Spirit led, Spirit fed

July 24, 2013 | Viewpoints
By Troy Watson |

“Can I get a ride sir?”

A large man standing by a bus stop 20 feet away was staring at me, waiting for a response. A number of thoughts raced through my mind, not all of them particularly Christ-like. It had been a frustrating day. The reoccurring theme of my inner monologue was, “I don’t have time for this.”

Then one more thought came. “What do you think God? Should we give this guy a ride?”

I’ve found my attempts over the years to banish all negative, selfish and judgmental thoughts from my head to be futile. So I’ve re-focused my energy. Instead of striving to subtract these unrighteous perspectives from my mind, I’ve worked on adding one more, namely God’s. When I invite the Holy Spirit into my inner dialogue and let God have the last word, I tend to do the right thing.

“Yeah sure. Where are you headed?” I responded.

“Just down the street a little. That way.” He stumbled over, opened the passenger door and squeezed in.

Bill turned out to be a wonderful human being. I enjoyed our brief conversation and gave him a blessing when we arrived at his apartment, something I rarely do. He thanked me and bid me farewell. Then something fascinating happened. I felt fantastic!

Blessing Bill had blessed me. Being a good neighbour had nourished my inner spirit. Driving a stranger home was exactly the kind of soul food I needed.

One of my old mentors used to say, “When you’re Spirit led, you’re Spirit fed.” He believed the Holy Spirit will lead us down paths everyday if we are willing, often ones we would not choose on our own, providing the precise nutrition and exercise we need to grow and be whole.

It had been over two years since I’d given a complete stranger a ride. I wondered how that had happened. I used to pick up hitchhikers all the time. Of course I’m in a different life stage now. Having a young family makes life and decision-making more complicated on every level.

Picking up hitchhikers is not really the point though. The point is to invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me throughout my day, everyday. Each day I need to pause and ask myself, “Am I letting God or my busy schedule and to-do lists govern my choices?”

Several years ago I decided to start my day with this prayer, “God open my eyes to see the opportunities you have prepared for me today—to love, bless and serve you and others. Grant me the patience, courage and energy to seize these opportunities.”

Beginning the day this way helped me make a priority of looking for ways to serve and bless others—at the grocery store, gas station, work, home or wherever. The more I did this, the more opportunities I started noticing.

About a week after I started doing this, I was on my way to work and noticed a man at a bus stop (there’s something about bus stops!) in a short sleeve shirt, huddled and shivering. It was a cold rainy morning. A Scripture verse immediately came to mind: “If you have two coats, give one to him who has none.”

I shared a laugh with God because we both knew I had an extra jacket in my trunk. I pulled the car over, hopped out and handed the man my extra coat. The look of happy confusion on his face was priceless. I drove away feeling amazing, the same feeling I had after giving Bill a ride home. It was the sensation of my spirit being nourished with the highest quality soul food.

Of course, following the way of Jesus isn’t about feeling good but that doesn’t change the fact that being healthy feels good. I’ve experienced the most confidence, contentment, peace, joy and purpose in life during seasons of diligently listening to the Holy Spirit. However, it’s easy for me to get distracted as I contemplate the complexities of life, faith, the universe and God. I forget how simple the spiritual life really is. Love God, love my neighbour as myself and listen to the Holy Spirit. This is the recipe for a healthy soul.

For some reason I had stopped doing my morning prayer ritual but Bill changed that. Now every time I see a bus stop I remember—to pray, listen, and look for the opportunities God has prepared for me.

Troy Watson (troy@questcc.ca) is the spiritual life director of the quest community in St. Catharines.

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