I want to use Haji’s story to illustrate our spiritual condition, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many Christians are not aware that it was God Himself who, through the Holy Spirit, initiated and accomplished the very act of our salvation the day we knelt down and accepted Jesus. It had nothing to do with us! Our spiritual condition was as terrible as Haji’s physical condition is and we had no help, either from ourselves, or from anyone else. It took me many years to come to this realization, and I was stunned! I had always had this smug feeling that it was I that accepted Christ. Well, no. We were all like lost sheep, and the Loving Shepherd Himself, of His own accord, came looking for us.
And not only that, but He paid a price in order to do that. A price of astonishing love, of loving the unlovable.
If I remember correctly, I did not even want to get saved. They came at me late in the afternoon, the preachers. After they had preached to me I more than they all was surprised when I heard myself say, “Ok, pray for me”. In fact, the minute I uttered those words my mind immediately shifted gear and I was in the process of reversing that statement; but they were much faster than I (in those days people were fast!) and they jumped on me like lightning and started praying over me. I remember that even as they prayed I was kicking and wanted to get from under the hands that they were laying on me. But the Lord held me down until they said the last ‘Amen!’, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The minute they said that ‘Amen’ over me the Lord transformed me. I don’t know what happened but within an instant I had been turned from a roaring lion to a mewing pussycat. The Lord saved me in spite of himself.
But, equally important, is the fact that, even after we find ourselves in the fold, we are constantly going astray in our spiritual ways, and once again it is the Holy Spirit who is constantly coming after us and lovingly turning us back.
In all these 24 years that I have been saved it is the Holy Spirit who has kept me safe in Christ – and that, again, in spite of myself.
Dear reader, do you realize how much the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives every second of the day, protecting us against the enemy, sustaining us spiritually, building us up in our spirits, gently showing us the will of the Father; in general, shepherding us just like a shepherd lovingly watches over his flock. I believe that the Holy Spirit’s most difficult task is protecting us against ourselves – and in spite of ourselves. We like to imagine we are very spiritual, God-loving people, but in reality it is the Holy Spirit’s work in us that makes us so. Left on our own we would eventually turn into a big piece of rot. The Bible in Romans 8 says that the carnal nature is enmity against God; it does not nor can it submit to God’s will. That’s who we are without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the Jews, “My Father is even now still at work!”
We should be constantly on our knees in reverence and thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday I was traveling back to Dar by bus from Nairobi and we passed some cattlemen who were herding their cattle by the roadside with guns. With guns! Can you imagine that? How much more jealously do you think the Holy Spirit is watching over us?
The Holy Spirit does infinitely more for us than what these herdsmen were doing for their cattle, although we are hardly aware of it! Much of the time we think it is our efforts, or our prayers: ‘If I don’t pray this or that won’t happen’. Who said it won’t happen? How dare we compare our human labour with what only God can do? That is why in the end, if anything does happen – and much does happen because our God is our true Father, loving and merciful – we try to claim a part of the credit. At the same time we despise those who are not doing the same things we are doing or getting the same results as us.
That is why the Apostle Paul got the revelation that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of grace. Not of works, but of grace. Hallelujah!
We should be humble enough to acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit alone who is fighting all our battles and winning all our victories. From the tiniest to the greatest victory, all is a work of the Holy Spirit alone, and we have absolutely no part in it. In fact, if we are to have any part, it is in kneeling in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for His ministry to us.
The Holy Spirit is the One whom Jesus promised to send to be with us, and He did send Him on the day of Pentecost, 2,000 years ago. The Holy Spirit has never left us and He is very busy behind the scenes (physically speaking), on our behalf.
He deserves our recognition. And He is worthy of all our praise and adoration. Indeed, more than worthy is He!