Teach me the way I should go, for to Thee I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O Lord from my enemies! I have fled to Thee for refuge! Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God! Let Thy good Spirit lead me on a level path! Psalm 143:8-10
Most of us have had the experience at some point of being in a three-legged race. This is where two people have their feet tied together and have to move in sync to complete a race. In that moment, they have to share a will. They have to work together to go in the same direction. If they are independent with their thoughts and actions, they cannot succeed.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is one of the most profound things in all of Christianity. There is one God in three persons, who each share the same will and move in sync. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each has a distinct role in the Trinity. God the Father is the Creator, and the creating energy. God the Son is the one who is the mouthpiece of the Trinity, who is also the redeemer of the fallen humanity. God the Holy Spirit is active in the world today, bestowing grace upon each of us to help us and comfort us in our Christian walk.
If God the Father is the Creator, and God the Son is the Savior, then the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, or we might even say, the encourager of the Holy Trinity.
The Holy Spirit bestows grace upon us. We hear that word a lot in Christian circles. What does it mean? The best definition I have found is an Orthodox Christian understanding of grace, which is, an intangible quality that completes what is lacking and heals what is infirm in each person.
For instance, let’s say that two friends have an argument. They are separated and not friendly. When they reconcile, and ask forgiveness from one another, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit that comes into play and is intertwined with forgiveness to create restoration of trust. What was lacking in the relationship—joy and trust, etc.—is now complete. What was infirm is now healed. Grace is what allows that to happen.
Grace not only fixes what has gone wrong, but grace guides in what is going on, and what is going right. Let’s say that I am going to give a speech and I am super nervous about it. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is the One who will provide the comfort and encouragement I need to calm my anxieties and perform at my best. His encouragement can come through prayer, through a feeling of calm that everything is going to be alright, or through the encouragement of a friend, who has been inspired by the Holy Spirit to encourage.
At summer camp, we (half-way) jokingly use the phrase “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” when we let the campers do one slow dance. That phrase is used as a loving reminder to the kids to not get physically close in a way that would be considered inappropriate. However, joking aside, this is a good motto for life—leave room for the Holy Spirit. What does that mean exactly? It means, leave room for grace to come into a situation. It means what we read in Psalm 143:10, “Let Thy good Spirit lead me on a level path!” If we are calling for the Spirit to lead, then we must be willing to follow. And if we are following, we don’t exactly know where we are going, or else we’d lead on our own. When we trust the Holy Spirit to lead, we are open to the possibilities of where He will lead us. We also ask Him to lead us on a “level path” meaning a path that is ideally free of obstacles. In searching for the level path, we also play a role. We can’t intentionally put ourselves on rocky ground and then ask for the Spirit to help us make it smooth.
It is important for us to ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to come into us, to guide us, to inspire us, to complete what is lacking in us and to encourage us. Today’s prayer is an Orthodox Christian prayer to the Holy Spirit, often used to begin services.
Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, treasury of good things and giver of life; come, take Your abode in us; cleanse of every stain, and save our souls, O Good one. (Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Leave room for the Holy Spirit to operate in your life. Allow (and ask for) His grace to complete what is lacking and complete what is infirm in your life!