“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.”
                              —John 14:15-19 (NLT)

A couple of weeks ago, you might have seen me hugging a stranger on Presque Isle in Erie. A little weird, I know, but that’s often how God works.

The old me would have thought I was nuts! Many people still do. But sometimes, these spiritual matters don’t make a whole lot of sense to the natural mind. They sure didn’t make sense to me before I was saved.

I heard how Christians talked, and I secretly thought these people must have received trauma earlier in life to act the way they did now. You know… a little too excited about Jesus and their relationship with Him, which I thought was extraordinary and possibly IMAGINED. I mean, I knew about Jesus, too, but I didn’t have to talk about Him all the time.

So what gives? I asked myself.

Over time, I found out. The Spirit—that’s what gives!  He is the third person of the Trinity (also called The Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost). And He is what gives understanding, discernment, comfort, and guidance about these matters.

He gives and gives and gives, but if you don’t have the Spirit, you’ll stand around looking at born-again Christians thinking they got derailed somewhere along the tracks. Trust me, I’ve been there.

“Are you a Christian?” I once was asked by a Catholic bishop, standing in front of a large confirmation ceremony.


“What is a Christian?”

“Someone who believes in Christ,” I said.

It seemed simple enough. My head knowledge freed me from the bishop’s gaze, and I got to sit down. An uneasy, temporary peace followed.

But wait! There was more. By studying the Bible, I learned head knowledge alone wasn’t enough. Wasn’t that the Pharisees’ problem?

Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (see John 3). 

(Side note: My pastor said if you look up the word “must” in the Greek, it means “must.”)

Born of water and the Spirit, Jesus goes on to tell the religious leader, Nicodemus. 

So, it’s not about answering questions the right way or reciting a creed. That’s not how you become a Christian or receive the Holy Spirit.

It’s about taking out our hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh, as we read in Ezekiel 36:26. 

It begins when we realize our brokenness and need. Our recognition in turn drives us to God in repentance and allows Him to work from the inside out. In short, we say “yes” to God. We TURN and change directions (the very definition of “repentance”).

The Spirit, in the case of the woman I hugged on Presque Isle, gave me an instant connection to her, because we found out we were both Christians. We were sisters in the Lord!

My husband asked her and her husband the question: “Are you, by chance, Christians?”

“Yes,” they answered excitedly, a bit surprised.

We had stopped on the bike trail to offer help for a bad tire. My husband was being led by the Spirit to ask this question.

A fantastic conversation followed. The wife told of how she was raised Amish and how she had to choose between her Amish tradition and Jesus at the age of 17, when someone shared the gospel with her. Her dad gave the ultimatum. 

She picked Jesus and moved out.

I felt an instant connection point with this woman. Not because I, too, had left the Amish. The Spirit connected us, our values connected us, and our future connected us.

The Holy Spirit is a sweet gift to all who are willing to repent, change directions, and put their faith in Jesus.

I wish it for all I know! Unfortunately, I cannot make it happen. Only God and the person He is drawing can do that. 

My small role is to tell of His greatness and the gifts He’s given me. Now I can answer with peace, “I am a Christian.”

Journey Along,