I have been reading the book of Acts lately, and over the next few days, I’d love to share what I’ve been learning. I always hesitate to share what I’m thinking about Scripture, because by no means am I a theological or biblical scholar. But, I’m reading the Word prayerfully and hoping God will fill my words with grace.
One night many years ago, I visited a youth group with a friend. Though I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, I was searching for a place where Jesus felt relevant, and I was desperate to feel His touch. I did a lot of youth group hopping. On this night, an invitation was given: come to the altar, and we’ll pray for you to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The proof of that would be speaking in tongues.
I went up to the altar, and people prayed over me, and nothing. happened. I didn’t feel God, no rush of warmth, so still small voice, and certainly no foreign tongues springing up, and I wasn’t going to fake it, y’all. So instead, I cried. I cried at the altar, and I cried in the back row, and I cried in the back seat of the car on the way home.
Ever since, I think I have been a little wary of the Holy Spirit. He is the part of the Trinity that most eludes me, that I find hardest to understand. I’ve noticed over time that some people seem to really emphasize the Holy Spirit, insisting that His presence in your life should be tangibly evident, and that it’s proof of a growing relationship with God. Other people don’t seem to mention Him at all.
I guess I’m somewhere in-between. It’s hard for me to imagine that anything could be better than Jesus in the flesh, me sitting at His feet. Yet, Jesus Himself said the Holy Spirit would be better for us. How could that be?
All I want to say about Acts is that the author seems to mention the Holy Spirit a lot, more than I’ve noticed in any other book of the Bible. And I think the members of the early Church must have been so very grateful for God’s presence manifested in that way. When I left college, I was terrified to lose my community. As I moved to Orlando, my lack of community was palpable. How much more must have the disciples felt that way? They had lost Jesus. And so, how grateful they must have been for the Holy Spirit. And so Luke doesn’t hesitate to mention the Holy Spirit wherever he sensed that presence.
I want to strike more of a balance in my own life: looking for an acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit when He shows up, but not shying away because I’m afraid He won’t.