By the Power of the Holy Spirit
by Rich Maffeo
He came down from heaven
by the power of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God . . . for nothing will be impossible for God (Luke 1:35-37).
Is anything too difficult for the Third Person of the Trinity? Of course not. He does whatever He wants, whenever and however He wants. Nothing and no one is outside His control, and few Christians question the reach of His power.
But the more I read and study about the Holy Spirit, the greater the danger that He becomes little more than an academic concept - the object of catechism classes and homilies, creeds and Scripture study.
He should be more. He must be more. He is more.
I thought about His Being one morning as I read the opening verses of Genesis where we first meet the Him:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said . . ." (Genesis 1:1-3 NASB).
I usually move past this portion of text and into the six days of creation without so much as a thought about the personal application of those first three verses. After all, what does the awe-inspiring panorama of Creation have to do with me?
"In the beginning" takes us back to the first moments of Earth's birth, a time when chaos reigned. And darkness. And emptiness.
I've known those feelings - chaos, darkness, and emptiness. I've fallen many times to my knees in despair as private chaos swirled around me. I've hunted for something solid to grasp hold of in the midst of a roiling cauldron. I've longed for direction and instruction in palpable darkness.
That's not an easy place to be - surrounded by confusion and chaos. Yet, in retrospect, I've learned it's a good place to be, because when my resources have vanished and my strength is gone, I'm more willing to do what I should have done in the beginning - quiet myself, let the Holy Spirit move over the surface of my confusion until the Father says, "Let there be light. And peace. And fullness."
In the thirty-three years I've served Him, He has never failed to bring peace into my chaos, be an anchor in my storm, and cast light into my darkness.
But that shouldn't surprise me. After all, God never fails any of His children.
Prayer (of St. Augustine): Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy. Act in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. Amen.
Next time: By the power of the Holy Spirit
These meditations are compiled in Richard Maffeo's book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website
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