During my seminary years at Regent College, I got a job as a Chicken Farmers Assistant. Limited training was needed and the wages looked great to a struggling student. One of my tasks included going through the chicken barns every morning to remove any deceased birds. In my first week of work, the mortality rate of the chickens doubled. Something was seriously wrong. My boss asked me to describe the exact protocol that I followed every morning. With great confidence, I told him that I would enter the chicken barn and yell at the top of my lungs, “Good Morning, Chickens!” He was horrified. The chicks were only a few days old and were very fragile. Their little hearts would stop at the slightest threat. I was a mass murderer and did not even know it.
The Holy Spirit is described as a dove. A dove is a very gentle bird that will often fly away at the slightest harshness, discord, anger or threat. I find it fascinating that the Apostle John’s description of Jesus’ baptism includes the phrase, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.” (John 1:32) The Spirit of God was completely at home in the presence of Jesus. They were in perfect harmony, unity, and mutual delight. In some ways that image captures an ideal relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Bill Johnson writes, “His presence is not upon us to be commandeered or directed by us. Instead, we are tools in his hand. If there is a dove resting on my shoulder in the natural (and I love that phrase ‘and remained’) and I don’t want it to fly away, how am I going to walk around this room? Every step will be with the dove in mind. Every movement I make will be to preserve what I value most.”
The Apostle Paul frames the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit around the words grieving and quenching. In other words, if we want to remain under the anointing – the animating, reviving and energizing power – of the Holy Spirit, we must continue to be sensitive to His presence. We chase away the Spirit’s dynamic company in our lives when we…
• Suppress the Fire of the Holy Spirit
• Fake the Fire of the Holy Spirit
• Resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit
• Ignore the convicting of the Holy Spirit
Recently, I sat down with one of our leaders and confessed that I had become angry about a situation and that I needed to make it right. I had felt the anointing of God lifting in my Spirit, I could sense the fluttering of the wings of the Dove and I was desperate to respond to His convicting voice in my life. One of the greatest dangers for individuals and churches is to churn out Christian activity that has no touch of God upon it! Last month, I watched the funeral of Billy Graham. He was one of the most anointed men of God our world has ever seen. The tributes from family, friends and world leaders spoke powerfully to the presence of the Dove that rested on him. He once declared, “My greatest fear is that God would remove His hand from me.”
My boss at the chicken farm told me that when I enter the barn, I need to do so with a clear awareness that attentiveness to the birds is my primary objective. I like that. When you and I enter into each day, the primary objective of our lives is to be attentive to the Dove! R.T. Kendall states, “We cannot get a corner on the ‘Holy Spirit market’. He is not for sale and will not allow Himself to be franchised like a fast-food chain. We must therefore reverence Him, honour Him, let Him be Himself; we must flow with Him and not try to coerce Him to flow with us.” Are you attentive to the Dove?
Dave Hearn is the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He has held C&MA leadership positions at local church and District levels. He served as District Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific District from 2005 to July 2012. He loves spending time with his family, and he’s passionate about living on mission fearlessly.