“Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to control your life, Alyssa Mae?” My mom’s lips pressed into a thin line as she waited for an answer, sort of. This question was, around my house, rhetoric. I had no good answer, just a stew of conflicting thoughts, but I wanted to be good, so I’d try and let the Holy Spirit control me, sort of. The fact is, I didn’t (don’t) really know how that was (is) supposed to happen. What does being “controlled by the Holy Spirit” look like? And, if I let him control me, does that mean I have to drink the kool-aid and be a Jesus Freak? I knew about tongues of fire (Acts2:1-13) and I knew about the babbling charismatics. I knew about selfless servants who turned the other cheek so often they’d morphed into doormats. I knew about missionaries. I knew about those rare few people I’d met who were truly happy, joyful Christians. That last group of people seemed to have their souls dialed in with the Holy …
But friend, the Joy of the Lord is My Strength. It is my muscle and ligament, my throbbing heart and my contracting diaphragm. The joy (all hope, all purpose, all mercy) is my life, even when I have absolutely no strength of my own. It is the skeleton of my faith and the skin of my hope. It is the realest reality I’ve ever known.
The canoe was metaphor, the cottage a symbol and the lake is an altar – only temporary images of the substance of the faith that enabled us to journey this far and the joy that carried us in powerful arms when we couldn’t walk upright from the wreckage of our lives.
How much energy do we spend battling our doubts and disappointments rather than focusing our aim and finishing the race, the task of testifying the good news of God’s grace? Do we ignore that the enemy’s goal, as C.S. Lewis’ character, Wormwood, declared in The Screwtape Letters is this, “Do remember you are there to fuddle him”.
Oh, I was fuddled.
Have you been there, too? Muddled and fuddled and stuck in the puddling thoughts of your own making?
My dogs pooped in the hall. Both of them. My cat puked in the laundry room. I argued with my daughter. I used bad words in said argument. I didn’t wash my face last night. I let my kids eat pop tarts. I ate two desserts after dinner. I’m having a hard time forgiving someone. I fear I’m losing a friend and I’m not losing weight. In fact I think I gained weight last week. I’m a little fearful of what the future holds. I let insecurity get the best of me. I’ve said the word stupid about 40 times today (remember the dogs?). I’ve already ranted and it’s not yet noon. Since early this morning, I’ve worked on the same sentence over and again in my head and it’s just beginning to make sense: Let your your light shine bright before men, not so that they can better see you, but so that they can better see the Light that cannot dim in storm or shadow or sorrow or even in the …
“Sometimes God’s rules are hard,” Nikko states as he stuffs his backpack, preparing to meet the bus. “Yeah? What do you mean?” I watch the coffee fill my mug. “Well, all the things we need to do, you know, the rules.” We forget sometimes that rules are a very big part of a nine-year-old’s life. “You mean like being kind and not lying…stuff like that?” “Yeah, God has a lot of rules. And I mess up. And sometimes I forget.” Collective sigh. Yes. I know this well.