CLOTHED WITH POWER
One of the most dazzling of sights in holy scripture has to be the disciples’ experience in the Upper Room. Jesus had promised His Spirit and they were asked to wait, until they were clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). I wonder if they really understood what Jesus was talking about. They seemed to emphatically listen and even obeyed Him, because all they knew was that Jesus had been raised from the dead and they had no more reason to doubt Him.
And yet in wonder and amazement they were overtaken by what scripture says is a sound from heaven like that of a rushing wind, with tongues of fire resting upon each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 2-4).
Their wait was over, their lives dramatically transformed and their courage renewed. They experienced personally what Jesus meant when He said “you would be clothed with power from on high.”
The One who transforms
As a woman whose been in the Charismatic Renewal for more than 30 years, I am familiar with terms like Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Upper Room and ‘Being clothed with power from on high’. Yet, all these wonderful phenomena became a reality only when I experienced them over the years, as my life was being transformed daily through obedience and humility.
I can still remember that moment when I experienced ‘His power from on high’. I am sure as you read this, you too can recollect your testimony when you first experienced the Baptism of Grace or when you encountered the Lord. For some of us, it has been many years since this happened. As years pass, I have found it a good practice to reflect again on who the Holy Spirit is, what that moment entailed and what are the potent signs the Spirit brings in our lives. This recollection helps us remember how we were pursued and awakened to a love affair with the Lord in a new way. It also helps us come to a deeper understanding of the Spirit working within us, so we can become more attentive to His movement and be aligned with what He is doing in our lives.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
‘Who is the Holy Spirit’ might as well be one of the most daunting questions we will ever encounter in our lives. Our inability to grasp this ‘neglected’ member of the Holy Trinity, as Pope Benedict declares, often causes us to consider Him as an ‘it’ rather than ‘He.’ But the Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’.
The Holy Spirit is a Person, the third person of the Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and Son as we profess in the Creed.
He is known by many names such as Advocate, Counselor, Comforter and Helper. Scripture unfolds evidence, describing Him as having a mind, “And God who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit …”(Romans 8:28), and a Person with feelings – “do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). These attributes convey the characteristics of a person.
Knowing this makes Him more real to us, and helps us relate to Him as a person. This also greatly shapes our understanding of prayer and how He desires to speak, communicate and guide our lives.
Spirit of Truth and Love
Jesus also described the Holy Spirit in this way: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know him, because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). This tells us the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of truth. He teaches us truth – first and foremost the revelation of who God is and what Jesus did for us on the cross. He shows us that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15), made in His image and likeness.
John 16: 5-11 says that the Holy Spirit shows the truth about sin and righteousness and judgment. It is His action in us that reveals to us when we have sinned, and it is He who leads us into righteousness, the right way of living with Jesus. It is His truth that enables us to walk in freedom and do what we are called to do as His sons and daughters.
The reason we can love the Lord, the reason we can love others, the reason we can forgive and the reason we can suffer for good is because God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
When we find it difficult to love a person, we can ask the Holy Spirit to pour more of His love into our hearts, so we can love more. When we feel like our love for God has grown cold or lukewarm, we can ask the Holy Spirit to pour His love into our heart, so we can be energized and ignited once again to love Him.
The Gifts of the Spirit
As people of the Charismatic Renewal, it is no secret that we love to praise and worship the Lord aloud, with thunderous applause and singing. We’ve often been misunderstood and termed uncanny or unrealistic. But the reason we love to worship this way is because of the Holy Spirit. It is He who brings joy, it is He who gives us passion and it is He who gives us reason to celebrate.
God wants us to be a Church that is set ablaze for His kingdom. As the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers us with gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 7-10) to equip us in bringing the good news and to edify God’s kingdom through them. Each time we administer the gifts, each time we exercise them, we are strengthening our inner being and we are empowering the body of Christ.
The gifts of the Spirit is a visible vehicle for an unbelieving world. As we step out in obedience, meekness and courage, as we lean on the Holy Spirit, we are being sent like flaming arrows to light up a world of darkness.
Today, as you remember the moment of your conversion or that moment when your faith was renewed, remember why the Lord chose you. He chose you because He loves you. Your failures, defeats and backslidden experiences cannot keep you from the Power above that desires to clothe and overtake you.
You carry unique gifts and charisms that would have been shaped, acquired or even transformed as you’ve walked this discipleship journey. Perhaps there are gifts you are still waiting for. As you wait, in the upper room of your heart, remember that the God who empowered the disciples, has empowered you. He transformed cowardly men and women into lighthouses, beacons and vessels of hope. So take time to ponder on your experiences with the Lord. It is good to ponder on these things, so we never take Him for granted; so we grow in understanding of what He does; so we go deeper in learning to walk in His leading.
My heart is so grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and I cannot stop thanking the Lord for sending what the Father promised on the day of Pentecost, and clothing all of us with power from on high.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Marie Gatenby serves on the National and State Catholic Charismatic committees in Australia and is National coordinator for Intercession for the charismatic renewal in Australia. She has published a book on intercession and is an international speaker, equipping God’s people on how to be courageous passionate witnesses for Jesus Christ.