The Holy Spirit is Not a Ride

Matt and I were talking about the Holy Spirit the other day because we have some youth who want to experience the Holy Spirit more (we have the best youth group ever, I know). The thing is, their expectations of what the Spirit does were a little bit limited and not very subtle.

The thing is, very often it is easy to think of the Holy Spirit like an amusement park ride that you climb into, buckle up, get moved, and then enjoy the adrenaline while you wait in the line for two hours to go on it again. Special youth events, conferences and retreats are places where it is easy to get on a spiritual high that makes every day life seem less than significant, not exciting, and probably not empowering. School and work and church are just things to do until our turn comes for one of those big events.

I think this is what happens when feelings take over spiritual discipline, and it is a vicious cycle that can be so dangerous because there is a very thin line between spiritual thirst and spiritual pride.

The speaker at my grad chapel ceremony said something very helpful about spiritual discipline – that this discipline is not punishment like a parent spanking a child, and it is not something to grit your teeth and push through like boot camp, but it is opening your heart up to God for him to make more room for himself, an invitation. If a spiritual high is not followed up with spiritual discipline, then it is a cheap thrill; if it doesn’t change you, then it is simply another distraction.

Experiencing the Holy Spirit is a continual experience, not something that starts and stops, turns on and off, is there and then fades away. As in marriage, spiritual feelings may ebb and flow, but ultimately they must also deepen. And there is no sense in craving intimacy without establishing the trust and familiarity that comes from daily life together.

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