Have you ever had a great opportunity come your way, that you seized it and just when you were about to sign on the dotted line something on the inside of you asked; but is it God’s will? And you realise that throughout the process you did not consult with the Holy Spirit, not even once! It’s different if you had been praying to God for such an opportunity and when it came by you felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit or got confirmation to go ahead; what I’m talking about here is just an opportunity coming your way and with much logical thought but no divine consultation, you just grab it. Your mind says go for it, common sense says go ahead and logic gives a thumbs up, but you haven’t consulted God and heard what He has to say about it. I’ve found myself in that situation so many times, I’ve lost count.
What usually happens to me is that, just when I’m about to commit myself to a deal or opportunity which I haven’t consulted the Holy Spirit on in advance, something on the inside of me asks whether it is in line with God’s purpose for my life. At that point, I turn to my side, expecting to find the Holy Spirit next to me, only to realise that He is not there. Then I look back and I realise that I left Him somewhere along the way, I had been going on by myself! It is always a humbling moment! At that point I realise that I have grieved the Holy Spirit, (the apostle Paul expressly teaches us never to do that in Ephesians 4:30) first for not consulting with him and second, for going on ahead of him! Then I have to leave whatever I’m doing and retrace my steps to the exact spot where I left the Holy Spirit and open up a dialogue with Him, whereas it would have been much easier had I consulted him from the word go.
It is at such times that I realise that living by the Spirit is not a once off thing, but a daily occurrence, a moment by moment phenomenon. No wonder Paul advised us in the book of Galatians 13:5, to examine and test ourselves to see whether we are still in the faith. I take that to mean that we must constantly test whether we are still living by the Spirit or have we let out natural man take over.
As born-again believers we are called to live by the Spirit of God. After all, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a godly life. Without Him we would digress to our old way of thinking and being. He is our link to our precious Jesus and the Father and as such, we have to be in constant communication and fellowship with him, in order to stay on the right path that God has predestined for us. So even before we get to the issue of living by Him and being in step with Him, we have to ask ourselves, do we really have a relationship with Him? We cannot profess to live by Him, if we do not have a relationship with Him!
It is only when we have nurtured a relationship with the Holy Spirit that we can discern his leading, prompting and guidance. Everyone knows that building a relationship, any kind of relationship for that matter, takes a lot of hard work. Time, energy, effort must be invested in order to grow the relationship. Mistakes and misunderstanding are commonplace in the building process. It is no different with the Holy Spirit. Since He is perfect and we are not, we are prone to misunderstanding, misinterpreting and missing the mark with Him. I’d go so far as to say that building a relationship with the Holy Spirit is harder than with another human being! After all, we are talking about someone we cannot relate to with our natural senses; we can’t see him, touch him, smell him, or hear him in the natural! One pastor went so far as to say that that is why He always gets the raw deal, because our flesh cannot comprehend him! It is so easy to side-track him because of this ‘inaccessibility.’
Truth be told, I’ve had more misses than the bull’s eye when it comes to Him! But with every encounter, even the misses; I grow more in the knowledge of Him and His ways. So, even when we miss, we must take it as an encounter and opportunity to grow and learn. In the above verse the apostle Paul is actually challenging us; he is saying since, or if we profess to live by the Spirit, then it follows that we should be in step with Him. When I read this verse I was convicted of the many times when I had gone ahead of the Holy Spirit; doing my own thing, convinced that it was the right thing to do. Of course, in such instances I was not doing anything that is contrary to the word of God, it was just that I did not consult the Holy Spirit first before going ahead.
The above verse says we must keep in step with the Holy Spirit, and time and time again I find myself expecting the Holy Spirit to keep in step with me, which is not what this verse is saying. God says we must keep in step with his Spirit; meaning the Holy Spirit takes a step first and I take one after him, in the direction He is taking. The Holy Spirit is the leader and I am the follower. Yet, often times, I find myself taking the first step and expecting the Holy Spirit to follow suit. At such times I realise that it is my old self surfacing again; that independent woman who liked to be in control and wanted to take action and make things happen.
At the end of the day, it boils down to consciously making a decision to be in line with the Holy Spirit. We have to come to a point where it becomes automatic to us; we see an opportunity and right there we ask the Holy Spirit what He thinks and make time to listen to His answer. It’s easier said than done, I know. Our human natures have conditioned us to think and then act, whereas God expects us to seek his counsel first and then act according to His will!
I do believe, that by the grace of God, we will eventually get to a place where we give the Holy Spirit first preference over our minds, when it comes to making decisions. By so doing, we will avoid the ‘tail between the legs’ syndrome, when we have to go back to the Holy Spirit and consult Him.