During yesterday’s celebration of Pentecost, I offered this story to the people of Central Highlands Church.
On the final day of General Conference, I shared a cab ride to the airport with another delegate who was also staying at my hotel. As soon as he entered the cab, he said to me, “You’ll never believe what I just did.”
“What did you just do,” I asked.
“I just left one hundred dollars in my hotel room.”
“What?! You better hurry back upstairs and get it while you still can!”
“No,” he said, “you don’t understand. I didn’t leave it there by accident. I left it there on purpose.”
“I don’t get what you mean.”
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “Last night I had a weird dream about the person who cleans my hotel room. In the dream, the person who cleans my hotel room is a middle-aged woman whose life is very hard and who spends long hours every day cleaning hotel rooms that she would never be able to afford for herself. The last thing that I heard in the dream before I woke up was a child’s voice.”
“A child’s voice? That’s kind of bizarre. What was it saying?”
“Well,” he said, “that’s where it gets really strange. The voice was saying ‘bless her.’ That’s it. Just two words, over and over again: ‘Bless her. Bless her. Bless her.’”
“What do you think it meant,” I asked.
He looked at me incredulously, as though he couldn’t believe that I was missing the point. “You don’t even have to ask that question, do you,” he responded. “You know as well as I do that that child’s voice was most likely the Holy Spirit telling me to be generous to the overworked and underappreciated person who would be cleaning my room after I left.”
Moments later, he added these comments: “Please understand,” he said, “I’m not telling you this because I am proud of myself. I’m telling you this because I am absolutely amazed that the Holy Spirit can inspire a tightwad like me to leave a hundred dollars in a hotel room for someone I’ve never met!”
End of story!
Sometimes people will ask me, “How do I know if I have been born again?” or “How do I know if the Holy Spirit is working in my heart?” There are no litmus tests to employ in such matters. But if Jesus’ teaching from John 7:37-39 is to be trusted (that “rivers of living water” will begin to flow out of a Spirit-filled heart), then it is safe for us to assume that one of the most trustworthy signs of a Spirit-filled heart is that that heart begins to overflow with the living water of an ever-deepening love for God and and ever-deepening love for people.
And here’s the thing: A Spirit-filled heart will sometimes begin to overflow in some wonderfully surprising ways. Sometimes, for example, a Spirit-filled heart will begin to overflow in the form of some new Christ-honoring practice or discipline that people take up simply because they love Jesus and want to do something special to bless him.
Other times, a Spirit-filled heart will begin to overflow in the form of some new season of repentance into which people enter simply because they are sick of engaging in patterns of behavior that grieve the One who has saved them.
And yes, sometimes a Spirit-filled heart will even begin to overflow in the form of an inexplicable willingness to leave a one hundred dollar tip for a cleaning woman that we’ve never met, simply because the Spirit would have us to honor the preciousness of her personhood.
Some two-thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit encountered the disciples at the Pentecost festival. That encounter changed everything, and that’s good news. But here’s the better news: Two-thousand years later, the Holy Spirit is still around, still powerfully and redemptively at work in the world, still forming people into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. My sense is that, if we really believed in this Spirit, if we really allowed him to have complete management over our heart so that our heart began to overflow with a relentless love for God and an equally relentless love for people, there is no telling how deep the living water might get around these parts.
A blessed season of Pentecost to all of you.