My heart goes out to hundreds and thousands of Believers who feel empty and hurt in life. Even the rank and file “saved” person seems restless and rootless. When I talk to dozens of people each week and pray with them, it hits me that so many good people are living like orphans. Scared and hurt, but not too sure where to turn. They WANT to believe and WANT to experience the kind of lifestyles they read about in their Bibles, but it eludes them. These are good people; regular people like you and me. And they’re feeling kind of empty.
Then, when the presence of the Holy Spirit isn’t felt, that’s when we look for other things to give us meaning and comfort on a day to day basis. Different people respond in different ways to the lack of feeling the Spirit’s presence…they do different things to fill the void and the lost sense of direction.
• Some simply backslide. They fill their lives with whatever meaningless distractions they played with BEFORE they knew the Lord.
• Another type of “empty” Christian switches churches every few months, hoping that a change of scenery will mask the emptiness in their hearts. Since they’re meeting new people, and singing new songs, it SEEMS like the old feeling is there and the old excitement has come back. The emptiness returns after they know everybody at the new church and the songs are committed to memory. Then, they “hit the trail” again, searching for a sense of fulfillment and purpose…and inner comfort.
• Others just cut back on their church involvement and fill their time with community, business and political commitments. By packing their schedules with meetings, projects and deadlines, they get a renewed sense of zeal and involvement – only this time it’s on the outside. The inside remains troubled and restless.
• Sure, their careers take off. And they get to do a lot of good in their communities. But it doesn’t replace the inner joy and simplicity they KNOW can be there. After all, they used to LIVE a serene, contended and tranquil life. So they know how it CAN be.
Some of our friends have opted for the common cop-out when they found themselves feeling an inner void: They substitute their family relationships for their relationship with their Heavenly Father. They skip prayer time so they can watch TV with the kids. They play hooky from church “as a family” so they can go to ball games, hockey, weenie roasts and other events. They stop tithing but keep the cable TV service and the dance and music lessons for the kids. And wonder where their inner peace went.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m DEFINITLY a family man. I love my wife and our three kids. I also know that they are a gift from God, and that my walk with HIM is the number 1 priority. If I’m not where I need to be with God, I’ll never be the kind of husband and father my family needs.
While none of these things in themselves seem harmful, the results of missing the fellowship of the Holy Spirit are disastrous.
For example, when we’re in communion with the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit are evident in our lives. We are more gracious, kind, loving, caring, gentle, peaceful and things like that. We are compassionate and generally just “sweeter” when we’re yielding to the Spirit.
On the other hand, when we’re just filling our time with religious activity, or other pastimes, we get harder, more bitter and less caring. We don’t feel at ease. And those people who ARE walking by the Spirit don’t feel at ease when they’re around US.
There’s a tremendous promise to us in Acts 3:19. God promises us “times of refreshing” straight from His presence, when we turn from the things that have distracted us and kept us from hitting His target for our lives. (Remember? The word “repent” means to “change one’s mind” and to sin is to “miss the target”.) When we TRULY change our minds about these things and turn from them, God will give us times of refreshing.
There are so many things that we can be preoccupied with. It’s easy to get into the mentality of Martha, the sister of Mary, who lived in Bethany. When Jesus came to visit them, they both were excited about having Jesus in their home. But Martha was so busy and troubled about all the things she should be doing that she really didn’t get any enjoyment out of Jesus’ visitation. On the other hand, her sister, Mary, pulled herself away from her other chores and sat at the feet of Jesus.
If you’re an active person like me, you want to ask yourself, “How long has it been since I simply SAT at the feet of Jesus? How long has it been since I just got into His presence and let Him move upon me by His Spirit? How much relaxed, unhurried time do I give to the Holy Spirit just to fellowship with me?” These are questions that really matter.
Jesus gives an invitation to you and to me: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden…and I will give you rest.” The love that God has for us is a love that we can live by and draw strength from. All we have to do is quietly come to Him and rest in His presence. And commune with His Spirit.
Never doubt that you are very loved by God. You and I have the privilege of being able to go directly to Him for help and fellowship. Don’t worry about your past failings. God can give you forgiveness when you ask Him for it by prayer. Don’t worry about your weaknesses. When you ask the Holy Spirit to come upon you and inside of you, He’ll give you the strength to overcome and succeed. Don’t worry about the times you’ve let God down. God, through your faith in Jesus, can make you strong.
Take the time, (right now if you possibly can) to shut your eyes, open your hands and ask the Holy Spirit to touch you and to fill you with His love and His presence. Surrender to Him and breathe deep of His comfort, peace and serenity. Talk with Him from the depths of your heart and mind. You’ll find that He answers you with inspired ideas, and with words of wisdom.
Make this kind of prayer time and fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit a part of your daily activities. Then read your Bible, letting the Spirit of God teach you what it means. He inspired it – He can also explain it to you, from the inside.
This is what the Bible is talking about when it refers to the GRACE of Christ, the LOVE of God and the FELLOWSHIP of the Holy Spirit. That’s in 2 Corinthians 13:14.
The GRACE of Christ is what brings us sweetness in life. God intends for the life to be sweet for the Believers to BE SWEET.)