I write often that the Holy Spirit’s job is to transform us from the inside out, but what does that mean in someone’s life? This week I want to list some of the effects of the God’s transforming Spirit on us. I hope that you will offer up your own experiences of transformation in the comments. It will be so interesting to read what has been changed in you, too.
But first let’s consider the real bottom line in transformation: first, a person has to acknowledge all that he has done, thought and said that needs to be transformed. It takes honesty and integrity to offer these things up to God.
It takes perseverance to continue to acknowledge and hold these very human areas of our lives—our mistakes, our failures, our guilt and shame, what we have done or failed to do and what others have done to us. As long as we hold on to these experiences, they color how we see ourselves and God and life and others. As we lift them up to God’s transforming Spirit, we are tearing down the walls within us: the walls that limit how much God can do in our lives, the walls that keep us closed to living abundantly, the walls that keep us from seeing ourselves as we truly are, and the walls that keep us from love—loving ourselves, loving God with all of who we are and loving others.
Here is what I have experienced myself or observed in others when the Holy Spirit is given free rein. In general we see a movement away from an outer motivation to a deep listening to the self and to the Divine voice within:
- What has motivated you for a long time no longer seems important. Recently I stopped making my bed, a task I’ve done for years because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, and what if anyone knew that I wasn’t doing it? That no longer seemed like a good reason. A little while later I’m back to doing it for me with out thinking about it, because I like it that way.
- You may find yourself doing something you’d never thought of doing before—spending more time outside, doing things because they inspire you, seeking out beauty for its own sake.
- You may feel drawn to a quiet time, more prayer, fewer words, just finding a way to sit in God’s presence. Before you had to fill the time with Bible readings or a study guide or be with others doing the same thing.
- You are more able to be with another person without giving them advice or asking them why they did this or that. Before you were impatient, you had to be helpful. Now you are just present to the other person.
- While you still remember an abusive or difficult situation from your past, it no longer has the same emotional charge. You are freed of the same old, same old circular thinking about it. It feels like you’ve unplugged from the power it once had over you.
- Your thoughts don’t disturb you anymore. You begin to view them as signals that something may be wrong, but you no longer run from them, as you look for the underlying cause of the discomfort. And then you work on the cause.
- You find yourself listening more and more to that “still, small voice” within for guidance, inspiration, direction. You seek out new things to inspire you, keep you on track with God.
- The way you hold your beliefs relaxes as you build up a body of experience of following Christ. You don’t have to be right. You begin to let God show you who God is and depend less on what you been taught about God and life.
- You look for the call for yourself in whatever is happening—maybe what to say or do right now– asking what do you want me to do now, Lord? And you live from call to call from God.
- You begin to see how you are the co-pilot of your life, with God as pilot. There’s a lot of back and forth as you express all that you think, feel about what is happening, but you look to God as the one who really knows what you need to do next and how you are to do it.
- You might find yourself in situations where you’ve never been before. You might go to Central America or Haiti. You might change jobs or seek out a new profession. You might study another culture or language without knowing why. Or you might be doing the same things that you have always done, but from a totally different motivation.
- As you follow that still, small voice, you find you can just follow it without having to know “why?” or “what does this mean in my life?” And every time you do follow that voice, it’s self-affirming and life-enhancing. It’s also just the next step you need to take.
- You notice that the fruit of the Spirit is taking hold in your state of being. You are more able to love, be patient, experience more joy and peace. You are more able to be kind and good without calling attention to yourself and how great you are. You exercise self-control more easily, setting aside your needs to meet another’s when appropriate. Faithfulness comes more naturally. And you are much more gentle with yourself and others. As you go deeper into the relationship with God these traits will be fully vested in you.
- Gratitude just seems to flow naturally from you to God for the life you have been given, for life itself and the absolute privilege it is to be here on Earth.
- And you learn that loving yourself—warts and all–is the key lesson. As you turn the eyes of love onto yourself, you will find yourself relaxing in a huge way about everything. And then you can actually receive God’s love and love from others. As long as you feel unlovable, you will push away all attempts to love you including God’s. But when you have first loved yourself, then you can really feel loved. WOW!
You no longer are concerned with what other’s think about you, your reference point is that “still, small voice” and what do I really want to do? You move from an orientation to the culture to a much more internal one driven by the Spirit. You no longer just say that you trust God, you now build absolute trust in the Lord and his ability to take care of you, to love you, to nurture, comfort, and challenge you. And you are freed of so much. As Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden light.”[Matthew 11:30].
Easy and light…no anxiety about filling your needs…no attachments dragging you down…only the freedom to be who you were created to be.
It is a gradually unfolding process of letting go of an orientation outward to what others think about you in favor of a more inner motivation formed out of your growing relationship with God. You become much more aware of what you are capable of as you shed the burdens of the culture.
Questions to ponder over the Weekend: What issues have I yet to allow the Holy Spirit into? What do I need to give up to do that? What do I expect of the healing to come? Am I willing to place myself in his hands?
Here is the blessing for this week: May we all put ourselves in the hands of the Holy Spirit and see what he will transform in us and how he will use us. May we be blessed beyond measure and be aware of each and every blessing. May we live in Love’s arms and be love wherever we are. Amen.
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