Friday, November 05, 2004
I talked with my friend Debbie last night. She asked me how I could think that God wanted to completely overwrite my files and turn me into some sort of Christian robot. "After all," she said, "He gave you the characteristics you have, including the desire for answers and independence."
The final clue was provided by what Chuck Smith wrote in "Living Water," a book provided in text on their Web site. Chuck wrote:
"Paul tells us that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (I Corinthians 14:32). That is, you have control over the exercise of this gift. This is true with all the gifts. I do not believe the Holy Spirit ever takes away control of your faculties. Demonic spirits can take control of a person's motor functions, but I do not believe God ever does so.
"I have heard people say, 'The Holy Spirit just made me do it,' or 'It came upon me and I didn't know what I was doing.' I can't accept that. The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. You are in control."
I stood in a church years ago and watched people walk up front, where the pastor would lay his hands on them. Some words would pass and then the people would fall over backward, like cordwood. I figured this was the paradigm case for people under the Spirit's control, and ever since then I've sort of assumed the same thing would have to happen to me. Complete loss of control so that the Holy Spirit could move me wherever He wanted to.
What's really amazing about this idea is how deeply entrenched it was in my thinking. I believe it has been reinforced by other Christian preachings and presentations and assumptions, and with no countervailing idea it just stayed there. It really messed up the works.
The truth is that I don't know what the nature of God's control of my life is. Debbie made a good point, and it's one that the Holy Spirit had also tried to make, but I'm highly resistant to good news. It's usually a lie, or manipulative, or too quick for anything to happen. Or it's just plain self-deception.
Eventually (this is the good news) I do get the point. I read Chuck Smith's statement and it finally got through to me. Even God's gifts are under our control. Getting cordwooded by the Holy Spirit isn't necessarily the paradigm of truth. I don't really know how God's control is supposed to work but I am getting some ideas, and this is a great relief.
And I got the migraine to prove it. Migraines, for me, are frequently trailing-edge phenomena: I get wound up very tight, then find a resolution and the tension is released, and then I get a migraine.
The Holy Spirit's control, as demonstrated in my life, is quiet but strong. One of the first things I noticed was that I ate less; it seemed that with Him filling me, I no longer stuffed myself physically. This area of control came apart in the course of this fight and I noticed myself eating poorly again, but I didn't care enough to stop it.
It's amazing to me how delicate a process this life is. It is so easy to ignore God, to put Him in a pigeonhole and assume that's all He is. Until Aslan reaches a big strong paw out of the pigeonhole and just sort of wipes the desktop clean. He isn't limited by my concepts, fortunately, but I'm really discouraged at how long it sometimes takes to get the point.
Why do I hang on so tightly to ideas I know don't work well? Especially when I've had demonstrated so many times how much better God's ideas work.
"Just keep following Me" is all He asks. It's a good road.