Predictive and autocorrect on smartphones are supposed to help us out. But they’re not always right—and sometimes they’re laughably wrong. Like when you say you’re ‘auditioning your kids’, only to have autocorrect change that to ‘auctioning your kids’. Or when you text your sister that ‘Grandma is in the grave’, when you thought you were typing ‘Grandma is in the garage’!
I’m not married to Keith Urban. Neither is my husband married to Christina Aguilera. But those are the people my phone suggests whenever I start typing either of our names in a message.
Life presents us with so many decisions. The consequence of a poor choice is sometimes minor. Jump in the wrong queue at the supermarket, and you lose a few minutes’ activity. Accelerate over the speed limit on a dark, wet road, and the consequences can be awful and far reaching.
But there’s a day-to-day guidance feature we can tap into for small and big decisions—God’s Holy Spirit. Perhaps it sounds spooky to those who haven’t experienced this, but when we live under the Holy Spirit’s influence we’re aware of an extra-wise second-opinion on life every day.
Here’s how God describes the impact of the Holy Spirit in the Bible: ‘I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands’ (Ezekiel 26:26-27, Msg).
The Holy Spirit nudges, sometimes corrects and even holds us back: Wait up, think about this for a moment! This is a mix of predictive and autocorrect functions, I suppose. God’s foresight in seeing what lays ahead cautions us and helps us avoid missteps.
How do we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives? Well, in New Zealand culture we can take some tips from the Māori greeting of hongi. When we hongi, pressing our nose and forehead against someone else’s, we engage in a sacred moment where our ‘ha’ (or ‘breath of life’) is intermingled with theirs. It’s reminiscent of the Bible’s creation story, where God breathed life into man’s nostrils.
God, who first breathed life into humanity, wants to breathe the Holy Spirit’s life into us today.
We position ourselves for this by leaning in close to Jesus, whose life and death made a way for us to access God without any barriers. And then, in a trusting prayer, we ask God to change our mind-set from self-willed to God-willed. At this moment, the breath of God’s Holy Spirit is breathed gently but decisively into our spirit.
In Māori culture, a hongi means we’re no longer strangers; we’ve been welcomed as family. And when we hongi with God, we’re also welcomed into God’s family.
God’s Spirit can bring life and understanding that helps us every day. But don’t take my word for it. Explore and discover this for yourself!
Christina Tyson has been a Salvation Army officer (minister) for almost 30 years. For 16 years she was involved in Salvation Army communications, but now works to support local churches and recruit future leaders. Recently she also took on an additional role as The Salvation Army’s Response Officer for the New Zealand Royal Commission into Abuse in Care. Christina and her husband Keith live in Wellington, New Zealand, and have three adult children.