Your First Time – Synchroblog

Robbymac started a synchroblog asking people to share about the first time they experienced the felt presence of the Holy Spirit.

“let’s remind ourselves and tell each other our stories of how we first became acquainted with, and eager for, the felt presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.”

You are invited to participate. Email your links to Robby (address at his blog), and they will be listed as updates to his post.

I have shared bits and pieces of this story previously on the blog, so I will pull a few quotes together to tell the whole story.

From Growing Up Christian:

I was raised in a Christian family, attending church and Sunday school since before I was born. My parents were good, sincere people doing their best to teach us about God. I remember asking Jesus into my heart when I was about 5. I have the letter from my grandma expressing her excitement about my decision.

I sometimes wonder about why my relationship with Jesus didn’t develop. I knew about Him, and I wanted to be good. But, it seemed I wasn’t very good.  Obviously I had no understanding of grace and forgiveness. Maybe that is why our relationship didn’t grow.

In highschool, my story took a sad but somewhat predictable turn.  Sparing you the gory details, my choices took me down a path that, over several years, eventually led to despair and shame.

From The Slippery Slope to Charismania:

When I left home to attend college, I was in my “girl gone wild” phase. By the middle of my second year in college, I had made a complete train wreck of my life. Fortunately, God used this desperation to draw me back to Himself.

I began attending the campus ministry. My issue with the campus ministry was that some of the kids who went there were just kind of weird. I wasn’t thrilled about hanging out with them.

By this time, I was reading my Bible and struggling, wondering whether God would have anything to do with me.  I wanted to turn to God, to get things right again. However, now I knew the depths of my willfulness and ability to sin. Surely, I was beyond His goodness and forgiveness.

One night a bunch of kids from the college group were going to “revival” meetings at the local Assembly of God church, so I tagged along. This first visit to a charismatic church was certainly an eye-opener for me.

At the end of the service, they formed a prayer line for anyone who would like prayer for healing.  I asked the friend who brought me if maybe it would be okay if I got in that line even though I wasn’t sick.  She thought it might be okay. ;)  Looking back, that seems so silly because I was desperate for healing.

In that prayer line, I encountered God in a way I had not known was possible.  In the midst of my hopelessness, knowing I deserved nothing from Him, and believing He would not forgive, Jesus reached down with tenderness, love, and mercy. He was willing to touch the brokenness and ugliness in my life and to accept me with open arms.

At that moment, I knew Him. He became the one who rescued me, saved me, redeemed me. He was no longer an idea or philosophy. His love was water to my spirit, and His mercy was salve to my wounded soul.

Some final thoughts…

Looking back, that probably wasn’t my very first encounter with the Holy Spirit.  I can see the footsteps of His drawing presence in my life.  There were earlier experiences where I didn’t have a grid to explain His activity in my heart.

The reason the moment I shared with you stands out to me is because it was completely life changing.  The healing from that night was instantaneous and complete. My relationship with God changed from knowing about Him to beginning to know Him by experience in relationship with Him.

I didn’t know it was possible to feel Him, to hear Him, to know His presence in that way.  What had previously been like a long-distance phone acquaintance suddenly became real, up-close, and tangible.  And He was nothing like I expected or imagined Him to be.

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9 thoughts on “Your First Time – Synchroblog

  1. Wow, I can relate! :) Thanks for telling your story. I really like the metaphor of the long-distance phone aquaintence turning into a tangible relationship.

  2. Hmm… I really can’t remember when I wasn’t aware of Him. I remember the first time I spoke in tongues, but that wasn’t my introduction. I grew up with Him as a constant.

    Over the years, I have had specific encounters/experiences that have deepened my knowledge of Him and helped me keep from falling totally out of sight in religion or rebellion.

    It has been a strange trip with a lot of unchristian twists and turns, but He has never been absent from that journey, even when everything I had ever been taught in religion said He should have abandoned me long ago. :-)

    There are no words to describe His Peace in the middle of chaos, His Love in the middle of torment, His Strength in the middle of despair, and the way He teaches in all things the way God is – Who God is.

  3. Great story, Grace. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn about experiences through this, and I feel like I’m getting to know new people. I appreciate it, and look forward to getting to know everyone better.

  4. I have really enjoyed this Syncblog and discovering a little of your journey shaping you into the person you are.

    The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Emergent/Missional movement interests me a lot as one also having come from a Charismatic background. The baby and the bath water type thing …

    BTW. your comment on Sarah’s Blog to me

    The emerging aspect provides a willingness and flexibility to the church to adapt and change. The missional aspect is shifting the focus of the church to outside of itself.
    BLEW ME AWAY – Thankyou.

    It merged the terms beautifully – the gifting aiding the emerging aspect of the Body, the signs and wonders in the missional.

  5. Thanks dan and maria.

    sarah and jonathan,
    I really enjoyed reading the other entries so far in the synchroblog also.

    mark,
    I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing picture of charismatic christianity and its intersection with the emerging/missional conversation. Your question struck right at the heart of the things I am pondering. I hope to post more about that topic soon.

  6. katherine,
    Thanks for sharing. I believe a lot of it has to do with one’s awareness of the felt presence of God because His actual presence is constant.

    Anyway, I liked the simplicity of this synchroblog putting the focus on a person’s actual experience of the felt presence of the HS and what the meant to them personally. Usually the resulting response in one’s life is a good indication that is was a true work of the HS and as you said reflect His nature.

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