Great Expectations, Obi-wan Kenobi, and Coach Carroll
Updated: Apr 1
As we continue to study Bruce Blummer’s book, “Mighty Winds and Gentle Whispers,” two thoughts keep speaking to me. The first is on page 24, where Bruce lifts eleven steps a church must take to be a church that is rooted in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The sixth one takes my breath away: “Expect great things…espouse a community where good things happen and attempt those things that you can do only with God’s help.” Wow! This reminds me of a prayer journey I once went on with one of the congregations I was leading where we not only wrote down some of the prayer concerns of our congregation, but then wrote down the way in which God actually answered those prayers. Too many times our prayers are just about asking, and never about listening to where God might be responding to our “asks”!
When Cyndy and I were struggling in our marriage, we began to realize that our life lacked a power balance. Our relationship was one in which one of us was dominating the air waves too much. This counselor’s solution to this was to have us go on a walk together. “Walk to a destination and then back. On the way to the destination, have one partner share whatever he or she wants to share, but here is the key: the other partner is just to listen! No interruptions. No “buts”! Then, on the way home from that destination, the other partner gets his or her turn! This was a game changer for us. Suddenly our unbalanced relationship began to balance out and both of us started to get some much-needed footing! In a relationship with the Sacred, there is truly a balance of both speaking and listening. Try spending some time with God doing both!
The second image that continues to help me grow, is to think of God as Spirit in the terms of the Greek word “paracletes.” This word is shared in John 14:15. Jesus is speaking: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (or “Paracletes”), to be with you forever. Bruce shares that this word is often translated “Advocate,” or “Helper,” or “Comforter,” but the actual translation is “someone who is called in.” Bruce shares that “essentially, Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is permanently called closely alongside each of us to provide coaching, direction, instruction, and counsel in our life journey!”
As I contemplated this, two images came to my mind…Merlin the Magician in the story of King Arthor’s Knights. And Obi-wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Like Merlin and Obi-wan, the spirit is a wise mentor, coming along side of us, and teaching us an “alternative wisdom” that is deeper and broader than just knowledge…teaching us the power of “another force” that is with us always.
One of the things I love as a grandparent (or “pops” as Emerson calls me) is sitting with Emerson and reading a book with her. Emerson always leans into me in some way and the reading is more of a time for Emerson and me to connect and relate to each other as “pops” and grandchild. I get a chance to gently share some of my “wisdom” with her and she is so trusting as she listens and responds. What would happen if we read the scriptures in this way? If we listened and willingly leaned into God’s spirit as we read this sacred text together. What would happen if, instead of reading it full of doubts and questions, we read it full of questions of wonder and as an opportunity to gain wisdom and insight?
This Lenten season, as we learn about the Holy Spirit, may God come to us in new and exciting ways. May God come alongside of us and teach us to trust long enough that a new relationship can begin to be realized. Perhaps the spirit is a wise coach (Pete Carroll?)
running with us, giving us wisdom and assurance!
(I wrote this on Monday folks…now this analogy and image might be challenging…in the least!)
Your pastor and friend, learning that life is to complicated and hard to run it without an Advocate, Brook