A few years ago I heard Paul Scanlon speak about recognising the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. The reality is sometimes, it’s awesome – the Midas touch of anointing! Sometimes, it’s just hard. Like God’s hiding himself from us, or worse – it feels like God is being aloof!
This is just an analogy to enable us to ask some questions to help us discern for ourselves and for others particularly as we lead, what God’s up to and how we can get involved.
So, for this purpose, we’re looking at four seasons of the Spirit: Mountain / Plain / Valley / Shore. As we look at the water table on the image above, notice the consistency of the water – it’s the landscape and perspective that changes. Be encouraged that God is always here – always ready to be found.
The mountain top experience is a full on outpouring. No-one escapes; it’s that uncontrollable, lavish, extravagant move of the Spirit that moves a nation and defines a generation – The Welsh Revival, The Azusa Street Outpouring, the Toronto Blessing – you get the idea.
When John’s followers asked Jesus why they fasted, but Jesus’ disciples didn’t (Matt 9) Jesus responded, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.’ There’s so much to be said about living in a rhythm of revival, but in simple terms, an appropriate response is enjoyment. Celebrate Him. It’s a high form of praise.
We can sometimes hit those seasons where we suddenly realise we’ve been coasting without him – the water is gone, and as far as the eye can see, there’s nothing but the plain. There are loads of potential reasons and mystery as to why we experience these kind of seasons. Sometimes it’s because we navigate success badly. In 2 Kings 18, Hezekiah led Judah into one of it’s greatest revivals – He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles, he even destroyed the bronze snake that Moses had made as people had begun burning incense to it. But later, when the envoy from Babylon comes, instead of pointing them to the God he serves – he showed them the wealth of Judah – as if to say, ‘We’re obviously very mighty in battle – don’t mess with us!’ The prophet Isaiah challenges Hezekiah, and announces the end to the season of success – at this point Hezekiah’s heart is revealed. He’s kinda cool with it, because he’s more concerned with his present comfort rather than the legacy being left for the next generation. The most powerful thing we can pass on to the next generation is a love for God, and a passion to obey Him.
After this, Manesseh and Amon were kings of Judah, and without that legacy of relationship with God, there was an absence of His presence – Both Kings reigned with terror and atrocity until a young king, Josiah took the throne and began to dig the wells of his inheritance. He restored the temple and in the process, the book of the law was found. Josiah restored the covenant with God and in 2 Kings 23, you can read all the ways he honoured God. Josiah invested in devotion to God, and what he found was grace.
When we’re in the plain – it’s time to lean in, to dig for water – invest in the bible, make the most of every opportunity to worship, enquire of God – knowing that He is unchanged in His mercy. When we seek Him, we will find Him.
When we find ourselves at our lowest point – God is there.
Psalm 23 – A psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul.
When we are consumed by tiredness – it’s not the time to start digging! Don’t make people do it! Sometimes, God makes you lie down – He underlines the value of rest. When we are burned out, it’s time to be by the quiet waters and allow God to refresh and restore us.
I love this! As a church I feel like this is where we are. Embracing the spirit of adventure! God is leading us out to the coastlines of our landscape – wind rushing through our hair (or skirting across our beautifully formed craniums) – the ebb and flow of the tides, the crashing of the waves and the call to step out in faith. We get to step out of the boat onto the waves – to walk like Jesus walked. We live out a ‘Spirit-Christiology’ in that everything Jesus did, He did, not out of His divinity, but rather out of His humanity in step with and empowered by the Spirit of God – to show us how we can live. We want to know God, grow together, and go – Embrace the challenges, face the fears and follow the one who has good plans for us.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
(Oceans – Hillsong)