Chapter OneFilled with the
Frank Laubach, a pastor who had served in the Philippines as
a missionary in the early part of the twentieth century, hit
bottom. As he looked at his life's work, it seemed like it had all
come to nothing. He and his wife had lost three children to
malaria; and now, in his mid-forties, he was separated for
health reasons from his wife and their one remaining child.
Frank Laubach felt isolated and broken. But then . he met
God! He found relief when he discovered that he could live in
intimate communion with God through the Holy Spirit.
During this process of seeking peace, he maintained a personal
journal of prayers and reflections. He wrote these words
sitting on a mountain, facing a life of failure, separated from
everyone he loved:
The most wonderful discovery that has ever come to
me is that I do not have to wait until some future time
until the glorious hour. I do not need to . wait for any
grave. This hour can be heaven. Any hour for anybody
can be as rich as God. For do you not see that God is
trying experiments with human lives. That's why there
are so many of them. He has, at this moment, one billion
seven hundred million experiments going on
around the world. And His question is, "How far will
this man and that woman allow me to carry this hour?"
This Sunday afternoon at three o'clock He was asking it
of us all. I do not know what the rest of you said, but as
for me, I asked God, "How wonderful do you wish this
hour alone with me to be?" And God answered convincingly, "It can be as wonderful as any hour that any
human being has ever lived. For I who pushed life up
through the protozoa and the tiny grass and the fish and
the bird and the dog and the gorilla and the human
being and who am reaching out toward eternity, I have
not become satisfied yet. I am not only willing to make
this hour marvelous, I am in travail to set you akindle
with the Christ-thing that has no name. How fully can
you surrender and not be afraid?" And I answered, "Fill
my mind with your mind to the last crevice. Catch me
up in your arms, God, and make this hour as terribly
glorious as any human being ever lived, if you will. I
scarce see how one could live if his heart held more than
mine has held from Thee these past few hours."
Clearly my job here is not to go to the town plaza
and convince people to change their religious beliefs or
to win a theological debate. My job is to live wrapped in
God, trembling to His thoughts, burning with His passion.
And my loved ones, that is the best gift you can
give to the place where you live You and I shall soon
blow away from our bodies. Money, praise, poverty, opposition, these make no difference, for they will all
alike be forgotten in a thousand years. But this Spirit, which comes to a mind set upon continuous surrender-this
Spirit is timeless life.
Frank Laubach's life stands as a testament to the Holy
Spirit's power to move through the life of a willing person. This
broken and yielded man decided that his one passion would
be to walk in the presence of His God, led by the Spirit, every
moment of every day. What grew out of this decision, he
allowed, would be up to God.
What did God do through this man? Frank Laubach developed
a volunteer-based method of literacy education known as
"each one teach one" and became the father of a worldwide literacy
movement. As a result of his teaching methods, more
than sixty million people speaking two hundred different languages
and dialects learned to read in their own native tongue.
He became an advisor to presidents and national leaders.
What can God do through one life fully surrendered to the
leading of the Holy Spirit? Only God can answer that question.
Do you dare ask Him?
Making the Connection
1. What does it look like when the Holy Spirit is at work in
the life of a person or church?
Describe a time when you had a deep sense of the power and
presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Knowing and Being Known
Read Acts 1:1-5 and Luke 1:1-4
2. Describe a time when you had to wait for something that
you were very excited to receive or experience.
How did you feel when the waiting was finally over?
Why is waiting so hard for us?
3. What connections do you see between the gospel of Luke
and the book of Acts?
4. Imagine you were one of the disciples who saw Jesus and
heard Him teach in the forty days following His Resurrection.
How do you think you would have felt after meeting Him?
How do you think you would have responded when you heard
that Jesus' primary instruction was to wait (Acts 1:5)?
Read Acts 1:6-11
5. What do you learn about the person of the Holy Spirit in
this first chapter of Acts (Acts 1:1-11)?
What do you learn about the work of the Holy Spirit?
6. What does Luke teach us about Jesus in each of these time
His earthly ministry
His work following the Resurrection through today
His return at the end of time
What is the relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
7. If you had some misconceptions about the Holy Spirit as a
young Christian, what were they?
In what ways has your grasp on the person and work of the
Holy Spirit in the church grown?
Read Galatians 5:22-23 and Romans 12:3-8
8. What is one fruit of the Spirit that you see growing in your
life (Galatians 5:22-23)?
What is one fruit that needs to be watered and grown more in
9. If you have had opportunity to discover, develop, and use
a spiritual gift, how has this experience deepened your
understanding of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit?
What is one spiritual gift God has given you, and how are you
seeking to use it for His glory and for building up others?
The Hard Work of Waiting
My childhood church expected everybody to attend the main service-even
little kids. We had no children's church, no developmentally
appropriate age-sensitive curriculum, no special message for kids. From
the time we were old enough to graduate from nursery, we were old
enough for big church. We had none of this contemporary, seeker-friendly
jazz. No dramas or stirring visuals enhanced our worship. No Generation
X, guitar-playing, surfer dude led worship to make it exciting, entertaining,
or relevant. We did church the good ol' fashioned way, with hymns accompanied
by the organ and sermons that seemed eternal. And we liked it
that way! . Well, not really.
I made it through by snacking from a little plastic bag of Cheerios that
my mom brought for me. I would ration them and eat them as slowly as
I could. If the message finished before my Cheerios ran out, I considered
the morning good. But if the Cheerios ran out before the message was
over, I knew it would be a long morning for all of us. To this day, if a sermon
or message goes particularly long, I find myself having a strange craving
Meeting the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is not in our employ; we are in his We must let him
work on his terms and schedule. We cannot manipulate his power or program
his activities. But because he is Lord, we must be open to whatever
he wants to do, receptive to whatever gifts he sends, responsive to whatever
priority he sets.
God is at work in the world today-that is the heart of what the Bible
teaches about the Holy Spirit. The Sovereign Father has not left the completion
of his plan to chance. He, with the Son, has sent the Holy Spirit as
the guarantee that the entire divine purpose will be carried out Our
task (as God's people) is to apply God's truths to our lives, to believe his
promises, to obey his orders, to experience his forgiveness and power, to
rejoice in his magnificent gifts to us.
-David A. Hubbard, The Holy Spirit in Today's World (Word, 1973)
The Life of the Spirit
I heard a story about a group of college students in Southern California
who would often go door-to-door and ask this question, "Would you like
to receive the gift of eternal life?"
One day, they knocked on a door that was answered by a woman who
had a screaming baby in one arm, a vacuum in her hand, and loud kids
running around behind her. She looked exhausted. The students smiled
and asked, "Would you like to know how to have eternal life?" She sighed
and answered, "Frankly, I don't know if I could stand it!" For many people,
stretching this life out for eternity is not very appealing.
The Spirit, though, offers and brings to followers of Christ a life that is
qualitatively different from this one. The presence of the Spirit always gives
life-not simply by adding years, but by replenishing souls. Life in the Spirit
is not just about eternity, although eternity is an important part of it, but
about radical transformation, meaningful direction and purpose, amazing
discoveries of real life, and indescribable joy.