The bumper for the weekly Shulamite Podcast includes the following caveat: “not giving just another method, but a living impartation.” Before I was saved, I didn’t really understand what exactly a spiritual impartation was, let alone how it worked. Now that I’m saved, I understand what it is, but I still can’t tell you how it works. What I can tell you is how I move ever closer to being at peace with my ignorance.
I understand very well the siren’s call of formulas and methodology as a means to overcoming sin, or strengthening character, or resolving conflicts in relationships. One of the reasons I find it so maddening is that I’m not immune to it, and there’s very little that galls me more than a reminder of my own weakness of character. Nonetheless, the “7 Steps to a Better You” promise is tempting because it puts me in control of what I surrender in my life. I get to pick the method of getting clean, of what to give up and how. Judging by the success of the method premise, I know I’m not alone.
But where it gets really messy is when the testimony of Christ’s move in a single life is turned into a lifeless formula that favors uniformity over the uniquely personal move of the Spirit. When I was first born again, I experienced the bliss of being loved and the indescribable peace of a newly-quiet spirit. The spiritually violent upheaval of confrontation and God’s merciful wrath and judgment that led to my salvation were revealed to me as His unfathomable Love. And after a while, I looked at the movements of the Spirit that resulted in my salvation as a kind of blueprint. My desire for people who were hurt and lost and in torment – just as I had been – to come through to the bliss and love of God was defiled by my belief that they would come through the same way I did.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.
John 3:8 NKJV
God has been smashing my personal methodology (aka, “I know”) with increasing intensity ever since. When I impose my testimony of Christ onto someone, rather than impart it, I obliterate that unique individual and block the move of the Spirit. They cease to exist as a person, because it’s all about me and what I believe and what I think I know. It is abhorrent.
The truth is, I don’t know what the Holy Spirit wants to say or do about any given person or situation until He tells me. He is a mystery even in my own story. I can only share so much about my life with God, because He is ever solving each new crisis of my heart in a manner beyond my knowing. I can tell what I did and said, what word or scripture was given to me, and I can even reveal the Spirit’s diagnosis for what ails me. But I have no idea how He heals my wounded and diseased heart. “The wind blows where it wishes,” and I simply “cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.”
There is no blueprint, or method, or formula that the Spirit adheres to every time. As disciples, we follow Christ’s gift to us, the Holy Spirit. We walk the same path, and we are given guidance in the examples of disciples who’ve gone before us. We have the safety of God-given authority to submit to and live under. But we also live day in and day out with the Mystery of God, and making peace with the inexplicable isn’t an option. I move closer to that peace with every surrender to the reality that God is GOD, and with every choice to delight in His ways rather than fight them. The Spirit does the rest, and I have no idea how.
As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him.
Psalm 18:30 AMP