The family home of my childhood is located in a cove that is accessed by a narrow drive that winds around the mountainside. Almost three-quarters of the way to the house, the drive takes a sharp right-angled turn. A mountain spring is located at this bend in the road. When I was young, the spring flowed across the drive, and in the winter when the temperature dropped, the water would freeze and form a serious hazard to anyone trying to drive up or down. So my mother took an old wooden bucket and placed it at the base of the spring. She then drove one end of a pipe into the spring itself, with the other end of the pipe protruding over the bucket. Sure enough! The water from the spring flowed through the pipe and into the bucket. When the bucket filled with water, instead of flowing across the drive, it overflowed into a ditch beside the road, and the hazard was removed.
From time to time we would find the pipe dry as water once again seeped through the ground and flowed across the drive. When that happened, Mother would take a straight stick and run it through the pipe to remove whatever was clogging it. Sometimes it was a rotten leaf, sometimes it was a slippery salamander, and sometimes it was a small, hard pebble. As soon as she dislodged and removed whatever it was, the water once again began to flow through the pipe, into the bucket, then into the roadside ditch.
If we use Mother’s creative solution to the ice hazard as a spiritual illustration, the water is like the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, the pipe is His access to us, and the bucket represents our lives that should be overflowing with Him as a blessing to others. But sometimes His access is hindered. We seem to dry up and fall into our old ways. When that happens, we need to take the “stick” of the cross and apply it to the Spirit’s access. Maybe His flow is clogged by a rotten leaf—something from the past like a failure or a disappointment. Or maybe the Spirit’s access is blocked by a slippery salamander—a sinful habit that seems to elude our effort to change or a memory that pops up in the middle of the night. Maybe the obstruction is a hardened pebble of unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, or anger.
Whatever it is, bring it to the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)—the way that leads to the foot of the cross. He will show you what the blockage is. Then you need to choose to remove it.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not mystical or emotional. It’s not reserved for an exclusive group of people. It is actually a command that we are to obey: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18b). And because commands are obeyable, they involve decisions we intentionally make with our wills. Think about it. If obedience depended on our emotions or feelings, we could never consistently be obedient since we can’t control our emotions. So obedience rests strictly on the intentional choice we make to follow through on whatever God has said. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option or an exception.
To obey the command to be filled with the Spirit, choose to bring your sin to the cross, then take whatever action is necessary to remove it. The Holy Spirit will empower you to make this decision and follow through.
My prayer for you is that you will make the choice to be filled with the Holy Spirit, if you have not already done so. The necessary actions involve simple disciplines in the Christian life. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit, who is Jesus... in you.
Anne Graham Lotz appears this Monday and Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from Jesus In Me by Anne Graham Lotz. Copyright 2019 by Anne Graham Lotz. Published by Multnomah, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Used by permission.