how when we are struggling, we sometimes feel like we are ‘going under’ and we need to ‘come up for air’. She described this process as ‘glugging’. We go under, then we manage to come up to the surface and gasp some air, before we go under again. We all have times like that; when life is a real struggle and, if it weren’t for those moments of air, we would drown. I found this image helpful. Air can be found in so many places; a comforting word from a friend, in a Bible verse or in church to name but a few. It is, of course, all around us but when you feel like you are drowning, it is very hard to breathe.

I want to talk about how the Holy Spirit can use us to be ‘air’ for others but also how much we need to recognise His presence in our lives and the life-giving air He wants to give us. We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is our helper and he wants an intimate friendship and partnership with us. God is the air that we breathe and the Holy Spirit helps us come up for air and breathe clearly.

Could I encourage you to let the Holy Spirit use you to be air for others? Be a vessel that carries Him in to situations. If someone is ‘gluggling’ seek out what the Holy Spirit, their helper, would have you do for them. It may be a message sent just at the right time, it might be an evening spent in prayer together, it might be a lifting of their heads. It could be many things but please be obedient to Him. If He is my helper then He is yours too and He can use us to help each other.   

In the book The Life of St John of the Cross the author writes this regarding St John of the cross just before he met St Teresa of Avila. The author says, “He began to realise that God was not just in the infinite beyond, rather God came and comes in time and people”. This meeting with St Teresa was to be perhaps the most significant meeting of his life.  That means that the Holy Spirit is not just in the ‘infinite beyond’ but actually He can come to us in people and on our time. Often friends carry Him to us as they sit and listen and lift our eyes off our circumstances. God comes at the right time and He uses people as his vessel. Will you let Him use you?

When we feel like we are drowning we need the help of the Holy Spirit more than anything. Romans 8:26 in the Message translation says this:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s spirit is right alongside, helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does the praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”

When we are trying to find our place and work out where God is, it is so easy to get overwhelmed and sometimes we just need air. We will not go under if we understand that the Holy Spirit is our helper. We can keep breathing when we understand this truth and actually if we work on a having an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit we find that our breathing becomes easier. Our struggles are not ours to carry alone; He is our helper. We don’t have to pray desperate prayers over and over again. We can ask God for what we need and then let the Holy Spirit turn our ‘wordless sighs’ into prayers on our behalf. We can leave it with Him.

This process of letting the Holy Spirit become our partner starts with dying to ourselves. Galations 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The Message puts it like this “My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine’, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Philippians 3:10 in the Message says, “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.” If we think about being a partner in Jesus’ suffering, we can also assume that we can partner in His victory too. Amazing.

The term partner has several meanings: a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor. In Law it means; a person associated with another or others as a principal or contributor of capital in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits but my favourite definition is that describing either of two people who dance together. The Holy Spirit is our dance partner and we follow His lead as we dance through this life. If we become a partner with Christ, ultimately, we have to understand that He is in charge of the partnership. He doesn’t force this on us but we need to let Him. In order for Him to be in charge we have to die to ourselves. This concept can be difficult to understand but for our own benefit we should pursue it. When we die to ourselves we find our purpose and that is to work with our friend the Holy Spirit and follow His lead.

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts.  You can find out about these in 1 Corinthians: 1-11. We need to exercise these gifts often and doing so they will help us ‘breathe’, they will bring clean ‘air’ into our lives and into those around us. When I say those around us I mean those we work with, those we encounter during the week not just our Christian friends.

Too often we try to do things on our own. We are stupid really. Of course things will be easier with a partner and not just any partner, the best dance partner that ever was, guiding us through every step and taking the lead. The pressure is not on us. He carries our burdens and then dances us through them if we let Him. That is not to say things will always be easy, of course they won’t, but we come up for air and take a few more steps and spins towards freedom. When life is good: we dance. When life is hard: we dance a little closer. Whatever our circumstance: we dance.

Paul Yonggi Cho said this:

‘Every morning when I awake I greet the Holy Spirit and invite Him to go with me through the day and take me and lead me through all my affairs and He does. I say, “Good morning Holy Spirit. Let’s work together today and I will be your vessel.’ Every evening before retiring I say again, “It’s been a wonderful day working with you Holy Spirit.”

Life can be hard but God is good. We feel like we are drowning but we will not go under. We struggle to breathe but there is always enough air in our lungs. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is our helper, our dance partner, in the sadness and in the joy, our friend and companion and the very air that we breathe.

Steve Jobs said this:

‘There's no other company that could make a MacBook Air and the reason is that not only do we control the hardware, but we control the operating system. And it is the intimate interaction between the operating system and the hardware that allows us to do that. There is no intimate interaction between Windows and a Dell notebook.’

It is our intimate interaction with the Holy Spirit that gives us air. He is the operating system and we are the hardware. Let Him take charge. Next time you feel like you are ‘glugging’ ask for help from the ultimate operating system and let Him show you how to move through the ‘programs’ of life with the creator of them all.

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