Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's Better This Way


The tiny stuffed dog lay beside my three-year-old nephew.  Its long, rounded ear touched Andrew’s face. His bedtime trademark, the fuzzy blue blanket with its silky edge pulled just under the chin, lay behind the toy dog's collar. 

“What is that hard clump on the doggy's back?” I wondered. 

And then I heard it.  The same sound the mobile in our baby crib at home used to play when I was a child--the tinny, tinkling tune of “Rock-a-bye, Baby.”  Andrew had wound up the toy and, by now, was gazing upward, a far-off look in his eyes.  I looked at my nephew—the picture of adorable—nearly asleep.  There he lay, surrounded by two of his favorite things—a stuffed doggie and his cozy blue blankie.  His mommy had just given him a good night kiss and tucked him into bed.  Within moments, the rhythmic breathing of sleep sounded from his corner of the room.  What else could a little boy want?

The sweet picture of my nephew at bedtime reminds me of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.  When Jesus bodily left this planet for paradise, He promised not to leave His people comfortless.  The knowledge that their Precious Savior would depart seemed unbearable to the disciples—at first.  But in the midst of pain, God always works a divine plan.  John 16:7 describes Jesus’ concept of this new arrangement:

            Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  

That special stuffed animal and much-used blanket nightly help transition my nephew into the world of sleep.   Those comforting objects, pulled close, somehow make the segue better.  And that’s the idea of the word expedient—something that’s better.

Before Christ's departure from earth, only a few special individuals throughout history possessed the indwelling Spirit.  Now, every believer would experience His abiding presence!  Had those first believers not experienced loss, Christians throughout time could not have comprehended God's tangible Comfort to us, His Holy Spirit.

Like the ring of comforting objects surrounding my little nephew, the Holy Spirit surrounds us with God’s Truth. As we endure the difficulties of this world—pain, death, tribulation, persecution—the Holy Spirit sheds light upon the objective truth of God’s Word, and we experience His shielding in the midst of tribulation as we trust our Eternal God.

Security, rest, and quiet exist for the believer because the Comforter takes the pure words of God and applies them to our hearts.  He allows that Word upon which we meditate to penetrate into the very fiber of our redeemed hearts so that our rebel wills, molded by His divine influence, soften into hearts of child-like, implicit trust.  Where once our own way dominated, our own will guided, now our Guide into Truth leads the way--as we permit Him.

I once met a man whose face glowed with the joy of the Lord.  An elderly pastor of a Southern congregation, he mentioned something that I believe could well be the secret of that radiant countenance--his Bible reading plan.  Reading the New Testament through once each month and the Old Testament in its entirety four times per year had been his practice for decades.

“If Christians would just spend 45 minutes to an hour reading their Bibles each day, they could read the entire Bible through often!”  he told me.  Because he had practiced such a plan for many years, it was his testimony that “during the day, when a thought comes to mind—it's Scripture.” 

And have you not, dear Christian, experienced such leading in your life? Have your daily thoughts not likewise been shaped by your morning quiet time, so that you too follow the Spirit's leading throughout your day?

            “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isa. 30:21).

That application of God's Word to our hearts encapsulates the ministry of God's Spirit.  What security to know that this Comforting Spirit not only quickens our innermost being to truth but also illuminates our next step on life's winding pathway!  What comfort to know that our own faulty understanding (Proverbs 3:5) need not direct us into our next steps but this Spirit of Truth who reveals truth to our hearts (John 14:26;15:26; 2 Peter 1:20-21) can lead us with God’s Word!

"O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!  Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:5-6).

Asleep in the wee hours of the morning, my nephew is not consciously aware of the stuffed animal doggie and silky blue blanket that lay at his head.  But the objects still rest there, relatively undisturbed.  Come morning, they will provide further comfort as needed.   

Far better, our precious God the Holy Spirit is with us--waking or sleeping.  He lives within, sealing us until that day of ultimate redemption in Heaven (Eph. 1:13).  Let us listen, then, to His leading each day, imbibing God’s Words to our souls and walking more and more under His divine leadership.

It's better this way.

For the indwelling Spirit is God's perfect plan.

For believers today.  

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