In continuing my thoughts on keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) one of the first things, I believe, we need to get our arms around is that the Holy Spirit is always active in our lives to birth in us the life of Christ we cannot produce ourselves. We cannot by direct effort manipulate, control or manage spiritual reality. The abundant life, the life we have always longed for, has not so much to with making a life as it is receiving the life Jesus died to give us. Understanding this makes all the difference. When it’s up to us to make the Christian life “work” more often than not, this reduces our spiritual life to external acts of worship, routine exercises of piety and service performed out of duty. We become more concerned about fixing problems, mastering principles, and racking up “brownie” points and we drift further and further from the life offered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The solution to any perceived spiritual deficit becomes “Try harder.”
Once we realize, however, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work drawing us and keeping us in relationship the Father, we begin to cultivate different things; things like keeping our hearts focused and alive to what God is doing to keep us in relationship with him. Only then are we willing to give up control of our carefully constructed lives; only then do we quit judging God as inadequate or uncaring and abandon our attempts to help him out. Only then do release our expectations of what we think our lives should look like and receive the life he wants to give us. Only then do we embark on the life long journey of turning away from our own plans and leaning into God’s creative, disruptive, mysterious ways in our lives.