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Where to Find the Spirit

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” – Genesis 1:2

I’ve spent much of my life wanting to experience the Spirit of God.

I have traveled to mountains high above the earth and into caves deep below – just for the chance.

I have sung my voice out with a thousand ecstatic worshippers in the stadium and I have laid prostrate silently with a few monks in the monastery – craving Him.

I have spent hours immersed in the most beautiful and stunning scenes of creation and just as many surrounded by plain and unimpressive walls of brown sheetrock – looking for Him.

I have holes in my jeans from being on my knees in prayer, paper cuts from turning the pages of scripture, stacks of highlighted notes from attending seminars, information overload from reading books, and a sort of interpersonal numbness, if you will, from having listened to so many people who have tried to guide me to the mysterious place where I can reliably find this Spirit that is so Holy.

The journey has not been in vain, or without pleasure. But through it all, there is only one place where I have learned to find my experience of the Spirit of God most consistently.

In the darkness.

I would have never read it this way before my journey, but not 2 verses into the Bible’s story, actually pre-day one of Creation, I am told where to find this least visible, most mysterious Person of the Trinity.

In the darkness.

According to this verse, right at the beginning, there were two things hanging out together over the deep waters of emptiness and formlessness that was earth at the time: Darkness, and the Spirit of God.

In a poetic way (and the creation story is recorded as poetry), I have found this to be practically true.

If I can say that I have experienced the Holy Spirit at all in my life (and I hesitate to trust anyone who is a little too certain that they have), then it has been, more than anywhere else, over the deep, dark places of my life. As I look honestly, the Spirit of God hovers most obviously “over the waters” of…

  • My most tragic memories
  • My most shameful failures
  • My most difficult (and impossible) circumstances
  • My most intense and inconvenient emotions
  • My most confusing and brain twisting intellectual dilemmas

I don’t say this with total elation, mind you. I would prefer that the Holy Spirit be found in the light and full places rather than the dark and empty ones. I wish this Spirit hung out more often in my very structured world rather than in some formless one. If the Spirit of God hovered over the shallow puddles that take shape on my driveway after a good rain rather than over the deep waters of some dark ocean, I think I would more often journey to Him.

But that is not where I have found him. Not most consistently. Not most reliably.

I have found Him and experienced Him (again, if I have at all) by embracing and telling my whole story, by owning and confessing my sins, by admitting and walking into my most scary situations, by being attentive to and learning from (but not owned by) my emotions, and by being open to and fearless about being wrong.Darkness

I’m far from being done learning about what and where the Spirit of God is. And I know it seems counter-intuitive to say that you should go to the “dark” to find Him, when Jesus and Paul spend so much time talking about walking in the light.

To that I say – and I speak from a position of experience rather than theological knowledge – I have best been able to see and experience God as Light on the backdrop of the darkness.

That’s where I find him. In the darkness. My belief is that you will find Him most reliably there.



Death and Tragedy, The Best Life, The Holy Spirit

6 Comments to “Where to Find the Spirit”

  1. Love the fact that you are feeling called to write lately. Always a pleasure to read what God is doing in your heart/head.

  2. Amen.

  3. I tend to encounter Him when I’m dancing before Him. I feel this tug in my Spirit to dance and I surrender and I feel like the heavens come down to the earth and I’m dancing before the Lord in His throne room. He is so much Glory!

  4. All I can say is WOW! I would have never thought about looking for the spirit through the darkness and/or dark scenes of my life. Thanks Brian for your wisdom and sharing of your thoughts.

  5. Exactly how do you know you are experiencing the Spirit of God in the darkness and not the spirit of satan?

    • Primarily, Chad, I distinguish between the Spirit of God and what you call “the spirit of satan” by the fruit of the experience inside of me (Mt 7:20).

      If it is life-giving and full of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5), then the darkness has provided me an encounter with God’s Spirit.

      If it causes worry, depression, anger, accusation, bitterness, or diminishment…then I’m being lied to, no matter the situation, and I know where (or who) that comes from (John 8:44).

      Becoming adept at distinguishing the Spirit of God based on the fruit is vital.

      As I suggest in the post, just because your circumstances are “dark” does not mean it is from “Satan” and God is not in them.

      Likewise, at the same superficial level, just because your circumstances are “light” does not mean it is from God. Scripture does describe God as Light (1 Jn 1:5), but Satan himself hides in the light (2 Cor 11:4) to fool the unstable or ungrounded follower.

      The vocabulary that best serves me in searching my (light or dark) circumstances for the Spirit of God involves “looking for Jesus in everything” (based on 1 Jn 4:2-3).

      What do you think?

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