Did you hear the strange bit of news coming from the big boat show in Atlanta last weekend? It seems that the event had to delay its opening by a few hours. Why? It was because of water.
That's right water shut down the boat show. That would be akin to sub-freezing temperatures shutting down an ice cream factory. The two are supposed to go together. Boats are meant to be operated on water. So what was the problem?
From what I heard, apparently a demonstration pool got out of control, tipping over and inundating one area with thousands of gallons of water. It wasn't so much that the boats couldn't handle the situation. They would have survived in water without any problem.
However, those in charge of the show didn't think their customers would be pleased about having to wade through puddles in order to see the vessels they had on display. Therefore, workers frantically strove to squeegee up all the spilled water so that the show could operate as planned.
Something else that naturally goes together is the church and the presence of the Lord. Jesus promised that "where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
Or another way of looking at it is that believers and the Holy Spirit share such a close connection. The Bible assures those who put their trust in Jesus that "you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you" (I Corinthians 3:16).
However, I'm afraid that if the presence of the Lord really manifested itself in some of our gatherings, we wouldn't know how to handle it. It might rock our boat and make us rather uncomfortable.
If the Holy Spirit was poured out on us in His fullness and power, we might be tempted to shut things down. He might take us in directions we hadn't planned on going.
We might have to change our order of worship or toss our bulletins out the window. It might not fit in with our preferred style of worship. Things might get excessively noisy or a little too quiet for our liking.
It's not that we have anything against the Spirit of God. We like to talk about His presence and even evoke His coming to be with us in our prayers and in some of our songs. But we tend to like to keep Him in our little demonstration pool, where we think we have Him under control.
We can point to Him being there and let Him out in small amounts, but we don't want Him spilling out and having free run of the place. If the Holy Spirit really manifested Himself among us, some of us might be running around trying to squeegee Him out of the way so that we could proceed with our religious activities as usual.
The Bible sometimes uses water as a picture of the Spirit of God -- as living, life-giving water. Let's not hinder His flowing into our lives and our churches.
God's Word provides similar instructions when it tells us not to quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). Listen to His voice. Follow His guidance. Don't try to restrict His activity in your life or in your church.
We're not supposed to try to control Him -- we should be allowing Him to control us.
So don't be afraid to let the living water of the Holy Spirit float your boat. He'll take you exactly where you need to be.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.