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 Margin to Reduce Stress – Week 2, Day 3

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

I . . . beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”     – Ephesians 4:1-3

Henri Nouwen wrote that “busyness has become a sign of importance. Having much to do, many places to go, countless people to meet gives us status and even fame. However, being busy can lead us away from our true vocation.” *

Observation: Folks too often “glory” in busy schedules. Unfortunately, folks in ministry are not immune. When clergy ask one another what they’ve been doing lately, the answer “taught 5 Bible studies last week, had 2 funerals, a wedding, 2 staff meetings, a trustee meeting and didn’t get home to my family until 9:30 pm every night” seems far more productive than “played ball with my child, read a good novel, had a great meal with some friends, or had some great quiet time with God on the beach”.

Do we ever think that God gives out productivity sheets for our lives? The more I do, the better God is going to like me?

Well . . . I think we’ve got it wrong. God’s acceptance is not based on the things we do. God’s love is based on the grace that He extends to us. We then serve BECAUSE we are accepted.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, when I think what I DO makes You love me more. Help me rest in the knowledge that You love me for me. Help me then serve You because I’m accepted by You. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Reflection Questions and/or Application for the Day:

Are you trying to have a good productivity sheet for God?

Think about the activities that you’re involved in. Why are you doing them? Do you ever feel that you are doing them to make God like you more? Do you ever feel that you are doing them to make others like you more?

Are you serving God or just busy? What is your purpose in serving God?


* Nouwen, Henri. The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999.

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

©Tim Reaves and Trish Archer

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