By Sylvia Maddox
“Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain And then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again . . .
from Balm in Gilead (hymn# 676, The Hymnal 1982).
At the end of a long work day, or a time of managing the family, or in the midst of a big project that is due, how often have we used the words, “I’m all used up” or “ I’m maxed out.” We have become like people who are “out of breath.” Our physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue makes everything seem like a challenge. Yet we know we are being called to continue the good work that we’ve been given to do.
Our first response is to try to revive ourselves by working more diligently, getting more ideas, honoring the meaning of endurance. Even with endurance, however, we begin to question whether all that work was worth it. We see no fruits and begin to have self doubts about the value of our work. This time of discouragement often leads to an awareness of our quiet bondage to results and to our own image of ourselves as parents, caregivers, creative ministers, or people who can do all things.
It is only when we stop and tell the truth of our need for help to restore our breath that the Holy Spirit comes as the Divine Reviver. When we breathe in the breath of God, we begin to see and hear life in a new way. The Holy Spirit comes as an all-embracing spirit of love.
This revival doesn’t always come as a dramatic emotional experience. Sometimes it’s a thank you note from a student in the youth group, the news that a person you’ve been mentoring has a new job, words from scripture that come like a personal letter, or the blooming of a colorful flower in the garden.
Recently I was struggling with words to present to a group meeting. Even with great desire, I had no creative energy. “Come, Holy Spirit” I kept praying. As I waited, the spirit seemed to flow into the room, and one word kept echoing in my heart. What began to change was the sense of freedom I felt. Whether they were the right words or what others had expected no longer mattered. Suddenly in the power of the Spirit, there was an awareness of the flow of God’s breath, and my only desire was to revive others as I had been revived.
When we feel our souls needing reviving, we would do well to hear the loving invitation from St. John of the Cross: “Oh soul, what are you waiting for? . . . Breathe in God’s Breath as God breathes in you.”
Every day the Spirit reminds me:
- To be aware and grateful that I have this infinite gift of the Holy Spirit that embraces me with love in all things.
- To know when I need to stop and catch my breath.
- To know my need of the Spirit and in every part of my life be bold to pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
- To be open to receive the divine reviving with expectation.
- To live in the freedom and flow of my work knowing that God’s power working in me can do infinitely more than I can ask or imagine.
Sylvia Maddox is a writer and educator. She is a member of Church of Reconciliation, San Antonio TX. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Reflections magazine. To read the entire issue, click here.
At the end of her article, Sylvia notes five ways to allow the Holy Spirit to revive us.
For the next five days, select one and practice it for the entire day.
What difference do you notice at the end of each day?