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First post in a new series: Holy Spirit disruptions

Lynne Baab • Thursday June 3 2021

First post in a new series: Holy Spirit disruptions

Ten days ago, on Pentecost Sunday, the worship leader at our church opened the service by saying she hoped we would experience Holy Spirit disruptions. In the sermon, the preacher described a disruption in his life, when he had already felt a call from God in one direction, then two years later sensed God leading him in a different direction, something he had never considered or wanted. He described the fruit of that disruption in his life. He talked about the work of the Holy Spirit that disrupt our sense of control.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I interviewed dozens of people about midlife for my two books on midlife (Embracing Midlife and A Renewed Spirituality). One of the phrases that came up often in interviews was “loss of the illusion of control.” I am an organized and planful person, and I could see that midlife was teaching me that my sense of control was an illusion. At that time, in my late forties, I was pleased to be learning that truth.

For my books, I defined midlife as 35-55. Others say 40-60. Either way, I am now beyond midlife. I considered the illusion of control to be something I had left behind in my 40s and 50s, and I rejoiced in my freedom from that illusion. Then the pandemic came along. I have written numerous times about how the inability to plan during the pandemic has been so difficult for me. It has made me realize that the illusion of control – and the desire for the sense of safety and control that planning gives to me – are alive and well inside my heart and mind. God has used the disruption of the pandemic to reveal so many things to me.

For this new series, I want to propose that Holy Spirit disruptions take at least two forms. One of them is the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit guiding us in new directions, calling us to new things, or encouraging us to think or act in new ways. The cause and initiative come entirely from God. I have experienced Holy Spirit disruptions along these lines many times. Sensing a call to move overseas several times in my life certainly fits this category. I’ll explore others in this series.

A second kind of Holy Spirit disruption relates to the way God guides us in the midst of chaos that come from outside us or that comes from forces within our body like illness and aging. We don’t know in what way these disruptions are caused by God, and in fact we may be certain these situations are not caused by God, but instead result from the evil floating around our universe. These include health challenges, job loss, relational issues, and many other very hard situations. In the midst of these challenges, the Holy Spirit often works to disrupt our complacent views of ourselves, our certainty that we are right, or other patterns of thought. These Holy Spirit disruptions are precipitated by events we have no control over, and God uses those events to shape and change us.

In the ten days since Pentecost, I have made a list of ten kinds of Holy Spirit disruptions I have experienced. I’m not sure whether each item on my list will build into a blog post, but I’m pretty sure this series will include more than a few posts. Over the course of this series of posts, I’m going to ask a lot of questions to try to help you see Holy Spirit disruptions in your life, so you can bring them to God in prayer.

For this post, let’s stick with the pandemic. In what ways can you see God using the pandemic

  • to challenge the way you have viewed yourself?
  • to shift your views of family members and friends?
  • to change the way you pray, read the Bible, or engage in other spiritual practices?
  • to change your view of your body, food, exercise, health?

Are there other Holy Spirit disruptions that have occurred because of the pandemic that don’t fit into one of those categories?

O sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 98:1). God of new things, help us see the disruptions of your Spirit. Help us welcome the fruit your disruptions bring. Amen.

(Next week - Holy Spirit disrubptions: embodiment. Illustration by Dave Baab. I love to get new subscribers. Sign up below to get an email when I post on this blog.)

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