“What do you think is most people’s biggest misconceptions about God?” I asked our beloved and wise pastor friend. I want to choose my questions carefully when I have access to a mind like his. Not to mention he was leading our team on my first trip out of the North America, so I had all the deep thoughts a’stirring. This conversation was more than nine years ago and I still just don’t want to forget it.
“That they themselves can conceive Him,” he answered. I had to just sit for a minute and let that one rattle around my brain a little.
Isn’t that the truth, though? My biggest misunderstanding of who God is, is that I myself, in my humanity can develop my own thoughts about who Almighty God is, that I can decide who He is according to my fickle and limited whims and desires. A.W. Tozer says the same, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
What I believe to be true of God, not necessarily what boxes I check in agreement with, quietly influences everything about me.
My problem these days about knowing God is that for the majority of my life I’ve been content to neglect knowing Him as the Holy Spirit. My Western hemisphered brain sees the Spirit as too nebulous, too easily “spoken for” – as in baptizing my thoughts and wants and calling it the Holy Spirit, too manipulated and misunderstood, and for fear of getting Him all wrong, I’ve been lazy in decidedly growing to know the Holy Ghost.
God is a Person! The only Person it really matters that I get to know! For by knowing Him, I come to understand everything else rightly, or consequently having major voids in my understanding of Him leaves major voids in my living. Coming to know the Holy Spirit, as well as the three persons of our One True God, is a paradox of how much He has revealed of Himself but also how much of Himself remains a mystery high above our grasp of understanding. But oh, God, please let me see and know as much of You as I can possibly understand shown in Your word.
Questions that I would ask a new friend: What is your name? What do you do? What do you like to do? Where do you live? Lord, let me have eyes to see and Your mind to understand the Spirit in incremental bigness! And let me make space and time for this friendship, this relationship, to grow as any relationship needs space and time.
“You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17b
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
“…our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
These are five small truths out of an insearchable number about who this Person is. Lord, help my too-small eyes to grow wide in wonder at the One who helps me, who teaches me, draws Jesus to my remembrance, who ushers me to freedom from sin, who brought good news to my soul in firm belief, who raised Jesus from the dead.
The Spirit is not to be trifled with. Even as I type these words I see that my life, as I close my laptop screen, cannot be marked by mundane living. There is One with me who raised Christ from the dead and is today, giving new life to my soul and teaching me of Himself all that I have yet to know.
I’ll leave you with this thought about being acquainted with God (for me more of the Holy Spirit.) Did you ever play that ice breaker game where you take a handful of skittles and have to share one fact about yourself for each of the candies you took? Sure you have. I think I played it on freshman dorm move-in day. And I run out of anything interesting to say, well… pretty much right away (no one cares what suburb I’m from).
But God? Thoughts of Him outnumber the very grains of sand. And each one, each single iota of His nature, entirely and completely consuming of glory, goodness, mind-blowing wonder! Lord, I want to be enthralled with this wonder of upending every rock to find more grains of sand.