Shape Shifting

By Jill Riley
I sat with a Chief of the Crow nation. We talked together about spirits. And of the Holy Spirit. The Chief talked of watching his grandfathers shape shift over the prairies. First one and then the other morphed into the form of a different animal before their grandson and other tribal witnesses

It sounds far fetched and like a fantasy, doesn’t it? No matter how surreal it sounds he had no doubt as to the truth of the story. The Chief relayed the story to me with confidence because he had seen it with with his own eyes. In addition to the spirits, he also believed in the power of the Holy Spirit because he had seen its transformative power in the lives of those men. Once the Holy Spirit entered their lives all false and evil spirits were no longer accessible or desired by them. Christ changed them by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they became dedicated to the God of the heavens and the earth.

We hear stories of the creative and transformative work of the Spirit but we sometimes doubt its authenticity becase WE have not seen the proof. I was raised a charismatic Christian. Speaking in tongues, physical healings and prophetic gifts were familiar in our worship gatherings. Less normative, but whispered amongst the Charismatics were practices of holy laughter, moaning in prayer, dancing in the spirit, and being slain in the spirit. Recently I watched a video, “documentary”, that told stories of jewels falling from heaven, manna falling out of Bibles and gold fillings appearing in peoples mouths, where previously none existed. All of these things were attributed to the Holy spirit. But these, like the shape shifting, are so far outside my realm of believablity that I don’t know what to do with them.

The shape of the Word does not shift. Neither does its meaning. We are people of the Word. Therefore, I will vet, verify and validate all activities of the Holy Spirit relayed to me through the lens of scripture. Practically, this means that when I hear of happenings attributed to the work of the Spirit I will look deep within the character and works of the Three in One. Where I find consistency and non-conflict with the Word, I feel freedom to celebrate the presence of the Spirit. I invite the Church to the same, no matter how supernatural the event may seem.

When your human skepticism meets the supernatural or slightly doubtable displays and nudgings of the Holy Spirit what do you do?

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  3 comments for “Shape Shifting

  1. November 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I love this Jill. I feel like I am learning to embrace the crazy mysticism of our faith as long as it is vetted through the word. I find this actually resounds with me so much more than trying to find logic in every happening. When what we believe is based on someone rising from the grave, I think it is ok and expected to have things happen in our journey that we cannot explain.

    • jengillan
      November 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks for that last sentence, Kari. Loved how you put it.

  2. November 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Jill, good word, and I appreciate your 3-V’s: vet, verify, validate. Helpful. Thanks for your delightful writing!

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