Spiritual Discipline // SUBMISSION
By Donia Hovet
I did not grow up in the church. I began walking to church with my sister because the yard duty at our school invited us and her church just happened to meet right down the street from our house. It was a loud-music-arm-raising-clappng-hands-tambourine-banging kind of church. I loved it. Turns out it was a Foursquare church, born out of the Pentecostal movement of the early 1900’s.
For most of my Christian walk, “Pentecostal” was synonymous with “weird things happening.” I’ll never forget my mom falling over while being prayed for at a conference. I was young and it scared me. I also will never forget “Holy Spirit Night” at camp. I was always one of the last to leave the chapel, desperately trying to attain the elusive gift of speaking in tongues. Through all of this, my parents were themselves just baby Christians, and didn’t really know how to guide me.
While these experiences left me with many questions, one thing has kept me anchored to my pentecostal roots: the Holy Spirit. As Jennifer illustrated on Sunday, the Holy Spirit is the wind that makes us fly. It’s probably taken me longer than most, but I can say after 30 years of following Jesus, I KNOW when the Holy Spirit is working in me and through me and I WANT MORE.
Because I became a Christian at the same time as my parents, I had to trust my pastors even more deeply. They were my shepherds, the ones whose sacrificial service to Jesus made it possible for me to know God. My testimony is (in part) one of submission.
Submission: the act of allowing someone or something to have power over you. (Cambridge Dictionary Online)
Not an American concept, is it?
I believe submission is a key anchor for the searching, doubting, or confused soul. There has been NO PART of my spiritual journey that hasn’t required submission: to God’s word, to my leaders and pastors, to TRUSTED overseers. It is only in looking back over the past 30 years that I can clearly see the link between submission (both happily and begrudgingly!) and my increased awareness of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Think about the disciples waiting FIFTY DAYS for the advent of the Holy Spirit. Now THAT’S submission. They submitted to the holy journey of waiting because their trust was not in themselves, it was in Jesus. Wow.
In some ways, our journey into the Christian faith is a journey into the unknown. Listen to Deuteronomy 29:29:
The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us…”
The Holy Spirit has been revealed to us by God’s Holy Scriptures. Let’s be those who submit our questions, our discomfort and our preconceived notions about the Holy Spirit and the power of Pentecost to God’s Word and to the teachings of those who have gone before us on the journey.
- Read: Acts 2:1-47
- Biblical Reflection: How did the advent of the Holy Spirit empower Peter? What were the outcomes? Can you see the correlation between Pentecost and the birth of the church? What do you observe about the correlation between Peter’s transformation as a follower of Christ and his submission to Jesus? (Read Luke 5:1-7 for another example.)
- Personal Reflection: How has the Holy Spirit empowered you? Do you sense the “tug” Jennifer talked about this past Sunday? What obstacles do you need to overcome when it comes to being open to the move of the Holy Spirit in your life. (In other words: how do you need to express submission?)
Pray: Ask God for a fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit in your life, an awareness of his presence in your everyday comings and goings, and for a move of the Spirit in our church body corporately.