Part of the majesty of God is that He is full of mystery. He is vast and timeless, infinitely creative and infinitely merciful in ways that we can never truly wrap our minds around. That’s okay—we can sometimes use things that we do understand in order to help get a picture of what He’s like. Seeing God’s aspects played out in miniature before our eyes helps us see them at large in the universe around us. It is good for us to dwell in that constant wonder of God. And one of the most wondrous, but most misunderstood aspects of God is the third part of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit.
My second son, Ryder, is my little shadow. He lives at my side, always ready to help me stir a pot of chili or climb on my lap for cuddles. He has always loved to run errands with me and go to the grocery store or pick up last-minute gifts at the mall. He loves to be with me. His constant presence at my side is one of the little things I point to when talking about the wonder of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t spend a lot of time talking about the Holy Spirit, but I believe that’s a mistake. I won’t begin to say I know all there is to know about the Holy Spirit, but I find using simple metaphors, like the way my little Ryder follows me around at all moments, to help give me a visual of how the Spirit works—even if it is so much more wonderful than that little metaphor. But as I have discipled women, I’ve found that mentioning two things told to us by Scripture helps us get an idea of how to comprehend the Holy Spirit.
The first thing we note is that the Holy Spirit is a presence. The presence of God, in fact. When Jesus told His disciples that He’d be departing, He said, “It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus actually said that having this Counselor—this Spirit—with us was better than having the physical Jesus on earth! Is that the sort of presence you feel when you’ve heard about the Spirit in the past?
Scripture goes on to tell us that this Spirit is a gift to us, a sort of promise and guarantee that we will inherit eternal life and spend forever and ever with Jesus (Eph 1:13-14). It also shows that the Holy Spirit was received by Jews (like the disciples) and Gentiles (like in Acts 10:46), alike, as a proof that Salvation is for all who believe in Jesus. Please do not underestimate the significance of the Spirit: it’s the very presence of the Lord dwelling inside of you.
But the Spirit is more than just a feeling or a comfort; He is not just the presence but the power of God in your life. When Jesus ascended after having been with the disciples, He promised that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.
This power has been a source of some debate in many circles throughout history, but the bottom line is that the power of the Spirit is always employed for one purpose, and one purpose only: declaring the greatness of God. The Holy Spirit is not a Spirit of confusion or of turmoil, but of clarity and strength: clarity of who God is, and strength to proclaim it. In Acts 2, that power caused people to speak in the languages of the many people represented in the streets of Jerusalem, so that they could all hear the Good News in their own tongue. He is the same Spirit that empowered Stephen to preach, and Paul to preach after that. He is the same Spirit that gives you the words about God even if you have no idea what to say.
It comforts me to think about what the Spirit is and what He does in my life. I’m the type of person who hates goodbyes. I always have been. I can remember when Robby would travel back and forth to school (which he used to have to do every week when we were newly married and in ministry), I couldn’t stand it. I hated saying goodbye, even when I knew he’d be back. When my parents would come visit us and they would be backing out the driveway to head home after a week’s stay, there I was starting to cry as their car drove away.
I can’t imagine standing there on the mountainside that day in Acts 1 when Jesus was about to ascend into Heaven. I read this chapter and my heart strings are tugged as if I’m there with the 11 disciples, wanting to hang on to every day and every last minute they have together. Jesus is departing from them again. But His was not a bitter goodbye, for something amazing came in His place. The Spirit is our Counselor, companion, guide, teacher, and source of wisdom as we invest our lives into others. And the Bible says in Matthew 28:20 “ …. Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”