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The Holy Spirit—My Travel Companion, My Friend, Part I

everestBlessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5)

Life is an incredible journey. And it’s a romantic one as well—our Heavenly Guide is bringing us to the bridegroom’s house! As I think of this wonderful, sometimes dangerous, always challenging adventure, it makes me think of mountaineering.

At times we may find ourselves on a solitary wilderness trek, feeling isolated, alone. Or crossing a high desert plateau where the heat and pressures of life drain our strength. Or we may be dangling from a cliff, anxious that the fragile lifeline of our faith will hold.

We trudge through Valley of Shadows. Sometimes the fog rolls in and we can’t see where we’re going. I heard a great sermon once by Wayne Cordeiro about those times we’re enveloped in a cloud—when we’re disoriented, asking why, and can’t make sense out of anything. He pointed out that “we may not get answers, but we will get instructions.” The Lord will tell us where to take the next step.

Considering the type of terrain we need to cover, we need a guide! And the Lord has given us one in the Holy Spirit. Now if someone is going to guide you up Mt. Everest, for example, you want to know something about that person.

But why don’t we know our Heavenly Guide very well? God the Father—we know about Him. God the Son—we know Him even better. But the Holy Spirit? That’s another story. He’s the God we hardly know. Perhaps in part it’s because His role is always to point to Jesus.

Who is the Holy Spirit? We know He’s the third person of the trinity, along with God the Father and Jesus. But let’s consider the two parts of His name—Holy and Spirit—as seen at Pentecost.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (Acts 2:2-3)

First of all, the Spirit is Holy. Holiness is symbolized by fire which is a cleansing agent. The Spirit of Fire works to purify God’s people. Conviction of sin is the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit. He must “burn” within us until we are willing to face up to our sin.

Hebrews 12:28 says:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

The dictionary says to be holy is to be exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. One of my Bible Study leaders years ago defined holiness as moral purity. I like this definition because it seems to capture the essence of the word so well.

Secondly, He is Spirit, often symbolized by wind. When I think of the wonderful stories coming out of the Middle East where Jesus is appearing to people in dreams and visions, I wonder, why this doesn’t happen here. But the Spirit blows where He wills.

Our Heavenly Guide is also known as:

Spirit of God
Spirit of Truth
Spirit of Christ
Advocate (strengthener, fortifier)

Names like these reassure us that He’s trustworthy.

Since our spiritual journey is like an expedition up Mt. Everest, let’s examine the qualifications required for mountain guides:

  • A passion for climbing.
  • A passion for the clients.
  • A passion for the mountains.
  • The physical strength, expertise and experience for the job. He must know the terrain and have the skills to get you safely to the summit and back.

Let’s look at how our Heavenly Guide fits the job description:

  • The Holy Spirit has a passion for the mountains, where we’re going—He’s excited about the journey He’s taking us on! I’m sure He loves pointing out spectacular views along the way, where we marvel at how far we’ve come and the truths we can see from new heights.
  • The Holy Spirit certainly has a passion for us, but we are not clients, we’re family. Imagine a Sherpa who routinely leads expeditions up Mt. Everest. Wouldn’t he be even more careful and attentive if his son were joining the climb? Our Heavenly Guide maintains the highest sense of moral obligation to us imaginable because He is personally invested in us. We are the bride, sons and daughters, family!
  • And the Holy Spirit certainly has a passion for climbing, to see us grow, exercising our spiritual muscles. He helps us overcome our weaknesses and circumstances so that we will successfully reach our destination. He wants us to get strong on the mountain so that in the process we develop hinds feet in high places.
  • Finally, the Holy Spirit possesses the strength and wisdom to guide us. Isaiah 11:2 calls Him “a spirit of counsel and power.” He is strong enough to rescue us out of any predicament, and wise enough to help us handle any situation.

Knowing these things, how should we relate to our Guide?

Trust Him implicitly. When we face distressing conditions on the mountain and feel paralyzed with fear, we can say with the Psalmist, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4) We must believe that He really knows the terrain and the path better than we do. If we want to take an unapproved shortcut, will we trust that He has good reasons for taking us the “long way”?

Use the spiritual resources you’ve been given. Like a mountaineer who carries a map, flashlight, and food, we too have provisions for the journey. To stay strong for the climb, we must make sure that we regularly nourish ourselves with the Bread of Life and Living Water, and we must allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate our map, the lamp to our feet.

Ask for help—pray. Your Guide is more than happy to help you understand the map or to assist you over some rocky boulders. James says that “if any lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Why is it absolutely critical we stay near our Guide at all times? For our spiritual safety and well-being. A roaring lion prowls the mountain seeking to devour and destroy. Hidden glacier crevasses lurk in the ice. A fall will not separate us from His love, but we could take down a lot of people who were tethered to us.

And yet, remember that our Guide is able to keep us from falling! He will lead you and me safely home.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

(To be continued next month: Holy Spirit, Part 2)