Faithful Living: From out in left field

By Joan Bay Klope

I gained a wonderful insight this week into one of the ways God interacts with us. My experience was not planned nor initiated by me. Likewise, it was brief; ending almost as suddenly as it began.

It happened early Wednesday when I awoke suddenly to a dark and 36 degree morning. At first, I resented this sudden end to a blessed sleep, for I was surrounded by a warm husband on one side and a toasty little chihuahua, who had slid under the covers sometime during the night, on the other. I realized I had set my alarm to go off early so I could finish tasks that needed to be completed before heading to work. Yet, I had awakened ahead of my alarm. I relished the thought of 30 additional minutes of sleep, for I did not feel completely rested or energetic. Then again, if I rallied earlier I would be one step ahead of the schedule I had fashioned for myself late the night before.

It was that very moment, feeling slightly weary and even more indecisive, that I heard a chorus and felt words that soothed my tired being:

Spirit of the living God,

fall afresh on me;

Spirit of the living God,

fall afresh on me.

Mold me, move me, fill me, use me...

Spirit of the living God,

fall afresh on me.

I sat up in bed and smiled. It was one of those occasional moments I fondly refer to as my “left field” experiences. They are quick, intense, and invigorating. They are surprising, insightful, and energizing. I interpret them as verbal, but I cannot hear them with my ears and if someone else were nearby, they could not hear the sound I hear. Rather, the sounds and the words I “hear” reach down into my soul.

Best of all, left field experiences are soothing. That is because it is God’s spirit moving and refreshing me when I lack the ability to move and refresh myself.

If you have attended a Christian worship service in the last few years, you may recognize this chorus. Written as a transition piece to move congregants from focusing on praise and worship themes to providing additional insight into the pastor’s message, this simple chorus has never touched me like it did this week when a heavenly moment was just what I needed.

As a Christian, I believe that God exists in three forms: He’s my Father, He’s my Father’s son (whom I know as Jesus), and He is a Spirit. To simplify this complex concept just a bit (a concept, by the way, that will challenge and in some ways mystify me for a lifetime), consider that water can exist in liquid form, as ice, and as a vapor. We are promised that while God is Fatherly yet separate from us, and Jesus came to live among us for only a short time, the Spirit (often called the Holy Spirit) will dwell with us — never to leave us alone to fend for ourselves — if we request this relationship.

Some days I get so busy I do not notice this indwelling. But, when I hear music that praises God, when I sense an urgency to respond with prayer, when I detect something dark and alarming, and when I experience a “left field” moment, I know God is there. Deep inside. Teaching and reminding me that He closely hovers.

There is nothing scary or strange or pretentious about this relationship. It is amazing and private. It reminds me of a great promise God makes in the Bible: that when we are scared, tired, confused, not thinking clearly, or in any way incapacitated, God’s Spirit will move and work within us on our behalf. The great comfort of such a relationship is experienced by me when I learn of suffering that inevitably scares me as well as breaks my heart. God is there at all moments! He is a God that not only nudges us to live better, but also comforts us when we need a heavenly touch.

The key to such experiences, I believe, is to acknowledge your need for God. It is to take time to be quiet and listen for God’s Spirit. It also involves being extremely diligent about putting into your heart and soul good thoughts, images, experiences, advice, prayers, and people.

Such interaction sets into motion a relationship with God that will occasionally work independently of you to surprise, soothe, and elevate your daily life.

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