Current Issue

I woke up one Sunday morning and walked out into the living room to find that classic Sunday-morning scene: All the chairs had been dragged away from the table and set up in a circle in front of the couches. Every single blanket in the entire house had been collected from cupboards and bins and beds and thrown haphazardly over the tops of the chairs. The effect created the well-known and timeless cornerstone of childhood: the blanket fort.

From inside the fort came the muffled giggles and whispers of the four voices of my little kids. Slowly I crept over to the fort, lifted up a corner of a blanket, and peeked inside.

“It’s Mommy!” someone announced.

“Good morning, my little sweeties!” I grinned.

“Shh! Mommy! Good morning,” they whispered, “but go away! We’re in Jurassic World, and we’re hiding from dinosaurs!”

I dropped the blanket corner and walked away with a smile. I wondered when the dinosaurs were scheduled to show up. I wondered how much time I had to sit down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Well, it didn’t take long for the little whispers to turn into arguing voices: “Pretend the dinosaurs found us!”

“No! Pretend they didn’t!”

“Well something has to happen!”

The arguing voices turned into shouts: “You can’t play that way!”

“Well I built this fort!”

Then someone must have pushed someone else, or someone jostled someone out of their way, and it happened—the crash. Falling chairs and collapsing blanket ceilings, followed by the inevitable shrieks and cries of, “Mommy! Mommy! Our fort! It’s ruined! It fell down! The dinosaurs will eat us! Mommeeeeeeeee!”

I came rushing over to scoop up crying bundles of little bodies. Hugging them, I tried to say above the sobbing, “It’s OK, sweeties! It’s OK, no one’s hurt, nothing got broken, the mess can be cleaned up (thinking like a mother), it’s OK. Mommy’s here, my loves, Mommy’s here. Shhh, Mommy’s here.”

That’s when one of my little boys looked up at me and said, “I don’t just want you to be here, Mommy—I want you to fix it!”

God and I

I’m afraid this is how I approach God, too. I don’t just want you to be here, God, I want you to fix it! Your presence is nice and all. Your comfort—great; You can hear me—great; but what I really want, God, is for You to fix things, for You to change things—because I know You can. And I want that. I’m not satisfied with some fuzzy feeling. I need change. I need answers. I need help. I need You to fix it!

This isn’t a crazy thing to want either. In our confusing, conflicted, fear-charged times, it’s reasonable to want a God who can fix things. But when we become hyperfocused on our desires for change, is it possible that we’re missing a fundamental attribute of who God is? What if there’s more to God than just a big fix-it Man?

Sometimes we want God to change our circumstances more than we want to actually enjoy His presence.

Just before Jesus was preparing to leave our world, He told the disciples that it was for their benefit that He was going away, so that He could send Someone else: the Comforter. Who is this Person that could ever even possibly make Jesus’ absence seem like a good thing? How could Someone else’s company take the place of Jesus? The Comforter Jesus talked about is the Holy Spirit. At first glance, “comforting” sounds like a pretty weak job description. Is there any more we can know about this mysterious Person who is also God Himself?

who is the Holy Spirit?

There is! In addition to “comforting” the believers in times of suffering, sorrow, terror, or doubt, the Holy Spirit is one busy behind-the-scenes Player on the stage of human history. We’re told that He impresses the Bible upon the minds of human beings like you and me. He is the One who testifies to us that Jesus is real and living. He convicts the world of sin and guilt. He guides us into finding the truth. And He reveals things that are yet to come. He gives us power to become Christ’s witnesses and power to overcome sin.

In addition to all this, the Holy Spirit grows fruits in us—no, not apples and oranges but things our bodies might need even more: joy, peace, patience, self-control, and love. The cherry on top might be the gifts He gives us—the special abilities that He sets in each one of us for the purpose of building up the church—gifts like teaching, leadership, music, mercy, healing, and prophecy. The more I study this Person, the more I get the feeling that there’s no end to what He’s done and what He’s responsible for.

But while these attributes and accomplishments of the Holy Spirit are truly wonderful, I still find my heart seeking the fix-it. I appreciate all the work He does, but at the end of the day, I need to see change: in my world, in my home, and especially in my own heart. Can we expect even this from the Holy Spirit?

Well, yes we can, but it’s tricky. See, He isn’t a vending machine. We don’t just put a request in and have the results spit right back out. Even the fruits of the Spirit that I mentioned a moment ago—the heavyweights like love, kindness, faithfulness—they aren’t an automatic deposit in our lives. Instead, they come as a result of spending time with the Spirit. As we walk with Him, He grows these things in us.

And the beautiful part is that as He grows love and leadership, patience, and prophecy among us, we do begin to see fixes and changes. That old friend who wounded us deeply? Suddenly where there was anger and resentment, love begins to grow. That former shame from our past? Peace replaces it. The ability to overcome sin, where once it felt impossible, is one day realized. All the try-and-try-and-trying to become a better person on my own instead turns into small changes every day that the Spirit’s effort reveals in me. The growing fear of the future that many face today? The Spirit may not offer a drive-thru, Band-aid fix, but He grows a sense of security that, no matter what, He’s with us, and He’s going to see us through.

I want to be the kind of Christian who craves God’s Presence more than I crave His fixes. I’m longing for an intimacy with His Spirit that proves far more satisfying than a current release of pressure. Instead of chasing prosperity or present ease, what if we chased the very Person of God? What if His company was what we desired most? Who might we become, what might our church accomplish, if every believer endeavored to seek first and foremost the daily presence of the Holy Spirit? In my imagination, there’s no end to what we might accomplish. And doesn’t that sound just exactly like the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit

by Melissa Howell
From the January 2018 Signs