I’m hungry for Jesus and for my life to look like his. But I’m pretty ordinary. Is God really doing anything in me?
Short answer, yes. The Holy Spirit partners with every Christian in simple, everyday ways, to help them change and grow.
Bible answer, look at the first Christians. Yes, they did experience lots of miracles, like when they first received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (see Acts 2). But the very next story? These same Christians, who had just powerfully encountered God, were doing lots of ordinary things:
- eating together
- visiting the temple
- listening to teachers
It seems the Holy Spirit can work in dramatic ways, but normally works quietly and over time. The process of becoming like Jesus is ongoing, not instantaneous.
To become like Jesus, I can partner with the Holy Spirit in his quiet, ongoing work. God gives Christians the dignity of being active participants in their day-by-day transformation.
Here are some simple ways in which I’ve been learning to partner with the Holy Spirit in everyday life.
Want a general overview of “partnering with the Holy Spirit”? Check out this resource.
Recognizing the Spirit’s ongoing work takes time. I don’t always know where to start looking. But I can be curious.
Jesus told his followers to be like children. Just as young children have a sense of wonder about everything around them, I’ve been learning to become curious about how the Spirit is moving.
Asking questions is a great way to cultivate curiosity. Especially open-ended questions that lead to deeper reflection. The Spirit sometimes works in ways we don’t immediately expect, so try not to put him in a box of preconceived expectations.
Here are a few questions I could ask in ordinary situations:
- What’s making me feel a bit wrong about that thing I just said to my friend?
- I have a tough conversation coming up. How has God already prepared me for this?
- What’s bringing me joy in my work today?
- Why is that person randomly coming to my mind right now?
- How am I experiencing the Father’s love as I do this chore?
These might seem like simple questions, but they help me wonder how the Holy Spirit is working through daily situations.
I ask them in different ways. Sometimes I take a moment to quietly reflect. Other times, I process them with my mentor. One of my favourite ways is through the Prayer of Examen, which is designed to help people become more aware of God’s work throughout the day.
Regardless of how and when I ask such questions, when I make a habit of asking, I cultivate my curiosity about the Spirit.
Not a question person? In your day-to-day life, what helps you connect with God?
I confess: I want to jump into action. So when my curiosity leads me to realize the Holy Spirit is doing something in my life, I want to respond to him immediately.
This is a good impulse. But when I pause first, I have a chance to remember the gospel. When I recall this story of what God is doing in the world and ponder its many implications, my heart is changed alongside my behavior.
Conversely, if I respond to the work of the Holy Spirit without remembering the bigger reason for his activity, I could run into trouble.
On one hand, I might forget about God’s generous forgiveness and kindness. In the trap of legalism and self-condemnation, I kick myself when I don’t act perfectly each time the Holy Spirit moves.
On the other hand, I could forget what God has said is true and right, confusing my desires for the Holy Spirit.
Every day I need to remind myself of who God created me to be, the ways in which I’ve fallen short, who Jesus is, what he has done and is doing.
Sometimes, I’ll need to spend concentrated time reading Scripture, praying, and being in community to absorb the gospel well. But I can also remember the gospel in simple ways, in my everyday life, as I walk alongside the Holy Spirit.
Here are some ways in which I might remind myself of the gospel as I go about my day.
- Reading specific Bible verses. I could read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 and remember that, just as Jesus has reconciled me to himself, I can be reconciled to the friend I was unkind to.
- Asking myself: how is Jesus the hero in this situation? For my tough conversation, I might recall what Jesus has done in order for me to be equipped to handle it well.
- Recalling a theme in Scripture. How do the biblical themes of both joy and work point to Jesus?
- Looking through the lens of God’s bigger plan. If the Holy Spirit brought that random person to mind, what could I do to partner with God to set the world right?
- Rooting myself in prayer. I can pray as I do my chore, asking the Holy Spirit to remind me why I am secure in the Father’s love.
Once I’ve cultivated curiosity to discover what the Holy Spirit is doing that day, and I’ve paused to remember how his work connects to the gospel, I need to respond to him.
Often, this can be a scary step. As a perfectionist, I’m tempted to agonize over exactly what I should do to respond correctly. But really, responding to the Spirit daily looks much simpler: it looks like taking just one next step toward Jesus, and toward the person he’s made me to be.
Barring some dramatic work by the Spirit, it’s unrealistic to think that my life will transform overnight. But if each and every day I take one small step in response to what he’s doing, I’ll look much more like Jesus over time.
Here are a few next steps I could take on an ordinary day:
- I could call my friend and apologize for what I’d said earlier.
- Before my tough conversation, I could pray for God to continue to equip me.
- I could find a way to have fun with my coworkers today, showing them my joy in Christ.
- Maybe I’ll send a quick text to that person who came to mind and make plans to get together.
- Leaning into curiosity with each chore, I could regularly pair housework with asking the Spirit how he helps me experience the Father’s love.
Now I want to ask you: what’s a simple next step you could take to partner with the Spirit in your daily life?
Maybe you could start asking curious questions. Maybe you could take an extra few minutes to read Scripture, rooting yourself in the gospel. Maybe it’s a completely different step of faith you already know you need to take.
Whatever it is, I invite you to take one small step today. The Holy Spirit is ready to partner with you, whenever you desire to meet him.
Written by Kathleen Krynski, during her internship with P2C-Students.
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