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Meditation 21*

Receive the Holy Spirit

He may strengthen you
with power through His Spirit
in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16

Pentecost draws and compels every soul that loves God, to bring praise, honour and worship to the Holy Spirit; to Him who teaches, leads and comforts us; to Him who prays in, with and for us with unutterable sighs; who with the Father and the Son is eternal and veritable God to be praised in all eternity. This is the One through whom He reveals the gifts of life and of reconciliation to us, who regenerates (“re-births”) us and glorifies the Son in us. He is our Re-Creator because He is our Saviour, who quickens our despondent spirit. He is the Power of the power of all believers, our inner Light that dispels our internal darkness. As Immanuel is “God with us,” so the Holy Spirit is “God in us.” We are His temple and He makes our hearts His dwelling place!

What benefit does the sun bring you, when the moon inserts itself in between, intercepts the light and prevents it from reaching you? Similarly, how would your Christ, the Sun of your righteousness, benefit and refresh you, if the light of the Sun, which in this context is the Holy Spirit, could not penetrate you?

Therefore, no, we do not separate the Father from the Son nor the Son from the Holy Spirit. But does that not allow us to declare or confess that it is first the Spirit through whom all the love of the Father and the reconciliation of the Son becomes a personal soul experience for us? Or, should we ever taste the most blessed fellowship with the Eternal Being, would it not be God the Holy Spirit who would induce that joy into our bosom and make that blessed experience real?

This arrangement neither places the Father behind the Son nor in the shadow of His glory, for the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son. Furthermore, that Spirit, proceeding from both, never points to Himself but always glorifies both Father and Son. That is the reason the Holy Spirit is not so dominant in your spiritual life. He is the light that illuminates everything and without which everything would lose its beauty, but that Himself remains unseen and imperceptible.

The Spirit never comes out in the open, never displays Himself, is never pretentious, but is the constantly serving and supporting personal divine love beneath all the movements in the soul. Wherever He is, there is light shed on the indescribable compassion of the Father as well as on the unsearchable riches of salvation and redemption that lie hidden in the Son. The Holy Spirit in you rejoices when the light displays that compassion and those riches, or when He focuses your eye on that and keeps it there. He rejoices when He can create in your soul awareness, feeling and passion for all that, and when your soul opens up to drink the dew of heaven along with the radiance of His eternal love.

Because of all of this, it cannot be otherwise but that it takes a long time before love for the Holy Spirit begins to burn in your soul, for all His works go unnoticed. He tends to timidly withdraw Himself so that you really have to actively pay attention in order to detect Him. And then, it sometimes joyfully happens through that unnoticed work that you experience your bonds to the Father and the Son. Ah, then that tender compassion of the Father and that total self-sacrificial love of the Son easily fill you with such a strong tension that you neglect to ask who it is that prepared this inner joy in you, or who made it possible and who bestowed it.

The child of the Kingdom arrives at a later stage and along a different route.

My brother and sister, allow me to tell you of that route of the Pentecost of the Lord. You see, that quiet, hidden operation of the Holy Spirit serves not only to show you the glory of the Father and the beauty of His dear Son, but He also has another function, a sad and almost ignominious one. The Holy Spirit must also lead you to self-discovery by letting its clear and irresistible light fall on what lies in your heart, on what your soul hides, on what contaminates your journey among men and what it is in the course of your soul that dishonours you in the eyes of God.

Sometimes the Spirit will be cruel towards you, precisely to lead you to the mercies of the Father. He spares you nothing. He brings out of your hiding places everything, everything that you have ever been, thought or did and what you had so eagerly hidden, burrowed and made invisible. He puts it all in the light of the divine countenance. Yes, the Holy Spirit dares to be cruel in order for you to open your heart to the soft tenderness of the Son. For example, when you lived in deep pretence before your child and were satisfied you had covered yourself with a beautiful varnish; that is when the Holy Spirit exposed your most horrible iniquity in all its depth to your child.

At first, this turns you off. Ah, we think, the Father in Heaven is sweet and loving to the heart. In order to love us with His unutterable love, there is His eternal Son.... But, why in addition that Holy Spirit, who is so near us but spares us nothing? Why does He always dig deeper and deeper into our souls and, like a highway robber, rob us of our false peace to leave us with such inner disquiet? That’s when we have moments when we wish the Holy Spirit away; if only He were not there! This is a terrible thought that is almost never expressed but nearly always experienced in the spiritual struggles of the righteous. Experienced, yes, but also resisted, banned and regretted with hot tears of repentance and the terrible failure to recognize the most tender form of divine love that expresses itself precisely in that act of cruelty on the part of the Holy Spirit.

Do not forget: the Father and the Son also love the Holy Spirit and want nothing to do with your worship and praise as long as you fail to recognize the Spirit and ignore Him. And so it happens that this higher and holier love makes you tender and renders you truly conscious that all this harshness, all these penetrating and apparent cruelties of the Holy Spirit are at their core nothing but precious demonstrations of deep divine mercy.

But this is no more than a beginning, for the struggle of the Holy Spirit with your spirit has not yet reached its end: This is actually where the true spiritual struggle begins, even though on a wholly other terrain, involving much more anxiety, in a much more fearful relationship and in a manner directly opposite to its first beginning. The first was an inner pressure and squeeze exerted by the Holy Spirit to convince you of your sin and lead you to reconciliation, God the Holy Spirit Himself pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!”

