Continuing on from my previous post…. In 1991 I became friends with my best pal’s brother. Living in different cities we carried on a voluminous correspondence and I grew to trust him implicitly (I still do). In late 1993 I think, his life changed drastically for the better. There was just an inexplicable inner change in him – peace? I don’t know. He just seemed more sure of his faith and God’s word while I was struggling to keep my faith in God and Scripture afloat. Even his letters carried a totally different tone and content: they were all about Scripture and telling me what he’d learnt rather than just news.
Meanwhile around Dec 1994, a relative told me about an event at his school where the senior boys were spontaneously filled with the Holy Spirit that led to the outbreak of strange manifestations – “holy laughter”, as it’s been termed and other things. Completely discounting the evidence that these boys’ lives had changed for the better – with a passion for Jesus – he scoffed at these manifestations- terming them unbibilical and insisting that God wouldn’t be so ridiculous. Not knowing how serious it was, I agreed.
In May 1995, a conversation with my best friend, who’d already spoken to her brother about these events, led me to change my mind. Discussing these events with her, I wondered if it really was God. She very wisely commented, “God is sovereign. IF he chooses to make his creatures look stupid, who are we to say no.” This truth hit me amidships hard, and I agreed she was right. I didn’t realise until much later how crucial this change of mind and heart that I expressed verbally was to be.
Her brother put us in touch with a fellowship in our town which was very different from the usual gathering of young adults. Everyone there (except me) knew someone/everyone in the fellowship, but they went out of their way to make us comfortable. The group was also the first I saw with a genuine desire to worship God and a deep hunger and thirst for Him.
The leader of the group told us that in June 1995, a group of 5 such fellowships were meeting for a week of worship and prayer, to see what God might do. In the meanwhile, my friend had already told me through Scripture (Acts 1:4-5, Ephesians 5:18) that baptism in the Holy Spirit was not optional but a command. I knew that was the “missing element” so to speak, in my Christian life. But I’d no clue how to proceed other than to tell God to do something, anything….so long as my life changed. He took me at my word.
At the first meeting, we watched a Rodney Howard Browne video that I’d heard critiqued. I watched carefully – noting that all the criticisms were invalid. It was not mindless laughter as people claimed, but very mindful: it was triumphant laughter in praise of the greatness of God and His works and the total defeat of Satan. It could be controlled if one so desired.
After the screening, we were told that those who wished to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit were to come up in front and we’d be prayed for. My friend and I were among the first and wham, we went down under the power of God: so gentle and yet so powerful. It felt as if an inner spring of living water had opened up in my belly – as Jesus promised. (John 7:38).
Yes, we laughed, etc but as I learned later, these external manifestations were not to be the focus. The focus was to be our relationship with Jesus and Scripture and our inner lives – an inner transformation. There were more such meetings that entire summer.
What they did for me from the beginning was to put a deep hunger and thirst for God, Scripture and holiness. I wish I could say I changed outwardly right away – but I didn’t, though inside I was totally different. Scripture came alive, I loved to spend time with God, loved to worship, loved to read and meditate on Scripture. Putting Scripture to practice, letting the selfish part of me die, was more difficult.
God began dealing with deep wounds of rejection and abandonment and I learned to forgive and release my dad and eventually others who’d hurt me. He began teaching me about my identity in Christ. But it was still fairly academic then.
During this time we were exposed to the gifts of the Holy Spirit- words of knowledge, wisdom, the prophetic, healings, tongues…. and many of us operated in these gifts too.
Many of us received personal prophecies from God and many were fulfilled. I did too and a part of it has been fulfilled. I also received direct leading from Scripture about the course and plans of God for my life. I didn’t understand any of it when I received it, but I knew it was God, not something I’d made up and I knew it was his plan for my life being revealed.
This phase of my life was very clearly God directed and bore his fingerprints with divine appointments beginning with my friends, the fellowship, other people whose lives intersected with mine however briefly, the place I stayed at and our tiny fellowship there…