Monday, June 5, 2017

Without Warning

Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
(Acts 2:1-4 MSG)

‘Without warning’ – what an uncomfortable phrase. It reminds me of the in-laws popping in unexpectedly. Of sudden heavy rain when I have no umbrella with me. The suddenness of my children being well one minute, and then becoming ill very quickly. They are words associated with crisis, stress, worry.

All these crisis moments expose my inadequacy – hence stress and worry. The house is not ready for visitors, I can’t keep on top of it all. I should have thought to check the weather. I wonder what signs I missed, could I have nipped this in the bud, was it something I could have prevented? What can I do to help them get through this, help I can’t fix this! I’m helpless, vulnerable, and weak. I feel lost and alone in the ‘without warning’ moments.

I love the way God meets the disciples in their ‘without warning’ moment. They are huddled together struggling to get back on their feet. They are trying to make sense of the last weeks, Jesus dead. Jesus alive. Jesus left. What now? They are in a crisis, filled with all the same inadequacies, vulnerabilities, fears and worries that I can relate to so easily. The last thing they need right now is another ‘without warning’!

Yet God surprises again, pushes them to lean in yet more. A strong wind without warning, a wildfire spreading. But with this ‘without warning’ is a bigger surprise than yet more worry, stress, and inadequacy. The Spirit brings them all they need to be adequate for the next step. The Spirit fills them up with – courage, energy, closeness to God, belonging, understanding, and wisdom. The Spirit sends them – and stays with them as they go. They are adequate, strengthened, empowered, gifted, and not alone.

I am reminded that God can turn every ‘without warning’ into an opportunity for him to strengthen and equip me, to bring me in even closer, to open my eyes to new understanding and wisdom. The Holy Spirit can work all this in me as I face each crisis with him.

God, I am so often more aware of my own inadequacy than your power and gifting. Open my eyes and heart, fill me afresh with all I need for the next step as your Holy Spirit pours your love into my heart. Amen.