Light streamed into her darkened bedroom from the hallway as she asked the question: “Mommy….how….how is God three people? I mean…He’s God…but He’s Jesus and the Holy Spirit, too. How does He even do that?”
If you’re a mom, you’ve been there. It was after 9:00, she should have been sound asleep, and she was hurling deep unanswerable questions of theological truth at me. I don’t think I have to tell you that I just couldn’t even.
I brushed her hair, still damp from her shower, back from her forehead and pulled the covers up to her chin.
“Ssshhhhh, honey. It’s time to go to sleep,” I whispered, and slipped into the hallway. As I started down the stairs, I breathed a sigh of relief, partly from finally (hopefully) saying goodnight and partly from the relief of having escaped an impossible question.
The truth is, it’s something I grapple with all the time, too. How is God three in one? How is He Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How is He on His throne in heaven and here with me and in my heart and moving in the hearts of every believer and interceding for us and making us more like Himself by whispering and nudging us in the way we should go? How does He do all of that? How is He outside of time but here with me today? How does He see me and hear me, individually, when He literally has the whole world to take care of? I can’t wrap my mind around it, and I certainly can’t explain it to an eight-year-old that late at night.
The Trinity is a hard, hard thing for us to understand. There are analogies and illustrations we use to try to clarify them in our finite minds, but I don’t think we’ll ever really get it. For a long time after I began my real relationship with Jesus, I wasn’t even sure who to talk to when I prayed. Is it God? Because He’s all of them, right? Or Jesus? Because He’s the intercessor….or maybe the Holy Spirit? Because He’s here and the Bible says He prays for us when we don’t have words…? I really wasn’t sure.
Even as I’m trying to figure out how to pray, it remains critically important that I do it. God – in whichever trinitarian form – wants to hear from me. I ought to be praying without ceasing, at all times and in every circumstance. The way I see it, a healthy, productive life is impossible without the support of the One who holds it all. I can’t do it without Him, and I need His power in and around and behind me if I’m going to make it. There are some moments…some situations….that make my heart beat fast and that I know are beyond my capability to handle and that freak me out in more ways than one. There are some situations that present unknown challenges, and as I see them coming on the horizon my heart is crying out for help. There are so many situations that require so much more than I have to offer.
In those moments, the most likely thing I’ll pray is just this: Come, Holy Spirit.
There are mornings when my daughter and I part ways in anger, and as she climbs into the car after school I don’t know what kind of afternoon it will be or if I have what it takes to be the mama she needs. Come, Holy Spirit.
There are Sunday mornings when I have to get onstage to speak to my church community, but my flesh feels weak and my mind feels inadequate for the task. Come, Holy Spirit.
There are phone conversations with my family for which I can’t prepare and that give me little chance to think before I speak. Come, Holy Spirit.
There are rude customers in the Starbucks line and baristas who need to be encouraged. Come, Holy Spirit.
There are friends in storms of their own that I know nothing about and don’t know what to say. Come, Holy Spirit.
I pray those simple words because I believe that in every situation, I have the chance to bear fruit that only He can cultivate. I believe that His power works best in my weaknesses, and I believe that He hears and answers the desperate prayers of His children. I believe that every interaction with every person offers the opportunity to give glory to God, and without Him moving in me, it simply won’t happen.
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
So I ask Him to help. To come. To be present and evident in everything I say and do and think. Come, Holy Spirit. Let me bear fruit. Let me be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and gentle and faithful and self-controlled. I can’t be any of those things on my own, and I don’t really want to try.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Amen and amen.