Midwinter. Early morning. Outside the first light of dawn chases the receding darkness. I slip into the water. Its crisp coldness is a shock. Then, without my having to give instruction, my body kicks in. It knows what to do in water. Feet kicking, arms stroking rhythmically. Before I have even recovered from the shock of the coldness, I am gliding through the water.
The thing about swimming is, when you are in the midst of it, it’s all-consuming. Every kick, every stroke, every breath is measured. And yet, although I am doing the physical work, the water is somehow cushioning me, holding me. There is a freedom in its buoyancy. I am freed from carrying my own weight. It is both joyous and comforting and, in this moment, I feel as if this is where I belong.
It strikes me that my swimming experience is analogous with life in the Spirit (in as far as something lofty and infinite can be described within the confines of finite human language and experience.) When at first you encounter or witness others encountering the Spirit, it can feel strange, other, perhaps even a little uncomfortable. Then you consciously choose to engage with Him.
You move your lips to speak, you lift your arms to worship and, before you know it you’re living in the Spirit. You still have to move your lips to speak. You still have to put one foot in front of the other to walk. Your hands still need to move in order to do what the Spirit directs.
When we walk through this life with the Spirit, we are not exempt from its demands It’s not as if some magical fairy dust suddenly starts carrying us through life, its pressures and joys, it’s heartache and sorrows. There are still challenges to overcome, disappointments to rise from. we still have to move our lips to speak. we still have to put one foot in front of the other to walk.
Our hands still need to move in order to do what the Spirit directs. I am still doing the physical work but somehow, by His grace, His Spirit is lifting me, holding me. My spirit is freed from the weight of my flesh. Though the load may be heavy, my being is buoyant. It is both joyous and comforting. And I know this is where I belong.
Living in the Spirit.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”- St Paul. Galatians 5
For Further Reading
The Mystery of the Holy Spirit: R.C. Sproul (for an easy, introductory read)
The Holy Spirit: Sinclair Fergusen (more advanced, in-depth read).