The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus Christ in the form of a Dove. And so the humble dove has become a perennial symbol of the Holy Spirit and peace. It is with that connection in mind that I share the following simple thought with you.
Two weeks ago I was in a staff meeting where one of my fellow pastors brought out a guitar and led us in a few worshipful songs. The experience was sweet and it prompted a couple of images to tumble through my mind. One of those thoughts was about releasing the Holy Spirit within me.
It is wonderful to worship God with abandon, such as David did as he welcomed the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem about 3,000 years ago. David readily put his own decorum aside and did not care if he looked foolish as he praised God. A word which David frequently used in his psalms, telling us to praise the Lord, means to be ‘clamorously foolish’ – so abandoned in adoration that we seem to be ‘over the top’ to others.
In practice, however, most of us are self-conscious and tend to adjust our own worship activity to match that expected or expressed by those around us. In a quiet setting everyone becomes quiet. In a noisy prayer meeting everyone tends to make more noise. If others are being restrained we tend to be restrained too.
During the morning devotion I am talking about there was a sweetness but also a level of polite restraint. As I pondered that I realised that many Christians restrain the work of the Holy Spirit in their life. The ‘dove’ of the Spirit settles in their chest and stirs them from time to time. The Spirit gives us witness and various stirrings that make us sensitive to God’s presence and work. When we worship we can even feel a sense of the dove wanting to spread its wings and soar. But to really let the Spirit soar we must cast off more of our decorum and social restraint.
As these thoughts trickled through my mind an image formed of what could happen when someone allowed the dove out of the cage. I imagined a person abandoning themself in worship and flowing with the impulse of that heavenly dove stirring within them. My imagination observed as the dove, powering upward into the heavenlies, was transformed into a majestic eagle. The verse about mounting up on eagle’s wings jumped into mind as I imagined a person, free in their worship, rising out of their restraint and into the lofty realms to which the Spirit of God could carry them.
The diary note I made after that worship time reads as follows: ‘Our spirit is like a dove inside a cage. If we let it out, let it fly and soar – by giving vent to the Spirit within us, rather than restraining our worship style to suit what those around us would prefer – then that dove takes flight and is transformed into an eagle – we rise up on wings as an eagle and soar in the heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers.’
I encourage you to flow with the Spirit of God and yield to the Spirit. I believe there is much that God has for us to enjoy, that is yet untouched while we are locked in stiff restraint. Some of you may well discover that being ‘clamorously foolish’ is as powerful and rewarding for you as it was for King David three millennia ago.