of sweat and solitude: lesson one

Lesson One: Keep In Step

Prior to leaving for Montana, I had pushed through the end of a book that radically changed the way I view the work of the Holy Spirit, and in fact, even His person: "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan.

I have heard the Spirit preached, and even memorized the fruit of the Spirit and the verse that immediately follows: "If we live by the Spirit, then let us keep in step with the Spirit..." (Gal. 5) But I had never actually thought about what it might mean to "keep in step." Nor had I understood why I got irritated when people would talk about "God's will for my life" or delay action, because they were waiting for God's 10-year-plan to be revealed. I just knew it didn't feel...right. And now I know why that way of thinking aggravates me, and I understand a little more what it means to "keep in step."

Two things.

1. Keeping in step is complete and immediate obedience. God doesn't show people his whole plan for their life. He just doesn't work that way. If I kept waiting for "God's will for my life" to be revealed before I ever acted or did anything I deemed "risky," I would never do anything. Consider the life of Abraham. God told him to pack up and move-that was it. What did Abraham do? He packed up and moved. And he did so without sitting in his tent waiting to be shown: where he was going, how long he must travel, where he would sleep, how he would survive, what the costs/benefits would be, what would happen to his retirement, etc. To keep in step means to follow completely and immediately. Abraham moved all-the-way, and did so right away. If you are in step with the Spirit, don't worry about God's will for your life-you are automatically doing God's will! Don't use God's will as a cop out: keep in step.

2. Keeping in step is synchronized and supernatural. Have you ever followed someone on the beach, and tried to put your feet in their footprints, though you are so close behind you're filling the footprint they just made? It's hard. But it's synchronized. The same foot. The same place. The same stride. The same time their next foot lands. Your movements should be the same. The way your body even sways should be the same. In keeping in step with the Spirit, you're not the leader-you're the follower. But you're not a mile behind hopping around, hoping that you're running in the right set of footprints. You're completely and immediately following his every move. [That is probably sufficient labor on that illustration. Just one of my thoughts.]

But there is something supernatural about keeping in step with the Spirit. When you are acting in the Spirit's power, in the Spirit's timing, people cannot explain the supernatural results. The success of the endeavor no longer is attributed to the character or charisma of you, but rather, is all directly pointed to God. Because it just doesn't make sense! (Acts 4:13.) If people can rationally explain away successes by your virtue or valor, then the glory is yours, not God's, and it's not a God-honoring endeavor. But, if, by faith to follow and grace to keep in step, the Spirit acts supernaturally and you get to be a part, then the glory is all his, and God is honored.

My conclusion, then, was this: if the Spirit leads, then I must follow. If I really live by the Spirit, I will keep in step.

That freaked me out. How do I know where He's leading, and if it's even Him?! Well, I wasn't too worried, because I brought lots of sermons, and some killer books. And then I began to learn lesson number two.


September 2, 2010 at 11:17 PM andie jael haugen said...

i read through this book three times last month... and man, talk about blowing my mind and rocking my lifestyle.
after reading your post, i want to read it again. yes, i think i will.

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