Are You Nearly Full? Or Mostly Empty?

For several years I struggled with the idea of being "Filled with the Spirit."

"How is it," I wondered, "That every Christian is filled with the Spirit, yet some seem to have a more vital relationship with God, and others have a relationship that is somewhat indifferent? And why would God command us to 'be filled with the Spirit' if He has already filled us?"

I mulled over these thoughts from time to time. One day I heard a preacher illustrate it in a way that I could understand!

He explained that when we are "saved" (a Christianese word for accepting God's offer to save us from the natural consequence of our sin - death and eternal separation from God) we are baptized with the Holy Spirit. It's like we have been washed on the inside and given a new chance in life. This happens to everyone at the point of accepting this saving gift.

The difference, then, is in the amount of the Filling of the Holy Spirit. The preacher said, "Most of you came to church in a car. Some of you filled your tank with gas, some of you only put in a few dollars, and others are running on fumes. The filling of the Holy Spirit is like a spiritual tank. You only have as much as you put into it!"

 I thought about this again the other night when I heard another radio preacher say, "We all have as much of God as we WANT to have."

 For the past week or more, I have been reading Ann Voscamp's blog A Holy Experience as she and her husband were on a missions trip in Ecuador, South America. She describes the desperate state of poverty in which people live and their stories touched me deeply. One story in particular - - the story of Jonathan.

I was thinking about Jonathan while I was driving the other day.

Right after I heard the preacher say, "We all have as much of God as we WANT to have."

My initial reaction to Jonathan's story had been a desire to bring him home with me to the comforts of this American life. But what I realized in that moment was that what he has is BETTER.
He has JESUS.
He understands how desperately he NEEDS Jesus, and he HAS Jesus.
This is the most consuming relationship of his entire life.
I realized that Jonathan is not the one living in poverty, it is ME, US, every American Christian who values comfort more than a consuming thirst for God.

In a book I've been reading, the authors write: "Our culture is obsessed with stuff. It occupies our days and dreams. We love getting it, though it rarely satisfies for very long. Stuff often seems to own us as much as we own it. Most of us have far more than we need, but we still have a hard time resisting the urge to add more to the accumulation.... We collect stuff and clutter because it gives us a sense of security, comfort and pride. But that's a deception. In reality physical clutter gives us disorder, stress and more work."

THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you want.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the less you're satisfied.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more people will come after it.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you realize it does you no good.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you have to worry about.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you can hurt yourself by trying to hold onto it.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you have to lose.
THE MORE YOU HAVE,  the more you'll leave behind.
Randy Alcorn

In my study of scripture, I noticed that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit they instantly began preaching the Word with amazing boldness (often in the languages of foreigners in the room) and that thousands of people were "getting saved"

- - But this amazing filling of the Spirit was only after they had set aside everything and stopped all other daily activities to simply wait for God to show up in their lives.

They were seeking, wanting, and waiting for Him. And He came in a powerful way.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day and I AM thankful for my home and my comforts -- but next year I want LESS to be thankful for! Less stuff  to clean up after and care for. Less stuff to feed pride and self-reliance. Less stress and clutter to rob my moments.

I want more Joy. More time to spend with God, with my family.

More Peace from the One who is the Prince of Peace.

This year? I want more JESUS.

The Worn Out Woman, by Steven Stephens & Alice Gray


This Little Life of Mine said...

That does make so much sense.
My hubby and I have different religions. We are both believers, but we just can't agree on the church. So to keep the peace, we attend each other's churches on occasion ...
We are so happy. This is our only difference, but I desperately want a church to call my own each and every Sunday.
I want to fill up on God's word with fellow believers :)

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