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Holy Spirit disruptions: Overview of the series

Lynne Baab • Thursday November 4 2021

Holy Spirit disruptions: Overview of the series

For five decades, I have known that Jesus is present in my life through the Holy Spirit. During those same decades, I also have affirmed that God works in our lives through the Holy Spirit. But I had no idea how many examples I would see when I looked at my life through the lens of “Holy Spirit disruptions.” Here are all the weekly posts in this series that ended up running six months – because I kept finding new memories to write about:

In the first post in the series I wrote this:

“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. . . .

"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.”

Some of the patterns I wrote about in this series fit into the second cateory. Last week I described moving to Sweden, where I had to stop spanking my kids, which fits into the second category. However, I really don't see any disruptions that fit clearly into the first category. Most of the disruptions I wrote about came from conversations with people, something I read in the Bible or elsewhere, or a song from church. Maybe from the beginning I should have had the Bible as a category, because surely in our best moments we expect that God will disrupt the way we think about things or the way we act because we hear the Spirit’s voice when we read the Bible. I have learned that Holy Spirit disruptions for me are often relational, coming when God works in my heart when I interact with a friend, stranger, author or songwriter in conversations, reading, and worship.

The biggest thing I learned in writing this series is not how to categorize Holy Spirit disruptions or even the need for categories. Instead, I experienced how rewarding it is to look for Holy Spirit disruptions, think about the factors that made them happen, ponder their impact on my life, and thank God for them. This has been one of the richest series I’ve written for this blog. Each week my brain has been spinning with ideas, and I have been excited to write a post. Sometimes Holy Spirit disruptions are not very fun at the time – after all, the word “disruption” implies a change to the status quo, and change is usually challenging – but looking back at my life has helped me see the long-term fruit that has come from all of them. And I definitely enjoy seeing good fruit in my life!

I invite you to ponder when and where God has disrupted your life and the fruit you’re seeing now as a result. You can look at the list of my posts above as prompts. Maybe you’ve had disruptions like mine in some ways, or maybe the Holy Spirit disruptions in your life have been very different. After identifying them, spend some time thanking God that Jesus’ words are true: “This is the Spirit of truth. . . . You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” (John 14:17, 18).

(Next week: Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “God’s Grandeur” as a portrait of grief and gratitude. Illustration by Dave Baab. I love getting new subscribers. Sign up below to receive an email when I post on this blog.)

I am delighted to announce the release of my small book on grief and gratitude: Two Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian Life. I invite you to consider using it for Advent for yourself, your small group, or your church. More next week on why holding grief and gratitude in two hands matters.

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