Holy Spirit Trumps Safety & Rules

Yesterday I went to a woman’s event at my sister’s church. Celebration Tea it is called. This is an annual event for her church, and it’s a lot of fun.

Each table has a hostess. The hostess is responsible for decorating their table, introducing those who sit at the table to each other, and serving those who sit at the table. The hostess chooses a theme for their table, provides place settings that go with the theme, tea pots that go with the theme, and a “favor” for their tablemates to take home as a memento.

Once they open the doors to the hall, ladies go in and claim at seat at the table of their choice. Then you have the opportunity to walk around and look at all the other elaborately decorated tables. My sister walked me through the hall, introduced me to people she knew, and pointed out “things”.

As we looked at tables, I heard that there were “rules” for your table settings. Even though the table is yours, you are expected to meet certain requirements. The majority of all tables passed this list of expectations, but a few had gone their own way on a few of the required items.

Most of you who read my blog know me fairly well. I am a rule follower. I like rules. I like for the same rules to apply to everyone. I expect others, especially other Christians, to follow the rules to the letter. It’s important to me.

Rules represent something much deeper than a belief system of right and wrong. What can be deeper than that?

Rules represent safety, structure, and security to me. If I know what the rules are, I know what to expect. I don’t ever have to guess or wonder what is coming next. I feel secure in situations where I know what is expected…I know who does what, what I’m expected to do, and how everyone will behave if someone doesn’t do something they should have.

I don’t like unstructured chaos. I feel very uncomfortable in situations where there is no organization or plan. I worry about what might happen next. What if someone gets left out? What if individuals only do the fun stuff and no one stops at the Bible study station? What if one person is an overachiever and spends tons of money on gifts while another person can’t afford to do the same? If no one’s in charge, and there is no overall plan, who will deal with the things that are bound to go awry?

Rules and expectations keep people safe. I don’t know about you, but I like to feel safe. I’m actually just a little addicted to safety, and I like to feel that I’m sure EVERYONE around me is safe. I don’t want people to get hurt…especially if that hurt is emotional or mental.

I am a protector by nature. I don’t have to know you, if you’re in the same room as me, I probably have a plan to keep you safe too. It will disappoint me if you choose not to follow the rules and expectations because I want not only you, but everyone else to be safe in our environment.

Again, if you’re reading my blog, you probably already know me pretty well, and I’m Christian.

This presents some problems for me. Do you see them?

I feel safe and protected in a situation where rules and pre-planning are actively enforced.

My God wants me to let go of my plans, to stop worrying about rules that aren’t His rules, and to let His Spirit guide me. I’m not sure how much experience you have with the Holy Spirit, but in my experience He doesn’t seem to stick to the plans very often. And He’s always going places that seems dangerous to me.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5: 16-26

My flesh lusts for safety. Surely that isn’t a sin?

What if I told you my desire for safety keeps me from forgiving others, loving others, living out my joy?

The things I just listed are true. My desire for safety…the very thing that causes me to be a rule follower…keeps me from bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Is my flesh at war with the Spirit?

You bet it is!!!

Verse 18 says if I am led by the Spirit then I’m not under the law. This is a hard pill for me to swallow. I like rules. I can see them in print, they usually aren’t open to much interpretation, and I can feel like I’m actively doing something.

Sometimes, though, I allow the Spirit to take over and then am amazed (Is this yet another sin?) by the results.

Take this morning for example. I have been filling in as worship leader at church for several months. I’ve been handling the substitute position on a week by week basis. However, I can’t operate without a plan. So, even though I pray (more frequently than necessary probably) that someone else will show up to lead worship, I show up with songs chosen.

This morning was our annual Friends & Family Day. I would describe this as our Homecoming and Thanksgiving Dinner combined. So, a plan for worship is a little bit important on this day. I showed up with a plan. It’s what I do.

We didn’t get too far into the worship part of the service though when something changed. I stepped out and He stepped in. And when He showed up apparently the mighty rushing wind that came with Him took my paper with song numbers written on it right out of the sanctuary.

While the next part might be normal in some services, it isn’t in ours. Congregation members started requesting songs. And we sang them…even when the pianist didn’t know the song.

For the first time since I’ve been leading worship, I felt like I actually got to participate in worship.

What changed? I let go and let God. I gave up my plans. I forgot about the rules.

My false sense of security went out the window and when they did, the One true source of security came in.

Sometimes…ok, I’ll tell the truth, make that ALL the time, I need to let go of the security blanket I call rules & expectations and cling to the Holy Spirit. Even if it means I have to hold on for the ride!


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