Part II, a Lenten treatise
Deborah J. Thomas
Lent begins the first Wednesday of March this year. This season is one of God’s best gifts.
When I visited my sister recently, we sang a few worship songs at her piano. One captivated me, a beautiful melody about the Holy Spirit. I pondered His role, and I’m still pondering Him.
Practicing Christians know the basics. He’s the third being of the Triune: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we say in that order. God the Father sits and rules from His throne in Heaven, and Jesus as Son is seated at His right hand. But where is the Holy Spirit? Perhaps He is the most mysterious of the Trinity.
Of course, all of the Lord God Almighty is mystery. But the Father and Son have been more revealed or at least visible, over time, than the Holy Spirit. God the Father directed mankind, and spoke to his prophets throughout scripture. Thus, He’s become more familiar to us. God the Son came to earth and people living at that time got to see him—Son of Man and Son of God, Jesus was called. The account of the gospels taught and showed us all manner of truth about God the Son, Jesus.
But the Holy Spirit is lesser seen, lesser known. His name makes that obvious: He is Spirit. Not seen by human eyes. However, just like the wind, He’s there. (And sometimes witnessed through evidence.) Ephesians 1: 27 states that God wished to “…make known the riches of his glory (knowledge of Him) among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you…” In other words, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the true believer. After Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit came to his followers, so they’d sense God with them, in Jesus’ s absence. Stunning! The Holy Spirit resides in any person who invites Jesus Christ into their heart. A miracle!
‘Rauch’ was the name of that haunting Hebrew melody. It transports the listener to a pre-Messianic period as if it were wafting through the doors of the Temple in Jerusalem. “Spirit, Spirit, Spirit divine,” it sings, followed by “Not by might or by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord God Almighty. (Zech. 4:6) The setting for this passage in Zechariah is that part of Israel’s history when the Lord instructed Zerubbabel and Joshua to lead the Jews in the rebuilding of the temple. It would not be physical strength or societal position that would build the temple from the ground up. It would be the Spirit. In short, not by man, but by the Lord.
This principle can be applied beautifully. First, in Jesus our example, in His sacrifice and resurrection. How he endured the crucifixion is an enigma. I barely stomached watching Gibson’s movie The Passion. I wept. Though overdramatized in parts, it showed with certainty no man could have survived the abuse, flogging, climb to Golgatha, and piecing of hands and feet in meager human strength. It had to be the spirit of God giving him ability, which He begged God for in Gethsemane. And the resurrection? The spirit of God. In fact, Jesus’ entire life was partnered with the Spirit—in His stories, His prayers, His miraculous healings and restoring of life to the dead. All was unconventional, unexpected, radical, and offsetting—but done under the moving of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s the difference between climbing countless flights of stairs alone (and perhaps not making it) or taking the escalator!
I think God sent Jesus to illustrate He delights in us. That humanity is what He wants to use. Not ‘by might or by power,’—not with the strength of horses and chariots, the savvy of kings and wise men. Not by man—man fails and comes to his end. But by the Spirit. The Spirit is our provision, just as he was Christ’s. As He did for Zerubbabel and Joshua, he can do for us, to build us. (Be prepared for those hammer blows, at times. He doesn’t spare the anvil.) He’s our ability to cope and overcome. To forgive. To be humble and unselfish. To serve others. He’s the miraculous in daily life!
Holy Spirit, thank you for coming and being the miraculous to us. We need you.
Wake us to invite you into our days. Enter our prayer life.
Please use us purposely. Help us with life’s trials; give us strength and endurance.
This Lent, breathe into us, Breath of Life. Fill us with life anew.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.