I live within walking distance (depending on how far one likes to walk) of the Washington Redskin training facilities. They have one of those huge practice bubbles there. It’s been a landmark for me. When I’m driving home at night, I’m reminded that I have to make a turn when I reach it.
During our blizzard a few days ago, the bubble collapsed. It was strange driving by and not seeing there. I also had to concentrate a little harder to know when to turn as I drove home.
I don’t know much about how these contraptions work. They obviously don’t have any metal beams or wooden supports. They are apparently held up by air. It’s kind of amazing to see it standing there year after year without incident (until the other day).
“I could see pockets of air-filled vinyl beginning to rise.”
Lo and behold, I was driving past the facility today and saw a couple guys walking around on the collapsed structure. I went to a meeting and ran a couple of errands. When I drove by on my way home, they were inflating the balloon.
I could see pockets of air-filled vinyl beginning to rise. It was almost eerie. That was a few hours ago, and I suppose it’s just about back to normal by now. I’m not sure I would want to go in there anytime soon.
This deflation and inflation process (like many other things in life) reminded me of the church. Specifically, it reminded me of preachers. Since I am one (a preacher, I mean), I guess I can talk about it this way.
So many times, we preachers try to inflate our congregations like that. We try to pump them full of air. More specifically in our case, we try to pump them full of the Holy Spirit.
What happens so much of the time, however, is that we end up trying to force something. By that I mean, we try to manipulate our congregations. Sometimes, in so doing, we attempt to manipulate God as well.
Hot air is no substitute for the Spirit of God
We have an idea in our head of what God wants to do in our local church. We have an idea of what God wants the folks in our congregation to do. So we try to inflate their sense of spirituality to a level that will rise to our expectations.
This is almost a natural malady. The words for “spirit” in Scripture are ruach (Hebrew—Old Testament) and pneuma (Greek—New Testament). Those words can be translated into the English words spirit, breath, or wind. We preachers sometimes try to do in a natural way what only the Holy Spirit can do supernaturally. To be honest, sometimes our parishioners want us to do that as well.
Sorry preacher. Sorry congregants. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to be pumped up spiritually, it’s not going to happen unless you approach the throne of God and ask for a fresh indwelling from him.
I can preach up a storm upon occasion. But only God can fill us.