When Joni (my wife) was pregnant with our first (to be born) child, we had an odd conversation with another couple. They told us (almost mockingly) that soon our conversation would change to include the color and consistency of our child’s poop. We chuckled. That was ridiculous. Who would talk about poop so much that a couple would bring that up? A few months after our first was born, we had to laugh at ourselves when we realized that was exactly what had happened.
Before our first was born, we could read lots of books and received lots of advice. Nothing prepared us for being a parent. Conversing about poop was only a minor life change. A weird one, definitely, but only a minor one.
For those of us on the other side of pregnancy, we tend to forget what we were like before it. When Isaiah talks about pregnancy and childbirth, we envision that, but we neglect the before. Just like we could never imagine talking about baby poop as a topic of conversation, we couldn’t understand the life change of having a child…until it happened.
The same really can be said of Israel. They didn’t understand. There were a few who got it, but they were (it seems) very few indeed: Moses, Joshua (mostly), maybe a couple of judges (though most were a mess), Samuel, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets (major and minor). To round up, that’s maybe 30 over 1500-ish years. Granted, these are the ones written about. So, if we round up even more to 300 people, every 5 years of Israel’s history (prior to Jesus), a single person gets it.
Before someone proverbially smacks me, most of the Israelites are followers (and, yes, the numbers are hyperbole). They followed where the leaders led (sometimes). Sounds kind of like us.
So, when we get to Jesus, we get the testing and questioning and just flat out not believing. Yes, we think we would respond better to Jesus than “those” people obviously did. Except, we are on the other side of the pregnancy.
We have the Holy Spirit. For us, looking back we see where God was moving. The Jews to this day also see where God was moving, as do the Muslims. We, however, see Jesus. That is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
That is the gift that people pre-Pentecost didn’t have (even the disciples). It is the gift of those who know Jesus or who have responded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit through prevenient (that which goes before salvation) grace.
Being aware and recalling what we were like before knowing Jesus through the Holy Spirit will help us reach the world. There is a caveat to this. For those who knew Jesus as a child, this may be very hard, unless there was a significant spiritual crisis of some sort in later years (based on my witness of this). So, if you don’t know the pre-pregnancy (i.e., pre-Holy Spirit) life, that’s okay. God will still use your life and story to reach others.
Many people will question our faith, not because it is unbelievable (though many will use that word), but because the Holy Spirit has not been ignited in them. We are to remember that almost all of humanity was like that. We were no different. We give them grace and love in this, for God did the same for us.
If you were a teen or adult when you came to know Jesus, what life like before then? If you were a child when you came to know Jesus, what spiritual “desert” or “wilderness” did you experience that transformed your faith into something greater?
Holy Spirit, help us to recall what transformed our relationship with God through you so that we are able to translate that into the lives of those yet unsaved. Amen.