by Max Lucado
Let's imagine that you want to learn to dance. Being the rational, cerebral person you are, you go to a bookstore and buy a book on dancing.
You take the book home and get to work. You do everything it says. The book says sway; you sway. The book says shuffle; you shuffle. The book says spin; you spin.
Finally, you think you've got it, and you invite your wife to come in and watch. You hold the book open and follow the instructions step by step.
You continue to read, then dance, read, then dance, until the dance is completed. You plop exhausted on the couch, look at your wife, and proclaim, "I executed it perfectly."
"You executed it, all right," she sighs. "You killed it."
"You forgot the most important part. Where is the music?"
We Christians are prone to follow the book while ignoring the music. We master the doctrine, outline the chapters, memorize the dispensations, debate the rules, and stiffly step down the dance floor of life with no music in our hearts. We measure each step, calibrate each turn, and flop into bed each night exhausted from another day of dancing by the book.
Dancing with no music is tough stuff.
Jesus knew that. For that reason, on the night before his death he introduced the disciples to the song maker of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. (John 16:7-9).
Of the three persons of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is the one we understand the least. Perhaps the most common mistake made regarding the Spirit is perceiving him as a power but not a person, a force with no identity. Such is not true.
The Holy Spirit is not an "it." He is a person. He has knowledge (1 Cor. 2:11). He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11). He has a mind (Rom. 8:27). He has affections (Rom. 15:30). You can lie to him (Acts 5:3-4). You can insult him (Heb. 10:29). You can grieve him (Eph. 4:30).
The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. He is not Popeye's spinach or the surfer's wave. He is God within you to help you. In fact John calls him the Helper.
Envision a father helping his son learn to ride a bicycle, and you will have a partial picture of the Holy Spirit. The father stays at the son's side. He pushes the bike and steadies it if the boy starts to tumble. The Spirit does that for us; he stays our step and strengthens our stride. Unlike the father, however, he never leaves. He is with us to the end of the age.
What does the Spirit do?
He comforts the saved. (John 16:7).
He convicts the lost. (John 16:8).
He conveys the truth. (John 16:12).
Is John saying we don't need the book in order to dance? Of course not; he helped write it. Emotion without knowledge is as dangerous as knowledge without emotion. God seeks a balance. "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
What is essential is that you know the music is in you. "If Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life" (Rom. 8:10). You don't need a formula to hear it. I don't have a four-step plan to help you know it. What I do have is his promise that the helper would come to comfort, convict, and convey.
So think about it; have you ever been comforted? Has God ever brought you peace when the world brought you pain? Then you heard the music.
Have you ever been convicted? Have you ever sensed a stab of sorrow for your actions? Then you've been touched by the Holy Spirit.
Or have you ever understood a new truth? Or seen an old principle in a new way? The light comes on. Your eyes pop open. "Aha, now I understand." Ever happen to you? If so, that was the Holy Spirit conveying to you a new truth.
What do you know? He's been working in your life already.
By the way, for those of us who spent years trying to do God's job, that is great news. It's much easier to raise the sail than row the boat. And it's a lot easier getting people to join the dance when God is playing the music.
That's what makes God, God.
From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1995) Max Lucado