Am I the only one who as a child had a crush on Casper the friendly ghost? Not any live action version, I mean the original cartoon. Anyone? No one?!
Anywho, when my Dad would decorate our home for Halloween, we had a ghost made of some sparkly, Styrofoam-like substance probably incredibly hazardous to our health, but it was the 70s. Pops called this ghost Casper. I wish I had a picture of it, but you’ll have to take my word for it he did not look like my boyfriend Casper. But if my father called him Casper, he was Casper. (Sidebar: did anyone else grow up in a home where Halloween decorations were not put up until just before Halloween? My Dad was insistent. In a house filled with four costume-loving, candy-crazy kids, he was a man apart. In mid-October when we clamored to at least fix up the front door, we were quickly reminded, “It’s not Halloween yet.” And in case you were wondering, those same decorations didn’t make it through the first couple of days of November. I can recall some Halloween evenings where he’d be taking down the cardboard black cats and Frankenstein as we sorted through our candy haul at the kitchen table.)
I know I’ve shared many times how I love wearing costumes. If I could play dress-up every day, I definitely would. As a kid, my biggest gripe concerning Halloween was we had the best candy at my house. We always did! I just didn’t see the point of going door-to-door begging for treats when I’ve got the motherlode waiting for me in our brown, wicker basket at home. It just didn’t make sense, especially when the weather was cold or rainy. Ick! But I digress.
This article isn’t about all that stuff. It is about the Ghost I’ve been living with for over 25 years. Some of you may have guessed what I mean. Perhaps there are those of you who have Him living with you too.
What is the name of this friendly Ghost that most emphatically is not Casper?
The Holy Ghost.
You may know Him by other names such as the Holy Spirit or the Comforter. He’s the third member of the Trinity: Father (God), Son (Jesus) and Holy Ghost.
Who is the Holy Ghost?
I could offer up my poor attempt to describe Him, but you know I always bring receipts. (Unless otherwise indicated, all verses were taken from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.) Check this out:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord… (Isaiah 11:2)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
This second verse was spoken by Jesus to His disciples. He wanted them to know they would not be left alone after He completed His work on earth and ascended back to God in heaven. The Holy Ghost brings wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, power, knowledge and so much more.
Because God is so amazing, He didn’t reserve access to the Spirit only to those living in Jesus’s time. It started with them, but His presence is available to you and me today.
I’m grateful to say since I invited Him into my life it’s been a game changer. What do I mean? Well, we live in a natural world but there is also a spiritual realm. (Shameless plug: A while back I did a post on the differences and intersections of the two. The article is titled The Spirit Of The Age, if you’d like to check it out.) The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to see beyond the barriers of our natural world and glimpse the spiritual.
The most unbelievable part is He chooses to live within us. No, it doesn’t mean I’m haunted or it’s some kind of possession-call-in-the-exorcist situation. It’s more a gentle voice within that leads, guides, corrects, warns and shows me what I may not be able to see with my eyes. My friend calls it the greatest super power; I agree.
There have been times where I just knew something and there was no explanation how I could know it. Other times I sensed a danger or threat and avoided it, even though in the natural everything appeared normal and fine. I realize if you don’t know Him or He hasn’t taken up residence in your life yet, this may be hard to understand. As Jesus said:
…The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)
I can only share my testimony of how the Holy Ghost keeps me. He prays for me. Don’t believe me? Good. Check this out:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
This is so true in my life. When the world is kicking me around and I don’t have words (which as a writer doesn’t happen often, but still), He speaks on my behalf. How awesome is that?
As we allow the Spirit to operate freely within us, there are certain gifts we are promised. No, I’m not talking about a shopping spree or free meal. His gifts are so much greater. They’re often referred to as fruit. Check this out:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Did you read through that list? Read it again. I’ll wait.
Wow! You had me at love, joy and peace. In all honesty, I don’t exhibit all of the fruit (or any of it) sometimes. In those instances the fault lies not in the Spirit but in me. I’m simply choosing not to listen or follow His lead. Can you guess how those situations typically turn out? Sure, I may get what I think I want in the moment, but it always comes with some sort of regret or cost or penalty down the line. And I certainly am not in a place of love, joy or peace. The lesson is it’s always our choice.
The Spirit and I have a bond I am not willing to sacrifice. I may ignore Him, sometimes neglect Him, even defy Him, but I’m not getting rid of Him. There’s too much love there. We’ve been through too much together. I know what my life was like before He came. I don’t ever want to go back to it.
How important is the Holy Ghost? Is He really necessary?
The short answer is: ABSOFREAKINLUTELY!! I find the faith-based community doesn’t give Him enough time, attention or honor. He’s often treated like the forgotten member of the Trinity. He’s not the Creator of the Universe (God) or the Savior of the world (Jesus). Yet He’s the one we have living inside of us. He’s the one we call upon for daily guidance and strength. He’s the Comforter in our sadness. He’s the Knower of things we can’t possibly understand. He’s the Giver of such great gifts. He is a gift given to us by the Lord to sustain us on our journeys in this life. How important is He? Well, this verse says it better than I ever could:
And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
That passage scares me more than any horror movie. Just to be clear, the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. I’ll take that to mean He is essential and never to be despised. Can you live without Him? I suppose, but why would you do a crazy thing like that? Don’t you want the fullness: the love, joy, peace, and all the rest? I know I do. He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to come and dwell within you.
I’d be lost without Him. So as the world celebrates Halloween and embraces ideas of ghosts, spirits, the dead rising and all manner of dark spiritual topics, I’ll stick with my Holy Ghost. And I might watch some classic Casper cartoons while dressed as a princess and eating candy. Don’t judge.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,