“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Have you ever had something take your breath away? We recently received news of our youngest son seriously injured while body surfing in Mexico, and all of the oxygen in the air seemed to evaporate in that instant. It felt like I couldn’t breathe fully for days. Whether the air is physically knocked out of us or metaphorically, the result is the same. For a moment in time, life-sustaining oxygen is absent or our brain’s neurons don’t transmit the need to breathe in the trauma of the moment, the unexpected traumas of life we all experience eventually.

After the resurrection, John 20 tells us that Jesus appeared and breathed on the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit who were trying to process the empty tomb and Jesus’ unknown whereabouts. The unknowns of life always scare us, don’t they? Often in a panic, in fight or flight mode, I’ve tried to take the wheel myself and fix things. Jesus knew that would be the case, and made sure we all have the Helper and we’re never alone.

When Jesus breathed on his disciples he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and and interests apart from Jesus, and now the reality of Jesus missing was more than they could bear. Their faith was real but disordered and unfocused and not really applied to the important realities of life. I look back and realize I was in that same place many times.

All we are called to do is receive the gift he has given . . . and enjoy everything that means. He reveals himself to us as we exercise our faith and trust in him. Life is hard and full of challenges, but in our anxiety, sorrow, and grief the Comforter sends a new friend or gives us a scripture or a song to lighten our load. Do we see his hand at work in bad times as well as good? Or are we only focused on the blessings he gives?

Mark Batterson says it this way, “In my experience, take the Holy Spirit out of the equation of your life and it spells boring. Add it into the equation of your life and you never know where you are going to go, what you are going to do, or who you are going to meet.” I love that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to take risks to share the gospel, reach out to new people with no agenda except to be kind and especially to love even our enemies. We are each uniquely gifted and have a superpower the Spirit not only reveals but empowers us to use for his glory.

Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT is my prayer for all of us today. “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Deb Hill
Exec. Assistant to Pastor Paulson

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