The other night at bible study there was discussion about how humans have a tendency to subconsciously live as though we are being transformed from the outside in. We do good works and behave certain ways because we want to be able to peel away the layers of self that are making it hard for the Spirit to change our hearts. We attempt to break down the walls that are keeping us from experiencing the real love of God. But that’s not biblical.
“Hold fast & follow the pattern of wholesome, sound teaching which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard & keep [with the greatest care] the precious & excellently adapted Truth which has been entrusted to you, by the help of the Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us.” – 2 Timothy 1:13&14
We already have this good deposit. We already have been seen stripped bare, regardless of our walls and layers and ignorance. We already have been changed in our hearts, made into a new creation and justified through our faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 4&5). But it is so difficult to allow the Holy Spirit to take the place of our own spirits. It is hard to remember that we don’t have to do something to acquire it when we feel so unholy.
For some reason I see this internal struggle of mine very much in this way: the H. Sizzle is a baby sea turtle.
While in an egg, buried under about 2 feet of sand, I feel like I am the sand. I am what this little creature needs to burrow through so that it can breathe and continue on its journey to maturity. I feel heavy and dense; I feel that I am the hardest element this little tiny sea turtle will ever have to get past in order to grow up. But I’m wrong. Baby sea turtles break out of their eggs, using a small temporary tooth located on their snout called a caruncle. They then remain in the nest for a number of days, absorbing their yolk, which provides them with the energy it will take to get from nest to offshore waters. God has provided them with the right equipment to burrow out of their nest; the sand is an obstacle that is more easily overcome than the next one.
By the time the baby sea turtle has gotten past the sand I feel much like I did when I was a child watching the discovery channel: anxious. I want to be able to help the baby sea turtle, to keep it safe, to guard it against predators, to guide it to the ocean. But if this baby sea turtle is symbolizing the Spirit of God in me, I am not only the sand but also the predators and the environmental hazards, ready to do anything I can to kill the birth of something precious.
Once near the surface, they will often remain there until the temperature of the sand cools, usually indicating nighttime, when they are less likely to be eaten by predators or overheat. Once the baby turtles emerge from the nest, they use cues to find the water including the slope of the beach, the white crests of the waves, and the natural light of the ocean horizon. (source)
Again, God has given the baby sea turtle it’s own set of instincts and the ability to survive without help from me. I am powerless to help it. But God is powerful to sustain it. And in order to grow to be strong and mature the little guy has to do these things.
“…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, & endurance produces character, & character produces hope, & hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
Because of His guidance and protection I can rejoice when the tiny creature reaches the waves and swims like crazy to the deeper waters. Because of His incredible grace I can experience this every day, this journey and struggle in which I attempt to see the Holy Spirit gaining the upper hand in me.
I’m not sure if all of this can be well understood, it’s not an incredibly accurate metaphor. But I hope that someone will be able to understand it the way that I do and get out of it what I have: an understanding that I can do nothing but accept that I already have the Spirit, comfort from that understanding and renewed hope that every moment can be different because of it.