I thought there’d been a mistake. We’d ordered, online, a latex foam mattress, but what came was shrink-wrapped and rolled up in a box so small I was sure the company had sent the wrong thing. And it weighed 80 pounds! Opening the box, I saw this weird-looking, heavy thing and wondered what shipping error had occurred. Reading the enclosed instructions, however (yes, I do that sometimes, with varying results), I saw that it was, indeed, the mattress. It just needed to be opened up so that it could grow to full size. Sure enough, the split-second air got to it, it began to swell crazily, actually splitting the enfolding plastic wrapping in the process. So, during its entire journey from California to Virginia it was pent-up in a vacuum, waiting for a breath of fresh air to penetrate and allow it to expand to become the comfortable, 80-pound mattress it was created to be (and is!).

That may be a bit like it is for the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. He’s God, after all, massive and powerful, explosively powerful even. And he’s on a mission! Eager! Most likely urging us to join him, with: “C’mon! C’mon! Let’s go! Time’s a-wastin’!” I once heard a pastor talk about us ‘containing’ the Holy Spirit or our being containers of the Holy Spirit. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s uncontainable, and certainly not bind-uppable inside these weak and fragile, earthly frames! When Scripture exhorts us not to ‘grieve’ the Holy Spirit, it is speaking the truth that he is ‘in’ us with a clearly defined purpose, a pre-determined set of adventures into which he longs to lead us. The grieving is similar to the feelings of a child anxious to get going to the beach, but who has to wait, and wait, and wait some more, first, for the picnic to be prepared, then, for the car to be packed up, for all the necessary towels and changes of clothes to be folded and bagged, for the escaped dog to be found and dragged back home (again!), one more ‘quick’ phone call, a double check for sunscreen…

It is tragic, even with all the power of the Trinity ‘installed’ in our souls, that our in-Adam-ness still has the wiliness to seduce us into living oblivious to the towering joys that await us, oblivious to our wedding feast that is being prepared, to the intimacy, the love, the forever belonging that is, right here and now, ours. And when we let ourselves ‘go there,’ we find ourselves stuck, airless like that mattress. I hear echoes of God’s unheeded warning to Cain in Genesis 4:7: “If you do not do what is right, watch out, because sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce on you! You must master it before it masters you.” Today, to us, His message may be something like this: ‘If, by ignoring him, you cause My Spirit within you to be in distress, to become sad, you will find yourselves living joyless, fruitless, lives and will be exposing yourselves to the totally unnecessary burden of guilt and condemnation.’ And, to that I say: Air! I need more air!  PD

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