Back in Genesis God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand upon the seashore. I’m not sure that Abraham came close enough to a beach during his travels to understand the implication of such a statement but the message was clear – Abraham didn’t have a clue about what God was going to do through him.
This morning I was reading about how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples just before they shared the last supper. In John 13:7 Jesus told the disciples that they didn’t understand what he was doing, but that one day they would. This got me thinking about how little we understand about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.“ And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)
If we apply the grains of sand analogy to God’s thoughts then it doesn’t take a genius to work out that we have absolutely no chance of understanding God. While this should serve as a memory jerker to remind us that we are human and God is God, the words of Jesus to his disciples after the foot washing incident keep coming back to me: One day we will understand. While we have no human possibility of understanding the first thing about God, what He thinks, and why He does or doesn’t do things, God’s Holy Spirit is always ready to help us. Is that what Jesus meant when He told the disciples that one day they would understand? One day in the not too distant future after receiving the Holy Spirit?
Regardless of our level of understanding or misunderstanding we have to accept that the experience of Pentecost changed the disciples beyond recognition. In his book The Way to Pentecost Samuel Chadwick writes:
When Andrew Murray was led to write on ‘The Temple of the Holy Spirit,’ he said with reverential awe: “I will meditate and be still, until something of the overwhelming glory of the truth fall upon me, and faith begin to realize it: I am His Temple, and in the secret place He sits upon the throne.” Then, when he had written, this prayer rises like incense: “I do now tremblingly accept the blessed truth: God the Spirit; the Holy Spirit; who is God Almighty dwells in me. O my Father, reveal within me what it means, lest I sin against Thee by saying it and not living it.”
If the sand of understanding is slipping through our fingers is it because we have failed to grasp the meaning of a personal Pentecost, and thereby hindered the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives?