Things are not always what they seem. I’ve known this for many years. In my younger years I was living blind to the depth of the spiritual world. I was 14 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But, no one taught me about the things of the spirit. No one taught me about the Holy Spirit. No one mentored me. I thank God for a brave history teacher in my Jr. High. I don’t remember how we came to be discussing the topic after class, all I remember is that this history teacher put the Biblical history and the secular history together and suddenly all those Bible stories became real, historical events for me. They were no longer just stories that I had been hearing in church since I was very young. The following summer I attend a church camp, only the second and last I ever went to during my childhood and youth. I went forward at the alter call one night and accepted Jesus. That night the girls in my cabin thought I was nuts I was filled with a holy laughter. The joy that I felt kept me laughing well into the night. I don’t think I’ve laughed like that since. But I do remember it well. At my home church the following Sunday I was baptized by immersion. For the time that we lived there I attended faithfully. Then we moved to another town, I went to a small church across the street from where I lived until I got a job in which I worked on Sunday mornings. From then on I slowly fell into a sinful lifestyle. From age 15-25 my spiritual growth was negative and in a downward spiral. I had no one to mentor me and did not know that I needed someone, or that I needed to be reading the Word of God. Then at age 25, pregnant and unmarried I was invited to attend church. I went. I had never stopped believing. I had been told by doctors while I was married to my first husband that I would never have children. Then in the midst of my sinful rebellion I had a vision from God telling me I was pregnant. Even before it was late enough to know and I never prayed harder for it to be true. I wanted a boy, but, I asked God that if I had a girl that she would look a lot like me. God said yes to that and my daughter, who was my miracle baby, does look a lot like me. But God did me one better, he gave her some phenotypical traits that I always wished I had. Skin that tans, and that silly little mole that was, during my childhood, considered a ‘beauty mark.’ I didn’t ask for those but God gave them to her anyway just to make it clear that she was the answer to my prayers and a gift from Him to me. Evidence that there is a spiritual realm and I can talk to God and He does pay attention and does perform miracles even today. Still I was living blind and no one was teaching me about the power of the Holy Spirit. No one was teaching me that the Holy Spirit is a person just like God the Father – Yahweh, and Jesus the Son – Yeshua. I had no clear idea. I had faith. Not long after my daughter was born the man who would become my husband decided that she needed a father and he was it. He moved in with me, without any discussion it just happened. We began raising our daughter. Times got really tough for us financially. We were mostly stuck at home because we didn’t have the money to go anywhere. I rode a bicycle all the way across town to attend my part-time college classes. The only place we took the car was to church on Sunday morning. Had it not been for his grandmother we would have had it a lot harder. She brought groceries every time she went grocery shopping she’d get a few things for us. When we all had a cold she brought us cold medicine. His grand parents were really the only family support we had. During that time we spent our days reading the Bible aloud to each other from front cover to back. Caring for our baby who was starting to crawl then began walking during that dark time in our lives. We were committed to making it work. We really did love each other and our child. Reading the Bible convicted us that what God wanted us to do was to get married and stop living together ‘in sin’ as we had been. Once we made up our minds that is what God wanted for us the funds were there. It doesn’t take much to get married but it does have some cost associated with it. The new semester started and I picked up my financial aid for the semester and there was a small grant check for the previous part-time semester that was unexpected and not budgeted. We took that money, got our license, paid for the required blood tests, got a wedding band. It was the last one in stock of a discontinued style, just what I wanted, and fit me perfectly and the jewelry shop sales person was the young man who had first introduced us – is that evidence of God’s hand at work or what? The father of that same friend was a minister and attended the same church we were attending, though not the minister of that church. We asked him to perform the wedding and that we just wanted it to be small with family and friends. He did ask if he could invite a few people from church. We agreed. The entire congregation showed up that following Saturday evening for the wedding. Our daughter had just turned one a couple weeks before the wedding. Financially things began to look up not too much later. For awhile at the end of that semester and in the summer we were physically apart. He went to Texas to find work. He ended up in Big Spring, TX and we moved there. We rode the oil boom of the early 1980’s until it went bust. Just as it was going bust we had our second baby. The generous people of the church we were attending pitched in and paid the hospital bill for that birth. I can never thank that congregation enough. The pastor and his wife refurbished a nice old dresser for our daughter. She used that dresser until she left home to go to college. Still, in all these years I had not been taught about the power of the Holy Spirit. My faith was there, it was pretty well established though I was not a mature Christian by any means, though I had grown some over the prior 4 years or so. Eventually the financial collapse of the oil field drove us back to where family was and where I had been going to college. With a preschooler and an infant I started back to college and for awhile we lived in his grandparents basement. Ultimately his dad purchased a small mobile home that we fixed up. They were in Mexico church planting so didn’t see what we bought until they came back to the US. At that point they bought us a bigger mobile home. We learned we were going to have a 3rd child when the second was only six months old. So when he was born I took a summer off from school but was back in school in the fall to finish my last semester. After graduation I discovered once again we were going to have another child. During that pregnancy I got a temporary job out at the military base. The baby developed bilateral cataracts by the time he was six weeks old and by two months he had surgery and my employer was kind enough to allow me the daily morning visits to the eye surgeon with out docking my pay. As a temporary I did not accumulate leave so technically could not take paid time off. I met the doctor a half hour before his office opened and showed up about an hour late for work. God blessed me with empathetic and helpful supervisors. Still I did not know about the power of the Holy Spirit. When that job was at the end of it’s one year term there was a federal hiring freeze and my position was not renewed. I collected unemployment and my husband was self employed for awhile. About the time my unemployment benefits were running out I was offered a job with the government in Tucson, AZ. We moved there in January of 1987. It was in Tucson that I began to learn about the Holy Spirit.
