“You shouldn’t be alive.” I heard those 4 words On December 19, 2018. My doctor, Jim, had a tear in his eye as he said those words. I was in the middle of a heart catheterization, so he could take a look “under the hood” as I was having some symptoms of fatigue the past month. Jim looked me in the eye and his tone was serious. “Brother, your arteries are 99.9% occluded. I’m sending you in for emergency surgery. People that have this “widow maker” scenario aren’t usually walking around. If I sent you home to rest until tomorrow and you happened to sit down just right or stand up too quickly, you’re a dead man, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that to my friend.”
I asked him what I did wrong. He said, “Absolutely nothing. You’re not overweight, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink much, and you swim several miles every week. You’ve done nothing wrong. Your genetics just suck.” I chuckled as Jim, not only my cardiologist but also my friend, gave a colorful description of my condition at just the right moment. He explained that I can blame the Etheridge and Cribbs family trees for my blockage. He then said he was in touch with the surgeon and was going out to chat with Donna and my parents about what to expect with my emergency bypass surgery.
24 hours later, as I was coming out of anesthesia, my first sight was my Donna. My senses were aligning, and I was getting my bearings straight. Donna says, “Wow, you must love Romans 8:11.” . . . “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
I gave her a quizzical look. She then said that, as I was regaining consciousness, I was quoting Romans 8:11 to every doctor, nurse, tech, custodian and everyone else I saw in that hospital room. “Do you know the very spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you if you’re a believer in Christ? Think about the power you have. Do you understand this? He was given to you to guide you through life. I pray you believe and don’t take this truth lightly.” I think often of the reaction the hospital staff must have had upon hearing me preaching those words to them.
As Christians, do we truly think about or appreciate the Holy Spirit that indwells us at the moment we believe in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and his resurrection? For me, growing up in conservative West Texas churches, I was always taught about God’s love, Jesus and how believing in him secured my place in heaven. But the moment someone ever mentioned the Holy Spirit, they would receive a puzzled look or a “Heisman Trophy stiff arm” knocking them down or maybe a hand wave of dismissal. Why don’t we talk about the Holy Spirit more? The most powerful Spirit in the universe lives right under the 9-inch heart surgery scar on my chest … forever! Yet, we as Christians seldom acknowledge Him. The Holy Spirit is mentioned some 90 times in the New Testament, mostly by Jesus himself, not to mention, the Spirit is actually introduced to us in the 2nd verse of the Bible.
As Christians, we have the most powerful being EVER living in us and we don’t even seem to know it. I have a friend that says we have a Corvette living in our hearts through Christ, yet we drive through life like we are driving a Volkswagen Beetle.
How do we think Jesus very own words in John 14:12; “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father”; can hold any meaning at all to us if we don’t truly acknowledge, appreciate or be in awe of His Holy Spirit in us? His Holy Spirit is why “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in Me.”? -Galatians 2:20.
The Holy Spirit completes us as Christians, gives us power beyond human knowledge and guides us through life and away from sin. He counsels us, gives us discernment and guidance to walk through this minefield of life in a fallen world. Jesus promised this to the apostles in the upper room. So… How can we not take Him seriously when … HE, THE HOLY SPIRIT, IS GOD!??
For some reason, 4 years and a bypass surgery ago, God decided I needed to stick around a bit longer in this world. (I’m still figuring that out). My revelation of the Holy Spirit that day after my surgery, stirred something in me. When we finally acknowledge HIM in us, the final piece of the puzzle seems to fit perfectly and we, as Christians, finally know what true freedom in Christ means. We finally experience what Isaiah promises in his 40th chapter, “they will soar on wings like eagles.” Our identity is HE who lives in us.
When thinking of the Holy Spirit and those who will inherit the Kingdom of God, we have to keep in mind Jesus’ very own words to Nicodemus, that Kingdom is for those “born of the Spirit.”
Yes, he lives in you brothers and sisters. Acknowledge and grow in the understanding of Him in you. Tell others confidently of your righteousness because of Him in you. All because of your born-again heart through your belief in Jesus' blood and resurrection, and His amazing Spirit, who made His home inside of you; His forgiven, holy, justified and righteous child. Now…. get ready to soar on those eagle’s wings! Grow in the knowledge of who you are. Then I pray you’ll open up the throttle on that corvette inside and walk boldly and confidently in your identity in Christ … so the world will see Him IN YOU!