I heard my name over the loudspeaker at an airport gate before getting on an international flight.
“Mrs. Bowling, please come to the gate counter to check in with the gate agent.” At first, I thought that something was wrong or that someone had turned in something I’d lost. These thoughts ran through my mind quickly as I tried to figure out why they were calling my name.
I was more than overjoyed. The international flight I was about to board was a long one, and any seat improvement would have been massively helpful. The upgrade meant I could sleep better in a more comfortable seat and eat food that was more appealing. Those perks would have a great effect on my ability to step off the plane refreshed and ready for my busy schedule. Of course, I’m more than willing to fly coach, because it is my normal class of travel, but I’m always very grateful for an upgrade!
In this verse, Jesus talks about how the presence of Holy Spirit, in contrast to Jesus’ physical presence, is an upgrade for us all. In full disclosure, I’ve struggled to see how this could be. When Jesus walked the earth, people could see, touch, hear, and experience Him as a human. All of our relationships are with other humans who are tangible, visible, able to be heard, etc. So how can Holy Spirit, who is invisible, intangible, and often inaudible be an upgrade or an advantage over Jesus’ physical presence? I believe that it is true (because Jesus said that it is), but it is hard to understand. In Heavenly Help, I describe four ways that Holy Spirit is our Advantage: continual Companion, Confirmation, Guide, and Connection.
As our continual Companion, Holy Spirit is our upgrade from Jesus because Holy Spirit is always with us—omnipresent. You cannot go anywhere in the world where Holy Spirit is not present. Indeed, Holy Spirit is our constant Companion, even when we don’t realize He is with us.
I have experienced the reality of Holy Spirit being my continual Companion in many circumstances, locations, times, and challenges in my life. For example, I’ll never forget riding in an airplane from Luanda, Angola, to Frankfurt, Germany. On this flight, I became really light-headed and sick. I began to feel my face get flush and my hands get cold. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so awful, and then I felt Holy Spirit remind me about what had happened throughout that day. I had endured a long road trip with almost no food. I felt directed to go to the galley on the plane and ask for some orange juice, which the flight attendant quickly provided when she saw how pale I was. I sat down briefly, drank two glasses of orange juice, and my blood sugar normalized—all thanks to Holy Spirit being my continual Companion.
Furthermore, Holy Spirit confirms the work of God in our lives, convincing or convicting us for improving our alignment with God’s plans and purposes, as Jesus describes in John 16:8-11. I have seen Holy Spirit confirm God’s work in my life numerous times, including confronting me about behavior changes, challenging me on various attitudes, encouraging me with open doors for ministry opportunities, and helping me sense Holy Spirit’s prompting to give someone a Bible verse and encouragement.
Additionally, Holy Spirit is our Guide, as Jesus explains in John 16:13. To be more precise, Holy Spirit is our Truth Guide. When we follow Holy Spirit, we can be certain that the Helper will lead us away from deception and into truth. This is all the clearer when we consider that Jesus called Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth (see John 14:17).
I have sensed Holy Spirit guiding me into truth on many different occasions. Some of these experiences include giving me wisdom about circumstances that my kids were going through, giving me insight into a situation that was confusing or unclear, helping me with direction for a decision that needed to be made, or sharing guidance within relationship struggles.
Finally, we see that Holy Spirit is our upgrade because of the connection Holy Spirit works in our lives based on Jesus’ words in John 16:13-15:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
In these verses, Jesus says that Holy Spirit:
Speaks what He hears
Tells us what is to come
Gives glory to Jesus
Gives us what Jesus has
When we think about these advantages that Holy Spirit makes available to us, we can start to see how Holy Spirit can be our upgrade.