by Lisa Alfaro
From a very young age I’ve had the privilege of knowing the most amazing friend one could ever have. In all the stages of my life there were new and unexpected challenges– Choosing a school, a career, a life partner, raising children, and now, retirement. But through each stage, I credit my friend’s influence for just about every good thing I have accomplished. He is quiet and gentle, yet firm. Throughout my lifetime he never forced or imposed his ways, he’s been there to give me peace when the days get difficult and I feel overwhelmed, brought me joy even in loss or sorrow, clarity and wisdom when I’ve felt confused. Consistently prompting me to love and forgive when I want to stay angry and hold a grudge. Over and over, he is the friend that brings out the very best in me.
Who is this friend?
I did not capitalize his pronoun because I didn’t want to give it away too soon—yes, this friend is the Holy Spirit! He came by invitation. When I accepted Jesus into my heart, the Holy Spirit came to dwell inside of me unlocking wonderful possibilities within me. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus and accepted Him, my wonderful friend lives inside of you as well!
Sometimes I wish I had lived in the time when Jesus was on this earth so that I could physically see Him and hear Him up close and personal, imagining myself His most faithful follower. But then I wonder if I would’ve been like one of those hardened and unbelieving Pharisees. And even if I had been one of His closest disciples, I might’ve been like Peter, denying Him when things got tough. Clearly, it’s anybody’s guess! Notice in John 7:38-39 Jesus said: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.“ I’m so glad that now His Holy Spirit dwells inside of us so that we can call upon Him to help us live our very best life for God’s glory.
But so often hearing and understanding the Holy Spirit can feel like an overwhelming or illusive idea. We want it to be immediate or crystal clear, but like so many things in life, I’m not convinced that’s how God operates. So the question remains – How do we access the Holy Spirit?
Today’s technology has made resolving issues in our everyday life fairly immediate, just look at Siri or Alexa for example. There’s no need to meander through a neighborhood trying to find an address when we can voice activate Siri to help us find it! Likewise, in my own life prayer has been that that voice activation to petition what we need from God allowing His Holy Spirit to help us. There is no need to fail when we can pray asking His Holy Spirit to come alongside and journey with us. Don’t get me wrong, there is a listening and trust learning curve. Our busy minds can sometimes miss hearing that gentle instruction from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes our disobedient nature will override His nudging. He will be grieved but will never give up on us.
It reminds me of Siri, if we fail to follow her instructions to get to a destination and we make a wrong turn, she will say, “Reconfiguring“ and will give instructions on how to get back in the right direction. I have learned to rely on Him more and more through years of practice. Sadly, there were times when I did not activate that awesome power. I would plunge right into a situation thinking I could handle it on my own and failed miserably. In the end I had to come back and ask God to “reconfigure“ my situation and show me His way. His Spirit was there to make things right and I learned my lesson—Next time go straight to the Source of all wisdom and power first, listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and then act. We don’t have to go it alone, everyday and at every turn we can access the Holy Spirit living inside of us. “—When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.“ (John 16:13)