And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny.” – Romans 8:26-27 (TPT).
In the movie, Instant Family, Pete and Ellie are a forty-something couple that enjoys flipping houses. They’re good at it. They make good money. They live uncomplicated lives—in contrast to Russ and Ellie’s sister, Kim, whose existence is defined by chaos. But suddenly, the couple starts talking about adoption. Pete’s resistant for about a minute. Then he sneaks a look at a foster care website Ellie’s been perusing. Soon he’s crying right along with her. He is moved, so the couple sets out on their adoption quest. The question is what do we do when the Spirit moves us.
As powerful as the Holy Spirit is, He never forces, impels, commands, or controls us. Rather the Spirit of God influences our thinking; He suggests. We as believers can’t run off on our own and go perform for God or discipline ourselves to greater degrees of holiness. Nor can we sit passively by waiting for God to turn us into holy people.
Author John Ortberg describes our cooperation and partnership with God’s Spirit in this way: “Spiritual transformation is a long-term endeavor. It involves both God and us. I liken it to crossing an ocean. Some people try, day after day, to be good, to become spiritually mature. That’s like taking a rowboat across the ocean; it’s exhausting and usually unsuccessful. Others have given up trying and throw themselves entirely upon ‘relying on God’s grace.’ They’re like drifters on a raft; they do nothing but hang on and hope God gets them there. Neither trying nor drifting is effective in bringing about spiritual transformation. A better image is the sailboat, which if it moves at all it’s a gift of the wind. We can’t control the wind, but a good sailor discerns where the wind is blowing and adjusts the sails accordingly. Working with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus likened to the wind in John 3, means we have a part in discerning the winds, in knowing the direction we need to go, and in training our sails to catch the breezes that God provides. That’s true transformation.” (Leadership Journal)
God’s part is to work in us “to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Our part is to work out what God is working in us to do. By “work out,” it means we must participate in the process through—among other things— faith, reliance, and obedience. The Holy Spirit indwells you and He will lead, direct, and empower you. Whether the Spirit’s influence in your life is significant or insignificant depends upon your participation in the process. Your life is better when you are moved by the Spirit.
- What is a time in your life that you took a leap of faith after being nudged by the Holy Spirit?
- What can you do this week to better understand how the Spirit is moving you?