“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:14
This “truth” that the Spirit of truth is guiding us into is not a mere download of doctrine. Rather, it is into the very life of Jesus, who is the Truth. Concretely, it is a way of living with God and others. Let me share a story of one who modeled this to me.
A Personal Heart-Language Guide
When Beth and I were church planters in Hong Kong, our first order of business was to learn Cantonese. It’s one of those tasks you don’t ever check off the list. After two years of formal language study at Chinese University, I still had much to learn.
I was introduced to a dear Chinese woman named Peggy. Her round face always radiated a warm smile above her tiny little frame. She tutored Chinese secondary level students in English and art. And she kindly took me on to tutor me in Cantonese.
Two years of formal schooling had taught me ample Chinese vocabulary, but I had much to learn of the heart-language.
There is a way to order lunch that is technically correct and will get what you food, and there is a way to relationally engage an exhausted restaurant worker who has not had a day off in months and gain a friend. Peggy was my guide into that heart-relational world. She was patient with my linguistic messes, generous with compliments, gentle with her corrections.
Peggy was my God-given guide into the heart-language of the adopted culture we had taken up residence in.
The Kingdom Guide Within
The Spirit’s role as guide is not so much a lecturer of truth, rather more like a wilderness guide. The new landscape the Spirit it leading us into is the kingdom of God. This unfamiliar terrain has a heart-language of the Jesus-way of living.
The Spirit is guiding us into the relational culture of the Kingdom of Jesus.
He is patient, pouring out the Father’s love in us, tending to us with the grace of Christ, ever beckoning us deeper into Jesus’ way of being in this world.
This kingdom has a heart-language that allows for relationships to begin, to be restored, and to be deepened.
The Spirit takes what is Jesus’ and declares it to us. The Spirit bears Jesus’ mark in us. Over time we grow in the way of love, joy, peace, kindness, self-control, sacrifice, generosity, forbearance, considering the concerns of other above our own.
Learning the Heart-Language
How does the Spirit do this?
The primary way we learn this way of life is from the Word amidst real life over a life-time.
I have noticed over many years that there is far more going on when I am in a chair in the morning, reflectively reading through the Bible than is immediately apparent. Sure on occasions there can be a significant insight or breakthrough. But mostly it is about accepting the invitation to show up.
It’s in the written Word of God that we are met and nurtured by the Living Word of God.^
In keeping with that, the Spirit has come to mediate Jesus’ presence and ministry in our lives, he is there with us each day as we are in the Word and praying. This is the ordinary, daily, steady walk of growing in Christ. The Spirit, gives us sight, opens our ears, tills up the soil of our heart that we may receive the seed of the word.
Then, in real life, amidst daily relationships in real time, he guides us, slow yet steady.
“He’s Not Trying to Take Something from You”
Several years ago I had been wrestling over letting go of a pattern in my life. One early morning, in that space between being fully asleep and fully awake I clearly had this phrase come to me: “He is not trying to take something from you. Trust Him.”
That was the Spirit, the Guide, leading deeper into the Father’s care.
He was gently urging me to relinquish, to open my hands and let go of an area in my life I had been resisting letting go of.
This is the gentle and firm work of the Spirit in our lives. He is always present, always guiding. An open “yes” to follow allows us to be led deeper into the kingdom way of living, which impacts every area of our life in beautiful ways.
How have you been responding to the Spirit your guide?
If you wonder if you have sensed his presence and direction, ask him. He is a person. He wants to be related to. He is eager to lead you into his life and way. Ask him to literally show you the way. He has promised and he will do it.
* As stated in the Nicene Creed
^John Calvin first coined this phrase.