We didn’t go to the beach this year as planned. (Note the header photo – the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.) I tell my husband the beach is my favorite spot besides in his arms and when we go there together it is pretty much perfect. But this year we feared arriving along with the tar balls.
One of my favorite beach activities is building sand castles. I don’t make the kind that are formed with buckets. After building a foundation of packed sand, I let very wet sand drip through my fist. This is very relaxing for me and one of the few ways in which I can be very creative.
One year I didn’t buy a bucket for making my sand castles. But I need a LOT of water. Fortunatley (or not, if you are really concerned about litter) as I walked along the shore, I found a discarded gallon milk jug and thought it would be a good tool for carrying water. However, I found that filling the jug with ocean water was difficult because a wave will cover the entire hole and air can’t get out to be replaced by water.
Although I thought of the jug as empty, the fact is that it was full of air. While the air was invisible to me, it still filled the jug. This reminded me of how sin acts in my life.
Any sin in my life, no matter how small or insignificant in my eyes, is a barrier to my being filled completely by the Holy Spirit. While we are promised the Holy Spirit at the time we are saved, (Ephesians 1:13). He cannot completely fill or occupy our hearts when sin is creating a barrier – just like the air in my jug.
Praise the Lord for his promised to “forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” if we confess our sin. 1 John 1:9. Regular time before the Lord will help make us sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of those sins. We must be prompt in our confession and repentance.
Just like the jug is full, even if it isn’t full of water, so our hearts are full, even if not with the Holy Spirit. If the jug isn’t full of water, then it contains water AND air. It IS full – even if I can’t see it. We must allow sin to be replaced by the Holy Spirit if we want to be completely “filled” and become like Christ. This requires daily prayer and Bible study. What are you filled with?
Many times, trying to get water into the small port of the jug quickly resulted in the jug seeming overwhelmed. We must seek environments that are conducive to being filled with the Spirit. While we must be in the world to win it, we must take care that the world doesn’t “take” us.
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NLT)
How do you know if you are “of the world”? The Lord has spoken to me personally about behavior that isn’t of Him. These are mine, so yours might be different.
- Going to movies, watching TV shows, reading books or listening to music that is not God-honoring
- Eating when I’m not hungry
- Shopping when I don’t need anything
- Using language or telling stories that do not distinguish me from the world
Part of my problem with the jug was the small opening. Is your heart wide open to receive the Holy Spirit’s touch or do you have the opening restricted? How much opportunity do you provide the Holy Spirit to have control? Only through the Spirit can we know Christ completely.
Father in heaven, how we thank you for your Holy Spirit – the comforter who comes along beside us – who you sent to inhabit us. Lord, show us how to make room for Him and how to make Him welcome in our inner beings.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And I pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Eph 3:16-19 NIV)