Friday, September 5, 2008

My Burning Bush

I'm participating in a synchro blog that robbymac proposed to share our earliest "charismatic" experience. He encourages us to "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."

I think this is a fabulous idea. It builds faith and authentic community when we share our stories of God's realness. I encourage you to visit his post and read some of the other stories there.

About 6 years ago, I experienced for the first time, the Holy Spirit supernaturally meeting me person to person. Before this, my faith was based... well.... just on faith. I had never experienced God in any tangible way. I never had my own burning bush experience.

A friend invited me to visit a charismatic church with her. At the end of the service I went forward to receive prayer. I hoped that somehow I would receive something more than what I would expect at my home conservative evangelical church. I was very hungry to experience God in a real way. Having hit a cross road where I was pretty sure that God was asking me to move into women's ministry leadership in my own church, I didn't want to go any further unless I knew for sure that God was really involved and would equip me.

I was hoping for some real fire from heaven. Eager for this baptism of the HS that I had heard about, I wanted to know that God was real.

The woman who approach me to pray with me told me she had a word for me. There was a brokenness in me that God wants to heal. He wants me to come to him whole. But he wants my permission first.

I was surprised. Me broken? But I've had a perfect life! Nothing bad has happened to me and I've succeeded in most things I've set out to do. I have a nice husband and children. A home. A good career. What do I have to be broken about?

I told her yes I do want God to heal me. I want whatever he has for me. She prayed for me but nothing much seemed to happen. She told me that God has already equipped me and that he will give me grace for each moment as I sit at the feet of Jesus.

No fire. No nothing.

I was peeved after that! And dumbfounded! God knows how hard I had searched for him. How long I have waited. How patient I have been. I felt that he had denied me. As I wrote in my journal " I'm jealous of those who God meets so readily. I'm tired of waiting in line. I want to be picked!"

The next day, everything changed. I wrote about it in my journal and I will share it here:

A Day of Mourning - June 4/2002

It's good that my husband is out of town this week. It's given me some time to hash this out with God. We are having a counseling session.

God has been bringing to mind all the crappy things that ever happened to me. It's nothing really out of the ordinary. "Sh#t happens" so they say. But I guess my spirit was wounded and the wounds festered. It does have a common theme though. I have been wounded by my friendships. I have sought intimacy through friendships and have been let down, misled, sometimes abused. I see how it is affecting my current friendships too.

At first it was painful as these things came to mind. It seemed strange to let them swirl around in my head and feel them in my gut. I didn't have a choice, the memories just kept coming. And as every school yard mind game, cutting remark or betrayal came to mind, the Lord put his arm around me and said "I was there". As I recall the loneliness of keeping my hurt bottled up, God says, "I was there". The voice inside me is so clear and steady.

These events occurred over 15-25 years ago but to the Lord and I it was like yesterday. In fact it feels rather good to have this pity have this time of grieving that God seems to be encouraging.

I feel like I did when I was in the hospital for surgery. The surgery is over and there is pain. But there are people taking care of me, giving me drugs and there is a heated blanket wrapped around me.

It's exhausting. I am tired and achy. I'm sleeping a lot. It's so weird. I wonder why God chose this way to heal me. Couldn't he just zap me with joy? When I asked my friend this question she said "God can't heal the pain you can't feel." I think there is something in that. I had pretty much stuffed all of this over the years.

So this is how I became acquainted with a God who is very real and knows me in my inner most being. A God who uses truth to heal. A God who gets our permission before doing surgery.

In conclusion, I can only say that I was a very different person after that. I became more sure of God and less sure of me. I softened and became more real. I came to understand the meaning of "when we are weak, he is strong". And I have come to understand what it means to be given grace for the moment. Each day is a step of faith.


Jonathan Stegall said...

Hi Ruth. Thank you for sharing this. It's so like God, to work like this, and so like us to need this. It is incredibly powerful when we can really see the wounds that we have, and God is able to deal with them one at a time. I'm not typically very good at this, but I have had specific seasons and times in my life that this kind of truth has been drilled into me and it has dramatic results. I appreciate hearing about yours. I'm enjoying the synchro blog.

Susan said...

God can't heal the pain you can't feel.

That is so true. For years I wanted God to heal me of the pain I refused to acknowledge. It wasn't until I gave God permission that it happened.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Barb said...

Thanks for writing Ruth, this was beautiful.

Jared White said...

I was really touched by your story, much so, in fact, that it ushered in the Holy Spirit's presence in my life today in a way I really needed it to. He helped me deal with some anger issues over my past that needed to get dealt with. So thank you for unknowingly letting God work through your blog post! Praise Jesus!

Ruth said...

Thank you all dearly for your encouraging comments to my story. It is hard to be vulnerable this way but it is so worth it to be able to bless others.

Susan - yes it's so true that we often need to revisit our pain and let the Lord bring truth to it in order to be free and healed. I have learned so much about that since this testimony. It was really only the beginning of it all. I can say that I am a new person now.

Jared - it's so good to hear that my story helped you to recieve personal breakthrough. Thanks for letting me know.

Christy said...

I know it's not easy sharing from your journal like that. I do it from time and to time and I always wonder if I'm crazy for doing so. I really does help others, though. We all tend to think that "we're the only one" feeling something or going through something. It's good to remind each other that we are all going through stuff and God is faithful to be there with us through it all.

Ruth said...

Yes Christy - I so agree with you. We are all really alike inside but we have different masks we put on. When we share our stories it helps us to understand ourselves and God.

Livingsword said...

Hi Ruth;

A syncroblog!!! I love syncroblogs!!!!

Wow another excellent grain of truth!

I love the way you genuinely opened yourself up and shared your heart and words with us.

I have encountered God’s “finger prints” upon my life, this spiritual surgery He performs on me and around me leaves me in utter awe…

I often feel the Holy Spirit during communion…

Delirious said...

Great post! This has encouraged me to write about my experiences on my religion blog. :)

Eye Candy said...

~Greetings Ruth~

I am mediating upon your final paragraph here, very interesting; I am wondering if you could expand upon how faith and grace work together? How do you get faith and grace for the moment?

To use more “religious” language how would they correlate with salvation and sanctification separately?

Ruth said...

Greetings to you too Eye Candy. You're not from around here are you? I guess that some of the terms I take for granted are foreign to you.

"And I have come to understand what it means to be given grace for the moment. Each day is a step of faith."

When I said that God gives me grace for the moment, I mean that he equips me with whatever is needed in the moment. He gives me his favor. In this way, each moment is a step of faith because I never know what God will give me to respond to the task at hand. I'm not in control. I just keep going and trust that God will somehow come through for me, even when I ramble on and on like I am right now. Get it?