The tiny plane gives a sharp jolt, and immediately judders sideways and then dips. I reach for my complimentary glass of sparkling water faster than a few other passengers around me and just miss total spillage all over my lap.
I'd rather have avoided the four plane journeys I've taken in the last few weeks. Ever since I flew over a hurricane in Central America ten years ago my stomach has looped, my palms grown sweaty and I have literally prayed for my life each time I have boarded an aeroplane. Yet the prayers seemed to make little difference to the terror I felt from travelling alone, enveloped by dark skies outside, flying over vast air spaces.
To co-incide with the flights in the last few weeks, I have also recently been challenged about my perception of the Holy Spirit. I have focused on the Father and the Son; and so it felt like I only really paid attention to the Holy Spirit unless I had to. I considered the Holy Spirit to be more of an abstract notion; a vague wind-like form, invited into church meetings half-way through worship after the lights had been dimmed.
Jesus said 'If you love me you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever - the Spirit of truth.' (John chapter 14 verses 16-17). He continues in verse 26: 'But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.'
And so when flying through that crazy turbulence high above the Californian desert, I did as Paul said (to the Thessalonians), praying continually - to the 'Comforter' - to the one who gives us peace. And I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit during that 60 minute flight from Los Angeles, literally comforting me through my moments of fear that appeared so real. The situation brought a reality check; I realised that I needed to be praying to the person of the Holy Spirit - who is equal to the Father and the Son - and that person would have an actual effect.
The Holy Spirit is not to be just traced throughout the bible - he is fully present the whole way through. It was the actual Spirit form of God hovering over the waters in Genesis before the Earth was created. God said that he would pour out HIS Spirit on mankind: 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.' (Joel chapter 2 verse 28). And Jesus clearly told us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would take his place, 'But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.'
After my flight, I wondered if I had previously missed out on receiving the full power of the Comforter and the spirit of the Counsellor, so far only partially seeing what the Holy Trinity could look like? And if the Holy Spirit is the only way we can actually access the power that Jesus promised us (with Jesus' vacant place filled by the Holy Spirit) - then without the Spirit in us, we are left with good intentions and a life of religious convictions. And if it is true that 'the same power that raised him up, is the power that lives in us' (Brian Johnson sings in 'Strong in Us', Bethel Music - see Romans chapter 8 verse 11) - and we have the authority to release that same power over our lives and churches - what happens when we don't live to the fullness of that potential?
'The Church has all too often lived according to an intellectual approach to the Scriptures, void of the Holy Spirit's influence. We have programs and institutions that in no way require the Spirit of God to survive. In fact, much of what we call ministry has no safeguard in it to ensure that He is even present. When our focus is not the presence of God, we end up doing the best we can for God. Our intentions may be noble, but they are powerless in effect.'
24 / 7 - not part time
Reading Bill Johnson's book, 'When Heaven Invades Earth', I wondered how much of my own life was devoid of the Holy Spirit and what it would like if I prayed continually to the Holy Spirit at all times of my day, and not just when I was stuck on a turbulent plane thousands of feet in the sky. 'The Holy Spirit is in me for me, but on me for you,' says Bill Johnson. It is the same Spirit that came upon the apostles in Acts, has led revivals around the world and performs miraculous healings around the world today.
We - you - have access to that same power because of who our God is and what he has promised us. He is the same spirit that intercedes on our behalf and draws us closer to the Father. Paul goes as far as saying that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ (Romans chapter 8 verse 9).
We have received a spirit of sonship. Of power, and a sound and peaceful mind, where we have access to the authority of the heavens. But this can only be accessed via the Holy Spirit. What does that look like for you? My Pastor has challenged us all to 'hang out with the Holy Spirit as a friend this week. Talk, share what you feel and listen, because he's in us' (Pastor Martin Steel, Harbourside Church). Will you try that?
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda worked in Publishing in London and Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She's currently spending a six month sabbatical in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes in California.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html