On Fire or Burned Out?

I like order and always have. When order is taken away, I find myself drowning in the resulting mess. I was going under yesterday, and I wondered if I even wanted to come up for air. Life overwhelms me when I am surrounded by clutter and craziness, and I was as buried in both yesterday. I slept peacefully at my sister’s and felt a beautiful sense of belonging. I love the order of her home, and we speak the same language. That brings a sweet connection that gives meaning to the mess. In Paul’s account of what happened on Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4, order comes to the chaos when the Holy Spirit enables the disciples to be heard by all.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” NASB

The lessons from Pentecost were many last week, but finding meaning in the midst of a maddening mess was the main one. My world has been messy lately, and I was beginning to think I might never find my way out of the muck. Like quicksand, messes, madness, and muck get deeper as I struggle and strive. Stillness is the only way for my heart to hear the peace spoken by the Spirit. He speaks the language of love to my heart, and that makes sense of the mess. Air and wind have figured greatly into the lessons surrounding Pentecost. I’ve been literally swept off my feet by the power of the wind during the past week.

The fire of the Holy Spirit isn’t like any other fire, but all fires require air in order to burn. When the terrible winds knocked out the power last night, I was reminded that the Holy Spirit is sometimes like a rushing wind. It seemed my own power had been knocked out of me, so the power outage served as a vivid reminder of what happens when faced with forces out of my control. Things were flying around outside, so I decided to open the door and retrieve the flying pool toys and bathing suits before they were lost. The door almost knocked me to the floor when I did!

I came in quickly and left the door closed until the storm passed. The pool was covered with sticks, leaves, and other debris. When the wind subsided, I scooped up as much as I could before the mess sank to the bottom. I realized I had allowed a lot of debris to settle in my heart and had to smile as God used the mess left by the wind to drive home His point. It’s best not to let the mess settle and stay because that causes the fire in my heart to burn out. Wind can blow out a fire or kindle it depending upon the circumstances. The fire in my heart was at the point of going out when God sent a mighty rushing wind to revive and remind that His fire isn’t at all like mine. When the Holy Spirit’s fire comes, mine seems insignificant.

As I rushed around getting ready for the coming darkness, I was worried that the girls wouldn’t be able to find their way downstairs in the dark. As I lit my last little candle, the electricity returned. There was a vast difference between my candles and the light that suddenly flooded the house. There is an even greater difference between my efforts to bring order to the mess and God’s ability to clean and clear. Without His Light and Spirit, I stumble around in the darkness. With His love to guide me, I gain access to His power. That is more than enough to keep the fire burning brightly in my heart.

Gravity & Grace

I thought of Lillyann and Mylah this week as God’s lessons led me to see the power of His Holy Spirit to lift my spirit and bring me into a sweet intimacy with Him. Earlier in the week, the girls were pretending to be birds and decided to get on the couch and  fly. Gina and I watched as they showed us how real birds fly. Lillyann, the engineer, had the proper wing formation and proceeded to fly in true bird form. Mylah threw her arms up in delight, squealed, and flew with abandon. Lillyann tried in vain to get Mylah to use proper form, but Mylah was soaring and didn’t heed her directions.

I told Lillyann that humans would fly with their arms outstretched like Mylah’s and used Superman as an example of such flight. Lillyann wasn’t buying it, so I told her that Mylah could pretend fly any way she wanted. That seemed to make sense, so on they flew. I love the abandon of children, and I envy the freedom with which they express their spirits. The lessons this week were all about Spirit, and God used the vivid image of the girls’ flight to bring home a powerful lesson in gravity.

We celebrate Pentecost this week. I’ve read and heard about Pentecost all my life, but I understood Pentecost for the first time today. I was flying like little Mylah with the help of God’s sweet Holy Spirit, and it was the best high I’ve ever experienced. I’ve felt God’s Spirit before, but today was different. It was the most beautiful AHA! moment I’ve ever had as I understood the difference between God’s ways and mine as never before. God dwells in Spirit; I tend to dwell in the body. It was clear to me today that the Spirit has the body beat when it comes to soaring, and I loved the feeling of absolute bliss I felt today. God made it clear that He knows what’s best for me. His timing is always perfect, and I was especially thankful for that today. I got His message just when I needed it, and I love that about Him.

I know I have to die to self, and I know it is a daily death, but I lived the lesson today. That is much better than simply hearing it. I’ve been thinking about Romans 8:14-17 and Acts 2:1-21 this week, and I read commentaries and articles half-heartedly as I prepared the folders last week. In fact, and I’m ashamed to say this, I dismissed Romans and moved on to Galatians because I found it more interesting. I am so very thankful God that is patient, loves me more than I can begin to fathom, and sees me just as I saw Mylah with her  little hands raised in pretend flight. I am also grateful for loving friends who nudge me along the path:)

The lessons this week have all been about allowing God to define me. I am His daughter, and He made that very clear today. The lessons began on Sunday, continued all week, and came together beautifully today. I was His daughter this afternoon, and that made me want to jump and shout and lift my arms like little Mylah. My body reacts to gravity, and that makes it very difficult to stay in flight. Gravity keeps me from experiencing what God has in mind for me, but God’s grace gives me a taste of His freedom that I can’t forget. Bing gives three definitions for gravity:

1)gravitational force: the attraction due to gravitation that the Earth or another astronomical object exerts on an object on or near its surface

2)seriousness: the seriousness of something considered in terms of its unfavorable consequence

3)serious behavior: solemnity and seriousness in somebody’s attitude or behavior

Gravity literally keeps my body from floating up in the air, and I’m very thankful for it; but I must make sure my body does not keep my spirit from being lifted by God’s grace. That pesky sin of seriousness will also keep my spirit from soaring and will ground my soul. Seriousness and gravitational force have their places, but my spirit isn’t one of them. My spirit belongs to God, and I am His beloved daughter. He showed me what He could do when given the space and freedom He needs. What a lesson! What a week! There just aren’t words that describe the way I felt when I was lifted to a place where I escaped gravity and flew into His presence today, but John Gillespie Magee Jr. comes very close his beautiful poem that I’ve always loved.

“High Flight”

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air….

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 – Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I’m not a pilot, and that was especially true today as God’s Spirit took the controls. My body was forced to be still on the ground and watch as my spirit slipped those surly bonds, and I truly felt like His daughter. Reality set in, and I came back down to earth, but I flew long enough to learn the earth is never the same after flying:)

Taking Flight