The Jordan River, Israel
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matt. 3:16-17 NIV)

At home in mid-January 2018, I was surprised to receive a thank you note mistakenly addressed to Pastor Janet Richardson. It was clear to me that whoever sent the postcard wasn’t familiar with Janet. They would have known her by her marital surname—Noble-Richardson—and that she had died in 2006. But the faux pas were easy to make.

Working through our charity—The Pastor Janet Noble-Richardson Memorial Scholarship, my husband and I had made a financial contribution to another Christian nonprofit. Whoever penned the thank you card to us didn’t understand the circumstances, but the oversight turned out to be a little gift for me. I felt glad to see Janet’s name in print again and to think about her. I smiled and said to my husband, “She does indeed live on.”

After giving the situation more thought, however, I realized that Janet would want me to be thinking about God. The postcard nudged me to examine my priorities more closely.

After Christ’s death and resurrection, He ascended to heaven and God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be with us here on earth, to guide us and inspire us. In a sermon titled “The Spark That Makes a Difference,” Pastor Janet explained, “The work of the Spirit is not to draw attention to himself, but to point us to God. And so, we can know that anything that draws us closer to God, makes us think about God, reminds us of something we have heard from the Bible, all of this is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

The postcard I received was a lesson in disguise. I was being schooled through my memories of Janet by the Holy Spirit Himself. It was becoming apparent that, even though He doesn’t expect to be the center of attention, He deserved more of my admiration than I had been giving.

When I pray, I fail to visualize all three distinct parts of God. I seem to place my faith in The Father, my salvation in The Son; and take for granted my relationship with the Spirit. Sure, there are times that I call upon the Spirit to be with me and to help me. And there are times that I thank Him for guidance. I know He’s a part of me. Every now and then, I even sing Him a song. But why do I not picture the Spirit standing on equal footing with God and Jesus? It’s wrong of me. The Three are One and the same God. I’ve just always found the concept hard to understand.

My failure to fully understand the Trinity wasn’t necessarily sinful, but I was disturbed by the divisive lines I had drawn between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

In a concerted effort to reconcile my thoughts, I turned to podcasts from The Bible Project, several online biblical reference sites, the Holy Bible itself, and one of my pastors. It was fascinating to examine the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and in the New. I read in Genesis about the Spirit hovering over the waters during God’s creation of the world. He was there at that time, along with Jesus. In Exodus 31:2-3, I found out that the Spirit filled Bezalel with “wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” which were essential for inspiring and empowering Bezalel to create sacred items, including the very ark of the covenant. I learned to distinguish between the breath of life—which God gives to all living creatures—and the Holy Spirit, Who is exclusive to those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

I now “see” the Spirit more clearly in the way He breathes inspiration into normal, everyday people who He commissions to do extraordinary things; and in the way he permeates physical barriers when He’s poured out like water to impart wisdom and strength upon righteous kings and noble leaders. With greater passion than ever before, I welcome Him—in His entirety—to fill me with ideas, turn me in the right direction, and pull me closer to His fold. From now on, I vow to do better at letting Him know how much I appreciate . . . and would be lost without . . . Him.

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Kelly Bixby

Secretly, I'm writing fictional stories for children and the inspirational nonfiction biography of Pastor Janet Noble-Richardson. But before those are ready for public viewing, I share pieces of me on Deadwood Writers Voices, a group blog; and on Remembering Janet, the website for the nonprofit charity I’m passionate about. I hope you see my love for God, compassion for people, and enthusiasm for learning in all I do.
Kelly Bixby
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