Special Note: This was written 2 years ago. I think it is worth re-publishing. Enjoy!
I have delayed this testimony for many years. To share the most intimate details in any relationship takes courage, but it also takes both persons in that relationship to agree to share details. I don’t go around sharing the details of my marriage without first submitting to the needs and desires of my wife. I don’t want to break trust. So it is with my relationship with the Spirit. Some of what I record here has been shared in previous articles, but not in as much detail. Some of my closest friends know of these testimonies, but I have never shared with the proverbial “masses”. There are many new readers that don’t know me well, and I have new people in my fellowship circles that don’t know me well either. So I simply must share my heart; I am compelled to do so.
For many years I have held back in telling this part of my life, but the reasons are legitimate. First of all, I don’t want people to compare my relationship with their own when it comes to knowing God. It would be a disservice to those who read and listen to my teaching if those same compared my walk with their walk. I am convinced that the Spirit works uniquely in every person’s life if they invite Him to do so. So my first reason was I didn’t want to make people question their own walk. Although I think it is important to assess our walk with God every day, it is unnecessary in many regards to play the comparison game.
The second reason for waiting so long is that I didn’t have permission. Some things are private in nature; or rather, between you and God. But several times throughout my walk, the Spirit has released what once was private. Basically, in the act of ministering to a certain need, the Spirit asked that I share my common ground in a particular matter. I can speak openly and honestly to a person on a dark and sinful path because I have walked that same dark path. I can speak openly and honestly, one-on-one, with people who seek God, and sometimes the Spirit prompts me to share an intimate detail to help another. But on a larger scale, I had not yet been brought to the place of sharing with everyone what I now offer.
The third reason is one of human construct: fear of rejection. I have thought many times that if I shared the details of walking in the spirit, that people would think I were either crazy, narcissistic, or a zealot. I know that I have been on the receiving end of a testimony that makes me question a person’s authenticity; I fear folks will question my authenticity as I had so freely judged theirs! I don’t judge others any more. I simply lack the will to do so. So I feel it is time to get over myself and share some amazing details of seeking the Lord.
MEET ME AT THE CROSSROADS
Somewhere along the way of seeking the Lord, I came to a crossroads. The intersection that I arrived at came as a question: “God, if you are there the way You are described in the Bible, could You please make yourself real to me?” I was tired of pretending to be a born again Christian; heck, I didn’t even know what the true definition of what Christian meant! What I read in the Bible and what I saw around me were two different things. So at the crossroads, I told God that if He really wanted me and loved me, that He would have to show up in a big way. That prayer was answered in a most incredible way.
During this time of intense seeking, I realized that I must ask for the Holy Spirit. Luke speaks to this quite clearly when he records Jesus’ teaching on asking, knocking, and seeking the Holy Spirit. As I studied more and more, the pages of the New Testament began to come alive with the Spirit. What happened next is the key to my salvation. I began to pray for the Holy Spirit. Somehow I got past the doctrines and theology of the indwelling Sprit and the confusion thereof. I got past the doctrines by understanding that I didn’t really care about theology to satiate my mind; I needed to know the Spirit in my heart! I wanted the first-hand knowledge that is promised in the Scriptures. A cheap imitation or cloudy concept was just not going to do. I wanted the real deal.
So the Lord isolated me. Every door in my life shut…everything! The shutting up of my life in order to hear Him was in and of itself a miraculous and quite humorous turn of events. The price for the Holy Spirit was great in human terms; it was 100% focus. I spent the better part of 2 years doing nothing but poring through the Word, praying incessantly, and recording my journey. What I want to say about this part is very important. Listen to me in this. Praying for the Spirit’s presence required a heart-wrenching journey. The journey was marked by literal pleading, weeping, and screaming at the top of my lungs in pursuit. I am not ashamed to admit that I begged and cried and pleaded my case before God. All I can go on is my own experience, and my testimony is this: if you want to seek God, you must do it with all of your heart. Once my heart was poured out over months and months of agony, the Lord saw that my heart was true. This is the spirit of true repentance.
