In this letter, the author (could be Paul, but most scholars think it was another early Christian leader) advises the new Christian church established in the city of Ephesus to avoid getting drunk, sing spiritual songs together, and to rely on the Spirit.
Relying on the Spirit is tough for many of us. Nowadays we might say "trust your gut" or "follow your instincts" or "rely on your sixth sense" but it all boils down to the same idea--that there is an invisible guide that can steer us in the right direction, and we can harness it the way a sailor harnesses the wind. Christians aren't the only ones who believe this basic concept. When someone advises you to "Trust the Universe," basically they are espousing a very similar idea.
Tuning into the Spirit is kind of challenging. Often we feel we are following some Higher Power, but when we look back on the situation it is clear we were swept up in an emotional moment. Skilled worship leaders can create a sense of awe, wonder and openness. In some cases these same leaders then exploit the open-hearted congregation, encouraging them to give money beyond their means, to blindly support political causes, or to hate and persecute those outside the "in-group."
What's a well-meaning citizen of the Universe to do?
The Spirit of God is not supposed to be like a television set that you turn on and off. An inner knowing can and should inform your important life choices, when combined with other decision making factors such as fact gathering, lists of pros and cons, etc. Some of us need to rein in our impulses, while others need to learn how to open up and live in the moment by accepting the serendipitous movement of the Spirit in our lives.
In plain English, that means "When opportunity knocks, open the door!" This applies whether the opportunity is an invitation to an improptu party when you still need to mow the lawn, or smiling back at the store clerk and saying a few kind words.
After many years of spiritual practice, I'm tuned into the Spirit much of the time. To be honest, it's kind of exhausting for me, at times. Ideas pop into my head constantly, and a lot of them are pretty good ideas. But idea generation, without focused follow-through, is a recipe for frustration, both for me and the people around me. Too often I have latched onto the enthusiasm for others, because my own enthusiams can be overwhelming. So this week I decided to follow through and complete an idea that came to me. I hope it will inspire you to do the same.
I purchased an old bottle at a thrift store to use as a "message in the bottle" as part of an anniversary celebration. My husband agreed to collaborate with me on this, and we sealed the message in the bottle and placed it into the Long Island Sound. If it inspires you to follow the Spirit, share on social media with the hashtag #followthespirit.