Saturday, 3 November 2012

Hard hats and the Holy Spirit

Morning, Lord.

You know that bit in the Bible where it says, 
'...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'
Philippians 1:6 NIV
Of course you do. Well, I'm wanting to tell you a couple of things this morning.
  1. You've started something.
  2. I'm looking forward to the finished article. I think. 
Katy and I tidied her bedroom some weeks ago.  Well, I tidied Katy's room and she sort of followed me around complaining, removing items that I put in a black bin bag and disagreeing with me in my definition of 'rubbish'. The point I am making, however, is that the room was dreadful. It was a mess, and needed work. About an hour into the job, it looked much, much worse than it did to start with. No choice but to push on. Can't leave it like this.

And that's a bit how I feel. 
I am a work in progress.

I know that you are at work. I know it beyond any doubt; I know that things are considerably different from the way they were three years ago, two years, one year. I know that you're working in different areas of my life and I accept that work is needed. Many bits of me are as messy as Katy's bedroom floor. And yes, I'm the one who follows you round reinstating the bits that you want me to throw away. 

It came to me a few days ago that your Holy Spirit lives in me. I have known that in a brain sort of way, but the other day it just clicked into place in my heart. I know the Holy Spirit is there not because I prophesy or speak in tongues (The Tongues of Men and Angels) but because of this:
' can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit. 
1 Cor 12:3 
And you know what? I can say Jesus is Lord. Oh yes, I can. And I know it in my heart more every day. Thankyou Holy Spirit.

I love it when the first words in my head in a morning are in praise of you. I love it when I have a line of a song going round in my head all day and it's a worship song. I like filling my head with things like this. A few days ago I woke up with a line from Matt Redman's song, 'Once again' in my head:
'Thankyou for the cross, thankyou for the cross, thankyou for the cross, my Friend'
Today it was from Phil Wickham's 'Cannons':
'All glory, honour, power to you, Amen...' 
It makes me smile. I think it makes you smile too, and that's good. I want to make you smile.

I woke in the middle of the night a few days ago and glanced at the clock. It was 3:16am.
'God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.' 
John 3:16
3:16. A few years ago would I have made a connection like this? I don't think so. Is it a bit cheesy? Are there Christians out there that would roll their eyes if I shared this little nocturnal nugget? Maybe so, but I like it. It's only since I've been spending more time with you and learning to listen as well as rabbit on that I've started seeing so much more. I see you all around me, when you give me eyes to see and I manage to keep them open. I see you in the rain droplets on a scarlet Autumn leaf. I see you in a man on a train reading a book about prayer. I see you in the double rainbow above my daughter's school at pick-up time. I see you in the low, orangey shafts of sunlight against a dark, purpley stormy sky right now.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he lives in me.

I am a work in progress. I come complete with notices advising steel toecapped boots and a hard hat. Danger lurks within; I am not finished yet. Authorised access only; all visitors please check in with the site manager before coming any further. And what I thought was a small renovation project turns out to be a fairly sizeable building site. I read this from CS Lewis and there was more than a small spark of recognition:
'Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.'
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

I don't know if I'm going to be a palace or a block of flats but the 'knocked about abominably' bit rings some bells. I think it's because I'm pretty sure you're working on lots of different bits all at the same time. My temper, the things I say and how I say them, what I think; things that I dwell on, the priority I set on spending time with you, learning how to concentrate on your Plan for my life and not get sidetracked by everything else, tackling my need for approval and desire to please other people... and so much more. Then, of course, there's patience (blimey, asking you for patience isn't quite what I'd hoped it would be. I wanted to wake up one morning effortlessly unruffled and serene, not find that my life is littered with opportunities to develop blessed patience).

For your own safety...
You're not just ripping out the fireplace, you're digging deep and you're rewiring, re-plastering, knocking down and rebuilding, re-roofing and landscaping simultaneously.

I'm looking forward to the furnishing. Cushions. Lamps. Decor. Maybe that'll be a bit more comfortable?

The only thing that I disagree with CS Lewis about is the last line of the quote above. You're not waiting until it's all finished before you move in; you're here already. You must have a sleeping bag on the dusty living room floor, I think. It's certainly not a house fit for a King just yet, but that's the wonderful thing about my God. You're not waiting for the throne room and the chapel to be gilded and frescoed. You're happy to step over the threshold while the roof is still leaking. You're happy to walk around touching the walls affectionately and reassuring and making plans, making yourself at home even when it's grubby and draughty and you get your hands dirty.

Why? Because you love this little house. Even in its neglected state, you love it. You looked at it and took in all the many inadequacies and problems and you still thought immediately that it was worth saving. You could see which walls to knock down to let in more light. As soon as I opened the little battered door, you sent in your best team.

So, Father God. As Project Manager, how's it going? No, don't tell me. I'm not really that keen on knowing that we're only on Phase One of a lifetime's worth of construction. Come and build. Find the locked doors in secret corridors and help me to open them up so that you can renovate those rooms too. Even when it's painful - because I want to be a palace fit for the King of Kings.

