MY PARENTS’ 38th wedding anniversary was a day that something remarkable happened to me. It was December 18, 2003. I had been working from home when I decided to walk to the park and pray. I’d been separated from my then-wife for a period of 90 days. Having suffered the worst grief I could then imagine, I was finding my way back to the church; my faith had never been better, even though it was the most vulnerable time in my life.
Suddenly, in that park, I found myself baptised in the Holy Spirit. I had been running. The experience floored me to the depths of teary, goose-bumped joy. I’m unsure if the manifestation of God’s Presence brought me to praying in tongues, for I was alone and for a time I was struck down to the ground. It was the most remarkable encounter I’d ever experienced. I was overtaken through my entire being.
What led up to the experience — back on December 14, a Sunday night — was the execution of my Step 5, of the 12-Step Program, where I admitted to God, to myself, and to another person the exact nature of my wrongs (sins). Step 5, for me, took 5 hours. My AA sponsor came over at 7pm and didn’t leave until midnight. It was a Sunday night. It took 5 hours to spill that deluge of my sins before him, both of us present before God — the product of two months of Step 4 soul-searching. I had taken to the 12-Step Program with great enthusiasm.
5 days later, still vulnerable and grieving, I found myself the most blessed human being on the planet (not to besmirch any of you from feeling the same way!). Baptism in the Holy Spirit was a real experience. It was something I could not do independent of the work of God.
I attribute this manifestation of blessing to my obedience of confessing all my sins that previous 5 days beforehand.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not something that any denomination of the Church can say they own. My experience is that God pours his Spirit out over the obedient. Only by faith is obedience manifest. My experience tells me that the Lord is the God of the contrite of heart. By contrition my obedience was manifest, and by faith the Spirit of the living God manifested by experience.
God loves nothing more than a sinner turning back to him.
My encouragement, to you and to myself, is to continue in the softness of soul, to step forward out of fear: turn to him, alone, who helps, who saves, who restores; who sanctifies. Spiritual experiences of blessing — God’s very spiritual confirmation — are manifest over the obedient. By grace we are saved, through faith.
If we will bless the Lord,
By obeying His Spirit by faith,
He will bless us in His own way,
Then we will know about grace.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.