Does our work in the Spirit ever see "the end"?
By Jessica Brodie
Gardening is not one of the gifts God gave me. I’ve managed to keep a few houseplants alive and thriving over the years, but anyone who saw my feeble attempts at a vegetable garden would probably say I have a black thumb. And yet I absolutely love gardening in theory—the concept of planting and growing, of helping to create and nurture new life, then offer it what it needs to thrive and blossom with the fruit of God’s glory.
Except, well, what happens in practice is I jump the proverbial gun and rush into Phase Three too early. See, I’m great with the starting part, planting the seeds and pouring the soil, watering, tending the nascent life just so. And things continue just fine… for a while. I’m diligent about watering… for a while. I get excited when I see those first little promises of life, the tiny green balls that seem destined to become plump, red, juicy tomatoes in no time, or the buds that will become flowers in another few days or weeks.
But then it all goes awry. I figure, “My work is done!” and get distracted, and they get sun-scorched from too little water, or the tomatoes ripen far earlier than I expect and begin to rot on the vine. I fail my plants because I’ve stopped just short.
Reading Acts 8 today, it occurred to me that my approach toward gardening is much like how some of us believers walk in our faith. We discover the Lord, accept Jesus in our hearts and are saved, are excited and eager and astounded by the Good News, and begin the journey of repentance, of changing our hearts and lives to walk God’s path.
And then stop. Right there. We know Jesus, know what to do… but we don’t get far enough to receive the Holy Spirit. We love Jesus in their hearts and minds and souls, but we haven’t given everything over to fully surrender to God’s way. We’re too focused on “my way.”
And so we’re like my poor, pitiful plants—ready to thrive, ready to blossom, but we just never get that chance.
In Acts 8, Philip traveled to Samaria to bring the Good News about Jesus. Many believed and were baptized, so many that the apostles Peter and John heard about it traveled to Samaria themselves. They prayed that the Spirit would enter these new believers, laid their hands on them, and—kapow! Through God, the believers received the Holy Spirit and were utterly transformed.
Our walk in faith doesn’t stop at belief. It doesn’t stop at changed hearts and lives, at obedience, at repentance.
We need to go a step further, to pray that God fills us with His Holy Spirit so that we can truly walk in His way and do His will in the world.
That’s my prayer today: Lord, fill me with your Spirit. Use me as you will.