26 [Jesus said,] “The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.
27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”
I love the “Reminders” app on my phone. That’s because I am not great at remembering things, and so often I need a little help. The app helps to remind me of all kinds of things it’s important not to forget: picking someone up, a last-minute task that needs to be done before I leave the house – a whole lot of things.
The thing about a reminder app is: you already have to know what you need to be reminded of. The app can’t help with something that’s totally slipped your mind. You’re on your own for that. By definition, you have to know something in order to be reminded of it.
This passage makes me think about the Spirit in a similar way: the Spirit’s role is to bring to mind things we already know – not to teach us new things. That’s what Jesus, and the words of Jesus, are for. This is important, because I think many of us look at the Spirit as a kind of safety net who comes to the rescue when we need some extra help. That’s not entirely wrong. However, I have to admit that in many instances where someone has said to me, “I’m trusting the Spirit,” I’ve often observed those words to actually mean, “I’m wildly unprepared.”
We can’t expect God to fill in gaps that we haven’t first tried to fill in ourselves. The “Reminders” app only works when we’ve put the reminders into it! This means that we can’t expect the Spirit to step in when we haven’t done the work of Bible study, reading, and prayer in order to grow in our understanding of God and the path of discipleship.
We can’t be reminded of things we never knew to begin with!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Whenever you are learning or practicing something new – a new way of doing an everyday task, a different approach to someone’s challenging behavior, or even a modification to your golf swing – remember that there are (at least) two steps in the process. First, you have to learn the new thing. And then, even more difficult, you have to remind yourself to keep practicing it, even when slipping into the old way feels so much more normal and natural. Today, observe instances when the Holy Spirit nudges you toward a different kind of behavior – one that may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but is in line with what you know about how God wants you to live.
Prayer: God, stir in me a desire to know you more. Help me draw close to you through reading, study, and prayer. Help me gain a deeper understanding of your Holy Word and Christ’s holy ways. Holy Spirit, be at work in me to remind me of the things I already know, and spur me on to continue walking a path of spiritual growth and development. Amen.