Scheduling the Spirit

“I need to get the Holy Spirit on my schedule,” declared my friend this week.

Always a good idea for a schedule, don’t you think? What’s a schedule without the Holy Spirit?

The statement has two sides:  truth and question.

One side: the daily schedule. Every day needs time with God – time to speak, time to listen, time to read the Word, time to let that Word seep into our heart.

Jesus continually took time away to spend with the Holy One, going up the mountain or to the other side of the lake. He told Mary that she had “chosen the better part which would never be taken away from her” when she chose to sit at His feet instead of doing the dishes. [i]

Henri Nouwen wrote: “Discipline means to create boundaries around our meeting with God. Our times and places can’t be so filled up that there is no way of meeting.” [ii]

For me, it’s my morning routine.  Sometimes it’s rushed. Sometimes it might get pushed a little later in the day. And yes, sometimes it doesn’t happen.

However on most mornings, with Bible, journal, coffee in hand and Hank, my four-legged companion, the Holy One speaks to my heart. Sometimes Hank is waiting for me on the designated meeting spot, reminding me that we have the Holy Spirit on our schedule.

The other side of the statement: Is that the only time that the Holy Spirit gets – just the scheduled time? If the Holy Spirit only gets an hour, 30 minutes, 5 minutes or the prayer before a meal, what is the rest of the day? Probably just a series of appointments, tasks and chores.

Suppose we see all of our days as encounters with the Holy One? All of the day as infused with the Spirit – talking to the salesperson in Walmart, discussing in a staff meeting, listening to the teacher in 4th period, shopping at Barnes and Noble, dining with friends and family . . . all of our time. The Holy Spirit of God flows over, seeps through, undergirds, and infuses all of our day.

Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit, “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”[iii]

Just a guess but I’m thinking that Jesus probably did not mean just the “scheduled” time.

Again – just a guess.


[i] Luke 10:42

[ii] Nouwen, Henri with Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird. Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. New York: Harper One, 2006.

[iii] John 14:26

Building Moral Margin – Week 3, Day 2

Daily Scripture Reading:

 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.                  

Psalm 37:23-24 – “Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”                                          

“Danger, Will Robinson” or “Danger, Trish Archer”!

Maybe a robot like the one in the 1960’s TV show, Lost in Space, is what everyone needs when there is impending harm. Maybe a blaring alarm if we are getting too close to a minefield. It’s not a bad idea, but actually we have a warning system. It operates more like “Holy Spirit flares” – those warning lights that say “Stop!” “Turn around!” “You’re too close to temptation!”

My guess is that everyone has experienced a Holy Spirit flare. The challenge is to see the flare and move no closer. It could be something simple like not ordering dessert if you’re on a diet. The flare is shining brightly, illumining the scales for the next weigh-in.

It could be something like a quick glance at a website or a movie that has the potential to lead you down a dark path. The Holy Spirit flare shines brightly and reminds you that God can deliver you from temptation.

The Holy Spirit helps us keep a distance – a margin – from the temptation that is before us. We just need to pay attention to the warning lights!

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you that Your Holy Spirit is always with me. Help me, Lord, to see the warning lights that show the approaching danger of temptation. Help me respond to the warning and turn to you for strength. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Reflection Question and/or Application for the Day:

 Think about the temptations that most often come your way. What do you do when you are tempted?

If you give in, what can you do differently today to escape that temptation?


Devotion from Building Margin for a Balanced Life, devotional book, small group study and sermon series

©Tim Reaves and Trish Archer

All rights reserved

Photo by Jon Strother