Henry Hudson’s life was consumed by his fanatical obsession with finding a northern water route to the Pacific. During his four voyages for both England and Holland, he searched in vain for the elusive Northwest Passage. However, Henry Hudson never realized his goal – ice, harsh conditions, or landmasses impeded him each time. The crew of the ship Discovery finally had enough after Hudson insisted on continuing the search despite a year of exploration with nothing to show for it but frostbite. Low on food and morale, the crew mutinied against Hudson, on July 22, 1611.
Henry along with his son and eight others were abandoned in a small rowboat in the middle of on Arctic sea (now modern day Canada). The explorer’s feelings, as he watched his ship the Discovery sail away without him, are lost to history because that day was also last he was seen alive. Henry Hudson and his castaways have never been found or accounted for. The sea where he was vanished now bears his name, Hudson Bay.
Despite having inexhaustible passion and drive to discover the Northwest Passage, Hudson was never equipped to make it a reality. He did not have the latest GPS system or detailed maps. He did not own Gortex jackets and subzero equipment. His wooden ship could not break through the ice pack. He was ill-equipped to accomplish the task he so desperately wanted to do.
Many Christians find themselves in a similar position while trying to be the type of servant God calls us to. It is extremely difficult to maintain our passion of the Gospel when serving is hard and thankless. Likely many people reading this would describe themselves as “burnt out” on serving. They feel like every time they try to get motivated to serve, they just run into obstacles. They feel ill equipped to serve the church with the devotion and worship it deserves.
So how are believers equipped so that the Gospel is magnified for the glory of God? How is it possible for a soul, consumed with its own cravings, to be changed to one that would joyously and selflessly serve others, when it feels like Henry Hudson adrift among the icebergs?
Under our own power, it is impossible to be the servant God calls us to be. That is why we need something more powerful and outside of ourselves to help us change. We need the Holy Spirit. That is the only way a soul consumed by sin and craving its own needs can change into one that joyously and selflessly serves God – not to mention other people.
Christians are equipped to serve God first and foremost by the working of the Holy Spirit in them. Without that person of the Trinity, we would never understand the person and work of the other two members. Nor would we have any desire to serve God or his people, as John writes in his Gospel in verse 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. Illumination of the Gospel is the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit and this enables us to serve others.
The Spirit of God changes our hearts to accept the Gospel. Without this change, we would never have even thought about or wanted to serve others. We cannot desire to serve God unless we first understand Him. This elucidation only the Holy Spirit can provide. Jesus explains to his disciples (in John 14:12-15) that unless the Holy Spirit comes that they could not otherwise understand the Gospel: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
The Spirit works within us to magnify Christ, piercing the veil of sin and helping us comprehend the things of God. It enlightens the meaning of Scripture and convicts our conscience of sin we commit, see John 16:7-9. But without the Holy Spirit, our hearts can never fully understand the Gospel of grace. As Romans 7:6 states, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” It seems that this new life in Spirit has set us free so that we can understand the Gospel.