When The Spirit Surprises

While I suspect the reasons may be different for each of us, I would venture to guess that in different seasons of our lives, we become numb to the work of God in our lives. Maybe things are going really well – when that happens, I wonder if we tend to forget about God. Or maybe things are hard, and it feels like God is strinkingly absent. Or maybe life is just busy and each day comes and goes with its responsibilities and tasks and we simply fail to pay attention.

It’s been a remarkable summer for me. I began a new grad school program, and while I fully expected academic rigor, I didn’t expect to be encountered by the Holy Spirit. And truthfully, I think it’s been a long time since I really allowed myself to be truly open to the Spirit. Spiritual directors talk about the slow work of the Spirit, and this means the transformation one encounters by a daily journey with God. As we journey toward becoming our true self, fully united with Christ, we see the slow work play out in fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

But then, there is also the fast work of the Spirit, and usually this catches us more unaware and feels more surprising. And sometimes this fast work is what we need to wake us up out of our slumber. The slow work carries its own surprises, certainly, and this is where the deep, hard work of transformation occurs for most of us. But this fast work is undeniable, and when we encounter it we walk away changed.

When I read the book of Acts, I see example after example of the fast work of the Spirit. It’s exciting and scary and uncontrollable – when the Spirit of God is hovering, new creation is enacted right before our eyes. Are we ready for it? Do we anticipate the work of the Spirit each day when we rise? My prayer is as we enter a new season at Rochester Church, we begin to anticipate the Spirit of God – both the slow work and the fast.


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