Over the years I’ve had periods of intense spiritual growth and valleys of almost none. As a child I was drawn to church and from about third grade though sixth I got myself up every Sunday, got ready for church, and walked to Sunday school every week. I stayed for the sermon and I listened. The Bible stories were just stories to me until we moved to another state. Now during my seventh grade year I did not have a church home. We lived in a larger city with no churches close to our house. That year, however, I had a history teacher who made all the Bible stories come alive for for me. In an after class conversation she placed the Biblical history into the time frame of secular history and the lights were turned on. We moved to another part of the city at the end of the school year and I became neighbor’s with a family in which the dad was attending the Baptist seminary in that city. I began attending church with that family and the next summer went to church camp. At that camp I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior and the following week was baptized in my home church. But the night I accepted Jesus I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I just didn’t know it, and Baptists didn’t know it either, I guess. I was filled with holy laughter the rest of the evening. It was amazing but there was no one to explain it to me.
Then for high school we moved again, to a small town. I went to church occasionally but there was no one that ministered to me and helped me grow in my faith. Instead I began a steady fall into sin. My church attendance dwindled until I was no longer attending as I reached adulthood. My early adulthood was rife with sin but I never stopped believing in Jesus. I was an infant Christian for over ten years. Then I met people who were from strong Christian families. I began going to church again when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and was invited to attend by a woman who was doing a neighborhood outreach. I wasn’t married and was still living in sin but those people loved me with a love that reflected the love of my Heavenly Father. They did not condemn me, nor judge me, nor chastise me, they just loved me. I’m not sure now at what point I stopped going there or even why. Maybe because when my daughter was three months old and her dad and I were living together we moved to another part of town. We began attending church where one of the families that I had met, and through whom I met my baby’s father, attended. We were faithful to attend every Sunday. We became so poor that we barely had enough gas to get us to church and back. I was taking college classes part-time and I rode a bicycle all the way across town to get to class and back because there was no money for the gas. During this time, when we were pretty much forced to stay home, during the break between semesters, we began reading the Bible aloud to each other all day except for taking care of daily needs for ourselves and our ten month old daughter. This Bible reading convicted our hearts. One Sunday I responded to the alter call to renew my relationship with God. I understood from what I was learning in the Bible that we are to confess our sins and I did that in front of this small congregation. The elder who had done the alter call said that he did not think he himself would have the courage to make such a confession. But God led me to do that. We had decided that God was leading us to get married and we decided we would do that as soon as there was enough money to cover the minimal expenses necessary. Shortly after that as the semester began I went to pick up my financial aid and there was an extra BEOG grant check for the part time semester I had attended the previous fall. That $200+ was exactly what we needed to get a license, blood tests, a ring, clean our best suits and get married. We asked an elder of the church, who was an ordained minister, to perform the wedding. We just wanted a small intimate wedding. He asked if he could invite a few people from church and we agreed. The entire church showed up. A week after getting the money we were married and last March we celebrated our 35th anniversary. We took our family to church every Sunday for the next 20 years.
There were years of Bible study in a small group in which I learned a lot more about the Word of God even though we had read it through once and I read some parts again and our studies would take weeks on a single book. It was a period of growth and learning but still there was no one teaching the fullness of having the Holy Spirit. We moved to Arizona and for the four plus years we were there we attended two different churches. Still no teaching about the full work of the Holy Spirit.
But one Sunday afternoon I picked up a book that had come to me from a friend of my husband’s who had cleaned out his parents garage. This book had been in my house for several years. I don’t get rid of books. I don’t remember the author but the book was called ‘My Name is Legion’ and it was about one woman’s deliverance from demons. I’d never thought about demon possession or affliction in this day and age. None of the churches or Bible studies I had ever attended taught about this subject. Casting out demons was something done in Jesus’ day. The subject was glossed over. But as I read this little book the demons I carried became quite nervous and made themselves known to me just by their reaction to my reading this book. I could feel their discomfort and it was not my own. That began a period of growth for me. More diligent Bible reading. Getting my hands on other books teaching about the work of demons and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God began talking to me. I wanted to know how to get rid of the demons oppressing me.
We moved back to our previous state and hometown. We had found ourselves destitute and moved in with my in-laws for several months. Depression and other things settled over me and my sister-in-law invited me to attend Overcomers Anonymous with her. We went together every week for quite some time. One evening after the meeting the leader of the group and her prayer partner stayed and prayed over me for deliverance. Now I didn’t have the kind of experience that some have. My demons were pretty easy to get rid of actually. At one time, years before, I was encouraged by a chiropractor to practice some relaxation techniques and I did until one time during this meditation technique I saw the face of a demon, ugly, horrid, and it frightened me. Well that demon had to be a spirit of fear, because after that I would have these ominous feelings of impending doom for no apparent reason. After the night of my deliverance I never had that feeling again. It’s been 25 years now.
Still I was only getting my spiritual instruction from my own reading and from Christians who did not teach about the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit today. I was aware but not enough to know how to access the gifts and not totally convinced that He really does work in believers today. I received insight from God about Bible passages while reading and studying His Word but did not realize that it was His Holy Spirit talking to me. Because of my desire to grow, He made sure I did as I read the Word.
