Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cold Shoulders and The Holy Spirit~

"Aay, Beautiful. Your back's not even covered."

Waking up
to a cold feeling of night air
brushing up against my back,
a tear slipped down my cheek
as I remembered the words my husband spoke
each and every time
he would roll over
and see me sleeping on my side,
covers half way down my back.

"There you go," he would say
as he pulled and tugged on blankets
until I was tucked in all the way up to my ears.

Then, a kiss on the nape of my neck,
followed by his arm settling perfectly
in the crook of my waist
while the whole rest of him snuggled up behind me,
and we would drift back into sweet sleep.

I don't know why.
But try as I may,
I have never been able to cover my own back.

It's why,
now that he's no longer here,
I often awake to the cool night air
brushing up against my back,
followed by a tear rolling down my cheek.

No one likes a cold shoulder.

As my husband
and the one sharing my life and my bed,
covering my back during the wee hours of the night
was something only he could do.

And ,
when he was here,
and when he did -
my man had me completely covered.
There wasn't an inch of skin that wasn't
hidden beneath the warmth of a quilt
or the softness of a blanket.

And I'll admit right now,
this is an uncommon correlation,
probably not something anyone else but me might think of,
but lying in bed one night,
I came to understand in a whole new way this passage of scripture:

Now I am going back to the One who sent me.  . . . 
Your hearts are filled with sadness 
because I have told you these things. 
But I tell you the truth. 
It is better for you that I go away.  
When I go away I will send the Helper to you.
 If I do not go away, then the Helper will not come.
~John 16:4-7

When Jesus,
who was The Word and divine in nature,
became flesh and walked sandal-footed among us,
He chose to live out His days here in human flesh,
as a physical man.

And, as a physical man,
He could only be one place at one time.

Although the great Teacher,
He could only teach those who were within earshot of His words.
Although the great Healer,
He could only heal those who were within reach of His touch,
(or as in the case of the Roman Centurion,
those who were blessed
to have someone approach Jesus for healing
on their behalf.)

It's why Mary and Martha,
Lazarus's sisters,
grieving the loss of their dear brother,
greeted Jesus with the words,
"If only You would have been here
our brother would still be alive."

And, wrestling with covers
alone in bed that night
I kept thinking this:

When the one person
who is able
isn't there to do it,
whatever it is
can't get done.

Not right, anyway.

I can't cover my back like my husband could
and Mary and Martha couldn't heal Lazarus the way Jesus could.

There are just some things we can't do on our own.

It's why,
when Jesus was issuing His very first command
to the newly formed church,
after His resurrection
and prior to His ascension,
He told them this.

While he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 
"Do not leave Jerusalem
but wait for the gift my Father promised
which you have heard me speak about.  
For John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
~Acts 1:4-5

Don't do anything until you have the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting Jesus to the world,
fulfilling the great commission,
being the church that God intended us to be -
we can't do any of it
without the Holy Spirit doing it
in us and through us.

He and He alone
is the one
empowering us,
instructing us,
equipping us,
convicting us,
prompting us,
teaching us,
enabling us,
anointing us to do the work He has called us to do.

He and He alone
is the one who has our back,
willing and able to do all that we can't,
in a way we never could.

And, this is why it was to the disciples greatest advantage
for Jesus to go away
and for the Holy Spirit to come.

Jesus lived and work beside them,
but the Holy Spirit
would live and work within them.

He would literally inhabit their very being.

And, because He would -
Jesus told his disciples
(and I believe this applies to you and me, too,
when we choose to follow our Lord and be His disciple)
they would do even greater works than He did
while He walked the earth.

And what captured my thought
as I pondered all of this
while trying to cover my own back
was a powerful quote I once read:

"If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today,
95 percent of what we do would go on
and no one would know the difference. 
If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church,
95 percent of what they did would stop,
and everybody would know the difference."
~A W Tozer

My man is gone,
and I can't help but notice the difference.

what about the church?

Are we following Jesus' first command?

Do we as the church,
wait until
we have been given
and have received
the Holy Spirit's ok,
the Holy Spirit's green light,
the Holy Spirit's guidance,
the Holy Spirit's wisdom,
the Holy Spirit's power,
the Holy Spirit's anointing
before we try to do what only He can do
in us and through us?

Or do we instead
fumble with our pride
and pull and tug
on our own talents
on our own thoughts,
on our own agenda,
on our own ego
in an effort to cover our own backs?

Yes, there are some things we can't do on our own.

And, when it comes to spiritual matters,
we shouldn't even try.

A cold shoulder in the middle of the night
is one thing.

But what about those who have yet
to come, know, and experience Jesus?

Waking up
to a cold feeling of worldy air
brushing up against their life,
they come seeking refuge in the church,
longing for the only One who
can truly cover their back.

But sadly,
so often,
when they do,
we as the church
are so busy trying to cover our own backs
by "looking spiritual",
we don't even see them and their needs.

And, if we do,
instead of waiting for,
inviting in,
and completely relying on
the Holy Spirit
to do what only He can do,
we aimlessly spin our wheels
trying to do what we can't do
on our own.

And do you know what happens
when this happens?

Not only do we end up getting a cold shoulder -

And, when this happens,
I imagine a tear
slowly makes it way
down the cheek
of the Father,
and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.

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