A man walks into a bar and says, “Make mine a double.” What he means is take a shot of whatever spirits and put it in a glass, then double it by adding another shot. It’s a very literal thing. Instead of one ounce of booze, you have two. I think we should be more literal when talking about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we have one ounce of spirit. Sometimes we have more. When Elisha asks for a double share of Elijah’s spirit, he is imagining a real commodity. I always tell people that spiritual passion is measurable. Our soul is real, as is our God. Religion doesn’t deal with intangibles. In spiritual matters we deal with a substance that matters. In Bible times, every son got one portion of the family estate. But the first born son got a double share of the family farm. This was a real commodity that could be measured in furlongs and feet. Is the Holy Spirit that real to you?
Let that be your starting point in the familiar story of Elijah’s chariot ride to heaven (II Kings 2:1-15. The old prophet’s sidekick, Elisha, gets a double share of the Holy Spirit. The people take a measure of the new kid. Yes, he does have a lot of spirit. So the people accept him as their new spiritual leader. We tend to miss the way this story speaks about the physicality of the Holy Spirit. It picks Elijah up (notice the chariot is made of fire), it falls in the form of a mantle, it splits the water, it manifests itself in a way that is obvious to common folk. Something this real can be doubled.
It can also be halved and halved again. This is what is happening to the Holy Spirit today. We barely notice Lent, even though ancient Christians used this forty day period to substantially increase their faith. We hardly ever pray with the expectation that God’s Spirit will do something tangible because of our prayers. We treat the Bible as if it is irrelevant, something you just read on the weekend if you’re into that kind of thing. We don’t speak with joy about how the Spirit connects us with Jesus the son of God. We wish for our worship to be short, not inspiring.
Take out your ruler this Lent. Measure the length, the depth, the height of the Holy Spirit in your life.