“We just don’t expect enough of the Holy Spirit” – that’s not the kind of thing you usually read in theology books. Well actually, that was my translation, Brian Brock said it this way:
“The problem of not being able to receive every human being with open arms turns out not to be an insufficiently inclusive anthropology, but an atrophied pneumatology”Brian Brock , 2019, Wondrously Wounded: Theology, Disability, and the Body of Christ
Brock is writing about intellectual disability here, but I think the same idea extends to every human being whom we might have difficulty receiving as a gift.
And that can mean our own family.
Right now New Zealand is in lockdown because of COVID-19. Unless you’re an “essential worker” you’re supposed to stay at home in your isolation bubble. This is craziness on a global scale, but it’s also craziness on a very intimate scale, in our very homes. Because, I can tell you from personal experience, having four kids home 24/7 can drive you kind of crazy.
The prospect of four weeks (at least) of lockdown had me worried, and I still am a little. Will my kids still like me when we’re done? Will I still like me?
Like Brock indicates, being with people—especially tricky people—can be taxing. Even if we want to receive those taxing people with open arms, there’s no denying the reality that living out that ambition is difficult. We can’t just talk ourselves into a philosophy of togetherness—even the most inspiring of quotes with the prettiest of backgrounds won’t give us what we need to work it out day by day.
We need to address what Brock calls our “atrophied pneumatology”. That is, we underestimate the Holy Spirit and his power to work in our everyday lives. We try to do it all on our own and get frustrated when we fall short; we ask for help only when we’re desperate; or we forget to ask at all; or even worse, we ask (beg, whine, whinge), but don’t do the things we know we need to do to receive the help we’ve asked for.
For the issue was never the abundance of his resource, it was always how much attention I was giving to that supply and whether I was positioning my heart to receive.
I don’t know what your home is like during lockdown or what the pressures on you are, but I do know that the Holy Spirit has power for you to deal with the people in your world, to receive them as a gift even. Whatever space of stress you might be in, the Spirit is more powerful than you currently conceive, and his presence is available to you.
This is the promise I’m holding onto in this season:
“I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble.”Psalm 91:15 (The Passion Translation)
May you find and feel his presence in your time of pressure and trouble.