Eventually a church we attended merged with another with more of a Charismatic leaning. The teaching included more about the Holy Spirit although it was somewhat limited and the other teachings were more like pablum than meat. I had opportunity during those years to attend some charismatic evangelical revival meeting by well known evangelists. I had a few experiences with the Holy Spirit and there were a few times during my personal prayer time that I would have such a heavy heart for something that I actually gave over my prayers to the Holy Spirit praying in tongues because I simply did not have the words to express myself. It was a time of spiritual growth.
I took over coordinating a bus ministry for that church. I loved that ministry which picked up children and brought them to church. I called every one of them twice a week to arrange transportation and talked to them individually about their lives. I drove one of the vans and the kids took turns sitting “shotgun” up front with me giving me time to minister individually to those children and youth. I loved those children. The ministry was growing and it got to the point where one of the three of the vans would have to do two routes picking kids up in town, dropping them off then picking up kids from the more rural area surrounding the church. Sometimes we’d have a couple more than there were seatbelts for so I buckled the littlest ones two to a belt.
The minister supported his family as an insurance adjuster and he became concerned about over loading the vans. I was told I couldn’t have more kids than the number of seatbelts provided in the vans. He was concerned about liability. From the midweek services before that decision to the Sunday after that decision God removed His hand of blessing from that ministry. It went from three routes running full on Tuesday to not having enough kids to fill one van let alone run three routes on Sunday. My love of that ministry left me and we left that church after that day. I gave the pastor the list of all the kids, asked the other van driver to take all the kids home after church, we took the other two vans back to the garage where they were parked when not in use, left the keys where the pastor always had them for us and never went back. I missed those children but it was time to move on. Many of them went to other churches shortly after that.
We did a little church hopping but finally quit going at all. That might not have been a good idea with teens still at home but the ones we checked out just didn’t have the right spirit in them. We did eventually start attending with my husbands parents to honor them. Funny thing was they ended up at the same church where I attended when I was pregnant with our first child. The ones who loved me unconditionally.
After we left the church and bus ministry I was missing serving God as I had and during my one hour commute to work one day I was praying to God asking Him to show me what He wanted me to do to serve Him. His still small voice as clear as day said to me, “Love my people.”
I’m not sure I am fulfilling that mission as He wants me to, I don’t go out and serve in any outreach, I don’t even attend a church. But, I do love those who I encounter in life. I don’t judge, I don’t criticize or chastise, I just love. God knows that is my best talent because He made me a relationship person. He prepared me for this. All my life I’ve had unconditional love in my life from my parents to my husband, children and now grandchildren. There are times that I’ve been so overwhelmed with gratitude for how blessed I am by Yehovah God that I am brought to tears. There are times that I am so so overwhelmed by the pain others feel that I am brought to tears for their grief and pain. Many times my prayer has been that God would use me as a vessel to hold the overflow of grief and pain of someone going through trials and tribulations in their personal life that are overwhelming to them. The best I can do is show the love of our Heavenly Father and Creator by loving others. I’m not sure that is all He meant for me to do but I am equipped for it.
I’ve lost those I love, I’ve known people I loved who committed suicide, I know poverty, I’ve experienced domestic violence, I’ve lived in sexual immorality, I’ve had periods of time I abused alcohol, I understand addiction through my own addictions. These and many other experiences in my life have also prepared me to love others unconditionally and minister to those who are going through these things. Maybe I should be out seeking those I can help but God hasn’t made it clear that is what He wants me to do.
Lately I’ve been listening, watching and reading about end times prophesy and what the Christian authors, pastors, ministries and such have been saying. I usually live a quiet, selectively uninformed life. I am not a news-watcher. I don’t trust the media to give me accurate or even relevant news. I am on social media enough to find out what the general public is hearing on the news. Recently, though, in my search about prophesy I’ve found several who are keeping close tabs on world events, politically and environmentally, as those events relate to prophesy about the end times. These things have sent me back to the Old Testament prophets, Yeshua’s words about what to look for at the end times, and Revelation prophesy. This has resparked my interest in the supernatural events of the Bible as well. Which in turn has rekindled my desire to have a more intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t force Himself upon us, we have to invite Him to work in our lives and I’ve been lax in letting Him work in me. I know from past experiences what it is like and I fear I’ve grown complacent and lost my first love. It is time to get back to that first love and renew that intimate relationship so He can do a good work through me. I’m sure that in the renewing of my mind that my daily prayers will be more effective. I’m sure that in this renewing I will become a stronger Christian and more effective in my God-given mission to love His people. I’m sure that through Him I will be able to overcome some of the issues I have in my personal private life to conquer things that have taken hold of me and again start to grow spiritually.
So my friends and followers, pray for me.
Numbers 6: 22-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
The Priestly Blessing
22 The Lord spoke to Moses: 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 May Yahweh bless you and protect you;
25 may Yahweh make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 may Yahweh look with favor on you[
and give you peace.
27 In this way they will pronounce My name over the Israelites, and I will bless them.”