People always ask me, “Why is this topic so important to you? My answer is always the same, “So that we might get to know God better.” After all, Christianity isn’t just about service or morals or rules. We persevere and grow in our faith because of the blessing of the relationship.
Think of it like this, I choose my friends because I like them not because I need to serve them. Of course I serve all kinds of people, service has its place. But my friends—I mostly just like to get to know them. I’m thinking about an old friend that I knew years ago. God has given her a tender heart. She sees God’s beauty in flowers and trees and sunrises. During our friendship, she often shared with me an outlook on life rich with color and love and unspeakable emotion. She liked to give gifts, especially ones bringing to mind a time or a moment long gone by. She often pressed an unbelievable array of the most delicate flowers, turning them into stunning pictures. All of this intricate work was done to express what she felt on the inside. Amazing isn’t it? To be able to speak with flowers! She was tender when others would burst with anger, and she brought a box of hats to every party she attended… when you put one on, even if you thought it would be just for a moment as some kind of peculiar favor for her, you never wanted to take it off. “Hats express who we are,” she would say. If I had only served this woman, I would have missed out on the beauty of getting to know her. And it’s the same with God.
I began my remarkable journey with the Holy Spirit about a year after I became a Christian. Now as it happened, the book of Revelation was the first book I read once I became a Christian. (Yes, I started with the end just to see how it all turned out.) As I read, I came across a Bible passage that would stay in my mind for years. I came across Revelation 12 and I heard not an audible voice, but an inner whisper say to me, “I will tell you about this.” So to say the least, I was excited.
As I read about the woman in Revelation 12, I immediately recognized her as the Holy Spirit. I assumed the woman in Revelation 12 was the Holy Spirit because having recently been “born again” as I read, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17) I recognized myself as being one of those children. I was “born” of the Spirit; I kept the commandments of God; I held the testimony of Jesus—she, then, was my mother. It made perfect sense.
But after joining a (protestant, evangelical) church, and asking numerous annoying questions (that’s just how I am, by the way) things changed. I was taught that the highly honored woman in Revelation 12 wasn’t my mother at all. In fact, she wasn’t even a mother because she wasn’t real. She was simply a metaphor for the church or for the New Jerusalem. (Or, if you are Catholic she may represent Mary, the Mother of Jesus.) I began feeling silly for assuming that Christians even needed a mother.
Needless to say, I immediately put the imagery of Revelation 12 out of my head and got on with my life. But then, about a year later, I had a series of dreams in which a beautiful woman appeared to me, giving me council. The best way for me to describe these dreams is it was as though God was appearing to me with a Mother’s heart. Suddenly, I quite liked not being motherless. I also began wondering if this woman was indeed the Holy Spirit.
Now I know there are many readers going, “Just because you had a few dreams with a woman who gave you council does not mean the Holy Spirit is a woman.” And I would wholeheartedly agree. These dreams did not convince me the Holy Spirit was a woman. They merely started a prayer life in which I constantly asked God who the Holy Spirit is and how I could draw closer. I had been inspired by the dreams, but not convinced. It was shortly after this that I remember telling a church leader how I now felt, that God was in heaven (“Our Father who art in heaven”), Jesus is also in heaven seated on his throne as King, but the Holy Spirit was actually sent to us to be our guide here on earth.
“The Spirit is here on the earth for our benefit!” I said to my pastor. “So why not get to know the Spirit? I mean like a person, like a real person!” I then told this pastor my whole prayer life was changing. Before, the Holy Spirit never entered my mind except to think of “its” presence as some mystical, penetrating substance, a power but not an actual person. Now suddenly the mystery was taking on a new dimension. I found myself wanting to be introduced to this person. After all, women don’t become best friends without knowing the most intimate details of each other’s lives. I wanted to embrace the Spirit!
Of course, I never told this particular church leader that I suspected the Holy Spirit might just contain the original image of woman (I didn’t want to get thrown out of church), but that’s what I was thinking. He just smiled with an “that’s an interesting way to look at it,” look. But I couldn’t leave things this way. I was in great turmoil. Didn’t anyone else want to get to know the Spirit?! I eventually shared my dreams with a good friend of mine. Her response was quick, “Doesn’t that just figure; behind every great man is a woman.”
Of course we can laugh at the humor of my girlfriend’s joke, we can even ponder the revelation of the woman in my dream with interest and then move on to something new, or we can allow the revelation to draw us closer to God. For myself, I started praying for truth. I began praying every night for understanding. And I began reading my Bible with new vision… because if this were true—if the Holy Spirit is the original image of Eve (and all women)—God was going to have to prove it to me through the Bible. And that’s exactly what He began to do. This road—prayer and study—was essential to giving my spiritual experience meaning. Without scripture, I had an experience; with scripture, I was introduced to a profound personality and was given the tools to pursue a friendship.
Ever since I first read about the Spirit, I have wanted to get to know this person. What does the Holy Spirit think? What does the Spirit dream? What matters to the Holy Spirit? In drawing close to the Spirit–who is literally “God on earth”–I am drawing closer to God. Ultimately, I refuse to believe, as some teach, that the Holy Spirit does not want to be noticed or known. After all, the Spirit was sent to us by Jesus so we would not be alone—she was sent to guide us. There is a person standing behind the veil we created. And it has been my pleasure and honor to get to know her—the Spirit of life, the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation, the Helper.