Emptied. Filled. Now what? What does all this look like?
It looks like an ugly blob of hard clay thrown onto the potters wheel. Emptied dry, then moistened by the opening up of a new source of living water, the sprinkling of the Holy Spirit.
If I look to my own strength, all of this – living in literal obedience to Jesus, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, tapping into the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, believing in an authority that drives out diseases and heals illness, expecting miracles and persecution, and evangelizing and discipling others like I believe in all this – it feels overwhelming and impossible. Because that’s just it; it is. “‘Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts” in Zechariah 4:6.
If I turn my gaze and reset my focus on the Spirit of God, it all makes perfect sense. It’s no longer impossible, it’s faith-filled and exhilarating.
I think I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking less of the Holy Spirit than what he deserves. Sure I believed in him, but he was a whispering conscience, not a force to be reckoned with. His role was to teach and remind me of all things (which is true, Jesus said that) but I missed the part about his authority to do unbelievable things so that people would see and believe. I’m repenting because I have limited what I believed the Holy Spirit was capable of doing in me, around me, and through me. What would happen if I asked the Holy Spirit – the same one that fell on the apostles in Acts 2 – to come afresh on me, pour new oil on me, and send me out with authority? I’m going to find out.
One thing that’s already changed in me is that I’m praying more. And differently. My prayers no longer follow the same rut that they’ve stayed in for a while. I find myself on my knees more, actually talking to God instead of reusing the same prayer phrases that I’ve used my whole life, and when I rise up, I am changed and strengthened and empowered.
I also think on Holy Spirit more. I check in throughout the day to realign my thoughts and motives and actions with his. Perhaps this is what “keeping in step with the spirit” means. Have you ever tried to keep in step? Maybe in a three legged race? Or in a marching band? You can’t keep in step without constantly either looking at your feet, verbalizing a rhythm, or listening to the beat. This is what we have to do with the Holy Spirit too. It’s a discipline that requires practice.
Even more than a discipline of practice, it’s a discipline of being. It’s being still on the Potter’s wheel, letting his hands form and free you. It is feeling the warmth of the Potter’s hand as he smoothes out rough edges and refines you with the gentle fressure of his thumb and the caress of his palm. Even though you have no control over the shape you are becoming (which is hard for us westerners that want to have control over everything and believe we entitled to a choice in everything), you know that you are becoming a beautiful vessel with a distinct purpose in the Potter’s plan.
And that is enough. Emptied. Filled. Sculpted. A vessel to be poured out and filled up all over again.
“You have poured fresh oil over me.” Psalm 92:10
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