I don't want to aim small. I want to be all that I can be, and for your glory. I want everyone to know that you are the architect and designer and the builder. I want people to look at me and see you.

Let's just take it one day at a time.

This might take a while.

Pictures used:

hardhat0001.jpg by MConnors
constructionsite.jog by wallyir

both from 
Used with permission


  1. Mine is taking a while as well.
    Although, I must say I can see the palace-like outline from across the sea, friend.

  2. What a lovely thing to say Ginger :-) I can see I too :-)

  3. Thankyou for your kind words. I don't reckon the scaffolding will be down this side of heaven, though...

  4. Helen, I loved the way you wrote this post....just like one would think. And I am the type that would make the connection when I saw 3:16 a.m. But not always...I just said this the other day to a friend, "I used to wake up with a worship song in my mind!" Something is wrong and God is calling me back to Himself. He's faithful that way, even when I am not. I am reading "1000 Gifts," and what you wrote about the ways in which you see God in a day reminded me of that. Really nice, Helen.

  5. Thanks for reading and thanks so much for saying hello and encouraging me, Linda. He is faithful indeed. I hope the first words in your head tomorrow are songs of praise!

  6. Beautiful post Helen, so much to nod my head and sigh in agreement too! I particularly love and agree with your words where you say that God, His Holy Spirit already lives inside of us, He doesn't wait until we are perfect, spotless, clean and holy because a)He loves us b) He's so humble and full of grace and c)His Son Yeshua has imputed His own righteousness on to us making us acceptable even in our fallen state.

    A blessing to read, and I'm right here with you as God does His rebuilding and renovation work in me.

    1. Thankyou. You've blessed me too. We'll be a street full of building sites. :-)

  7. Great analogies used Helen. Liked how you intertwined them into your thoughts. It also reminded me of we can sometimes be "paralytic"in our efforts to ask Holy Spirit for help in cleaning up our rooms of "rubbish." We have grown accustomed to living in a state of disorder. We're comfortable as 'hoarders'; accumulators of "STUFF". But there is relief and comfort on the way. From other believers and of course, JESUS:

    "Then they came, bringing a paralytic to Him, who had been picked up and was being carried by four men. And when they could not get him to a place in front of Jesus because of the throng [the crowded & 'messy' room], they dug through the roof sbove Him; and when they had scooped out an opening, they let down the quilt or mat upon which the paralyzed man lay. And when Jesus saw their FAITH..."~ Mark 2:3-5.

    1. Thanks Mel. You've hit the nail on the head. I am so used to all the rubbish that to have the Holy Spirit come in and 'de-clutter' me is unnerving. I'm comfy amongst the junk... but He loves me too much to leave me like that.
      Thankyou for your kind words.

  8. Hi Helen
    I tried commenting on this post a few days ago, and on your 300th blog post, but I see the comments didn't come through. I simply typed in the comment and clicked 'publish'. What was I doing wrong?
    Anyway, well done on some lovely posts over the last few days. And so sorry to hear about the trauma your little girls have been through... it must haven been heartbreaking for you. Isn't God amazing the way He teaches us about His Father's heart for us through our own families!?
    Blessings, Janet

    1. Janet, thanks for persevering. How awful to think that a precious comment got lost...!
      Thankyou for your kind words. I know; easier to have rubbish happen to me than to see it happening to my little ones and be unable to take it away, but I guess that's how they grow. I am constantly amazed at the way He uses my girls to teach me things about myself, about Him, about life... I am indeed just a child on a long journey.
      Thanks again for coming.

  9. Sounds like God was singing to you to give you encouragement! He is awesome like that! Glad that you decided to keep on hoping, keep on believing...

    1. Thanks Cheryl. What else can you do? God is good, all the time.

  10. Sounds like God was singing to you...just like our awesome God to do that for you to give you encouragement!! Glad you kept on hoping and kept on believing...

  11. First of all, Helen, I'm so grateful that LinkedIn brought us across the pond to each other's blogs. This post is absolutely one of the best posts I have read. Seriously. I love your British flavor and the imagery and the analogies I can not wait to read more. I have several blogging friends I read regularly. You just joined that favorites list. I posted this on my Facebook and Twitter pages, but I'd love to re-post it on my blog if you wouldn't mind. I know my readers would be blessed to read this. Just as I was. Of course, I will include a little bio and photo and link back to your blog. And if you're other posts are one/tenth as good and well written as this one, I imagine I am going to be asking to re-post more of your writing in the future. BTW we must use the same General Contractor. He keeps tearing down stuff, knocking out walls, cleaning out hidden closets, adding rooms and balconies. He's always cleaning, always building. He told me He wouldn't be through with my house for quite a while. Then He told me I'd be moving the whole thing to His neighborhood. I can't wait! This neighborhood is getting more run down every day.

    1. Oh lovely! I like the bit about the new neighbourhood. I think your end of the street probably raises the tone!
      Thankyou so much for your kind words; I'm honoured that you want to use the post on your site. Please feel free. Help yourself.

  12. I love how you see that God is already there sleeping on the dusty floor!


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