Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with an old friend and he shared with me how he rejoiced with his wife when his son finally uttered, “Mama”. I rejoiced with him for it was a breakthrough for their family and when he shared it with me, he communicated a gratitude to God that nothing in the world could manufacture.
I juxtaposed it with parents who constantly berate their child for not doing better than their cousins, classmates, neighbours and whoever they could conveniently use to destroy their kid’s self-confidence and beliefs system. I remember telling HY that we’ve gotten it all wrong and have become complacent for the things that we ought to be thankful for. The more I hear it, the more I find “better than” a repulsive phrase.
That one-worded “Mama” was a gift from God to his child; as he shared his delight with me, I couldn’t help but to thank God for giving us speech – and I told HY that all these seemingly basic functions are truly gifts from God. I told her that in the future when we do have children of our own, we should be thankful for everything that the child has – speech, sight, hearing, limb movement, cognition, health and even something as taken-for-granted as daily breath! And not wish that our child is a pianist prodigy, artistic phenom, mathematics maestro or a kid with elephant memory (or not). Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to think that that’s being gifted, but we have forgotten that everyone is gifted – your ability to inhale and exhale is the gift of life from the Giver of life. Let’s not fight the wrong battles.
It wrenches my heart when I find out how my youths struggle with their (“inadequate”) academic achievements, because most times they’ve gotten it all wrong – they seek the result instead of the process; they seek a resume instead of academic returns; they seek worldly covetousness (wanting to be better than someone else) instead of godly contentment (wanting to be the best that God has designed them to be). I believe that our mentality is messed up because of the way we have been brought up (and this is no fault of ours). However, we should be careful not to pay it forward to the next generation.
At the end of the day, these pursuits amount to nothing all that significant. I so wished that I could hold their faces in my hands, look at them in the eye and tell them, “Come on, do you REALLY think that a C grade or a ‘regular’ CV could stop God from fulfilling His purpose in your life?” Oh, we of little faith; we ought to be dismissed for thinking that our destiny is determined by our downfalls. When will we finally learn that the sovereignty of God far exceeds earthly meritocracy?
Let us all take a step back to recalibrate our compasses, unless of course you have already decided to raise your child in the exact same manner that you have been raised. Let us remember that life in itself is the greatest gift and that we ought to be thankful for it. Let us not go overboard in seeking additional gifts instead of the Giver Himself. Don’t get caught in the world’s definition of “gifted”!
The older I get, the more reliant I am on the Holy Spirit. I see it at work when It inspires me with wisdom when I speak to a young person; the Spirit gives me ideas and creativity at lightning speed and it becomes effortless for me to pen plans down when I know that something that brilliant couldn’t have come from me; It reminds me of things that I need to do; It empowers me with courage and bravery to do things I don’t normally attempt; It turns me away from things I ought not to do; It teaches me what to pray; It reveals the truth that is already in my heart. I basically couldn’t do a minute without the Spirit. So I can vaguely imagine how desperate King David must have felt when he cried out in Psalm 51:11, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”
It was an encouraging reminder today at the Foundations of the Christian Life seminar, that the Holy Spirit is a giver of power. I like BH’s description of the Holy Spirit as “the executive member of the Godhead”, meaning the one who accomplishes what God commands. In the Hebrew language, “Ruach” is used to describe the Holy Spirit as the “breath” of God. It’s like hearing a thundering voice, and feeling the air that comes with the booming sound. (Imagine putting your palm in front of a sub-woofer.) BH quite rightly says it, that “the desires of God in heaven is executed by the Spirit of God on earth”.
And so, today’s lessons are in line with last Tuesday’s Jesus Mentor Me session; everything that we learn comes via facts, instructions, advice, news etc. but from all the plethora of data that your mind processes, the Spirit illuminates the truth (that we need to know) from the flurry of information that we receive. This realisation of truth specifically speaks to our hearts and convicts us of what’s wrong and reminds us of what’s right. From this, our minds are continuously transformed and that subsequently causes a change in our speech and conduct. But everything begins from this illumination of truth that the Spirit does. However, if I may reiterate, the Spirit can only illuminate when there’s something already present to illuminate on.
I’ve always seen this analogy of the Holy Spirit at work within us: The Spirit is always beside us, and is connected to us via a string. Whenever we need help and counsel, the Spirit pulls the string and we’ll feel Its’ tug. But each time we turn the Spirit away, more string is released. Remember that the distance between the Spirit and us doesn’t change – the only variable is the length of string that is collected between us. When the string is no longer taut, we no longer feel its tension. However, the more we respond to the tug, the shorter the string becomes and the tighter the tension would be. In this respect, I’d like to think that the grace of God operates in a way that while we’re the culprits releasing string to slack the tension, the one drawing the string back, is the Holy Spirit.
Oh how true it is – “Take not your Holy Spirit from me”!