Tell Me What to Do!

About a month ago:

Tossing back and forth. Awake from the hours of 3:30-5:30am for a week straight. Staring at the sky-light above my bed waiting for sunrise. Which internship do we accept? Where is our home for the next 9-months? Where will we find community? Which decision is best? God, speak in this moment.

Tell me what to do! 

Something I loved about my Mom was that she was never afraid to speak up and say the truth. She was hired for a teaching job once because a principal saw her reorganizing a line of parents into two separate rows to make it more streamlined and effective. Yes, she was one of the parents and no, she wasn’t trying to get hired. She just couldn’t sit by while injustice or lost sheep wandered about. Nothing frustrated her more than corrupt or inefficient leadership. She loved to tell people what to do. And (most) of the time she was wise and gentle about it. After she died, her friends remembered her for teaching and leading groups in her Women’s Evening Bible Study. Lady preached straight fire that came from a nurturing heart. 

The thing is, she was really good at it. Telling people what to do. Telling me what to do. I didn’t always follow what she said, but I always wanted to hear it. 

And now she’s gone. 

There are so many times, I’ve picked up my phone to try to call her. Looked in a crowd for her face. Laughed, as I imagined what advice she’d give. I knew her voice. Like my friend Sarah talked about identifying her twin’s voice in a crowd in her sermon at Chi Alpha last night shared about, we know the voices of our loved ones. 

Do I know the Holy Spirit’s voice? Can the Strengthener, Comforter, and Advocate step into those painful moments and provide peace?

John 14:26 Amplified Bible (AMP)
26 But the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.

God Already Knows the Ending

 The Holy Spirit will help you remember Jesus’ words in those moments you cry out into the darkness. I speak of “moments” a lot here in my blogposts because I get easily overwhelmed. I’m a big picture person — I look ahead to the final score at the end of the movie. When deciding which internship to accept last month, I saw hundreds of possibilities, movie storyboards ran through my head, with corresponding trailers which ran on a constant loop. My creative brain overwhelmed me. I cried a lot. 

Jess, being a scientist, can easily focus in on the details of a situation. So as we faced the decision of which internship to accept for the final stretch of grad school, he collected all of the data. How safe is the company? What are their values? What’s their company culture? Am I excited about the work they’re doing? How will this affect my wife? He kept meticulous notes in his notebook with a dark ink pen. 

We remembered God’s promises: That he is good. And he already knows the ending. He’s already there — whichever place we decide to move to.

We were able to remember God’s promises because people were praying for us. People who were not afraid to speak up and text pieces of God’s truth to us. Who listened to the Holy Spirit and were not silent. The Holy Spirit works in a community of believers. 

So I waited patiently. Waited for an answer for us: Big picture me, and detailed-oriented Jess. 

How Does The Holy Spirit Guide Us?

How does the Holy Spirit influence you? A walk in the rain? A whisper right before you fall asleep? Your conscience telling you “No, no no no no stop stop stop.” Is it your friend handing you a crumpled piece of paper with a verse on it?

John 10:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

The Holy Spirit leads us towards truth and life. If you’ve lost someone you’ve loved or experienced great loss you know what it feels like to have the thief steal, kill, and destroy.  You may be well acquainted with the sleepless nights and the cries for rescue. You know the ache of absence and the decisions you never wanted to make. You pray, Tell me what to do without them. 

You cry for rescue.

I cry out to you; rescue me,

that I may obey your laws.

I rise early, before the sun is up;

I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.

I stay awake through the night,

thinking about your promise.

Psalm 119 147-148 NLT

If you’re in the darkness of night, waiting for day, here are three concrete things the Holy Spirit can say to you: 

  1. Speak up, step out, and be brave. Your words and actions matter, you have the opportunity to be a little silly and show God’s love in a tangible way. 
  2. Wait patiently and pray. God is not inactive, detached, or silent and prayer to him is a form of action. Waiting patiently for the Holy Spirit is powerful and leads to change. 
  3. Read truth from Scripture. Who I am apart from the lies I hear, acceptance I crave, or feelings which constantly change? How should I see other people? Who do I think God really is?

I Met The Holy Spirit at a Burger King

My first encounter with the Holy Spirit happened at a Burger King in 2010. A Burger King in Berlin, Germany to be exact. It was the last day of our week-long youth missions trip in Poland. All of the youth groups were staying in a hotel the night before we flew out of the Berlin Airport. It was time to get dinner, and so we loaded up the white rental vans and headed to Burger King. As we drove away, I noticed the leader of my group standing in the middle of the hotel lobby looking tired and confused. Does he know we’re getting dinner? Is he not hungry? Well, he’s the adult here, so he probably knows what’s going on, right? I ignored my own reservations and got in the van thinking “It’s not worth it to say something and be wrong.”

When we arrived at Burger King and realized we’d left one of leaders behind, I piped up and said “Oh yeah, I saw him in the lobby and wondered if he needed to come with us.” A youth pastor from a more charismatic church, looked directly in the eyes and said “That was the HOLY SPIRIT Telling you to speak up!” 

What a radical idea. WHAT? The Holy Spirit cares if people get dinner at Burger King? To this day, when I’m trying to decide what to do, I still think Burger King. Which to me means that the Holy Spirit is living and active and still speak today, even in seemingly simple, everyday, situations. 

I need reminders of the Holy Spirit’s comfort and strength when I feel the absence of my Mom’s wisdom and her voice. And it’s usually not spectacular or miraculous. Right after my Mom’s death is sounded like this: eat food that is healthy. Get out of bed. Heal and don’t be weighed down by guilt. The Holy Spirit fills me with reminders of her courage and God’s promise to never leave or forsake me, even when its really hard. 

 God, speak truth in this moment. Tell me what to do! This time, it came to me in a dream. Like Jacob sleeping in the wilderness, dreams of angels walking up and down a ladder to heaven and God reveals promises to him. In my dream, I saw a figure sit beside my bed, reach out to me, and simply say “Here.” Then, I felt at peace. Jess accepted an internship 15 minutes away from our current place. It means staying in Eugene. Growing friendships and community we’ve started this summer. It means working with wood resins, polymers, and new opportunities for Jess. It means that the Holy Spirit still speaks to us in big and little ways. 

So my prayer for you is this:

Holy Spirit, Have it Your Way.

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