WITH HOPE: We all need a good advocate

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, June 12, 2022

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By Charles Qualls

Who is a good advocate for you? Who has stepped up to bat on your behalf at just the right moment? You probably think you are self-sufficient. You pride yourself on being able to get through this life on your strength, talent and will.

This is commendable. Some even try all of life this way. But try as we may, sooner or later we’ll find out we need help. As John 8:8-17 reminds us, God has provided needed help that believers can access. On this Pentecost, we celebrated again the coming of the church’s Advocate.

We may try our best to live independently. That may work out for a time. Eventually, a moment here or a season there during our lifetimes will remind us that we all need a good advocate here and there.

I got in trouble a grand total of one time in my elementary and high school years. I was a rule follower, and I tried my best to not break them. In fact, even this time, I didn’t do what I was accused of. But no one believed it. 

The elementary school librarian had used a revolutionary product of her day, a spray can that produced the effect of snow. Some of my classmates had decided it would be funny to use their fingers and write their names in the snow. Three names got etched into the snow while there were no teachers around. 

Trouble was, to stay out of the principal’s office, they chose to write their middle names. So, a guy named “Ike” wrote “Charles” up there with his finger. Three of us got called out by our hard-nosed fifth-grade teacher. She lit us up!

My mom asked me about it. I told her the truth. I didn’t know anything about it. She made an appointment to talk with the teacher and the principal. The good news is that by the time she arrived, I was already off the hook. A classmate had seen the three of us get hauled in for the vandalism, and she had also been out in the hallway when the thing had been done.

Bravely, the girl had stepped forward and told what she knew, because she didn’t like the idea of three good kids getting blamed for something they didn’t do when she knew three more bad little boys who were getting away with it. 

So, she did what she didn’t have to do. She stepped forward and used her voice. You may have noticed. In this story, the hero wasn’t my mother. My advocate was a willing, brave 10-year-old girl.

In John 14, Philip asks his version of, “Are we there yet?!” You see, he asked to see the Father.  And Jesus replies, “If you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father. And Jesus also promises the gift of the Holy Spirit beyond Easter.”

Like we children as travelers, until we got there the answer was never satisfying. Same for Philip. Jesus has just finished that more famous stretch found at the beginning of John 14. He has told his closest followers that they should trust. God has made a dwelling place for the faithful. Jesus says that he will come back for them, but that by following him they even know the way. 

Now, Philip needs more. “Show us the Father,” he requests. Frederick Buechner has said, “We always have to remember that what seems so simple is so distant in the difficult moments of life. God is for us, God is with us, and God will never leave us.” 

The Holy Spirit of God has come to advocate for us and to travel with us in life. One God shows up in three persons. It’s a great mystery. Jesus says, “I am the Father living in me.” We have seen God close up.

But on life’s journey, this word also suggests “Comforter” and “Helper.” The Holy Spirit offers us a lot. We’ll need those qualities of God. Because the one thing we’ve figured out that we don’t really get to do in life is to stay home. 

Past all of life’s mileposts on our journeys. Through all of life’s twists and turns. Through all of life’s surprises, challenges and even victories, we need a good Advocate. One who will lobby for us even into the very Heavens. And who will also interpret and guide us in life since we can’t always see the Father every time we wish we could.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.