Conversations on the Spirit vs. Flesh Part 2
With Rachel Hull
Learning what it means to live filled with the Holy Spirit revolutionized both of our lives. Here are our stories:
Rachel: I used to think I was a Christian, but I wasn’t really saved until I was 21, almost 22. It wasn’t until then that I had a relationship with Jesus and knew Him instead of just knowing about Him. That was the year I truly submitted myself to Jesus and began this process of walking in the Spirit.
After I was saved, it took me a while to work through my confusion about what had been going on in my life up until that point. I had been raised in a Christian home, I professed to be a Christian, and I believed everything the church told me about Jesus, God and the Bible. I prayed, I went to church, and my life had always had many evidences of God’s grace all around me. Things generally went well for me. I was a counselor at a Christian Bible camp. I even felt like I had “led” others spiritually in the past. I had seen God work around me a lot. But after a long time of praying about it, asking God about it, and learning what it really is to be living life through the Spirit, I can confidently say that I was spiritually dead until I was 21 and anything good that was happening around me and to me was just the abundant grace of God; His faithfulness to the unfaithful. It was for His own glory and by His own hand that He brought about any good fruit around me, but it wasn’t coming through me because I wasn’t in Christ.
Chelsea: When I first met you, I would have definitely believed you were a Christian. On the outside, you had all the appearances of having a healthy Christian life. We had some great theological conversations about what it means to live out our faith. It’s interesting to me to hear you make the difference between believing in God and knowing a lot of things about Him versus actually being filled with His power.
Rachel: Yeah. That distinction is one that I think is so important for Christians to understand. We need more Christ followers to speak out about this boldly, and to challenge the notion of simple ‘belief in God.’ Honestly, this is something that really worries me, because I think a lot of other Christians could be in danger of being deceived the same way I had been. It’s so easy to look at people who look like “good Christians” and assume that they are saved. It’s so easy to be that person and assume that you are saved. We need to take seriously the call to wake up and examine ourselves. In fact, the New Testament is full of exhortations for Christians to examine themselves and make sure they are truly following Christ. Haha, more on that later…
Chelsea: My story of seeking to live every moment in the Spirit is a little different. I grew up in a Christian home as well, but I would say that I genuinely became a Christian when I was nine years old. There was always a part of me that wanted to know God, serve Him, and please Him. We had a relationship and we communicated with each other. I believe that until the last two years of my life, however, it was God’s grace that led me and drew me closer to Him. I did not understand until recently what it meant to live in the Spirit. I thought that the Holy Spirit only spoke on special occasions and big defining moments. I lived with many chains in my life, and when God freed me from these things a year and a half ago, I began a journey of daily and constant discovery in this amazing partnership with God. Being set free was the ultimate defining moment for my life, because from that point on, I wasn’t living to try to push my own agenda on God; instead, I began to listen for and understand His heart. I am discovering daily what it means to live in response to Him rather than trying to get Him to respond to me. When I realized that my life is really His story and not mine, it changed everything.
Rachel: I love that; “it changed everything.” So true! Once you start to realize that the only things that amount to anything are the things born in the Spirit, all of your priorities are flipped upside down. Suddenly it’s not about doing certain things or anything external. Everything hinges on simply being faithful, simply being in the Spirit.
Chelsea: It was a game-changer for me when I started following the lives of Rolland and Heidi Baker, missionaries to Mozambique. They have an incredibly “successful” ministry, but their entire philosophy is built around “stopping for the one” and how there is no fruitfulness outside of intimacy with God. The first time I heard Heidi say that she needs her 4-6 hours with God every day to be able to do what she does, it caused a lot of extreme emotions within me. How could a woman who is so busy have time to spend so many hours in prayer? Sometimes I have a hard time getting my hour or two in. As I started to really pray about this, I realized that I had been looking at prayer all wrong. What used to be me going through my list of things to say became a relationship where I spend as much time listening as I do talking. The Bakers taught me about what it means to delight myself in God’s presence, and as I have begun to do that more and more, I have noticed God’s joy naturally overflowing more and more into all the areas of my life. The more time I spend with God, the greater my hunger grows to know more of Him and to experience more of who He is. I fight for that time with Him because I realize how essential it is in everything.
Rachel: Yeah, when it comes down to it, living in the Spirit is all about that intimacy. That’s what I was missing before becoming a Christian, and that’s what’s been added now. We must all go from knowing about someone (Jesus) to really knowing Him and loving Him actively.
Chelsea and Rachel: Our prayer for the Church is that we would all come back to this intimacy with God. When we start to know Him intimately, we long for more and more of Him, and we pursue Him with everything we’ve got. It’s an ever-deepening cycle of knowing and loving God more and more, and this is the source of the abundant life in Christ. As the Psalmist often prayed, let’s seek Him day and night, thirsting and hungering for the Lord, knowing that we will be filled.