But now things become very different. Praise the Spirit, you have now been convicted of sin and have drunk from the fountain of salvation that has opened the House of David in the struggle against sin and unrighteousness. You drank and you gained power! Oh, how gloriously did your soul revive under the lilies of eternal love. At this stage, you naturally expected that the Holy Spirit would praise and encourage you and withdraw from that sharp unsparing spiritual criticism.

How disappointed you were. The same Holy Spirit continued with that same apparent cruelty and lack of compassion to disparage all your good works and to dismiss with strong disapproval the beautiful robe you have been given with a contemptuous, “Nothing but a castaway!” You did not understand this; you could not bear it; it was too much for you. You felt entitled to some benefit. After all, you had forsaken the world and confessed your sins. You strove with holy zeal and excelled in bearing fruit and doing good works for your Lord. Then to find out that all of this is still besmirched by sin and violence from an unclean fountain! Now you understood Israel’s lament, “Let us return to Egypt!” You nearly gave up on your pilgrimage to the holy land of Canaan (Numbers 14:1-4).

Truth be told, you would already have given up and either returned to or died in the wilderness where Israel wandered for forty years (Exodus 16:35; Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 8:2), were it not that that faithful, loving Holy Spirit, who never gives up on you during such dark nights of the soul. He went before you like a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21).

And then what happened? Then you said to the Holy Spirit, “Then I can do nothing, not love, not work, not pray, not even sigh! If all of that is contaminated with sin, then there is no hope for me in eternity!” Then you expected that the Holy Spirit would comfort you by assuring you, “It’s not that bad with you. You can do some things.” That was not the answer. Instead, “Yes, that’s how it is with you, child of the Father and redeemed of the Son, you are wholly incapable; nothing good comes from you. But listen well and experience now that deep divine mystery, that mystery of godliness that you can finally experience only now. For this purpose have I, your God the Holy Spirit, been sent in order to make all of this effective in you eternally and completely; so to work that you will drink in all the blessedness as if it were your work, even though it was I who did this in and through you, to deprive you eternally from all self-congratulations, which has been the bane of your soul!”

This is where it all begins with that intimate exchange of the soul with the Holy Spirit, so that the child of God gives praise to the Spirit saying, “You, the Spirit of God, did and does it all in me.” The Spirit responds by withdrawing Himself quietly and impressing on the soul a consciousness of a blessed awareness of a glorious spiritual power and display of spiritual dynamics. At that point, we ourselves no longer pray, but the Holy Spirit prays in us and we follow Him, so that there is an echo on our lips of what the Spirit has pleaded in us. Now we can no longer practice self-love, but the Spirit pours out His love into our hearts, so that we grow tenderly warm internally and can no longer be indifferent or cold. We are now consumed with affection for all the people of the Lord. By now we know nothing of Jesus on our own, but the Holy Spirit within us praises the love of our Saviour so gloriously that affection for the Lord and King burns within us. And then the Holy Spirit becomes so indescribably gentle, compassionate and attentive that our soul says to itself, “How can it be that I could regard the Spirit for so long as unloving and even unmerciful? There is no mercy more tender than His!”

By now you will have no more sorrow, for the Spirit has already anticipated it long before and unnoticeably prepared and administered the medicine that would comfort that sorrow in you. You will never face a temptation or the Spirit has already anticipated that long since, knowing that your faith had to go through the crucible, but that you would not resist it so that you would be terribly distressed. Like a mother cares for her slumbering child, so the Spirit will strengthen your spirit with powers and command His angels to ensure no stone would bump against you (Luke 4:10-11).

Ach, where should we begin or where end if we were to mention all the ways in which the Spirit displays His tenderness? Only those who have experienced it know that love. Only the wedding guests glow from the radiance of that soft, tender, beneficent light. That is the reason they love the Holy Spirit; therefore they yearn for the fellowship and the operation of the Spirit; and therefore is their Pentecost blessed. Blessed not because finally a church was established, for that had been there since the beginning of the world. Nor because the Apostles had been converted at this time.... No, but they are blessed, because on Pentecost the Spirit once again brings home into their hearts His glorious, tender, self-denying and wakeful love, calls them and assures them that it is not a matter of His still being on the way, but that He is already there. He is in the Church of the living God and both can and shall bless you with inner solace within the bonds of the Covenant of Grace.

Do not lose yourself in ambitions and ideologies, but open your eyes to reality. What do you see and find there? This, that even God’s most favourite children, even the greatest saints in this life, again and again wander away from the Holy Spirit and thus sadly fall apart without comfort or consolation. Then, in their foolishness, they think, “The Holy Spirit has departed from me.” They complain in their faithlessness, “Who will lead me to a safe city?” In their exhaustion they conclude that it has all been nothing but a dream!

That is why our Pentecost is a message of quiet and blessed consolation, because at that time God’s Holy Word comes to their souls with power to testify, “No, the Holy Spirit has not departed. He has been poured out. He lives in the Church of the Lord!”

This is the truth, that you, having saddened the Holy Spirit, feared within yourself, “Now the Spirit will no longer bestow His love on me” and that, punishing you for thinking His love, compassion and mercy to be so limited, He meets you with even greater divine compassion, saying,

I was not surprised at the sadness you caused Me. I know you. I know what kind of creature you are; I will never ever give up on you. See, here I am, your God and the Restorer of your soul. Drink in the light; drink in the power; drink in the hope from my consoling Face!

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