Last week I was preaching in Canada, and my hotel was only two miles from the host church. But it took almost 30 minutes to drive that short distance because road construction crews in Toronto had blocked all but one lane in a major intersection. Orange traffic cones were everywhere. Traffic was at a standstill.
It was especially frustrated because no workers were on site. I wanted to roll down my window and yell at the traffic cones. The lanes were blocked but nothing was happening! The delay was pointless!
When I finally got to church I was annoyed, and it took me a while to enter into worship. That's when the Lord gently corrected me. He showed me I was as impatient with Him as I was with the road crews. I had to repent for my bad attitude. And I had to surrender my life afresh to God's dealings.
Many times God creates roadblocks in our lives because He's working on us. We may not understand what He's doing, but we must trust Him anyway and accept whatever delays He is causing. The delays are always for our good.
He may be widening our capacity to love others, or removing a serious obstacle in our character. The Holy Spirit knows what we need. Our job is to surrender to His work in our lives. He is God. We are not!
The whole experience of sitting in that traffic in Canada made me ponder the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. He is working 24/7 to make me like Jesus. He is doing the same for you. I hope you appreciate the different ways He is transforming you:
- He is rebuilding you. Just as Nehemiah rebuilt the ruined city of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit reconstructs your life. Nehemiah actually means "Comforter," a name Jesus used to describe the Spirit. You are under construction, and He has strategically placed orange cones and roadblocks in areas of your life. Let Him rebuild all your broken places!
- He is teaching you. The Holy Spirit, who is called "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13), knows how to bring us to maturity. He shines His supernatural light on the Bible and opens our minds to understand His truth. He allows us to hear His still, small voice inwardly. He reveals His mysteries so we can know Him intimately.
- He is refining you. The Holy Spirit is a fire, and He wants to burn up anything that does not resemble Christ. Like a smelter of gold, He melts us, skims off the toxic alloys and melts us again to remove all impurities. Don't be afraid when the Spirit turns up the heat.
- He is testing you. One man builds with gold, silver and precious gems; another builds with wood, hay and stubble (see 1 Cor. 3:12-13). Both might look good on the outside, but the testing of the Lord proves what a man is made of. The Spirit's relentless fire will test what you are building for God so that only He will get the glory for it.
- He is renewing you. Titus 3:5 mentions the "renewing of the Holy Spirit," and we can be thankful that He offers such a blessing. He does not anoint us once and then leave us to live on one jar of oil. The Spirit sends fresh anointing when we are tired, poured out or discouraged. He opens up bottles of new wine and fills us with new joy. He pours the fresh oil of heaven on those who are desperate for more of His presence.
- He is subduing your flesh. We don't have to grit our teeth or trust our own willpower to overcome sin in our lives. We have the indwelling power of the Spirit to help us live holy lives. Romans 8:13 says we can put to death the deeds of the body "by the Spirit." He is like a warrior who plunders the enemy in our lives. We may feel weak in the face of temptation, but He has defeated the power of sin once and for all.
- He is revealing His glory in and through you. The apostle Paul reminded us that because we have the Spirit inside us, we are now beholding the glory of the Lord "as in a mirror." And the result: We "are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." Don't focus on your flaws. Fix your eyes on Jesus. When you focus on yourself, you will be disappointed; when you focus on Him, you will be transformed.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website, themordecaiproject.org.