Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sinking into the Spirit

At last Sunday's worship service, a couple named Eric and Emily sang their original songs. During their first song, I closed my eyes and listened, just listened, as they sang of God's goodness.

And I sank into the Spirit.

No words accurately capture these moments of trust and faith and intense awareness of connection to the divine. If you've had such a moment, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, well, let's just say that it's rapture, warmth, comfort, peace, trust, joy, and love pouring into and out of every cell in your body all at once. And that doesn't do it justice by a long shot.

The ecstasy didn't last long (at least for me...perhaps mystics and monks can maintain it longer), but its aftermath left me feeling refreshed, strong, and tuned in to and trusting God, and filled to the brim of my soul with gratitude for a song-length moment of spiritual saturation.

You may remember my Word of the Year is Gratitude. Oh, yes. I'm grateful for that song Eric and Emily sang, for the Spirit that closed my eyes all the better to listen, for a moment of new creation.

Years ago, worship services made me fidgety. My mind wandered often, and I would write notes on my and grocery lists, mostly. I found it hard to concentrate on God. Even during prayer, my mind would wander to things I needed to do, things I worried about, things I wanted to fix. I would stop talking to God and start talking to myself.

It's hard to sink into the Spirit when you can't hear It whispering in your ear or feel It tapping on your shoulder in the first place.

And it's always whispering, always tapping.

Our faith journeys proceed at an uneven pace, don't they? Sometimes we enthusiastically surge ahead in our faith. Sometimes we limp along or get stuck. Sometimes we fall backward. Sometimes we make progress without even realizing it.

At some point during the past eight years, I stopped worrying about my to-do lists on Sunday morning. The notes on my bulletin now feel like they are tapped in Morse code on my shoulder by the Spirit. Oh, that mother has surgery scheduled, so call to see if the family needs meals from the church's meal ministry. Write down that prayer request for the baby with Down syndrome who is having surgery on her heart. Gee, you need to remember that verse of the hymn or that turn of phrase from Pastor Suzanne or that prayer.  Write it down so you don't forget.

There are no more grocery lists on my bulletin on Sunday morning. That's why I sank into the Spirit last Sunday. I paid attention to the moment. And it was good.

My faith journey in many ways still feels like it's in its late adolescence. I have lots of energy and enthusiasm for the work I feel called to in the world, a youthful vigor at odds with my gray hair. But there is still lots of maturing to do. Although I pray at least several times a day and try to spend time listening to God (not just giving Him a to-do list, please, if it's Your will), my mind still wanders far too often, indicating a need for focus and attention there. My friend Lally inspires me on that score.

I also still need the discipline of structured classes to stick to studying my Bible as I want. My mother and uncle Darius are my examples for that, but in the meantime, I'm signing up for our church's Tuesday morning Bible study for the fourth year in a row. I can't wait for it to start on the 28th!

Sinking into the Spirit last Sunday reminded me of how far I have come in my faith journey, and how far I have to go. It also reminded me that I'm not alone. Not ever. Not even for an instant.

The Spirit is there, helping, guiding, lifting me up, pulling me in, comforting me, challenging me.

Thanks be to God.

Please share your own reflections on sinking into the Spirit. How are you aware of the Spirit moving in your life? What can you do to pay attention to it more?


  1. "Sometimes we make progress without even realizing it."

    For me, when I stop chasing down truth and trying to nail peace and perfection to the wall, all those things I'm longing for find me, where I am.

  2. Nothing better than that feeling of being filled....happy sigh :) that is why I love the verse "Be still and know that I am God" for it is in stillness that we can hear the voice, tune into it, discard the things that keep us from being able to listen, and drink deep of all God has to offer.

    A favorite quote of mine is "God does not speak above the noise in your life". Need to check the source and loudness of that noise regularly to ensure it isn't drowning out the one thing I crave and need the most.

    My life verses is Phil 1:6 "for I am confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus" So much hope and joy in that verse. I am not perfect, I am a work in progress and have the God of the universe as my teacher :) Joy!!!

    However, we need to do our part. Things that help me are: being still before Him and asking Him to reveal himself to you in a new way, making a conscience choice to "check in" regularly throughout the day to see how you are doing (some days being a disaster in that area and others much more encouraging LOL!), asking Him who He wants you to pray for that may not be on your list, drinking deep in worship time as you did, Rivers of Eden by Brad and Eden Jersak is a fabulous 40 day devotional that provides a question to ask God every day and it is simply amazing to journal the answers. Have done the book three times and continually get blessed. Can't wait to start it a fourth time :)

    May God pour his presence into your life and fill you with his peace and his Spirit in powerful ways this next week (((hugs)))

  3. My favorite verse of an old, old, old poem:
    If thou coulds't empty all thyself of self
    Like a shell, dishabited.
    Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf
    and say
    This is not dead
    And fill thee with Himself instead.

  4. Thanks for this!

    I need to "Be still!"
    Stop in my busy life (you know the BS you talked about)

    On the road . . . with all the hills and valleys.
    Just so wondrous that he is so patient and gentle with us.

  5. Thank you for this beautiful reminder to be still and wait on the Lord. I have also had that moment during worship and actually in the middle of singing a hymn during church. When it happens to me, I usually cry. Not sure why! Also, as my pastor husband waits for a call, I've had the privilege to be able to sit next to him in worship. He is a good reminder not to be so fidgety during the sermon and to listen. He has struggled with ADD/ADHD all his life, and when I see him, sitting quietly listening, I know I can, too. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. I have been told that one of the facets of grief is anger, rage... I wasn't sure I believed that until the rage appeared, hovering in and around my very being like a thundercloud over my head. Pummeling me like a hailstorm.

    Until, in the last few days, I allowed myself to feel God's presence once again, like you said, pulling me in and comforting me. Turning it over to him and feeling the immediate calmness come over me. "Be still and know that I am God." Ahh, yes...

  7. Well all I want to say is thank you for this post. Simply reading it made me feel at peace and so motivated. It also reminds me that I need to go to the temple.

  8. Well all I want to say is thank you for this post. Simply reading it made me feel at peace and so motivated. It also reminds me that I need to go to the temple.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!