April 20, 2011

Moved by the Spirit

I don’t remember the date, and I have only a vague recollection of the time of day, but I’ll never forget the place God called me to pastoral ministry. His voice was as real to me as the words you’re reading on this page.
Up to that time I’d never entertained any idea of being a pastor. Even afterward, as I tried to process this new, strange notion, I often asked myself whether I understood correctly. Sure, I grew up in a Christian home. I had devout parents and grandparents, and, at the time, nearly 12 years of Adventist education behind me. But a pastor? A pastor?
The suggestion was as odd to my family and friends as it was to me (that’s why I kept it to myself for as long as I could).
But I think about my experience when I reflect on Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The Holy Spirit has a way of reaching out and grabbing us in most unusual, unpredictable ways: sometimes in a line from a sermon or lyric from a top-40 song on the car radio; in a scene from an old movie or from a Bible verse previously unnoticed dozens of times; in the fragment of a dream or a reflection in the mirror while brushing your teeth. The Holy Spirit isn’t confined to a particular setting, nor does everyone experience the Spirit the same way.
If there’s a secret to experiencing the Holy Spirit, it’s not to compare your experience with anyone else’s, but to be open to His leading.
Stephen Chavez is managing editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published April 21, 2011.