I thought I was alone, figuring out how to navigate this world. Sometimes I walked in burning sun, seeking shade or longing for sunset. Or blasting winds would throw debris over the path, hiding the way forward. Forks in the road scared me. Right? Left? But then I sensed eyes on me, a presence by my side. Who was there, tracking me? I learned that I had a friend, a companion and counselor sent to me to share this journey. He cares! He knows the master plan! All I need do is trust, and listen. I’m never alone! Chaos cannot tear us apart. His strength holds me and since he has the map, our shared purpose keeps us on track in inclement weather or twisting paths. He’s my Companion of the Road, always.
When I was 16, an MK in Côte d’Ivoire, I was committed to Jesus. But when my family went to the field’s annual conference that year I wondered if I really had taken a certain key step.
The pastor who was supposed to come speak that year, giving daily messages to encourage us all spiritually, had to cancel his trip. When the field leaders checked in with other missions that would also be meeting around that time, they discovered that C&MA had a speaker coming who would be able to stay a bit longer and join our conference as well.
This man was a powerful preacher, a bit more charismatic than we usually experienced. I was intrigued. After the second or third meeting, some of our missionaries began to line up for prayer. Some needed healing. The pastor would anoint them with oil and pray over them. I watched in wonder as two of the adults that I especially admired went forward for prayer.
There was one personal dilemma that kept coming to mind. I had heard of the “fullness of the Holy Spirit,” and I wondered: had I ever really been filled? I had never experienced any moment of signs and wonders, such as had happened in Acts. When I could no longer resist, I leaned over to Dad, who was sitting beside me, and whispered, “Dad, I really want to go forward and ask for prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” I wouldn’t go if he said not to. But instead his answer was, “I will go with you.”
So we got in line, and when I approached the pastor I told him that I longed to be filled with the Spirit. He told me to kneel in front of him, and began praying. I was waiting with anticipation. And then I heard a quiet, clear voice in my inner being.
“Hon, you already have me!”
I was astonished and delighted. I got up, thanked the pastor and went back to my seat. Yes, I had really heard that Voice! What I wanted to do now was learn how to hear it more, to live out a reality I had not previously recognized.
There came a time about five years later when a relative that I loved urged me to consider asking for the Spirit to indwell me. She knew I had never spoken in tongues or had any other miraculous experience. I told her about my journey in being increasingly committed, and about that prayer time at conference and the inner Voice that I had heard.
“Well, okay!” she said. And she never brought it up again, but trusted my walk with my Lord.
Of course it has been a learning curve, recognizing the Spirit’s nudges and direction. But he is the Spirit of the Father who made me and has a purpose for me, and the Spirit has indeed kept me on the right path. He is the Spirit of my Lord and Savior, Jesus, sent to comfort me and counsel me
My part is to listen to him. Jesus was comforting his disciples with this news that they would not be alone when he left the earth:
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative — that is, the Holy Spirit — he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. (Jn. 14:26 NLT)
The “Advocate” is a translation of the Greek word paraclete. So some translate it as “helper” (ESV) or “counselor” (CSB). He is indeed a caring teacher, and one who speaks for Jesus.
Because faith in Jesus makes us God’s children, we are then led by the Spirit.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Rom. 8:14 NIV)
And our Father is good. He does not allow his sons and daughters to live without protection and his presence. Paul underlined this when he wrote to the Corinthians:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14 NIV)
We are saved by grace, because Jesus died to save us, once for all. And he was sent to do this by God himself because of his love for the world. When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not leave us alone! He sent a companion to be with us on the path, a friend and comforter who is also our guide. That is the sense of “fellowship.” The Oxford Languages dictionary gives this definition of the word: “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.”
This reminds me of a Nyarafolo term for people who are in your shared community, with one purpose. They are “companions of the road.” All of us who walk together in the Kingdom of God are meant to live out our companionship here on earth. And then think of the privilege of having the Spirit of God himself as our companion! As our Companion of the Road, the Jesus Road, he comforts us when we are hurt or sad, accompanies us when lonely, laughs joyfully with us when we exult in a victory or delight in a new discovery.
The Spirit walks with us on the long life path we are on, and not only accompanies us but changes us:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16 NIV)
How can we “walk by the Spirit”? It means to listen to him, and respond by doing what he says to do, living it out. Since we often have a steep learning curve in doing this, throughout the ages much has been written by people who have discovered ways in which we can consciously participate in this transforming process. Back in the Garden of Even, God came to walk with Adam and Eve daily. It was sin that broke off that sure connection, but the Father encourages us to open ourselves to true spirituality, which is “simply the holistic quality of human life as it was meant to be, the center of which is our relation to God.” God has sent me his Spirit to renew me:
. . .he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, (Tit. 3:5 NET)
That “renewing” happens when we turn to Jesus. But it also keeps happening. We are cleansed, but need to keep on learning and being changed:
…you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Col. 3:9-10 NIV)
“Being renewed”! This is ongoing. And one of the ways thousands of believers have found to increase their knowledge of Jesus, and live that out, is through what are usually called the “spiritual disciplines.” Another way to understand the term is to see it as spiritual formation, or practices to encourage ongoing renewal.
I have found myself drawn to these practices. At first I was just using opportunities in my environment, such as time set aside for devotions at boarding school. It became a daily habit to read the Scriptures, and pray for ways to apply what I read to my life. Through InterVarsity in my college years I also learned the inductive study method. And as I grew older I found journaling my journey to be a way to concretize what I was learning. I began to delve into books on the spiritual disciplines, and found several to be extremely helpful. As this section of “Linnea’s Lines” develops I will be referring to them. I actually began to see the authors as spiritual mentors, who did not know me personally but were truly encouraging me to grow in my walk with Jesus.
It was all worth it. Life without the companionship of the Spirit would not only be lonely, it would be pointless. Because we can walk with him, we are never alone, always guided and comforted!
“Spirituality is simply the holistic quality of human life as it was meant to be, at the center of which is our relation to God.”
 Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: understanding how God changes lives. (HarperSanFransisco, 1988), 76.
 Ibid., 77.
2 thoughts on “Never Alone”
Linn, you brought tears to my eyes again.
And when you described thinking at the conference you hadn’t yet done signs and wonders in your young life, I was remembering the experience you told about when you were very young and escaping Congo with your family after your dad and uncle were kidnapped because they were doctors. You told the story of gathering the children of your families and praying behind the van as the border guards were threatening, then a man appeared from nowhere, told the guards he would take custody of your family and sounded even more frightening. . .then took your families to another part of the border, told you guys he was a Christian and then set you free across the border. I remember you telling me no one could ever convince you that wasn’t a clear and amazing answer to prayer, and I believe that was clearly a sign and wonder through your prayer and the little children praying with you 🙏 ❤️
Wow, Lynne, yes! That was truly an answer to prayer. The Lord had been at work in me. But I had never done the kind of charismatic signs like speaking in strange tongues that had become viewed by many as the evidence of Spirit-filling. Later I often wished I had a more useful gift of “tongues,” that of learning to speak a language like Nyarafolo fluently, quickly! 🙂 But the Lord was teaching me that he gifts us as he wishes, for his purposes. And that is the truth I needed to accept. Thanks for remembering!