The apostle Paul uses the phrase “in the Spirit” as shorthand for Christian discipleship or life in Christ. This blog highlights and explores facets of that life to help and guide Christians in their journey of faith.
I was almost finished. Just three or four more times down and back, and the square of grass that was our front yard would be mowed. That’s when I heard it, “You ought to mow their grass.” My eyes sagged with displeasure. I glanced reluctantly at the square of grass that was my neighbors’ front yard. It was even higher than mine had been. I didn’t like mowing my own grass, so I certainly didn’t want to mow theirs, too. But they were new neighbors. They’d only moved in earlier that week. Plus, both of them worked. Then I heard that telltale voice again, “You really ought to mow their grass.” I tried to ignore it. You’d think I’d be able to do that with the non-stop roar of my mower.
But the Spirit is persistent, like a steady knocking at the door. I know that about the Spirit. The apostle Paul says we’re “led by the Spirit.” Sometimes that leading is a still, small internal voice like that day. Sometimes it’s little nudges or promptings. In A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie expresses it well, “O God within me, give me the grace today to recognize the stirrings of Your Spirit within my soul and to listen most attentively to all that You have to say to me.”
I’ve never regretted recognizing the stirrings of the Spirit and listening to them. Of course, I don’t do that as I should. Indeed, I’m fully capable of ignoring the Spirit or just failing to pay attention. But not that day. As I leveled the last uncut swath of grass (okay…and weeds) in my yard, I glanced a bit begrudgingly to the sky, and then I steered my Black and Decker across their driveway and into their yard. Like sunlight suddenly piercing clouds, I knew immediately that it was the right thing to do. It always is. As Paul urges, “Let’s not grow weary in doing good.” In fact, as soon as I started mowing their yard, I felt lighter and gratification and even a little joy, which is a fruit of the Spirit.
Later, when I was back in my house, I proudly told my wife, “I just mowed Jane and Lisa’s front yard,” adding with a wry smile, “I didn’t want to. The Spirit made me do it.” Nodding her head knowingly, my wife confessed, “You know, I had the same thought: how nice it would be if you mowed their yard for them.” I obviously wasn’t the only one who’d heard the Spirit that day.
How about you?
The Spirit prompts and nudges, leads and guides us daily, but sometimes we hear the Spirit’s voice or listen to the Spirit more than other times, as I did that day. Think of a time or times when the Spirit spurred you more obviously like that. How did you respond?
Because the Spirit “dwells in us” (we hear this especially in Paul’s letters and in John’s Gospel)—personally and in the church—we should attend to the Spirit’s voice and stirrings in our daily lives. Are there practices or things that you do to be more attentive to the Spirit within you and in the church?