Working with the Holy Spirit

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” -Acts 1: 8

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”      –2 Timothy 1: 7

John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” –Matthew 3: 11

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” –Romans 8: 5

The most difficult part of conducting a heart-healing counseling session is this: we must surrender our personal agendas and lean on Him to guide the process. We all tend to cling to the familiar or what has worked in the past, because it brings us a sense of security and predictability. For some activities this is advantageous, but it can be disastrous when working with the Holy Spirit.

Just because God once seemed to do something in a certain way at a particular time and place does not mean He is obliged to replicate it. This is a hard lesson for many to learn, especially those who follow popular Christian teachers or search the Internet to find ways God is “moving.” Really, our hope needs to be that we will find Him presently in relationship with the counselee, watching what God seems to be doing, that we may participate with Him as He leads us. This can be very unsettling, even frightening, because it requires us to be vulnerable to failure, in a sense without defense.

Also, important when working with an individual is that we be sensitive to her unique means of processing and remembering information. A rough comparison can be made by examining various learning styles. Some people are visual, some auditory, and others are kinesthetic learners. Similarly, each person experiences the Holy Spirit in a different way. This often becomes evident when a root memory comes up. At times a sufferer will “see” a scene from the past, complete with characters, setting, and action. Or she may simply remember a snapshot of herself at a certain age. In other instances, the person has a vision or dream that opens her heart.

One may “hear” words repeated in his mind, another might “read” words as if they were written inside his closed eyes, phrases which can be crucial to unlocking a hidden part of his heart. Perhaps an individual simply has an awareness about something that seems to be happening in the spiritual realm, or he may have a feeling without seeing or hearing anything specific.

All these and other ways of experiencing God are valid. In heart healing, we are careful not to direct the person or analyze the method. This can be frustrating confusing, and unproductive, even destructive to the process for the sufferer. Moreover, it can stop openness to the Holy Spirit, who seems to be very sensitive that we follow Him, rather than requiring Him to be subject to us.

An example of the human tendency to wrest back control from God can be found in the story of the bronze serpent, as we follow it through Scripture. Here we see how one of the Lord’s creative miracles can become an idol and an abomination to Him, if we seek to make it happen again for its own sake.

  1. Numbers 21: 8-9 – The story begins with the people of God speaking against God and Moses, complaining because of bad food and difficult living conditions in the desert. So, God sends snakes that bite the people, and many Israelites die. After they come to Moses repenting, God directs Moses to make a serpent of bronze and raise it on a pole, so the Jews can look on it and live.
  2. 2 Kings 18: 4 –Some 900 years later, the bronze serpent has become an icon in the temple, complete with the   burning of incense to it. Hezekiah, while destroying the high places or idols of Israel, tears it to pieces.
  3.  John 3: 14-15 —Jesus here alludes to the bronze serpent, saying now He must be lifted up in its place. The    Lord says He, rather than the bronze serpent, is the source of eternal life. Christ is “lifted up” on the Cross, to die so we may live.

This story paints a picture of the development of idolatry in a people. Likewise, in heart-healing counseling whenever we mentally fail to lift up Jesus, but instead exalt our theories and ideas, we have substituted an intellectual construct or ritual for a living, creative, spontaneous encounter with the Lord.

Certainly, acquiring tools and studying materials can be helpful in laying the educational framework for the counselor, but ultimately in every session one must be willing to surrender natural understanding and allow God to move as He wills. Because He is Lord, He is infinitely creative and works with each person’s symbols during the healing process. And symbols they are, for everyone’s life story has themes and threads, like an intricately crafted novel that portrays universal truths.

In conclusion, when working with the Holy Spirit it is best to suspend expectations and requirements that certain “rules” be obeyed.  God can only work through us when we move out of the way, and simply ask to be used as obedient vessels for His healing, however He wills.