My Journey with the Holy Spirit
Prepare for Something Greater in Your Life
As a teenager eager to move beyond the confines of my narrow Pentecostal background, I rejected much of my Pentecostal upbringing. I had been touched by the Lord but was running from Him. To me, surrendering to God meant ending up in some forlorn mission field, and I didn’t want that for my life. Plus, I was influenced by the rebellious hippie culture, and as I was coming of age, I wanted to experience what had always been forbidden in my Pentecostal home: a liberal lifestyle. As uncomfortable as I might have been, I made it my goal to join a fraternity and be like the other college kids.
When I broke my foot running across campus, I had a lot of time to think while it was healing. I was unhappy and afraid I was getting far from God. So I called out to the Lord and prayed that if He was real to give me power to live for Him. I didn’t want the up-and-down spiritual existence I’d had, where I’d repent of my behavior, then repeat it and repent all over again.
I can show you exactly where I was at the University of Florida when I finally surrendered to God and was forever changed. The Lord touched me and set me on fire during my second year of college. This was in the early 1970s, just when the Jesus movement was exploding around the country.
At the same time, I got to know Charismatic Lutherans and Episcopalians in Gainesville, Florida, who were also excited about the Lord and freshly baptized in the Holy Spirit. They didn’t identify with the Pentecostal legalism I knew as a youth. And in my opinion, they were more full of the Spirit than some of the grumpy, legalistic Pentecostals I knew.
Much like the Spirit-led Catholics, these people called themselves Charismatics. (A few years later when I started a little magazine, I chose the name Charisma. The gifts [charismata] and power of the Holy Spirit were so great and wonderful, millions were experiencing this power, and so was I.)
A few students banded together to form a prayer group. One of the student centers allowed us to meet there on Tuesday night. We’d often sit cross-legged in a circle in the center. Someone would play a guitar, and we’d pray for one another and worship with up-stretched arms. Often we’d pray for a healing if someone was sick. We’d lay hands on one another and pray for the power of the Holy Spirit.
During this era, riots against the War in Vietnam were common. Student unrest was particularly high one Tuesday when we had our meeting. We huddled in the student center and prayed the best we knew how. We even rebuked Satan, following what we’d been taught by older Charismatic Christians. The situation was frightening. We felt almost helpless. Teargas was being used on the rioters, and we worried some would blow our way. But I believe our prayers that day shifted something in the spiritual realm, because as far as I know, during my time as a student there, the University of Florida never again had an anti-war rally.
In our simple way we were experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and learning to walk in the Spirit. Several of those students went on to full-time ministry. This desire for more of God is part of how the Holy Spirit draws us to God and leads us to a place where we can overcome condemnation, guilt, and shame.
For more information on Spirit-Led Living in an Upside-Down World, visit MyCharismaShop.com