What, Exactly, Is the Holy Spirit?

Aren’t car conversations the worst and the best? There you are, trapped. No escape unless you’re prepared to die diving onto the freeway. And you know the feeling when an impending conversation–the one you know has to and will happen no matter how much you will it away, “forget” it or “not care” about it–is almost less appealing than tucking and rolling onto the  steaming asphalt zooming beneath you. Some of the best and worst conversations of my life have happened between me and my passenger/driver. My road trip this weekend I think will prove to be one example.

Rather than delve into the details, I will tell you it got me thinking a whole lot about the Holy Spirit. A name I toss around like it’s anything else: sandwich, laundry, Monday. But I forget those two words must sound incredibly strange and foreign to a non-Christian. “The Holy what??” I’m sure I’d question it too. It’s one of the most indescribable facets of this faith yet without it, we’d be completely alone.

I love how Lauren Winner simply articulates this complex idea in her memoir Girl Meets God: “‘Maybe,’ I say, ‘that is why the first letter of the first word of the first commandment is aleph, a silent letter. In speaking aleph, God quieted all the noise.” I stir my tea. ‘Maybe that is what the Holy Spirit does. Maybe He silences all the voices in our head that keep us from hearing God'” (p. 233).

In my head this would be a full-time, scratch that, around-the-clock job. Just silencing my own voice is a battle let alone all of the others I let into my brain. That I allow to keep me up at night, distract me from work, veer me in strange directions never intended for me. Lately the Holy Spirit has been what’s quieted me, reassured me, reminded me that God came and is still here.

Winner also says “The Spirit is the reason we Christians can do anything, the reason we do not live paralyzed in fear of messing up. The Spirit is how we unfold God’s will this side of eternity. The Spirit is the reason we can build a church and have confidence that we will get it at least a little bit right” (p. 232).

When I finally sit and think about what the Spirit has to do with my life, I realize there is nothing the Spirit does not have to do with my life.

Maybe this is why I say Holy Spirit like I say sandwich, Monday and laundry.

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9 thoughts on “What, Exactly, Is the Holy Spirit?

  1. I love the idea of the Spirit as a quiet reassurance, something (someone?) that makes space for us to hear God. Lovely.

    I think I need more silence in my life.

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  2. As long as you’ll write I’ll read. l love reading your thoughts. And I love the thought that the Spirit quiets me. It is true but I’ve never heard someone say it that way. (even tho’ I read Winner’s book:). I love you, darlin.

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  3. No matter the daily state of affairs of your life, difficult or not, if the name of the Holy Spirit is daily and purposefully on your tongue and in your heart and in your meditation then you have taken a huge step forward in your spiritual discipline and discipleship. Jesus said I will make you fishers of men. So to go fishing without the necessary tools to achieve the goal is the same as not cultivating your life by thought, study and action for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not only is God alive and life giving you too are alive but as equally important is the ‘relationship’ between man to God and God to man. Keeping that relationship alive and healthy requires the Holy Spirit and you must prepare yourself for that. Man and Holy Spirit is as much a marriage relationship as is the marriage between a man and a woman and it has to be fed and nurtured and carefully looked after and attended to. Prayer, study, meditation, private worship daily, corporate worship weekly, the lord’s supper, service, active service, living by the fruits of the spirit are all apart of what is necessary for the soft and gentle voice of the Holy Spirit to live and grow within each of us.

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  4. Your writing is incredible! And this is so true. I’m a huge fan of your Dad’s writings and I believe I am of yours too! Sorry to sound like a random 40 year old Mom who just learned how to use the computer… I’m actually a teen who has a blog of her own. But thank you for your wonderful thoughts and writings.

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