The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. Ezekeil 37.1
I used to teach Art History. I actually had to explain to my students, my background was in History. So I would teach my class as a history class with lots of pictures. Frequently I would teach about the historic events and the prevailing philosophy of the different periods in history.
When I was teaching about the rise of the empirical method and the loss of mystery in the Age of Enlightenment, I looked for art to display the dialogue that took place. While the world became more and more tame, Caspar David Friedrich saw the sky, sea, ice, fog, the earth as a place of metaphysically ineffable mystery. Watching the fog roll as the monk stands on the shore always leaves me with the opportunity to perceive the fog as rolling away to reveal the emerging sky above. Or, sometimes the sky is being swallowed up by the oncoming mist.
Today I was thinking about the Holy Spirit. We often have internal associations with the way God's spirit works with us. We seek a feeling inside. We yearn for motivation and empowerment from within. Inspiration, a very personal encounter with the Spirit seems to rise within us. The prevailing hymns, songs, and talk about the Spirit of God touching us seems to imply the Spirit rises within us. But I wonder rather than being a Being contained within, the Spirit moves from the outside, moving us along to wider and wider circles of the reign and realm of God?
Certainly experience speaks of the internal work of the Spirit. Even the Apostle Paul defended the view by asserting the Spirit resides within our bodies as in a temple (1 Cor. 6:19). And the way the Spirit intimately understands us seems to imply a deep connection as it even understands our sighs and groans (Rom. 8:26-27). But what about the outer, in the world experiences of God's Spirit?
I was once told (and I like to think it is correct) that Ezekiel 37:1 can be interpreted as "the hand of God was upon me and he cast me into a valley of dry bones." God does not merely lift, but tosses, Ezekiel. Might seem a bit violent. But it doesn't sound like God was awaiting motivation, a warm heart, or inspiration, to rise from within Ezekiel. No. God grabbed him.
Interestingly, when the prophet John saw his vision of heaven in the Apocalypse of John, he does not tell us that the Spirit was in him. Instead, he was in the Spirit. Which I don't really understand other than to say, the Spirit was somehow outside of John. Similarly, when the Apostle Philip has had his encounter with the Ethiopian, the Spirit comes from outside him and whisks Philip away to Azotus (Acts 8:39).
The Holy Spirit seems a bit grabby.
Are you looking for the Spirit's work in your life? Looking for the Spirit to give you some direction? I wonder if we have been looking in the rightplaces? Could the movement of the Spirit be outside us?
Heads up! Look around, the Holy Spirit is out there.