Beginning Prayer: Show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 8:26-39
We’ve talked this week about how transformation is possible when we start listening to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our minds and bodies, and today we’re going to wrap up this study by talking about what it looks like to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our soul. This is the part of transformation where we recognize that there is a power greater than us at work in us that produces the power to change.
Let’s see couple of the ways this works by taking apart two passages from our reading today:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. I love this. Notice that it doesn’t say the spirit takes away our weakness. Notice that it doesn’t say that it doesn’t say the spirit teaches us to ignore our weakness by learning to perfect our Christianese. Notice that it doesn’t say that the spirit whips us into shape, makes us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get ourselves together already. It says that the spirit will HELP US in our weakness.
How long has it been since you’ve been in the middle of your weakness and asked the Spirit to help? In my life there are three things in me that keep me from doing this.
My pride. If I can convince myself I don’t need help, I’ll never ask for it.
My perfectionism. If perfection is the goal, then when I’m weak, I’ve done it wrong, but I need to be perfect, so I’ll just wait until I’ve got it all together and figured out before I start again.
My performer. I can pretend my way out of looking weak in front of others; I look good on social media, my house is tidy, my shoes are adorable; if I can convince everyone else I’m good, I can surely lie to myself about it too.
My pace. If I can just stay busy enough, I won’t even need help because I’ll have no idea how I really am. I won’t have time for the people who would ask me and mean it, and I won’t have space to check in on myself because I’m staying nice and occupied.
But, if we want to listen to the leadership of the spirit as He speaks to our souls, we’ve got to get good at asking for His help. It is a great day when we realize that one of the greatest sign that we’re growing is that we realize we can’t do life alone. That’s why I think Paul tells the story he does in 2 Corinthians 12, where he talks about being so weak, having the same struggle over and over again, and asks God for help and he says that God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul says, then make me weak all over the place!! He says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
In our journey of transformation, it’s so important for us to remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes progress. And where we are weak, we can lean our souls into something much greater than us and call out to the Holy Spirit and say, “Help!!” and He WILL help us.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Sometimes when it comes to our souls--this deep part of us that allows our feelings and emotions to ebb and flow--I don’t even think we even know what exactly is going on.
But the spirit, on our behalf, speaks life and peace to those places because He knows exactly what we need, and how amazing that He is actually praying for us on our behalf, exactly in line with the will of God. This is so cool to me because sometimes things seem so dark and hard and painful that I don’t even know how to pray.
Just this last week there was another mass shooting, this time just a few miles from my daughter’s high school. The same day, in the same area, another massive fire broke out, displacing thousands and thousands of people from their homes, many watching on the news as their neighborhoods go up in flames. This is a weight for the soul. This is the stuff that reminds us that we were not made for this world. We are not made to handle the pain we see all around us, and the pain can sometimes cut us to the very core of our soul.
And it’s in these types of moments that I have NO idea how to pray. I have no idea what words could be eloquent enough, what I could do to make it better.
And this is where I believe God invites us, to sit in this space; our soul with His Spirit, when we have no words to say. Every time our pain is so big. Our confusion so real. Our hearts so broken. Our fears so potent. Every time we are speechless in solution, baffled at abuse, terrified of the future, we have an invitation from God, to bring our brokenness into His presence and let His Spirit do the talking for us.
I can’t tell you how many times God has met me in this place, and it’s been true. His grace has been sufficient for me. His word has come to mind, “I lift mine eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord...the maker of heaven and earth.” Did you know one of God’s names in the Old Testament is “Wonderful Counselor?” That is pretty profound. In places where my vulnerable heart has sat with him in pain, I have felt him asking me the right questions to lead to healing. I’ve also heard him tell me it’s time to find a wonderful counselor to talk to, and I’ve found some practical help and hope there too.
Our souls are not made to hold so much of what they carry. When we open them up to the power and leadership Holy Spirit, we find what we really need: life and peace; may we keep learning how to give the God, who has given us access to Him, full access to the deepest parts of our souls.
I want to end today, and the “study” part of our study together the same way Paul does--by reminding us of the great, powerful, unchanging, never ending love of Christ. After all, it’s this amazing love motivates us to change, that heals our broken minds, bodies and souls, and helps us walk a new, transformed way. The old has gone and the new has come, and we get to live in the abundant life given to us by Jesus Christ. So, as we close, may you never forget Paul’s last two questions in this chapter:
“Who can keep us away from the love of Christ? Can trouble or problems? Can suffering wrong from others or having no food? Can it be because of no clothes or because of danger or war?”
And, in typical Paul fashion, he answers these questions right away:
“We have power over all these things through Jesus Who loves us so much. For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot! The world above or the world below cannot! Any other living thing cannot keep us away from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NLV)
We have been set free to live free. The old has gone, the new has come, and NOTHING can keep our transformed lives from His great love. WOOHOO!!
All my love and prayers for you today...thanks for taking this journey with me!!
Write one last prayer on your own. Maybe it will even include some of the scriptures you’ve learned from this study, maybe it’s a conversation about how you’re actually doing in your heart and soul, but practice inviting the Spirit in to pray with you for what it is you really need and to meet you there today.
Your practice today is to keep going!! You have one more day of the conversation guide, but you don’t have to stop after that! Keep connecting, keeping reading, reflecting, praying, practicing and remembering! Your last challenge today is to make a plan for what you want to do next. There are a ton of great books and resources out there to guide you along your journey, so, as you meet with your people this week, talk through what you could do together to keep allowing the transformation process to transform you.
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember, this verse this week.)
“If your sinful old self is the boss over your mind, it leads to death. But if the Holy Spirit is the boss over your mind, it leads to life and peace.” (Romans 8:6, NLV)