Before we moved to Arizona a friend of my husbands that he’d known since childhood had needed help and we helped. He had cleaned out his parents garage and had given me a book that I didn’t pay much attention to. About two years after we moved to Tucson, one Sunday afternoon I picked up this little book, My Name is Legion by Glenna Henderson. It was a quick read about this woman’s deliverance from demons. Well, that little book made the demons afflicting me very uncomfortable. Had they not made their presence known by getting a little uncomfortable and fidgety I probably would have just tossed it aside as an interesting read but not taken it seriously. But they made themselves known and I took it seriously and thus began a period of searching for me and how to rid myself of the demons that were afflicting me. I read my Bible more and I acquired as many books about demonic activity and deliverance as I could. Still,I was only beginning to get a glimpse of the power of the Holy Spirit. I was not really aware that it would take the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver me from the demonic affliction. I do not think I was possessed but there was one in particular that was hanging on. I even realized when I had let it in and what it was. The spirit of fear that had been afflicting me since before I ever met my husband. I had been practicing a relaxation technique and the ugly face of the demon entered my mind at the point where the relaxation was at my head and I was supposed to push all the tension out of the top of my head. It scared me so badly that I never again attempted that relaxation technique. For years after that though I would have these uneasy feelings of impending doom for no apparent reason. It was a spirit of fear that had tried to possess me but had not been able to do more than attach itself to me as a freeloader hanging on waiting for an opportunity that I never gave it. See in general I am fearless. Even during threatening events I do not fear, I trust God, even when my faith was still immature. I trust God like a small child trusts a parent.
Eventually that spirit of fear was cast off and I’ve never had that problem since. It took a woman with the gift and her prayer partner praying over me to banish that evil demon but they did. Instead of just sweeping the house clean leaving an empty house for the demon and his brothers to come back to I delved deeply into reading and studying my Bible. Filling my heart and mind with the Word of God prevents the demons from returning. This growth spurt lasted for several years. But, as many times happens, life begins to get busy or we stop being diligent and time with God gets put to the side and spiritual growth becomes stagnant. I never stopped believing, never stopped praying, but my scripture reading was only sporadic and I was not studying the Word in prayer for teaching and hiding the Word in my heart. I was not regularly putting on the full armor of God.
That changed again a few months ago and I began to study and pray more frequently, but, I had not set aside a specific time daily. I finally decided on a specific time, but, had not an organized plan for Bible study. I was randomly looking up verses on topics of interest that day. Then one day I read verses that brought into question the controversial issue of when the ‘rapture’ will take place. I know, the word rapture isn’t in scripture. The idea though of Jesus coming and snatching away His people is in scripture. I knew that I couldn’t just find all the references to end times prophesy. I began on January 1, 2017 a reading plan offered by Bible Gateway online. The plan isn’t like many that take part of the Old Testament and part of the New Testament reading straight through each on an annual plan. The plan is a yearly plan, but, as of 2/28/17 I’m almost halfway through the year in my reading.
Praying before I read for understanding, reading, meditating upon a verse for the day, and finally talking with Yahweh, loosely following an outline that reflects the elements of the prayer Jesus gave his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, although personally I would consider His prayer in the garden before he was arrested and crucified to be the Lord’s prayer and the one He gave his disciples as the disciples guide to prayer, or the Disciples’ prayer. I got a little side tracked there.
This regular schedule and organized plan has helped me gain more understanding, opening my eyes to spiritual things and opening my heart and mind to hear the still small voice of God speaking understanding into my spirit. I have a long way to go and will be growing in my walk with God for the rest of my life. It does feel good, satisfying even, to be back into the Word and having quiet time alone with my Lord everyday. He is working on me in some areas and eventually, with His help, I will be able to more fully examine my own heart and motives and recognize that which is unacceptable to God so that it can be purged from my actions, beliefs, or feelings, whatever it may be.
I encourage everyone to delve into the Word of God daily and begin hiding more scripture in your heart. You will be better equipped for what lies ahead historically and spiritually. Taking the time to read and pray is getting fully suited up with the full armor of God.
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