My friend has a dog named Diamond. Whenever I talk to my friend on the phone, my friend will frequently put the phone on speaker. When my friend does put the phone on speaker, I like to call the dog’s name and say, “Hi Diamond. Would you like a treat?” Every time I say that, the dog will stop whatever it is doing; it will walk to the kitchen; it will then sit down patiently by the cupboard where the dog biscuits are kept; and it will remain there till someone comes and gives her that treat.
I know that this follows the dog training technique of command and reward, but I get a big kick out of doing this because it fascinates me. The dog does not know who is talking to her. She cannot see the person who is calling her name and offering her that treat. Yet, even though she does not know and cannot see where the voice is coming from, she will always respond to the offer and will always go obediently to where the doggy treats are kept.
Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives is something like that. We cannot see the Spirit of God, we may not always understand the source of the thoughts and inspirations, yet we hear His voice in our spirit giving us encouragement and direction, advising us on what it is that we should or shouldn’t do. And just like my friend’s dog, Diamond, we too need to obediently follow the direction of the Spirit’s promptings.
There is an old Irish legend about an Irishman who lived in a small village. He was very poor. He was so poor that his humble home was a simple, small building with just one small room. One night he had a dream, a very vivid dream, about a treasure that was lying beneath a bridge in Dublin. The dream was very descriptive and he could see the bridge and its surroundings in great detail.
The dream returned. He had the same dream the next two nights. Unable to dismiss it from his mind, he decided to journey to Dublin. He walked through Dublin, till lo and behold, he found the bridge that he saw in his dream. In excitement, he searched beneath the bridge, but alas there was no treasure. Disappointed and confused, he just stood on the bridge for a while. Soon a policeman walked by. He told the officer about his dream and of his disappointment on not finding any treasure. The police officer laughed and said, “Surely, at your age, you should know by now not to pay any attention to dreams. Why just the other night, I had a similar dream myself. In my dream, I saw a small humble one room home in a small humble village. Hidden in the walls of this home was a great treasure.”
The police officer then went on to describe to the poor man what the house and its surroundings looked like. The poor man just stood there in shock and amazement, for the house that the policeman described matched the description of this poor man’s humble home. He said goodbye to the officer and journeyed back home. Upon entering his home, he looked at his walls and thought of the police officer’s story. The man decided to rip a hole in the wall, and sure enough, hidden inside the wall was a box, full of money, more than enough money to support him comfortably for the rest of his life.
The man traveled far in search of a treasure; but the treasure was with him all along. By simply listening to a stranger, he found what he always had.
I shared that Irish legend with you because the experience of that poor Irish gentleman parallels our experiences in our search for the presence of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives.
During His lifetime, Jesus told His followers that the Kingdom of God abides within. Just like the treasure that was hidden in the walls of the room of that poor Irishman, so too does the presence of God abide within the hearts of all of us.
I believe it is the common nature of all mankind to be in search of God. There is an internal need or void or hunger that the world cannot satisfy. History has proven that no amount of earthly possessions can satisfy this longing that is found deep within one’s soul. Without even realizing it, many of us spend our entire lives searching, trying to find this something that is missing in our lives. We dream of fulfillment.
Saint Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit of God is peace, joy, love and understanding. Many of us spend our lives searching for that fruit. In our search, we travel far and wide, just like that poor Irishman traveling to Dublin in his search. And sometimes, just like the poor man’s encounter with the police officer, it simply takes a small statement from another human being to show us that what we have been searching for we have had with us all along.
There is a treasure abiding within the heart and soul of every living person. And this treasure will more than sustain us for the rest of our lives. What is so amazing about the Pentecostal event that we commemorate this weekend is that the Father has actually poured out upon the Church His very Spirit empowering us to accomplish what we could never accomplish on our own.
We spend so much of our lives looking for peace, joy and love, searching for God. And all along, God and the Gift of His Spirit is a treasure that has always been an integral part of every one of us. He is that gentle presence. He is that Spirit of Love that constantly whispers to our inner being. My favorite verse from Sacred Scripture says to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
My friend’s dog, Diamond, hears a voice and responds to that voice, even though she has no idea where the source of that voice is coming from. Still she responds to the promise of a treat. Just like Diamond we too need to listen to that unseen voice, because it is the Spirit of God whispering, “Trust me. – Trust me.”