Through the crucible of a deep yearning for the real, living God, my soul was finally granted freedom. The truth always has and always will set one free! When Jesus told us to count the cost of discipleship, He was very serious. The process of sanctification of the will is most painful. The will to seek God diligently is a process and a gift of the Spirit; one simply must ask, seek, and knock in passion and commitment provided by the Spirit. It is very much ironic that even the desire to seek is granted by God. So every person must make two decisions: First, do you believe that Jesus is who He said He was? Secondly, do you believe that you can walk with God in a personal, intimate way? You see, believing is not all there is; walking in the newness of life takes a commitment. How many have counted the cost and made the decision to obey Christ and “seek first the kingdom of God”? I’m afraid dangerously few. We must move past the forgiveness of sin and enter into the freedom His blood paid for in full. I suspected there was more; I was right.
But even my idea of seeking and obeying were wrong. I realized that the most important thing was entering into a true relationship with the Lord. The product was obedience. I took the focus off of me and my shortcomings, set those aside in His grace and mercy, and focused on getting to know the Lord. The sin was burned up in the process. Isn’t that the sweet paradox! I had the whole order reversed. I thought by taking on the daunting task of “fixing” myself that I was pleasing God; the cold, hard facts are that those attempts had always failed…miserably I might add! Only when I put “me” on hold and focused on our Savior did any holiness emerge. We are all a work in progress so don’t get me wrong; we all have a long way to go. However, I began to see righteousness emerge in my life in the form of love. I began to love people, I began to love life again, I began to love submission to God; the result of focusing on my relationship with God was the repairing of my relationships with others. People began to trust me for one reason: because I trusted in God.
The healing and restoration of my life did not come by way of me going around and trying to fix broken relationships and foster new ones; the healing came as the Lord and I finally got it right! When Jesus tells us to seek intimacy as the primary focus of our lives, He is giving us the solution to all of life’s burdens. All of the answers are found in Him, in His time, and in His wisdom. You see, perfect obedience is to seek God and His kingdom within us because all that we want and desire and all God wants and desires is found there. God wants each person to know Him; that is what He seeks. To obey is to seek the treasure hidden in a field, to obey is to accept the gift of salvation and get down to the business of searching the depths of the ultimate Love, perfect obedience is being in love with the Lord.
Once we taste that the Lord is good, the game changes. All belief is swallowed up in faith. What you suspected has become a reality. The hope in us has found a foothold in the spiritual romance between a God that loves us without measure and our response to that love. Now the Spirit begins to breathe truth in a real-time, practical way. Below I have listed some experiences that until now have been a private matter. Take them as the Lord leads. Don’t play the comparison game, but DO expect the Spirit to do amazing things in your life. You are a unique, special creation of the living God and highly prized by your Creator. The Father deals with His children as best for each individual child. But DO thirst for more as I thirst for more.
EXAMPLES OF HEARING GOD’S VOICE
One major problem I had with God was the taking of my mother at a young age. When I prayed and prayed for God to save her life, believing that she would be healed, He did not answer my prayer. That really hurt. I felt God had abandoned us. So I walked away from God. One of the first wounds to be healed in my life was this rift. At some point along the way, I put away my resentment toward God and placed it in the category of “I just don’t understand, but I trust You God.” Years later while growing in my relationship with the Lord, He spoke to me in a way that left me reeling in awe.
While vacuuming downstairs and listening to the band “Mercy Me” on my headphones, the Spirit poured out upon me an amazing revelation. The Spirit told me why the Father had called my mother home. The revelation was so specific it entailed the reasons why, the result of what would have happened had she lived, and a special glimpse into my mother’s heart. It came like a wall of water that overtook me and crushed me like I had been swept up into a flood. God showed me His mercy and wisdom, and He also showed me how much He loves my mother. I fell to my knees and wept in joy for a period of time that I do not know. It was the most precious, personal communication a human could ever expect, way beyond my wildest imaginations. The most beautiful part of the revelation is that I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t sit around and ponder the why any longer, and I had thought we (the Lord and I) had moved past this. So it was quite the heavenly gift as it came out of nowhere! The Lord just decided to give me a gift that day, and it is the sweetest of gifts imaginable. The Bible tells us that where our treasure resides is where our hearts reside. This gift is one of the first treasures I have laid up in heaven, a lavish gift that was unexpected and showed just how wonderful our Lord can be when we know Him. I pray all believers at least once in their life get to taste the goodness of God in such a way. It changes you.
