WHAT SPIRIT FILLED LIVES LEAVE AT HIGH TIDE
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I had a vision the other day – or maybe it was just an image that popped into my mind. I suddenly saw, in my minds’ eye, an image of tide marks from the sea on a beach and a harbour wall. These marks, called wracks – the lines of seaweed, the moss, the rows of built-up twigs, vegetation and ocean ephemera - are the ever shifting signs of the grace and power of the sea at full tide.
Maybe I saw this, or brought back a memory or experience to mind, because I have been thinking about the signs of the own impact of our own lives and the flow of life that we are caught up into and give away to others. I have been spending the last week with my dad who is suddenly very seriously unwell. Friends have been sending him cards and email messages. He has not been able to read them himself, so I have been reading them to him. They are messages from people at work, at church and other friendships. It has been ever so moving to read the lovely things that people have written to him and about him – these are evidences of values, behaviours and qualities that are the marks of the high tide of his life.
On a beach you see various tide marks and further up often there are front doors that are sealed at the bottom or up a few steps, which give the strong impression of the days when the sea is so forceful that it even invades people’s homes. If there is not much tide then the sea doesn’t get far up the beach; in an estuary, you can see what is actually the ocean floor, ready to come to life again in a few hours. And of course we often see the rubbish that gets thrown up - what was polluting the sea is now disgorged or jettisoned onto the shore.
I was teaching a group of people by zoom on Saturday about the work of the Holy Spirit. I love being reminded of the breath, the fire, the river – this is who God is: Holy Spirit. Like the sea that comes lapping, rolling or crashing into our lives, the Holy Spirit also leaves evidence of his presence and power. It is the fruit of the Spirit which is the tidemark of God. Humanity bears the image of who God is and when someone is full of the Spirit then God is visible. Stephen is described in the books of Acts as one who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit; his face shone with the glory of God. Moses’ face shone like that too. Our face is who we are, presented to the world. Our face is our shoreline, the landscape of our soul made visible. The apostle Paul recognised the qualities of his friends – their perseverance, or faith, or love, or hard work. It has been a privilege for me to read to my dad the qualities that others have seen in him, some repeated and recognised by more than one person.
We are each a coastline. The glory and grace of God flows over us, smooths us and is seen though our reflection. We bear the wracks of God’s Spirit – the effect of challenge and humility and even struggle as we work out faith, hope and love in a broken world. The Spirit fills and floods us, like the sea filling a harbour; cleansing us – bringing to the surface the impurities in order to swallow them up – and empowering us to make us into the people we were created to be, beautiful and strong.
One of the purposes of prophecy is to build up one another. It is a good idea to bless each other and point out the good high tide marks in one another’s lives whenever we can. And, of course for each of us to welcome the filling of the Holy Spirit so that we are no longer stuck in a mudflat, or dried up with lack, but shining with heaven’s faithfulness so that others will see our good deeds and give glory to our Heavenly Father.
Martin J Young