A chain is made up of multiple links. William James has written, “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life after all is a chain.” Every part of our life is linked to everything else in our life. In some areas we may feel the link is strong and can hold us. In other areas, maybe we are not so well connected.
Last week our focus here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church was the command of Jesus that we love one another. Our sermon from the day can be found here. Our Lectionary reading for this coming Sunday is John 14:23-29. In this passage Jesus speaks about the one indispensable link in our relationship with God. Verse 26 tells us; “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you.”
According to Easton's Bible Dictionary an “Advocate” (in Greek 'parakletos') is “One who pleads another's cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him. It is a name given by Christ three times to the Holy Spirit.”
Christian life is not easy. God asks and expects a lot of us. Yet God does not want us to struggle alone. God offers us the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Book of Romans, Paul tells us; “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
In times of suffering or times of confusion, we easily lose sight of God's provision. It is easy to become focused in on ourselves. In some seasons of our life we can just become so busy that we find it hard to carve out a space or a time for nurturing our relationship with God. Everything from being a parent with young children at home... to trying to hold down a job that seems to require more hours than there are in a week... can place a great stress on our God connection.
I like the way Paul talks about the Spirit interceding for us “with sighs too deep for words.” It is almost as if Paul is telling us, “Look, when you are through, when you can't see the way, when you are ready to throw in the towel... take courage. The Holy Spirit is working behind the scenes, rooting for you, encouraging you, advocating for you, granting you the strength that will enable you to get through this!”
When we can take the time to deepen our relationship with God, then we should take that time. That is why I recommend folk to be regular in attendance at worship services. Because there will come times in our lives when we can't meet with others for fellowship and sharing. We should make the most of the opportunities we have for strengthening the links.
And when life throws us a curve ball, (which it will) and we can hardly tell which way things are going to go, then we just have to trust that God is still in charge. That the Spirit is still being our Advocate and our Comforter, and that by the grace of God... everything will work out! Our connection with God is important. Let us do our best to see that it never becomes the weakest link in our lives.
For some music, a song and prayer of personal devotion; “I Need You More” by Kim Walker Smith.
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.