Our upgrade – and the Holy Spirit asks our permission.

upgrade-nowAs I sit down at my desk, a message appears on desktop: “Upgrade to macOS Sierra”  Should I hesitate, I am then informed:   “Get Siri and a whole lot more on your Mac.”  Enticing.

It’s upgrade time.  So I have the opportunity to download some files from afar, then my Mac will then ask for my permission by asking for (yet another) password – and we’re off.  My computer will take time out for about five minutes and then restart.

What happens is that the inner essentials of my computer, the holy of holies – even the operating system – are about to be renewed.

There’s a risk, of course.  The upgrade, particularly if it has just been published, may cause problems.   One of my sons-in-law refuses upgrades on principle on the basis that if it is working, then it doesn’t need fixing.  Or at least wait for a few months.

I think it’s different with Windows, at least it used to be.  If I remember correctly (and it’s probably changed since I made the switch to Apple on September, 2010 at about 10.28 am), when faced with an upgrade you are given three options:  trust Microsoft this time, always trust Microsoft and not trust Microsoft.

Michael Follin, one of my previous curates and a computer enthusiast, will not trust Microsoft, sensible man.  However, he is faced with a dilemma.    Microsoft will only upgrade Michael’s computer if he trusts them.  So reluctantly he checks the box for this time only.

We live in an age of upgrades.  “We live in a cult of the upgrade right now,” observes film director Colin Trevorrow.  “There’s always something around the corner that will make whatever you think is cool right now feel obsolete.”

However, as Christians our operating system is being continuously renewed.  So the apostle Paul counsels those Christians who are in danger of losing heart. “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16).

I recall  this verse used to be the favourite verse of one of the saints at Christ Church, Cynthia Rix, who went to glory in 1999.  As her physical health deteriorated she was conscious of the Holy Spirit renewing her as a person, from deep within.  She could face the future with confidence.

The Message translations gives that extra zip:  “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”

So how does God do this?  Answer – with our permission. And we are given the option, like MS, of giving this permission each time or always.  I guess this depends on where we are in our Christian life.  He allows us to grow in our trust.

For what God wants is no less than our complete surrender – “always trust the Holy Spirit”

What does complete surrender look like?  Rick Warren, who gave us “The Purpose-Driven Life,” suggests four components:

Following God’s lead without knowing where he’s sending you;
Waiting for God’s timing without knowing when it will come;
Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
Trusting God’s purpose without understanding the circumstances.

It may sound tough, not least when we are called to surrender our relationships or even our money, but God does not ask us what he is not prepared to do himself.

So in Jesus we see the supreme example of self-surrender.  Even as he faces the cross, he prays “‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” (Mark 14:36).

As Warren concludes: “ This level of maturity doesn’t come easy. In Jesus’ case, he agonized so much over God’s plan that he sweated drops of blood. Surrender is hard work. In our case, it requires intense warfare against our self-centred nature.”

So as we pray for God’s Holy Spirit to fill us afresh, we are inviting him into the very heart of our operating system.

So as we pray or sing his praises or read scripture it may feel that this is just one-way communication.  In reality the Holy Spirit, unseen and unobtrusively, is continuously upgrading us from inside.  His work of grace.

It may be day by day but over the time the result may be remarkable.  It was Spurgeon who declared;  “If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”

So upgrade to macOS Sierra, here we go!