Lately, I’ve been hungry for the truth and presence of God. I’ve been reading my book on the history of Christianity (boy, am I learning a lot!), along with more of my Bible. I’ve also been feeling a strong urge to pray and meditate. When it comes to prayer, though, I struggle. Always have. I’ve always viewed prayer as the ultimate act of faith–to speak to someone I can’t see or touch or audibly hear. There’s also the issue of what to say. Sometimes, words (even in tongues) just seem inadequate to express what’s in my soul. So last night as I laid in bed, I stared at the ceiling and tried to will words to my lips that just wouldn’t come. I finally felt God say, “It’s ok. I’m here with you. Just meditate on me.”
I know some people picture God as some old guy dressed in robes with a flowing beard. But that’s not at all how I see Him. I picture Him as the Bible describes Him, as a spirit of life, light and love–the source of all good things. So He is bright, warm, and radiant with energy and comfort. He has no physical body, features or boundaries. He just…is.
And when I’m in His presence, nothing else matters. The fiscal cliff doesn’t matter. The culture wars don’t matter. The ineptitude on Capitol Hill doesn’t matter. Worries over my career (or lack thereof) don’t matter. My sufferings on this earth, even my death, don’t matter. Because when you grasp the true nature of God, you realize that He has seen all. Is all. Is ultimately going to resolve it all. That life on this planet is barely more than a blip on the cosmic radar. What matters is that He is love, loves us, and wants to be with us–His ultimate creation–for eternity. Continue reading
I’ve noticed that my articles on the Holy Spirit are getting some good traffic. It seems many people are curious about Him. And it’s no wonder. The Holy Spirit is a mysterious and powerful entity. When Jesus sent Him to the disciples at Pentecost, there was a sound like a rushing wind that brought half the city to the disciples’ doorstep. The disciples saw flames settle over their heads and spoke in foreign tongues. And that tradition continues in many churches. People under the power of the Spirit have seen visions, heard heavenly voices, prophesied, danced, spoken in tongues, received miraculous healing, and overcome addiction. Some have described the Holy Spirit as thus: In the Old Testament, God was above us. When Jesus came, he was God with us. The Holy Spirit, however, is God in us. That’s a pretty weighty thought to digest.
Many believers hesitate to receive the Holy Spirit because they’re not sure what to expect. The thought of prophesying, speaking in tongues or dancing in front of their church unnerves them. They don’t want to look foolish or make a mistake. Continue reading
So here I was–despite the spiritual hunger in my soul–wondering if I would ever go back to church. Months began to slip away into years. Meanwhile, the anger and hurt that had been brewing in my heart began to overwhelm me.
I had been praying for years for God to help me forgive people who had hurt me in the past. The list of people was long and the pain very deep. At 8 years old, I was molested. At 11, a visiting missionary in his 50s came onto me. In elementary and middle school, some of my friends used me. In high school, people teased or ignored me. And of course, the pastor I had loved and supported through several of my young adult years betrayed me. Though God was helping me, I couldn’t escape the memories, and anger gnawed at me constantly. Continue reading
I didn’t go into a lot of detail in Part 1 about the time God spoke to me. But what He did was assure me that I could take my time on my journey to spiritual freedom. See, during my whole life in the church, I was constantly led to believe that my salvation was never secure. If I sinned after asking for God’s forgiveness, then my chance at eternal life was taken away. The rapture could happen at any moment, and only those whose sins were confessed and forgiven would go to heaven. The worst part was, almost ANYTHING could be a sin: a bad thought, a negative attitude, a swear word…even watching a suggestive movie or listening to secular music. I was a young adult attending a public university while struggling with lust. How could I ever live up to that??
And God knew I couldn’t. But He still considered me His daughter. He saw the love and desire in my heart for His presence, and He honored that. It contradicted everything I had been taught about salvation. So I began to look into the scriptures for answers–specifically, the teachings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. And that’s when I truly discovered grace:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
However, even though I now knew that my salvation was secure, I still needed to get free. I was angry, depressed, hurting, and a slave to manipulative relationships. I knew I couldn’t willingly continue in this lifestyle and still call myself a Christian. Continue reading