I NEEDED TO PRAY and could not find the words, couldn’t even dig up the inspiration to make the effort. I paced the floor of my living room and foyer, alone in my house, and the silence echoed around me. Empty chair, empty couch, a table with four empty seats, and opposite, a cabinet full of fine dishware that is never used, but always on display.
It hit me in that moment, an odd bit of truth. Not odd as in out-of-place, but odd that it took seeing “nothing” to realize it. I’m okay being alone. I’m a writer, and writers tend to be that way. But there always comes an hour when I’m, “Will someone please come home? My husband’s at work. When does he get off today? My daughter’s probably closing tonight, and it’ll be 2 a.m. before she walks in the door.”
For 400 years, the temple sat empty. Here’s an edifice erected to hold the Presence of God, still filled with furniture proscribed by God, and priests and scribes entering and exiting its towering walls, yet there behind the curtain where God should abide was nothing. A magnificent building built for God, described by God, which had become as empty as the china in my dining room display cabinet. As the chairs in the living room.
My thoughts circled back to the present day. We are the temple of the Holy Ghost, and He lives in us. (1Co 6:19) Here, within me, because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, is the Presence that should have filled the temple in Jerusalem. The same Presence, the Spirit of God, who hovered over the waters at the dawn of Creation, who breathed life into Adam and Eve, who parted the Red Sea so that millions of people could cross over on dry land, who caused Moses’ face to glow so bright when he came down from Mt. Sinai that no one could look at him. The glory which sat upon the ark of the covenant, behind the temple veil, the Holy Presence which required the priests to wear cymbals on the hem of their garments, just in case they didn’t make it out.
At the temple dedication, the priests couldn’t stand up to minister because of the glory of Him. The prophet Isaiah saw Him in a vision, His train filling the temple, and cried out as a man with unclean lips. Here, within me, is the Holy Spirit which conceived the Messiah within Mary, who came down upon Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan River. Here is the authority of Jesus’ words which amazed all that heard Him, the power which healed the lame, the blind, and made the dumb to speak. He cleansed lepers, sent demons flying, and raised from the tomb a man who’d been dead four days.
Here is God, who tore the temple veil at Christ’s crucifixion, and after three days, raised Him victorious over hell and the grave. Here is the defeat of the enemy, the Comforter sent to live in you and me. Here is Pentecost, and the sound of the wind and tongues of fire which blazed over those gathered in the upper room. In Him is the boldness which the church of Acts prayed for, the anointing of the Christ which fell on the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. The inspiration which wrote the Bible which I hold in my hands all through the day.
The Holy Spirit is not a vapor or a dove or third-hand version of God, the Father. He was not a prop for Jesus while He walked on earth. He is not a generic pronoun, an “it” that we’re blessed with. He is God Himself, eternal, everlasting, exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. He is the Voice of God, no longer contained in a room, behind a veil, but just as powerful, just as Resurrecting, only now within me.
He is love, which could not stand men’s sinful state and sent a Savior to redeem him. He is joy that is our strength. He is peace that passes understanding. He is patience, endurance, and longsuffering. He is gentleness, goodness, meekness, and, incredibly, as great as He is, He is self-control. He is faith and not the spirit of fear, but a sound mind, one that is sober and vigilant. And with all that He is, He speaks to me. He brings all things to my remembrance and shows me things to come.
We live defeated, accepting our circumstances, physical pains, and mental anguish, when the Spirit of Truth, the Life of God, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, lives in our heart. If we lack wisdom, He’s ready to answer. If we need direction, He’ll steer us toward the right path and plan. If we can’t find the words to pray and stand there staring at the problem, He’ll pray for us, the will of God, and it will always turn out good.
No longer is the temple empty, like a cabinet full of unused plates, because the temple is within me, the altar washed in the blood of Christ, the incense, my prayers of thanksgiving. God lives here, the same God which did all those things I’ve read about, those I’ve heard spoken of in the pulpit. The very Breath of the Father, who will one day soon cause we which are alive and remain to be caught up together in the air, death defeated, ended, and for eternity, we shall together praise the King of Kings.
Suzanne D. Williams, Author