Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ (when he said “living water” he was speaking of the Spirit who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given). – John 7:38
After decades of knowing Jesus, I am finally learning to walk in the Spirit. It is a phrase that has occurred in conversations or readings many times over the past months, and slow that I am, I am trying hard to listen.
It seems to me that walking in the Spirit is the pinnacle of our walk with Jesus, because at long last we listen to what he says, and try to act on it; strange though that may be at times. Jesus tells us here that anyone who believes in him may come and drink. Walking in the Spirit is for all believers, not just the chosen few. About the only two things I understand in this area, are that it takes time to cultivate, and time to listen. Don’t come to God in a rush and expect to understand him clearly, and be prepared to work at it.
We can walk in the Spirit every day of our lives, listening to him almost moment by moment, and it can be powerful. At no time is this more true than when we are looking for opportunities to speak to others about Christ. Over the years I look back and perceive the many times the Spirit was prompting me to talk to someone, and alas, I ignored it as a figment of my own imagination. In the past week, 3 incredible incidents have occurred that illustrate exactly why God wants us all to walk in the Spirit, listening carefully and closely to the Holy Spirit.
This morning I went out for an early surf, and waiting at the shower afterwards, I listened to 2 women my age talking about various male encounters in their lives, with little satisfaction. One was talking honestly about whether to leave her husband. At this point I was able to light-heartedly talk to them about the beauty and benefits of my own marriage experience, which like many I know, has taken time to nurture. The wait though is worth it. She listened, interested and ended up thanking me gratefully, genuinely – it’s as if she had been waiting for someone to come along and confirm her deep desire to stay. She would give it time. It was a prompting from the Holy Spirit to converse, and I’m delighted I did. Jesus in our everyday world, walking in the Spirit.
Last night a young man in our gathering whom we have come to admire told us how he prayed differently with the Lord this week, asking God to speak to him more directly about their future. So God obliged, and woke him up at 5am saying, ‘Buy a one-way ticket to China, and meet a man with this name.’ He, and his wife were surprised. They waited for confirmation given it was a huge decision, and were shown it later in the week. The man’s wife was applying for a particular job in the city and had been told she had been unsuccessful, but – they noticed a certain TESOL qualification on her resume and asked if she would be interested in working in China! They leave early next year. Walking in the Spirit, listening to the voice of the Spirit as he directs our paths.
A week ago, a dear friend was down visiting and we were in our local town, looking for opportunities to talk to people. As we sat having coffee, a young toddler rode up to us on her shiny bike, and stopped and stared. Our friend asked her name, at which she rode on – what a strange man. The girl’s father walked up, and we asked his name, to which he responded and then asked ours. Our visitor, out of the blue came up with a rather cryptic response, and said “I don’t know yet. I have a new name, but I don’t know what it is.” Only a very few would understand such a response, and who would say that to a stranger? But, our stranger understood, he retorted, “is it written on a white stone, your new name?”, to which I replied, “yes, as in Revelation 2.” We couldn’t believe it, he understood.
He, his wife (who was on the next table already talking to one of our wives) and their daughter were from Brazil and they were believers, looking for a group to join who would go out on the streets to witness with. We have since connected with them, and are really looking forward to getting to know them, as we talk to so many Brazilian students where we are. Walking, doing, while listening to the Spirit. When he leads, the conversations are meaningful.
As we’ve already decided, it takes time to move into a deep relationship with God. Few ever take the time. It is for me, a huge challenge. Slow down enough to spend time with him. Yet, without it we will be less effective than we might be. We are likely to miss those opportunities that only he can point out, because only he knows the hearts of each of us.
The beauty of it all – aside from a deep and intimate relationship with the Saviour though, is that we can bring Christ into our everyday world. There is no magic or mystique, we don’t need to be a famous preacher, or a ‘known personality’ in church circles, neither do we need to have all our theology correct and accounted for; all we need is to listen to him and to act on what he prompts us.
Walking in the Spirit of Christ, bringing Jesus into our world right where we are. Available to every believer in him. Fabulous isn’t it.