Another time I was lamenting all of the lost time in my life, how I had squandered my years in wandering. As I was praying, the Spirit lifted me somehow out of me and showed me my life in an instant. It was a vision. What I saw was all of my life laid before me, all of the choices, all of the twists and turns, and most importantly, the vision showed me where I was right at that moment. The Spirit showed me the beauty of destination “now”. I realized that all that is “me” is wrapped into my journey, that all the bad and ugly in my life has been restored into an instrument of God to heal others who have taken similar paths. That all of the wasted time was not actually wasted; God redefined for me what “redeeming the time” actually meant! God was showing me that He knew all along that I would end up here, right here right now. Amazing. The grace in this vision is impossible to describe. God took the worst of me and made it somehow the best of me! Only the living God can do this miracle, and all I could do was praise Him and thank Him for this gift of revelation.
One last testimony of the Spirit, and probably the most important is God’s revelation of His love for me. This communication with God was early on in my walk with Him as a man. And I would say that this revelation is where most of us start. While my heart was still very hard and while sitting in jail, the Spirit came upon me and destroyed me. I had been doing a lot of reading in the Bible and seeking answers to the question: “Can God really love such a wretch as I?” I was moved for a short while into a cell by myself; I hadn’t been by myself for almost a year. When I got to my new cell upstairs, there was a window. I hadn’t seen outside in more than 5 months as the windows were painted over, we weren’t allowed outside, and there was no respite from the yellowish tint of fluorescent lighting 24/7. But when I got upstairs, there was a window with about a 3” diameter circle that I could look through. There in the foreground was a lone oak tree and behind it the setting sun fading behind rolling hills in the background.
The Spirit spoke directly into me and told me that I was the lone oak, but no longer. The Lord told me that He loved me. I cried out and told Him I was not worthy, and He simply kept repeating, “Come Home to Me.” It destroyed me in an instant. What can only be described again as waves of a Power washing over me again and again, I was swept into His love. I simply could not believe it! I couldn’t believe that He loved me, but I also couldn’t believe that He was moving upon me in this supernatural way. That afternoon in my cell washed in the fading day of a winter’s sunset, I gave my life without reserve to my Lord to do with me as He pleased. In that moment, all of life faded into the backdrop and all I could see was the Lord. That has never changed.
I could continue on and on about all the times the Spirit directly communicated to me, but that would take an entire book that has yet to be completed. The Lord’s particular call on my life is to share the reality of a life unashamedly dedicated to living in the Promise of the Holy Spirit. All of my teachings are grounded in a God that speaks, a loving God that will move in our little lives, and a personal God that is impossible to miss when He does speak. If I could bottle up and give away my experiences in the Spirit, I would do just that, for to experience God is to have an unshakeable faith. I am convinced that if people will get serious and seek the Spirit as Christians, that He will give them these same treasures. I don’t want to draw attention to myself and my testimony; I want people to be drawn to a real and deep relationship with the Lord on their own. I want people to understand that kindling a relationship with the Spirit will draw them closer to Christ, for the Spirit always points to Christ. Jesus is Whom we behold through the eyes of the Spirit. And in like manner, Christ then reveals the Father to us. It is unspeakable joy to be in communion with the Holy Spirit of God.
The transforming of our minds in intellectual ascent is only one part of the equation. You may have all the right doctrines and theology but still miss the transforming of your heart. One must thirst and hunger and beg for the Lord to make Himself known! He answers that prayer if our hearts will settle for nothing less than intimacy. Our minds can be convinced that Christ is the Son of God, but our hearts have to be drawn into the love of God as well. And after the mind is convinced and the heart is loved, the will is the final frontier. When you taste the Lord, that He is good, nothing in life is more important than doing all to please Him. In every breath, in every heartbeat, in every moment, we live and have our being in Him, and this is the only place I want to be. We obey because we love our Father.
I hope this hasn’t confused you. Just know that when you hear me teach or read what I write, that it is coming from one who is dearly in love with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am not promoting an agenda. I am inviting all who would have ears to hear that your God, that loves you so deeply, has made a way and a path into His presence! Seek Him in the Word, seek Him in earnest and honest prayer, and learn to hear Him speak directly to you and through others, and you will find what we all thirst for…living waters. I never understood limitless until I took my limits off of God. Let the Lord define your relationship with Him. Don’t lean on your preconceived notions (or anyone else’s for that matter) and never settle for “good enough”! The living water of the Spirit is meant to take you higher and higher and higher into knowing the Lord. Give God permission to take you there. Plead with the Lord and beg Him to make Himself known to you and He will do just that. That is a promise; that is The Promise.