Not the Cat’s Mother
(From Part 1: Seven things I want you to know about me)
The Holy Spirit longs for us to know: “I’m a person too you know.”
One of the elementary things I believe the Holy Spirit would like to share with us is this: “I’m real. Really real. I’m a person.”
Most people relish it when they’re related to as someone real, not just a provider, a taxi, a teacher, or a means to an end.
You hear it in supermarket aisles, playgrounds, and lounge rooms across the country. A frazzled parent to a child:
- I’m a person too you know.
- I’ve got feelings you know.
- I’ve got a name you know!
The Holy Spirit is no different. He wants us to know he’s not just a force, a power, a genie, you know, the spooky part of the Godhead. Nor is he just an it or the.
There was a time when a child would get told off for using the word she instead of a name, especially if the she was present. The telling off eventually turned into the saying, “Who’s ‘she’—the cat’s mother?” After all, a cat’s mother is probably some nameless, unknown moggy.
When Jesus talks about sending the Holy Spirit, he refers to him as a person:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
The fact that Holy Spirit is applied a gender is not the important thing, after all, spirit beings would be gender neutral. What is significant is that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus. He is real and has feelings. He can be joyful as well as grieved and quenched. He loves being talked to and communicated with, and is amazingly creative in searching out ways of connecting with you. He is on your side, wants to see you soar, and longs for you to live a life that reflects his joyful disposition.
Many years ago, I was at a retreat where I heard my friend Ruth Olsen constantly refer to the Holy Spirit simply as Holy Spirit. I never asked Ruth about this, but it had a lasting impact on me.
On my jogs and in my reflection times I would ponder as to why she did this. There was something personal in the way she talked about him. It wasn’t in the third person, as if she was talking about a thing, or an it, or a commodity. It was personal, intimate, to-ing and fro-ing.
I’ve taken up Ruth’s example. In my prayer time, I often refer to the third person of the Godhead simply as “Holy Spirit”. Not always, but mostly. That’s the name I give him; it’s what I call him. It draws me into a relationship with him that is distinctive, specific, and close.
As you read this book, you’ll find there’s a consistent inconsistency in how I refer to him. Sometimes as the Holy Spirit; many times simply as Holy Spirit. Travel with me on it, and allow these readings to draw you to know him in a personal way.
Call him by some of the names you’ll get to know him by as you read: Counsellor, Comforter, Spirit of truth, Spirit of Jesus, Advocate, Helper, Teacher, Friend.
After all, he’s not the cat’s mother!