We have been friends for a long, long time.
In fact, I have known him most of my life.
I met him when at age four.
But even though I have known him all this time, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned his name.
Or, more accurately, the meaning of his real name.
I had always been taught that He is the “Holy Spirit”.
Or, in some translations, the “Holy Ghost”.
He has been a mystery at best.
But He longs for us to know Him.
He reveals Himself to us.
He doesn’t long to be distant – He longs to be close.
For us to really grapple with and grasp His incredible love for us – and the gifts that He gives. The comfort He brings. The ways He fights for us. And the ways He shapes us.
And knowing His real name has brought me a little closer to actually understanding a bit more that intimacy that He desires.
I can’t take credit for figuring out His name.
It was in a sermon by Chris Hodge from Church of the Highlands.
But oh, what a light bulb this has turned on in my life!
See, the first translators of the Bible had a problem.
When they got to the word Hebrew word “Ruach” in the Old Testament and the Greek word “Pneuma” in the New, they figured they couldn’t call Him literal meaning: the “Holy Wind” or “Holy Breath”. So instead, they called Him the “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost”.
But I understand “wind of God” or “breath of God” SO much better than I do “spirit” or “ghost”.
Chris had four points in his sermon about the Holy Spirit or “Holy Wind of God”. He said that the wind is:
So how has knowing this literal meaning of His name changed me?
I am not sure I can put it into words, but I have to try.
The Holy Spirit is literally the air I breathe.
I don’t mean God is in the combo of oxygen and hydrogen that fills my lungs.
But I do mean that He is the very source of the breath of my body.
So since I have learned His true name, it has changed how I deal with a sticky problem or a stuck thought.
I close my eyes and take a deep physical breath, while asking Him to fill me with the spiritual oxygen that I need to face the issue.
And then I exhale, releasing the problem into His almighty hands.
It is a recipe for instant peace.
And I do it every time that problem or thought invades my thinking.
Over and over again if I need to.
But what is amazing is that the more I do it, the less I need to do it. It is easier to let it go – and let it be gone – even for me, the semi-pro worrier!
It is what God told the prophet Zechariah when He said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
I cannot solve one tiny thing in my life – let alone the big stuff.
But the Spirit of the Living God, the very Breath of God, most certainly can.
And when I release the problem into His hands, He is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly” in my life. (Ephesians 3:20)
When I choose to do a holy exhale, both literally and figuratively, I am putting into practice what Paul told the Philippians when he said, “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done. And the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7-8, Kathy’s version)
And that’s just one difference it has made.
I knew those Truths before. But putting them into practice has become easier. Here’s another:
As Chris pointed out, the wind is powerful.
It can be downright destructive at times.
And I have asked the Wind of God to blow through my heart, knocking down the idols that dwell there and cleaning all the dust and cobwebs out of every corner.
Because it is super easy for me to be a “professional Christian”.
Certain behavior is expected of me because of my job.
Time in the Word of God.
Time in prayer – or at least saying I will pray about something.
Lots of time at the church.
And all the right answers and actions – at least when someone is watching.
Way, way too easy to slip into professional mode and not be real.
In the good or the bad.
And my heart so easily becomes dusty.
Going through the motions.
Saying and doing the right things.
Which is great.
But doing them without my heart in them.
Which is not great.
It is a recipe for ultimate failure if left that way.
So I have been asking the Wind of God to be a powerful leaf blower in my life.
Knocking down what He wants to knock down.
Blowing out the door what needs to go.
Sweeping through like a Holy Tornado when that is what I need.
And He has.
He has shown me an idol I didn’t even realize was sitting on the throne of my heart.
A good desire that had grown out of proportion and was out of submission to the will of the Most High God.
I have asked Him to blow that sucker off the throne every time it tries to slip back on it.
And He has.
He stops me in my tracks when the thought tries to creep back in.
And with a mighty puff it is knocked back down from decision-making influencer to what it is, an unfulfilled desire to place back into His hands.
I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you have never actually met Him. You know about God and the things of God but you have never surrendered your life, never accepted that you need Jesus to be the only Way for salvation. Knowing about Him – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is not the same as being in relationship with Him. One simple prayer of surrender can change that for you – but it is up to you.
Perhaps, like me, you were raised in a church that seemed to say “Father! Son! And (in a whisper) Holy Spirit??” Easy for us to understand, at least in theory, what it means to be The Father and The Son. Difficult to grasp the Holy Spirit – and kind of scary, too – so you lock Him in a box labeled “God doesn’t work that way today” and leave Him there. I would challenge you to ask the Breath of God to breathe understanding of Who He really is into your life. Don’t take my word for it – Go to His Word to find out Who He is.
Or perhaps you have swung the other way and live your life fueled by spiritual emotion. Happiness when you “feel the Spirit”; sadness when you do not. Joy when He does the things you want Him to do and disbelief when He shows that He is, indeed, not predictable. He is very, very good – but He is not tame. You, too, have a box but yours is labeled “God = My Feelings About Him”. Again, I would challenge you to ask Him to show you who He really is, outside of your feelings and even outside of your experiences. Take Him at His Word, not yours.
Maybe you have a healthy understanding of Who He is and His role in the life of a Christ-follower.
I don’t know.
But my prayer for both of us today is that we would invite Him to reveal Himself to us more and more.
Not as we want Him to be.
But as He is revealed in the pages of Scripture.
Not viewed through the lens of a certain denomination or theological grid.
But Who God says God is.
And then that we would allow Him to have His way.
To be the air we breathe.
To be the invisible source of all our strength.
To be the powerful change agent in our lives.
To be as unpredictable as He wants to be, working things out for His glory and our good.
And to be a refreshing breeze, the renewed wind in your sails as you journey with Him.
He longs for you to know Him intimately. Will you let that happen?