Chapter 11 Filled With The Sp

This entry is part of 16 in the series article 92

Chapter 11 Filled With The Sp

CHAPTER 11

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

As a preacher, traveling and holding special meetings, I felt it was my duty, and responsibility, to pray. I never liked it, though, and always found it difficult and boring. I spent at least forty-five minutes each day praying through my prayer list. Some days, when rushed, my list only took twenty minutes to negotiate. For some reason, I never felt as spiritual, however, on those days. I never discussed my discontent openly for fear of reproach but it was how I felt nonetheless. I recall once spending an entire night in prayer but the next morning I was even more frustrated. The reason? I simply didn’t know how to pray.

As I began my time in prayer with the Lord, therefore, the first day of June in 1982, I didn’t have a clue as to my direction. The first few days were spent complaining, griping, bellyaching, arguing, accusing, crabbing, fussing, threatening, objecting, expressing, denouncing, dumping, differing, dickering, intimating, voicing, mocking, gnashing, second guessing, pleading, hinting, verbalizing, spitting, raving, ranting, commenting, and wishing before the throne of God. Eventually I talked myself out and decided if I were ever going to hear from God, it would have to be on His terms. Most of my prayers, therefore, became characterized by silence.

As I continued to learned how to pray, I would often open my Bible and refer to portions of God’s Word I failed to understand. I usually picked those New Testament verses which were promises relating to answered prayer which seemed impossible for God to fulfill. I also pointed to those passages relating to the Holy Spirit and His infilling in order that the Lord might show me His truth on this topic. Today, when others inquire of me what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, I usually suggest the same passages which I used: John 15, Ephesians 5, Acts 1/2, and Romans 8. These passages led me to the true Scriptural awareness of the Spirit filled life.

As I depleted myself of all frustrations, I began to focus on God and all He had done. I began to recognize His creation, as King David did, and as David, I found God beyond my ability to comprehend. As I began to thus magnify the Lord in my prayers, I realized He indeed was big enough to handle all of my problems. When I regarded His measureless power, I began to see how he was able to deal with anything brought before Him; including meeting me where I was in my pursuit of Him in the person of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know that I was beginning to learn to worship God.

Our difficulty, and struggle in prayer, is generally the amplification of our problems, as we see them, beyond God’s ability to cope I.E., we focus on the problem rather than God’s power to bring a solution. As I reversed the process through worship, my problems began to look smaller in light of His eternal power and Holiness. Eventually it seemed as though God could do anything and when that realization was conceived, I began to praise Him for just being God.

Many years ago as a small boy, and before going blind, I borrowed my uncle’s binoculars. Turning off the porch light, I ventured into the darkness of the front yard and on my back in the freshly mowed grass, I examined the night’s sky. The stars glistened like tiny points of white light without the magnification of the glasses. Though beautiful, they were insignificant points of heavenly light. With the assistance of the binoculars, however, they burst into flaming miniature balls of multicolored illuminoids. Pulling the lens from my eyes, I once again examined the stars with the naked eye. The difference was striking. Without the glasses, they were only white points of etherial light; tiny pinpricks on a velvety black curtain. With the help of the binoculars, they were flashing orbs; winking blues, reds, and greens in a caliginous black sea.

Prayer is just such an enlarger; magnifier; amplifier. As we worship God as Creator, Savior, Deliverer, Conqueror, Counselor, Controller, Commander, and Administrator, of the universe, our problems, circumstances, and impossible situations become less of a threat in light of His eternal immensity. When such an awareness of God’s presence is realized, our thoughts thus are exchanged for God’s; making it possible to see each situation as God. When that occurs, nothing is impossible.

When the angel Gabriel spoke with Mary concerning the birth of Jesus, she inquired as to how such would happen. The angel said it would be through an act of the Holy Spirit I.E., a virgin birth. Gabriel concluded his message by saying, “For with God nothing is impossible,” (Luke 1:37). The word (impossible) used by the angel comes from a root word from which we obtain our words – “dynamite) and (dynamic). The same Greek word is used throughout the New Testament in the word translated (miracle). What was Mary’s response to this announcement? “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her,” (Luke 1:38). It is unlikely that our Lord would have been born through Mary if she would have question the method, or the message, which the angel announced.

Reversing the binoculars, I peered through the wrong end. The stars were instantly squeezed to diminutive specs of cold points of white light; shapeless; without distinction; distant; barely resembling stars. Prayer works similarly. If we were honest, much of what we call prayer is a lot of frustration taken out on God for not pulling us out of a jam. We’ve spent very little, if any, time praying until that very moment. Usually, the only reason we are praying, is due to the exhaustion of personal interventions. In short, we have the magnification reversed; God looking pretty tiny in the background and our problems giant manifestations of impossibilities. The best lesson I learned during my time of prayer was to wait upon God. Many of my daily prayer times, therefore, became silent sanctuaries of worship. Perhaps this is what the psalmist referred to as “waiting upon the Lord.”

