DECEMBER 18, 2003, was a special day. Late morning I strolled to a nearby park and began running laps. It was a hot day, but I cannot recall feeling hot. At one point, as I was praying, I was brought to a standstill and then I was dropped to my knees; tears of replete joy streaming down my face, a giant goose bump consumed my entire being. The experience lasted a minute or two with full intensity, but the rest of my day, and indeed the weeks ahead, were characterised by this abiding sense of God’s power, joy and peace – the Holy Spirit’s encouragement. Importantly, four days beforehand I had confessed a lifetime of sins – five hours it took before a trusted mentor, as part of a 12-Step program to speak about nearly twenty years of sin as an adult, before both him and God.
It is no coincidence, in my mind, that my obedience – to confess my sin and need for forgiveness – on December 14 was the precursor to God’s blessing of an experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit four days hence.
My Experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
I would like to capture the experience in words:
In the obedience of confession,
We may transcend our cataclysm,
Because of faith’s session,
We may receive the Spirit’s baptism.
By the obedience of confessing our sin we gain the sense of God’s peace and Presence so we are released from the spiritual burden of our calamity, though it doesn’t change the consequences. Perhaps the ultimate of experiences, for obedience, is the Spirit’s baptism – immersed in a torrent of holy joy all over us.
Obedience connects to blessing,
Where faith gains traction by hope,
Such is a blessing when we are confessing,
Our sins in ways where God helps us cope.
The above poem is explained:
1. Obedience is reason God blesses us, not that by obeying we can command God’s blessing. It doesn’t work that way. But God rewards obedience, ultimately.
2. Obedience is the product of faith, and we would have no faith unless we had hope – even though true hope is invisible and intangible.
3. The confession of our sins is the only way God can help us cope by drawing us into his Presence. Such confession of vital truths will set us free. Nothing else will; not blaming others or being hurt or disappointed.
The value in obedience is underscored by our enjoyment of closeness with God. And there is no better experience of such closeness than baptism in the Holy Spirit. Obedience by faith is the way to intimacy with God; the experience of his Presence closely with us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.