Another Friend

Five or six months ago I began thinking about the national battle with fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, and low level of clarity. More important, I began to ask how love, joy, peace could be more active, and life-long thinking habits could be redeemed and modified. Not too far into the journey, Holy Spirit became an obvious and direct participant. I aimed at making the “how” to be the concluding chapter in this series of “Mending the Mind.” In the process, my computer crashed and paused my writing for 4-5 weeks and corrupted the thumb drive with all the words.

I plan to camp here for several blogs to talk about how Holy Spirit can be active and healing with our participation. 

Whenever I open this file, my mind goes to a brick storefront in downtown Des Moines. It is raining. A lady stands under the store’s canvas awning and her own umbrella. She is waiting for a counselor/friend. Her friend’s name is Paraclete.

Her friend arrives and they step inside the coffee shop. The two slip out of rain gear and hug. After ordering their coffee, Paraclete says, “I get the message that you have questions.”

“Thank you for seeing me. My whole life feels destabilized, harassed, anxious, stressed, in fear, depressed at times. I want to know why I am floating in these debilitating thought habits. Where did they come from and how do I change?”

The word “paraclete” (paraklete) comes from the Greek word parakletos, which means “Comforter” or “Counselor” or “one called to the side of another.” Paraclete is Holy Spirit.  The name is translated into several English words describing roles and functions in His relationship to Jesus Followers.

Apostle John records The Promise Jesus gave first to His disciples and then to His entire family.

“I will talk to the Father and he’ll provide you another friend so that you will always have someone with you” (John 14:16 Message).

Allow my fiction: What if you were in that Walnut Street coffee shop and you saw the lady and Holy Spirit walk in, what is the paraclete wearing? Holy Spirit is not only a name, but description of His being. He is a spirit. That means He would have to take on human features. Would He be wearing camouflage—large, dark aviator glasses and a hoodie? Would He greet others in the shop as if He knew them? No disguise, just not totally describable. Perhaps, when you looked at their table you saw only the lady talking across the table toward any empty chair—she alone could “see” the Friend?

FRIEND

The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, (John 14:26 Message).

Paraclete is translated, Advocate, Counselor, Helper, Friend, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby, Companion.

Paraclete, the Greek word Jesus used here, referred to a person who came alongside during a time of legal difficulty.” (Google)  

No matter our experience, theology, or dogma about Holy Spirit, we probably are underestimating His role in all things cosmic and eternal including and especially Holy Spirit as a personal life resource.

I can imagine Holy Spirit meeting with world leaders at the Hague or the White House. I can visualise a meeting with Israel and the Palestinians to hammer out a peace agreement. It stretches my imagination, however, to think of Holy Spirit with me in a coffee shop or my office to redesign my mind. The work to be done in us depends upon faith to engage in a life-changing conversation as if He were sitting across the table. In this case, faith is expressed by a sanctified imagination. (“Jesus, I open my mind to your examination and yours alone. No dark spirit, or negative personal conclusions are allowed.”)

Jesus promised Holy Spirit and listed His activities. The Apostle records them in John 14-16. This scenario becomes believable and probable as Jesus uses the words, “Friend,” and “Helper.” The descriptive action of Holy Spirit is, “Coming alongside.” Holy Spirit never says, “I’ll just meet you at the church house.” His assignment and desire are to come alongside us, especially in the dark hours and in the storms. It is also helpful to visualise Holy Spirit laughing. Friends laugh together! Holy Spirit is more than an office worker and an agent to take it on the road. He has feminine characteristics, but the Bible refers to Him as “he.” Although a spirit, He is a person, not an “it.”

Jesus’ use of the word Friend is a filter and explanation. I don’t understand the logistics of Holy Spirit coming alongside both you and me at the same time, plus multiple millions. How does He do that? Does He outsource those tasks to subordinates or angels? Does a true friend delegate the elements of friendship to a subordinate?

Holy Spirit—however He does it—comes alongside when we invite Him during anxiety attacks, depression, panic attacks, loneliness, burnout, toxic imagination, unrealistic expectations, and as we sift through memories and quick trigger reactions and assumptions. He is the Creator and re-creator which expands the image of transforming us into new.

We are told to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” Is that like running our minds through a wood plane—take off the top layer? Or is it like digging peppercorn out of lunchmeat? Brushing two coats of paint on an old board? Let’s tweak our perception and think “Redesigning our mind.” That is how radical brain specialists are about brain neuroplasticity.

Months into this pursuit, two conversations have convinced me I’m not chasing weirdness. David Sax, author of The Future is Analogue, was interviewed on Art of Manliness. https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/behavior/podcast-851-the-future-is-analog/  Rather than life and society becoming more digital and limited emotional contact, the Pandemic Shutdown showed us we depend upon touch and interaction with our spaces and people. Creativity dropped, as did productivity during stay at home lock downs. Creativity and productivity are dependent upon synergism of conscious interaction and serendipitous sightings, and hearings. Isolation walls the creative mind away from synergistic possibilities such as seeing something momentarily that stimulates a separate thought totally removed from what stimulated the “new.”

The second conversation was Elon Musk talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) being more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Anything that dilutes or interrupts human must be regulated. He issues warnings about the merging AI into the human cortex and limbic system with no oversight or regulation—AI could kill 90% of us in a short time. 

Jesus became human. We do not need to augment humans and diminish him/her. (We may be seeing exactly that through 21st Century technology.) The Gospel and Kingdom calls us to immerse ourselves in the qualities of humanity. This is not a new dimension of Tinker Toys. I’m seeking Holy Spirit resources to make me as whole as Jesus.

©2022 D. Dean Benton

To follow: Holy Spirit–Advocate-Counselor, Comforter,  Helper, 

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