Why Life Is Not A Straight Line

But I say, walk by the Spirit . . .
— Galatians 5:16

Immediacy marks my life. I want a straight line, the shortest distance between two points. Looking ahead I see that God has given me another bend in the road. Why?

I had just finished reading Robert Hansen's chapter on the Holy Spirit in his book, The Art of Pastoring. Hansen has a keen ability to treat the Spirit's work biblically and practically. He wrote:

The Holy Spirit directs every activity of the day. That many are rather mundane and scheduled does not take away from their quality as Spirit direction. . . . These regularly scheduled, mundane events are the Spirit's leading, and carrying them out requires the power of the Spirit.

Finishing Hansen, I opened the pages of Alister McGrath's I Believe: Exploring the Apostles Creed. McGrath also reminded me that walking with God is both purposeful and fluid. He wrote about the words used in the Bible to describe the person and work of the Spirit:

In both of the main biblical languages--Hebrew in the Old Testament, Greek in the New--the words for "wind," "breath" and "spirit" are the same. It is very easy for the English reader, unaware of these associations, to miss the full richness of the biblical witness to the person and work of the Holy Spirit..."

Pairing the writings of Hansen and McGrath, I know two things:

  1. God's Spirit really is alive and at work in my life.
    I don't have to enjoy an Elijah-like experience of getting whisked off to heaven to know He is real. The Spirit works in the mundane.
  2. The Spirit's work is unpredictable.
    The Spirit is like the wind (John 3:8). He is not erratic, but he does move in His way and on His time-table. 

Why is life not a straight line? Because I can no more command the Spirit than I can direct the southeast breeze that comes off the ocean a few miles from our home.

The Spirit's work will be delightfully purposeful and interestingly unpredictable today. That's okay. He is God. He is also with me and working though me.

Lord, help me to be sensitive to the Spirit's lead. Help me to "walk by the Spirit."


  • "The Holy Spirit  directs every activity..." from The Art of Pastoring, by Robert Hansen. InterVarsity Press. P.O. Box 1400. Downers Grove, IL.
  • "In both of the main biblical languages ..." from "I Believe" Exploring the Apostles Creed by Alister McGrath. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 1997, page 79