The Ebb & Flow of Life in the Spirit

It is one of the paradoxes of God’s nature: He is constant, and yet He works seasonally. Our humanity has trouble dealing with such a concept. Everything the eternal God does is seasonal. In the natural, He created four seasons to guide the earth through times of sowing, reaping, working, and rest; the same holds true in the spiritual realm. But for some reason, most churches strive desperately to find a perfect balance. They want to be consistent and balance teaching and worship, the Word and the Spirit.

God, however, rejects that notion of balance. His Spirit ebbs and flows in our lives. There are times when we flow in the Word of God, and times when we flow in the Spirit. Our job is to see what God is doing and respond to Him in it. If He is revealing mysteries through Scripture, than we need to focus strongly on the Bible. If He is unveiling things through the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit, then we need to run with that.

We cannot live in a continuous flow of the Spirit. It’s unnatural. For every flow, there must be ebb. For every high tide, there is a low tide. When we are ebbing in the Spirit, God brings us to the constancy of His Word. That Word then underpins our next season in the Spirit—God uses the ebb to teach us about our next breakthrough. What we do in the low tide of the Spirit is absolutely vital to the next flow God wants to bring us into. He sees both the ebb and the flow as a way for Him to lead us.

Christians must begin to embrace the constancy of God’s seasons. If He doesn’t speak initially, He always does eventually. Until that Word comes, we must learn to rest in Him. It is absolutely impossible to be both established and exploring at the same time. God has not given us the capacity to balance such a paradox. Instead, we swing between the two extremes, depending on what God is doing in that season. At times, we will be absolutely established and welded to the Word of God. At other times, we will be on a deep journey, exploring the mysteries of the Spirit. To stay in a continuous stream of the Word will only reduce God to an intelligent thought—we will only love Him with all of our mind. But when we explore, we begin to love Him with all of our strength, becoming reliant on Him. Our lives must go through both wonderful winter seasons of the Word, and sizzling summer seasons of the Spirit.

Imagine a church that understood the ebb and flow of God. When the Spirit was moving, its people would be released to explore and worship using the highest forms of praise. Nights would be spent on simply worshipping God. Power encounters would be daily events.

And that same church would have the maturity to realize when God was calling them back to His Word. Such a church would become a dynamic place of teaching and truth. It would trust that God’s Word, placed in the hearts of His children, would accompany them on a deep exploration into the Spirit. Its people would rally around the teachers and the pastors, knowing that they were being prepared for the next great flow in the Spirit.

The Word and the Spirit enjoy a marvellous relationship. They are never in conflict; they know when to submit to one another. They know when to ebb and when to flow.

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