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Jackina Starksh_blog

Feb22

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Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

I have just finished writing a speech I’m going to give at the Ozark Christian College annual Preaching/Teaching Convention this week. I look forward to giving it.

This is in direct contrast to the first speeches I gave when I started teaching thirty years ago.

I distinctly remember the prayer I prayed every time I left the house to give a speech that first spring. It began “Dear Father” and closed “In Jesus’ name.” In between I put my head down on the bed I knelt beside and sobbed.

Then I got up, fixed my makeup, and walked out of the house to do what God had called or at least allowed me to do. Scared? You have no idea. But I was able to do it—for one reason, and one reason only.

The Holy Spirit of God enabled me.

When Jesus told his disciples he would be leaving, he also told them he would not leave us “comfortless” and promised the Holy Spirit would dwell in them. He called the Spirit “Comforter,” and it is no wonder. It seems everything he does for us provides comfort.

I am comforted to know he gives us gifts (Romans 12:6-8), and I thank him for the joy of using them. High points of my life have come in the times he has done through me—whether I have spoken to a crowd of strangers or sung at a friend’s funeral—what I simply could not have done myself. That seems to be his special gift: doing in us what we cannot do ourselves.

I certainly know it is he who helps me grow in the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). To the extent I am any one of these things, I have the Holy Spirit of God to thank.

I remember the day I sat in a friend’s driveway and prayed that God would help me reach out to this lady who had hurt me. Tears streamed down my face, and I could not raise my voice above a whisper as I paraphrased St. Francis’ prayer: Let me not desire to be understood or consoled; instead, help me to understand and console my friend. I was terrified, thinking I could not do this most difficult and unnatural thing. But I believed the Holy Spirit could, and I remember how free I felt when he did.

It is a comfort knowing the spirit abides in me leading me. He shows me what the good or right thing is and “encourages” me to do it. I was driving home from a dentist appointment on a hot summer day and, like everyone else, zipped right by an overweight woman hobbling down the street on crutches. All I wanted was to get home. However, the Spirit thought we should stop, so I circled the block to ask if I could help.

Often, though, I don’t yield to his leading. It is also comforting for this sinner to know that I am righteous, holy and redeemed because of Jesus (I Cor 1:30), and, back to the Eph. 1 text now, my “inheritance” is guaranteed, because I’m “marked” with a seal, “the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13-14). The “Spirit himself testifies” with my spirit that, even when I mess up, I am God’s child, and I can cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15-17).

But I am most comforted that the Holy Spirit speaks in my behalf. When I am confused about some issue or when I feel the agony of some wretched pain, my own or a friend’s, I am weak and miserable and don’t know what to say to God. But “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). Imagine-the Holy Spirit of God groans for you.

The Holy Spirit has come, and my heart knows peace.