In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.
To: Friend Seeking More from Faith
From: Doug Nuenke
Subject: The Power of Tiny Decisions
Hello my friend,
In our last email, we talked about leaning into the heartbeat of Jesus. The embrace of Christ offers peace and security; but it also equips us with power. We are promised:
“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).
Though we might understand the equipping power of the Spirit as a concept, I’ve found it’s sometimes hard to translate the promise of God’s presence into practical application. As you asked: “But how do we experience the presence and power of Christ in our lives?”
We discussed before how the ‘work’ of coming to faith in Christ is simply believing (John 6:29). Just as Paul urged his readers to “be filled by the Holy Spirit” (Eph 5:18), we –by faith—yield to the control of the Holy Spirit rather than the control of the sinful nature (Romans 8:9-10).
Because of this, we might summarize the experience of living by the Spirit as a series of faith decisions in which we surrender ourselves to the presence and power of Jesus. It is a lifestyle that requires daily formation, a thousand small moments of surrender.
In his bestselling book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes:
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.”
The habit of experiencing the power and presence of the Spirit of Christ is formed by “single, tiny decisions… one day at a time.” These faith decisions begin with a shift in attention when hardship has you disappointed, a relational rift has you lonely, or an area of temptation causes you to struggle with sin. In these moments, I remind myself that the Holy Spirit is present and able to stand with me in it. I need only believe and avail myself to His promised power.
For me, the small practices of abiding vary in season. Often, they include meditating on Scripture that draws my attention back to the presence of Christ. Other times, I set timers on my phone to remind me to stop and pray or simply pause to remember the Spirit’s nearness and power. Friends of mine keep a small notecard in their pocket with a word, phrase, or scripture that refocuses them on Christ. Small decisions of surrender can be as simple as a deep breath or driving in silence. Any moment is an opportunity to commune with Jesus and experience his empowering presence.
Some believers think of God’s work in their lives as a climactic event like a giant crashing wave. But the life God has designed for all believers is a stream of the Spirit that flows day-to-day, in small moments.
The apostle John wrote, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Access to the river of Jesus’ power and presence comes by faith, is continuously available, and is part of our inheritance as believers.