By Barbara Rainey
Miraculous true stories of people led by God’s Spirit have been told for generations. Pastors, medical missionaries, and believing men and women manning mission outposts experienced intimate friendship with God. Reading about their adventures generations later called my heart to desire His Spirit’s work in me, too.
I went into full time mission work. And then I got married and became a mom.
For many summers, Dennis and I attended annual training events in Colorado with our entire family for the ministry of Cru. We usually tacked on a week of vacation in the mountains to make the work of packing a family of eight to travel in our SUV for 1100 miles (each way) worth the effort.
Normal family challenges followed us west every summer. When my kids were well and all in the camp childcare I attended all the meetings. I loved learning more about God. But when a child was sick I had to stay in our tiny apartment.
On one day during the summer of 1985, a much-anticipated time of refreshment from a favorite Bible teacher along with heart lifting music, was snatched from my grasp. I wrote this in my journal:
“I really wanted to go to the meetings today especially because this is the day of praise and worship. But here I am in the apartment being a mother to a sick child. Mothering doesn’t stop. Their needs don’t stop. Once again I am isolated and my husband is not. I’m not feeling sorry for myself … this time. I know I can worship anywhere. I’m sorting out my feelings about how to know closeness with God as a mom.”
I was always inspired by speakers and missionaries, telling stories of God’s work around the world. But on that day I began to wonder why I never heard a woman—a mother—stand on stage and share how she experienced God in her life … with her children … in her home. It seemed to be a void. Did God only work wonders “out there?”
The question, “If the Holy Spirit dwells in and with me and other Christian mothers I know, how do I see Him work in my life, in my sometimes very little unexciting world?” lodged itself in my thinking and remained for a long time.
Here are two of my conclusions to my long-prayed question.
1. Knowing the Holy Spirit, as I’d always hoped, is a lot like growing a friendship.
The Holy Spirit is God and He is also a Person. My husband is a person with a name, Dennis, but he is also my friend, my companion, my comforter, my lover, my defender, and more. My children, now adults, have names, too, but they have also become, friend, adviser, encourager, and life-long companions. To enjoy the depth and variety of all these relationships, we plan time together. We go to lunch or dinner, talk, text, and share life together as much as we can, even though we all live in different cities and states.
The Holy Spirit is a Person with names too, and those help us know Him. He relates to us in ways we can understand from our closest human relationships and friendships. The Holy Spirit is also importantly one with God, the Father, and with Jesus. He is the third member of the Trinity.
While understanding the Spirit is fully God, possessing all attributes of deity, also knowing His names and the ways He relates to you and me, makes His invisible presence seem nearer in my ordinary world.
2. The Holy Spirit is my dearest friend.
My best friend on earth is my husband. We have shared life together for almost five decades. In that journey, we have talked about everything together, suffered losses together, loved each other in sickness and health, good and bad times. We have proven we are with each other forever. We promised to never leave or forsake and we have never wavered from those vows, even when our marriage felt impossible.
But even a great marriage is temporary. There is always the reality that one of us might die before the other. But the Spirit is always with me.
What a delight to know I have a friend even closer than my husband! In John 15:15 Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
When I received Christ as my Savior, Jesus came to dwell in me by His Spirit. Romans 8:9 tells us, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” It is the Spirit of Christ who lives in me; therefore He is my dearest Friend!
Is the Holy Spirit your friend?
Pause and ponder this for a second: the Holy Spirit, present at creation with God the Father and God the Son, desires a friend relationship with you. A real face-to-face relationship. Does that stun you with wonder?
I felt a little odd at first calling the Spirit my Friend. It sounded presumptuous. But as I’ve talked to Him more and more, asked Him to guide me, reveal Himself to me, shared my life with Him, I’ve become increasingly comfortable calling Him Friend. He is not offended at all by my familiarity with Him. In fact, He invites it and desires it.
This Person who can change my heart to love the unlovable, give me wisdom that I’m not smart enough to produce on my own, and teach me the mysteries of God, proves Himself my dearest friend. No human on earth has done more for me! These personal miracles of work in my heart are what I longed to experience from the missionary stories I heard and read.
The Spirit Jesus sent on Pentecost can be your best Friend because He is always with you. Before I believed and gave my life to Jesus, I only hoped God was with me. I knew about Him but didn’t know Him personally. But when I surrendered my life to Him and invited Him to live within me, the Spirit of Christ came to dwell both in and with me! He has been given to be my constant companion.
When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, He said, “He will be with you forever” (John 14:16). So no matter where you go, He is always with you. You will never outgrow this friendship. You’ll never mature out of this friendship. You’ll never drift apart from this dear Friend.
David said in Psalm 139:7, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” You cannot escape Him, because if you are a child of God He promised never to leave you.
Like God the Father delights in us His children, so the Spirit delights in hearing from us. He listens to our challenges, our prayers, even our questions and doubts. This is how we experience God.
Moms understand this.
Moms know our children very well yet delight in listening to their faltering prayers to God, their questions … well, sometimes … and their exuberant tales of discovering and learning things we have known for decades.
The Holy Spirit longs to converse with you. He’s waiting to listen and be heard. Do you want to become friends with Him too?
To read a sample chapter of Barbara's new book, My Heart, Ever His, or to purchase the book click here.