These words spoken long ago by some now-forgotten preacher still haunt me even five minutes ago as I prepared to start this post. For 20 years I had feared even saying the Holy Spirit's name lest he be offended in some way. Christ's warning about the finality of sinning against the Holy Spirit was taken to heart with a vengeance that amazes me now.
Six years ago this perplexing experience started to change. Let me share an experience that I have never heard anyone speak of before.
Out of boredom I started singing a Christian song I learned at 16 during a young people's weekend at Camp Berkshire in Wingdale, New York. I sang it both in Spanish and English as I walked my golden retriever, Callisto, on his long, long walks through concrete and green in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
It's important that I share the entire lyric as you will understand that it was the vehicle by which the Holy Spirit spoke to me and changed me almost against my will. I must state that I was bored out of my mind and had gotten bored with singing pop tunes on my long, long walks with Callisto. This song, however, sprang to life and wouldn't let go. It had a will of its own. I'd stop singing it and it reasserted itself.
It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're with the Lord above./ It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're saved by his love./ There's a joy that you never can tell and great peace with the Lord above./ As I walk with the Lord in my heart there's a song./ It's a wonderful, wonderful life. -- Author UnknownWeek after week prior to 2005 I had been singing this song out of habit. I'd sing other songs, secular songs, but no other spiritual songs at all. In late 2004 or early 2005 I noted something was happening or had already happened. Without explanation I had a new-found interest in rising early and spending 30 minutes reading a chapter or two of the gospels in the New Testament, e.g., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I had no time to pray so I prayed on the way to work for 15-20 minutes.
After a few weeks of this I thought maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to attend church again. I hadn't attended church at all in over 15 years. For some mysterious reason I actually enjoyed going to church. More importantly I enjoyed reading the Bible, the writings of Ellen White and other Christan books. I played no Christian music CDs even though I probably had one or two in some bottom storage box--who knows where in my home. The new songs I sang in church, praise songs, were all I needed for my new phase.
Then it dawned on me that I had been touched by the Holy Spirit, almost without asking for it. I must share with you that I never stopped believing in God even though my impression of God was and still is imperfect and skewed by life's experiences. Out of guilt and to avoid psychological discomfort only, I had continued for 20 long years to repeat the following words on most mornings as I drove to work:
If you then who are earthly know how to give good things to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to you if you ask him. Luke 11:13These words were the only contact I had with God and with the religion of my parents and I was not about to give it up just in case there really was something to the God experience, salvation, heaven, eternal life, etc. It was how I convinced myself that I still held onto the only lifeline I still had in case these were more than just pleasant words written 2,000 years ago.
Three months after this change started occurring in me I was awakened in my darkened room at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. by a voice singing inside my head. It awakened me from a deep sleep with the clarity of its melody. I had not sang these words in over 25 years. The voice grew louder and louder and the sweetness of the words almost moved me to tears. These are the words the voice sang [I am translating from Spanish as the voice was in the tongue of the first five years of my life:]
The Shepherd loves his sheep with a paternal love. The Shepherd loves his flock with a love that cannot compare. The Shepherd loves his other sheep that are scattered and lost. He looks for them with great concern wherever they may be be.Down on my knees I found myself thanking God for the first and only time I had ever experienced such a phenomenon. I was actually hearing God's voice and in song. This time I knew something was happening, had happened, that had never happened before--at least not like this. This was the God experience and it took me decades of my life to fall into it. This was not some transitory emotion. This really grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. This was God taking me by the hand and leading me very much like how I walked with my dear Callisto and led him on his daily walks.
Life has been full of temptations, disappointments and yes, shocks to my system, for six years now. But what else can I do?
When you have been touched by God it is for life. You just don't turn around and go anywhere else.
If you've never been touched by God, repeat the lyrics of my childhood song about how this is a wonderful, wonderful life. May God also touch you and never stop touching you throughout your life.