[I am Thankful: Part 4]
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in February of 1971, a few months before I graduated from High School. It was the single most transformative experience of my life, to date. I cannot recall when I was saved. I cannot remember not loving God and desiring to please Him. [I am fully aware of my sinfulness; I just cannot recall not repenting on the day I became aware of my sins. I cannot recall not being saved. I can recall struggling for sanctification.]
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit brought me into a fellowship with God I could not have dreamed possible. Although I spoke in tongues for several hours, I did not hear the voice of God except as He prodded me to fully surrender just before the infilling. The Spirit prayed with me and through me. I was conscious of seeking God’s grace and favor in all areas of my life, but I did not hear Him speaking words to me. Instead, I felt fully at one with Him. I knew that evening He knew me and I was coming to know Him in a way that transcends reason or words. It was an expression and encounter of love.
That encounter with the Holy Spirit is the benchmark by which I measure my life. It is the fountain to which I must return often. It is an anchor in the storms of life. Out of that experience I know I must and can bring God’s presence to others. In the fullness of the Spirit, I am a witness; Evangelism is not just an activity it is a state of purposeful presence. Out of that experience I know the promises of God are certain and secure, even when I feel cut off from God. I live my life out of that encounter with God, finding the Spirit’s presence renewed day-by-day. Yet, I have never had the sensations of that encounter replicated in entirety. I have had new and different encounters with God, but each of them flows out of that initial baptism. I find myself hungering to be refilled as if for the first time, but that is a logical impossibility. Instead, I hunger for the day when the fullness of the Spirit shall be engulf all of creation, the day toward which my encounter with the Spirit points. On that day we shall know as we are known and all by its very nature will be to the glory of God.
January 4, 2010