“I will pour out my spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17).
by Marjorie George
Some young friends are having a baby and have opted out of learning the baby’s gender before its birth.
“Well,” said the mom-to-be, “we kind of like the mystery of not knowing.”
In an earlier generation (mine), that choice was not even available. Sonograms were reserved for “high risk” moms – those over the age of 30. I’m guessing the market for the neutral colors of yellow and aqua in baby attire has dwindled in recent decades.
I still remember seeing each of my babies for the first time and thinking, “Oh, so that’s who you are.”` I knew this child, but not fully. I had carried this child, talked to the child, sung to the child, felt the baby’s kick in my womb, but the knowledge was not complete until birth: “Oh, so that’s who you are.”
Even with sonograms, I doubt this element has changed for new parents as they investigate toes, nose, the shape of the chin, the placement of the ears. The new mom begins to see her mother’s smile in the baby’s smile; the new dad sees his father’s fingers in the baby’s fingers.
A priest friend of mine used to say that in part, this is what heaven will be like: meeting Jesus face to face and saying, “So, it was you all along.”
It is an act of the Holy Spirit. Simeon saw the Messiah, knew the old prophecy had been fulfilled, in the child Jesus because, says Scripture, the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon (Luke 2:25). Paul sees “through the glass darkly,” but then will “see face to face.” He, like we, “knows only in part,” but then will “know fully” (I Corinthians 13:12).
This is the work of the spirit, to reveal to us that God-thing that waits to be created in us – that seed of God that resides at our core and longs to erupt. It is the deep “knowing” of God and of our own selves that has been covered over by our human endeavoring. It longs to poke its head up, like the tender green shoot in the earth responding to the first warmth of the spring sun.
We are helpless to bring it to birth by ourselves. Not that we don’t try. If we just work a little harder, we think, if we just study a little more, if we just strive a little longer – but no, that is not the way of God – while the spirit of God hovers around the edges of our lives gently whispering, “Here, let me help.”
And when we finally, finally – usually exhausted by our own efforts – invite the spirit in, life begins. God’s spirit recognizes our spirit, that spirit that he implanted in us at our own moment of creation, and we say, “Oh, so that’s who you are. And that’s who I am.”
Our journey of growing ever closer to God, ever closer to that person he created us to be, begins. The journey is our life’s work, and sometimes, when it seems most solitary, we need to be reminded that we do not make this journey alone. That was the promise of Christ to us as he set his face toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Call in the midwife, it’s time. And I can’t wait to see who God turns out to be for me, who I turn out to be for him, what my life and your life and our lives together as the people of God turn out to be.
Come holy spirit, and it shall be created.
Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your comments and conversation.
The Spring/summer 2013 issue of Reflections magazine is now online with a focus on the Holy Spirit. Click here to read the entire issue or individual articles.
How many biblical verses that mention the Holy Spirit are you familiar with? Click here for 77 of them.