This post is part 4 in a series based on the Renovare organization’s covenant and “best practices” – which are six Common Disciplines drawn from the six Traditions of Christianity explored in Richard Foster’s book, Streams of Living Water. (Find earlier posts in the Categories list in the right margin menu on the blog home page home page under Continual Renewal).
Common Discipline #3: By God’s grace I will welcome the Holy Spirit, exercising the gifts and nurturing the fruit while living in the joy and power of the Spirit (The Charismatic Tradition).
Our writing group was intensely focused on listening to one member’s writing for October. I was facing the window. As I listened, I happened to look away from the group and out the window. To my amazement, I was treated to the most beautiful sunset at twilight that I have ever seen. Dark shades of pink slid in and out of purplish black clouds. The contrast was stunning.
I glanced at the other members of the group. They were caught up in the words of the writer. I thought, “This is a once in a lifetime experience. I should let the others know.” Then I second-guessed, “No, that would be rude to the person reading.” I peeked out the window again. Suddenly I felt compelled. “Hey, you guys, stop a minute and look out the window,” I said. The result was instant joy from everyone. One person even got up and ran to the window exclaiming, “How beautiful!” the whole time. We were held in a space of shared awe. Then we automatically shifted to the person who had been reading, and she began again. A few sentences later, I looked out. The sky had totally changed. The moment was gone forever.
I have mused about that moment several times. I have come to believe that my moment of “rudeness” was prompted by the Holy Spirit. “Welcoming the Holy Spirit,” the heart of the third common discipline, is one of those disciplines that takes constant daily awareness if it is to be turned into instinct and habit. I remember reading with great longing the words of Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence as they described their attempts to live on two levels. One level is a practical experiencing of life as it happened around them. The second level is attention to experiencing life with the Holy Spirit. From their experiences, I learned the discipline (habit) of listening for the prodding, teaching, and comforting work of the Holy Spirit. That evening, the Holy Spirit, wanting to cultivate a sense of awe-filled worship in me (and my friends), called me from one level of experience to a higher level.
The Common Discipline goes on to call us to use our gifts and to experience the fruits of spirit-filled living. Recognizing our gifts allows us to transform the world around us. Choosing to live by the fruits of the spirit ( love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) promotes the experience bring the light of the Jesus Way into the world. But I believe that all of this requires first learning to live in the “higher atmosphere” of the Holy Spirit.