Confession 457: The Indwelling of Christ

One of the hardest things about losing my dad was that in his passing, I lost a trusted guide and spiritual mentor. My dad was the one we all went to when we needed some direction. He didn’t really offer practical advice–that’s more my mom’s forte–but what he did offer was an empathetic ear, guided discernment, and spiritual encouragement. Dad let us talk through our problems. He asked questions to lead us into a better understanding of the situation and helped us get a 360 degree view of things. He shared experiences from his own life, and offered a few suggestions of what we might do. He also threw in relevant Scripture teachings to aid us as we worked through whatever the issue was. So when I found myself staring into the face of a situation that left me in a state of unease recently, I really really wanted the opportunity to discuss the situation with him.

As I lay in bed, mulling the situation over one night, I called Dad to mind. I pictured him, sitting across from me in our living room, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and his fingers clasped together, listening closely as I shared the situation with him. I heard his voice as he asked me questions…questions I knew he would ask from 40 + years of the parent-child relationship. The dialogue continued, in my mind, as Dad said, “You know, here’s what I think…” And what my dad would have thought was right there, coming up from inside of me, from years of his counsel and encouragement, from time spent together. It was a true conversation with my dad, albeit one I was totally constructing in my head. And after I had played through everything I knew we would have discussed, including a relevant Scripture passage, I felt more at peace. I knew what was right–the direction in which I needed to go. Although the conversation was a total figment of my too-active imagination, it was also completely real because of the relationship that I had with my dad while he was on this earth. My dad is a part of me, and he always will be.

God, the Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Sustainer, Beginning, End, Mighty One, Light, Salvation, Rock, Defender, Hope for the Hopeless, Bringer of Justice, Teacher, Lover of Mercy takes up permanent residence within us.

Just as those we’ve loved and lost continue to exist in some form within us, so, too, Christ’s Spirit lives within our souls. The difference, of course, is that the Spirit of Christ is alive and active rather than an essence of memory. Indwell is a verb that means to be permanently present within one’s soul or mind. It comes from the root dwell, which means to permanently reside in one location. So, when Scripture tells us that God dwells within us…that the Spirit of Christ is indwelling within our souls…this means that God, the Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Sustainer, Beginning, End, Mighty One, Light, Salvation, Rock, Defender, Hope for the Hopeless, Bringer of Justice, Teacher, Lover of Mercy takes up permanent residence within us. Think about that. God, the one from whom all things come and who holds all things in his hands, willingly takes up a permanent residence within us. This means that whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, however ugly and awful life might get, God is right there with us in the midst of it because he is in the midst of us.

And yet, too often we are unaware of this great presence within us, and so we do not access God’s wisdom and counsel because we have not fully prepared ourselves for his indwelling. We have not maintained the relationship. I can call my dad to mind because we had an active relationship. We communicated on a regular basis. We spent time in each other’s presence. I listened to him, watched him, learned from him, and in doing so I knew him.

The same is true for our relationship with God.

If we want to experience God’s indwelling within us, we must have an active relationship with him. And what are the hallmarks of an active relationship with God?

Time in his Word–In Scripture, we learn who God is and come to an understanding of his nature. Scripture is the inspired word of God, which means that it is God-breathed. When we read his Word, we do so with his Spirit, and that Spirit opens our mind to understanding God more fully.

Communicating with God in Prayer–When we pray, we place ourselves before God’s throne. It is an opportunity to be in God’s presence, to commune with him and to receive from him all that he would offer. Prayer changes us from the inside out.

Experiencing God with Others–We all need others to walk with us on our journey, which is why we have the opportunity to worship and grow together through the Body of Christ. Church is important, not because it’s a pretty building or going is what we’ve always done, but because it is the Body of Christ gathered together to learn, grow, and work.

When we do these things, we can fully experience the indwelling of God through his Spirit. And when we have that indwelling, we are never alone. God is there, at any moment, in any situation, to give us his strength, his wisdom, his comfort, his grace, his forgiveness, his love.

Are you preparing yourself for God’s indwelling today?

Blessings and Peace

Sara