to walk worthily of the Lord, pleasing him in all respects

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lent, Day 5: he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born

Eliot and the Aqueduct at Caesarea

Like Jeremiah, to whom God said "before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart," and like Paul, who says that God "set me apart from birth and called me by his grace," John was born for a purpose. His exists for the purpose of preparing the way of the Lord. What is more is that he has the presence of God's Spirit to empower, sustain, and direct him to accomplish his calling. When she receives a visit from her cousin Mary, newly with Child, Elizabeth feels the baby in her own womb leap. Even there the baby knows his purpose.

I've been pondering this fact for several days and until tonight was at a loss what to say here. But once again being part of a college community blesses me. Tonight, in our villa worship, we were led in a devotional that focused us on the need to live our lives by faith and not by our own efforts. Recalling one of our Holy Land guide's anecdote of how Herod the Great built his "Herodium" palace to demonstrate he could move a mountain, tonight's speaker talked about how in her own life she is tempted to spend all the effort of Herod (or rather, his slaves) in moving mountains rather than having the mountain moving faith that Jesus spoke of. She cited examples of such faith like David (a shepherd boy whose city we recently visited and whose form, immortalized by Michelangelo, is just a few blocks away from us now) and of Solomon (who as a boy said to God, "Speak, for your servant is listening" and as an adult saw to it that "none of God's words fell to the ground" and in so doing judged Israel justly and ushered them faithfully into the era of the Monarchy). But then she, as good speakers do, got me with this: God has intentions such as these for people such as us. She rightly spoke of the room she and her peers were in as holding incredibly, history making potential…if we will be faithful. Perhaps some of us gathered might move a mountain the tedious way, a la Herod. But in reality, it is only by faith that we move the mountains that matter, as our Lord taught us, "Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing."

The Spirit that filled John in utero and thereafter is the very same that works in our lives now. May we be like John and yield to that Spirit to sustain us, direct us and empower us to accomplish all God intends for us.

(Thanks C. for the devotional thoughts and permission to draw from them here. The picture today is of Eliot playing with sand against the backdrop of the Caesarean aqueduct. Like Herodium, Caesarea was one of Herod's grandiose building projects.)

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