I spent a minimum of thirty minutes each day in prayer. If so inclined, and on some days, I prayed early in the morning and then again later at night. I began, during the first few weeks, of bringing all my needs before the Lord. I attempted to twist His arm by reminding Him of His promises to meet all my needs. Some of my bills were going unpaid. If His Word was true, that shouldn’t be, and I told Him so. Although I didn’t know how, some of my prayers began to be answered. In fact, after two months, though my income was incapable of covering all my monthly expenses, all my bills were paid in full. This, then, becomes a very dangerous time for the Christian seeking something unique from God. When prayers begin to be answered, the pressure lessens. It is easy, then, to loose sight of the real purpose we had when beginning our pursuit of God. Fortunately, I saw this as a potential problem and kept right on praying. In fact, I intensified my efforts. Now that some of the major problems were eliminated, I zeroed in on what I really wanted; to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

One day I told my wife I had felt for several days that something was about to happen. My wife stated her concern that I was going to run off half cocked on some spiritual high; charging hell with a squirt gun. Though I confessed I was uncertain as to the end result, I knew God was doing something and I was anxious to discover its identity.

I noticed that much of my day was spent meditating on the Scriptures I had been pouring over for the past couple of months. Though I was actively working at my cassette duplicating business, I had many hours to ponder the Word of God as I stood at my machines reproducing tapes.

An unusual thing I realized one morning had to do with music. Each morning as I climbed from bed, I heard the sound of Christian music playing on a tiny record player somewhere deep down inside of me. It seemed that God was everywhere; even in my sleep. Additionally, as I knelt to pray, each day, I became more conscious of God’s presence. It seemed as though He was very near and that was something completely unfamiliar and unexpected. I also noticed that as I prayed, I found myself saying, “we,” as I addressed the Lord. That, in itself, I thought strange and, in fact, it sort of bothered me. Who was this “we” I was referring to in my prayers?

I cannot honestly say that something happened to me all at once, that is, suddenly. There was no bolt of lightning; no clap of thunder; no sounding cymbals; no trumpet blast; no heavenly rainbow; no voice booming from the sky. I quietly sensed the presence of God in my prayers over a period of several weeks. The funny thing that happen was my apatite for prayer became ferocious. I found myself deliberately making more time to pray. The more I prayed, the greater my addiction. It had become like a drug and I was hooked. Eventually the presence of God was all about me whether I prayed or not. I recall one day standing at my high speed cassette duplicator, plugging in blank tapes, popping them out when done and replacing them with fresh blanks, when all of the sudden I felt God’s Holiness all around me. I pressed the off switch on my equipment, walked to the center of my work room in the basement, lay face down on the floor and for several minutes praised and worshipped God for who He was. This particular experience greatly disturbed me because we never did such things in the church of my upbringing and frowned upon those who did. I had read stories of Torrey, Moody, and Feny having such experiences but I never expected such to happen to me. In fact, as I prayed during those weeks for God to fill me with His Holy Spirit, I honestly never thought I would, or could, be filled. I thought such was reserved for the great men and women of God called to His full time ministry. I knew the Lord would reveal to me the truth of the Spirit filled life but I never thought it would be personally applicable.

As I said, I cannot point to a moment in time where I was filled with the Holy Spirit but I suddenly realized one day that I was in fact filled. The intensity of the experience lasted for nine full months. During that time I continually and constantly praised and worshipped God. I had, during this time, some very difficult times and, as I mentioned earlier, I was even rejected by my own pastor. He sat in my living room and told me that I was “out of the will of God.” He said it was time for me to stop fooling myself that I was called to the ministry. I remember this experience in my living room, not because of what he said, but because of what happened after he left.

Returning to the basement a few minutes later, I switched all my duplicating equipment on and began to work; occupying my thoughts in order to avoid the sadness attempting to overwhelm me. I remember very clearly standing with a cassette in my left hand and a bulk eraser in the other. The cassette had not copied properly and I was erasing it in order that I might reuse it. Warm tears began to streak my face as my mind replayed the terrible words I had just been forced to hear. The pressure of the rejection experienced the past few months flooded my memory once again for the thousandth time and spilled over into my tender emotions. As I stood pulling the trigger on the eraser to blank the cassette, I felt joy blossom in my spirit. I might be a failure to some, perhaps even to myself, but God had filled me with His Spirit and no one could take that from me. A fresh smile crossed my lips as I replaced the tape in the machine.

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