From A Library of Books to a Laboratory of Word and Spirit


2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?


“Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead . . .

Your turn: “And Christ will shine on you!” 

We made it. Our last stop of this part of the Holy Spirit pilgrimage. Bad news is we won’t be seeing the apostle Paul. Good news is we will get a look at his secret study. It is a place we are creating together, not from verifiable history but from biblical imagination. There are no tall shelves over-filled with stacks of books. Rather, there are a few tables and on them are spread out all kinds of scraps of what looks to be ancient forms of paper. There are shards of scrolls that look to be from what we would call the Old Testament. Paul would simply have known them as “the Scriptures.” There is a small scrap spread out in the center of one of the tables, held at the corners by four rocks. It looks to be the Shema (Deuteronomy 6). To the left of it looks to be an ancient Hebrew scroll of Genesis 1 partially rolled up and spread out. 

Next to it is a well worn scrap of papyrus with this bit from Psalm 139. 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.(vv. 7–12)

It is like an ancient biblical Holy Spirit laboratory. On another table is what looks to be the makings of what we would call the Corinthian correspondence. Inscribed in Greek we read this sentence:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Just beneath are a series of words, arranged in two columns as if to create comparison and contrast. In English they translate roughly as: 

Hard Pressed: Not Crushed
Perplexed: Not Despairing
Persecuted: Not Abandoned
Struck Down: Not Destroyed

It is almost like we are seeing the rough draft of the letter, before it was copied over to the final edition and sent out; like we are looking at the anvil on which the Spirit-inspired, raw revelation was hammered out into words. This is absolutely fascinating.

Already many of you are spread out across the room, leaning over the tables, trying to decipher the scriptures and see the connections. There are scraps of revelation all over the place. There’s the Sermon on the Mount and what looks to be a copy of the letter to Ephesus but it is arranged in scraps. Already you are thinking about how to create such a space in your own home—not so much a library but a working laboratory of the Word and Spirit. 

Then we see this text that has captured us. It is placed like a banner over the whole thing.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

An insight is beginning to emerge. It settles over us as though we are all getting it at the same time. Paul was and is trying to wake us up from our sleepy aspirations to alert activation. More on that tomorrow. For now, the Spirit seems to be audibly whispering a series of piercing inquiries over, through, and to us all:

If not you then who? If not now then when? If not here then where? 

Still day one. 


Father, those are my questions. If not me then who? If not now then when? If not here then where? I don’t need more knowledge. I don’t need better intentions and more inspiration. I need awakening—to the deep realization that Jesus Christ is in me. Holy Spirit, move this from concept to core reality. Jesus, I belong to you. Praying in your name, amen.   


How does this contrast between aspiration and activation strike you? Have you become stuck and even stalled in faith as an aspirational reality? More out in front of you than actually in you? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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P.S. STILL DAY ONE—The Daily Text Summer Series on the Holy Spirit is now available for pre-order here. 

I know. I know. I’ve just elevated a laboratory of the Word and Spirit over amassing a library of books. And now I’m asking you to add to your library of books! In a deeper way, these books are a way of me sharing my own laboratory of Word and Spirit with you. Over the course of a series, we do a lot of experimentation together. We chant and sing and collapse triangles and so many other things. The challenge is how fast it all goes. We need to rewind the tape but we never can at the time. A lab like book makes that possible. Please grab a copy of Still Day One today and even better grab one to sow into a friend while you are at it. 

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

6 Responses

  1. JD, this particular study, along with parallel events in my faith journey, has awakened me to question some of what we call “ church”. I’ve come to realize that the terms institutional church and the body of Christ are not synonymous. Its like comparing a living tree with a sculpture of a tree carved from a block of wood. They’re both the same material but one is dead, the other alive. The sculpture is shaped by man, the tree is pruned by the Gardener. My prayer is to remain firmly attached to the living tree, where life is assured along with the branches that surround me. Life on the tree is more of a challenge than life on the sculpture because on that tree we are not in control. Life on the sculpture is comfortable because it’s predictable, but it produces no fruit. Only God can bring a dead tree back to life like He did with Aaron’s staff (Numbers 17:8).

    1. Bob, would you mind if I copy this and paste it on the DT community page on FB? This is too rich not to be shared.

  2. Religious aspiration or discipleship application

    When you resist
    The inner rivers
    Of the Holy Spirit,
    You can cause them
    To be stuck, stymied,
    Stalled and stagnant
    Inside you.
    Instead, prepare the way
    For the Lord’s rivers
    So they can freely flow
    In and through you.
    (“Quench not the Spirit.”)

    Sermon-hearing often
    Leads to aspiration
    An inner wish
    To live a better life,
    But seldom to application,
    Doing whatever it takes
    To turn away from all sin
    And wholeheartedly begin
    To follow and obey
    The living Jesus
    Every day.

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